1 1 With the consulate of Statilius Sisenna1 and Lucius Libo came an upheaval among the independent kingdoms and Roman provinces of the East. The movement started with the Parthians, who despised as an alien the sovereign whom they had sought and received from Rome, member though he was of the Arsacian house.2 This was Vonones, once given by Phraates3 as a hostage to Augustus. For, though he had thrown back Roman armies and commanders, to the emperor Phraates had observed every point of respect, and, to knit the friendship closer, had sent him part of his family, more from distrust of his countrymen’s loyalty than from any awe of ourselves.
2 1 After domestic murders had made an end of Phraates and his successors, a deputation from the Parthian nobility arrived in Rome, to summon Vonones,4 as the eldest of his children, to the throne. The Caesar took this as an honour to himself and presented the youth with a considerable sum. The barbarians, too, accepted him with the pleasure they usually evince at a change of sovereigns. It quickly gave place to shame:— “The Parthians had degenerated: they had gone to another continent for a king tainted with the enemy’s arts, and now the throne of the Arsacidae was held, or given away, as one of the provinces of Rome. Where was the glory of the men who slew Crassus5 and ejected Antony, if a chattel of the Caesar, who had brooked his bondage through all these years, was to govern Parthians?” Their contempt was heightened by the man himself, with his remoteness from ancestral traditions, his rare appearances in the hunting-field, his languid interest in horseflesh,6 his use of a litter when passing through the towns, and his disdain of the national banquets.7 Other subjects for mirth were his Greek retinue and his habit of keeping even the humblest household necessaries under seal. His easy accessibility, on the other hand, and his unreserved courtesy — virtues unknown to Parthia — were construed as exotic vices; and the good and ill in him, as they were equally strange to the national character, were impartially abhorred.
3 1 Consequently Artabanus,8 an Arsacian of the blood, who had grown to manhood among the Dahae,9 was brought into the lists, and, though routed in the first engagement, rallied his forces and seized the kingdom.
The defeated Vonones found shelter in Armenia, then a masterless land between the Parthian and Roman empires — a dubious neighbour to the latter owing to the criminal action of Antony, who, after entrapping the late king, Artavasdes, by a parade of friendship, had then thrown him into irons and finally executed him.10 His son Artaxias, hostile to ourselves on account of his father’s memory, was able to protect himself and his crown by the arms of the Arsacidae. After his assassination by the treachery of his own relatives, the Caesar assigned Tigranes to Armenia, and he was settled in his dominions by Tiberius Nero. Tigranes’ term of royalty was brief; and so was that of his children, though associated by the regular oriental ties of marriage and joint government.11
4 1 In the next place, by the mandate of Augustus, Artavasdes was imposed upon his countrymen — only to be shaken off, not without a measure of discredit to our arms. Then came the appointment of Gaius Caesar12 to compose the affairs of Armenia. He gave the crown to Ariobarzanes, a Mede13 by extraction; to whose good looks and brilliant qualities the Armenians raised no objection. But when an accident carried off Ariobarzanes, their tolerance did not reach to his family; and after an experiment in female government with a queen called Erato, who was quickly expelled, the drifting, disintegrated people, ownerless rather than emancipated, welcomed the fugitive Vonones to the throne. But as Artabanus became threatening little support could be expected from the Armenians, while the armed protection of Rome would entail a Parthian war, Creticus Silanus, governor of Syria, obtained his eviction, and placed him under a surveillance which still left him his luxuries and his title. His attempt to escape from this toy court we shall notice in its proper place.14
5 1 For Tiberius the disturbances in the East were a not unwelcome accident, as they supplied him with a pretext for removing Germanicus from his familiar legions and appointing him to unknown provinces, where he would be vulnerable at once to treachery and chance. But the keener the devotion of his soldiers and the deeper the aversion of his uncle, the more anxious grew the prince to accelerate his victory; and he began to consider the ways and means of battle in the light of the failures and successes which had fallen to his share during the past two years of campaigning. In a set engagement and on a fair field, the Germans, he reflected, were beaten — their advantage lay in the forests and swamps, the short summer and the premature winter. His own men were not so much affected by their wounds as by the dreary marches and the loss of their weapons. The Gallic provinces were weary of furnishing horses; and a lengthy baggage-train was easy to waylay and awkward to defend. But if they ventured on the sea, occupation would be easy for themselves and undetected by the enemy; while the campaign might begin at an earlier date, and the legions and supplies be conveyed together: the cavalry and horse would be taken up-stream through the river-mouths and landed fresh in the centre of Germany.
6 1 To this course, then, he bent his attention. Publius Vitellius and Gaius Antius were sent to assess the Gallic tribute: Silius and Caecina were made responsible for the construction of a fleet. A thousand vessels were considered enough, and these were built at speed. Some were short craft with very little poop or prow, and broad-bellied, the more easily to withstand a heavy sea: others had flat bottoms, enabling them to run aground without damage; while still more were fitted with rudders at each end, so as to head either way the moment the oarsmen reversed their stroke. Many had a deck-flooring to carry the military engines, though they were equally useful for transporting horses or supplies. The whole armada, equipped at once for sailing or propulsion by the oar, was a striking and formidable spectacle, rendered still more so by the enthusiasm of the soldiers. The Isle of Batavia15 was fixed for the meeting-place, since it afforded an easy landing and was convenient both as a rendezvous for the troops and as the base for a campaign across the water. For the Rhine, which so far has flowed in a single channel, save only where it circles some unimportant islet, branches at the Batavian frontier into what may be regarded as two rivers. On the German side, it runs unchanged in name and vehemence till its juncture with the North Sea:16 the Gallic bank it washes with a wider, gentler stream, known locally as the Waal, though before long it changes its style once more and becomes the river Meuse, through whose immense estuary it discharges, also into the North Sea.
7 1 However, while the ships were coming in, the Caesar ordered his lieutenant Silius to take a mobile force and raid the Chattan territory: he himself, hearing that the fort on the Lippe17 was invested, led six legions to its relief. But neither could Silius, in consequence of the sudden rains, effect anything beyond carrying off a modest quantity of booty, together with the wife and daughter of the Chattan chief, Arpus, nor did the besiegers allow the prince an opportunity of battle, but melted away at the rumour of his approach. Still, they had demolished the funeral mound just raised in memory of the Varian legions,18 as well as an old altar set up to Drusus. He restored the altar and himself headed the legions in the celebrations in honour of his father; the tumulus it was decided not to reconstruct. In addition, the whole stretch of country between Fort Aliso19 and the Rhine was thoroughly fortified with a fresh line of barriers and earthworks.
8 1 The fleet had now arrived. Supplies were sent forward, ships assigned to the legionaries and allies, and he entered the so‑called Drusian Fosse.20 After a prayer to his father, beseeching him of his grace and indulgence to succour by the example and memory of his wisdom and prowess a son who had ventured in his footsteps,21 he pursued his voyage through the lakes22 and the high sea, and reached the Ems without misadventure. The fleet stayed in the mouth of the river on the left side, and an error was committed in not carrying the troops further upstream or disembarking them on the right bank for which they were bound; the consequence being that several days were wasted in bridge-building. The estuaries immediately adjoining were crossed intrepidly enough by the cavalry and legions, before the tide had begun to flow: the auxiliaries in the extreme rear and the Batavians in the same part of the line, while dashing into the water and exhibiting their powers of swimming, were thrown into disorder, and a number of them drowned. As the Caesar was arranging his encampment, news came of an Angrivarian23 rising in his rear: Stertinius, who was instantly despatched with a body of horse and light-armed infantry, repaid the treachery with fire and bloodshed.
9 1 The river Weser ran between the Roman and Cheruscan forces. Arminius came to the bank and halted with his fellow chieftains:— “Had the Caesar come?” he inquired.24 On receiving the reply that he was in presence, he asked to be allowed to speak with his brother. That brother, Flavus by name, was serving in the army, a conspicuous figure both from his loyalty and from the loss of an eye through a wound received some few years before during Tiberius’ term of command. Leave was granted, <and Stertinius took him down to the river>.25 Walking forward, he was greeted by Arminius; who, dismissing his own escort, demanded that the archers posted along our side of the stream should be also withdrawn. When these had retired, he asked his brother, whence the disfigurement of his face? On being told the place and battle, he inquired what reward he had received. Flavus mentioned his increased pay, the chain, the crown, and other military decorations; Arminius scoffed at the cheap rewards of servitude.
10 1 They now began to argue from their opposite points of view. Flavus insisted on “Roman greatness, the power of the Caesar; the heavy penalties for the vanquished; the mercy always waiting for him who submitted himself. Even Arminius’ wife and child were not treated as enemies.” His brother urged “the sacred call of their country; their ancestral liberty; the gods of their German hearths; and their mother, who prayed, with himself, that he would not choose the title of renegade and traitor to his kindred, to the kindred of his wife, to the whole of his race in fact, before that of their liberator.” From this point they drifted, little by little, into recriminations; and not even the intervening river would have prevented a duel, had not Stertinius run up and laid a restraining hand on Flavus, who in the fullness of his anger was calling for his weapons and his horse. On the other side Arminius was visible, shouting threats and challenging to battle: for he kept interjecting much in Latin, as he had seen service in the Roman camp as a captain of native auxiliaries.
11 1 On the morrow, the German line drew up beyond the Weser. The Caesar, as he held it doubtful generalship to risk the legions without providing adequately guarded bridges, sent his cavalry across by a ford. Stertinius and Aemilius — a retired centurion of the first rank26— were in command, and, in order to distract the enemy, delivered the assault at widely separate points: where the current ran fiercest, Chariovalda, the Batavian leader, dashed out. By a feigned retreat the Cherusci drew him on to a level piece of ground fringed with woods: then, breaking cover, they streamed out from all quarters, overwhelmed the Batavians where they stood their ground, harassed them where they retired, and, when they rallied in circular formation, flung them back, partly by hand-to‑hand fighting, partly by discharges of missiles. After long sustaining the fury of the enemy, Chariovalda exhorted his men to hack a way, in mass, through the assailing bands; then threw himself into the thickest of the struggle, and fell under a shower of spears, with his horse stabbed under him and many of his nobles around. The rest were extricated from danger by their own efforts or by the mounted men who advanced to the rescue under Stertinius and Aemilius.
12 1 After crossing the Weser, Germanicus gathered from the indications of a deserter that Arminius had chosen his ground for battle: that other nations also had mustered at the holy forest of Hercules,27 and that the intention was to hazard a night attack on the camp. The informer’s account carried conviction: indeed, the German fires could be discerned; and scouts, who ventured closer up, came in with the news that they could hear the neigh of horses and the murmur of a vast and tumultuous array. The Caesar, who thought it desirable, with the supreme decision hard at hand, to probe the feeling of his troops, debated with himself how to ensure that the experiment should be genuine. The reports of tribunes and centurions were more often cheering than accurate; the freedman was a slave at heart; in friends there was a strain of flattery; should he convoke an assembly, even there a few men gave the lead and the rest applauded. He must penetrate into the soldiers’ thoughts while, private and unguarded, they expressed their hope or fear over their rations.
