Lucius Verus : biography
Furius Victorinus, one of the two praetorian prefects, was sent with Lucius, as were a pair of senators, M. Pontius Laelianus Larcius Sabinus and M. Iallius Bassus, and part of the praetorian guard.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125. Victorinus had previously served as procurator of Galatia, giving him some experience with eastern affairs.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125, citing H.G. Pfalum, Les carrières procuratoriennes équestres sous le Haut-Empire romain I–III (Paris, 1960–61); Supplément (Paris, 1982), no. 139. Moreover, he was far more qualified than his praetorian partner, Cornelius Repentinus, who was said to owe his office to the influence of Pius’ mistress Galeria Lysistrate.HA Pius 8.9; Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 160–61. Repentius had the rank of a senator, but no real access to senatorial circles—his was merely a decorative title.Giuseppe Camodeca, "La carriera del prefetto del pretorio Sex.Cornelius Repentinus in una nuova iscrizione puteolana" (in Italian), Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 43 (1981): 47. Since a prefect had to accompany the guard, Victorinus was the clear choice.HA Pius 8.9; Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 160–61.
Laelianus had been governor of both Pannonias and governor of Syria in 153; thus he had first-hand knowledge of the eastern army and military strategy on the frontiers. He was made comes Augustorum ("companion of the emperors") for his service.Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae , ; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125. Laelianus was, in the words of Fronto, "a serious man and an old-fashioned disciplinarian".Ad Verum Imperator 2.6 (= Haines 2.84ff), qtd. and tr. Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125. Bassus had been governor of Lower Moesia, and was also made comes.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125, citing Prosopographia Imperii Romani2 1.4. Lucius selected his favorite freedmen, including Geminus, Agaclytus, Coedes, Eclectus,HA Verus 8.6, 9.3–5; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125. and Nicomedes, who gave up his duties as praefectus vehiculorum to run the commissariat of the expeditionary force.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125, citing H.G. Pfalum, Les carrières procuratoriennes équestres sous le Haut-Empire romain I–III (Paris, 1960–61); Supplément (Paris, 1982), no. 163. The fleet of Misenum was charged with transporting the emperor and general communications and transport.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125, citing C.G. Starr, The Roman Imperial Navy, (1941), 188ff.
Lucius left in the summer of 162 to take a ship from Brundisium; Marcus followed him as far as Capua. Lucius feasted himself in the country houses along his route, and hunted at Apulia. He fell ill at Canosa, probably afflicted with a mild stroke, and took to bed.HA Verus 6.7–9; HA Marcus 8.10–11; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125–6. Stroke: Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 126; Haines 2.85 n. 1. Marcus made prayers to the gods for his safety in front of the senate, and hurried south to see him.HA Marcus 8.11; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125–26. Fronto was upset at the news, but was reassured when Lucius sent him a letter describing his treatment and recovery. In his reply, Fronto urged his pupil to moderate his desires, and recommended a few days of quiet bedrest. Lucius was better after three days’ fasting and a bloodletting. It was probably only a mild stroke.Ad Verum Imperator 2.6 (= Haines 2.85–87); Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 125–26.
Verus continued eastward via Corinth and Athens, accompanied by musicians and singers as if in a royal progress.HA Verus 6.9; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 126; "Hadrian to the Antonines", 161. At Athens he stayed with Herodes Atticus, and joined the Eleusinian Mysteries.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 126, citing SIG3 1.869, 872; HA Hadrian 13.1. During sacrifice, a falling star was observed in the sky, shooting west to east.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 126, citing Cassiodorus senator s.a. 162. He stopped in Ephesus, where he is attested at the estate of the local aristocrat Vedius Antoninus,Birley, "Hadrian to the Antonines", 161, citing I Eph 728, 3072; H. Halfmann, Itinera Principum. Geschichte und Typologie der Kaiserreisen im Römischen Reich (Stuttgart, 1986), 210–11. and made an unexpected stopover at Erythrae.Christian Habicht, "Pausanias and the Evidence of Inscriptions", Classical Antiquity 3:1 (1984), 42–43, citing IErythrai 225. The journey continued by ship through the Aegean and the southern coasts of Asia Minor, lingering in the famed pleasure resorts of Pamphylia and Cilicia, before arriving in Antioch.HA Verus 6.9; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 126. It is not known how long Verus’ journey east took; he might not have arrived in Antioch until after 162.Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 126; "Hadrian to the Antonines", 161. Statius Priscus, meanwhile, must have already arrived in Cappadocia; he would earn fame in 163 for successful generalship.Dio 71.3.1; HA Verus 7.1; Birley, Marcus Aurelius, 126.