Stuff from Way Back #33: Roma, We Have a Problem

(This essay on the Anarchy follows Stuff from Way Back #32b: When Is a Republic Not a Republic?  These pieces have become much longer than I intended, and after the last in the series I will endeavor to leave these long lectures behind, not an easy task for me.)


The Anarchy, from 235 to 285, is the great watershed of the Roman Empire.  It separates the Principate from the Dominate, from an autocracy in which the Emperor was in theory a partner of the Senate and exercising the authority of the people to one in which the Emperor was a blatant oriental despot.  It separates a stable and reasonably prosperous Empire from one which had only moments of stability under a strong man and a rapidly declining economy of strangulating taxation.  It sees the replacement of the disciplined and loyal heavy infantry, whose weapons and tactics dated back to the fourth century BC, with a poorly trained rabble of light infantry and a revival of cavalry.  It ushered in a new Christian Roman Empire.

The aptly named Anarchy was essentially a fifty year long civil war, so chaotic that there is not complete agreement on who might be considered actual emperors.  I believe twenty-seven men (three in the separatist Gallo-Roman Empire) held the imperial purple long enough to be considered legitimate rulers, and of those thirteen were elevated by their own soldiers.  Two of them committed suicide, one was captured by the Persians, one died of plague, four were killed in battle and seventeen were assassinated, mostly by their soldiers or officers; only two died a natural death.  Barbarian incursions into the heart of the Empire would become commonplace, and at one point it would actually break into three separate states.  The astounding thing is that the Empire did not collapse completely.

C. Julius Verus Maximinus Thrax, who had become Emperor with the assassination of the last Severan in 235, spent two years dong useful work on the Rhine and Danube, quelling revolts and carrying on a war against the Senatorial class. In 238 M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronianus, proconsul in Africa, and his like-named son were accepted by the Senate as Emperors, but without serious military support they lasted only twenty-two days.  The Senate then chose two of its members, D. Caelius Calvinus Balbinus and M. Clodius Pupienus Maximus, as co-rulers.  Maximinus had already come south to deal with the Gordians, but while unsuccessfully besieging Aquileia he was murdered by his disgruntled troops.  Shortly thereafter the Praetorians, unhappy with the Senatorial candidates, killed Balbinus and Pupienus and proclaimed M. Antonius Gordianus, grandson of the first Gordian, Emperor.

Gordian III

Gordian III

Gordian III managed to keep the job for six years, engaged in continuous warfare in the north, followed in 243 with a war against the Persians, who had begun overrunning Roman territory during the reign of Maximinus.  The campaign was successful, but Gordian’s Praetorian Prefect, who had been the real ruler of the Empire since his appointment in 241, died during the winter, and in early 244 his replacement, M. Julius Philippus Arabus, incited the troops to murder Gordian and name him Emperor.  Philip, who named his son of the same name co-Emperor in 248, was actually a responsible ruler, restoring relations with the Senate and attempting to bring stability to the Empire.  But the job required someone of Herculean energy and talent to deal with the continuous barbarian pressures in the north, the sinking economy and the ever rebellious troops, who elevated at least three pretenders during Philip’s administration.

In 248 C. Messius Quintus Decius Traianus was able to restore order among the mutinous troops on the Danube and expel the barbarian invaders, but the soldiers decided to invest Decius with the purple despite his apparently sincere protests.  Decius attempted to remain loyal to Philip, but the latter did not trust him, and in 249 both Philip’s fell in battle and Decius became Emperor.  He lasted all of two years, betrayed in battle against the Goths in 251 by his lieutenant C. Vibius Trebonianus Gallus, who became Emperor along with his son C. Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumnianus Volusianus.  They also lasted two years, defeated in battle in 253 by M. Aemilius Aemilianus, who was chosen by his troops after a victory against the now ever present Goths.  Three months later Aemilius was murdered by his own soldiers at the approach of P. Licinius Valerianus, who had been summoned by Gallus and proclaimed Emperor by his troops upon Gallus’ death.  In eighteen years Rome had enjoyed no less than a dozen rulers.

Valerian and King Shapur

Valerian and King Shapur





Valerian made his son P. Licinius Egantius Gallienus co-Emperor, and they immediately got about the job of restoring the frontiers.  Gallienus went to Gaul where the Franks had broken through and raided through Spain to Mauretania, and he defeated a group of Alamanni in northern Italy in 258.  He then moved to the Danube to crush a couple of usurpers, and returned to Gaul, where in 259 M. Cassianus Latinius Postumus had won the support of the legions in Germany, Spain and Britain.  Meanwhile, Valerian battled sundry barbarians around the Black Sea and Asia Minor, and with his army weakened by disease he attempted negotiations with the Persian king, Sapor, who had been pressing Syria.  The treacherous Sapor captured him, and a Roman emperor died in Persian captivity in 260.

Now it gets complicated.  Gallienus was busy in the west fighting Postumus, Sapor was again threatening Syria and one of Valerian’s generals named his two sons emperors of the east.  One was killed in battle by Gallienus’ troops and the other was executed; a third pretender was killed by his troops in 261.  Tied up in the west, Gallienus relied on the self-proclaimed king of the wealthy caravan city of Palmyra, Septimius Odenath, who in 262 defeated the Persians, only to be assassinated in 266/7.  His wife, Zenobia, took power, and with Gallienus too weak to oppose her she became ruler of all the eastern territories except Egypt and Asia Minor.





Meanwhile, in the west Postumus had solidified his position, but in 268 he was killed by his troops and M. Piavonius Victorinus became the ruler of Britain, Gaul and Spain.  Gallienus could do nothing about this and instead spent his time fighting off waves of Goths invading the Empire until the revolt of one of his generals called him back to Italy.  There in 268 he fell to a conspiracy of Illyrian officers, who resented his Hadrian-like Hellenizing and wanted an Emperor from Illyria, which had become the premier recruiting ground of the Empire and would produce numerous soldier-Emperors.

The Roman Empire had entered its most serious crisis.  It was exhausted, constantly overrun by barbarians and now divided into three parts.  But a string of three short-lived but capable Illyrian Emperors was able to put the imperial Humpty Dumpty back together again.  The conspirators chose M. Aurelius Claudius, who had risen from the ranks, and he promptly crushed an army of Alammani that had invaded Italy.  The Gallo-Roman Empire was meanwhile disintegrating, and Victorinus was killed in 270 and succeeded by C. Pius Esuvius Tetricus, who now controlled Britain and most of Gaul.  Claudius ignored him to deal with an invasion of the Aegean by some 300,000 Goths, whom he utterly crushed, earning the cognomen Gothicus, but while on his way back west to counter an incursion of Juthungi and Vandals in 270, he died of plague.  The Senate elevated Claudius’ brother, M. Aurelius Claudius Quintillus, but the troops chose his senior commander, L. Domitius Aurelianus, who had just finished off the Gothic War, and Quintillus committed suicide.