13 1 At fall of night, leaving his pavilion by a secret outlet unknown to the sentries, with a single attendant, a wild-beast’s skin over his shoulders,28 he turned into the streets of the camp, stood by the tents and tasted his own popularity, while the men — serious or jesting but unanimous — praised some the commander’s lineage, others his looks, the most his patience and his courtesy; admitting that they must settle their debt of gratitude in the field and at the same time sacrifice to glory and revenge their perfidious and treaty-breaking foe. In the midst of all this, one of the enemy, with a knowledge of Latin, galloped up to the wall, and in loud tones proffered to each deserter in the name of Arminius, wives and lands and a daily wage of one hundred sesterces29 for the duration of the war. This insult fired the anger of the legions:— “Wait till the day broke and they had the chance of battle! The Roman soldier would help himself to German lands and come back dragging German wives. The omen was welcome: the enemy’s women and his money were marked down for prey!” — Some time about the third watch, a demonstration was made against the camp, though not a spear was thrown, when the assailants realized that the ramparts were lined with cohorts and that no precaution had been omitted.
14 1 The same night brought Germanicus a reassuring vision: for he dreamed that he was offering sacrifice, and that — as his vestment was bespattered with the blood of the victim — he had received another, more beautiful, from the hand of his grandmother, Augusta. Elated by the omen, and finding the auspices favourable, he summoned a meeting of the troops and laid before them the measures his knowledge had suggested and the points likely to be of service in the coming struggle:— “A plain was not the only battle-field favourable to a Roman soldier: if he used judgment, woods and glades were equally suitable. The barbarians’ huge shields, their enormous spears, could not be so manageable among tree-trunks and springing brushwood as the •pilum, the short sword, and close-fitting body-armour. Their policy was to strike thick and fast, and to direct the point to the face. The Germans carried neither corselet nor headpiece — not even shields with a toughening of metal or hide, but targes of wickerwork or thin, painted board. Their first line alone carried spears of a fashion: the remainder had only darts, fire-pointed or too short. Their bodies, again, while grim enough to the eye and powerful enough for a short-lived onset, lacked the stamina to support a wound. They were men who could turn and run without a thought for their leaders, faint-hearted in adversary, in success regardless of divine and human law. — If they were weary of road and sea,30 and desired the end, this battle could procure it. Already the Elbe was nearer than the Rhine, and there would be no fighting further,31 if once, treading as he was in the footsteps of his father and his uncle, they established him victorious in the same region!”
Nor did Arminius or the other German chieftains fail to call their several clans to witness that “these were the Romans of Varus’ army who had been the quickest to run, men who rather than face war had resorted to mutiny; half of whom were again exposing their spear-scored backs, half their wave and tempest-broken limbs, to a revengeful foe, under the frowns of Heaven and hopeless of success! For it was to ships and pathless seas they had had recourse, so that none might oppose them as they came or chase them when they fled. But if once the fray was joined, winds and oars were a vain support for beaten men! — They had only to remember Roman greed, cruelty, and pride: was there another course left for them but to hold their freedom or to die before enslavement?”
16 1 Thus inflamed and clamouring for battle, they followed their leaders down into a plain known as Idisiaviso.32 Lying between the Weser and the hills, it winds irregularly along, with here a concession from the river and there an encroachment by some mountain-spur. Behind rose the forest, lifting its branches high in air, and leaving the ground clear between the trunks. The barbarian line was posted on the level and along the skirts of the wood: the Cherusci alone were planted on the hill-tops, ready to charge from the height when the Romans engaged. Our army advanced in the following order: in the van, the auxiliary Gauls and Germans with the unmounted archers behind; next, four legions, and the Caesar with two praetorian cohorts and the flower of the cavalry; then, four other legions, the light-armed troops with the mounted archers and the rest of the allied cohorts. The men were alert and ready, so arranged that the order of march could come to a halt in line of battle.
17 1 On sighting the Cheruscan bands, whose wild hardihood had led them to dash forward, the prince ordered his best cavalry to charge the flank; Stertinius with the remaining squadrons was to ride round and attack the rear, while he himself would not be wanting when the time came. Meanwhile his attention was arrested by a curiously happy omen — eight33 eagles seen aiming for, and entering, the glades. “Forward,” he exclaimed, “and follow the birds of Rome, the guardian spirits of the legions!” At the same moment the line of infantry charged and the advanced cavalry broke into the rear and flanks. Thus, remarkably enough, two columns of the enemy were following directly opposed lines of flight — the troops who had held the forest, rushing into the open; those who had been stationed in the plain, diving into the forest. Midway between both, the Cherusci were being pushed from the hills — among them the unmistakable figure of Arminius, striking, shouting, bleeding, in his effort to maintain the struggle. He had flung himself on the archers, and would have broken through at that point, had not the Raetian, Vindelician, and Gallic cohorts opposed their standards. Even so, a great physical effort, together with the impetus of his horse, carried him clear. To avoid recognition, he had stained his face with his own blood; though, according to some authorities, the Chauci serving among the Roman auxiliaries knew him and gave him passage. The like courage or the like treachery won escape for Inguiomerus: the rest were butchered in crowds. Numbers were overwhelmed in an attempt to swim the Weser, at first by the discharge of spears or the sweep of the current, later by the weight of the plunging masses and the collapse of the river-banks. Some clambered to an ignominious refuge in the tree-tops, and, while seeking cover among the branches, were shot down in derision by a body of archers, who had been moved up; others were brought down by felling the trees.
18 1 It was a brilliant, and to us not a bloody, victory. The enemy were slaughtered from the fifth hour of daylight to nightfall, and for ten miles the ground was littered with corpses and weapons. Among the spoils were found the chains which, without a doubt of the result, they had brought in readiness for the Romans.34
After proclaiming Tiberius Imperator on the field of battle,35 the troops raised a mound, and decked it with arms in the fashion of a trophy, inscribing at the foot the names of the defeated clans.
19 1 The sight affected the Germans with an anguish and a fury which wounds, distress, and ruin had been powerless to evoke. Men, who a moment ago had been preparing to leave their homesteads and migrate across the Elbe, were now eager for battle and flew to arms. Commons and nobles, youth and age, suddenly assailed the Roman line of march and threw it into disorder. At last they fixed on a position pent in between a stream and the forests, with a narrow, waterlogged plain in the centre; the forests too were encircled by a deep swamp, except on one side, where the Angrivarii had raised a broad earthen barrier to mark the boundary between themselves and the Cherusci. Here the infantry took up their station; the mounted men they concealed in the neighbouring groves, so as to be in the rear of the legions when they entered the forest.
20 1 None of these points escaped the Caesar. He was aware of their plans, their position, their open and secret arrangements, and he proposed to turn the devices of the enemy to their own ruin. To his legate, Seius Tubero, he assigned the cavalry and the plain; the line of infantry he drew up so that one part should march by the level track to the forest, while the other sealed the obstacle presented by the barrier. The difficult part of the enterprise he reserved for himself, the rest he left to his deputies. The party to which the even ground had been allotted broke in without trouble; their comrades with the barrier to force, much as if they had been scaling a wall, suffered considerably from the heavy blows delivered from higher ground. Feeling that the odds were against him at close quarters, Germanicus withdrew the legionaries a short distance, and ordered his slingers and marksmen to make play with their missiles and disperse the enemy. Spears were flung from the engines; and the more conspicuous the defenders, the more numerous the wounds under which they fell. On the capture of the rampart, the Caesar charged foremost into the forest with the praetorian cohorts. There the conflict raged foot to foot. The enemy was hemmed in by the morass in his rear, the Romans by the river or the hills: the position left no choice to either, there was no hope but in courage, no salvation but from victory.
21 1 In hardihood the Germans held their own; but they were handicapped by the nature of the struggle and the weapons. Their extraordinary numbers — unable in the restricted space to extend or recover their tremendous lances, or to make use of their rushing tactics and nimbleness of body — were compelled to a standing fight; while our own men, shields tight to the breast and hand on hilt, kept thrusting at the barbarians’ great limbs and bare heads and opening a bloody passage through their antagonists — Arminius being now less active, whether owing to the succession of dangers or to the hampering effects of his recent wound. Inguiomerus, moreover, as he flew over the battle-field, found himself deserted less by his courage than by fortune. Germanicus, also, to make recognition the easier had torn off his headpiece and was adjuring his men to press on with the carnage:— “Prisoners were needless: nothing but the extermination of the race would end the war.” — At last, in the decline of the day, he withdrew one legion from the front to begin work on the camp; while the others satiated themselves with the enemies’ blood till night. The cavalry engagement was indecisive.
22 1 First eulogizing the victors in an address, the Caesar raised a pile of weapons, with a legend boasting that “the army of Tiberius Caesar, after subduing the nations between the Rhine and the Elbe, had consecrated that memorial to Mars, to Jupiter, and to Augustus.” Concerning himself he added nothing, either apprehending jealousy or holding the consciousness of the exploit to be enough. Shortly afterwards he commissioned Stertinius to open hostilities against the Angrivarii,36 unless they forestalled him by surrender. And they did, in fact, come to their knees, refusing nothing, and were forgiven all.
23 1 However, as summer was already at the full,37 a part of the legions were sent back to winter quarters by the land route: the majority were put on shipboard by the prince, who took them down the Ems into the North Sea. At first it was a tranquil expanse, troubled only by the sound and impulse of the sails and oars of a thousand ships. But soon the hail poured from a black mass of clouds, and simultaneously the waves, buffeted by conflicting gales from every quarter, began to blot out the view and impede the steering. The soldiers — struck by alarm, and unfamiliar with the sea and its hazards — nullified by their obstruction or mistimed help the services of the professional sailors. Then all heaven, all ocean, passed into the power of the south wind; which, drawing its strength from the sodden lands of Germany, the deep rivers, the endless train of clouds,38 with its grimness enhanced by the rigour of the neighbouring north, caught and scattered the vessels to the open ocean or to islands39 either beetling with crags or perilous from sunken shoals. These were avoided with time and difficulty; but, when the tide began to change and set in the same direction as the wind, it was impossible either to hold anchor or to bale out the inrushing flood. Chargers, pack-horses, baggage, even arms, were jettisoned, in order to lighten the hulls, which were leaking through the sides and overtopped by the waves.
24 1 Precisely as Ocean40 is more tempestuous than the remaining sea, and Germany unequalled in the asperity of its climate, so did that calamity transcend others in extent and novelty — around them lying hostile shores or a tract so vast and profound that it is believed the last and landless deep. Some of the ships went down; more were stranded on remote islands;41 where, in the absence of human life, the troops died of starvation, except for a few who supported themselves on the dead horses washed up on the same beach. Germanicus’ galley put in to the Chaucian coast alone. Throughout all those days and nights, posted on some cliff or projection of the shore, he continued to exclaim that he was guilty of the great disaster; and his friends with difficulty prevented him from finding a grave in the same waters. At length, with the turning tide and a following wind, the crippled vessels began to come in, some with a few oars left, others with clothing hoisted for canvas, and a few of the weaker in tow. They were instantly refitted and sent out to examine the islands. By that act of forethought a large number of men were gathered in, while many were restored by our new subjects, the Angrivarians, who had ransomed them from the interior. A few had been swept over to Britain, and were sent back by the petty kings. Not a man returned from the distance without his tale of marvels — furious whirlwinds, unheard-of birds, enigmatic shapes half-human and half-bestial:42 things seen, or things believed in a moment of terror.
