109 AD


By P. Cornelius Tacitus

translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb

BOOK I, A.D. 14, 15

ROME at the beginning was ruled by kings. Freedom and the consulship

were established by Lucius Brutus. Dictatorships were held for a

temporary crisis. The power of the decemvirs did not last beyond two

years, nor was the consular jurisdiction of the military tribunes of

long duration. The despotisms of Cinna and Sulla were brief; the

rule of Pompeius and of Crassus soon yielded before Caesar; the arms

of Lepidus and Antonius before Augustus; who, when the world was

wearied by civil strife, subjected it to empire under the title of

"Prince." But the successes and reverses of the old Roman people

have been recorded by famous historians; and fine intellects were

not wanting to describe the times of Augustus, till growing sycophancy

scared them away. The histories of Tiberius, Caius, Claudius, and

Nero, while they were in power, were falsified through terror, and

after their death were written under the irritation of a recent

hatred. Hence my purpose is to relate a few facts about Augustus- more

particularly his last acts, then the reign of Tiberius, and all

which follows, without either bitterness or partiality, from any

motives to which I am far removed.

When after the destruction of Brutus and Cassius there was no longer

any army of the Commonwealth, when Pompeius was crushed in Sicily, and

when, with Lepidus pushed aside and Antonius slain, even the Julian

faction had only Caesar left to lead it, then, dropping the title of

triumvir, and giving out that he was a Consul, and was satisfied

with a tribune's authority for the protection of the people,

Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with cheap

corn, and all men with the sweets of repose, and so grew greater by

degrees, while he concentrated in himself the functions of the Senate,

the magistrates, and the laws. He was wholly unopposed, for the

boldest spirits had fallen in battle, or in the proscription, while

the remaining nobles, the readier they were to be slaves, were

raised the higher by wealth and promotion, so that, aggrandised by

revolution, they preferred the safety of the present to the

dangerous past. Nor did the provinces dislike that condition of

affairs, for they distrusted the government of the Senate and the

people, because of the rivalries between the leading men and the

rapacity of the officials, while the protection of the laws was

unavailing, as they were continually deranged by violence, intrigue,

and finally by corruption.

Augustus meanwhile, as supports to his despotism, raised to the

pontificate and curule aedileship Claudius Marcellus, his sister's

son, while a mere stripling, and Marcus Agrippa, of humble birth, a

good soldier, and one who had shared his victory, to two consecutive

consulships, and as Marcellus soon afterwards died, he also accepted

him as his son-in-law. Tiberius Nero and Claudius Drusus, his

stepsons, he honoured with imperial tides, although his own family was

as yet undiminished. For he had admitted the children of Agrippa,

Caius and Lucius, into the house of the Caesars; and before they had

yet laid aside the dress of boyhood he had most fervently desired,

with an outward show of reluctance, that they should be entitled

"princes of the youth," and be consuls-elect. When Agrippa died, and

Lucius Caesar as he was on his way to our armies in Spain, and Caius

while returning from Armenia, still suffering from a wound, were

prematurely cut off by destiny, or by their step-mother Livia's

treachery, Drusus too having long been dead, Nero remained alone of

the stepsons, and in him everything tended to centre. He was adopted

as a son, as a colleague in empire and a partner in the tribunitian

power, and paraded through all the armies, no longer through his

mother's secret intrigues, but at her open suggestion. For she had

gained such a hold on the aged Augustus that he drove out as an

exile into the island of Planasia, his only grandson, Agrippa

Postumus, who, though devoid of worthy qualities, and having only

the brute courage of physical strength, had not been convicted of

any gross offence. And yet Augustus had appointed Germanicus, Drusus's

offspring, to the command of eight legions on the Rhine, and

required Tiberius to adopt him, although Tiberius had a son, now a

young man, in his house; but he did it that he might have several

safeguards to rest on. He had no war at the time on his hands except

against the Germans, which was rather to wipe out the disgrace of

the loss of Quintilius Varus and his army than out of an ambition to

extend the empire, or for any adequate recompense. At home all was

tranquil, and there were magistrates with the same titles; there was a

younger generation, sprung up since the victory of Actium, and even

many of the older men had been born during the civil wars. How few

were left who had seen the republic!

