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Niger, Gaius Pescennius

A Roman of humble origin, but one whose great military talents recommended him successively to the notice of Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, and Pertinax, by whom he was employed in offices of trust and honour. He was consul together with Septimius Severus, and obtained the government of Syria. On the murder of Pertinax, A.D. 193, the Empire was exposed for sale by the Praetorian Guards, and was purchased by Didius Iulianus, whom the Senate was compelled to acknowledge as emperor. The people, however, did not tamely submit to this indignity, and three generals, at the head of their respective legions—Septimius Severus, who commanded in Pannonia; Clodius Albinus in Britain, and Pescennius Niger in Syria—refused to acknowledge the nomination of the Praetorians, and each claimed the Empire. Of these Niger was the most popular, and his cause was warmly espoused by all the provinces of the East. But instead of hastening to Italy, he quietly remained at Antioch, while Severus marched to Rome, dethroned Didius, and made active preparations for prosecuting the war against Niger in Asia. Roused at length from his inactivity, Niger crossed over to Europe, and established his headquarters at Byzantium; but he had scarcely arrived at this place, before his troops in Asia were defeated near Cyzicus by the generals of Severus. He was soon, however, able to collect another army, which he commanded in person; but, being defeated successively near Nicaea and at Issus, he abandoned his troops and fled towards the Euphrates, with the intention of seeking refuge among the Parthians. Before he could reach the Euphrates, he was overtaken by a detachment of the enemy, and put to death on the spot (Spartian. Vit. Nig.; Eutrop. viii. 10).

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