Annals, Book I

1 1 Rome at the outset was a city state under the government of kings: liberty and the consulate were institutions of Lucius Brutus. Dictatorships were always a temporary expedient: the decemviral office was dead within two years, nor was the consular authority of the military tribunes long-lived. Neither Cinna nor Sulla created a lasting despotism: Pompey and Crassus quickly forfeited their power to Caesar, and Lepidus and Antony their swords to Augustus, who, under the style of “Prince,”1 gathered beneath his empire a world outworn by civil broils.2 But, while the glories and disasters of the old Roman commonwealth have been chronicled by famous pens, and intellects of distinction were not lacking to tell the tale of the Augustan age, until the rising tide of sycophancy deterred them, the histories of Tiberius and Caligula, of Claudius and Nero, were falsified through cowardice while they flourished, and composed, when they fell, under the influence of still rankling hatreds. Hence my design, to treat a small part (the concluding one) of Augustus’ reign, then the principate of Tiberius and its sequel, without anger and without partiality, from the motives of which I stand sufficiently removed.

2 1 When the killing of Brutus and Cassius had disarmed the Republic; when Pompey had been crushed in Sicily,3 and, with Lepidus thrown aside and Antony slain, even the Julian party was leaderless but for the Caesar; after laying down his triumviral title and proclaiming himself a simple consul content with tribunician authority to safeguard the commons, he first conciliated the army by gratuities, the populace by cheapened corn,º the world by the amenities of peace, then step by step began to make his ascent and to unite in his own person the functions of the senate, the magistracy, and the legislature. Opposition there was none: the boldest spirits had succumbed on stricken fields or by proscription-lists; while the rest of the nobility found a cheerful acceptance of slavery the smoothest road to wealth and office, and, as they had thriven on revolution, stood now for the new order and safety in preference to the old order and adventure. Nor was the state of affairs unpopular in the provinces, where administration by the Senate and People had been discredited by the feuds of the magnates and the greed of the officials, against which there was but frail protection in a legal system for ever deranged by force, by favouritism, or (in the last resort) by gold.

3 1 Meanwhile, to consolidate his power, Augustus raised Claudius Marcellus,4 his sister’s son and a mere stripling, to the pontificate and curule aedileship: Marcus Agrippa, no aristocrat, but a good soldier and his partner in victory, he honoured with two successive consulates, and a little later, on the death of Marcellus, selected him as a son-in‑law. Each of his step-children, Tiberius Nero and Claudius Drusus, was given the title of Imperator, though his family proper was still intact: for he had admitted Agrippa’s children, Gaius and Lucius, to the Caesarian hearth, and even during their minority had shown, under a veil of reluctance, a consuming desire to see them consuls designate with the title Princes of the Youth. When Agrippa gave up the ghost, untimely fate, or the treachery of their stepmother Livia, cut off both Lucius and Caiusº Caesar, Lucius on his road to the Spanish armies, Caiusº — wounded and sick — on his return from Armenia. Drusus had long been dead, and of the stepsons Nero survived alone. On him all centred. Adopted as son, as colleague in the empire, as consort of the tribunician power, he was paraded through all the armies, not as before by the secret diplomacy of his mother, but openly at her injunction. For so firmly had she riveted her chains upon the aged Augustus that he banished to the isle of Planasia5 his one remaining grandson, Agrippa Postumus, who though guiltless of a virtue, and confident brute-like in his physical strength, had been convicted of no open scandal. Yet, curiously enough, he placed Drusus’ son Germanicus at the head of eight legions on the Rhine, and ordered Tiberius to adopt him: it was one safeguard the more, even though Tiberius had already an adult son under his roof.

War at the time was none, except an outstanding campaign against the Germans, waged more to redeem the prestige lost with Quintilius Varus6 and his army than from any wish to extend the empire or with any prospect of an adequate recompense. At home all was calm. The officials carried the old names; the younger men had been born after the victory of Actium; most even of the elder generation, during the civil wars; few indeed were left who had seen the Republic.

4 1 It was thus an altered world, and of the old, unspoilt Roman character not a trace lingered. Equality was an outworn creed, and all eyes looked to the mandate of the sovereign — with no immediate misgivings, so long as Augustus in the full vigour of his prime upheld himself, his house, and peace. But when the wearing effects of bodily sickness added themselves to advancing years, and the end was coming and new hopes dawning, a few voices began idly to discuss the blessings of freedom; more were apprehensive of war; others desired it; the great majority merely exchanged gossip derogatory to their future masters:— “Agrippa, fierce-tempered, and hot from his humiliation, was unfitted by age and experience for so heavy a burden. Tiberius Nero was mature in years and tried in war, but had the old, inbred arrogance of the Claudian family, and hints of cruelty, strive as he would to repress them, kept breaking out. He had been reared from the cradle in a regnant house; consulates and triumphs had been heaped on his youthful head: even during the years when he lived at Rhodes in ostensible retirement and actual exile, he had studied nothing save anger, hypocrisy, and secret lasciviousness. Add to the tale his mother with her feminine caprice: they must be slaves, it appeared, to the distaff, and to a pair of striplings as well, who in the interval would oppress the state and in the upshot rend it asunder!”

5 1 While these topics and the like were under discussion, the malady of Augustus began to take a graver turn; and some suspected foul play on the part of his wife. For a rumour had gone the round that, a few months earlier, the emperor, confiding in a chosen few, and attended only by Fabius Maximus, had sailed for Planasia on a visit to Agrippa. “There tears and signs of affection on both sides had been plentiful enough to raise a hope that the youth might yet be restored to the house of his grandfather. Maximus had disclosed the incident to his wife Marcia; Marcia, to Livia. It had come to the Caesar’s knowledge; and after the death of Maximus, which followed shortly, possibly by his own hand, Marcia had been heard at the funeral, sobbing and reproaching herself as the cause of her husband’s destruction.” Whatever the truth of the affair, Tiberius had hardly set foot in Illyricum, when he was recalled by an urgent letter from his mother; and it is not certainly known whether on reaching the town of Nola, he found Augustus still breathing or lifeless. For house and street were jealously guarded by Livia’s ring of pickets, while sanguine notices were issued at intervals, until the measures dictated by the crisis had been taken: then one report announced simultaneously that Augustus had passed away and that Nero was master of the empire.7

6 1 The opening crime of the new principate was the murder of Agrippa Postumus; who, though off his guard and without weapons, was with difficulty dispatched by a resolute centurion. In the senate Tiberius made no reference to the subject: his pretence was an order from his father, instructing the tribune in charge to lose no time in making away with his prisoner, once he himself should have looked his last on the world. It was beyond question that by his frequent and bitter strictures on the youth’s character Augustus had procured the senatorial decree for his exile: on the other hand, at no time did he harden his heart to the killing of a relative, and it remained incredible that he should have sacrificed the life of a grandchild in order to diminish the anxieties of a stepson. More probably, Tiberius and Livia, actuated in the one case by fear, and in the other by stepmotherly dislike, hurriedly procured the murder of a youth whom they suspected and detested. To the centurion who brought the usual military report, the emperor rejoined that he had given no instructions and the deed would have to be accounted for in the senate. The remark came to the ears of Sallustius Crispus.8 A partner in the imperial secrets — it was he who had forwarded the note to the tribune — he feared the charge might be fastened on himself, with the risks equally great whether he spoke the truth or lied. He therefore advised Livia not to publish the mysteries of the palace, the counsels of her friends, the services of the soldiery; and also to watch that Tiberius did not weaken the powers of the throne by referring everything and all things to the senate:— “It was a condition of sovereignty that the account balanced only if rendered to a single auditor.”9

7 1 At Rome, however, consuls, senators, and knights were rushing into slavery. The more exalted the personage, the grosser his hypocrisy and his haste, — his lineaments adjusted so as to betray neither cheerfulness at the exit nor undue depression at the entry of a prince; his tears blent with joy, his regrets with adulation. The consuls, Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius, first took the oath of allegiance to Tiberius Caesar. It was taken in their presence by Seius Strabo and Caius Turranius, chiefs respectively of the praetorian cohorts and the corn department. The senators, the soldiers, and the populace followed. For in every action of Tiberius the first step had to be taken by the consuls, as though the old republic were in being, and himself undecided whether to reign or no. Even his edict, convening the Fathers to the senate-house was issued simply beneath the tribunician title which he had received under Augustus. It was a laconic document of very modest purport:— “He intended to provide for the last honours to his father, whose body he could not leave — it with was the one function of the state which he made bold to exercise.” Yet, on the passing of Augustus he had given the watchword to the praetorian cohorts as Imperator; he had the sentries, the men-at‑arms, and the other appurtenances of a court; soldiers conducted him to the forum, soldiers to the curia; he dispatched letters to the armies as if the principate was already in his grasp; and nowhere manifested the least hesitation, except when speaking in the senate. The chief reason was his fear that Germanicus — backed by so many legions, the vast reserves of the provinces, and a wonderful popularity with the nation — might prefer the ownership to the reversion of a throne. He paid public opinion, too, the compliment of wishing to be regarded as the called and chosen of the state, rather than as the interloper who had wormed his way into power with the help of connubial intrigues and a senile act of adoption. It was realized later that his coyness had been assumed with the further object of gaining an insight into the feelings of the aristocracy: for all the while he was distorting words and looks into crimes and storing them in his memory.

8 1 The only business which he allowed to be discussed at the first meeting of the senate was the funeral of Augustus. The will, brought in by the Vestal Virgins, specified Tiberius and Livia as heirs, Livia to be adopted into the Julian family and the Augustan name. As legatees in the second degree he mentioned his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; in the third place, the prominent nobles — an ostentatious bid for the applause of posterity, as he detested most of them. His bequests were not above the ordinary civic scale, except that he left 43,500,000 sesterces to the nation and the populace, a thousand to every man in the praetorian guards, five hundred to each in the urban troops, and three hundred to all legionaries or members of the Roman cohorts.10

The question of the last honours was then debated. The two regarded as the most striking were due to Asinius Gallus and Lucius Arruntius — the former proposing that the funeral train should pass under a triumphal gateway; the latter, that the dead should be preceded by the titles of all laws which he had carried and the names of all peoples whom he had subdued. In addition, Valerius Messalla suggested that the oath of allegiance to Tiberius should be renewed annually. To a query from Tiberius, whether that expression of opinion came at his dictation, he retorted — it was the one form of flattery still left — that he had spoken of his own accord, and, when public interests were in question, he would (even at the risk of giving offence) use no man’s judgment but his own. The senate clamoured for the body to be carried to the pyre on the shoulders of the Fathers. The Caesar, with haughty moderation, excused them from that duty, and warned the people by edict not to repeat the enthusiastic excesses which on a former day had marred the funeral of the deified Julius, by desiring Augustus to be cremated in the Forum rather than in the Field of Mars, his appointed resting-place.11

On the day of the ceremony, the troops were drawn up as though on guard, amid the jeers of those who had seen with their eyes, or whose fathers had declared to them, that day of still novel servitude and freedom disastrously re-wooed, when the killing of the dictator Caesar to some had seemed the worst, and to others the fairest, of high exploits:— “And now an aged prince, a veteran potentate, who had seen to it that not even his heirs should lack for means to coerce their country, must needs have military protection to ensure a peaceable burial!”