Thus the State had been revolutionised, and there was not a

vestige left of the old sound morality. Stript of equality, all looked

up to the commands of a sovereign without the least apprehension for

the present, while Augustus in the vigour of life, could maintain

his own position, that of his house, and the general tranquillity.

When in advanced old age, he was worn out by a sickly frame, and the

end was near and new prospects opened, a few spoke in vain of the

blessings of freedom, but most people dreaded and some longed for war.

The popular gossip of the large majority fastened itself variously

on their future masters. "Agrippa was savage, and had been exasperated

by insult, and neither from age nor experience in affairs was equal to

so great a burden. Tiberius Nero was of mature years, and had

established his fame in war, but he had the old arrogance inbred in

the Claudian family, and many symptoms of a cruel temper, though

they were repressed, now and then broke out. He had also from earliest

infancy been reared in an imperial house; consulships and triumphs had

been heaped on him in his younger days; even in the years which, on

the pretext of seclusion he spent in exile at Rhodes, he had had no

thoughts but of wrath, hypocrisy, and secret sensuality. There was his

mother too with a woman caprice. They must, it seemed, be subject to a

female and to two striplings besides, who for a while would burden,

and some day rend asunder the State."

While these and like topics were discussed, the infirmities of

Augustus increased, and some suspected guilt on his wife's part. For a

rumour had gone abroad that a few months before he had sailed to

Planasia on a visit to Agrippa, with the knowledge of some chosen

friends, and with one companion, Fabius Maximus; that many tears

were shed on both sides, with expressions of affection, and that

thus there was a hope of the young man being restored to the home of

his grandfather. This, it was said, Maximus had divulged to his wife

Marcia, she again to Livia. All was known to Caesar, and when

Maximus soon afterwards died, by a death some thought to be

self-inflicted, there were heard at his funeral wailings from

Marcia, in which she reproached herself for having been the cause of

her husband's destruction. Whatever the fact was, Tiberius as he was

just entering Illyria was summoned home by an urgent letter from his

mother, and it has not been thoroughly ascertained whether at the city

of Nola he found Augustus still breathing or quite lifeless. For Livia

had surrounded the house and its approaches with a strict watch, and

favourable bulletins were published from time to time, till, provision

having been made for the demands of the crisis, one and the same

report told men that Augustus was dead and that Tiberius Nero was

master of the State.

The first crime of the new reign was the murder of Postumus Agrippa.

Though he was surprised and unarmed, a centurion of the firmest

resolution despatched him with difficulty. Tiberius gave no

explanation of the matter to the Senate; he pretended that there

were directions from his father ordering the tribune in charge of

the prisoner not to delay the slaughter of Agrippa, whenever he should

himself have breathed his last. Beyond a doubt, Augustus had often

complained of the young man's character, and had thus succeeded in

obtaining the sanction of a decree of the Senate for his banishment.

But he never was hard-hearted enough to destroy any of his kinsfolk,

nor was it credible that death was to be the sentence of the

grandson in order that the stepson might feel secure. It was more

probable that Tiberius and Livia, the one from fear, the other from

a stepmother's enmity, hurried on the destruction of a youth whom they

suspected and hated. When the centurion reported, according to

military custom, that he had executed the command, Tiberius replied

that he had not given the command, and that the act must be

justified to the Senate.

As soon as Sallustius Crispus who shared the secret (he had, in

fact, sent the written order to the tribune) knew this, fearing that

the charge would be shifted on himself, and that his peril would be

the same whether he uttered fiction or truth, he advised Livia not

to divulge the secrets of her house or the counsels of friends, or any

services performed by the soldiers, nor to let Tiberius weaken the

strength of imperial power by referring everything to the Senate,

for "the condition," he said, "of holding empire is that an account

cannot be balanced unless it be rendered to one person."

