Monday, January 09, 2006

Macrinus (217-218 A.D.)

Macrinus (217-218 A.D.) Provides a biography of the life and reign of this Third Century Roman Emperor. Macrinus was a highly unsuccessful ruler. Many thought he may have been involved in the murder of his predecessor, Caracalla.

He had many failings but it was the issue of paying his soldiers which may have brought him down. The article notes, "But grumblings in Rome were insignificant compared to the growing unease among the soldiers on campaign in the East. The defeat at Nisibis disheartened troops. Macrinus also introduced an unpopular, two-tier pay system in which new recruits received less money than veterans. The move was a way to save money after the pay raise granted by Caracalla, but it lowered morale as well. "

Cutting the pay of the men with swords who support you is a bad idea!

From the site:

Marcus Opellius Macrinus was the first emperor who was neither a senator nor of a senatorial family at the time of his accession. His 14-month reign was spent entirely in the East, where he proved unable to maintain the influence gained in the region by the campaigns of his predecessor, Caracalla, nor was Macrinus able to shake the suspicion that he was responsible for Caracalla's murder.

Macrinus was born in Caesarea in Mauretania around the year 165. While it is highly conjectural that, as a young man, the future emperor was the dedicatee of Ampelius' encyclopedic Liber memoralis, Macrinus undoubtedly received a literary education that enabled him to rise high as a bureaucrat in the imperial service during the reign of the emperor Severus. Caracalla made Macrinus a praetorian prefect, an equestrian post that was second to the emperor in power. Macrinus shared the position with the experienced soldier Adventus, and the pair served Caracalla during the emperor's campaigns in the East.

By the end of the second campaigning season in the winter of 216-17, rumors were flying both in Rome and in the East that Macrinus was promoting himself as a possible future emperor. Caracalla must have been aware of the rumors concerning Macrinus, for the contemporary historian Cassius Dio notes the emperor was already reassigning members of Macrinus' staff. Such personnel moves may have accelerated Macrinus' plot.

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