Aurelian was immediately confronted with an invasion of Vandals, which was quickly dealt with, but a coalition of Juthungi, Alammani and Marcomanni penetrated into Italy.  Fortunately for Rome, they split up to plunder and were defeated piecemeal by Aurelian, who also cleaned up a major disturbance in Rome itself.  With the Danube frontier now so porous he decided it was time to replace the old Servian wall, which had been built to protect Rome almost a half millennium earlier.  The Aurelian wall is still standing in Rome today.

Claudius Gothicus

Claudius Gothicus

Aurelian Wall

Aurelian Wall



It was also time to deal with Zenobia, who had added Egypt and eastern Asia Minor to her domains.  By 273 Palmyra was destroyed, Zenobia captured and the eastern provinces restored to Rome, and Aurelian then easily ended the Gallo-Roman Empire, where Tetricus had lost support because of the constant ravaging of Germans across the Rhine.  He spent most of 274 in Rome, reforming the currency and establishing the worship of Sol Invictus (the “unconquered sun”) as a new imperial cult, and decided to abandon Goth-decimated Dacia, which would otherwise have had to be reconquered.  In 275 he was on his way to the east to recover Mesopotamia, when as a result of an incredibly senseless and silly plot by a disgruntled secretary, he was murdered.

Aurelian was perhaps the greatest of the Anarchy Emperors, the Restitutor Orbis (Restorer of the World), and had he not been assassinated, he might well have anticipated Diocletian in returning the Empire to a measure of stability.  Instead, the Anarchy would go on for another decade.

The Aurelian troops in Rome were reluctant to name a successor lest they be associated with the conspirators, and with trouble looming on the Danube frontier the Senate named the seventy-five year old M. Claudius Tacitus, who was murdered in 276.  His half-brother, M. Annius Florianus, promptly named himself Emperor, but several weeks later he was killed by his troops when confronting the army of one of Aurelian’s officers, M. Aurelius Probus, another Illyrian.  Probus immediately attended to an invasion of Gaul by the Franks, Burgundians and others, and then in 278 repelled a Vandal descent into Illyria.  He spent the next two years dealing with disturbances in the east, suppressed a rebellious general on the Rhine and returned to Rome in 281.  In 282 he set out north to mobilize legions for an invasion of Persia, but when news arrived that M. Aurelius Carus was proclaimed Emperor by his troops, Probus’ own men, unhappy with the hard work and discipline, murdered him.  Another excellent ruler had been struck down.



Carus made his sons, M. Aurelius Carinus and M. Aurelius Numerianus his co-rulers, and leaving Carinus to look after the west, he continued with Probus’ plans and easily occupied Mesopotamia.  There in 283 he was killed, probably by unknown conspirators, and the unwarlike Numerianus decided to return to Europe.  He was murdered on the way by his father-in-law, but the enraged troops, who did not trust Carinus, elevated another Illyrian soldier of humble birth, and in November 284 C. Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus became Emperor.  In the following year he met Carinus, who had come east with an army, and might well have lost the battle had Carinus not been assassinated by a tribune whose wife he had seduced.  Diocletian was now sole Emperor, and the Anarchy had come to an end.



But so had the Principate.  The loyal, disciplined army, the relatively quiet frontiers and the prosperity of the first two centuries of the Empire were forever gone, and while Diocletian would restore a measure of stability, it would be a stability of repression, a political sine wave in which each effective soldier-Emperor was followed by a period of civil war that would produce the next.

The nature of the Roman military was profoundly affected by the Anarchy.   The weaponry, tactics and levels of discipline and training that had remained virtually constant since the adoption of the short sword and manipular legion in the fourth century BC were all swept away.  By the end of the Anarchy the “legions” were for the most part light infantry formations, short on body armor and equipped with spears, missile weapons and the spatha or long sword.  They no longer had the expertise and discipline to practice the combat engineering and complex formations and tactics that characterized the traditional army.

Further, the unending scramble for troops, which led to the breakdown in training and discipline by the pandering of ambitious generals and desperate Emperors, also resulted in a change in recruiting patterns.  The Principate had found its new soldiers primarily in the legionary camps and urban areas, where romanitas (Roman culture) was strongest, producing legionaries who already had some feeling of loyalty to the Empire.  During the Anarchy recruiting moved to the far less Romanized rural areas, producing a peasant army whose loyalty was to their commander, if even that.  This was aggravated by the spreading policy of employing barbarians as allies and settling entire tribes in depopulated frontier areas.  The Empire was becoming barbarized.

The infantry also began rapidly surrendering center stage to new cavalry units, as the conditions of the Anarchy forced Rome to remedy her traditional weakness in horse.  The excellent cavalry of the new Persian Empire played a role in this development, but far more important was the need for a strong mobile force that could be rushed to deal with competitors and invasions.  Gallienus created the first major cavalry corps, and by the time of Diocletian these cavalry units were the only truly trained and skilled formations in the Roman military.  A measure of their importance can be seen in the large number of cavalry commanders who became Emperor during the Anarchy and Dominate.

The grand strategy of the Empire had also changed.  The Principate’s policy of forward defense could not survive the new burdens placed upon the military in the middle of the third century: the internal struggles, the aggressive Persian Empire and the Germans, who were finally learning how to form larger and more threatening coalitions.  Rome had little choice but to adopt an elastic defense, in which static, poor quality frontier units dealt with minor threats, but major invading forces were met well inside the Empire by the more mobile central and regional reserves.  Damage to the provincial populations and infrastructure was thus traded for the time needed to concentrate the forces that would guarantee ultimate Roman victory.

The Senatorial class, which had originally governed the empire as an unequal partner of the Emperor, was already being excluded from military command under the Severans, and Gallienus’ reforms, which freed the legions from the control of the provincial governors, completed the exclusion of the onetime ruling class from the now all-important military and thus the stewardship of the empire.  Its place was taken by a new elite, which emerged from the ranks of the army to govern the Roman world with a talent, flexibility and boldness the old ruling families seemed no longer to have.  Mostly of humble origins and untutored, the new military aristocracy enthusiastically embraced classical learning as a sign of having arrived and consequently contributed to the historically critical revival of classical culture in the late third and fourth centuries.

Of course, the inhabitants of the Empire had little idea of the great changes taking place or that they were in fact enjoying a specific period called the Anarchy.  What they did understand was that life in the Roman Empire stank, and when Philip celebrated the thousand year anniversary of Rome in 247, many might have thought: Who the hell cares?