Meanwhile at Rome people plunged into slavery- consuls, senators,

knights. The higher a man's rank, the more eager his hypocrisy, and

his looks the more carefully studied, so as neither to betray joy at

the decease of one emperor nor sorrow at the rise of another, while he

mingled delight and lamentations with his flattery. Sextus Pompeius

and Sextus Apuleius, the consuls, were the first to swear allegiance

to Tiberius Caesar, and in their presence the oath was taken by

Seius Strabo and Caius Turranius, respectively the commander of the

praetorian cohorts and the superintendent of the corn supplies. Then

the Senate, the soldiers and the people did the same. For Tiberius

would inaugurate everything with the consuls, as though the ancient

constitution remained, and he hesitated about being emperor. Even

the proclamation by which he summoned the senators to their chamber,

he issued merely with the title of Tribune, which he had received

under Augustus. The wording of the proclamation was brief, and in a

very modest tone. "He would," it said, "provide for the honours due to

his father, and not leave the lifeless body, and this was the only

public duty he now claimed."

As soon, however, as Augustus was dead, he had given the watchword

to the praetorian cohorts, as commander-in-chief. He had the guard

under arms, with all the other adjuncts of a court; soldiers

attended him to the forum; soldiers went with him to the Senate House.

He sent letters to the different armies, as though supreme power was

now his, and showed hesitation only when he spoke in the Senate. His

chief motive was fear that Germanicus, who had at his disposal so many

legions, such vast auxiliary forces of the allies, and such

wonderful popularity, might prefer the possession to the expectation

of empire. He looked also at public opinion, wishing to have the

credit of having been called and elected by the State rather than of

having crept into power through the intrigues of a wife and a dotard's

adoption. It was subsequently understood that he assumed a wavering

attitude, to test likewise the temper of the nobles. For he would

twist a word or a look into a crime and treasure it up in his memory.

On the first day of the Senate he allowed nothing to be discussed

but the funeral of Augustus, whose will, which was brought in by the

Vestal Virgins, named as his heirs Tiberius and Livia. The latter

was to be admitted into the Julian family with the name of Augusta;

next in expectation were the grand and great-grandchildren. In the

third place, he had named the chief men of the State, most of whom

he hated, simply out of ostentation and to win credit with

posterity. His legacies were not beyond the scale of a private

citizen, except a bequest of forty-three million five hundred thousand

sesterces "to the people and populace of Rome," of one thousand to

every praetorian soldier, and of three hundred to every man in the

legionary cohorts composed of Roman citizens.

Next followed a deliberation about funeral honours. Of these the

most imposing were thought fitting. The procession was to be conducted

through "the gate of triumph," on the motion of Gallus Asinius; the

titles of the laws passed, the names of the nations conquered by

Augustus were to be borne in front, on that of Lucius Arruntius.

Messala Valerius further proposed that the oath of allegiance to

Tiberius should be yearly renewed, and when Tiberius asked him whether

it was at his bidding that he had brought forward this motion, he

replied that he had proposed it spontaneously, and that in whatever

concerned the State he would use only his own discretion, even at

the risk of offending. This was the only style of adulation which

yet remained. The Senators unanimously exclaimed that the body ought

to be borne on their shoulders to the funeral pile. The emperor left

the point to them with disdainful moderation, he then admonished the

people by a proclamation not to indulge in that tumultuous

enthusiasm which had distracted the funeral of the Divine Julius, or

express a wish that Augustus should be burnt in the Forum instead of

in his appointed resting-place in the Campus Martius.

On the day of the funeral soldiers stood round as a guard, amid much

ridicule from those who had either themselves witnessed or who had

heard from their parents of the famous day when slavery was still

something fresh, and freedom had been resought in vain, when the

slaying of Caesar, the Dictator, seemed to some the vilest, to others,

the most glorious of deeds. "Now," they said, "an aged sovereign,

whose power had lasted long, who had provided his heirs with

abundant means to coerce the State, requires forsooth the defence of

soldiers that his burial may be undisturbed."

Then followed much talk about Augustus himself, and many expressed

an idle wonder that the same day marked the beginning of his

assumption of empire and the close of his life, and, again, that he

had ended his days at Nola in the same house and room as his father

Octavius. People extolled too the number of his consulships, in

which he had equalled Valerius Corvus and Caius Marius combined, the

continuance for thirty-seven years of the tribunitian power, the title

of Imperator twenty-one times earned, and his other honours which

had either frequently repeated or were wholly new. Sensible men,

however, spoke variously of his life with praise and censure. Some

said "that dutiful feeling towards a father, and the necessities of

the State in which laws had then no place, drove him into civil war,

which can neither be planned nor conducted on any right principles. He

had often yielded to Antonius, while he was taking vengeance on his

father's murderers, often also to Lepidus. When the latter sank into

feeble dotage and the former had been ruined by his profligacy, the

only remedy for his distracted country was the rule of a single man.

