rth was being punished for its neglect and insult of the ancient gods. The Christians were persecuted anew.
THE PERIOD OF DECAY
The reign of Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, marks the beginning of a century which sank almost into anarchy. He was murdered, and his guards auctioned the Empire to the highest bidder. Once more the legions fought against each other and placed their generals upon the throne. During ninety-two years there were twenty-five emperors fully acknowledged, besides a far larger number of claimants who were overthrown before Rome had time to hear of and salute them. The Imperial city was no longer mistress of the world; she was only its capital, as feeble and helpless as the other cities, which these unstable emperors began at times to favor in her stead.
The barbarians also, who through all these ages were growing stronger while Rome grew weaker, became ever a more serious menace. The internal disorder of the Empire left its frontiers often unguarded. The Germ