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any public vice except avarice, and even that, perhaps, on not very sufficient grounds.
The most remarkable event of his reign was the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and dispersion of the Jews. This event took place A.D. 69. The open country and provincial towns had been subdued by Vespasian, and the Jews made their last stand in the city of Jerusalem. That city was strongly fortified and defended with the utmost obstinacy. The Jews in the city were divided into two factions that were in deadly hostility with one another. The two factions, however, one keeping possession of the city, and the other of the temple, united in the defence against the Romans; and the city was so strong that Titus felt himself under the necessity of calling a council of his officers, when it was determined to surround it with a trench, and thus reduce it by famine. In the meanwhile, however, the operations for assaulting the city went on without relaxation; and at length the besiegers forced their way into it, when a scene of unexampled carnage ensued. Titus attempted to save the temple, but in vain. The city and temple were burned to the ground, every wall thrown down, and the ground on which it stood plowed up and sowed with salt as the emblem of perpetual desolation. Thus was the prediction of our Lord fulfilled, that not one stone of the temple should be left on another.
Vespasian and Titus then entered Rome in triumph. A triumphal arch was erected for the occasion, which still stands almost entire. On this arch are sculptured some of the scenes of the Jewish war, and among others the Roman soldiers bearing in the triumph, the table of show bread, the silver trumpets, and the golden candlestick with seven branches. Vespasian also built a prodigious amphitheatre, capable of holding 80,000 spectators seated, and 20,000 standing, which still remains almost entire, and is known by the name of the Coliseum. Twelve thousand Jewish captives were employed in its erection. Vespasian reigned in all ten years, and died of natural disease, leaving his son Titus to succeed to the empire.
Titus ascended the throne A.D 79, and has been held up to all ages as a prince possessing almost every virtue. It is to be observed, however, that he reigned only two years and two months, and that most of the Roman emperors began their reigns well. Had Nero himself reigned so short a time, he too would have been set forth as an example of every thing amiable and great. In the first year of his reign, A.D. 80, eruptions of Mount Vesuvius took place, by which the city of Herculaneum was overwhelmed in a torrent of lava, and Pompeii buried under an immense mass of ashes. These towns were discovered in the beginning of the last century, Herculaneum in 1713, and Pompeii 40 years afterwards; and from their ruins have been collected some of the most interesting remains of antiquity.
Towards the latter end of the reign of Vespasian, Agricola had been sent to Britain; and, in the reign of Titus he succeeded in bringing the southern part of the island under the dominion of the empire. After a reign of two years and two months, Titus was seized with a violent fever, of which he died, not without the suspicion of having been poisoned by his brother Domitian..
Domitian succeeded him, A.D. 81, and, at first, he, too, reigned well, but soon became one of the most degraded and detestable of the Roman emperors. His character was a compound of arrogance, cruelty, and licentiousness. Agricola's success in Britain filled him with envy; he recalled him, and that general dying soon after, it is suspected that Domitian procured his death by poison. Men were daily put to death for the most trivial causes. In his reign, the second persecution of the Christians took place, when the Apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos, and there wrote his Apocalypse, or book of Revelations. The governor of Upper Germany revolted from him; but prematurely he was defeated and slain. At length his wife Domitia, having discovered that her name was inserted in his tablets to be destroyed, and also the names of several officers about the palace, headed a conspiracy against him, by which he was put to death.
His death was regretted only by the soldiery, whose favour he had taken care to secure, by frequent and large distributions of money among them. The Senate immediately began to load his memory with reproach, and proceeded, before the soldiers had an opportunity of making an appointment of their own, to name his successor, so that on the very day of his death, Nerva was chosen to the empire A.D. 96.
Nerva was an amiable but somewhat imbecile man. The people, however, had been so much accustomed to be governed by the most furious tyrants, that they regarded his gentle reign with rapture. Nerva recalled all the Christians who had been banished from Rome during the former reign. Finding the soldiery disposed to dictation and tumult, and his own strength decaying, for he was about 65 years of age when he was called to the throne, he wisely, overlooking his own family, chose Ulpius Trajan to succeed him; and, about three months after this, he died, having reigned only one year and four months. Nerva was the first foreigner that ever reigned in Rome.
