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three pairs of lovers with space



Sardanappalos was, according to a Greek misunderstanding, the last Assyrian King and a classic literary model for self-indulgence.  As used here, however, by Dio Cassius in his Roman History, it is the nickname he always uses for the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (203/4-222), better known by other nicknames, such as Heliogabalos or Elagabalus,[1] both based on his High Priesthood of the cult of the Syrian sun-god Ilāh hag-Gabal.[2]

Sardanapallos, as he shall be called here, following our author,[3] became emperor at fourteen and was the only boy so young who ever took power in Rome into his own hands, which he did very much to have his own way. In particular, more than any other boy known from antiquity, he violated Graeco-Roman social rules by openly showing sexual enthusiasm for the passive role taken by boys in Greek love.

Dio, twice a Roman consul and much involved in public affairs before and after Sardanapallos’s reign, wrote his 80 books of Roman history down to the year 229 in the years down to that date and after 22 years of research.  He implies he had been in Rome at the time, remarking after his account of Sardanapallos’s downfall:

Thus far I have described events with as great accuracy as I could in every case, but for subsequent events I have not found it possible to give an accurate account, for the reason that I did not spend much time in Rome.” (XXII 2)

Two other ancients wrote quite long accounts of Sardanapallos. One by Lampridius also has much to say about his sexual antics with men, but was written much later, while the other by Herodian, also contemporary, is vivid on the role of his pubescent beauty in his rise to power, but is reticent about his sex life.

The translation is by Earnest Cary and Herbert Foster in the Loeb Classical Library volume CLXXVII (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1927). Their Latinisations of Greek names have been replaced with transliterations.

"Sardanapallos"'s entrance into Rome in early 219, illustrated by Auguste Leroux for the 1902 edition of the novel L'Agonie by Jean Lombard.


LXXX 13 i-17 i


But this Sardanapallos, who saw fit to make even the gods cohabit under due form of marriage, lived most licentiously himself from first to last. He married many women, and had intercourse with even more without any legal sanction; yet it was not that he had any need of them himself, but simply that he wanted to imitate their actions when he should lie with his lovers and wanted to get accomplices in his wantonness by associating with them indiscriminately.

He used his body both for doing and allowing many strange things, which no one could endure to tell or hear of; but his most conspicuous acts, which it would be impossible to conceal, were the following. He would go to the taverns by night, wearing a wig, and there ply the trade of a female huckster. He frequented the notorious brothels, drove out the prostitutes, and played the prostitute himself.

Finally, he set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room, as the harlots do, and shaking the curtain which hung from gold rings, while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by. There were, of course, men who had been specially instructed to play their part.

For, as in other matters, so in this business, too, he had numerous agents who sought out those who could best please him by their foulness. He would collect money from his patrons and give himself airs over his gains; he would also dispute with his associates in this shameful occupation, claiming that he had more lovers than they and took in more money. This is the way, now, that he behaved toward all alike who had such relations with him; but he had, besides, one favourite “husband,” whom he wished to appoint Caesar for that very reason.

… When trying someone in court he really had more or less the appearance of a man, but everywhere else he showed affectation in his actions and in the quality of his voice. For instance, he used to dance, not only in the orchestra, but also, in a way, even while walking, performing sacrifices, receiving salutations, or delivering a speech. And finally,—to go back now to the story which I began,—he was bestowed in marriage and was termed wife, mistress, and queen. He worked with wool, sometimes wore a hair-net, and painted his eyes, daubing them with white lead and alkanet. Once, indeed, he shaved his chin and held a festival to mark the event; but after that he had the hairs plucked out, so as to look more like a woman. And he often reclined while receiving the salutations of the senators.

