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Geta, L. Septi'mius

or P. SEPTI'MIUS SEPTI'MIUS, the second son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna, was born at Milan on the 27th of May, A. D. 189, three years before the elevation of his parents to the purple, and is said to have been named after his paternal grandfather or paternal uncle. Geta accompanied his father to the Parthian war, and, when Caracalla was declared Augustus in 198, received from the soldiers the appellation of Caesar, which was soon after confirmed by the emperor and the senate. We find him styled Caesar, Pontifex, and Princeps Juventutis, on the medals struck before the beginning of 205, at which time he entered upon his first consulship. His second consulship belongs to 208, when he proceeded along with the army to Britain, and in the following year he received the tribunician power and the title of Augustus, honours equivalent to a formal announcement that he was to be regarded as jointheir to the throne. Upon the death of Severus, at York, in 211, the brothers returned to Rome, and the rivalry, gradually ripening into hatred, which was well known to have existed between them from their earliest years, was now developed with most unequivocal violence. Even during the journey the elder is said to have made several ineffectual attempts to assassinate his detested colleague; but Geta was so completely aware of his danger, and took such effectual precautions, that he escaped their machinations, while the affection entertained for his person by the soldiers rendered open force impracticable. But, having been at length thrown off his guard by the protestations of Caracalla, who feigned an earnest desire for a reconciliation, and persuaded their mother to invite them both to meet in her chamber without attendants, in order that they might exchange forgiveness, he was murdered by some centurions who had been placed in ambush for the purpose, in the very arms of Julia, who, although covered with the blood of her son, was obliged to smile approbation of the deed, that she might escape a like fate. Geta perished towards the end of February, A. D. 212, in the twenty-third year of his age.

Although Geta was rough in his manners and profligate in his morals, lie never gave any indication of those savage passions which have branded the name of Caracalla with infamy, but, on the contrary, he took delight in the liberal arts and in the society of learned men, and was generally accounted upright and honourable.

After the murder of his brother, Caracalla ordered all his statues to be broken, all inscriptions in his honour to be erased, and all coins bearing his effigy or designation to be melted down. Notwithstanding these measures, many of Geta's medals have come down to us, and the obliteration of a portion of the legend upon some great public monuments, such as the arch of Severus, has served, by attracting attention and inquiry, to keep alive his memory.

As in the case of Commodus, we find a variation in the praenomen The earlier coins exhibit Lucius and Publius indifferently, but the former disappears from all the productions of the Roman mint after his first consulship, while both are found together on some of the pieces struck in Greece and Asia. The cause of these changes is quite unknown.

D. C. 76.2, 7, 11, 77.1-3, 12; Spartian. Sever. 8, 10, 14, 16, 21, Caracall.; Geta; Herodian. 3.33, 46, 4.4-10; Vict. Caes. 20, Epit. 20, 21; Eutrop. 8.10.)


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