A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

the elder of the two sons of Carus. Upon the departure of his father for the Persian war (A. D. 282), he was appointed supreme governor of all the Western provinces, and received the titles of Caesar and Imperator. After the death of Carus in 283, he assumed the purple conjointly with his brother, and upon receiving intelligence of the untimely fate of Numerianus and the elevation of Diocletian to the throne by the army of Asia, he set forth in all haste from Gaul to encounter his rival. The opposing hosts met in Maesia, several engagements followed, and at length a decisive battle was fought near Margum, in which Carinus gained the victory, but, in the moment of triumph, was slain by some of his own officers, whose honour he had wounded in the course of his profligate indulgences. Historians agree in painting the character of this emperor in the darkest colours. When roused he was unquestionably not deficient in valour and military skill, as was proved by the vigour with which he repressed certain seditious movements in Gaul, and by the successful conduct of his last campaign. But during the greater part of his short career he abandoned himself to the gratification of the most brutal passions, and never scrupled at any act of oppression or cruelty. State affairs were totally neglected--the most upright of those by whom he was surrounded were banished or put to death, and the highest offices bestowed upon degraded ministers of his pleasures. Nine wives were wedded and repudiated in quick succession, and the palace, filled with a throng of players, dancers, harlots, and panders, presented a constant scene of riot and intemperance. It was bitterly observed, that in this prince the sensual enormities of Elagabalus were seen combined with the cold ferocity of Domitian. His only claims upon the affection of the populace consisted in the prodigal magnificence displayed in the celebration of games in honour of his brother and himself. These appear to have transcended in fantastic splendour all previous exhibitions, and the details transmitted to us by Vopiscus are of a most strange and marvellous description.

Chronologers are at variance with regard to the precise date of the death of Carinus. Eckhel seems inclined to fix it at the close of the year 284, but it is generally referred to the May following. (Vopisc. Carin.; Aurel. Vict. Caes. xxxviii., Epit. xxxviii.; Zonar. 12.30; Eutrop. 9.12.)