The husband of this “woman” was Hierokles, a Carian slave, once the favourite of Gordios, from whom he had learned to drive a chariot. It was in this connexion that he won the emperor’s favour by a most remarkable chance. It seems that in a certain race Hierocles fell out of his chariot just opposite the seat of Sardanapallos, losing his helmet in his fall, and being still beardless and adorned with a crown of yellow hair, he attracted the attention of the emperor and was immediately rushed to the palace; and there by his nocturnal feats he captivated Sardanapallos more than ever and became exceedingly powerful. Indeed, he even had greater influence than the emperor himself, and it was thought a small thing that his mother, while still a slave, should be brought to Rome by soldiers and be numbered among the wives of ex-consuls. Certain other men, too, were frequently honoured by the emperor and became powerful, some because they had joined in his uprising and others because they committed adultery with him. For he wished to have the reputation of committing adultery, so that in this respect, too, he might imitate the most lewd women; and he would often allow himself to be caught in the very act, in consequence of which he used to be violently upbraided by his “husband” and beaten, so that he had black eyes. His affection for this “husband” was no light inclination, but an ardent and firmly fixed passion, so much so that he not only did not become vexed at any such harsh treatment, but on the contrary loved him the more for it and wished to make him Caesar in very fact; and he even threatened his grandmother when she opposed him in this matter, and he became at odds with the soldiers largely on this man’s account. This was one of the things that was destined to lead to his destruction.

Aureus of the boy-emperor. The reverse reads "Sanct Deo Soli Elagabal" (To the Holy Sun God Elagabal), and depicts a four-horse, gold chariot carrying the holy stone of the Emesa temple

Aurelius Zotikos, a native of Smyrna, whom they also called “Cook,” after his father’s trade, incurred the emperor’s thorough love and thorough hatred, and for the latter reason his life was saved. This Aurelius not only had a body that was beautiful all over, seeing that he was an athlete, but in particular he greatly surpassed all others in the size of his private parts. This fact was reported to the emperor by those who were on the look-out for such things, and the man was suddenly whisked away from the games and brought to Rome, accompanied by an immense escort, larger than Abgarus had had in the reign of Severus or Tiridates in that of Nero. He was appointed cubicularius before he had even been seen by the emperor, was honoured by the name of the latter’s grandfather, Avitus, was adorned with garlands as at a festival, and entered the palace lighted by the glare of many torches. Sardanapallos, on seeing him, sprang up with rhythmic movements, and then, when Aurelius addressed him with the usual salutation, “My Lord Emperor, Hail!” he bent his neck so as to assume a ravishing feminine pose, and turning his eyes upon him with a melting gaze, answered without any hesitation: “Call me not Lord, for I am a Lady.” Then Sardanapallos immediately joined him in the bath, and finding him when stripped to be equal to his reputation, burned with even greater lust, reclined on his breast, and took dinner, like some loved mistress, in his bosom. But Hierokles fearing that Zotikos would captivate the emperor more completely than he himself could, and that he might therefore suffer some terrible fate at his hands, as often happens in the case of rival lovers, caused the cup-bearers, who were well disposed toward him, to administer a drug that abated the other’s manly prowess. And so Zotikos, after a whole night of embarrassment, being unable to secure an erection, was deprived of all the honours he had received, and was driven out of the palace, out of Rome, and later out of the rest of Italy; and this saved his life.

He carried his lewdness to such a point that he asked the physicians to contrive a woman’s vagina in his body by means of an incision, promising them large sums for doing so.

Sardanapallos himself was destined not much later to receive a well-deserved reward for his debauchery. For in consequence of doing and submitting to these things he became hated by the populace and by the soldiers, to whom he was most attached, and at last he was slain by them in the very camp.

[13 i] Ἀλλ᾿ οὗτος ὁ Σαρδανάπαλλος, ὁ καὶ τοὺς θεοὺς γάμου νόμῳ συνοικίζειν ἀξιῶν, ἀσελγέστατα αὐτὸς διεβίω. ἔγημε μὲν γὰρ πολλὰς γυναῖκας, καὶ ἔτι πλείοσιν ἄνευ τινὸς νομίμου προσρήσεως συνείργνυτο, οὐ μέντοι ὡς καὶ αὐτός τι αὐτῶν δεόμενος, ἀλλὰ ἵνα τῇ συγκοιμήσει τῇ μετὰ τῶν ἐραστῶν τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν μιμῆται καὶ κοινωνοὺς τῆς ὕβρεως, φύρδην ἀναφερόμενος [ii] αὐταῖς, λαμβάνῃ.

πολλὰ μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἄτοπα, ἃ μήτε λέγων μήτε ἀκούων ἄν τις καρτερήσειεν, καὶ ἔδρασε τῷ σώματι καὶ ἔπαθε· τὰ δὲ δὴ περιφανέστατα, καὶ ἃ μηδ᾿ ἂν ἀποκρύψαιτό τις, τάδε ἐστίν. ἐς καπηλεῖα ἐσῄει νύκτωρ περιθεταῖς κόμαις χρώμενος, καὶ τὰ τῶν καπηλίδων εἰργάζετο. ἐς τὰ πορνεῖα τὰ περιβόητα ἐσεφοίτα, [iii] καὶ τὰς ἑταίρας ἐξελαύνων ἐπορνεύετο.