9 1 Then tongues became busy with Augustus himself. Most men were struck by trivial points — that one day should have been the first of his sovereignty and the last of his life — that he should have ended his days at Nola in the same house and room as his father Octavius. Much, too, was said of the number of his consulates (in which he had equalled the combined totals of Valerius Corvus and Caius Marius),12 his tribunician power unbroken for thirty-seven years, his title of Imperator twenty-one times earned, and his other honours, multiplied or new. Among men of intelligence, however, his career was praised or arraigned from varying points of view. According to some, “filial duty and the needs of a country, which at the time had no room for law, had driven him to the weapons of civil strife — weapons which could not be either forged or wielded with clean hands. He had overlooked much in Antony, much in Lepidus, for the sake of bringing to book the assassins of his father. When Lepidus grew old and indolent, and Antony succumbed to his vices, the sole remedy for his distracted country was government by one man. Yet he organized the state, not by instituting a monarchy or a dictatorship, but by creating the title of First Citizen. The empire had been fenced by the ocean or distant rivers. The legions, the provinces, the fleets, the whole administration, had been centralized. There had been law for the Roman citizen, respect for the allied communities; and the capital itself had been embellished with remarkable splendour. Very few situations had been treated by force, and then only in the interests of general tranquillity.”

10 1 On the other side it was argued that “filial duty and the critical position of the state had been used merely as a cloak: dome to facts, and it was from the lust of dominion that he excited the veterans by his bounties, levied an army while yet a stripling and a subject, subdued the legions of a consul,13 and affected a leaning to the Pompeian side. Then, following his usurpation by senatorial decree of the symbols and powers of the praetorship, had come the deaths of Hirtius and Pansa,14 — whether they perished by the enemy’s sword, or Pansa by poisonº sprinkled on his wound, and Hirtius by the hands of his ownº soldiery, with the Caesar to plan the treason. At all events, he had possessed himself of both their armies, wrung a consulate from the unwilling senate, and turned against the commonwealth the arms which he had received for the quelling of Antony. The proscription of citizens and the assignments of land15 had been approved not even by those who executed them. Grant that Cassius and the Bruti were sacrificed to inherited enmities — though the moral law required that private hatreds should give way to public utility — yet Pompey was betrayed by the simulacrum of a peace,16 Lepidus by the shadow of a friendship: then Antony, lured by the Tarentine and Brundisian treaties17 and a marriage with his sister, had paid with life the penalty of that delusive connexion. After that there had been undoubtedly peace, but peace with bloodshed — the disasters of Lollius18 and of Varus, the execution at Rome of a Varro, an Egnatius, an Iullus.”19 His domestic adventures were not spared; the abduction of Nero’s wife, and the farcical questions to the pontiffs, whether, with a child conceived but not yet born, she could legally wed; the debaucheries of Vedius Pollio;20 and, lastly, Livia, — as a mother, a curse to the realm; as a stepmother, a curse to the house of the Caesars.21 “He had left small room for the worship of heaven, when he claimed to be himself adored in temples and in the image of godhead by flamens and by priests! Even in the adoption of Tiberius to succeed him, his motive had been neither personal affection nor regard for the state: he had read the pride and cruelty of his heart, and had sought to heighten his own glory by the vilest of contrasts.” For Augustus, a few years earlier, when requesting the Fathers to renew the grant of the tribunician power to Tiberius, had in the course of the speech, complimentary as it was, let fall a few remarks on his demeanour, dress, and habits which were offered as an apology and designed for reproaches.

However, his funeral ran the ordinary course; and a decree followed, endowing him a temple and divine rites.

11 1 Then all prayers were directed towards Tiberius; who delivered a variety of reflections on the greatness of the empire and his own diffidence:— “Only the mind of the deified Augustus was equal to such a burden: he himself had found, when called by the sovereign to share his anxieties, how arduous, how dependent upon fortune, was the task of ruling a world! He thought, then, that, in a state which had the support of so many eminent men, they ought not to devolve the entire duties on any one person; the business of government would be more easily carried out by the joint efforts of a number.” A speech in this tenor was more dignified than convincing. Besides, the diction of Tiberius, by habit or by nature, was always indirect and obscure, even when he had no wish to conceal his thought; and now, in the effort to bury every trace of his sentiments, it became more intricate, uncertain, and equivocal than ever. But the Fathers, whose one dread was that they might seem to comprehend him, melted in plaints, tears, and prayers. They were stretching their hands to heaven, to the effigy of Augustus, to his own knees, when he gave orders for a document22 to be produced and read. It contained a statement of the national resources — the strength of the burghers and allies under arms; the number of the fleets, protectorates, and provinces; the taxes direct and indirect; the needful disbursements and customary bounties catalogued by Augustus in his own hand, with a final clause (due to fear or jealousy?) advising the restriction of the empire within its present frontiers.

12 1 The senate, meanwhile, was descending to the most abject supplications, when Tiberius casually observed that, unequal as he felt himself to the whole weight of government, he would still undertake the charge of any one department that might be assigned to him. Asinius Gallus then said:— “I ask you, Caesar, what department you wish to be assigned you.” This unforeseen inquiry threw him off his balance. He was silent for a few moments; then recovered himself, and answered that it would not at all become his diffidence to select or shun any part of a burden from which he would prefer to be wholly excused. Gallus, who had conjectured anger from his look, resumed:— “The question had been put to him, not with the hope that he would divide the inseparable, but to gain from his own lips an admission that the body politic was a single organism needing to be governed by a single intelligence.” He added a panegyric on Augustus, and urged Tiberius to remember his own victories and the brilliant work which he had done year after year in the garb of peace. He failed, however, to soothe the imperial anger: he had been a hated man ever since his marriage to Vipsania (daughter of Marcus Agrippa, and once the wife of Tiberius), which had given the impression that he had ambitions denied to a subject and retained the temerity of his father Asinius Pollio.

13 1 Lucius Arruntius, who followed in a vein not much unlike that of Gallus, gave equal offence, although Tiberius had no standing animosity against him: he was, however, rich, enterprising, greatly gifted, correspondingly popular, and so suspect. For Augustus, in his last conversations, when discussing possible holders of the principate — those who were competent and disinclined, who were inadequate and willing, or who were at once able and desirous — had described Manius Lepidus as capable but disdainful, Asinius Gallus as eager and unfit, Lucius Arruntius as not undeserving and bold enough to venture, should the opportunity arise. The first two names are not disputed; in some versions Arruntius is replaced by Gnaeus Piso: all concerned, apart from Lepidus, were soon entrapped on one charge or another, promoted by Tiberius.23 Quintus Haterius and Mamercus Scaurus also jarred that suspicious breast — Haterius, by the sentence, “How long, Caesar, will you permit the state to lack a head?” and Scaurus, by remarking that, as he had not used his tribunician power to veto the motion of the consuls, there was room for hope that the prayers of the senate would not be in vain. Haterius he favoured with an immediate invective: against Scaurus his anger was less placable, and he passed him over in silence. Wearied at last by the universal outcry and by individual appeals, he gradually gave ground, up to the point, not of acknowledging that he assumed the sovereignty, but of ceasing to refuse and to be entreated. Haterius, it is well known, on entering the palace to make his excuses, found Tiberius walking, threw himself down at his knees, and was all but dispatched by the guards, because the prince, either from accident or through being hampered by the suppliant’s hands, had fallen flat on his face. The danger of a great citizen failed, however, to soften him, until Haterius appealed to Augusta, and was saved by the urgency of her prayers.

14 1 Augusta herself enjoyed a full share of senatorial adulation. One party proposed to give her the title “Parent of her Country”; some preferred “Mother of her Country”: a majority thought the qualification “Son of Julia” ought to be appended to the name of the Caesar. Declaring that official compliments to women must be kept within bounds, and that he would use the same forbearance in the case of those paid to himself (in fact he was fretted by jealousy, and regarded the elevation of a woman as a degradation of himself), he declined to allow her even the grant of a lictor, and banned both an Altar of Adoption24 and other proposed honours of a similar nature. But he asked proconsular powers25 for Germanicus Caesar, and a commission was sent out to confer them, and, at the same time, to console his grief at the death of Augustus. That the same demand was not preferred on behalf of Drusus was due to the circumstance that he was consul designate and in presence.26

For the praetorship Tiberius nominated twelve candidates, the number handed down by Augustus. The senate, pressing for an increase, was met by a declaration on oath that he would never exceed it.

15 1 The elections were now for the first time transferred from the Campus to the senate: up to that day, while the most important were determined by the will of the sovereign, a few had still been left to the predilections of the Tribes. From the people the withdrawal of the right brought no protest beyond idle murmurs; and the senate, relieved from the necessity of buying or begging votes, was glad enough to embrace the change, Tiberius limiting himself to the recommendation of not more than four candidates,27 to be appointed without rejection or competition. At the same time, the plebeian tribunes asked leave to exhibit games at their own expense — to be called after the late emperor and added to the calendar as the Augustalia. It was decided, however, that the cost should be borne by the treasury; also, that the tribunes should have the use of the triumphal robe in the Circus; the chariot was not to be permissible. The whole function, before long, was transferred to the praetor who happened to have the jurisdiction in suits between natives and aliens.

16 1 So much for the state of affairs in the capital: now came an outbreak of mutiny among the Pannonian legions. There were no fresh grievances; only the change of sovereigns had excited a vision of licensed anarchy and a hope of the emoluments of civil war. Three legions were stationed together in summer-quarters under the command of Junius Blaesus. News had come of the end of Augustus and the accession of Tiberius; and Blaesus, to allow the proper interval for mourning or festivity, had suspended the normal round of duty. With this the mischief began. The ranks grew insubordinate and quarrelsome — gave a hearing to any glib agitator — became eager, in short, for luxury and ease, disdainful of discipline and work. In the camp there was a man by the name of Percennius, in his early days the leader of a claque at the theatres, then a private soldier with an abusive tongue, whose experience of stage rivalries had taught him the art of inflaming an audience. Step by step, by conversations at night or in the gathering twilight, he began to play on those simple minds, now troubled by a doubt how the passing of Augustus would affect the conditions of service, and to collect about him the off-scourings of the army when the better elements had dispersed.

17 1 At last, when they were ripe for action — some had now become his coadjutors in sedition — he put his question in something like a set speech:— “Why should they obey like slaves a few centurions and fewer tribunes? When would they dare to claim redress, if they shrank from carrying their petitions, or their swords, to the still unstable throne of a new prince? Mistakes enough had been made in all the years of inaction, when white-haired men, many of whom had lost a limb by wounds, were making their thirtieth or fortieth campaign. Even after discharge their warfare was not accomplished: still under canvas by the colours they endured the old drudgeries under an altered name.1 And suppose that a man survived this multitude of hazards: he was dragged once more to the ends of the earth to receive under the name of a ‘farm’ some swampy morass or barren mountain-side. In fact, the whole trade of war was comfortless and profitless: ten asses a day was the assessment of body and soul: with that they had to buy clothes, weapons and tents, bribe the bullying centurion and purchase a respite from duty!2 But whip-cut and sword-cut, stern winter and harassed summer, red war or barren peace, — these, God knew, were always with them. Alleviation there would be none, till enlistment took place under a definite contract — the payment to be a denarius a day,3 the sixteenth year to end the term of service, no further period with the reserve to be required, but the gratuity to be paid in money in their old camp. Or did the praetorian cohorts, who had received two denarii a day — who were restored to hearth and home on the expiry of sixteen years — risk more danger? They did not disparage sentinel duty at Rome; still, their own lot was cast among savage clans, with the enemy visible from their very tents.”

