Historia Augusta, Septimius Severus:
“As I thought about it, Diocletian Augustus, it became clear enough to me that almost no one of the great men of history have left behind good sons. At the end, they died without children or, as happened in many cases, they had such children that it would have been better for humanity if they had died childless.
Let’s begin with Romulus. He left no children, nor did Numa Pompilius leave anything behind useful for the republic. What about Camillus? Were his sons similar to him? What about Scipio? What of the Catos, who were so great? Indeed, what of Homer, Demosthenes, Vergil, Crispus, Terence, Plautus, and others? What about Caesar? What about Tullius, to whom especially it had been better had he never begotten children? What about Augustus, who didn’t even have a good adopted son, when he could have selected one from everyone in the empire? Even Trajan was deceived in esteeming his own countryman and descendant.
But, omitting the adopted sons, lest Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius come to mind, let us come to those who were born to their fathers. What could have been better for Marcus Aurelius than if he had not made Commodus his heir? What could have been better than if Severus hadn’t begotten Caracalla, who killed his brother on the false charge of conspiracy against him, and who married his stepmother – nay, his actual mother! – in whose very embrace he killed his brother Geta? That same Caracalla killed Papinian, a safehouse of law and a treasury of legal learning, who had been made prefect lest dignity be lacking to a person who had become great from his own effort and study, because he was unwilling to excuse Caracalla’s fratricide.
Finally, omitting everything else, it was because of Caracalla’s character that it happened that Severus, a rather morose and cruel man, was considered pious and worthy of divine honors. Indeed, Severus, when he was laboring under illness, once sent to Caracalla that divine speech of Sallust, in which Micipsa urges his sons to peace – but this was in vain. Caracalla then lived for a long time amidst the hatred of the public, although he gave clothing to the people (from which he received the name Caracalla), and even gave them the most magnificent bathhouse.”
Et reputanti mihi, Diocletiane Auguste, neminem prope magnorum virorum optimum et utilem filium reliquisse satis claret.Denique aut sine liberis viri interierunt aut tales habuerunt plerique, ut melius fuerit de rebus humanis sine posteritate discedere.
Et ut ordiamur a Romulo: hic nihil liberorum reliquit, nihil Numa Pompilius, quod utile posset esse rei p. Quid Camillus? Num sui similes liberos habuit? Quid Scipio? Quid Catones qui magni fuerunt? Iam vero quid de Homero, Demosthene, Vergilio, Crispo et Terentio, Plauto ceterisque aliis loquar? Quid de Caesare? Quid de Tullio, cui soli melius fuerat liberos non habere? Quid de Augusto, qui nec adoptivum bonum filium habuit, cum illi legendi potestas fuisset ex omnibus? Falsus est etiam ipse Traianus in suo municipe ac nepote diligendo. Sed ut omittamus adoptivos, ne nobis Antonini Pius et Marcus, numina rei publicae, occurrant, veniamus ad genitos. Quid Marco felicius fuisset, si Commodum non reliquisset heredem Quid Severo Septimio, si Bassianum nec genuisset ? Qui statim insimulatum fratrem insidiarum contra se cogitatarum parricidali etiam figmento interemit; qui novercam suam- et quid novercam? matrem quin immo, in cuius sinu Getam filium eius occiderat, uxorem duxit; qui Papinianum, iuris asylum et doctrinae legatls thesaurum, quod parricidium excusare noluisset, occidit, et praefectumquidem, ne homini per se et per scientiam suam magno deesset et dignitas. Denique, ut alia omittam, ex huius moribus factum puto, <ut> Severus tristior vir ad omnia, immo etiam crudelior pius et dignus deorum altaribus duceretur. Qui quidem divinam Sallusti orationem, qua Micipsa filios ad pacem hortatur, ingravatus morbo misisse filio dicitur maiori. Idque frustra. Et — hominem tantum valetudine. Vixit denique in odio populi diu Antoninus, nomenque illud venerabile diu minus amatum est, quamvis et vestimenta populo dederit, unde Caracalus est dictus, et thermas magnificentissimas fecerit. Extat sane Romae Severi porticus gesta eius exprimens a filio, quantum plurimi docent, structa.