235–285 Anarchy

                        235-238 C. Julius Verus Maximinus Thrax

                                     237-243 Persian war

238         M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronius I

                                       M. Antonius Gordianus Sempronius II                        

                                       D. Caelius Calvinus Balbinus

                                       M. Clodius Pupienus Maximus 

                        238-244 M. Antonius Gordianus III 

                        244-249 M. Julius Philippus Arabus 

                        248-249 M. Julius Philippus 

                        249-251 C. Messius Quintus Decius Traianus

251-253 C. Vibius Trebonius Gallus

                                       C. Vibius Afinius Gallus Veldumnianus Volusianus

250s Invasions of Goths, Samartae, etc. in east; Marcommani, Alammani, Franks in west

253        M. Aemilius Aemilianus 

                        253-260 P. Licinius Valerianus  

253-268 P. Licinius Gallienus 

                                    257-262 Persian war 

259-268 M. Cassianius Latinius Postumus (Gallo-Roman Empire)

259-273 Gallo-Roman Empire

267-273 Kingdom of Palmyra (267-272 Zenobia) 

                         268-270 M. Aurelius Claudius Gothicus

                                         M. Piavonius Victorinus (Gallo-Roman Empire)

268-269 Gothic war 

270        M. Aurelius Claudius Quintillus     

270-273 C. Pius Esuvius Tetricus (Gallo-Roman Empire) 

270-275 L. Domitius Aurelianus 

                                     274 Dacia abandoned 

275-276 M. Claudius Tacitus 

276         M. Annius Florianus 

276-282 M. Aurelius Probus 

276-277 Invasions into Gaul 

282-283 M. Aurelius Carus 

283-284 M. Aurelius Numerianus 

283-285 M. Aurelius Carinus 

284-305 C. Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (retired)



Stufff from Way Back #32b: When Is a Republic Not a Republic?

The Flavian dynasty came to an end with Domitian’s death, but circumstances conspired to prevent a repeat of 68. The Senatorial conspirators had their own candidate ready, a respected sixty-year old Senator, M. Cocceius Nerva, who was far more careful than Galba.  He had the actual murderers of Domitian executed and adopted as his heir the popular general M. Ulpius Trajanus, whom he made co-ruler.  So well trained was the military by the Flavians that these measures were enough to secure their acquiescence to the assassination of Domitian.  Nerva, who died in 98, was in some ways the Gerald Ford of the Principate, keeping the imperial seat warm for a military leader acceptable to the legions.  His important achievement was preventing another civil war and inaugurating a period of excellent government, the apogee of the Empire, the age of the Five Good Emperors, of whom Nerva was the first.



Trajan was the great warrior Princeps, violating the dictum of Augustus and dramatically extending the Empire. The Dacian Wars made strategic sense, eliminating the centuries old Dacian kingdom, which under Decebalus had been engaged in constant raiding across the Danube.  The two Dacian provinces he created (the heart of present-day Romania) were rich in gold and fairly easily defended in normal times; they were abandoned during the Anarchy.

Suicide of Decebalus

Suicide of Decebalus



His attempt to find a final solution to the problem of the Parthian Empire, an irritant rather than a serious threat on Rome’s eastern frontier, is far less easy to defend. Their rich western territories, essentially Mesopotamia, were easily conquered, but the Parthians simply fled east to Iran.  By the time Trajan reached the head of the Persian Gulf, revolt was already erupting behind him.  The problem was not conquest; it was occupation.  The area already possessed a millennia old non-classical civilization that could not be easily assimilated, as were the Hellenized eastern provinces or the barbarian western.  This meant extensive internal occupation would be required, and the Roman military simply did not have the manpower to secure these new provinces.  Trajan died suddenly of a stroke in 117 and was subsequently remembered as the Optimus Princeps for his excellent administration and relations with the Senate and his stirring conquests.

It was reported that on his deathbed that the childless Trajan had adopted his nearest male relative, a second cousin, P. Aelius Hadrianus, and while this may be untrue, the army accepted it.  Trajan had cultivated good relations with the Senate, dispelling the ill will of the Flavian era, and Hadrian attempted to follow his example, actually requesting that the Senate approve his nomination as Princeps, which of course they had little choice but to do.  He returned to a defensive policy, wisely abandoning Trajan’s eastern conquests, a very bold and less than popular move for a Roman emperor.  He wanted to evacuate Dacia as well, but sensed that popular opinion would not tolerate this.  Otherwise, Hadrian was the great peripatetic Princeps, constantly touring the Empire to insure that the military, essentially a garrison force, maintained a high standard of efficiency.  And to see the sights – he was also the great tourist Princeps, especially taken by anything Greek, which may account for his wearing a beard, which became the fashion for subsequent emperors.



The one great tragedy of Hadrian’s reign was the Second Jewish Revolt, which could possibly have been prevented. Diaspora Jews were already causing serious trouble before Trajan’s death, and Hadrian, in a rare instance of inept policy, decided to rebuild the ruined city of Jerusalem as a purely gentile settlement with a temple of Jupiter where the Jewish temple had once stood.  The result was a revolt that took the Romans three years to crush and devastated Judea, killing several hundred thousand people, both Jews and non-Jews.

Hadrian died in 138, apparently from tuberculosis. His adopted heir was the Senator T. Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus, who gained the cognomen Pius for convincing a Senate hostile to Hadrian to deify him.  To secure long term stability Hadrian also compelled Antoninus to adopt his own nephew, the seventeen year old M. Annius Verus, and curiously, also the seven year old L. Ceionius Commodus, whose father, also L. Ceionius Commodus, was his first choice, now dead.  Antoninus’ reign was essentially peaceful and his relations with the Senate excellent, and when he died in 161, he was succeeded by his well-trained nephew, known now as M. Aelius Aurelius Verus.

Antoninus Pius

Antoninus Pius

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

Upon his succession Aelius took the name M. Aurelius Antoninus and made L. Ceionius his colleague under the name L. Verus Commodus. This was the first time the Empire had actual co-rulers, but fortunately for Rome the indolent Verus died in 169, leaving Aurelius sole Princeps.  In 177 his natural son, M. Commodus Antoninus, became co-emperor and obvious heir, a decision that would prove to be disastrous for the Empire.

It can be said that the decline of the Roman Empire began with the reign of Marcus Aurelius, perhaps ironically, given his character and dedication. He was the great Stoic emperor, in many ways the philosopher ruler that Plato had dreamed of.  Possessing a fine intellect, he was early on attracted to Stoic philosophy and almost certainly would have preferred to spend his life in conversation with his friends rather than shouldering the burden of rule.  But he was a citizen of the cosmopolis, the world polis, which Roman Stoics, with some justification, had identified with the Roman Empire.