18 1 The crowd shouted approval, as one point or the other told. Some angrily displayed the marks of the lash, some their grey hairs, most their threadbare garments and naked bodies. At last they came to such a pitch of frenzy that they proposed to amalgamate the three legions into one. Baffled in the attempt by military jealousies, since each man claimed the privilege of survival for his own legion, they fell back on the expedient of planting the three eagles and the standards of the cohorts4 side by side. At the same time, to make the site more conspicuous, they began to collect turf and erect a platform. They were working busily when Blaesus arrived. He broke into reproaches, and in some cases dragged the men back by force. “Dye your hands in my blood,” he exclaimed; “it will be a slighter crime to kill your general than it is to revolt from your emperor. Alive, I will keep my legions loyal, or, murdered, hasten their repentance.”

19 1 None the less, the turf kept mounting, and had risen fully breast-high before his pertinacity carried the day and they abandoned the attempt. Blaesus then addressed them with great skill:— “Mutiny and riot,” he observed, “were not the best ways of conveying a soldier’s aspirations to his sovereign. No such revolutionary proposals had been submitted either by their predecessors to the captains of an earlier day or by themselves to Augustus of happy memory; and it was an ill-timed proceeding to aggravate the embarrassments which confronted a prince on his accession. But if they were resolved to hazard during peace claims unasserted even by the victors of civil wars, why insult the principles of discipline and the habit of obedience by an appeal to violence? They should name deputies and give them instructions in his presence.” The answer came in a shout, that Blaesus’ son — a tribune — should undertake the mission and ask for the discharge of all soldiers of sixteen years’ service and upwards: they would give him their other instructions when the first had borne fruit. The young man’s departure brought comparative quiet. The troops, however, were elated, as the sight of their general’s son pleading the common cause showed plainly enough that force had extracted what would never have been yielded to orderly methods.

20 1 Meanwhile there were the companies dispatched to Nauportus5 before the beginning of the mutiny. They had been detailed for the repair of roads and bridges, and on other service, but the moment news came of the disturbance in camp, they tore down their ensigns and looted both the neighbouring villages and Nauportus itself, which was large enough to claim the standing of a town. The centurions resisted, only to be assailed with jeers and insults, and finally blows; the chief object of anger being the camp-marshal, Aufidienus Rufus; who, dragged from his car, loaded with baggage, and driven at the head of the column, was plied with sarcastic inquiries whether he found it pleasant to support these huge burdens, these weary marches. For Rufus, long a private, then a centurion, and latterly a camp-marshal,6 was seeking to reintroduce the iron discipline of the past, habituated as he was to work and toil, and all the more pitiless because he had endured.

21 1 The arrival of this horde gave the mutiny a fresh lease of life, and the outlying districts began to be overrun by wandering marauders. To cow the rest — for the general was still obeyed by the centurions and the respectable members of the rank and file — Blaesus ordered a few who were especially heavy-laden with booty to be lashed and thrown into the cells. As the escort dragged them away, they began to struggle, to catch at the knees of the bystanders, to call on the names of individual friends, their particular century, their cohort, their legion, clamouring that a similar fate was imminent for all. At the same time they heaped reproaches on the general and invoked high heaven, — anything and everything that could arouse odium or sympathy, alarm or indignation. The crowd flew to the rescue, forced the guard-room, unchained the prisoners, and now took into fellowship deserters and criminals condemned for capital offences.

22 1 After this the flames burned higher; sedition found fresh leaders. A common soldier, Vibulenus by name, was hoisted on the shoulders of the bystanders in front of Blaesus’ tribunal, and there addressed the turbulent and curious crowd:— “You, I grant,” he said, “have restored light and breath to these innocent and much wronged men; but who restores the life to my brother — who my brother to me? He was sent to you by the army of Germany to debate our common interest — and yesterday night he did him to death by the hands of those gladiators whom he keeps and arms for the extermination of his soldiers.7 Answer me, Blaesus: — Whither have you flung the body? The enemy himself does not grudge a grave! Then, when I have sated my sorrow with kisses, and drowned it with tears, bid them butcher me as well: only, let our comrades here lay us in earth — for we died, not for crime, but because we sought to serve the legions.”

23 1 He added to the inflammatory effect of his speech by weeping and striking his face and breast: then, dashing aside the friends on whose shoulders he was supported, he threw himself headlong and fawned at the feet of man after man, until he excited such consternation and hatred that one party flung into irons the gladiators in Blaesus’ service; another, the rest of his household; while the others poured out in search of the corpse. In fact, if it had not come to light very shortly that no body was discoverable, that the slaves under torture denied the murder, and that Vibulenus had never owned a brother, they were within measurable distance of making away with the general. As it was, they ejected the tribunes and camp-marshal and plundered the fugitives’ baggage. The centurion Lucilius also met his end. Camp humorists had surnamed him “Fetch-Another,” from his habit, as one cane8 broke over a private’s back, of calling at the top of his voice for a second, and ultimately a third. His colleagues found safety in hiding: Julius Clemens alone was kept, as the mutineers considered that his quick wits might be of service in presenting their claims. The eighth and fifteenth legions, it should be added, were on the point of turning their swords against each other upon the question of a centurion named Sirpicus, — demanded for execution by the eighth and protected by the fifteenth, — had not the men of the ninth intervened with entreaties and, in the event of their rejection, with threats.

24 1 In spite of his secretiveness, always deepest when the news was blackest, Tiberius was driven by the reports from Pannonia to send out his son Drusus, with a staff of nobles and two praetorian cohorts. He had no instructions that could be called definite: he was to suit his measures to the emergency. Drafts of picked men raised the cohorts to abnormal strength. In addition, a large part of the praetorian horse was included, as well as the flower of the German troops, who at that time formed the imperial bodyguard. The commandant of the household troops, Aelius Sejanus, who held the office jointly with his father Strabo and exercised a remarkable influence over Tiberius, went in attendance, to act as monitor to the young prince and to keep before the eyes of the rest the prospects of peril or reward. As Drusus approached, the legions met him, ostensibly to mark their loyalty; but the usual demonstrations of joy and glitter of decorations9 had given place to repulsive squalor and to looks that aimed at sadness and came nearer to insolence.

25 1 The moment he passed the outworks, they held the gates with sentries,10 and ordered bodies of armed men to be ready at fixed positions within the camp: the rest, in one great mass, flocked round the tribunal. Drusus stood, beckoning with his hand for silence. One moment, the mutineers would glance back at their thousands, and a roar of truculent voices followed; the next, they saw the Caesar and trembled: vague murmurings, savage yells and sudden stillnesses marked a conflict of passions which left them alternately terrified and terrible. At last, during a lull in the storm, Drusus read over his father’s letter, in which it was written that “he had personally a special regard for the heroic legions in whose company he had borne so many campaigns;11 that as soon as his thoughts found a rest from grief, he would state their case to the Conscript Fathers; meantime he had sent his son to grant without delay any reforms that could be conceded on the spot; the others must be reserved for the senate, a body which they would do well to reflect, could be both generous and severe.”

26 1 The assembly replied that Clemens, the centurion, was empowered to present their demands. He began to speak of discharge at the end of sixteen years, gratuities for service completed, payment on the scale of a denarius a day, no retention of time-expired men with the colours. Drusus attempted to plead the jurisdiction of the senate and his father. He was interrupted with a shout:— “Why had he come, if he was neither to raise the pay of the troops nor to ease their burdens — if, in short, he had no leave to do a kindness? Yet death and the lash, Heaven was their witness, were within the competence of anyone! It had been a habit of Tiberius before him to parry the requests of the legions by references to Augustus, and now Drusus had reproduced the old trick. Were they never to be visited by any but these young persons with a father? It was remarkable indeed that the emperor should refer the good of his troops, and nothing else, to the senate. If so, he ought to consult the same senate when executions or battles were the order of the day. Or were rewards to depend on masters, punishments to be without control?”

27 1 At last they left the tribunal, shaking their fists at any guardsman, or member of the Caesar’s staff, who crossed their road, in order to supply a ground of quarrel and initiate a resort to arms. They were bitterest against Gnaeus Lentulus, whose superior age and military fame12 led them to believe that he was hardening Drusus’ heart and was the foremost opponent of this degradation of the service. Before long they caught him leaving with the prince: he had foreseen the danger and was making for the winter-camp. Surrounding him, they demanded whither he was going? To the emperor? — or to his Conscript Fathers, there also to work against the good of the legions? Simultaneously they closed in and began to stone him. He was bleeding already from a cut with a missile and had made up his mind that the end was come, when he was saved by the advent of Drusus’ numerous escort.

28 1 It was a night of menace and foreboded a day of blood, when chance turned peace-maker: for suddenly the moon was seen to be losing light in a clear sky.13 The soldiers, who had no inkling of the reason, took it as an omen of the present state of affairs: the labouring planet was an emblem of their own struggles, and their road would lead them to a happy goal, if her brilliance and purity could be restored to the goddess! Accordingly, the silence was broken by a boom of brazen gongs and the blended notes of trumpet and horn.14 The watchers rejoiced or mourned15 as their deity brightened or faded, until rising clouds curtained off the view and she set, as they believed, in darkness. Then — so pliable to superstition are minds once unbalanced — they began to bewail the eternal hardships thus foreshadowed and their crimes from which the face of heaven was averted. This turn of the scale, the Caesar reflected, must be put to use: wisdom should reap where chance had sown. He ordered a round of the tents to be made. Clemens, the centurion, was sent for, along with any other officer whose qualities had made him popular with the ranks. These insinuated themselves everywhere, among the watches, the patrols, the sentries at the gates, suggesting hope and emphasizing fear. “How long must we besiege the son of our emperor? What is to be the end of our factions? Are we to swear fealty to Percennius and Vibulenus? Will Percennius and Vibulenus give the soldier his pay — his grant of land at his discharge? Are they, in fine, to dispossess the stock of Nero and Drusus and take over the sovereignty of the Roman People? Why, rather, as we were the last to offend, are we not the first to repent? Reforms demanded collectively are slow in coming: private favour is quickly earned and as quickly paid.” The leaven worked; and under the influence of their mutual suspicions they separated once more recruit from veteran, legion from legion. Then, gradually the instinct of obedience returned; they abandoned the gates and restored to their proper places the ensigns which they had grouped together at the beginning of the mutiny.

29 1 At break of day Drusus called a meeting. He was no orator, but blamed their past and commended their present attitude with native dignity. He was not to be cowed, he said, by intimidation and threats; but if he saw them returning to their duty, if he heard them speaking the language of suppliants, he would write to his father and advise him to lend an indulgent ear to the prayers of the legions. They begged him to do so, and as their deputies to Tiberius sent the younger Blaesus as before, together with Lucius Aponius, a Roman knight on Drusus’ staff, and Justus Catonius, a centurion of the first order. There was now a conflict of opinions, some proposing to wait for the return of the deputies and humour the troops in the meantime by a show of leniency, while others were for sterner remedies:— “A crowd was nothing if not extreme; it must either bluster or cringe; once terrified, it could be ignored with impunity; now that it was depressed by superstition was the moment for the general to inspire fresh terror by removing the authors of the mutiny.” Drusus had a natural bias toward severity: Vibulenus and Percennius were summoned and their execution was ordered. Most authorities state that they were buried inside the general’s pavilion: according to others, the bodies were thrown outside the lines and left on view.