Heliogabalus High Priest of the Sun by Simeon Solomon, 1866

καὶ τέλος ἐν τῷ παλατίῳ οἴκημά τι ἀποδείξας ἐνταῦθα ἠσέλγαινε, γυμνός τ᾿ ἀεὶ ἐπὶ τῆς θύρας αὐτοῦ ἑστὼς ὥσπερ αἱ πόρναι, καὶ τὸ σινδόνιον χρυσοῖς κρίκοις ἐξηρτημένον διασείων, τούς τε παριόντας ἁβρᾷ τε καὶ κεκλασμένῃ τῇ φωνῇ προσεταιριζόμενος. ἦσαν γὰρ οἷς ἐξεπίτηδες τοῦτο ποιεῖν [iv] προσετέτακτο.

ὥσπερ γὰρ καὶ ἐς τἆλλα, καὶ ἐς ἐκεῖνο διερευνητὰς συχνοὺς εἶχε, δι᾿ ὧν ἐπολυπραγμόνει τοὺς μάλιστα αὐτὸν ἀρέσαι τῇ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ δυναμένους. χρήματά τε παρ᾿ αὐτῶν συνέλεγε, καὶ ἐγαυροῦτο ταῖς ἐμπολαῖς· πρός τε τοὺς συνασχημονοῦντάς οἱ διεφέρετο, πλείους τε ἐραστὰς αὐτῶν ἔχειν καὶ πλεῖον ἀργυρίζεσθαι [14 i] λέγων. καὶ ταῦτα μὲν πρὸς πάντας ὁμοίως τοὺς χρωμένους αὐτῷ ἔδρα, ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἐξαίρετόν τινα ἄνδρα ἔσχεν, ὃν Καίσαρα διὰ τοῦτ᾿ ἀποδεῖξαι ἠθέλησεν.

… [iii] Ὅτι ἐν τῷ δικάζειν τινὰ ἀνήρ πως εἶναι ἐδόκει, ἐν δὲ δὴ τοῖς ἄλλοις τῷ ἔργῳ καὶ τῷ σχήματι τῆς φωνῆς ὡραΐζετο. τά τε γὰρ ἄλλα καὶ ὠρχεῖτο, οὔτι γε ἐν ὀρχήστρᾳ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐμβαδίζων τρόπον τινὰ καὶ θύων ἀσπαζόμενός τε [iv] καὶ δημηγορῶν. καὶ τέλος, ἵν᾿ ἤδη ἐπὶ τὸν ἐξ ἀρχῆς λόγον ἐπανέλθω, καὶ ἐγήματο, γυνή τε καὶ δέσποινα βασιλίς τε ὠνομάζετο, καὶ ἠριούργει, κεκρύφαλόν τε ἔστιν ὅτε ἐφόρει, καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐνηλείφετο, ψιμυθίῳ τε καὶ ἐγχούσῃ ἐχρίετο. ἅπαξ μὲν γάρ ποτε ἀπεκείρατο τὸ γένειον, καὶ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῷ ἑορτὴν ἤγαγε· μετὰ δὲ τοῦτ᾿ ἐψιλίζετο, ὥστε καὶ ἐκ τούτου γυναικίζειν. καὶ πολλάκις καὶ κατακείμενος τοὺς βουλευτὰς ἠσπάζετο.

