Caracalla or Caracallus
Caracalla Or Caracallus
(properly MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS BASSIANUS), a Roman emperor. He was son of the emperor Septimius Severus, and was born at Lyons, A.D. 188. The name Caracalla never appears on medals, but was a nickname from his long-hooded tunic, made in the fashion of the Gauls, and so called in their language. "After his father's death, A.D. 211, he ascended the throne as co-regent with his brother Publius Septimius Antoninus Geta, whom he afterward caused to be murdered. Having bribed the Praetorians to make him sole emperor, Caracalla next directed his cruelty against all the adherents of Geta, of whom twenty thousand of both sexes — including the great jurist Papinianus — were put to death. Innumerable acts of oppression and robbery were employed to raisesupplies for the unbounded extravagance of the despot, and to pay his soldiers. In his famous constitution, he bestowed Roman citizenship on all his free subjects not citizens — who formed the majority, especially in the provinces — but simply in order to levy a greater amount of taxes on releases and heritages, which were paid only by citizens. In his campaigns he imitated at one time Alexander, at another time Sulla; while his main object was to oppress and exhaust the provinces, which had been in a great measure spared by the tyranny of former emperors. In 217 he was assassinated, at the instigation of Macrinus, prefect of the Praetorians, by one of his veterans named Martialis, on the 8th of April, 217, on the way from Edessa to Carrhae. Historians paint the life of Caracalla in the darkest colors. Among the buildings of Caracalla in Rome, the baths — Thermae Caracallae— near Porta Copena, were most celebrated, and their ruins are still magnificent." Caracalla, cruel to mankind, was yet indifferent to religion, and during his reign no new persecutions were devised against the Christians. Spartianus (Vita Caracalli, 1:707) tells a story of his being greatly affected, at seven years of age, on hearing that a Jewish boy had been punished for his religion. From a passage in Tertullian (ad Scapulam, cap. 4) it is inferred that Caracalla had a Christian nurse. — Chambers's Encyc.; Lardner, Works, 7:310-312; Gibbon, Dec. and Fall (ed. Milman), ch. 6.