30 1 There followed a hue and cry after every ringleader of note. Some made blindly from the camp and were cut down by the centurions or by members of the praetorian cohorts: others were handed over by the companies themselves as a certificate of their loyalty. The troubles of the soldiers had been increased by an early winter with incessant and pitiless rains. It was impossible to stir from the tents or to meet in common, barely possible to save the standards from being carried away by hurricane and flood. In addition their dread of the divine anger still persisted: not for nothing, it whispered, was their impiety visited by fading planets and rushing storms; there was no relief from their miseries but to leave this luckless, infected camp, and, absolved from guilt, return every man to his winter-quarters. First the eighth legion, then the fifteenth, departed. The men of the ninth had insisted loudly on waiting for Tiberius’ letter: soon, isolated by the defection of the rest, they too made a virtue of what threatened to become a necessity. Drusus himself, since affairs were settled enough at present, went back to Rome without staying for the return of the deputies.

31 1 During the same days almost, and from the same causes, the legions of Germany mutinied, in larger numbers1 and with proportionate fury; while their hopes ran high that Germanicus Caesar, unable to brook the sovereignty of another, would throw himself into the arms of his legions, whose force could sweep the world. There were two armies on the Rhine bank: the Upper, under the command of Gaius Silius; the Lower, in charge of Aulus Caecina. The supreme command rested with Germanicus, then engaged in assessing the tribute of the Gaulish provinces.2 But while the forces under Silius merely watched with doubtful sympathy the fortunes of a rising which was none of theirs, the lower army plunged into delirium. The beginning came from the twenty-first and fifth legions: then, as they were all stationed, idle or on the lightest of duty, in one summer camp on the Ubian frontier,3 the first and twentieth as well were drawn into the current. Hence, on the report of Augustus’ death, the swarm of city-bred recruits swept from the capital by the recent levy,4 familiar with licence and chafing at hardship, began to influence the simple minds of the rest:— “The time had come when the veteran should seek his overdue discharge, and the younger man a less niggardly pay; when all should claim relief from their miseries and take vengeance on the cruelty of their centurions.” These were not the utterances of a solitary Percennius declaiming to the Pannonian legions; nor were they addressed to the uneasy ears of soldiers who had other and more powerful armies to bear in view: it was a sedition of many tongues and voices:— “Theirs were the hands that held the destinies of Rome; theirs the victories by which the empire grew; theirs the name which Caesars assumed!”5

32 1 The legate made no counter-move: indeed, the prevalent frenzy had destroyed his nerve. In a sudden paroxysm of rage the troops rushed with drawn swords on the centurions, the traditional objects of military hatred, and always the first victims of its fury. They threw them to the ground and applied the lash, sixty strokes to a man, one for every centurion in the legion; then tossed them with dislocated limbs, mangled, in some cases unconscious, over the wall or into the waters of the Rhine. Septimius took refuge at the tribunal and threw himself at the feet of Caecina, but was demanded with such insistence that he had to be surrendered to his fate. Cassius Chaerea, soon to win a name in history as the slayer of Caligula, then a reckless stripling,6 opened a way with his sword through an armed and challenging multitude. Neither tribune nor camp-marshal kept authority longer: watches, patrols, every duty which circumstances indicated as vital, the mutineers distributed among themselves. Indeed, to a careful observer of the military temperament, the most alarming sign of acute and intractable disaffection was this: there were no spasmodic outbreaks instigated by a few firebrands, but everywhere one white heat of anger, one silence, and withal a steadiness and uniformity which might well have been accredited to discipline.

33 1 In the meantime, Germanicus, as we have stated, was traversing the Gallic provinces and assessing their tribute, when the message came that Augustus was no more. Married to the late emperor’s granddaughter Agrippina, who had borne him several children, and himself a grandchild of the dowager (he was the son of Tiberius’ brother Drusus), he was tormented none the less by the secret hatred of his uncle and grandmother — hatred springing from motives the more potent because iniquitous. For Drusus was still a living memory to the nation, and it was believed that, had he succeeded, he would have restored the age of liberty; whence the same affection and hopes centred on the young Germanicus with his unassuming disposition and his exceptional courtesy, so far removed from the inscrutable arrogance of word and look which characterized Tiberius. Feminine animosities increased the tension as Livia had a stepmother’s irritable dislike of Agrippina, whose own temper was not without a hint of fire, though purity of mind and wifely devotion kept her rebellious spirit on the side of righteousness.

34 1 But the nearer Germanicus stood to the supreme ambition, the more energy he threw into the cause of Tiberius. He administered the oath of fealty to himself, his subordinates, and the Belgic cities. Then came the news that the legions were out of hand. He set out in hot haste, and found them drawn up to meet him outside the camp, their eyes fixed on the ground in affected penitence. As soon as he entered the lines, a jangle of complaints began to assail his ears. Some of the men kissed his hand, and with a pretence of kissing it pushed the fingers between their lips, so that he should touch their toothless gums; others showed him limbs bent and bowed with old age. When at last they stood ready to listen, as there appeared to be no sort of order, Germanicus commanded them to divide into companies: they told him they would hear better as they were. At least, he insisted, bring the ensigns forward; there must be something to distinguish the cohorts: they obeyed, but slowly. Then, beginning with a pious tribute to the memory of Augustus, he changed to the victories and the triumphs of Tiberius, keeping his liveliest praise for the laurels he had won in the Germanies at the head of those very legions.7 Next he enlarged on the unanimity of Italy and the loyalty of the Gallic provinces, the absence everywhere of turbulence or disaffection.

35 1 All this was listened to in silence or with suppressed murmurs. But when he touched on the mutiny and asked where was their soldierly obedience? where the discipline, once their glory? whither had they driven their tribunes — their centurions? with one impulse they tore off their tunics and reproachfully exhibited the scars of battle and the imprints of the lash. Then, in one undistinguished uproar, they taunted him with the fees for exemption from duty, the miserly rate of pay, and the severity of the work, — parapet-making, entrenching, and the collection of forage, building material8 and fuel were specifically mentioned, along with the other camp drudgeries imposed sometimes from necessity, sometimes as a precaution against leisure. The most appalling outcry arose from the veterans, who, enumerating their thirty or more campaigns, begged him to give relief to outworn men and not to leave them to end their days in the old wretchedness, but fix a term to this grinding service and allow them a little rest secured from beggary. There were some even who claimed the money bequeathed to them by the deified Augustus, with happy auguries for Germanicus;9 and, should he desire the throne, they made it manifest that they were ready. On this he leapt straight from the platform as if he was being infected with their guilt. They barred his way with their weapons, threatening to use them unless he returned: but he, exclaiming that he would sooner die than turn traitor, snatched the sword from his side, raised it, and would buried it in his breast, if the bystanders had not caught his arm and held it by force. The remoter and closely packed part of the assembly, and — though the statement passes belief — certain individual soldiers, advancing close to him, urged him to strike home. One private, by the name of Calusidius, drew his own blade and offered it with the commendation that “it was sharper.” Even to that crowd of madmen the act seemed brutal and ill-conditioned, and there followed a pause long enough for the Caesar’s friends to hurry him into his tent.

36 1 There the question of remedies was debated. For reports were coming in that a mission was being organized to bring the upper army into line, that the Ubian capital10 had been marked down for destruction, and that after this preliminary experiment in pillage the mutineers proposed to break out and loot the Gallic provinces. To add to the alarm, the enemy was cognizant of the disaffection in the Roman ranks, and invasion was certain if the Rhine bank was abandoned. Yet to arm the auxiliaries native and foreign against the seceding legions was nothing less than an act of civil war. Severity was dangerous, indulgence criminal: to concede the soldiery all or nothing was equally to hazard the existence of the empire. Therefore, after the arguments had been revolved and balanced, it was decided to have letters written in the name of the emperor, directing that all men who had served twenty years should be finally discharged; that any who had served sixteen should be released from duty and kept with the colours under no obligation beyond that of assisting to repel an enemy; and that the legacies claimed should be paid and doubled.

37 1 The troops saw that all this was invented for the occasion, and demanded immediate action. The discharges were expedited at once by the tribunes: the monetary grant was held back till the men should have reached their proper quarters for the winter. The fifth and twenty-first legions declined to move until the sum was made up and paid where they stood, in the summer camp, out of the travelling-chests of the Caesar’s suite and of the prince himself. The legate Caecina led the first and twentieth legions back to the Ubian capital:11 a disgraceful march, with the general’s plundered coffers borne flanked by ensigns and by eagles. Germanicus set out for the upper army, and induced the second, thirteenth, and sixteenth legions to take the oath of fidelity without demur; the fourteenth had shown some little hesitation. The money and discharges, though not demanded, were voluntarily conceded.

38 1 Among the Chauci, however, a detachment,12 drawn from the disaffected legions, which was serving on garrison duty, made a fresh attempt at mutiny, and was repressed for the moment by the summary execution of a couple of soldiers. The order had been given by Manius Ennius, the camp-marshal, and was more a wholesome example than a legal exercise of authority. Then as the wave of disorder began to swell, he fled, was discovered, and as his hiding offered no security, resolved to owe salvation to audacity:— “It was no camp-marshal, he cried, “whom they were affronting; it was Germanicus, their general — Tiberius, their emperor.” At the same time, overawing resistance, he snatched up the standard, turned it towards the Rhine, and, proclaiming that anyone falling out of the ranks would be regarded as a deserter, led his men back to winter-quarters, mutinous enough but with training ventured.

39 1 Meanwhile the deputation from the senate found Germanicus, who had returned by then, at the Altar of the Ubians.13 Two legions were wintering there, the first and twentieth; also the veterans recently discharged and now with their colours. Nervous as they were and distraught with the consciousness of guilt, the fear came over them that a senatorial commission had arrived to revoke all the concessions extorted by their rebellion. With the common propensity of crowds to find a victim, however false the charge, they accused Munatius Plancus, an ex-consul who was at the head of the deputation, of initiating the decree. Before the night was far advanced, they began to shout for the colours kept in Germanicus’ quarters.14 There was a rush to the gate; they forced the door, and, dragging the prince from bed, compelled him on pain of death to hand over the ensign. A little later, while roving the streets, they lit on the envoys themselves, who had heard the disturbance and were hurrying to Germanicus. They loaded them with insults, and contemplated murder; especially in the case of Plancus, whose dignity had debarred him from flight. Nor in his extremity had he any refuge but the quarters of the first legion. There, clasping the standards and the eagle, he lay in sanctuary;15 and had not the eagle-bearer Calpurnius shielded him from the crowning violence, then — by a crime almost unknown even between enemies — an ambassador of the Roman people would in a Roman camp have defiled with his blood the altars of heaven.16 At last, when the dawn came and officer and private and the doings of the night were recognized for what they were, Germanicus entered the camp, ordered Plancus to be brought to him, and took him on to the tribunal. Then, rebuking the “fatal madness, rekindled not so much by their own anger as by that of heaven,” he gave the reasons for the deputies’ arrival. He was plaintively eloquent upon the rights of ambassadors and the serious and undeserved outrage to Plancus, as also upon the deep disgrace contracted by the legion. Then, after reducing his hearers to stupor, if not to peace, he dismissed the deputies under a guard of auxiliary cavalry.

