chapter  9
27 Pages

The Last Years

THE NEWS OF Cassius’ rebellion reached Marcus like a bolt from the blue. He ought to have had some warning of it, for example through the head of the Greek Secretariat, the ab epistulis Graecis. For a time during the wars this post was held by an expert on Plato named Alexander, from whom, Marcus records in the Meditations, he learned ‘not often and only from necessity to say to anyone and to write in a letter that “I am too busy”, and not to get out of the duties involved in our relationship with those who live with us by some expression like that, with the excuse of “pressure of business”’. Alexander is said to have died at his post. Criticism of him would be unfair. It may seem a little suprising that such a man was chosen by Marcus, considering his choice for the Joint Secretariat or the Latin Secretariat of tough men with a military background such as Varius Clemens and Taruttienus Paternus. But the functions of the head of the Greek Secretariat at the time of the northern wars had no doubt been expected to be, more or less, concerned with peaceful matters. In any case, other holders of the post are known from this period. One of them, Ti. Claudius Vibianus Tertullus, was in office at some time in the period 172-5. He received promotion, as well, so fault was not found with him. Another, T. Aius Sanctus, was later made Commodus’ tutor in oratory.1