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PARTS CLXIX. TO CLXXIV. JANUARY—JUNE, 1880.
CHAPTERS ON EARLY CHURCH HISTORY.
BY CECILIA MACGREGOR,
CHAPTER XIII, AURELIŲs had commenced his reign by associating his adopted brother Lucius Verus with him in the government. Verus proved wholly incompetent to direct the affairs over which he nominally presided, while some were found to insinuate that, intoxicated by his lieutenant's successes, he dreamt that he could govern the Empire alone, and actually intrigued to overthrow his colleague and patron.*
At the outbreak of the war against the Parthians, Aurelius sent Verus to the east, but he remained at Antioch during almost the whole of the campaign, and only crossed the Euphrates once. After four years Verus returned, bearing the trophies of victory, but, at the same time, the seeds of a calamity which bore fruits of disaster outweighing all the barren honours of his triumph. A fearful pestilence, aggravated doubtless in its effects by the long continued famine, ravaged the countries from Ethiopia to Gaul : it raged with incredible fury, carrying off innumerable victims, among whom were numbered some of the most illustrious men in Rome and the principal cities of Italy. Amongst either the good or great, Verus certainly cannot be included. In his case the proverb, 'Sibi quisque peccat,' came literally true, for, on returning home, he fell sick of the plague, and died at Altinum, in Venetia, A.D. 169. Aurelius can scarcely have regretted the decease of so unworthy a colleague.
It is related that, on one occasion, the Emperor and his soldiers found themselves surrounded by the enemy in far superior numbers. Their position was a critical one, as the Quadi had seized every outlet and cut off all their supplies of water, and soon they would have been forced to succumb to the mere effects of heat and thirst; for, though offering a stubborn resistance, they were reduced to the greatest distress. A legion of Christian soldiers then knelt down and prayed ;
* See Merivale's History of the Romans under the Empire. VOL. 29.