Yet the State had been organized under the name neither of a kingdom

nor a dictatorship, but under that of a prince. The ocean and remote

rivers were the boundaries of the empire; the legions, provinces,

fleets, all things were linked together; there was law for the

citizens; there was respect shown to the allies. The capital had

been embellished on a grand scale; only in a few instances had he

resorted to force, simply to secure general tranquillity."

It was said, on the other hand, "that filial duty and State

necessity were merely assumed as a mask. It was really from a lust

of sovereignty that he had excited the veterans by bribery, had,

when a young man and a subject, raised an army, tampered with the

Consul's legions, and feigned an attachment to the faction of

Pompeius. Then, when by a decree of the Senate he had usurped the high

functions and authority of Praetor when Hirtius and Pansa were

slain- whether they were destroyed by the enemy, or Pansa by poison

infused into a wound, Hirtius by his own soldiers and Caesar's

treacherous machinations- he at once possessed himself of both their

armies, wrested the consulate from a reluctant Senate, and turned

against the State the arms with which he had been intrusted against

Antonius. Citizens were proscribed, lands divided, without so much

as the approval of those who executed these deeds. Even granting

that the deaths of Cassius and of the Bruti were sacrifices to a

hereditary enmity (though duty requires us to waive private feuds

for the sake of the public welfare), still Pompeius had been deluded

by the phantom of peace, and Lepidus by the mask of friendship.

Subsequently, Antonius had been lured on by the treaties of Tarentum

and Brundisium, and by his marriage with the sister, and paid by his

death the penalty of a treacherous alliance. No doubt, there was peace

after all this, but it was a peace stained with blood; there were

the disasters of Lollius and Varus, the murders at Rome of the Varros,

Egnatii, and Juli."

The domestic life too of Augustus was not spared. "Nero's wife had

been taken from him, and there had been the farce of consulting the

pontiffs, whether, with a child conceived and not yet born, she

could properly marry. There were the excesses of Quintus Tedius and

Vedius Pollio; last of all, there was Livia, terrible to the State

as a mother, terrible to the house of the Caesars as a stepmother.

No honour was left for the gods, when Augustus chose to be himself

worshipped with temples and statues, like those of the deities, and

with flamens and priests. He had not even adopted Tiberius as his

successor out of affection or any regard to the State, but, having

thoroughly seen his arrogant and savage temper, he had sought glory

for himself by a contrast of extreme wickedness." For, in fact,

Augustus, a few years before, when he was a second time asking from

the Senate the tribunitian power for Tiberius, though his speech was

complimentary, had thrown out certain hints as to his manners,

style, and habits of life, which he meant as reproaches, while he

seemed to excuse. However, when his obsequies had been duly performed,

a temple with a religious ritual was decreed him.

After this all prayers were addressed to Tiberius. He, on his

part, urged various considerations, the greatness of the empire, his

distrust of himself. "Only," he said, "the intellect of the Divine

Augustus was equal to such a burden. Called as he had been by him to

share his anxieties, he had learnt by experience how exposed to

fortune's caprices was the task of universal rule. Consequently, in

a state which had the support of so many great men, they should not

put everything on one man, as many, by uniting their efforts would

more easily discharge public functions." There was more grand

sentiment than good faith in such words. Tiberius's language even in

matters which he did not care to conceal, either from nature or habit,

was always hesitating and obscure, and now that he was struggling to

hide his feelings completely, it was all the more involved in

uncertainty and doubt. The Senators, however, whose only fear was lest

they might seem to understand him, burst into complaints, tears, and

prayers. They raised their hands to the gods, to the statue of

Augustus, and to the knees of Tiberius, when he ordered a document

to be produced and read. This contained a description of the resources

of the State, of the number of citizens and allies under arms, of

the fleets, subject kingdoms, provinces, taxes, direct and indirect,

necessary expenses and customary bounties. All these details

Augustus had written with his own hand, and had added a counsel,

that the empire should be confined to its present limits, either

from fear or out of jealousy.