40 1 During these alarms, Germanicus was universally blamed for not proceeding to the upper army, where he could count on obedience and on help against the rebels:— “Discharges, donations, and soft-hearted measures had done more than enough mischief. Or, if he held his own life cheap, why keep an infant son and a pregnant wife among madmen who trampled on all laws, human or divine? These at any rate he ought to restore to their grandfather and the commonwealth.” He was long undecided, and Agrippina met the proposal with disdain, protesting that she was a descendant of the deified Augustus, and danger would not find her degenerate. At last, bursting into tears, he embraced their common child, together with herself and the babe to be, and so induced her to depart. Feminine and pitiable the procession began to move — the commander’s wife in flight with his infant son borne on her breast, and round her the tearful wives of his friends, dragged like herself from their husbands. Nor were those who remained less woe-begone.

41 1 The picture recalled less a Caesar at the zenith of force and in his own camp than a scene in a taken town. The sobbing and wailing drew the ears and eyes of the troops themselves. They began to emerge from quarters:— “Why,” they demanded, “the sound of weeping? What calamity had happened? Here were these ladies of rank, and not a centurion to guard them, not a soldier, no sign of the usual escort or that this was the general’s wife! They were bound for the Treviri17 — handed over to the protection of foreigners.” There followed shame and pity and memories of her father Agrippa, of Augustus her grandfather. She was the daughter-in‑law of Drusus, herself a wife of notable fruitfulness and shining chastity. There was also her little son, born in the camp and bred the playmate of the legions; whom soldier-like they had dubbed “Bootikins”18Caligula — because, as an appeal to the fancy of the rank and file, he generally wore the footgear of that name. Nothing, however, swayed them so much as their jealousy of the Treviri. They implored, they obstructed:— “She must come back, she must stay,” they urged; some running to intercept Agrippina, the majority hurrying back to Germanicus. Still smarting with grief and indignation, he stood in the centre of the crowd, and thus began:—

42 1 “Neither my wife nor my son is dearer to me than my father and my country; but his own majesty will protect my father, and its other armies the empire. My wife and children I would cheerfully devote to death in the cause of your glory; as it is, I am removing them from your madness. Whatever this impending villainy of yours may prove to be, I prefer that it should be expiated by my own blood only, and that you should not treble your guilt by butchering the great-grandson of Augustus and murdering the daughter-in‑law of Tiberius. For what in these latter days have you left unventured or unviolated? What name am I to give a gathering like this? Shall I call you soldiers — who have besieged the son of your emperor with your earthworks and your arms? Or citizens — who have treated the authority of the senate as a thing so abject? You have outraged the privileges due even to an enemy, the sanctity of ambassadors, the law of nations. The deified Julius crushed the insurrection of an army by one word: they refused the soldiers’ oath, and he addressed them as Quirites.19A look, a glance, from the deified Augustus, and the legions of Actium quailed.20 I myself am not yet as they, but I spring of their line, and if the garrisons of Spain or Syria were to flout me, it would still be a wonder and an infamy. And is it the first and twentieth legions, — the men who took their standards from Tiberius, and you who have shared his many fields and thriven on his many bounties,21 — that make this generous return to their leader? Is this the news I must carry to my father, while he hears from other provinces that all is well — that his own recruits, his own veterans, are not sated yet with money and dismissals; that here only centurions are murdered, tribunes ejected, generals imprisoned; that camp and river are red with blood, while I myself linger out a precarious life among men that seek to take it away?

43 1 “For why, in the first day’s meeting, my short-sighted friends, did you wrench away the steel I was preparing to plunge in my breast? Better and more lovingly the man who offered me his sword! At least I should have fallen with not all my army’s guilt upon my soul. You would have chosen a general, who, while leaving my own death unpunished, would have avenged that of Varus and his three legions. For, though the Belgians offer their services, God forbid that theirs should be the honour and glory of vindicating the Roman name and quelling the nations of Germany! May thy spirit, Augustus, now received with thyself into heaven, — may thy image, my father Drusus, and the memory of thee, be with these same soldiers of yours, whose hearts are already opening to the sense of shame and of glory, to cancel this stain and convert our civil broils to the destruction of our enemies! And you yourselves — for now I am looking into changed faces and changed minds — if you are willing to restore to the senate its deputies, to the emperor your obedience, and to me my wife and children, then stand clear of the infection and set the malignants apart: that will be a security of repentance — that a guarantee of loyalty!”

44 1 His words converted them into suppliants; they owned the justice of the charges and begged him to punish the guilty, forgive the erring, and lead them against the enemy. Let him recall his wife; let the nursling of the legions return: he must not be given in hostage to Gauls! His wife, he answered, must be excused: she could hardly return with winter and her confinement impending.22 His son, however, should come back to them: what was still to be done they could do themselves. — They were changed men now; and, rushing in all directions, they threw the most prominent of the mutineers into chains and dragged them to Gaius Caetronius, legate of the first legion, who dealt out justice — and punishment — to them one by one by the following method. The legions were stationed in front with drawn swords; the accused was displayed on the platform by a tribune; if they cried “Guilty,” he was thrown down and hacked to death. The troops revelled in the butchery, which they took as an act of purification; nor was Germanicus inclined to restrain them — the orders had been none of his, and the perpetrators of the cruelty would have to bear its odium. The veterans followed the example, and shortly afterwards were ordered to Raetia;23 nominally to defend the province against a threatened Suevian invasion,24 actually to remove them from a camp grim even yet with remembered crimes and the equal horror of their purging. Then came a revision of the list of centurions. Each, on citation by the commander-in‑chief, gave his name, company, and country; the number of his campaigns, his distinctions in battle and his military decorations, if any. If the tribunes and his legion bore testimony to his energy and integrity, he kept his post; if they agreed in charging him with rapacity or cruelty, he was dismissed fromº the service.

45 1 This brought the immediate troubles to a standstill; but there remained an obstacle of equal difficulty in the defiant attitude of the fifth and twenty-first legions, which were wintering some sixty miles away at the post known as the Old Camp.25 They had been the first to break into mutiny; the worst atrocities had been their handiwork; and now they persisted in their fury, undaunted by the punishment and indifferent to the repentance of their comrades. The Caesar, therefore, arranged for the dispatch of arms, vessels, and auxiliaries down the Rhine, determined, if his authority were rejected, to try conclusions with the sword.

46 1 Before the upshot of events in Illyricum26 was known at Rome, word came that the German legions had broken out. The panic-stricken capital turned on Tiberius:— “While with his hypocritical hesitation he was befooling the senate and commons, two powerless and unarmed bodies, meantime the troops were rising and could not be checked by the unripe authority of a pair of boys. He ought to have gone in person and confronted the rebels with the majesty of the empire: they would have yielded at sight of a prince, old in experience, and supreme at once to punish or reward. Could Augustus, in his declining years, make so many excursions into the Germanies? and was Tiberius, in the prime of life,27 to sit idle in the senate, cavilling at the Conscript Fathers’ words? Ample provision had been made for the servitude of Rome: it was time to administer some sedative to the passions of the soldiers, and so reconcile them to peace.”

47 1 To all this criticism Tiberius opposed an immutable and rooted determination not to endanger himself and the empire by leaving the centre of affairs. He had, indeed, difficulties enough of one sort or another to harass him. The German army was the stronger; that of Pannonia the nearer: the one was backed by the resources of the Gallic provinces; the other threatened Italy. Which, then, should come first? And what if those postponed should take fire at the slight? But in the persons of his sons he could approach both at once, without hazarding the imperial majesty, always most venerable from a distance. Further, it was excusable in the young princes to refer certain questions to their father, and it was in his power to pacify or crush resistance offered to Germanicus or Drusus; but let the emperor be scorned, and what resource was left? — However, as though any moment might see his departure, he chose his escort, provided the equipage, and fitted out vessels. Then with a variety of pleas, based on the wintry season or the pressure of affairs, he deceived at first the shrewdest; the populace, longer; the provinces, longest of all.

48 1 Meanwhile Germanicus had collected his force and stood prepared to exact reckoning from the mutineers. Thinking it best, however, to allow them a further respite, in case they should consult their own safety by following the late precedent, he forwarded a letter to Caecina, saying that he was coming in strength, and, unless they forestalled him by executing the culprits, would put them impartially to the sword. Caecina read it privately to the eagle-bearers, the ensigns, and the most trustworthy men in the camp, urging them to save all from disgrace, and themselves from death. “For in peace,” he said, “cases are judged on their merits; when war threatens, the innocent and the guilty fall side by side.” Accordingly they tested the men whom they considered suitable, and, finding that in the main the legions were still dutiful, with the general’s assent they fixed the date for an armed attack upon the most objectionable and active of the incendiaries. Then, passing the signal to one another, they broke into the tents and struck down their unsuspecting victims; while no one, apart from those in the secret, knew how the massacre had begun or where it was to end.

49 1 No civil war of any period has presented the features of this. Not in battle, not from opposing camps, but comrades from the same bed — men who had eaten together by day and rested together at dark — they took their sides and hurled their missiles. The yells, the wounds, and the blood were plain enough; the cause, invisible: chance ruled supreme. A number of the loyal troops perished as well: for, once it was clear who were the objects of attack, the malcontents also had caught up arms. No general or tribune was there to restrain: licence was granted to the mob, and it might glut its vengeance to the full. Before long, Germanicus marched into the camp. “This is not a cure, but a calamity,” he said, with a burst of tears, and ordered the bodies to be cremated.

Even yet the temper of the soldiers remained savage and a sudden desire came over them to advance against the enemy: it would be the expiation of their madness; nor could the ghosts of their companions be appeased till their own impious breasts had been marked with honourable wounds. Falling in with the enthusiasm of his troops, the Caesar laid a bridge over the Rhine, and threw across twelve thousand legionaries, with twenty-six cohorts of auxiliaries and eight divisions of cavalry, whose discipline had not been affected by the late mutiny.

50 1 Throughout the pause, which the mourning for Augustus had begun and our discords prolonged, the Germans had been hovering gleefully in the neighbourhood. By a forced march, however, the Roman columns cut through the Caesian Forest and the line of delimitation commenced by Tiberius.28 By this line they pitched the camp, with their front and rear protected by embankments and the flanks by a barricade of felled trees. Then came a threading of gloomy forests and a consultation which of two roads to follow; the one short and usual, the other more difficult and unexplored, and therefore left unguarded by the enemy. The longer route was chosen, but otherwise all speed was made: for scouts had brought in news that the night was a German festival and would be celebrated with games and a solemn banquet. Caecina was ordered to move ahead with the unencumbered cohorts and clear a passage through the woods: the legions followed at a moderate interval. The clear, starry night was in our favour; the Marsian villages were reached, and a ring of pickets was posted round the enemy, who were still lying, some in because, others beside their tables, without misgivings and with no sentries advanced. All was disorder and improvidence: there was no apprehension of war, and even their peace was the nerveless lethargy of drunkards.

51 1 To extend the scope of the raid, the Caesar divided his eager legions into four bodies, and, for fifty miles around, wasted the country with sword and flame. Neither age nor sex inspired pity: places sacred and profane were razed indifferently to the ground; among them, the most noted religious centre of these tribes, known as the temple of Tanfana.29 The troops escaped without a wound: they had been cutting down men half-asleep, unarmed or dispersed.

