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From: "Alex David Groce" <adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu>
Subject: (urth) Severus, too
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 14:51:28 

I think this article, also just sent in, might possibly be more relevant to our
Severian.  Our Sev. definitely is an "Emperor" (I think the symbolic links
between Autarchs and Roman Emperors are fairly evident).  And the syncretic
religious ideas, with a clear learning towards Christianity also seem to tie in
nicely.  Codification of the justice system, etc.--if he'd abolished some kind
of torture, I'd say this was the mother lode...

Severus, ALEXANDER, Roman emperor, b. at Acco in Palestine, 208; murdered by
his mutinous soldiers at Sicula on the Rhine, 235 (Sicklingen near Mainz).  He
was the son of Genessius Marcianus and Julia Mammaea, and was known in youth as
Alexianus.  When Elagabalus, his cousin and father by adoption, was murdered in
222, Alexander succeeded to the imperial throne.  His education had been
carefully conducted by Mammaea at Antioch, whither she invited, some time
between 218 and 228, the great Christian teacher, Origen.  Eusebius relates
(Hist. eccl., VI, xxi, XXviii) that she was "a very religious woman", and that
Origen remained some time with her, instructing her in all that could serve to
glorify the Lord and confirm His Divine teachings.  It does not, however,
follow that she was a Christian.  Her son Alexander was certainly very
favorable to the Christians.  His historian, Lampridius, tells us several
interesting details concerning the emperor's respect for the new religion.  He
placed in his private oratory (lararium) images of Abraham and Christ before
those of other renowned persons, like Orpheus and Apollonius of Tyana (Vita.
Alex., xxix); he tolerated the free exercise of the Christian faith
("Christianos esse passus est", ibid., xxii); he recommended in the
appointement of imperial governors the prudence and solicitude of the
Christians in the selection of their bishops (ibid., xlv); he caused to be
adjudged to them (ibid., xlix) a building site at Rome that the tavern-keepers
(cauponarii) claimed, on the principle that it was better that God should be in
some way honoured there than that the site should revert to such uses; he
caused the famous words of Christ (Luke, vi, 31):  "And as you would that men
should to to you, do you also to them in like manner" to be engraved on the
walls of the palace of the Caesars; he even cherished the idea of building a
temple to Our Lord, but refrained when it was said to him that very soon all
the other divinities would cease to be honoured (ibid., xliii).
	In spite of these signs of imperial goodwill, the Christians continued
to suffer, even in this mild reign.  Some writers think that it was then that
St. Cecilia died for the Christian faith.  His principal jurisconsult, Ulpian,
is said by Lactantius (Inst. Div., V, ii) to have codified, in his work on the
duties of a proconsul (De officio proconsulis), all anti-Christian imperial
legislation (rescripta principum), in order that the magistrates might more
easily apply the common law (ut doceret quibus oportet eos paenis affici qui se
cultores Dei confiterentur).  Fragments of this cruel code, from the seventh of
the (ten) lost books of Ulpian on the proconsular office may yet be seen in the
"Digests" (I, tit. xvi; xvii, tit. II 3; xvliii, tit. IV, 1, and tit. xiii, 6).
The surname "Severus", no less than the manner in which both he and Mammaea met
their death, indicate the temper of his administration.  He sought to establish
at Rome good order and moral decency in public and private life, and made some
use of his power as censor morum by nominating twelve officials (curatores
urbis) for the execution of his wise dispositions.  He seems to have been a
disciple of the prevailing religious "syncretism" or eclecticism, established
at Rome by his predecessor Elagabalus as the peculiar contribution of this
remarkable Syro-Roman family to the slow but certain transformation of the
great pagan Empire into a mighty instrument of Divine Providence for the
healing of the moral ills that were then reaching fullness.  All historians
agree as to his life, and the moral elevation of his public and private
principles; Christian historians are usually of opinion that these elements of
virtue were owing to the education he received under the direction of Origen.
LAMPRIDIUS, Vita Alexandri in Script. Hist. Aug.; TILLEMONT, His. des empereurs
romains, III (Paris, 174), 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 le premiere moitie du III siecle
(Paris, 1886); TROPLONG, De l'influence du Christianisme sur le droit civil des
romains (Pais, 1842; 1902).

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - John 8:32
Alex David Groce (adgroce@eos.ncsu.edu)
Senior (Computer Science/Multidisciplinary Studies in Technology & Fiction)
'98-99 NCSU AITP Student Chapter President
608 Charleston Road, Apt. 1E (919)-233-7366

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