25 1 But though the rumoured loss of the fleet inspired the Germans to hope for war, it also inspired the Caesar to hold them in check. Gaius Silius he ordered to take the field against the Chatti with thirty thousand foot and three thousand horse: he himself with a larger force invaded the Marsi; whose chieftain, Mallovendus, had lately given in his submission, and now intimated that the eagle of one of Varus’ legions was buried in an adjacent grove, with only a slender detachment on guard. One company was despatched immediately to draw the enemy by manoeuvring on his front; another, to work round the rear and excavate. Both were attended by good fortune; and the Caesar pushed on to the interior with all the more energy, ravaging and destroying an enemy who either dared not engage or was immediately routed wherever he turned to bay. It was gathered from the prisoners that the Germans had never been more completely demoralized. Their cry was that “the Romans were invincible — proof against every disaster! They had wrecked their fleet, lost their arms; the shores had been littered with the bodies of horses and men; yet they had broken in again, with the same courage, with equal fierceness, and apparently with increased numbers!”
26 1 The army was then marched back to winter quarters, elated at having balanced the maritime disaster by this fortunate expedition. Moreover, there was the liberality of the Caesar, who compensated every claimant in full for the loss he professed to have sustained. Nor was any doubt felt that the enemy was wavering and discussing an application for peace; and that with another effort in the coming summer, the war might see its close.43 But frequent letters from Tiberius counselled the prince “to return for the triumph decreed him: there had been already enough successes, and enough mischances. He had fought auspicious and great fields: he should also remember the losses inflicted by wind and wave — losses not in any way due to his leadership, yet grave and deplorable. He himself had been sent nine times into Germany by the deified Augustus; and he had effected more by policy than by force. Policy had procured the Sugambrian surrender; policy had bound the Suebi and King Maroboduus to keep the peace. The Cherusci and the other rebel tribes, now that enough has been done for Roman vengeance, might similarly be left to their intestine strife.” When Germanicus asked for one year more in which to finish his work, he delivered a still shrewder attack on his modesty, and offered him a second consulate, the duties of which he would assume in person. A hint was appended that “if the war must be continued, he might leave his brother, Drusus, the material for a reputation; since at present there was no other national enemy, and nowhere but in the Germanies could he acquire the style of Imperator and a title to the triumphal bays.” — Germanicus hesitated no longer, though he was aware that these civilities were a fiction, and that jealousy was the motive which withdrew him from a glory already within his grasp.
27 1 Nearly at the same time, a charge of revolutionary activities was laid against Libo Drusus,1 a member of the Scribonian family. I shall describe in some detail the origin, the progress, and the end of this affair, as it marked the discovery of the system destined for so many years to prey upon the vitals of the commonwealth. Firmius Catus, a senator, and one of Libo’s closest friends, had urged that short-sighted youth, who had a foible for absurdities, to resort to the forecasts of astrologers, the ritual of magicians, and the society of interpreters of dreams; pointing to his great-grandfather Pompey, to his great-aunt Scribonia (at one time the consort of Augustus), to his cousinship with the Caesars, and to his mansion crowded with ancestral portraits; encouraging him in his luxuries and loans; and, to bind him in a yet stronger chain of evidence, sharing his debaucheries and his embarrassments.
28 1 When he had found witnesses enough, and slaves to testify in the same tenor, he asked for an interview with the sovereign, to whom the charge and the person implicated had been notified by Vescularius Flaccus,2 a Roman knight on familiar terms with Tiberius. The Caesar, without rejecting the information, declined a meeting, as “their conversations might be carried on through the same intermediate, Flaccus.” In the interval, he distinguished Libo with a praetorship and several invitations to dinner. There was no estrangement on his brow, no hint of asperity in his speech: he had buried his anger far too deep. He could have checked every word and action of Libo: he preferred, however, to know them. At length, a certain Junius, solicited by Libo to raise departed spirits by incantations,3 carried his tale to Fulcinius Trio.4 Trio’s genius, which was famous among the professional informers, hungered after notoriety. He swooped immediately on the accused, approached the consuls, and demanded a senatorial inquiry. The Fathers were summoned, to deliberate (it was added) on a case of equal importance and atrocity.
29 1 Meanwhile, Libo changed into mourning, and with an escort of ladies of quality made a circuit from house to house, pleading with his wife’s relatives, and conjuring them to speak in mitigation of his danger, — only to be everywhere refused on different pretexts and identical grounds of alarm. On the day the senate met, he was so exhausted by fear and distress — unless, as some accounts have it, he counterfeited illness — that he was borne to the doors of the Curia in a litter, and, leaning on his brother, extended his hands and his appeals to Tiberius, by whom he was received without the least change of countenance. The emperor then read over the indictment and the names of the sponsors, with a self-restraint that avoided the appearance of either palliating or aggravating the charges.
30 1 Besides Trio and Catus, Fonteius Agrippa and Gaius Vibius had associated themselves with the prosecution, and it was disputed which of the four should have the right of stating the case against the defendant. Finally, Vibius announced that, as no one would give way and Libo was appearing without legal representation, he would take the counts one by one.5 He produced Libo’s papers, so fatuous that, according to one, he had inquired of his prophets if he would be rich enough to cover the Appian Road as far as Brundisium with money. There was more in the same vein, stolid, vacuous, or, if indulgently read, pitiable. In one paper, however, the accuser argued, a set of marks, sinister or at least mysterious, had been appended by Libo’s hand to the names of the imperial family and a number of senators. As the defendant denied the allegation, it was resolved to question the slaves, who recognized the handwriting, under torture;6 and, since an old decree prohibited their examination in a charge affecting the life of their master, Tiberius, applying his talents to the discovery of a new jurisprudence, ordered them to be sold individually to the treasury agent: all to procure servile evidence against a Libo, without overriding a senatorial decree! In view of this, the accused asked for an adjournment till the next day, and left for home, after commissioning his relative, Publius Quirinius, to make a final appeal to the emperor.
31 1 The reply ran, that he must address his petitions to the senate. Meanwhile, his house was picketed by soldiers; they were tramping in the portico itself, within eyeshot and earshot, when Libo, thus tortured at the very feast which he had arranged to be his last delight on earth, called out for a slayer,7 clutched at the hands of his slaves, strove to force his sword upon them. They, as they shrank back in confusion, overturned lamp and table together; and he, in what was now for him the darkness of death, struck two blows into his vitals. He collapsed with a moan, and his freedmen ran up: the soldiers had witnessed the bloody scene, and retired.
In the senate, however, the prosecution was carried through with unaltered gravity, and Tiberius declared on oath that, guilty as the defendant might have been, he would have interceded for his life, had he not laid an over-hasty hand upon himself.
32 1 His estate was parcelled out among the accusers, and extraordinary praetorships were conferred on those of senatorial status. Cotta Messalinus then moved that the effigy of Libo should not accompany the funeral processions of his descendants; Gnaeus Lentulus, that no member of the Scribonian house should adopt the surname of Drusus. Days of public thanksgiving were fixed at the instance of Pomponius Flaccus. Lucius Piso, Asinius Gallus, Papius Mutilus, and Lucius Apronius procured a decree that votive offerings should be made to Jupiter, Mars, and Concord; and that the thirteenth of September, the anniversary of Libo’s suicide, should rank as a festival. This union of sounding names and sycophancy I have recorded as showing how long that evil has been rooted in the State. — Other resolutions of the senate ordered the expulsion of the astrologers8 and magic-mongers from Italy. One of their number, Lucius Pituanius, was flung from the Rock; another — Publius Marcius — was executed by the consuls outside the Esquiline Gate according to ancient usage9 and at sound of trumpet.
33 1 At the next session, the ex-consul, Quintus Haterius,10 and Octavius Fronto, a former praetor, spoke at length against the national extravagance; and it was resolved that table-plate11 should not be manufactured in solid gold, and that Oriental silks should no longer degrade the male sex. Fronto went further, and pressed for a statutory limit to silver, furniture, and domestics: for it was still usual for a member to precede his vote by mooting any point which he considered to be in the public interest. Asinius Gallus opposed:— “With the expansion of the empire, private fortunes had also grown; nor was this new, but consonant with extremely ancient custom. Wealth was one thing with the Fabricii, another with the Scipios; and all was relative to the state. When the state was poor, you had frugality and cottages: when it attained a pitch of splendour such as the present, the individual also throve. In slaves or plate or anything procured for use there was neither excess nor moderation except with reference to the means of the owner. Senators and knights had a special property qualification,12 not because they differed in kind from their fellow-men, but in order that those who enjoyed precedence in place, rank, and dignity should enjoy it also in the easements that make for mental peace and physical well-being. And justly so — unless your distinguished men, while saddled with more responsibilities and greater dangers, were to be deprived of the relaxations compensating those responsibilities and those dangers.” — With his virtuously phrased confession of vice, Gallus easily carried with him that audience of congenial spirits. Tiberius, too, had added that it was not the time for a censorship, and that, if there was any loosening of the national morality, a reformer would be forthcoming.
34 1 During the debate, Lucius Piso, in a diatribe against the intrigues of the Forum, the corruption of the judges, and the tyranny of the advocates with their perpetual threats of prosecution, announced his retirement — he was migrating from the capital, and would live his life in some sequestered, far-away country nook. At the same time, he started to leave the Curia. Tiberius was perturbed; and, not content with having mollified him by a gentle remonstrance, induced his relatives also to withhold him from departure by their influence or their prayers. — It was not long before the same Piso gave an equally striking proof of the independence of his temper by obtaining a summons against Urgulania, whose friendship with the ex-empress had raised her above the law. Urgulania declined to obey, and, ignoring Piso, drove to the imperial residence: her antagonist, likewise, stood his ground, in spite of Livia’s complaint that his act was an outrage and humiliation to herself. Tiberius, who reflected that it would be no abuse of his position to indulge his mother up to the point of promising to appear at the praetorian court and lend his support to Urgulania, set out from the palace, ordering his guards to follow at a distance. The people, flocking to the sight, watched him while with great composure of countenance he protracted the time and the journey by talking on a variety of topics, until, as his relatives failed to control Piso, Livia gave orders for the sum in demand to be paid. This closed an incident of which Piso had some reason to be proud, while at the same time it added to the emperor’s reputation. For the rest, the influence of Urgulania lay so heavy on the state that, in one case on trial before the senate, she disdained to appear as a witness, and a praetor was sent to examine her at home, although the established custom has always been for the Vestal Virgins, when giving evidence, to be heard in the Forum and courts of justice.
