Of his eighteen years as emperor Septimius gave twelve to war. He destroyed his rivals in swift and savage campaigns; he razed Byzantium after a four years’ siege, thereby lowering a barrier to the spreading Goths; he invaded Parthia, took Ctesiphon, annexed Mesopotamia, and hastened the fall of the Arsacid kings. In his old age, suffering from gout but fretful lest his army deteriorate through five years of peace, he led an expedition into Caledonia. After expensive victories against the Scots he withdrew into Britain, and retired to York to die (211). “I have been everything,” he said, “and it is worth nothing.” Caracalla, says Herodian, “was much vexed that his father’s decease was so lingering… and solicited the physicians to dispatch the old man by any means that might come to hand.” Septimius had blamed Aurelius for yielding the Empire to Commodus; now he bequeathed it to Caracalla and Geta, with cynical advice: “Make your soldiers rich, and do not bother about anything else.” He was the last emperor, for eighty years, who died in bed. Caracalla, like Commodus, seemed made to prove that a man’s quota of energy seldom allows him to be great in both his life and his seed. Attractive and obedient in boyhood, he became in manhood a barbarian infatuated with hunting and war. He captured wild boars, fought a lion singlehanded, kept lions always near him in his palace, and had one as occasional table companion and bedfellow. He particularly enjoyed the company of gladiators and soldiers, and would keep senators cooling their heels in his antechambers while he prepared food and drink for his companions. Unwilling to share the imperial power with his brother, he had Geta assassinated in 212; the youth was slaughtered in his mother’s arms, and covered her garments with his blood. We are told that Caracalla condemned to execution 20,000 of Geta’s following, many citizens, and four Vestal Virgins whom he accused of adultery. When the army murmured at the killing of Geta, he silenced it with a donative equal to all the sums that Septimius had gathered into all the treasuries. He favored the soldiers and the poor against the business classes and the aristocracy; possibly the stories we read about him in Dio Cassius are a senator’s revenge. Anxious to raise more revenue, he doubled the inheritance tax to ten per cent; and noting that the tax applied only to Roman citizens, he extended the Roman franchise to all free male adults in the Empire (212); they achieved citizenship precisely when it brought a maximum of obligations and a minimum of power. He added to the adornment of Rome an arch to Septimius Severus, which still stands, and public baths whose gigantic ruins attest their ancient grandeur. But for the most part he left the civil government to his mother, and absorbed himself in campaigns.