[15 i] ὁ δὲ δὴ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς Ἱεροκλῆς ἦν, Καρικὸν ἀνδράποδον, Γορδίου ποτὲ παιδικὰ γενόμενον, παρ᾿ οὗ καὶ ἁρματηλατεῖν ἔμαθεν. κἀκ τούτου καὶ παραδοξότατα αὐτῷ ἠρέσθη. ἐν γάρ τοι ἱπποδρομίᾳ τινὶ ἐκπεσὼν τοῦ ἅρματος κατ᾿ αὐτὴν τὴν τοῦ Σαρδαναπάλλου ἕδραν τό τε κράνος ἐν τῇ πτώσει ἀπέρριψε, καὶ ἐκφανεὶς [ii] αὐτῷ (λειογένειος δ᾿ ἔτι ἦν καὶ κόμῃ ξανθῇ ἐκεκόσμητο) ἀνηρπάσθη τε εὐθὺς ἐς τὸ παλάτιον, κἀν τοῖς νυκτερινοῖς ἔργοις ἔτι καὶ μᾶλλον ἑλὼν αὐτὸν ὑπερηυξήθη, ὥστε καὶ ὑπὲρ αὐτὸν ἐκεῖνον ἰσχῦσαι, καὶ βραχύ τι νομισθῆναι τὸ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ ἔτι δούλην οὖσαν ἔς τε τὴν Ῥώμην ὑπὸ στρατιωτῶν ἀχθῆναι κἀν ταῖς τῶν ὑπατευκότων [iii] γυναιξὶ συναριθμηθῆναι. πολλάκις μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἄλλοι τινὲς ἐτιμήθησαν ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἠδυνήθησαν οἱ μὲν ὅτι συνεπανέστησαν, οἱ δὲ ὅτι ἐμοίχευον αὐτόν· καὶ γὰρ μοιχεύεσθαι δοκεῖν, ἵνα κἀν τούτῳ τὰς ἀσελγεστάτας γυναῖκας μιμῆται, ἤθελε, καὶ πολλάκις ἑκὼν καὶ ἐπ᾿ αὐτοφώρῳ ἡλίσκετο, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἐλοιδορεῖτο ἀσελγῶς πρὸς τοῦ ἀνδρός, καὶ ὥστε καὶ ὑπώπια σχεῖν πληγὰς [iv] ἐλάμβανεν. ἐκεῖνον δ᾿ οὖν οὕτως οὐ κούφῃ τινὶ φορᾷ ἀλλὰ συντόνῳ καὶ δευσοποιῷ ἔρωτι ἠγάπα, ὥστε μὴ ὅτι ἐπὶ τοιούτῳ τινὶ ἀγανακτῆσαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὐναντίον ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐκείνοις μᾶλλον αὐτὸν φιλῆσαι, καὶ Καίσαρα ὄντως ἀποφῆναι ἐθελῆσαι, καὶ τῇ τε τήθῃ διὰ τοῦτο ἐμποδὼν γενομένῃ ἀπειλῆσαι, καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις οὐχ ἥκιστα δι᾿ [16 i] αὐτὸν προσκροῦσαι. καὶ ὁ μὲν ἔμελλέ που καὶ διὰ ταῦτα ἀπολεῖσθαι.