Greek Stoicism had sought apathē, a state of emotional equilibrium in which the individual was disturbed by neither bad nor good developments.  This naturally inclined the Stoic to withdraw from the disturbances of the world, but the Roman character could not accept such rejection of duty, and Roman Stoics, prominent among the Senatorial elites, felt the need to serve.  And Aurelius was not just a citizen of the cosmopolis, but designated to become the First Citizen, a duty he could not refuse.

And that duty was onerous. In 161 the Parthians invaded Armenia and Syria, and after some setbacks – the eastern legions were never as tough as the northern – they were repulsed and Parthia was invaded.  By 166 the Parthians were defeated and their capital, Ctesiphon, destroyed, leaving them quiet for the next thirty years.  Unfortunately, the returning troops brought with them the “Antonine plague,” probably smallpox, which rapidly spread across the Empire, leaving entire districts depopulated, and it may have been the cause of Verus’ death in 169.

The removal of so many northern units for the Parthian War encouraged barbarian tribes north of the Danube, themselves under pressure from Germans in central Europe, to cross the river. The north central provinces were over run, and one group crossed the Alps and besieged Aquileia, the first time barbarians had entered Italy in almost three hundred years.  The barbarians cleared out, but the storm soon broke again, and one group, the Costoboci, penetrated as far as Athens.  Aurelius spent most of his remaining years on the Danube frontier fighting the Marcommani, Iazges and Quadi and was apparently on the verge of thoroughly pacifying the districts north of the river when he died in 180.

Marcus Aurelius is virtually unique among heads of state in western history in that we are able to peer into his very soul. He was accustomed to jot down his innermost thoughts, and these writings were preserved and published as the Meditations, apparently contrary to his intentions.  What we see is a man who was compelled to perform his duty to the Empire, but who did so with a kind of detachment, spending those long years fighting on the Danube frontier yet believing that in the end none of it really mattered.  Life was transient, fleeting, as he eloquently puts it: “Yesterday a drop of semen, tomorrow a handful of spice and ashes.”  He was, in short, the noblest man to rule the Empire.

The imperial situation had been restored, but the Empire was still in dire straits, short of money and manpower from the plague and constant warfare. Had it not been for the attention paid to the military establishment by his predecessors and Aurelius’ diligence in dealing with the growing barbarian tide, the Empire might actually have begun collapsing.  Even a competent successor would have faced serious problems, and unfortunately Rome was left in the hands of a seriously incompetent ruler, Aurelius’ son, M. Commodus Antoninus, who had been made co-emperor in 177.

Why Aurelius allowed his unpromising son to succeed him is something of a mystery, and there is evidence that at his end he realized his mistake, too late. Commodus, who was with his father in the north, promptly made peace with tribes, undoing much of his father’s work, in order to return to the pleasures of Rome.  Commodus was corrupt, indolent and brutal and preferred to leave the government of the Empire at this critical time to a succession of favorites, who unlike Pallas and Narcissus under Claudius were far less interested in the state than their own power.  (One is perhaps reminded of the American Congress.)  Unsurprisingly, he did not get along with the Senate and executions abounded, while he indulged himself fighting as a gladiator in the arena, a slap in the face of Roman dignity.  By 191 he seems to have become completely deranged, playing the role of Hercules and renaming Rome Colonia Commodiana.  Meanwhile, the Senatorial class was decimated and the treasuries empty, despite the practice of selling state offices, and the Empire was surviving because of the diligence of his commanders.  His favorites saw the handwriting on the wall, and on the last day of 192 he was strangled, and his memory was damned.



Commodus’ assassination was followed by a replay of the Year of the Four Emperors, this time on a larger and more destructive scale. The conspirators selected a respected army commander, P. Helvius Pertinax, but although the Praetorians initially accepted him, they really did not trust him, especially when he paid only half the promised bribe.  He lasted three months before he was murdered, and the Guard, at a loss for a candidate, auctioned off the Empire to the highest bidder, a rich Senator named M. Didius Julianus.  This humiliating moment in the history of the Principate angered everyone, and Julianus’ days were numbered in any case.  Once news of the death of Pertinax had reached the headquarters of the Danubian army, the troops had proclaimed L. Septimius Severus emperor, and he was already marching on Rome.  Septimius promised the Praetorians their lives if they abandoned Julianus, and he was murdered on the first of June 193.

Septimius Severus

Septimius Severus



Didius Julianus

Didius Julianus


Thus began the last dynasty of the Principate. Septimius disbanded the Praetorian Guard and created it anew, this time with veterans from outside Italy, and soon after he stationed a legion in Italy.  Meanwhile, a challenger, C. Perscennius Niger Justus, former general and present governor of Syria, was proclaimed emperor by his troops, and Septimius marched east and defeated him in 194.  Septimius then invaded Parthia, and though successful, he was soon called back west to face another challenger, D. Clodius Albinus.  Septimius had made Albinus, the governor of Britain, his “Caesar,” a sign that he was to be the successor, but in 195 or 196 he was proclaimed emperor by his forces, probably because he feared betrayal by Septimius.  He was defeated in 197, and Septimius returned to the east, where by 199 he had chased the Parthian king east and created a province of Mesopotamia.  He died in 212, fighting Caledonians in Britain.

Clodius Albinus

Clodius Albinus

Perscennius Niger

Perscennius Niger

According to his wish, Septimius’ sons, M. Aurelius Antoninus Caracallus and P. Septimius Geta, became co-rulers, but they already hated one another, and Caracalla had his younger brother murdered in 212. Caracalla, though cruel and cowardly and lacking in any charm, understood the importance of keeping the army happy, and while he had no particular military talents, he did useful work on the northern frontiers.  Pursuing his dream of becoming a second Alexander the Great, in 216 he invaded Parthia and occupied northern Mesopotamia without encountering any resistance.  In the spring of the following year, however, he was assassinated on the orders of his Praetorian Prefect, M. Opellius Macrinus, who himself feared that Caracalla was about to arrest him. Two days later Macrinus was proclaimed emperor by the army.












Foreshadowing the Anarchy, Macrinus was the first emperor who was not of the Senatorial order. He was initially not unpopular after the vindictive tyranny of Caracalla, but though without vices, he was also lacking in any talent, and he alienated his troops by buying peace from the Parthians and keeping his northern legions in Syria.  Meanwhile, the Severan family was not idle.  Caracalla’s aunt, Julia Maesa, had two grandsons, and she put it about that the elder, Bassianus, was the natural son of Caracalla, and this along with the now customary bribe caused the nearest legion to proclaim him emperor in 218.  Troops began deserting to Bassianus, and soon defeated, Macrinus and his son and co-emperor, Diadumenianus, were killed.  Thus began the reign of easily the most worthless man ever to rule the Emperor.