35 1 Of this year’s adjournment13 I should say nothing, were it not worth while to note the divergent opinions of Gnaeus Piso and Asinius Gallus on the subject. Piso, although the emperor had intimated that he would not be present, regarded it as a further reason why public business should go forward, so that the ability of the senators and knights to carry out their proper duties in the absence of the sovereign might redound to the credit of the state. Forestalled by Piso in this show of independence, Gallus objected that business, not transacted under the immediate eye of their prince, lacked distinction and fell short of the dignity of the Roman people; and for that reason the concourse of Italy and the influx from the provinces ought to be reserved for his presence. The debate was conducted with much vigour on both sides, while Tiberius listened and was mute: the adjournment, however, was carried.
36 1 Another passage of arms arose between Gallus and the Caesar. The former moved that the elections should determine the magistrates for the next five years,14 and that legionary commanders, serving in that capacity before holding the praetorship, should become praetors designate at once, the emperor nominating twelve candidates for each year. There was no doubt that the proposal went deeper than this, and trespassed on the arcana of sovereignty. Tiberius, however, replied by treating it as an extension of his own prerogative:— “To his moderate temper it was an ungrateful task to mete out so many appointments and disappointments. Even on the annual system, it was difficult to avoid offences, though hope of office in the near future softened the rebuff: how much odium must he incur from those whom he threw aside for above five years! And how could it be foreseen what would be the frame of mind, the family, the fortune of each over so long an interval of time? Men grew arrogant enough even in the twelve months after nomination: what if they had a whole quinquennium in which to play the official? The proposal actually multiplied the number of magistrates by five, and subverted the laws which had fixed the proper periods for exercising the industry of candidates and for soliciting or enjoying preferment.” With this speech, which outwardly had a popular appearance, he kept his hold upon the essentials of sovereignty.
37 1 In addition, he gave monetary help to several senators; so that it was the more surprising when he treated the application of the young noble, Marcus Hortalus, with a superciliousness uncalled for in view of his clearly straitened circumstances. He was a grandson of the orator Hortensius; and the late Augustus, by the grant of a million sesterces,15 had induced him to marry and raise a family, in order to save his famous house from extinction. With his four sons, then, standing before the threshold of the Curia, he awaited his turn to speak; then, directing his gaze now to the portrait of Hortensius among the orators (the senate was meeting in the Palace),16 now to that of Augustus, he opened in the following manner:— “Conscript Fathers, these children whose number and tender age you see for yourselves, became mine not from any wish of my own, but because the emperor so advised, and because, at the same time, my ancestors had earned the right to a posterity. For to me, who in this changed world had been able to inherit nothing and acquire nothing, — not money, nor popularity, nor eloquence, that general birthright of our house, — to me it seemed enough if my slender means were neither a disgrace to myself nor a burden to my neighbour. At the command of the sovereign, I took a wife; and here you behold the stock of so many consuls, the offspring of so many dictators!17 I say it, not to awaken odium, but to woo compassion. Some day, Caesar, under your happy sway, they will wear whatever honours you have chosen to bestow: in the meantime, rescue from beggary the great-grandsons of Quintus Hortensius, the fosterlings of the deified Augustus!”
38 1 The senate’s inclination to agree incited Tiberius to a more instant opposition. His speech in effect ran thus:— “If all the poor of the earth begin coming here and soliciting money for their children, we shall never satisfy individuals, but we shall exhaust the state. And certainly, if our predecessors ruled that a member, in his turn to speak, might occasionally go beyond the terms of the motion and bring forward a point in the public interest, it was not in order that we should sit here to promote our private concerns and personal fortunes, while rendering the position of the senate and its head equally invidious whether they bestow or withhold their bounty. For this is no petition, but a demand — an unseasonable and unexpected demand, when a member rises in a session convened for other purposes, puts pressure on the kindly feeling of the senate by a catalogue of the ages and number of his children, brings the same compulsion to bear indirectly upon myself, and, so to say, carries the Treasury by storm though, if we drain it by favouritism, we shall have to refill it by crime. The deified Augustus gave you money, Hortalus; but not under pressure, nor with a proviso that it should be given always. Otherwise, if a man is to have nothing to hope or fear from himself, industry will languish, indolence thrive, and we shall have the whole population waiting, without a care in the world, for outside relief, incompetent to help itself, and an incubus to us.” These sentences and the like, though heard with approval by the habitual eulogists of all imperial actions honourable or dishonourable, were by most received with silence or a suppressed murmur. Tiberius felt the chill, and, after a short pause, observed that Hortalus had had his answer; but, if the senate thought it proper, he would present each of his male children with two hundred thousand sesterces. Others expressed their thanks; Hortalus held his peace: either his nerve failed him, or even in these straits of fortune he clung to the traditions of his race. Nor in the future did Tiberius repeat his charity, though the Hortensian house kept sinking deeper into ignominious poverty.
39 1 In the same year, the country, but for prompt measures, would have been plunged into faction and civil war by the hardihood of a solitary serf. Clemens by name, he was the slave of Agrippa Postumus;18 but there was nothing servile in the imagination which, on the news of Augustus’ death, conceived the idea of making for the isle of Planasia, rescuing Agrippa by fraud or force, and conveying him to the armies of Germany. The tardy movement of a cargo-boat interfered with his venture; and since in the meantime the execution had been carried out, he fell back on a more ambitious and precarious scheme; purloined the funeral ashes; and sailing to Cosa,19 a promontory on the Etruscan coast, vanished into hiding until his hair and beard should have grown: for in age and general appearance he was not unlike his master. Then, through fitting agents, partners in his secret, a report that Agrippa lived began to circulate; at first, in whispered dialogues, as is the way with forbidden news; soon, in a rumour which ran wherever there were fools with open ears, or malcontents with the usual taste for revolution. He himself took to visiting the provincial towns in the dusk of the day. He was never to be seen in the open, and never overlong in one neighbourhood: rather, as truth acquires strength by publicity and delay, falsehood by haste and incertitudes, he either left his story behind him or arrived in advance of it.
40 1 Meanwhile, it was rumoured through Italy that Agrippa had been saved by the special grace of Heaven: at Rome the rumour was believed. Already huge crowds were greeting his arrival in Ostia, already there were clandestine receptions in the capital itself, when the dilemma began to distract Tiberius:— Should he call in the military to suppress one of his own slaves, or leave this bubble of credulity to vanish with the mere lapse of time? Tossed between shame and alarm, he reflected one moment that nothing was despicable; the next, that not everything was formidable. At last he handed over the affair to Sallustius Crispus,20 who chose two of his clients (soldiers according to some accounts) and instructed them to approach the pretender in the character of accomplices, offer him money, and promise fidelity whatever the perils. These orders they carried out: then, waiting for a night when the impostor was off his guard, they took an adequate force and haled him, chained and gagged, to the palace. To the inquiry of Tiberius, how he turned himself into Agrippa, he is said to have answered: “As you turned yourself into a Caesar.”21 He could not be forced to divulge his confederates. Nor did Tiberius hazard a public execution, but gave orders for him to be killed in a secret quarter of the palace, and the body privately removed: and notwithstanding that many of the imperial household, as well as knights and senators, were said to have given him the support of their wealth and the benefit of their advice, no investigation followed.
41 1 The close of the year saw dedicated an arch near the temple of Saturn22 commemorating the recovery, “under the leadership of Germanicus the auspices of Tiberius,” of the eagles lost with Varus;23 a temple to Fors Fortuna on the Tiber bank, in the gardens which the dictator Caesar had bequeathed to the nation;24 a sanctuary to the Julian race, and an effigy to the deity of Augustus, at Bovillae.25
In the consulate of Gaius Caelius26 and Lucius Pomponius, Germanicus Caesar, on the twenty-sixth day of May, celebrated his triumph over the Cherusci, the Chatti, the Angrivarii, and the other tribes lying west of the Elbe. There was a procession of spoils and captives, of mimic mountains, rivers, and battles; and the war, since he had been forbidden to complete it, was assumed to be complete. To the spectators the effect was heightened by the noble figure of the commander himself, and by the five children who loaded his chariot. Yet beneath lay an unspoken fear, as men reflected that to his father Drusus the favour of the multitude had not brought happiness — that Marcellus, his uncle,27 had been snatched in youth from the ardent affections of the populace — that the loves of the Roman nation were fleeting and unblest!
42 1 For the rest, Tiberius, in the name of Germanicus, made a distribution to the populace of three hundred sesterces a man: as his colleague in the consulship he nominated himself. All this, however, won him no credit for genuine affection, and he decided to remove the youth under a show of honour; some of the pretexts he fabricated, others he accepted as chance offered. For fifty years King Archelaus had been in possession of Cappadocia;28 to Tiberius a hated man, since he had offered him none of the usual attentions during his stay in Rhodes.29 The omission was due not to insolence, but to advice from the intimates of Augustus; for, as Gaius Caesar was then in his heyday and had been despatched to settle affairs in the East, the friendship of Tiberius was believed unsafe. When, through the extinction of the Caesarian line, Tiberius attained the empire, he lured Archelaus from Cappadocia by a letter of his mother; who, without dissembling the resentment of her son, offered clemency, if he came to make his petition. Unsuspicious of treachery, or apprehending force, should he be supposed alive to it, he hurried to the capital, was received by an unrelenting sovereign, and shortly afterwards was impeached in the senate. Broken, not by the charges, which were fictitious, but by torturing anxiety, combined with the weariness of age and the fact that to princes even equality — to say nothing of humiliation — is an unfamiliar thing, he ended his days whether deliberately or in the course of nature. His kingdom was converted into a province; and the emperor, announcing that its revenues made feasible a reduction of the one per cent sale-tax,30 fixed it for the future at one half of this amount. — About the same time, the death of the two kings, Antiochus of Commagene31 and Philopator of Cilicia,32 disturbed the peace of their countries, where the majority of men desired a Roman governor, and the minority a monarch. The provinces, too, of Syria and Judaea, exhausted by their burdens, were pressing for a diminution of the tribute.
43 1 These circumstances, then, and the events in Armenia, which I mentioned above, were discussed by Tiberius before the senate. “The commotion in the East,” he added, “could only be settled by the wisdom of Germanicus: for his own years were trending to their autumn, and those of Drusus were as yet scarcely mature.”33 There followed a decree of the Fathers, delegating to Germanicus the provinces beyond the sea, with powers overriding, in all regions he might visit, those of the local governors holding office by allotment or imperial nomination. Tiberius, however, had removed Creticus Silanus34 from Syria — he was a marriage connection of Germanicus, whose eldest son, Nero, was plighted to his daughter — and had given the appointment to Gnaeus Piso, a man of ungoverned passions and constitutional insubordinacy. For there was a strain of wild arrogance in the blood — a strain derived from his father Piso; who in the Civil War lent strenuous aid against Caesar to the republican party during its resurrection in Africa, then followed the fortunes of Brutus and Cassius, and, on the annulment of his exile, refused to become a suitor for office, until approached with a special request to accept a consulate proffered by Augustus. But, apart from the paternal temper, Piso’s brain was fired by the lineage and wealth of his wife Plancina:35 to Tiberius he accorded a grudging precedence; upon his children he looked down as far beneath him. Nor did he entertain a doubt that he had been selected for the governorship of Syria in order to repress the ambitions of Germanicus.36 The belief has been held that he did in fact receive private instructions from Tiberius; and Plancina, beyond question, had advice from the ex-empress, bent with feminine jealousy upon persecuting Agrippina. For the court was split and torn by unspoken preferences for Germanicus or for Drusus. Tiberius leaned to the latter as his own issue and blood of his blood. Germanicus, owing to the estrangement of his uncle, had risen in the esteem of the world; and he had a further advantage in the distinction of his mother’s family, among whom he could point to Mark Antony for a grandfather and to Augustus for a great-uncle. On the other hand, the plain Roman knight, Pomponius Atticus, who was great-grandfather to Drusus,37 seemed to reflect no credit upon the ancestral effigies of the Claudian house; while both in fecundity and in fair fame Agrippina, the consort of Germanicus, ranked higher than Drusus’ helpmeet, Livia.38 The brothers, however, maintained a singular unanimity, unshaken by the contentions of their kith and kin.