Trajan accordingly succeeded him, A.D. 98. He was a Spaniard by birth, and at the time of his adoption by Nerva, was governor of Upper Germany. He had been the pupil of the celebrated Plutarch the biographer. He was man of great vigour, both of body and mind, and proved a warlike and energetic prince. The barbarous nations that lay upon the outskirts of the empire were now becoming troublesome and dangerous. The Dacians that inhabited the country to the north of the Danube, invaded the empire. Trajan marched against them, defeated them, erected a bridge across the Danube which consisted of 22 arches, the ruins of which remain till the present day, and reduced Dacia to the condition of a province of the Roman empire.
Trajan, however, led away by the prejudices that existed against the Christians, permitted them, about the ninth year of his reign, to be furiously persecuted; and many of them were put to death by popular tumults, and by judicial proceedings. After some time, however, being satisfied that they were an unoffending
- people, he put a stop to the persecution. In his reign, the Jews made a fanatical insurrection against the government of Rome, in all parts of the empire, expecting that some signal deliverance would be sent to them from God. They took advantage of the absence of Trajan, in an expedition to the east, to massacre all the Greeks and Romans whom they could get into their power, perpetrating the most revolting cruelties. Their crimes, however, only recoiled upon themselves, and brought upon them a terrible retribution from the enraged army and populace of the empire.
In the east, Trajan extended the limits of his empire; but, on returning towards Rome, he was seized in the city of Selucia with apoplexy, of which disease he died after a reign of 19 years, A.D. 117. A splendid column was erected to his memory during the reign of his successor, which still continues to be one of the most interesting ornaments of modern Rome.
Adrian, his nephew, was chosen to succeed him.The character of his government was totally different from that of Trajan. He was a man of peace, and adopted every method to promote and maintain peace. He was one of the most remarkable of the Roman emperors for the variety of his endowments: and, although his private character was stained with many faults, his public acts seem to have been dictated by sound policy. The barbarians still continuing their irruptions into the empire, had adopted the method of watching the absence of the Roman armies to make their incursions, and retiring before them when they came to drive them back. Adrian, finding that according to this mode of warfare, the bridge which Trajan built was at least as convenient for his enemies as for himself, destroyed it. His mode of obtaining peace in the eastern part of the empire, was an act of more questionable policy. He
purchased the barbarians off by large sums of money; which could only encourage them to meditate new invasions.
He gave orders for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which work was performed with great expedition, by the assistance of the Jews; but that infatuated people being enraged by the privileges which were granted to the Pagan worshippers in their renovated city, fell upon the Romans and Christians that were dispersed through Judea, and mercilessly put them to the sword. Adrian sent a powerful army against them, which subdued them, but not till after two years of warfare, during which 1000 towns were demolished, and nearly 600,000 men killed in battle. Adrian banished all Jews from Judea, and forbade them, on pain of death, to come within view of it.
Adrian spent a considerable part of his time in travelling through the empire. Among other places, he visited Britain; and, for the better security of the southern parts of this province, he built a wall of earth and stone across the island, between the river Eden, in Cumberland, and the Tyne, in Northumberland, some portions of which can still be traced. After 13 years, spent in striving to regulate the empire, and reform abuses in it, he returned to Rome, with the intention of ending his days there: and while there, he introduced many wise regulations into the city, particularly the restraining of masters from putting to death their slaves without trial, and preventing slaves from being tortured to discover the murder of their masters.
As he advanced in age, he became subject to great bodily pain, so that he ardently desired to die, and requested those around him to dispatch him; none however could be found to engage in so dangerous a service, and he was permitted to die naturally, after a reign of nearly 22 years, A.D. 138. He was succeeded by
Antoninus, who, partly from his attachment to the idolworship of the empire, and partly from his tenderness to Adrian while he was dying, has obtained the name of Pius. His character stands high for justice and moderation, and generally for primitive strictness of morals.