First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Bassianus, son of the aforesaid Severus, and surnamed Aurelius Antoninus Caracalla, was a Roman emperor. When Severus died he left two sons, Bassianus and Geta. Bassianus was his father’s successor in the sovereignty, but Geta was adjudged a public enemy and slain by Bassianus, who, in the course of a life checkered with evil, also assassinated Papinian (Pampinian)[Papinian, celebrated Roman jurist, was praefectus praetorio (‘Commander of the Praetorian Guard’) under the emperor Septimus Severus, whom he accompanied to Britain. When the emperor died at York, he is said to have commended his two sons Caracalla and Geta to the care of Papinian. But on the death of his father, Caracalla dismissed Papinian from his office, and shortly put him to death. No Roman jurist had a higher reputation than Papinian, and he was a model of a true lawyer.] the jurist. Bassianus was even more cruel and licentious than his father, avoiding no form of evil. He took his stepmother for wife. He caused to be beheaded those who wore medicine about their throats for quaternary or tertiary fever; and so those who urinated against the pillars were condemned by him. Finally he was slain in the war against the Parthians in the 6th year and second month of his reign, at the age of forty-three.[Caracalla, Roman emperor (211-217 CE), son of Septimus Severus and his second wife Julia Domna, was born at Lyons in 188 CE. He was originally called Bassianus after his paternal grandfather, but afterward M. Aurelius Antoninus, which became his legal name. Caracalla was a nickname derived from a long tunic worn by the Gauls, which he adopted as his favorite dress after he became emperor. In 198 Caracalla, at the age of ten, was declared Augustus, and in the same year accompanied his father on the expedition against the Parthians. He returned to Rome with his father in 202, and married Plautilla, daughter of Plautianus, the praetorian prefect. He then went to Rome with his father, and on the death of the latter at York in 211, Caracalla and his brother Geta succeeded to the throne, according to their father’s arrangements. Caracalla’s first aim was to obtain the sole government by the murder of his brother, which he accomplished in 212. The assassination was followed by the execution of many distinguished men whom Caracalla suspected of favoring his brother, and among these was the celebrated jurist Papinian. Caracalla’s cruelties and extravagances knew no bounds; and after exhausting Italy by his extortions, the provinces that he visited became the scenes of fresh atrocities. In 214 he visited Gaul, Germany, Dacia, and Thrace. In 215 he went to Syria and Egypt, and his sojourn at Alexandria was marked by general slaughter of the inhabitants to avenge certain sarcastic pleasantries in which they had indulged against him and his mother. He crossed the Euphrates and laid bare Mesopotamia. He intended to cross the Tigris but was murdered near Edessa by Macrinus, the praetorian prefect.]

Opilius Macrinus, after the assassination of Caracalla, attained the sovereignty together with his son and Albinus; but as they reigned only a year and two months, they accomplished nothing memorable. They were slain by the troops as a result of discord among them. Macrinus was slain by Elagabulus (Heliogabolo) at Antioch.[M. Opilius Severus Macrinus, Roman emperor, April 217 to June 218 CE, was born at Caesaria in Mauretania, of humble parents in 164 CE, and rose at length to be prefect of the praetorians under Caracalla. He accompanied the latter on his expedition against the Parthians and was proclaimed emperor after the death of Caracalla, whom he caused to be assassinated. He conferred the title of Caesar upon his son Diadumenianus (spelled ‘Diadumenus’ in the ), and gained great popularity by repealing certain obnoxious taxes. However, in the course of the same year the Parthians defeated him with great loss, and compelled him to retire into Syria. While there, his soldiers, with whom he had become unpopular by enforcing discipline among them, were easily seduced from their allegiance, and proclaimed Elagabalus as emperor. With the troops that remained faithful, Macrinus marched against the usurper, but was defeated, and fled in disguise. Shortly afterward he was seized in Chalcedon, and put to death after a reign of 14 months.] Diadumenianus (Diadumenus) was named Antoninus by his father and the sovereignty was publicly set aside for him while still a child. Of all children he was most favored in stature, tall in person, with blond hair, black eyes, a straight nose, a beautiful chin, and a mouth always ready to be kissed. When he first put on his regal attire he appeared so handsome that he was loved by all.[Diadumenianus, or Diadumenus, son of the emperor Macrinus, received the title of Caesar when his father was elevated to the throne in 217 CE, but was put to death in the following year about the same time with Macrinus.] And so Clodius Albinus, called an emperor in Gaul, was of noble ancestry. And after those had reigned a short time, but accomplished nothing memorable, various historians have left them by the wayside. Yet Albinus, because of his gluttony, left a name memorable among the shepherds; for, as Cornelius says, at one dinner he ate one hundred Campanian peaches, ten Hostian melons, five hundred figs, and four hundred snails.[Clodius Albinus was born at Adrumetum in Africa. Commodus, the Roman emperor, made him governor of Gaul, and afterward also of Britain, where he was at the time of the death of Commodus in 192 CE. In order to secure the neutrality of Albinus, Septimus Severus made him Caesar. However, after Severus had defeated his rivals, he turned his arms against Albinus, and a great battle was fought between them at Lugdunum, now Lyons, in Gaul, in the year 197, in which Albinus was defeated and slain.]