44 1 Shortly afterwards, Drusus was despatched to Illyricum, in order to serve his apprenticeship to war and acquire the favour of the army. At the same time, Tiberius believed that the young prince, who was running riot among the extravagances of the capital, was better in camp,39 and that he himself would be all the safer with both his sons at the head of legions. The pretext, however, was a Suebian40request for help against the Cherusci: for, now that the Romans had withdrawn and the foreign menace was removed, the tribes — obedient to the national custom, and embittered in this case by their rivalry in prestige — had turned their weapons against each other. The power of the clans and the prowess of their leaders were upon a level; but while his kingly title rendered Maroboduus unpopular with his countrymen, Arminius aroused enthusiasm as the champion of liberty.
45 1 The result was that not only the veteran soldiery of Arminius — the Cherusci and their confederates — took up the campaign, but even from the dominions of Maroboduus two Suebian tribes, the Semnones and Langobardi,41 revolted to his cause. This accession assured him the preponderance, had not Inguiomerus42 with a band of his retainers deserted to the enemy, for the sole reason that as an old man and an uncle he scorned to obey the youthful son of his brother. Hope ran high on both sides as the lines of battle drew up, no longer to the old German accompaniment of charges either desultory or executed by scattered parties: for their long campaigns against ourselves had accustomed them to follow their standards, to secure their main body by reserves, and to give attention to their generals’ orders. So, in this instance, Arminius on horseback passed in review the whole of his forces, and, as he came to the several divisions, pointed to the liberties they had recovered, the legions they had butchered, and the spoils and spears, torn from Roman dead, which many of them carried in their hands. Maroboduus, in contrast, was described as “the fugitive who, without one stricken field, had lain safe in the coverts of the Hercynian Forest43 and then sued for a treaty with gifts and embassies, a betrayer of his country, a satellite of the Caesar; whom it was their duty to expel with as little compunction as they felt when they slew Quintilius Varus. Let them only recall the series of their stricken fields! The issue of those, and the final ejection of the Romans showed plainly enough with whom had rested the mastery in the war!”
46 1 Nor could Maroboduus refrain from a panegyric upon himself and an invective against the enemy, but holding Inguiomarus by the hand, “There was but one person,” he declared, “in whom resided the whole glory of the Cherusci — by whose counsels had been won whatsoever success they had achieved! Arminius was a fool, a novice in affairs, who usurped another man’s fame, because by an act of perfidy he had entrapped three straggling legions and a commander who feared no fraud: a feat disastrous to Germany and disgraceful to its author, whose wife and child were even yet supporting their bondage. For himself, when he was attacked by twelve legions, with Tiberius at their head, he had kept the German honour unstained, and soon afterwards the combatants had parted on equal terms:44 nor could he regret that it was now in their power to choose with Rome either a war uncompromised or a bloodless peace!” Fired by the oratory, the armies were stimulated also by motives of their own, as the Cherusci and Langobardi were striking for ancient fame or recent liberty; their adversaries for the extension of a realm. No field ever witnessed a fiercer onset or a more ambiguous event; for on both sides the right wing was routed. A renewal of the conflict was expected, when Maroboduus shifted his camp to the hills. It was the sign of a beaten man; and stripped gradually of his forces by desertions, he fell back upon the Marcomani45 and sent a deputation to Tiberius asking assistance. The reply ran that “to invoke the Roman arms against the Cherusci was not the part of a man who had brought no help to Rome when she was herself engaged against the same enemy.” Drusus, however, as we have mentioned, was sent out to consolidate a peace.
47 1 In the same year, twelve important cities of Asia collapsed in an earthquake, the time being night, so that the havoc was the less foreseen and the more devastating. Even the usual resource in these catastrophes, a rush to open ground, was unavailing, as the fugitives were swallowed up in yawning chasms. Accounts are given of huge mountains sinking, of former plains seen heaved aloft, of fires flashing out amid the ruin. As the disaster fell heaviest on the Sardians, it brought them the largest measure of sympathy, the Caesar promising ten million sesterces, and remitting for five years their payments to the national and imperial exchequers. The Magnesians of Sipylus were ranked second in the extent of their losses and their indemnity. In the case of the Temnians, Philadelphenes, Aegeates, Apollonideans, the so‑called Mostenians and Hyrcanian Macedonians, and the cities of Hierocaesarea, Myrina, Cyme, and Tmolus,1 it was decided to exempt them from tribute for the same term and to send a senatorial commissioner to view the state of affairs and administer relief. Since Asia was held by a consular governor, an ex-praetor — Marcus Ateius — was selected, so as to avoid the difficulties which might arise from the jealousy of two officials of similar standing.
48 1 The emperor supplemented his imposing benefaction on behalf of the state by an equally popular display of private liberality. The property of Aemilia Musa, a woman of means and intestate, which had been claimed as escheating to the imperial exchequer, he transferred to Aemilius Lepidus, in whose family she apparently belonged; and the inheritance of the wealthy Roman knight Pantuleius, though he was himself mentioned as part heir, he handed over to Marcus Servilius, on discovering that he had figured in an earlier and unsuspected testament. In both cases, he remarked before doing so, that high birth required the help of money. He entered upon no bequest unless he had earned it by his friendship: strangers, and persons who were at variance with others and consequently named the sovereign as their heir, he kept at a distance. But as he relieved the honourable poverty of the innocent, so he procured the removal, or accepted the resignation, of the following senators:— Vibidius Virro, Marius Nepos, Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sulla, and Quintus Vitellius; prodigals, beggared by their vices.
49 1 Nearly at the same time, he consecrated the temples, ruined by age or fire,2 the restoration of which had been undertaken by Augustus. They included a temple to Liber, Libera, and Ceres,3 close to the Circus Maximus, and vowed by Aulus Postumius, the dictator; another, on the same site, to Flora, founded by Lucius and Marcus Publicius in their aedileship,4 and a shrine of Janus, built in the Herb Market5 by Gaius Duilius, who first carried the Roman cause to success on sea and earned a naval triumph over the Carthaginians. The temple of Hope, vowed by Aulus Atilius6 in the same war, was dedicated by Germanicus.
50 1 Meanwhile, the law of treason was coming to its strength; and Appuleia Varilla, the niece of Augustus’ sister, was summoned by an informer to answer a charge under the statute, on the ground that she had insulted the deified Augustus, as well as Tiberius and his mother, by her scandalous conversations, and had sullied her connection with the Caesar by the crime of adultery. The adultery, it was decided, was sufficiently covered by the Julian Law;7 and as to the charge of treason, the emperor requested that a distinction should be drawn, conviction to follow, should she have said anything tantamount to sacrilege against Augustus: remarks levelled at himself he did not wish to be made the subject of inquiry. To the consul’s question: “What was his opinion of the reprehensible statements she was alleged to have made about his mother” he gave no answer; but at the next meeting of the senate he asked, in her name also, that no one should be held legally accountable for words uttered against her in any circumstances whatever. After freeing Appuleius from the operation of the statute, he deprecated the heavier penalty8 for adultery, and suggested that in accordance with the old-world precedents she might be handed to her relatives and removed to a point beyond the two-hundredth milestone. Her lover, Manlius, was banned from residence in Italy or Africa.9
51 1 The appointment of a praetor to replace Vipstanus Gallus, cut off by death, gave rise to dispute. Germanicus and Drusus — for they were still at Rome — supported Haterius Agrippa, a kinsman of Germanicus. On the other hand, many insisted that the deciding factor should be the number of a candidate’s children — legally the correct position.10 Tiberius was overjoyed to see the senate divided between his sons and the laws. The law was certainly defeated, but not immediately and by a few votes only, — the mode in which laws were defeated even in days when laws had force!
52 1 In the course of the same year, war broke out in Africa; where the enemy was commanded by Tacfarinas.11 By nationality a Numidian, who had served as an auxiliary in the Roman camp and then deserted, he began by recruiting gangs of vagrants, accustomed to robbery, for the purposes of plunder and of rapine: then he marshalled them into a body in the military style by companies and troops; finally, he was recognized as the head, not of a chaotic horde, but of the Musulamian people.12 That powerful tribe, bordering on the solitudes of Africa, and even then innocent of city life, took up arms and drew the adjacent Moors13 into the conflict. They, too, had their leader, Mazippa; and the confederate army was so divided that Tacfarinas could retain in camp a picked corps, equipped on the Roman model, and there inure it to discipline and obedience, while Mazippa, with a light-armed band, disseminated fire, slaughter, and terror. They had forced the Cinithians,14 by no means a negligible tribe, to join them, when Furius Camillus, proconsul of Africa, combined his legion with the whole of the auxiliaries under the standards, and led them towards the enemy — a modest array in view of the multitude of Numidians and Moors; yet the one thing he was anxious above all to avoid was that they should take fright and evade a trial of arms. The hope of victory, however, lured them into defeat. The legion, then, was posted in the centre; the light cohorts and two squadrons of horse on the wings. Nor did Tacfarinas decline the challenge: the Numidians were routed; and after many years the Furian name won martial honours. For, since the days of Rome’s great recoverer15 and his son, the laurels of high command had passed to other houses; and the Camillus with whom we are here concerned was not regarded as a soldier. Tiberius, therefore, was the readier to laud his exploits before the senate; while the Fathers voted him the insignia of triumph — to the unassuming Camillus an innocuous compliment.16
53 1 The following year found Tiberius consul for a third time; Germanicus, for a second. The latter, however, entered upon that office in the Achaian town of Nicopolis,17 which he had reached by skirting the Illyrian coast after a visit to his brother Drusus, then resident in Dalmatia: the passage had been stormy both in the Adriatic and, later, in the Ionian Sea. He spent a few days, therefore, in refitting the fleet; while at the same time, evoking the memory of his ancestors, he viewed the gulf immortalized by the victory of Actium, together with the spoils which Augustus had consecrated, and the camp of Antony.18 For Augustus, as I have said,19 was his great-uncle, Antony his grandfather; and before his eyes lay the whole great picture of disaster and of triumph. — He next arrived at Athens; where, in deference to our treaty with an allied and time-honoured city, he made use of one lictor alone.20 The Greeks received him with most elaborate compliments, and, in order to temper adulation with dignity, paraded the ancient doings and sayings of their countrymen.