The fifteen year old Bassianus officially took the name M. Aurelius Antoninus, but as chief priest of an orgiastic Syrian deity, he had adopted the name of his god, Elagabalus. His obsession with this alien religion, shared by his mother Julia Soaemias, quickly led to disaster.  He made Elagabalus chief god of Rome, engaged in rites such as ritual prostitution and cross-dressing and even married one of the Vestal Virgins.  Depravity became the means of access to high office.  Everyone was disgusted, and fearing for her own position, his grandmother convinced Elagabalus in 221 to adopt her other grandson, the thirteen year old Alexanius, a youth of entirely different character.  In 222 Alexander’s mother Julia Mammaea bribed the already resentful Praetorians to murder Elagabalus and his mother, who were dragged through the streets and thrown in the Tiber.



Julia Maesa

Julia Maesa

M. Aurelius Severus Alexander became the last Princeps, if that term may still be applied. In effect the government was run by his grandmother and after her death his mother, and although their administration saw a return of respect for the Senate and some economic revival in the Empire, the soldiery grew impatient with the unwarlike Alexander. In 227 the Sassanid Persian dynasty put an end to the exhausted Parthian Empire and occupied the Roman province of Mesopotamia, and in 231 Alexander invaded the new Persian Empire, but failed to recover Mesopotamia. In 234 he responded to German incursions across the Rhine and Danube by concentrating an army near Mainz, but he first attempted to buy off the barbarians, perhaps influenced by his mother, who was present.  The disgusted northern legions murdered him and his mother in 235 and proclaimed C. Julius Verus Maximinus, a one-time Thracian peasant who had risen through the ranks, emperor.  The Anarchy had begun.





Politically, things had certainly changed. By 235 the Senate had become a virtually powerless institution, no longer proposing decrees and no longer having any control over the magistracies and governmental appointments.  Its only power was to grant or withhold deification of a dead emperor, and that was constrained by the whims of the new ruler.  Further, less and less did the Senate represent the old Roman noble families.  It was not simply new Italian families, such as the Flavians, but increasingly also provincial nobility, a process that went all the way back to Caesar.

This growing cosmopolitanism was also reflected in the Princeps and the Empire as a whole. Trajan and Hadrian were Spaniards and Septimius Severus from north Africa, as Roman as Caesar but without the pure bloodlines of the old families.  This “democratization” ultimately extended to even the lowest: in 212 Caracalla granted the Roman citizenship to virtually every free male in the Empire – the so-called Antonine Constitution.  Caracalla did this in order to increase revenues and the citizenship had become essentially politically meaningless, but it represents something virtually unique in the history of empire.  A man whose ancestors had painted themselves blue and fought the legions now had the same legal status as one who could trace his line back to the early Republic.  This enfranchisement of the Empire, together with Septimius’ stationing of a legion in Italy, paved the way for the ultimate evolution of Italy into just another set of provinces.

This “democratization” was also impacting the military. Traditionally, the officer class came from the Senatorial nobility, and the highest a ranker might rise to was chief centurion, the Roman equivalent of Sergeant-Major. This barrier was already crumbling as emperors made increasing use of the Equestrian class for commands and high posts (the lesser nobility, traditionally involved in business and lower administrative posts), further marginalizing the Senate.   Septimius dramatically increased the opportunities for rankers and especially their sons to gain Equestrian and even Senatorial status, thus opening the way for the highest offices, including Princeps, as Maximinus demonstrates.  The replacement of the traditional soldiers’ cult of the legionary standards with a sort of emperor worship is a sign of the increasingly intimate relationship between army and ruler.  In fact, veterans had become a favored class in the state, enjoying many special privileges; this is the “militarization” of the Empire.

Military pay had risen steadily and donatives by newly elevated emperors were now the common practice, but the army remained an efficient and disciplined force. Frontier fortifications were becoming more common – Hadrian built a wall from the Tyne to the Solway Firth and further north Antoninus constructed an earthen rampart and ditch from the Forth to the Clyde – but the legions remained a field army, ready to be moved to any critical spot, and a point defense remained the grand strategy of the Empire.  The provincial auxiliaries had become virtually identical to the legions, especially in the wake of the Antonine Constitution, and were very Romanized, but the practice of creating numeri, cheaper but thinly Romanized native and even barbarian units on the frontiers, was a growing threat to imperial stability.  Finally, Parthia and subsequently Persia was becoming an imperial obsession and drain on resources, as lower quality rulers sought to emulate Alexander the Great.

One might include the period after the assassination of Commodus in the Anarchy, but while the Severans are certainly a sort of Coming Attractions for the Anarchy, they are still substantially different from what will follow. They do present a relatively stable, if weak, dynasty lasting forty-two years (compared to the twenty-seven of the Flavians), and the military has not yet declined into an inefficient and completely undisciplined mass, supporting whomever will make their lives easier, Empire be damned.  The idea of a Princeps working in partnership with the Senate has of course atrophied into an all-powerful emperor, backed by the army, dealing with a virtually powerless institution.  But the idea is still there, if now completely at the whim of the autocrat.  It disappears completely during the Anarchy, and the emperor of the Late Empire is no longer a First Citizen but a Dominus or Lord, answering only to himself and soon enough, the Christian god.


96-180 The Five Good Emperors 

   96-98 Nerva 

   98-117 Trajan 

            101-102 First Dacian War

105-106 Second Dacian War

114-117 Parthian War

117-138 Hadrian 

            132-135 Second Jewish Revolt 

138-161 Antoninus Pius 

   161-180 Marcus Aurelius 

161-169 Lucius Verus 

            177-180 Commodus 

            161-166 Parthian War

167-175, 177-180 Danubian barbarian wars 

   180-192 Commodus 

193 Jan-March Pertinax 

193 March-June Didius Julianus 

193-235 Severans 

193-211 Septimius Severus 

            194 Defeat of Perscennius Niger

195, 197-199 Parthian war

197 Defeat of Clodius Albinus

211-217 Caracalla 

211-212 Geta 

            212 Antoninian Constitution

214 ParthianWar 

   (217-218 Macrinus [and Diadumenianus]) 

218-222 Elagabalus 

   222-235 Severus Alexander

             227 Sassanid Persians replace Parthians

230-233 Persian War

235 – 285 Anarchy

 285 – 5th Century   Dominate or Late Empire

Stuff About Way Back: An Example of Scholarly Crapola

(If anyone is still visiting this site, be aware the lack of new posts is due to a compulsion to work on something scholarly.  So, I provide you with an example of this crap, an appendix that I just completed.  This is the life blood of classical scholarship.  Why some of the Greek came through and the rest turned into gibberish and why the footnote arabic numerals become Roman numerals, I have no idea.)