The carnage brought the Bructeri, Tubantes, and Usipetes into the field; and they occupied the forest passes by which the army was bound to return. This came to the prince’s ear, and he took the road prepared either to march or to fight. A detachment of cavalry and ten auxiliary cohorts led the way, then came the first legion; the baggage-train was in the centre; the twenty-first legion guarded the left flank; the fifth, the right; the twentieth held the rear, and the rest of the allies followed. The enemy, however, made no move, till the whole line was defiling through the wood: then instituting a half-serious attack on the front and flanks, they threw their full force on the rear. The light-armed cohorts were falling into disorder before the serried German masses, when the Caesar rode up to the men of the twenty-first, and, raising his voice, kept crying that now was their time to efface the stain of mutiny:— “Forward, and make speed to turn disgrace into glory!” In a flame of enthusiasm, they broke through their enemies at one charge, drove them into the open and cut them down. Simultaneously the forces in the van emerged from the forest and fortified a camp. From this point the march was unmolested, and the soldiers, emboldened by their late performances, and forgetful of the past, were stationed in winter quarters.

52 1 The news both relieved and disquieted Tiberius. He was thankful that the rising had been crushed; but that Germanicus should have earned the good-will of the troops by his grants of money and acceleration of discharges — to say nothing of his laurels in the field — there was the rub! However, in a motion before the senate, he acknowledged his services and enlarged on his courage; but in terms too speciously florid to be taken as the expression of his inmost feelings. He expressed his satisfaction with Drusus and the conclusion of the trouble in Illyricum more briefly; but he was in earnest, and his language honest. In addition, he confirmed to the Pannonian legions all concessions granted by Germanicus to his own.

53 1 This year saw the decease of Julia;30 whose licentiousness had long ago driven her father, Augustus, to confine her, first in the islet of Pandateria,31 and latterly in the town of Rhegium32 on the Sicilian Strait. Wedded to Tiberius while Gaius and Lucius Caesar were still in their heyday, she had despised him as her inferior; and this, in reality, was the inner reason for his retirement to Rhodes. Once upon the throne, he left her, exiled, disgraced, and (since the killing of Agrippa Postumus)33 utterly hopeless, to perish of destitution and slow decline: the length of her banishment, he calculated, would obscure the mode of her removal. A similar motive dictated his barbarous treatment of Sempronius Gracchus, a man of high birth, shrewd wit and perverted eloquence; who had seduced the same Julia while she was still the wife of Marcus Agrippa. Nor was this the close of the intrigue: for when she was made over to Tiberius, her persevering adulterer worked her into a fever of defiance and hatred towards her husband; and her letter to her father Augustus, with its tirade against Tiberius, was believed to have been drafted by Gracchus. He was removed, in consequence, to Cercina,34 an island in African waters; where he endured his banishment for fourteen years. Now the soldiers sent to despatch him found him on a projecting strip of shore, awaiting the worst. As they landed, he asked for a few minutes’ grace, so that he could write his final instructions to his wife Alliaria. This done, he offered his neck to the assassins, and met death with a firmness not unworthy of the Sempronian name from which his life had been a degeneration. Some state that the soldiers were not sent from Rome, but from Lucius Asprenas, proconsul of Africa: a version due to Tiberius, who had hoped, though vainly, to lay the scandal of the assassination at Asprenas’ door.

54 1 The year also brought a novelty in religious ceremonial, which was enriched by a new college of Augustal priests, on the pattern of the old Titian brotherhood35 founded by Titus Tatius to safeguard the Sabine rites. Twenty-one members were drawn by lot from the leading Roman houses: Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius,36 and Germanicus were added. The Augustal Games,37 now first instituted, were marred by a disturbance due to the rivalry of the actors. Augustus had countenanced these theatrical exhibitions in complaisance to Maecenas, who had fallen violently in love with Bathyllus.38 Besides, he had no personal dislike for amusements of this type, and considered it a graceful act to mix in the pleasures of the crowd. The temper of Tiberius had other tendencies, but as yet he lacked the courage to force into the ways of austerity a nation which had been for so many years pampered.

55 1 Drusus Caesar and Gaius Norbanus were now consuls, and a triumph was decreed to Germanicus with the war still in progress. He was preparing to prosecute it with his utmost power in the summer; but in early spring he anticipated matters by a sudden raid against the Chatti.1 Hopes had arisen that the enemy was becoming divided between Arminius2 and Segestes: both famous names, one for perfidy towards us, the other for good faith. Arminius was the troubler of Germany: Segestes had repeatedly given warning of projected risings, especially at the last great banquet which preceded the appeal to arms; when he urged Varus to arrest Arminius, himself, and the other chieftains, on the ground that, with their leaders out of the way, the mass of the people would venture nothing, while he would have time enough later to discriminate between guilt and innocence. Varus, however, succumbed to his fate and the sword of Arminius;3 Segestes, though forced into the war by the united will of the nation, continued to disapprove, and domestic episodes embittered the feud: for Arminius by carrying off his daughter, who was pledged to another, had made himself the hated son-in‑law of a hostile father, and a relationship which cements the affection of friends now stimulated the fury of enemies.

56 1 Germanicus, then, after handing over to Caecina four legions, with five thousand auxiliaries and a few German bands drawn at summary notice from the west bank of the Rhine, took the field himself with as many legions and double the number of allies. Erecting a fort over the remains of his father’s works on Mount Taunus,4 he swept his army at full speed against the Chatti: Lucius Apronius was left behind to construct roads and bridges. For owing to the drought — a rare event under those skies — and the consequent shallowness of the streams, Germanicus had pushed on without a check; and rains and floods were to be apprehended on the return journey. Actually, his descent was so complete a surprise to the Chatti that all who suffered from the disabilities of age or sex were immediately taken or slaughtered. The able-bodied males had swum the Eder,5 and, as the Romans began to bridge it, made an effort to force them back. Repelled by the engines and discharges of arrows, they tried, without effect, to negotiate terms of peace: a few then came over to Germanicus, while the rest abandoned their townships and villages, and scattered through the woods. First burning the tribal headquarters at Mattium,6 the Caesar laid waste the open country, and turned back to the Rhine, the enemy not daring to harass the rear of the withdrawing force — their favorite manoeuvre in cases where strategy rather than panic has dictated their retreat. The Cherusci7 had been inclined to throw in their lot with the Chatti, but were deterred by a series of rapid movements on the part of Caecina: the Marsi, who hazarded an engagement, he checked in a successful action.

57 1 It was not long before envoys arrived from Segestes with a petition for aid against the violence of his countrymen, by whom he was besieged, Arminius being now the dominant figure, since he advocated war. For with barbarians the readier a man is to take a risk so much the more is he the man to trust, the leader to prefer when action is afoot. Segestes had included his son Segimundus in the embassy, though conscience gave the youth pause. For in the year when the Germanies revolted, priest though he was, consecrated at the Altar of the Ubians,8 he had torn off his fillets and fled to join the rebels. Once persuaded, however, that he could still hope in Roman clemency, he brought his father’s message, and, after a kind reception, was sent over with a guard to the Gallic bank. Germanicus thought it worth his while to turn back, engaged the blockading forces, and rescued Segestes with a large company of his relatives and dependants. They included some women of high birth, among them the wife of Arminius, who was at the same time the daughter of Segestes, though there was more of the husband than the father in that temper which sustained her, unconquered to a tear, without a word of entreaty, her hands clasped tightly in the folds of her robe and her gaze fixed on her heavy womb. Trophies even of the Varian disaster were brought in — booty allotted in many cases to the very men now surrendering. Segestes himself was present, a huge figure, dauntless in the recollection of treaties honourably kept.

58 1 His words were to the following effect:— “This is not my first day of loyalty and constancy to the people of Rome. From the moment when the deified Augustus made me a Roman citizen I have chosen my friends and my enemies with a view to your interests: not from hatred of my own country (for the traitor is loathsome even to the party of his choice), but because I took the advantage of Rome and Germany to be one, and peace a better thing than war. For that reason I accused Arminius — to me the abductor of a daughter, to you the violator of a treaty — in presence of Varus, then at the head of your army. Foiled by the general’s delay, and knowing how frail were the protections of the law, I begged him to lay in irons Arminius, his accomplices, and myself. That night is my witness, which I would to God had been my last! What followed may be deplored more easily than defended. Still, I have thrown my chains on Arminius: I have felt his partisans throw theirs on me. And now, at my first meeting with you, I prefer old things to new, calm to storm — not that I seek a reward, but I wish to free myself from the charge of broken trust, and to be at the same time a meet intercessor for the people of Germany, should it prefer repentance to destruction. For my son and the errors of his youth I ask a pardon. My daughter, I own, is here only by force. It is for you to settle which shall count the more — that she had conceived by Arminius, or that she was begotten by me.”

The Caesar’s reply was generous: to his relatives and children he promised indemnity: to himself, a residence in the old province.9 Then he returned with his army, and at the instance of Tiberius took the title of Imperator. Arminius’ wife gave birth to a male child, who was brought up at Ravenna: the humiliation which he had to suffer later I reserve for the proper place.10

59 1 The report of Segestes’ surrender and his gracious reception, once it became generally known, was heard with hope or sorrow by the advocates or opponents of war. Arminius, violent enough by nature, was driven frantic by the seizure of his wife and the subjugation to slavery of her unborn child. He flew through the Cherusci, demanding war against Segestes, war against the Caesar. There was no sparing of invectives:— “A peerless father! a great commander! a courageous army! whose united powers had carried off one wretched woman. Before his own sword three legions, three generals, had fallen. For he practised war, not by the help of treason nor against pregnant women, but in open day and against men who carried arms. In the groves of Germany were still to be seen the Roman standards which he had hung aloft to the gods of their fathers. Let Segestes inhabit the conquered bank, and make his son once more a priest — to mortal deities:11 one fact the Germans could never sufficiently condone, that their eyes had seen the Rods, the Axes, and the Toga between the Elbe and the Rhine. Other nations, unacquainted with the dominion of Rome, had neither felt her punishments nor known her exactions: seeing that they had rid themselves of both, and that the great Augustus, hallowed as deity, and his chosen Tiberius had departed foiled, let them never quail before a callow youth,12 before a disaffected army! If they loved their country, their parents, their ancient ways, better than despots and new colonies, then let them follow Arminius to glory and freedom rather than Segestes to shame and slavery!”

60 1 His appeal roused, not the Cherusci only, but the bordering tribes as well; and it drew into the confederacy his uncle Inguiomerus, whose prestige had long stood high with the Romans. This deepened the alarm of Germanicus, and, to prevent the onslaught from breaking in one great wave, he despatched Caecina with forty Roman cohorts13 through the Bructeri to the Ems, so as to divide the enemy, while the prefect Pedo14 led the cavalry along the Frisian frontier.

He himself, with four legions on board, sailed through the lakes; and foot, horse, and fleet met simultaneously on the river mentioned.15The Chauci promised a contingent, and were given a place in the ranks. The Bructeri began to fire their belongings, but were routed by Lucius Stertinius, who had been sent out by Germanicus with a detachment of light-armed troops; and while the killing and looting were in progress, he discovered the eagle of the nineteenth legion, which had been lost with Varus. Thence the column16 moved on to the extremity of the Bructeran possessions, wasting the whole stretch of country between the Ems and the Lippe. They were now not far from the Teutoburgian Forest,17 where, it was said, the remains of Varus and his legions lay unburied.