54 1 From Athens he visited Euboea, and crossed over to Lesbos; where Agrippina, in her last confinement, gave birth to Julia.21 Entering the outskirts of Asia, and the Thracian towns of Perinthus and Byzantium, he then struck through the straits of the Bosphorus and the mouth of the Euxine, eager to make the acquaintance of those ancient and storied regions, though simultaneously he brought relief to provinces outworn by internecine feud or official tyranny. On the return journey, he made an effort to visit the Samothracian Mysteries,22but was met by northerly winds, and failed to make the shore. So, after an excursion to Troy and those venerable remains which attest the mutability of fortune and the origin of Rome, he skirted the Asian coast once more, and anchored off Colophon, in order to consult the oracle of the Clarian Apollo. Here it is not a prophetess, as at Delphi, but a male priest, chosen out of a restricted number of families, and in most cases imported from Miletus, who hears the number and the names of the consultants, but no more, then descends into a cavern, swallows a draught of water from a mysterious spring, and — though ignorant generally of writing and of metre — delivers his response in set verses dealing with the subject each inquirer had in mind. Rumour said that he had predicted to Germanicus his hastening fate, though in the equivocal terms which oracles affect.
55 1 Meanwhile Gnaeus Piso, in haste to embark upon his schemes, first alarmed the community of Athens by a tempestuous entry, then assailed them in a virulent speech, which included an indirect attack on Germanicus for “compromising the dignity of the Roman name by his exaggerated civilities, not to the Athenians (whose repeated disasters had extinguished the breed) but to the present cosmopolitan rabble.23 For these were the men who had leagued themselves with Mithridates against Sulla,24 with Antony against the deified Augustus!”25 He upbraided them even with their ancient history; their ill-starred outbreaks against Macedon and their violence towards their own countrymen. Private resentment, also, embittered him against the town, as the authorities refused to give up at his request a certain Theophilus, whom the verdict of the Areopagus had declared guilty of forgery. After this, quick sailing by a short route through the Cyclades brought him up with Germanicus at Rhodes. The prince was aware of the invectives with which he had been assailed; yet he behaved with such mildness that, when a rising storm swept Piso toward the rock-bound coast, and the destruction of his foe could have been referred to misadventure, he sent warships to help in extricating him from his predicament. Even so, Piso was not mollified; and, after reluctantly submitting to the loss of a single day, he left Germanicus and completed the journey first. Then, the moment he reached Syria and the legions, by bounties and by bribery, by attentions to the humblest private, by dismissals of the veteran centurions and the stricter commanding officers, whom he replaced by dependants of his own or by men of the worst character, by permitting indolence in the camp, licence in the towns, and in the country a vagrant and riotous soldiery, he carried corruption to such a pitch that in the language of the rabble he was known as the Father of the Legions. Nor could Plancina contain herself within the limits of female decorum: she attended cavalry exercises and infantry manoeuvres; she flung her gibes at Agrippina or Germanicus; some even of the loyal troops being ready to yield her a disloyal obedience; for a whispered rumour was gaining ground that these doings were not unacceptable to the emperor. The state of affairs was known to Germanicus, but his more immediate anxiety was to reach Armenia first.
56 1 That country, from the earliest period, has owned a national character and a geographical situation of equal ambiguity, since with a wide extent of frontier conterminous with our own provinces, it stretches inland right up to Media; so that the Armenians lie interposed between two vast empires, with which, as they detest Rome and envy the Parthian, they are too frequently at variance. At the moment they lacked a king, owing to the removal of Vonones,26 but the national sentiment leaned to Zeno, a son of the Pontic sovereign Polemo:27 for the prince, an imitator from earliest infancy of Armenian institutions and dress, had endeared himself equally to the higher and the lower orders by his affection for the chase, the banquet, and the other favourite pastimes of barbarians. Accordingly, in the town of Artaxata,28before the consenting nobles and a great concourse of the people, Germanicus placed on his head the emblem of royalty. All save the Romans did homage and acclaimed King Artaxias — an appellation suggested by the name of the city.29 On the other hand, Cappadocia, reduced to the rank of a province, received Quintus Veranius as governor;30 and, to encourage hope in the mildness of Roman sway, a certain number of the royal tributes were diminished. Quintus Servaeus was appointed to Commagene, now for the first time transferred to praetorian jurisdiction.
57 1 Complete and happy as was his adjustment of the allies’ affairs, it gave Germanicus no satisfaction, in view of the insolence of Piso; who, when ordered to conduct part of the legions into Armenia either in his own person or in that of his son, had ignored both alternatives. In Cyrrus,31 the winter-quarters of the tenth legion, they met at last, their features schooled to exclude, in Piso’s case, all evidence of alarm; in the Caesar’s, all suggestion of a threat. He was, in fact, as I have stated, indulgent to a fault. But his friends had the craft to inflame his resentments: they aggravated truths, accumulated falsehoods, levelled a miscellany of charges at Piso, Plancina, and their sons. Finally, in the presence of a few intimates, the prince opened the conversation in the key always struck by dissembled anger; Piso returned a defiant apology, and they parted in open hatred. From now onward, Piso’s appearances at the tribunal of Germanicus were rare; and, on the occasions when he took his seat, it was with the sullen air of undisguised opposition. Again he was heard to remark in a banquet at the Nabataean court,32 when massive golden crowns were offered to Germanicus and Agrippina, and lighter specimens to Piso and the rest, that this was a dinner given to the son, not of a Parthian king, but of a Roman prince.33 At the same time, he tossed his crown aside, and added a diatribe on luxury, which Germanicus, in spite of its bitterness, contrived to tolerate.
58 1 Meanwhile deputies arrived from the Parthian king, Artabanus. They had been sent to mention the friendship and the treaty between the nations, and to add that “the king desired a fresh exchange of pledges; and, in compliment to Germanicus, would meet him on the bank of the Euphrates. In the interval, he asked that Vonones should not be kept in Syria34 to lure the tribal chieftains into discord by agents from over the border.” As to the alliance between Rome and Parthia, Germanicus replied in florid terms; of the king’s coming and his courtesy to himself he spoke with dignity and modesty: Vonones was removed to Pompeiopolis,35 a maritime town of Cilicia. The concession was not simply a compliance with Artabanus’ request but also an affront to Piso; to whom the pretender was highly acceptable in consequence of the numerous civilities and presents for which Plancina was indebted to him.
6236 While Germanicus was passing the summer in various provinces, Drusus earned considerable credit by tempting the Germans to revive their feuds and, as the power of Maroboduus was already shattered, to press on his complete destruction. Among the Gotones37was a youth of good family, named Catualda, exiled some time ago by the arms of Maroboduus, and now, as his fortunes waned, emboldened to revenge. With a strong following, he entered Marcomanian territory, seduced the chieftains into complicity, and burst into the palace and adjoining fortress. There they discovered the ancient Suebian spoils, together with a number of sutlers and traders out of the Roman provinces, drawn from their respective homes and implanted on hostile soil first by the commercial privileges,38 then by the lure of increased profits, and finally by oblivion of their country.
63 1 Forsaken on every side, Maroboduus had no other refuge than the imperial clemency. Crossing the Danube where it flows by the province of Noricum39 he wrote to Tiberius, not in the tone of a landless man or a suppliant, but in one reminiscent of his earlier fortune: for “though many nations offered to welcome a king once so glorious, he had preferred the friendship of Rome.” The Caesar replied that “he would have a safe and honoured seat in Italy, if he remained; but, should his interests make a change advisable, he might depart as securely as he had come.” He asserted, however, in the senate that “not Philip himself had been so grave a menace to Athens — not Pyrrhus nor Antiochus to the Roman people.” The speech is still extant, in which he emphasized “the greatness of the man, the violence of the peoples beneath his rule, the nearness of the enemy to Italy, and the measures he had himself taken to destroy him.” Maroboduus, in fact, was detained at Ravenna; where the possibility of his restoration was held out to the Suebians, whenever they became unruly: but for eighteen years he never set foot out of Italy and grew into an old man, his fame much tarnished by too great love of life. An identical disaster and a similar haven awaited Catualda. A short while afterwards, broken by the power of the Hermunduri40 and the generalship of Vibilius, he received asylum, and was sent to Forum Julium,41 a colony of Narbonensian Gaul. Since the barbarian retainers of the two princes might, if intermingled with the native population, have disturbed the peace of the provinces, they were assigned a king in the person of Vannius, from the Quadian tribe,42 and settled on the further bank of the Danube, between the rivers Marus and Cusus.43
64 1 As news had come at the same time that Germanicus had presented the throne of Armenia to Artaxias, the senate resolved that he and Drusus should receive an ovation upon entering the capital. In addition, arches bearing the effigy of the two Caesars were erected on each side of the temple of Mars the Avenger;44 while Tiberius showed more pleasure at having kept the peace by diplomacy than if he had concluded a war by a series of stricken fields. Accordingly, he now brought his cunning to bear against Rhescuporis, the king of Thrace.45The whole of that country had been subject to Rhoemetalces; after whose death Augustus conferred one half on his brother Rhescuporis, the other on his son Cotys. By this partition the agricultural lands, the town, and the districts adjoining the Greek cities fell to Cotys; the remainder, — a sterile soil, a wild population, with enemies at the very door, — to Rhescuporis. So, too, with the character of the kings: one was gentle and genial;46 the other, sullen, grasping, and intolerant of partnership. At the first, however, they acted with a deceptive show of concord; then Rhescuporis began to overstep his frontiers, to appropriate districts allotted to Cotys, and to meet opposition with force: hesitantly during the lifetime of Augustus, whom he feared as the creator of both kingdoms and, if slighted, their avenger. The moment, however, that he heard of the change of sovereigns, he began to throw predatory bands across the border, to demolish fortresses, and to sow the seeds of war.