            The plain of Marathon stretches about six miles along a slightly curving SW-NE axis, averaging about two miles in width between the heights and the sea.[i]  The tectonically active plain is bounded and well defined on the west, north and east by rocky, scrub-covered hills of schist and marble – Aphorismos (1555 ft), Kotroni (771 ft), Stavrokoraki (1043 ft) and Drakonera (794 ft) – that rise fairly abruptly and steeply.  To the southwest Mt. Agrieliki climbs to 1827 feet on extremely steep slopes, which are presently covered with small trees at the lower levels, and its eastern foot falls about a kilometer from the coast, forming the southern entrance to the plain.  A side valley containing the town of Marathona extends northwest between Kotroni and Stavrokoraki, and a smaller valley, the Avalona, runs parallel to it on the west side of Kotroni.  At the western extremity of the plain Agrieliki, Aphorismos and Kotroni form a sort of recess in which the village of Vrana is located.  Typical of coastal Greece, the plain itself consists of alluvial fans and has in the last twenty-five hundred years risen about ten feet due to sediments brought down from the interior.[ii]  Construction and the planting of trees have dramatically changed the appearance of the central and southwestern parts of the plain in just the last forty years, but inasmuch as the Greeks were able to form up their phalanx and none of the sources mentions any impediments, it may be assumed that in antiquity the plain was primarily planted in grain and there was only a scattering of trees.[iii]

Kynosoura (164 ft), a steep-sided spur of Drakonera, juts south into the sea for about a mile and a half, forming a protective weather barrier for the northern part of the bay and especially sheltering the Schoenia, a sandy beach running southwest from the promontory for two miles.  The beach rises gently to a belt of pine woods, behind which is the Great Marsh, which once covered perhaps two-thirds of the northeastern half of the plain and extended to the coast south of the Schoenia.  At the eastern fringe of the marsh, hard up against the spur that becomes the Kynosoura promontory, is a small salt lake, which drains into the sea.[iv]  There was until 1934, when it was drained, a smaller marsh, the Brexiza, in the southern entrance to the plain, but unlike the Great Marsh it is not described by Pausanias and classical remains all but prove that it did not exist in antiquity.[v]  The coast of the plain is for the most part formed of a shelving beach with shallow waters, but the southern reaches tend to be more rocky and uneven, especially when contrasted with the Schoenia.[vi]

Prominent in the middle of the plain is the Charadra, a winter torrent or arroyo that issues from the hills above Oinoe, a village northwest of Kotroni, and flows through the valley between Kotroni and Stavrokoraki, cutting two deep channels through Plasi to the sea.  Though dry most of the year, the gullies present a formidable obstacle, the banks being as high as twenty feet in places.  A smaller torrent, the Rapendosa, descends from the hills between Agrieliki and Aphorismos and disappears about a third of the way across the plain.  A torrent such as the Charadra will certainly not follow the same course for two and a half millennia, and in any case the central part of the plain appears to have risen about ten feet since antiquity, for the most part because of material brought down from the hills by these torrents.[vii]  It is thus impossible to determine exactly where the gullies ran at the time of the battle or whether they existed at all, but since neither Herodotus nor Pausanias makes any mention of this terrain feature, it is safe to say that if it did exist, it had no impact on the battle.  The plain is well watered, two fault lines producing a number of springs, the principal ones being at Oinoe, Vrana, the eastern foot of Agrieliki (“Mati”) and at Kato Souli, between the eastern base of Stavrokoraki and the Great Marsh (“Megalo Mati” or “Makaria”).  Wells are found all over the plain, providing most of the water for the region today, and Pausanias says there was fresh water flowing out of the Great Marsh.[viii]

Of the villages/demes of the Marathonian tetropolis three have been more or less securely located: Oinoe at the site of the modern village of that name, Trikorynthos at Kato Souli and Probalinthos at the eastern base of Agrieliki north of the Brexiza marsh (less securely).  The site of Marathonitself is still disputed, but the scant archaeological evidence now points to a spot near the coast amidst the channels of the Charadra.[ix]  There were in the fifth century three routes leading from Athens into the Marathon plain.  The main road, apparently suitable for carts, ran for some twenty-six miles from Athens via Pallene to the area of the Soros and then continued northeast across the plain and on to Rhamnous.  A second road led northeast from Athens to Kephisia, where it split into two paths, one passing through modern Stamata and Oinoe and on into the plain through the Avalona valley, the other heading through modern Dionysos and descending to Vrana through the gorge of the Rapendosa.  Each of these routes is a bit more than twenty-three miles long, and both become fairly rough and steep tracks through wooded areas once they enter the hills around Marathon.[x]

Rising above the southern plain, approximately a mile northeast of the foot of Agrieliki and a half mile northwest from the coast, is the Soros, a thirty foot high artificial mound that is generally accepted as the burial place of the Athenians who fell in the battle.[xi]  About four miles west of the Soros, at the site of the Marathon museum in Vrana, is a cluster of seven middle and late Helladic tumuli, and about 300 feet northeast of these lies a seventh mound, dated to the early fifth century.  Within this tomb were found the remains of one juvenile and ten adult males, leading a few scholars to conclude that this is the tomb of the Plataeans mentioned by Pausanias.[xii]  This identification is almost certainly incorrect, however.  Pausanias’ catalogue of sights at Marathon proceeds in a more or less direct line northeasterly from the Soros to the stone “stables” of the Persian horse, and placing the Plataean tomb, which is mentioned immediately after that of the Athenians, at Vrana represents a three mile detour from this route.  Further, the battle centered on the Soros, and it is difficult to see why the Plataean dead would be carried all the way to Vrana rather than being interred in the vicinity of the Athenians, where all could be conveniently visited and honored.[xiii]  The tomb contents also argue against the identification: a mix of burial styles, the presence of a boy, very poor grave gifts and a single crude inscription in Attic lettering on an unworked stone.[xiv]  It is far more likely that a low mound observed near the Soros in the nineteenth century marks the spot of the Plataean burial.[xv]

Following his notice of graves of the Athenians and Plataeans Pausanius mentions a monument to Miltiades and a trophy of white marble.[xvi]  About 650 yards north of the Soros are the foundations of a tower (“Pyrgos”), possibly medieval, which according to nineteenth century travelers incorporated large blocks of white marble, now all gone.  About a mile and a half to the northeast of these ruins, near the present church of Panagia Mesosporitissa, are the remains of another tower, also sporting ancient marble, including column drums and an Ionic capital.  The two towers are likely to mark the approximate sites of the ancient monuments from which the marble was pilfered, since in the first case Leake observed actual marble foundations and in the second the number and size of the blocks argues against being moved any great distance. That these are the remains of the Miltiades monument and the battle trophy is a tempting conclusion since the fragments indicate monuments rather than buildings or enclosures and one would expect the Miltiades memorial to be in the vicinity of the burials.[xvii]

