THE SENATE OF WOMEN
SEVERUS was succeeded by his two sons Geta and
Caracalla. Geta, the younger, was in his brother's
way, and to get rid of him this monster pursued and
murdered him in his mother's arms. Having thus become
sole master of the empire, Caracalla surpassed all
those who came before him in cruelty and vice.
He was so suspicious that he is said to have murdered
twenty thousand persons, simply because he fancied that
they were opposed to him. Then, too, hearing that the
people at Alexandria had ventured to make jokes about
him, he had all the inhabitants put to the sword,
without any regard for either age or sex.
Caracalla visited all the different parts of his realm,
merely for the sake of plundering his subjects. Part
of the money he spent in building some famous public
 at Rome; but he committed so many crimes that the
people all hated him. Macrinus, the commander of the
pretorian guard, finally murdered and succeeded him;
but his reign was soon brought to an end, too, by the
election of Heliogabalus by the Syrian troops.
Baths of Caracalla.
Although the new emperor was only fourteen years of
age, he had already acted as high priest of the Syrian
 Elagabalus, whose Greek name he had taken as his
own. The beauty of Heliogabalus was remarkable, and he
delighted in wearing magnificent robes, and in taking
part in imposing ceremonies.
He is noted in history chiefly for his folly and his
vices, and is said to have married and divorced six
wives before he was eighteen years old. Elagabalus was
made the principal god in Rome, and the emperor, we are
told, offered human sacrifices to this idol in secret,
and danced before it in public.
Either to make fun of the senators, or to satisfy a
fancy of his mother and grandmother, Heliogabalus made
a senate for women. His mother was made chief of the
new assembly, and presided at every meeting with much
pomp and gravity.
Even the Romans were shocked by the emperor's conduct,
so the soldiers soon rose up against him. Bursting
into the palace one day, they dragged Heliogabalus from
the closet where he was hiding, killed him and his
mother, and scornfully flung their bodies into the
As soon as the soldiers had murdered the emperor, they
proceeded to elect his cousin Alexander, who proved a
great contrast to him in every way. Both of these
young men belonged to the family of Severus; but, while
Heliogabalus was ignorant and vicious, Alexander was
both wise and good.
Unfortunately, however, he was not intended for the
ruler of so restive a people as the Romans. Although
he shone as a painter, sculptor, poet, mathematician,
and musician, he had no military talents at all.
During his reign, the barbarians came pouring over the
 Rhine, and threatened to overrun all Gaul. Alexander
marched against them in person, for he was no coward;
but he was slain by his own soldiers during a mutiny.
The trouble is said to have been caused by
Maximinus, who became Alexander's successor, and
hence the twenty-fifth emperor of Rome.