65 1 Nothing gave Tiberius so much anxiety as that settlements once made should not be disturbed. He chose a centurion to notify the kings that there must be no appeal to arms; and Cotys at once disbanded the auxiliaries he had collected. Rhescuporis, with assumed moderation, asked for a personal meeting: their differences, he said, could be adjusted verbally. Small difficulty was made about the time, the place, and, finally, the conditions, when one party through good nature, and the other through duplicity, conceded and accepted everything. To ratify the treaty, as he said, Rhescuporis added a banquet. When the merriment had been prolonged far into the night with the help of good cheer and wine, he laid in irons the unsuspecting Cotys, who, on discovering the treachery, appealed in vain to the sanctities of kingship, the deities of their common house, and the immunities of the hospitable board. Master of the whole of Thrace, he wrote to Tiberius that a plot had been laid for him, but he had forestalled the plotter: at the same time, under the pretext of a campaign against the Bastarnae and Scythians, he sustained himself by fresh levies of infantry and cavalry. A smooth letter came back:— “If his conscience was clear, he might trust to his innocence; but neither the emperor nor the senate would discriminate between the rights and wrongs of the case unless they heard it. He had better, then, surrender Cotys, come to Rome and shift the odium of the charge from his own shoulders.”47
66 1 The letter was despatched into Thrace by Latinius Pandusa, the propraetor of Moesia, together with a company of soldiers, who were to take over Cotys. After some fluctuation between fear and anger, Rhescuporis, deciding to stand his trial for the commission, not the inception, of a crime, ordered the execution of Cotys; and promulgated a lie that his death had been self-inflicted. Still, the Caesar made no change in the methods he had once resolved upon, but, on the death of Pandusa — whom Rhescuporis accused of animus against himself — appointed Pomponius Flaccus to the government of Moesia; chiefly because that veteran campaigner was a close friend of the king, and, as such, the better adapted to deceive him.48
67 1 Flaccus crossed into Thrace, and by unstinted promises induced Rhescuporis to enter the Roman lines, though he felt some hesitation, as he reflected on his guilt. He was then surrounded by a strong body-guard, ostensibly out of respect for his royalty; and by advice, suasion, and a surveillance which grew more obvious at each remove, till at last he realized the inevitable, the tribunes and centurions haled him to Rome. He was accused in the senate by Cotys’ wife, and condemned to detention at a distance from his kingdom. Thrace was divided between his son Rhoemetalces, who was known to have opposed his father’s designs, and the children of Cotys. As these were not of mature age, they were put under the charge of Trebellenus Rufus,49 an ex-praetor, who was to manage the kingdom in the interregnum; a parallel from an earlier generation being the despatch of Marcus Lepidus to Egypt as the guardian of Ptolemy’s children.50 Rhescuporis was deported to Alexandria, and perished in a genuine, or imputed, attempt at escape.
59 In the consulate of Marcus Silanus and Lucius Norbanus, Germanicus set out for Egypt to view its antiquities, though the reason given was solicitude for the province.51 He did, in fact, lower the price of cornº by opening the state granaries, and adopted many practices popular with the multitude, walking without his guards, his feet sandalled and his dress identical with that of the Greeks: an imitation of Publius Scipio, who is recorded to have done the like in Sicily, although the Carthaginian war was still raging.52 Tiberius passed a leniently worded criticism on his dress and bearing, but rebuked him with extreme sharpness for overstepping the prescription of Augustus by entering Alexandria without the imperial consent. For Augustus, among the other secrets of absolutism, by prohibiting all senators or Roman knights of the higher rank53 from entering the country without permission, kept Egypt isolated;54 in order that Italy might not be subjected to starvation by anyone who contrived, with however slight a garrison against armies however formidable, to occupy the province and the key-positions by land and sea.55
60 1 Not yet aware, however, that his itinerary was disapproved, Germanicus sailed up the Nile, starting from the town of Canopus — founded by the Spartans in memory of the helmsman so named, who was buried there in the days when Menelaus, homeward bound for Greece, was blown to a distant sea and the Libyan coast. From Canopus he visited the next of the river-mouths, which is sacred to Hercules56 (an Egyptian born, according to the local account, and the eldest of the name, the others of p491later date and equal virtue being adopted into the title); then, the vast remains of ancient Thebes.57 On piles of masonry Egyptian letters still remained, embracing the tale of old magnificence, and one of the senior priests, ordered to interpret his native tongue, related that “once the city contained seven hundred thousand men of military age, and with that army King Rhamses,58 after conquering Libya and Ethiopia, the Medes and the Persians, the Bactrian and the Scyth, and the lands where the Syrians and Armenians and neighbouring Cappadocians dwell, had ruled over all that lies between the Bithynian Sea on the one hand and the Lycian on the other.” The tribute-lists of the subject nations were still legible: the weight of silver and gold, the number of weapons and horses, the temple-gifts of ivory and spices, together with the quantities of grain and other necessaries of life to be paid by the separate countries; revenues no less imposing than those which are now exacted by the might of Parthia or by Roman power.
61 1 But other marvels, too, arrested the attention of Germanicus: in especial, the stone colossus of Memnon,59 which emits a vocal sound when touched by the rays of the sun; the pyramids reared mountain high by the wealth of emulous kings among wind-swept and all but impassable sands; the excavated lake which receives the overflow of Nile;60 and, elsewhere, narrow gorges and deeps impervious to the plummet of the explorer. Then he proceeded to Elephantine and Syene,61 once the limits of the Roman Empire, which now62 stretches to the Persian Gulf.
68 1 About this time, Vonones — whose sequestration in Cilicia I have mentioned63 — attempted by bribing his warders to escape into Armenia, then to the Albani,64a The Heniochi,64b and his relative, the king of Scythia. Leaving the coast under the pretext of a hunting excursion, he made for the trackless forest country, and, availing himself of the speed of his horse, hurried to the river Pyramus;65 where, on the news of his escape, the bridges had been demolished by the people of the district: the stream itself was not fordable. He was arrested, therefore, on the river-bank by the cavalry prefect, Vibius Fronto; and a little later, Remmius, a time-expired veteran who had been in command of his former guards, ran him through with his sword, as though in an outburst of anger: a fact which makes it the more credible that conscious guilt and a fear of disclosures dictated the murder.
69 1 On the way from Egypt, Germanicus learned that all orders issued by him to the legions or the cities had been rescinded or reversed. Hence galling references to Piso: nor were the retorts directed by him against the prince less bitter. Then Piso determined to leave Syria. Checked almost immediately by the ill-health of Germanicus, then hearing that he had rallied and that the vows made for his recovery were already being paid, he took his lictors and swept the streets clear of the victims at the altars, the apparatus of sacrifice, and the festive populace of Antioch. After this, he left for Seleucia,66 awaiting the outcome of the malady which had again attacked Germanicus. The cruel virulence of the disease was intensified by the patient’s belief that Piso had given him poison; and it is a fact that explorations in the floor and walls brought to light the remains of human bodies, spells, curses, leaden tablets engraved with the name Germanicus,67 charred and blood-smeared ashes,68 and others of the implements of witchcraft by which it is believed the living soul can be devoted to the powers of the grave. At the same time, emissaries from Piso were accused of keeping a too inquisitive watch upon the ravages of the disease.
70 1 Of all this Germanicus heard with at least as much anger as alarm:— “If his threshold was besieged, if he must surrender his breath under the eye of his enemies, what must the future hold in store for his unhappy wife — for his infant children?69 Poison was considered too dilatory; Piso was growing urgent — imperative — to be left alone with his province and his legions! But Germanicus had not fallen from himself so far, nor should the price of blood remain with the slayer!” He composed a letter renouncing his friendship: the general account adds that he ordered him to leave the province. Delaying no longer, Piso weighed anchor, and regulated his speed so that the return journey should be the shorter, if Germanicus’ death opened the door in Syria.
71 1 For a moment the Caesar revived to hope: then his powers flagged, and, with the end near, he addressed his friends at the bedside to the following effect:— “If I were dying by the course of nature, I should have a justified grievance against Heaven itself for snatching me from parents, children, and country, by a premature end in the prime of life. Now, cut off as I am by the villainy of Piso and Plancina, I leave my last prayers in the keeping of your breasts: report to my father and brother the agonies that rent me, the treasons that encompassed me, before I finished the most pitiable of lives by the vilest of deaths. If any were ever stirred by the hopes I inspired, by kindred blood, — even by envy of me while I lived, — they must shed a tear to think that the once happy survivor of so many wars has fallen by female treachery. You will have your opportunity to complain before the senate and to invoke the law. The prime duty of friends is not to follow their dead with passive laments, but to remember his wishes and carry out his commands. Strangers themselves will bewail Germanicus: you will avenge him — if you loved me, and not my fortune. Show to the Roman people the granddaughter of their deified Augustus, who was also my wife; number her six children: pity will side with the accusers, and, if the murderers allege some infamous warrant, they will find no credence in men — or no forgiveness!” His friends touched the dying hand and swore to forgo life sooner than revenge.
72 1 Then he turned to his wife, and implored her “by the memory of himself, and for the sake of their common children, to strip herself of pride, to stoop her spirit before the rage of fortune, and never — if she returned to the capital — to irritate those stronger than herself by a competition for power.” These words in public: in private there were others, in which he was believed to hint at danger from the side of Tiberius. Soon afterwards he passed away, to the boundless grief of the province and the adjacent peoples.70 Foreign nations and princes felt the pang — so great had been his courtesy to allies, his humanity to enemies: in aspect and address alike venerable, while he maintained the magnificence and dignity of exalted fortune, he had escaped envy and avoided arrogance.
73 1 His funeral, devoid of ancestral effigies or procession, was distinguished by eulogies and recollections of his virtues. There were those who, considering his personal appearance, his early age, and the circumstances of his death, — to which they added the proximity of the region where he perished, — compared his decease with that of Alexander the Great: — “Each eminently handsome, of famous lineage, and in years not much exceeding thirty,71 had fallen among alien races by the treason of their countrymen.72 But the Roman had borne himself as one gentle to his friends, moderate in his pleasures, content with a single wife and the children of lawful wedlock. Nor was he less a man of the sword; though he lacked the other’s temerity, and, when his numerous victories had beaten down the Germanies, was prohibited from making fast their bondage. But had he been the sole arbiter of affairs, of kingly authority and title, he would have overtaken the Greek in military fame with an ease proportioned to his superiority in clemency, self-command, and all other good qualities.” The body, before cremation, was exposed in the forum of Antioch, the place destined for the final rites. Whether it bore marks of poisoning was disputable: for the indications were variously read, as pity and preconceived suspicion swayed the spectator to the side of Germanicus, or his predilections to that of Piso.
74 1 A consultation followed between the legates and other senators73 present, to determine the new governor of Syria. When the rest had made a half-hearted effort, the claims of Vibius Marsus74 and Gnaeus Sentius75 were canvassed at length; then Marsus gave way to the superior age and greater keenness of his competitor. And he, on the demand of Vitellius, Veranius, and the others (who were drawing up the articles of indictment as though the case had already been entered), despatched to Rome a woman by the name of Martina, infamous in the province for her poisonings and beloved of Plancina.
75 1 Agrippina herself, worn out with grief and physically ill, yet intolerant of every obstacle to revenge, went on board the fleet with her children and the ashes of Germanicus; amid universal pity for this woman of sovereign lineage, her wedded glory wont but yesterday to attract the gaze of awed and gratulatory crowds, now carrying in her bosom the relics of the dead, uncertain of her vengeance, apprehensive for herself, cursed in that fruitfulness which had borne but hostages to fortune.
Piso, in the meantime, was overtaken at the isle of Cos76 by a message that Germanicus was sped. He received it with transport. Victims were immolated, temples visited; and, while his own joy knew no bounds, it was overshadowed by the insolence of Plancina, who had been in mourning for the loss of a sister, and now changed for the first time into the garb of joy.