Αὐρήλιος δὲ δὴ Ζωτικός, ἀνὴρ Σμυρναῖος, ὃν καὶ Μάγειρον ἀπὸ τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς τέχνης ἀπεκάλουν, καὶ ἐφιλήθη πάνυ ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐμισήθη, [ii] καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἐσώθη. οὗτος γὰρ δὴ καλὸν μὲν καὶ τὸ πᾶν σῶμα ὥστε καὶ ἐν ἀθλήσει ἔχων, πολὺ δὲ δὴ πάντας τῷ τῶν αἰδοίων μεγέθει ὑπεραίρων, ἐμηνύθη τε αὐτῷ ὑπὸ τῶν ταῦτα ἐξεταζόντων, καὶ ἐξαίφνης ἐκ τῶν ἀγώνων ἀναρπασθεὶς ἀνήχθη τε ἐς τὴν Ῥώμην ὑπὸ πομπῆς ἀπλέτου καὶ ὅσην οὔτε Αὔγαρος ἐπὶ τοῦ Σεουήρου οὔτε Τιριδάτης ἐπὶ τοῦ Νέρωνος [iii] ἔσχε, πρόκοιτός τε καὶ πρὶν ὀφθῆναί οἱ ἀποδειχθείς, καὶ τῷ τοῦ Ἀουίτου τοῦ πάππου αὐτοῦ ὀνόματι τιμηθείς, καὶ στεφανώμασιν ὥσπερ ἐν πανηγύρει ἠσκημένος, ἐς τὸ παλάτιον λυχνοκαΐᾳ πολλῇ λαμπόμενος ἐσῆλθε. καὶ ὃς ἰδὼν αὐτὸν [iv] ἀνέθορέ τε ἐρρυθμισμένως, καὶ προσειπόντα, οἷα εἰκὸς ἦν, “κύριε αὐτοκράτορ χαῖρε,” θαυμαστῶς τόν τε αὐχένα γυναικίσας καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπεγκλάσας ἠμείψατο, καὶ ἔφη οὐδὲν διστάσας [v] “μή με λέγε κύριον· ἐγὼ γὰρ κυρία εἰμί.” καὶ ὁ μὲν συλλουσάμενός τε αὐτῷ παραχρῆμα, καὶ ἐπὶ πλεῖον ἐκ τῆς γυμνώσεως, ἅτε καὶ ἰσόρροπον τῇ φήμῃ εὑρὼν αὐτὸν ὄντα, πασχητιάσας ἔν τε τοῖς στέρνοις αὐτοῦ κατεκλίθη, κἀν τοῖς κόλποις [vi] ὥσπερ τις ἐρωμένη δεῖπνον εἵλετο· ὁ δὲ Ἱεροκλῆς φοβηθεὶς μὴ καὶ μᾶλλον αὐτὸν ἑαυτοῦ δουλώσηται, καί τι δι᾿ αὐτοῦ δεινόν, οἷα ἐν ἀντερασταῖς εἴωθε γίγνεσθαι, πάθῃ, φαρμάκῳ τινὶ αὐτὸν διὰ τῶν οἰνοχόων, προσφιλῶν που ἑαυτῷ ὄντων, ἐξεθήλυνε. καὶ οὕτως ἐκεῖνος ἀστυσίᾳ παρὰ πᾶσαν τὴν νύκτα συσχεθεὶς ἀφῃρέθη τε πάντων ὧν ἐτετυχήκει, καὶ ἐξηλάθη ἔκ τε τοῦ παλατίου καὶ ἐκ τῆς Ῥώμης καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα καὶ ἐκ τῆς λοιπῆς Ἰταλίας· ὃ καὶ ἔσωσεν αὐτόν.

[vii] Ἐς τοσαύτην δὲ συνηλάθη ἀσέλγειαν ὡς καὶ τοὺς ἰατροὺς ἀξιοῦν αἰδῶ γυναικείαν δι᾿ ἀνατομῆς αὐτῷ μηχανήσασθαι, μεγάλους ὑπὲρ τούτου μισθοὺς αὐτοῖς προϊσχόμενος.

[17 i] Ἔμελλε δέ που καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Σαρδανάπαλλος ἀξιώτατον τῆς μιαρίας τῆς ἑαυτοῦ μισθὸν οὐ πολλῷ ὕστερον κομιεῖσθαι. ἅτε γὰρ ταῦτα ποιῶν καὶ ταῦτα πάσχων ἐμισήθη ὑπό τε τοῦ δήμου καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν στρατιωτῶν, οἷς μάλιστα προσέκειτο, καὶ τελευταῖον καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ στρατοπέδῳ ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν ἐσφάγη.



 LXXX 19 ii-21 i

Late in 221, “Sardanappalos” tried to destroy his more popular first cousin Alexander whom he had adopted, but:


… he not only accomplished nothing but came near being killed himself. For Alexander was sedulously guarded by his mother and his grandmother and by the soldiers, and the Pretorians, also, on becoming aware of the attempt of Sardanapallos, raised a terrible tumult; and they did not stop rioting until Sardanapallos, accompanied by Alexander, came to the camp and poured out his supplications and under compulsion surrendered such of his companions in lewdness as the soldiers demanded. In behalf of Hierokles he offered piteous pleas and bewailed him with tears; then, pointing to his own throat, he cried: “Grant me this one man, whatever you may have been pleased to suspect about him, or else slay me.” Thus with difficulty he succeeded in appeasing them; and for the time being he was saved himself, though with difficulty.

Even his grandmother hated him because of his deeds, which seemed to show that he was not the son of Antoninus at all, and was coming to favour Alexander, as being really sprung from him. Later he again formed a plot against Alexander, and when the Pretorians raised an outcry at this, he went with him to the camp. But he then became aware that he was under guard and awaiting execution, as the mothers of the two youths, being more openly at variance with each other than before, were inflaming the spirits of the soldiers; so he made an attempt to flee, and would have got away somewhere by being placed in a chest, had he not been discovered and slain, at the age of eighteen. His mother, who embraced him and clung tightly to him, perished with him; their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked, were first dragged all over the city, and then the mother’s body was cast aside somewhere or other, while his was thrown into the river.