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus[The official name of the Roman emperor Elagabalus (also called Heliogabalus).] received the throne, and, as one says, was the son of the aforesaid emperor Caracalla by Soeamias (Semiamira) his most beautiful concubine. Some say he was conceived of the common rabble. This emperor ordered his mother to attend the Roman senate, and he was the first emperor at whose instance a woman went to the senate in a man’s place. He made a separate senate for the women, who passed ridiculous laws, for instance, how the women should dress, what precedence they were to have over one another, and which was to rise in the presence of the other, etc. This Elagabalus left no memory other than of his vileness and shamelessness. He made virgins pregnant, and always kept lascivious women in his house. He put away the Roman senator Sabinus, and conferred honors and offices upon evil and vile persons. Among the Roman emperors he was the first to have a silver table and vessels. And when his friends warned him to take care of himself, he answered and said, What is better than to be my own heir and that of my wife? He overwhelmed his parasites in cunningly crafted dining rooms with violets and flowers, so that some died.

A ‘parasite’ was an individual in the Greco-Roman world who must have somebody else’s food, someone who must find a way to somebody else’s dinner table. The ostensible goal was free food, but the real goal was to secure recognition—and therefore social status and a modicum of respect—from your host, an aristocratic elite who was at least one rung (often more) higher up the social ladder than the parasite.

Schedel (or his immediate source) abridges the original text, taken from the Historia Augusta (21.5), that more clearly describes the suffocating death by flowers Elagabalus devised for his banqueting ‘friends’: "In a banqueting-room with a reversible ceiling he once overwhelmed his parasites with violets and other flowers, so that some were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top." (Herman Peter, trans.; Loeb Classical Library, 1924)

He also invented certain carnal pleasures; but for his foolhardiness he and his mother were slain in an uprising of the army. They say that when a prophecy had been spoken to him by some Syrian priests that he would die a violent death, he prepared cords entwined with purple and scarlet silk in order that he could put an end to his life by the noose. He had gold swords, too, prepared, with which to kill himself.[This sentence and the preceding one, taken almost verbatim from 33.2-4, are not found in the German edition of the .] But these were of no use. He died after having been dragged by vagabonds through the streets, plunged most foully into sewers, and hurled into the Tiber in the fourth year of his reign;[] and thus ended the name of Antoninus.[Elagabalus (Heliogabalus), Roman emperor from 218 to 222 CE, was the son of Julia Soeamias and Varius Marcellus. He was born at Emesa about 203, and was originally called Varius Avitus Bassinius. While yet a child he became, along with his cousin Alexander Severus, priest of Elagabalus, the Syro-Phoenician Sun-god, to whose worship the temple was dedicated in his native city. It was from this circumstance that he was called Elagabalus. He owed his elevation to the intrigues of his grandmother, who circulated the report that he was the offspring of the secret commerce between Soeamias and Caracalla, and induced the troops in Syria to salute him as their sovereign by the title M. Aurelius Antoninus. Macrinus immediately marched against him, but was defeated near Antioch on June 8, 218, and shortly afterward put to death. Elagabalus was now acknowledged as emperor by the senate, and in the following year he came to Rome. His reign was characterized throughout by the most fantastic folly and superstition, together with impurity so bestial that the particulars almost transcend the limits of credibility. He adopted his first cousin Alexander Severus, and proclaimed him Caesar. Having become jealous of Alexander, he attempted to put him to death, but was himself slain with his mother by the soldiers, with whom Alexander was a great favorite.]

Alexander became emperor when Elagabalus was slain. He had a Christian mother, named Mamaea. This man was an image of virtue, and he greatly fostered the return of the common weal that had declined through the licentiousness of the previous emperor. In this were helpful to him Julius Frontinus, the great scholar, and Ulpianus and Paulus, men highly informed in civil rights. He lived without pomp or covetousness for honors, and employed prudence to such a degree that he was deceived by none. He despised money, favoritism, and jewels. He wanted to build a temple to Christ and count him among the gods. This Alexander, though crowned while still young, soon made war against the Persians, and he decisively defeated their king Xerxes. Alexander was an earnest and strict military disciplinarian, and he deposed a great number in the army; for this reason in an uprising of the military at Mainz in Gaul, he was slain in the thirteenth year of his reign. When this emperor punished someone he caused a bailiff to call out what he had often heard from the Christians: That which you do not wish to be done to you by another, you should not do. This he loved so much that he ordered it to be inscribed at street corners and on public buildings.[M. Aurelius Alexander Severus, usually called Alexander Severus, was Roman emperor from 222-235 CE. He was the son of Gessius Marcianus and Julia Mamaea, and first cousin to Elagabalus. He was born at Arca, in Phoenicia, in the temple of Alexander the Great, to which his parents had gone for the celebration of a festival on October 1st 205 CE. In 221 he was adopted by Elagabalus and created Caesar. On the death of Elagabalus in 221, Alexander ascended the throne. After reigning in peace for some years, during which he reformed many abuses in the state, he was involved in a war with Artaxerxes of Persia. Over him Alexander gained a great victory in 232. He celebrated a triumph at Rome in 233, and in the following year set out for Gaul, which the Germans were devastating; but before he could make any progress in the campaign, he was waylaid by a small band of mutinous soldiers, instigated, it is said, by Maximus, and slain, along with his mother, at the age of thirty. He was, it is said, distinguished by justice, wisdom, and clemency in all public transactions, and by the simplicity and purity of his private life.]