76 1 Centurions77 came streaming in with their advice:— “The legions were eager to declare for him — he must return to the province illegally wrested from him and now masterless.” At a council, then, to decide what action should be taken, his son, Marcus Piso, held that he must hurry to the capital:— “So far, he had been guilty of nothing that was past expiation; nor were feeble suspicions or unsubstantial rumours a matter for alarm. His difference with Germanicus might perhaps earn him a measure of unpopularity, but not punishment; while the forfeiture of his province had satisfied his private enemies. To go back was to embark on a civil war, if Sentius resisted; nor would the centurions and private soldiers stand fast in his cause, since with them the yet recent memory of their commander, and their deep-seated affection for the Caesars, outweighed all else.”
77 1 Domitius Celer, one of his most intimate associates, argued upon the other side:— “He had better profit by the occasion: not Sentius, but Piso, had been created governor of Syria: to him had been entrusted the symbols of magistracy, the praetorian jurisdiction, — ay, and the legions. If hostilities threatened, who could more justly take the field than a man who had received the powers of a legate, in addition to private instructions? Besides, rumours ought to be allowed an interval in which to grow stale: innocence too often was unable to face the first blast of unpopularity. But if he kept the army and augmented his powers, chance would give a favourable turn to much that could not at present be foreseen. Or,” he continued, “are we racing to make the harbour at the same moment as the ashes of Germanicus, so that with the first breath of scandal you may be swept to your doom, unheard and undefended, by a sobbing wife and a fatuous crowd? You have the complicity of Augusta, the favour of the Caesar, — but only in private; and none more ostentatiously bewail the fate of Germanicus than they who most rejoice at it.”
78 1 There was no great difficulty in converting Piso, with his taste for audacity, to this opinion; and, in a letter forwarded to Tiberius, he accused Germanicus of luxury and arrogance: as for himself, “he had been expelled so as to leave scope for a revolution, but had now gone to resume charge of the army, with the same loyalty as he had shown when he was at its head.” At the same time, he placed Domitius on a warship, with orders to avoid the coasting-route and to make straight for Syria, past the islands and through the high seas. As deserters flocked in, he organized them by maniples; armed the camp-followers; then, crossing with his fleet to the mainland, intercepted a body of recruits bound for Syria, and wrote to the Cilician kinglets78 to support him with auxiliaries — the young Piso assisting actively in the preparations for war, though he had protested against engaging in it.
79 1 As they were skirting, then, the coast of Lycia and Pamphylia, they were met by the squadron convoying Agrippina. On each side the hostility was such that at first they prepared for action: then, owing to their mutual fears, the affair went no further than high words; in the course of which Vibius Marsus summoned Piso to return to Rome and enter his defence. He gave a sarcastic answer that he would be there when the praetor with cognizance of poisoning cases had notified a date to the accusers and accused.79
Meanwhile, Domitius had landed at the Syrian town of Laodicea.80 He was making for the winter quarters of the sixth legion, which he thought the best adapted for his revolutionary designs, when he was forestalled by the commanding officer, Pacuvius. Sentius notified Piso of the incident by letter, and warned him to make no attempt upon the camp by his agents or upon the province by his arms. He then collected the men whom he knew to be attached to the memory of Germanicus, — or, at least, opposed to his enemies, — impressed upon them the greatness of the emperor and the fact that this was an armed attack on the state, then took the field at the head of a powerful force ready for battle.
80 1 Piso, too, though his enterprise was developing awkwardly, adopted the safest course in the circumstances by seizing an extremely strong post in Cilicia, named Celenderis.81 For by an admixture of the deserters, the recently intercepted recruits, and his own and Plancina’s slaves, he had arranged the Cilician auxiliaries, sent by the petty kings, in what was numerically a legion. He called them to witness that “he, the representative of the Caesar, was being excluded from the province which the Caesar had given, not by the legions — it was at their invitation he came! — but by Sentius, who was veiling his private hatred under a tissue of calumnies. They must take their stand in line of battle; the soldiers would never strike, when they had seen Piso; whom once they called Father; who, if the verdict went by justice, was the superior; and, if by arms, not wholly powerless.” He then deployed his maniples in front of the fortress lines on a high and precipitous hill (the rest of the position is secured by the sea): confronting them stood the veterans, drawn up in centuries and with reserves. On the one side was a grim soldiery; on the other, a position not less grim, — but no courage, no hope, not even weapons, apart from rustic spears or makeshifts improvised to meet the sudden demand. When the collision came, doubt only lasted until the Roman cohorts scrambled up to level ground: the Cilicians took to their heels and barricaded themselves in the fortress.
81 1 In the meantime, Piso attempted, without effect, to attack the fleet, which was waiting at some little distance. On his return, he took his station on the walls; and, now beating his breast, now summoning particular soldiers by name and weighting the call with a bribe, endeavoured to create a mutiny. He had, indeed, produced enough impression for one ensign of the sixth82 legion to come over with his standard, when Sentius ordered the cornets and trumpets to sound, the materials for a mound to be collected, ladders raised; the readiest to go forward to the escalade, others to discharge spears, stones, and firebrands, from the military engines. At last Piso’s obstinacy was broken, and he applied for permission to hand over his arms and remain in the fort while the Caesar’s award of the Syrian governorship was being ascertained. The terms were not accepted, and the only concessions made were a grant of ships and a safe-conduct to the capital.
82 1 But at Rome, when the failure of Germanicus’ health became current knowledge, and every circumstance was reported with the aggravations usual in news that has travelled far, all was grief and indignation. A storm of complaints burst out:— “So for this he had been relegated to the ends of earth; for this Piso had received a province; and this had been the drift of Augusta’s colloquies with Plancina! It was the mere truth, as the elder men said of Drusus, that sons with democratic tempers were not pleasing to fathers on a throne;83 and both had been cut off for no other reason than because they designed to restore the age of freedom and take the Roman people into a partnership of equal rights.”84 The announcement of his death inflamed this popular gossip to such a degree that before any edict of the magistrates, before any resolution of the senate, civic life was suspended, the courts deserted, houses closed. It was a town of sighs and silences, with none of the studied advertisements of sorrow; and, while there was no abstention from the ordinary tokens of bereavement, the deeper mourning was carried at the heart. Accidentally, a party of merchants, who had left Syria while Germanicus was yet alive, brought a more cheerful account of his condition. It was instantly believed and instantly disseminated. No man met another without proclaiming his unauthenticated news; and by him it was passed to more, with supplements dictated by joy. Crowds were running in the streets and forcing temple-doors.85 Credulity throve — it was night, and affirmation is boldest in the dark. Nor did Tiberius check the fictions, but left them to die out with the passage of time; and the people added bitterness for what seemed a second bereavement.
83 1 Affection and ingenuity vied in discovering and decreeing honours to Germanicus: his name was to be chanted in the Saliar Hymn;86curule chairs surmounted by oaken crowns were to be set for him wherever the Augustal priests87 had right of place; his effigy in ivory was to lead the procession at the Circus Games,88 and no flamen89 or augur, unless of the Julian house, was to be created in his room. Arches were added, at Rome, on the Rhine bank, and on the Syrian mountain of Amanus,90 with an inscription recording his achievements and the fact that he had died for his country. There was to be a sepulchre in Antioch, where he had been cremated; a funeral monument in Epidaphne,91 the suburb in which he had breathed his last. His statues, and the localities in which his cult was to be practised, it would be difficult to enumerate. When it was proposed to give him a gold medallion, as remarkable for the size as for the material, among the portraits of the classic orators,92 Tiberius declared that he would dedicate one himself “of the customary type, and in keeping with the rest: for eloquence was not measured by fortune, and its distinction enough if he ranked with the old masters.” The equestrian order renamed the so‑called “junior section” in their part of the theatre after Germanicus, and ruled that on the fifteenth of July93 the cavalcade should ride behind his portrait. Many of these compliments remain: others were discontinued immediately, or have lapsed with the years.
84 1 While the public mourning was still fresh, Germanicus’ sister, Livia, who had married Drusus, was delivered of twin sons. The event, a rare felicity even in modest households, affected the emperor with so much pleasure that he could not refrain from boasting to the Fathers that never before had twins been born to a Roman of the same eminence: for he converted everything, accidents included, into material for self-praise. To the people, however, coming when it did, even this incident was a regret; as though the increase in Drusus’ family was a further misfortune for the house of Germanicus.
85 1 In the same year, bounds were set to female profligacy by stringent resolutions of the senate; and it was laid down that no woman should trade in her body, if her father, grandfather, or husband had been a Roman knight. For Vistilia, the daughter of a praetorian family, had advertised her venality on the aediles’ list — the normal procedure among our ancestors, who imagined the unchaste to be sufficiently punished by the avowal of their infamy. Her husband, Titidius Labeo,94 was also required to explain why, in view of his wife’s manifest guilt, he had not invoked the penalty of the law. As he pleaded that sixty days, not yet elapsed, were allowed for deliberation, it was thought enough to pass sentence on Vistilia, who was removed to the island of Seriphos.95 — Another debate dealt with the proscription of the Egyptian and Jewish rites,96 and a senatorial edict directed that four thousand descendants of enfranchised slaves, tainted with that superstition and suitable in point of age, were to be shipped to Sardinia and there employed in suppressing brigandage: “if they succumbed to the pestilential climate, it was a cheap loss.” The rest had orders to leave Italy, unless they had renounced their impious ceremonial by a given date.
86 1 The emperor then moved for the appointment of a Virgin to replace Occia, who for fifty-seven years had presided over the rites of Vesta with unblemished purity: Fonteius Agrippa and Domitius Pollio he thanked for the public-spirited rivalry which had led them to proffer their own daughters. Pollio’s child97 was preferred, for no reason save that her mother was still living with the same husband, while Agrippa’s divorce had impaired the credit of his house. As a solatium to the rejected candidate, the Caesar presented her with a dowry of a million sesterces.98
87 1 As the commons protested against the appalling dearness of corn, he fixed a definite price to be paid by the buyer, and himself guaranteed the seller a subsidy of two sesterces the peck. Yet he would not on that score accept the title “Father of his Country,” which had indeed been offered previously;99 and he administered a severe reprimand to those who had termed his occupations “divine,” and himself “Lord.”100 The speaker, consequently, had to walk a strait and slippery road under a prince who feared liberty and detested flattery.
88 1 I find from contemporary authors, who were members of the senate, that a letter was read in the curia from the Chattan chief Adgandestrius, promising the death of Arminius, if poison were sent to do the work; to which the reply went back that “it was not by treason nor in the dark but openly and in arms that the Roman people took vengeance on their foes”: a high saying intended to place Tiberius on a level with the old commanders who prohibited, and disclosed, the offer to poison King Pyrrhus. Arminius himself, encouraged by the gradual retirement of the Romans and the expulsion of Maroboduus, began to aim at kingship, and found himself in conflict with the independent temper of his countrymen. He was attacked by arms, and, while defending himself with chequered results, fell by the treachery of his relatives. Undoubtedly the liberator of Germany; a man who, not in its infancy as captains and kings before him, but in the high noon of its sovereignty, threw down the challenge to the Roman nation, in battle with ambiguous results, in war without defeat; he completed thirty-seven years of life, twelve of power,101 and to this day is sung in tribal lays, though he is an unknown being to Greek historians, who admire only the history of Greece, and receives less than his due from us of Rome, who glorify the ancient days and show little concern for our own.