With him perished, among others, Hierokles and the prefects; …

Silver coin of "Sardanapollos"
Bust probably of "Sardanapallos" (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

[19 ii] ὅ τε γὰρ Ἀλέξανδρος ὑπό τε τῆς μητρὸς καὶ τῆς τήθης ὑπό τε τῶν στρατιωτῶν ἰσχυρῶς ἐφυλάσσετο, καὶ οἱ δορυφόροι αἰσθόμενοι τὴν ἐπιχείρησιν τοῦ Σαρδαναπάλλου δεινῶς ἐθορύβησαν, οὐ πρίν τε ἐπαύσαντο στασιάζοντες ἢ τὸν Σαρδανάπαλλον τὸ στρατόπεδον [iii] σὺν τῷ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ καταλαβόντα, πολλά τε ἱκετεύσαντα καὶ τοὺς ἐξαιτηθέντας παρ᾿ αὐτῶν τῶν συνασελγαινόντων αὐτῷ ἐκδοῦναι ἀναγκασθέντα, ὑπέρ τε τοῦ Ἱεροκλέους οἰκτρὰ λαλήσαντα καὶ δάκρυσι κλαύσαντα, τήν τε σφαγὴν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ προδείξαντα, καὶ ἐπειπόντα “ἕνα μοι τοῦτον χαρίσασθε, ὅ τι βούλεσθε περὶ αὐτοῦ ὑποτοπήσαντες, ἢ ἐμὲ ἀποκτείνατε,” μόλις αὐτοὺς [iv] ἐκμειλίξασθαι. τότε μὲν οὖν μόλις ἐσώθη·

καὶ γὰρ καὶ ἡ τήθη αὐτοῦ ἐμίσει τε αὐτὸν ἐφ᾿ οἷς ἔπραττεν, ὡς οὐδὲ τοῦ Ἀντωνίνου υἱὸν ὄντα, καὶ πρὸς τὸν Ἀλέξανδρον ὡς καὶ ὄντως ἐξ [20 i] αὐτοῦ γεγονότα ἀπέκλινε· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἐπιβεβουλευκὼς πάλιν τῷ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ, καὶ θορυβησάντων ἐπὶ τούτῳ τῶν δορυφόρων σὺν αὐτῷ ἐς τὸ στρατόπεδον ἐσελθών, ὡς ᾔσθετο φυλαττόμενον ἑαυτὸν ἐπὶ ἀναιρέσει, ἐπειδὴ καὶ αἱ μητέρες αὐτῶν ἐκφανέστερον ἢ πρὶν ἀλλήλαις μαχόμεναι τοὺς στρατιώτας ἠρέθιζον, φεύγειν [ii] πως ἐπεχείρησε. καὶ ἔμελλεν ἐς τύλλον ἐμβληθεὶς ἐκδρᾶναί ποι, φωραθεὶς δὲ ἀπεσφάγη, ὀκτωκαίδεκα ἔτη γεγονώς. καὶ αὐτῷ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ (περιπλακεῖσα γὰρ ἀπρὶξ εἴχετο) συναπώλετο. καὶ αἵ τε κεφαλαὶ αὐτῶν ἀπεκόπησαν, καὶ τὰ σώματα γυμνωθέντα τὸ μὲν πρῶτον διὰ πάσης τῆς πόλεως ἐσύρη, ἔπειτα τὸ μὲν τῆς γυναικὸς ἄλλως πως ἐρρίφη, τὸ δὲ ἐκείνου ἐς τὸν ποταμὸν ἐνεβλήθη.

[21 i] Καὶ αὐτῷ ἄλλοι τε καὶ ὁ Ἱεροκλῆς οἵ τε ἔπαρχοι συναπώλοντο


[1] Heliogabalos and Elagabalus are respectively the Greek and Latin forms of the Semitic name, though the former was also used by Lampridius, writing in Latin.

[2] The cult was centred on a huge temple at Emesa, whence the boy came.  He imported it to Rome and gave it primacy over other worship, hence it became symbolic of his oriental decadence that the Romans found so shocking.

[3] The question of what generally to call him is fraught with difficulty. His reigning names were all shared with three of his predecessors, so using them would lead to confusion.




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