61 1 There came upon the Caesar, therefore, a passionate desire to pay the last tribute to the fallen and their leader, while the whole army present with him were stirred to pity at thought of their kindred, of their friends, ay! and of the chances of battle and of the lot of mankind. Sending Caecina forward to explore the secret forest passes and to throw bridges and causeways over the flooded marshes and treacherous levels, they pursued their march over the dismal tract, hideous to sight and memory. Varus’ first camp, with its broad sweep and measured spaces for officers and eagles, advertised the labours of three legions: then a half-ruined wall and shallow ditch showed that there the now broken remnant had taken cover. In the plain between were bleaching bones, scattered or in little heaps, as the men had fallen, fleeing or standing fast. Hard by lay splintered spears and limbs of horses, while human skulls were nailed prominently on the tree-trunks. In the neighbouring groves stood the savage altars at which they had slaughtered the tribunes and chief centurions. Survivors of the disaster, who had escaped the battle or their chains, told how here the legates fell, there the eagles were taken, where the first wound was dealt upon Varus, and where he found death by the suicidal stroke of his own unhappy hand. They spoke of the tribunal from which Arminius made his harangue, all the gibbets and torture-pits for the prisoners, and the arrogance with which he insulted the standards and eagles.

62 1 And so, six years after the fatal field, a Roman army, present on the ground, buried the bones of the three legions; and no man knew whether he consigned to earth the remains of a stranger or a kinsman, but all thought of all as friends and members of one family, and, with anger rising against the enemy, mourned at once and hated.

At the erection of the funeral-mound the Caesar laid the first sod, paying a dear tribute to the departed, and associating himself with the grief of those around him. But Tiberius disapproved, possibly because he put an invidious construction on all acts of Germanicus, possibly because he held that the sight of the unburied dead must have given the army less alacrity for battle and more respect for the enemy, while a commander, invested with the augurate and administering the most venerable rites of religion, ought to have avoided all contact with a funeral ceremony.18

63 1 Germanicus, however, followed Arminius as he fell back on the wilds, and at the earliest opportunity ordered the cavalry to ride out and clear the level ground in the occupation of the enemy. Arminius, who had directed his men to close up and retire on the woods, suddenly wheeled them round; then gave the signal for his ambush in the glades to break cover. The change of tactics threw our horse into confusion. Reserve cohorts were sent up; but, broken by the impact of the fugitive columns, they had only increased the panic, and the whole mass was being pushed towards swampy ground, familiar to the conquerors but fatal to strangers, when the Caesar came forward with the legions and drew them up in line of battle. This demonstration overawed the enemy and emboldened the troops, and they parted with the balance even.

Shortly afterwards, the prince led his army back to the Ems, and withdrew the legions as he had brought them, on shipboard:19 a section of the cavalry was ordered to make for the Rhine along the coast of the Northern Ocean. Caecina, who led his own force, was returning by a well-known route, but was none the less warned to cross the Long Bridges as rapidly as possible.20 These were simply a narrow causeway, running through a wilderness of marshes and thrown up, years before, by Lucius Domitius;21 the rest was a slough — foul, clinging mud intersected by a maze of rivulets. Round about, the woods sloped gently from the plain; but now they were occupied by Arminius, whose forced march along the shorter roads had been too quick for the Roman soldier, weighted with his baggage and accoutrements. Caecina, none too certain how to relay the old, broken-down bridges and at the same time hold off the enemy, decided to mark out a camp where he stood, so that part of the men could begin work while the others accepted battle.

64 1 Skirmishing, enveloping, charging, the barbarians struggled to break the line of outposts and force their way to the working parties. Labourers and combatants mingled their cries. Everything alike was to the disadvantage of the Romans — the ground, deep in slime and ooze, too unstable for standing fast and too slippery for advancing — the weight of armour on their backs — their inability amid the water to balance the pilum for a throw. The Cherusci, on the other hand, were habituated to marsh-fighting, long of limb, and armed with huge lances to wound from a distance. In fact, the legions were already wavering when night at last released them from the unequal struggle.

Success had made the Germans indefatigable. Even now they took no rest, but proceeded to divert all streams, springing from the surrounding hills, into the plain below, flooding the ground, submerging the little work accomplished, and doubling the task of the soldiery. Still, it was Caecina’s fortieth year of active service as commander or commanded, and he knew success and danger too well to be easily perturbed. On balancing the possibilities, he could see no other course than to hold the enemy to the woods until his wounded and the more heavily laden part of the column passed on: for extended between mountain and morass was a level patch which would just allow an attenuated line of battle. The fifth legion was selected for the right flank, the twenty-first for the left; the first was to lead the van, the twentieth to stem the inevitable pursuit.

65 1 It was a night of unrest, though in contrasted fashions. The barbarians, in high carousal, filled the low-lying valleys and echoing woods with chants of triumph or fierce vociferations: among the Romans were languid fires, broken challenges, and groups of men stretched beside the parapet or staying amid the tents, unasleep but something less than awake. The general’s night was disturbed by a sinister and alarming dream: for he imagined that he saw Quintilius Varus risen, blood-bedraggled, from the marsh, and heard him calling, though he refused to obey and pushed him back when he extended his hand. Day broke, and the legions sent to the wings, either through fear or wilfulness, abandoned their post, hurriedly occupying a level piece of ground beyond the morass. Arminius, however, though the way was clear the attack, did not immediately deliver his onslaught. But when he saw the baggage-train caught in the mire and trenches; the troops around it in confusion; the order of the standards broken, and (as may be expected in a crisis) every man quick to obey his impulse and slow to hear the word of command, he ordered the Germans to break in. “Varus and the legions,” he cried, “enchained once more in the old doom!” And, with the word, he cut through the column at the head of a picked band, their blows being directed primarily at the horses. Slipping in their own blood and the marsh-slime, the beasts threw their riders, scattered all they met, and trampled the fallen underfoot. The eagles caused the greatest difficulty of all, as it was impossible either to advance them against the storm of spears or to plant them in the water-logged soil. Caecina, while attempting to keep the front intact, fell with his horse stabbed under him, and was being rapidly surrounded when the first legion interposed. A point in our favour was the rapacity of the enemy, who left the carnage to pursue the spoils; and towards evening the legions struggled out on to open and solid ground. Nor was this the end of their miseries. A rampart had to be raised and material sought for the earthwork; and most of the tools for excavating soil or cutting turf had been lost. There were no tents for the companies, no dressings for the wounded, and as they divided their rations, foul with dirt or blood, they bewailed the deathlike gloom and that for so many thousands of men but a single day now remained.

 66 1 As chance would have it, a stray horse which had broken its tethering and taken fright at the shouting, threw into confusion a number of men who ran to stop it. So great was the consequent panic (men believed the Germans had broken in) that there was a general rush to the gates, the principal objective being the decuman, which faced away from the enemy and opened the better prospects of escape. Caecina, who had satisfied himself that the fear was groundless, but found command, entreaty, and even physical force, alike powerless to arrest or detain the men, threw himself flat in the gateway; and pity in the last resort barred a road which led over the general’s body. At the same time, the tribunes and centurions explained that it was a false alarm.

67 1 He now collected the troops in front of his quarters, and, first ordering them to listen in silence, warned them of the crisis and its urgency:— “Their one safety lay in the sword; but their resort to it should be tempered with discretion, and they must remain within the rampart till the enemy approached in the hope of carrying it by assault. Then, a sally from all sides — and so to the Rhine! If they fled, they might expect more forests, deeper swamps, and a savage enemy: win the day, and glory and honour were assured.” He reminded them of all they loved at home, all the honour they had gained in camp: of disaster, not a word. Then, with complete impartiality, he distributed the horses of the commanding officers and tribunes — he had begun with his own — to men of conspicuous gallantry; the recipients to charge first, while the infantry followed.

68 1 Hope, cupidity, and the divided counsels of the chieftains kept the Germans in equal agitation. Arminius proposed to allow the Romans to march out, and, when they had done so, to entrap them once more in wet and broken country; Inguiomarus advocated the more drastic measures dear to the barbarian:— “Let them encircle the rampart in arms. Storming would be easy, captives more plentiful, the booty intact!” So, at break of day, they began demolishing the fosses, threw in hurdles, and struggled to grasp the top of the rampart; on which were ranged a handful of soldiers apparently petrified with terror. But as they swarmed up the fortifications, the signal sounded to the cohorts, and cornets and trumpets sang to arms. Then, with a shout and a rush, the Romans poured down on the German rear. “Here were no trees,” they jeered, “no swamps, but a fair field and an impartial Heaven.” Upon the enemy, whose thoughts were of a quick despatch and a few half-armed defenders, the blare of trumpets and the flash of weapons burst with an effect proportioned to the surprise, and they fell — as improvident in failure as they had been headstrong in success. Arminius and Inguiomerus abandoned the fray, the former unhurt, the latter after a serious wound; the rabble was slaughtered till passion and the daylight waned. It was dusk when the legions returned, weary enough — for wounds were in greater plenty than ever, and provisions in equal scarcity — but finding in victory strength, health, supplies, everything.

69 1 In the meantime a rumour had spread that the army had been trapped and the German columns were on the march for Gaul; and had not Agrippina prevented the demolition of the Rhine bridge,22 there were those who in their panic would have braved that infamy. But it was a great-hearted woman who assumed the duties of a general throughout those days; who, if a soldier was in need, clothed him, and, if he was wounded, gave him dressings. Pliny, the historian of the German Wars,23 asserts that she stood at the head of the bridge, offering her praises and her thanks to the returning legions. The action sank deep into the soul of Tiberius. “There was something behind this officiousness; nor was it the foreigner against whom her courtship of the army was directed. Commanding officers had a sinecure nowadays, when a woman visited the maniples, approached the standards and took in hand to bestow largesses — as though it were not enough to curry favour by parading the general’s son in the habit of a common soldier, with the request that he should be called Caesar Caligula!24 Already Agrippina counted for more with the armies than any general or generalissimo, and a woman had suppressed a mutiny which the imperial name had failed to check.” Sejanus inflamed and exacerbated his jealousies; and, with his expert knowledge of the character of Tiberius, kept sowing the seed of future hatreds — grievances for the emperor to store away and produce some day with increase.

70 1 Meanwhile Germanicus,25 in order to lighten the fleet in case it should have to navigate shallow water or should find itself grounded at ebb-tide, transferred two of the legions he had brought on shipboard — the second and fourteenth — to Publius Vitellius,26 who was to march them back by the land route. At first Vitellius had an uneventful journey over dry ground or through gently running tides. Before long, however, a northerly gale, aggravated by the equinox, during which the Ocean is always at its wildest, began to play havoc with the column. Then the whole land became a flood: sea, shore, and plain wore a single aspect; and it was impossible to distinguish solid from fluid, deep from shallow. Men were dashed over by the billows or drawn under by the eddies: packhorses — their loads — lifeless bodies — came floating through, or colliding with, the ranks. The companies became intermingled, the men standing one moment up to the breast, another up to the chin, in water; then the ground would fail beneath them, and they were scattered or submerged. Words and mutual encouragement availed nothing against the deluge: there was no difference between bravery and cowardice, between wisdom and folly, circumspection or chance; everything was involved in the same fury of the elements. At last Vitellius struggled out on to rising ground and led his columns after him. They spent the night without necessities, without fire, many of them naked or badly maimed, — every whit as wretched as their comrades in the invested camp.27 For those at least had the resource of an honourable death; here was destruction without the glory. Day brought back the land, and they pushed on to the river28 to which Germanicus had preceded them with the fleet. The legions then embarked. Current report proclaimed them drowned, and the doubts of their safety were soon dispelled by the sight of the Caesar returning with his army.