Meantime, while the Senate stooped to the most abject

supplication, Tiberius happened to say that although he was not

equal to the whole burden of the State, yet he would undertake the

charge of whatever part of it might be intrusted to him. Thereupon

Asinius Gallus said, "I ask you, Caesar, what part of the State you

wish to have intrusted to you?" Confounded by the sudden inquiry he

was silent for a few moments; then, recovering his presence of mind,

he replied that it would by no means become his modesty to choose or

to avoid in a case where he would prefer to be wholly excused. Then

Gallus again, who had inferred anger from his looks, said that the

question had not been asked with the intention of dividing what

could not be separated, but to convince him by his own admission

that the body of the State was one, and must be directed by a single

mind. He further spoke in praise of Augustus, and reminded Tiberius

himself of his victories, and of his admirable deeds for many years as

a civilian. Still, he did not thereby soften the emperor's resentment,

for he had long been detested from an impression that, as he had

married Vipsania, daughter of Marcus Agrippa, who had once been the

wife of Tiberius, he aspired to be more than a citizen, and kept up

the arrogant tone of his father, Asinius Pollio.

Next, Lucius Arruntius, who differed but little from the speech of

Gallus, gave like offence, though Tiberius had no old grudge against

him, but simply mistrusted him, because he was rich and daring, had

brilliant accomplishments, and corresponding popularity. For Augustus,

when in his last conversations he was discussing who would refuse

the highest place, though sufficiently capable, who would aspire to it

without being equal to it, and who would unite both the ability and

ambition, had described Marcus Lepidus as able but contemptuously

indifferent, Gallus Asinius as ambitious and incapable, Lucius

Arruntius as not unworthy of it, and, should the chance be given

him, sure to make the venture. About the two first there is a

general agreement, but instead of Arruntius some have mentioned Cneius

Piso, and all these men, except Lepidus, were soon afterwards

destroyed by various charges through the contrivance of Tiberius.

Quintus Haterius too and Mamercus Scaurus ruffled his suspicious

temper, Haterius by having said- "How long, Caesar, will you suffer

the State to be without a head?" Scaurus by the remark that there

was a hope that the Senate's prayers would not be fruitless, seeing

that he had not used his right as Tribune to negative the motion of

the Consuls. Tiberius instantly broke out into invective against

Haterius; Scaurus, with whom he was far more deeply displeased, he

passed over in silence. Wearied at last by the assembly's clamorous

importunity and the urgent demands of individual Senators, he gave way

by degrees, not admitting that he undertook empire, but yet ceasing to

refuse it and to be entreated. It is known that Haterius having

entered the palace to ask pardon, and thrown himself at the knees of

Tiberius as he was walking, was almost killed by the soldiers, because

Tiberius fell forward, accidentally or from being entangled by the

suppliant's hands. Yet the peril of so great a man did not make him

relent, till Haterius went with entreaties to Augusta, and was saved

by her very earnest intercessions.

Great too was the Senate's sycophancy to Augusta. Some would have

her styled "parent"; others "mother of the country," and a majority

proposed that to the name of Caesar should be added "son of Julia."

The emperor repeatedly asserted that there must be a limit to the

honours paid to women, and that he would observe similar moderation in

those bestowed on himself, but annoyed at the invidious proposal,

and indeed regarding a woman's elevation as a slight to himself, he

would not allow so much as a lictor to be assigned her, and forbade

the erection of an altar in memory of her adoption, and any like

distinction. But for Germanicus Caesar he asked pro-consular powers,

and envoys were despatched to confer them on him, and also to

express sympathy with his grief at the death of Augustus. The same

request was not made for Drusus, because he was consul elect and

present at Rome. Twelve candidates were named for the praetorship, the

number which Augustus had handed down, and when the Senate urged

Tiberius to increase it, he bound himself by an oath not to exceed it.