The last battle-related item Pausanias mentions before describing the Makaria spring and the Marsh are the Persian dead, whose burial place he could not find.  He was, however, informed by the Athenians that they had been thrown into a trench, and in the nineteenth century von Eschenburg found in the area off the western edge of the Marsh huge quantities of bones (“viele Hunderte von Todten”), seemingly buried in a haphazard manner.[xviii]

The Persian fleet certainly anchored along the Schoenia.  This section of the coast was the most amenable to the mooring of ships, and the Kynosoura promontory protected the anchorage from the dangerous northeast winds.  Inasmuch as vessels were apparently beached only for protection or maintenance, the ships would have been anchored right at the water’s edge, sterns facing inland.  Assuming no more than 300 vessels and no more than thirty feet of beach space per vessel (approximately the width of a trireme with oars extended), the fleet could be moored in a single line along the Schoenia, providing for the most convenient unloading and loading and for the quickest departure.[xix]  This anchorage provided immediate access to the region of the Great Marsh and the most likely site of the Persian camp, the deme of Trikorynthos.  Herodotus does not mention a Persian camp, as he does in the case of Plataea and Mykale, but inasmuch as the area around the Schoenia could not comfortably accommodate 50,000 or more men for several days there must have been a separate encampment, at least for the army.[xx]  A camp on the plain immediately west of the marsh is possible, but the area to the north, bounded by the hills of Stavrokoraki and Drakonera and the marsh itself, offered excellent protection against attack and controlled the road to Rhamnous.  Water was more plentiful in this locale, especially from the Makaria spring, and here the marsh was apparently deeper, remaining green longer into the autumn and thus providing more fodder for the horses.[xxi]  And though it is barely evidence, Pausanias in fact identifies some excavations and marks in the hills beyond the marsh as the “stables” of Artaphernes’ horse and the marks from his tent.[xxii]

More problematic has been the location of the Greek camp.  Herodotus says that upon arriving at Marathonthe Athenians established their camp “in the precinct of Herakles,”[xxiii]  without however providing any indication where that might have been.  In his eighth Pythian ode Pindar says the games of Herakles were held “in a/the nook/corner of Marathon,” but he may simply mean that Marathon was a corner or nook of Attica.[xxiv]  In the 1930s an inscription containing regulations for games at the Herakleion was found just north of the Brexiza marsh, but even the finder of the stone, Soteriades, believed it had wandered, especially since it had been refaced.[xxv]  Further, there was some evidence that the area near the marsh had been sacred to Athena Hellotis.[xxvi]  He pointed instead to the Vrana valley, near the chapel of St. Demetrios, where he discovered what he believed to be the early 5th century remains of a sacred enclosure, which he identified as the Herakleion, noting that St. Demetrios would be an understandable successor to the pagan hero.[xxvii]  Possessing springs, providing a secure position and covering both the main road along the coast and the back roads through Kephisia, the Vrana location, which is in fact in a sort of “nook,” was subsequently accepted by many, if not most writers, as the site of the Athenian camp.[xxviii]

This all changed with the discovery in 1972 of a dedication to Herakles, this stone found incorporated in a Roman building in the area of the Brexiza marsh.  Certainly, two inscriptions regarding Herakles are very compelling, and this relatively narrow area between Agrieliki and the sea might well be described as a “nook or “corner” of Marathon.  A camp here makes military sense, and the location fits perfectly the epithet the dedicatory inscription assigns to Herakles – “at the gate” – and the statement in one of the Marathon epigrams that the Athenians were “before the gates.”[xxix]  While certainty is a commodity in very short supply at Marathon, the Athenian camp may now be fairly securely located at the southern entrance to the plain, and Herodotus’ account must be reconciled with this location.[xxx]

[i] A brief survey of the archaeology of the Marathon area and a list of the attendant literature up to 1988 can be found in Travlos 1988, 216-21.

[ii] Higgins & Higgins 1996, 33; Pritchett 1960, 156-57; see further note 7.  The sea level of the Aegean also appears to have risen about 10 feet; see Pritchett 1959, 255-56.

[iii] Nep. Milt. 5.3: arbores multis locis errant rarae; Caspari 1926, 103 (followed by How & Wells 1912, II, 112) believes the Greek center was weakened in order to accommodate trees and vines, but fear of being outflanked was a far more compelling reason; see .  The plain was relatively free of trees when observed by Frazer at the end of the nineteenth century; Frazer 1898, 433.

[iv] Woods: Aesch. Eleg. 3: Maraqw&nion a!lsoj; Paus. 1.14.5: to_ Maraqw~ni a!lsoj; marsh: Paus. 1.32.7: li&mnh ta_ polla_ e(lw&dhj.  Recent geophysical examination suggests that the marsh was once a lake and before that a lagoon, and in an unpublished study Richard Dunn concludes that in 490 it was in fact a lake.  Pausanias describes it as a “mostly marshy lake,” but that is over 600 years after the battle.  On the other hand, he describes the Persian fugitives blundering into the marsh and suffering great casualties, which seems very unlikely were it simply a lake with marshy fringes.  It is also unlikely that the channel connecting the marsh/lake to the sea was used by the Persian ships, assuming it was even navigable.  Marsh would make the mooring and unloading of the vessels more difficult, and the ease with which almost all the ships escaped makes more sense were they on the beach; see also note 16.  There is also evidence that the northern part of the shoreline was further inland and the souther further out in 490.  On the marsh and coast see Kretnz 117, 214-15 and the map 155.

[v] Soteriades 1935, 120-21; Pritchett 1960, 152-54, 1965, 83-84; Themelis 1974, 239-41; Petrakos 1995, 68-86; Hammond 1973, 186-87 believes there was a marsh in antiquity because of the powerful springs in the area and because of scholia on Pindar claiming that Athena Hellotis was so named because of the marsh at Marathon, but the rise in the sea level better explains the emergence of a marsh and the scholia are extremely vague (e0n, peri&, pro_j) on the spatial location of the marsh to Marathon, which itself could be the deme, the town or the whole tetropolis.  The stone attesting to a temenos of Athena was in fact found near the chapel of St. Demetrios, a mile and half north of the Brexisa (Vanderpool 1966b, 319-20), and the scholiast may simply be wrong, Hellotis with its double lambda deriving instead from Hellotia, a daughter of Timander.

[vi] See the admiralty chart in Hammond 1973, 218.

