Tomorrow let him love who never loved; Tomorrow let him love who loved before. Fresh spring has come, and sings her amorous song; The world is born anew, and vernal love Drives birds to mate, and all the waiting woods Unloose their tresses to the showers of spring. Tomorrow let him love who never loved, And let him love who loved before.

So the limpid verse flows on, finding the work of love in the fertilizing rain, in the forms of flowers, in the songs of merry festivals, in the awkward tentatives of desirous youth, in timid trysts amid woodland haunts; and after each stanza the pithy promise returns: Cras amet qui numquam amavit, quique amavit cras amet. Here, in the last great lyric poem of the pagan soul, we hear the trochaic cadence of medieval hymns, and a melodious premonition of the troubadours.


When Claudius II died of a pestilence that was decimating Goths and Romans alike (270), the army chose as his successor the son of an Illyrian peasant. Domitius Aurelianus had risen from the lowest ranks by strength of body and will; his nickname was Manu ad ferrum – “hand on sword.” It was a sign of reawakened good sense in the army that it chose a man who exacted as hard a discipline from others as from himself.

Under his lead the enemies of Rome were repulsed at every point except the Danube. There Aurelian ceded Dacia to the Goths, hoping that they would stand as a barrier between the Empire and ulterior hordes. Perhaps encouraged by this surrender, the Alemanni and the Vandals invaded Italy; but Aurelian in three battles overcame and dispersed them. Meditating distant campaigns, and fearing an assault upon Rome during his absence, he persuaded the Senate to finance, and the guilds to erect, new walls around the capital. Everywhere in the Empire city walls were being built, signifying the weakening of the imperial power and the end of the Roman peace. Preferring offense to defense, Aurelian determined to restore the Empire by attacking Zenobia in the East, and then Tetricus, who had succeeded Postumus as the usurper of sovereignty in Gaul. While his general Probus recovered Egypt from Zenobia’s son, Aurelian marched through the Balkans, crossed the Hellespont, defeated the Queen’s army at Emesa, and besieged her capital. She tried to escape and enlist Persia’s aid, but was captured; the city surrendered and was spared, but Longinus was put to death (272). While the Emperor was leading his army back to the Hellespont, Palmyra revolted and slew the garrison he had left there. He turned about with the speed of Caesar, again besieged and soon took the city; now he abandoned it to pillage by his troops, razed its walls, rerouted its trade, and let it lapse into the desert village that it had been before and is today. Zenobia graced in golden chains Aurelian’s triumph in Rome, and was allowed to spend her remaining years in comparative freedom at Tibur.

In 274 Aurelian defeated Tetricus at Chalons, and returned Gaul, Spain, and Britain to the Empire. Happy at the resumption of its mastery, Rome hailed the victor as restitutor orbis, restorer of the world. Turning to the tasks of peace, he re-established some economic order by reforming the Roman coinage; and reorganized the government by applying to it the same severe discipline that had regenerated the army. Ascribing Rome’s moral and political chaos in some degree to religious disunity, and impressed by the political services of religion in the East, he sought to unite old faiths and new in a monotheistic worship of the sun-god, and of the Emperor as the vicar of that deity on earth. He informed a skeptical army and Senate that it was the god, and not their choice or confirmation, that had made him Emperor. He built at Rome a resplendent Temple of the Sun, in which, he hoped, the Baal of Emesa and the god of Mithraism would merge. Monarchy and monotheism were advancing side by side, each seeking to make the other its aide. Aurelian’s religious policy suggested that the power of the state was falling, that of religion rising; kings were now kings by the grace of God. This was the Oriental conception of government, old in Egypt, Persia, and Syria; in accepting it Aurelian advanced that Orientalization of the monarchy which had begun with Elagabalus and would complete itself in Diocletian and Constantine.