71 1 By this time, Stertinius, who had been sent forward to receive the submission of Segestes’ brother Segimerus, had brought him and his son through to the Ubian capital. Both were pardoned; Segimerus without any demur, his son with more hesitation, as he was said to have insulted the corpse of Quintilius Varus. For the rest, the two Gauls, the Spains, and Italy vied in making good the losses of the army with offers of weapons, horses, or gold, according to the special capacity of each province. Germanicus applauded their zeal, but took only arms and horses for the campaign: the soldiers he assisted from his private means. To soften by kindness also their recollections of the late havoc, he made a round of the wounded, praised their individual exploits; and, while inspecting their injuries, confirmed their enthusiasm for himself and battle, here by the stimulus of hope, there by that of glory, and everywhere by his consolations and solicitude.

72 1 In this year triumphal distinctions1 were voted to Aulus Caecina, Lucius Apronius, and Caius Silius, in return for their services with Germanicus. Tiberius rejected the title Father of his Country,2 though it had been repeatedly pressed upon him by the people: and, disregarding a vote of the senate, refused to allow the taking of an oath to obey his enactments.3 “All human affairs,” so ran his comment, “were uncertain, and the higher he climbed the more slippery his position.” Yet even so he failed to inspire the belief that his sentiments were not monarchical.4 For he had resuscitated the Lex Majestatis, a statute which in the old jurisprudence had carried the same name but covered a different type of offence — betrayal of an army; seditious incitement of the populace; any act, in short, of official maladministration diminishing the “majesty of the Roman nation.” Deeds were challenged, words went immune. The first to take cognizance of written libel under the statute was Augustus; who was provoked to the step by the effrontery with which Cassius Severus5had blackened the characters of men and women of repute in his scandalous effusions: then Tiberius, to an inquiry put by the praetor, Pompeius Macer, whether process should still be granted on this statute, replied that “the law ought to take its course.” He, too, had been ruffled by verses of unknown authorship satirizing his cruelty, his arrogance, and his estrangement from his mother.

73 1 It will not be unremunerative to recall the first, tentative charges brought in the case of Falanius and Rubrius, two Roman knights of modest position; if only to show from what beginnings, thanks to the art of Tiberius, the accursed thing crept in, and, after a temporary check, at last broke out, an all-devouring conflagration.6 Against Falanius the accuser alleged that he had admitted a certain Cassius, mime and catamite, among the “votaries of Augustus,” who were maintained, after the fashion of fraternities, in all the great houses: also, that when selling his gardens, he had parted with a statue of Augustus as well. To Rubrius the crime imputed was violation of the deity of Augustus by perjury. When the facts came to the knowledge of Tiberius, he wrote to the consuls that place in heaven had not been decreed to his father in order that the honour might be turned to the destruction of his countrymen. Cassius, the actor, with others of his trade, had regularly taken part in the games which his own mother had consecrated to the memory of Augustus;7 nor was it an act of sacrilege, if the effigies of that sovereign, like other images of other gods, went with the property, whenever a house or garden was sold. As to the perjury, it was on the same footing as if the defendant had taken the name of Jupiter in vain: the gods must look to their own wrongs.8

74 1 Before long, Granius Marcellus, praetor of Bithynia, found himself accused of treason by his own quaestor, Caepio Crispinus, with Hispo Romanus to back the charge. Caepio was the pioneer in a walk of life which the miseries of the age and effronteries of men soon rendered popular.9 Indigent, unknown, unresting, first creeping, with his private reports, into the confidence of his pitiless sovereign, then a terror to the noblest, he acquired the favour of one man, the hatred of all, and set an example, the followers of which passed from beggary to wealth, from being despised to being feared, and crowned at last the ruin of others by their own. He alleged that Marcellus had retailed sinister anecdotes about Tiberius: a damning indictment, when the accuser selected the foulest qualities of the imperial character, and attributed their mention to the accused. For, as the facts were true, they were also believed to have been related! Hispo added that Marcellus’ own statue was placed on higher ground than those of the Caesars, while in another the head of Augustus had been struck off to make room for the portrait of Tiberius. This incensed the emperor to such a degree that, breaking through his taciturnity, he exclaimed that, in this case, he too would vote, openly and under oath, — the object being to impose a similar obligation on the rest. There remained even yet some traces of dying liberty. Accordingly Gnaeus Piso inquired: “In what order will you register your opinion, Caesar? If first, I shall have something to follow: if last of all, I fear I may inadvertently find myself on the other side.” The words went home; and with a meekness that showed how profoundly he rued his unwary outburst, he voted for the acquittal of the defendant on the counts of treason. The charge of peculation went before the appropriate commission.

75 1 Not satiated with senatorial cases, he took to sitting in the common courts, — at a corner of the tribunal, so as not to dispossess the praetor of his chair. As a result of his presence, many verdicts were recorded in defiance of intrigue and of the solicitations of the great. Still, while equity gained, liberty suffered. — Among these cases, Aurelius Pius, a member of the senate, complained that by the construction of a public road and aqueduct his house had been left insecure; and he asked compensation from the Fathers. As the treasury officials were obdurate, Tiberius came to the rescue, and paid him the value of his mansion: for, given a good cause, he was ready and eager to spend — a virtue which he long retained, even when he was denuding himself of every other. When Propertius Celer, the ex-praetor, applied to be excused from his senatorial rank on the score of poverty, he satisfied himself that his patrimony was in fact embarrassed, and made him a gift of one million sesterces.10 Others who tried a similar experiment were ordered to make out a case before the senate: for in his passion for austerity, even where he acted justly, he contrived to be harsh. The rest, therefore, preferred silence and poverty to confession and charity.

76 1 In the same year, the Tiber, rising under the incessant rains, had flooded the lower levels of the city, and its subsidence was attended by much destruction of buildings and life. Accordingly, Asinius Gallus moved for a reference to the Sibylline Books. Tiberius objected, preferring secrecy as in earth so in heaven:11 still, the task of coercing the stream was entrusted to Ateius Capito and Lucius Arruntius. Since Achaia and Macedonia protested against the heavy taxation, it was decided to relieve them of their proconsular government for the time being and transfer them to the emperor.12 A show of gladiators, given in the name of his brother Germanicus, was presided over by Drusus, who took an extravagant pleasure in the shedding of blood however vile — a trait so alarming to the populace that it was said to have been censured by his father. Tiberius’ own absence from the exhibition was variously explained. Some ascribed it to his impatience of a crowd; others, to his native morosity and his dread of comparisons; for Augustus had been a good-humoured spectator. I should be slow to believe that he deliberately furnished his son with an occasion for exposing his brutality and arousing the disgust of the nation; yet even this was suggested.

77 1 The disorderliness of the stage, which had become apparent the year before,13 now broke out on a more serious scale. Apart from casualties among the populace, several soldiers and a centurion were killed, and an officer of the Praetorian Guards wounded, in the attempt to repress the insults levelled at the magistracy and the dissension of the crowd. The riot was discussed in the senate, and proposals were mooted that the praetors should be empowered to use the lash on actors. Haterius Agrippa, a tribune of the people, interposed his veto, and was attacked in a speech by Asinius Gallus, Tiberius said nothing: these were the phantoms of liberty which he permitted to the senate. Still the veto held good: for the deified Augustus had once remarked, in answer to a question, that players were immune from the scourge; and it would be blasphemy in Tiberius to contravene his words. Measures in plenty were framed to limit the expenditure on entertainments and to curb the extravagance of the partisans. The most striking were: that no senator was to enter the houses of the pantomimes; that, if they came out into public, Roman knights were not to gather round, nor were their performances to be followed except in the theatre; while the praetors were to be authorized to punish by exile any disorder among the spectators.

78 1 Permission to build a temple of Augustus in the colony of Tarraco14 was granted to the Spaniards, and a precedent set for all the provinces. A popular protest against the one per cent duty on auctioned goods (which had been imposed after the Civil Wars) brought from Tiberius a declaration that “the military exchequer15 was dependent on that resource;16 moreover, the commonwealth was not equal to the burden, unless the veterans were discharged only at the end of twenty years’ service.” Thus the misconceived reforms of the late mutiny, in virtue of which the legionaries had extorted a maximum term of sixteen years, were cancelled for the future.

79 1 Next, a discussion was opened in the senate by Arruntius and Ateius, whether the invasions of the Tiber should be checked by altering the course of the rivers and lakes swelling its volume. Deputations from the municipalities and colonies were heard. The Florentines pleaded that the Clanis17 should not be deflected from its old bed into the Arno, to bring ruin upon themselves. The Interamnates’18 case was similar:— “The most generous fields of Italy were doomed, if the Nar19 should overflow after this scheme had split it into rivulets.” Nor were the Reatines20 silent:— “They must protest against the Veline Lake21 being dammed at its outlet into the Nar, as it would simply break a road into the surrounding country. Nature had made the best provision for the interests of humanity, when she assigned to rivers their proper mouths — their proper courses — their limits as well as their origins. Consideration, too, should be paid to the faith of their fathers, who had hallowed rituals and groves and altars to their country streams. Besides, they were reluctant that Tiber himself, bereft of his tributary streams, should flow with diminished majesty.” Whatever the deciding factor — the prayers of the colonies, the difficulty of the work, or superstition — the motion of Piso, “that nothing was to be changed,” was agreed to.

80 1 Poppaeus Sabinus was continued in his province of Moesia,22 to which Achaia and Macedonia were added. It was one of the peculiarities of Tiberius to prolong commands, and, as often as not, to retain the same man at the head of the same army or administrative district till his dying day. Various reasons are given. Some hold it was the weary dislike of recurring trouble which caused him to treat a decision once framed as eternally valid; others that he grudged to see too many men enjoying preferment; while there are those who believe that as his intellect was shrewd so his judgment was hesitant; for, on the one hand, he did not seek out pre-eminent virtue, and, on the other, he detested vice: the best he feared as a private danger, the worst as a public scandal. In the end, this vacillation carried him so far that he gave provinces to men whom he was never to allow to leave Rome.

81 1 As to the consular elections, from this year’s — the first — down to the last of the reign, I can hardly venture a single definite assertion: so conflicting is the evidence, not of the historians alone, but of the emperor’s own speeches. Sometimes, he withheld the candidate’s names, but described the birth, career, and campaigns of each in terms that left his identity in no doubt. Sometimes even these clues were suppressed, and he urged “the candidates” not to vitiate the election by intrigue, and promised his own efforts to that end. Generally, he declared that no one had applied to him for nomination, except those whose names he had divulged to the consuls: others might still apply, if they had confidence in their influence or their merits. In words the policy was specious; in reality, it was nugatory or perfidious and destined to issue in a servitude all the more detestable the more it was disguised under a semblance of liberty!