[vii] Burn 1966, 161-62 believes there was no Charadra in antiquity because deforestation of the surrounding hills had not yet occurred, but flashfloods in the area were already proverbial: Demon FGH 327 F 8 (= Strabo 8.6.16, Zen. 5.29, Suda s.v.): Oi0nai=oi th_n xara&dran.  In 1828 Leake (see his map in Hammond 1973, 183) observed the two torrents following roughly the same courses they do today, and Soteriades 1935, 132-33 concluded the Charadra followed the same course in antiquity.  But in the 1960s Pritchett confirmed the earlier reports of Staes that the level of the plain at the Soros had risen some ten feet, and this together with the sherd deposits around the torrent convinced him and two separate geologists that the present course of the torrent is not that of 490; a map made in 1792 in fact shows the Charadra following a different course; Pritchett 1960, 141-42, 156-57, 1969, 6.

[viii] Paus. 1.32.6; Pritchett 1965, 84-85; Petrakos 1995, 52-55.  The depth of the water table, presently as little as 23 feet near the Brexiza marsh, increases as one moves inland towards Stavrokoraki, where it is now some 65 feet; though certainty is impossible because of the tectonic activity in the area, the water table was probably higher in antiquity, before another twenty-five hundred years of alluviation.

[ix] Placing Marathon near Plasi fits the order Probalinthos – Marathon – Trykorinthos given by Strabo 9.1.22, which traces demes north along the coast.  The archaeological literature on the demes is extensive; see Travlos 1988, 220-21; the most recent and/or pertinent: Pritchett 1960, 149-52, 1965, 83-88, 1969, 1-11; Vanderpool 1966b, 319-22; Marinatos 1970a, 5-9, 1972, 6-7; Themelis 1974, 229-35, 239-42; Traill 1986, 146-48.  Petrakos 1995, 1-2 suggests that there was no village of Marathon but rather houses scattered about the plain, but such would constitute a big exception in Pausanias’ itinerary.

[x] In 1996 I could not find the head of the Oinoe trail, but did climb the Rapendosa track for about a half mile; it was extremely steep and rough.  A description of the tracks can be found in Frazer 1898, 441-42.  The excellent road observed between Stamata and Marathona by Clarke in 1801 cannot be earlier than the late fifth century; Ober 1982, 457-58.

[xi] Paus. 1.29.4, 32.3 is clearly referring to this tomb.  Schliemann 1884, 85-88 believed it to be prehistoric, but the excavations of Staes confirmed the date of 490; see esp. Staes 1893, 46-63; Hammond 1973, 172-78.  Pausanias describes only a grave (τάφς) with stone slabs (στh=λαι) inscribed with the names of the dead, which slabs G. Spyropoulos has claimed to have recently found in the villa of Herodes Atticus in the Peloponnesus.  He consequentlty suggests that it was Herodes who erected the mound when he purloined the inscriptions of the Marathon dead, which is barely possible since Pausanias would have passed through Marathon before AD 174 and Herodes died in 177; report in Αρχαιολογία Archaeology Newsroom 8 May 2009; the book mentioned in the report, Die Architektur der Villa des Herodes Atticus zu Eva/Loukou, can not be located and is perhaps classified.

[xii] Paus. 1.32.3; Marinatos 1970a, 9-28, 1970b, 155-66, 1970c, 351-66; Hammond 1973, 197-98; Burn 91-92.

[xiii] Pritchett 1985, 129.

[xiv] See esp. Welwei 1979, 101-6, who suggests these might be the remains of scouts who were surprised and killed by the Persians; Themelis 1974, 244 believes they are normal local burials despite the absence of any females.

[xv] Clarke 1818, 27-28; Leake 1841, 101; Pritchett 1985, 128.

[xvi] Paus. 1.32.4-5.


[xvii] Miltiades monument: Leake 1841, 101; trophy: Vanderpool 1966a.


[xviii] Paus. 1.32.5: o1rugma.  Von Eschenburg 1886, 10.


[xix] That the Stoa Poikile paintings (Paus. 1.15.3) show Persians fleeing into the marsh between illustrations of the battle and the fighting at the ships places the fleet at the Schoenia.  On mooring the ships see Harrison 1999, 168-71; Whitehead 1993, 95-98; Herod. 6.107.2 says the ships were “moored” or “anchored”: ta_j ne&aj o#rmize.  Herod. 6.114.1 shows a Persian ship stern-first, and the fact that the fleet got away so quickly suggests stern-first mooring.  The Brescia sarcophagus, thought to reproduce the scenes in the Stoa Poilile, shows ships moored stern-first; see Vanderpool 1966a, pl. 35.

[xx] Following a suggestion of Macan 1895, II, 244, n. 8, van der Veer 1982, 398-99 believes there was no Persian camp.

[xxi] Most modern authors place the camp around Trykorynthos, but some have it west of the marsh: Macan 1895, II, 244-45; Munro 1926, 242; Schachermeyr 1951, 18-19; Vanderpool 1966b, 323; et. al.; Shrimpton 1980, 30-31 curiously places it near the Soros.  Shrimpton 1980, 31, n. 23 argues that the pasturage available at the marsh would be dangerous to horses fed on hay and grain, but surely the Persian horse-handlers would approach this change in feeding very carefully, and in any case Trykorinthos provided easy access to water and better security after dark.  See Frazer 1898, 432 for a description of the marsh before it was drained.

[xxii] Paus. 1.32.7; Frazer 1898, 432 observed “niche-like excavations” on Stavrokoraki; Leake 1841, 96 found a “small cavern” on Drakonera.  Since the Persians are unlikely to have engaged in excavating rock, it is likely the story of the stables and tent later attached themselves to one or the other of these formations.

[xxiii] Herod. 6.108.1: e0n teme/nei+  9Hrakleo/v.

[xxv] IG i.3 3 (=SEG x.2): hερακλείο[ισι]; see Vanderpool 1942, 329-37, 1966b, 322-23, 1984.

[xxvi] See note 5.

[xxvii] Soteriades 1935.

[xxviii]  Including me: Berthold 1976-1977, 88-91; some of the others: How & Wells II, 109; Delbrück 1920, 54; Munro 1926,  241-42; Maurice 1932, 21; Pritchett 138-40; Burn 243; Hammond 189-90; Billows 208, who apparently did not get the memo on the second inscription.

[xxix]IG i.3 1015bis: ερακλεῖ…τὸμ Πυλίοις ἀνέθεκε ερακ[λ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘]; see Marinatos 1972, 6; Kamanoudes 1978, 237-42; esp Matthaiou 2003, 190-94.  IG i.3 503/4: αἰχμὲν / στε̑σαμ πρόσθε πυλο̑ν; see Matthaiou 2003, 194-97.

[xxx] Virtually everyone now accepts the location at the entrance: e.g., Burn 1977, 90-91; van der Veer 1982, 96-97; Evans 292; Lazenby 54-56; Krentz 118-21.