Not sure how Julianus thought he’d be successful from buying the throne from the Praetorian Guard. Severus was much more pragmatic (and lived much longer) but he was a total dictator. Rome is gone now, but people like him seek to still be all over modern politics. He’s an interesting character.
What I found even more interesting than the cruelty of Commodus was how everyone reacted to Pertinax. Pertinax attempted to return Rome to a stricter (and in his mind stronger) footing, yet though he people hated Commodus, they feared Pertinax’s reforms to turn them away from leisure. Political lesson learned: you’ll reign (live) longer being cruel (12 years) than being strict (3 months).
Rome slips faster now.
I like how he ends chapter 3 with the saying that no matter where you go you are under the power of the same ruler. Much of this chapter shows how the emperors used their unlimited power, in some cases for good. But you know where it will lead.
Funny how not Rome, not the medieval church, not England or America have ever produced thinkers such as thrived in Greece. Interesting about slaves and how merit could lead to freedom. He even says laws had to be passed to temper the generosity of slave owners. All these diverse peoples feel somewhat neutered by Roman rule.
Gibbon gives us the expanse of the Empire’s borders, a look at who lived at the edges of these borders (we see as if we’re the god Terminus), a brief summary of how they defended these borders (never knew about the pilum). Massive logistical nightmare, really. A wonder it ever worked.