It was then for the first time that the elections were transferred

from the Campus Martius to the Senate. For up to that day, though

the most important rested with the emperor's choice, some were settled

by the partialities of the tribes. Nor did the people complain of

having the right taken from them, except in mere idle talk, and the

Senate, being now released from the necessity of bribery and of

degrading solicitations, gladly upheld the change, Tiberius

confining himself to the recommendation of only four candidates who

were to be nominated without rejection or canvass. Meanwhile the

tribunes of the people asked leave to exhibit at their own expense

games to be named after Augustus and added to the Calendar as the

Augustales. Money was, however, voted from the exchequer, and though

the use of the triumphal robe in the circus was prescribed, it was not

allowed them to ride in a chariot. Soon the annual celebration was

transferred to the praetor, to whose lot fell the administration of

justice between citizens and foreigners.

This was the state of affairs at Rome when a mutiny broke out in the

legions of Pannonia, which could be traced to no fresh cause except

the change of emperors and the prospect it held out of license in

tumult and of profit from a civil war. In the summer camp three

legions were quartered, under the command of Junius Blaesus, who on

hearing of the death of Augustus and the accession of Tiberius, had

allowed his men a rest from military duties, either for mourning or

rejoicing. This was the beginning of demoralization among the

troops, of quarreling, of listening to the talk of every pestilent

fellow, in short, of craving for luxury and idleness and loathing

discipline and toil. In the camp was one Percennius, who had once been

a leader of one of the theatrical factions, then became a common

soldier, had a saucy tongue, and had learnt from his applause of

actors how to stir up a crowd. By working on ignorant minds, which

doubted as to what would be the terms of military service after

Augustus, this man gradually influenced them in conversations at night

or at nightfall, and when the better men had dispersed, he gathered

round him all the worst spirits.

At last, when there were others ready to be abettors of a mutiny, he

asked, in the tone of a demagogue, why, like slaves, they submitted to

a few centurions and still fewer tribunes. "When," he said, "will

you dare to demand relief, if you do not go with your prayers or

arms to a new and yet tottering throne? We have blundered enough by

our tameness for so many years, in having to endure thirty or forty

campaigns till we grow old, most of us with bodies maimed by wounds.

Even dismissal is not the end of our service, but, quartered under a

legion's standard we toil through the same hardships under another

title. If a soldier survives so many risks, he is still dragged into

remote regions where, under the name of lands, he receives soaking

swamps or mountainous wastes. Assuredly, military service itself is

burdensome and unprofitable; ten as a day is the value set on life and

limb; out of this, clothing, arms, tents, as well as the mercy of

centurions and exemptions from duty have to be purchased. But indeed

of floggings and wounds, of hard winters, wearisome summers, of

terrible war, or barren peace, there is no end. Our only relief can

come from military life being entered on under fixed conditions,

from receiving each the pay of a denarius, and from the sixteenth year

terminating our service. We must be retained no longer under a

standard, but in the same camp a compensation in money must be paid

us. Do the praetorian cohorts, which have just got their two denarii

per man, and which after sixteen years are restored to their homes,

encounter more perils? We do not disparage the guards of the

capital; still, here amid barbarous tribes we have to face the enemy

from our tents."

The throng applauded from various motives, some pointing with

indignation to the marks of the lash, others to their grey locks,

and most of them to their threadbare garments and naked limbs. At,

last, in their fury they went so far as to propose to combine the

three legions into one. Driven from their purpose by the jealousy with

which every one sought the chief honour for his own legion, they

turned to other thoughts, and set up in one spot the three eagles,

with the ensigns of the cohorts. At the same time they piled up turf

and raised a mound, that they might have a more conspicuous

meeting-place. Amid the bustle Blaesus came up. He upbraided them

and held back man after man with the exclamation, "Better imbrue

your hands in my blood: it will be less guilt to slay your commander

than it is to be in revolt from the emperor. Either living I will

uphold the loyalty of the legions, or Pierced to the heart I will

hasten on your repentance."

None the less however was the mound piled up, and it was quite

breast high when, at last overcome by his persistency, they gave up

their purpose. Blaesus, with the consummate tact of an orator, said,

"It is not through mutiny and tumult that the desires of the army

ought to be communicated to Caesar, nor did our soldiers of old ever

ask so novel a boon of ancient commanders, nor have you yourselves

asked it of the Divine Augustus. It is far from opportune that the

emperor's cares, now in their first beginning, should be aggravated.

If, however, you are bent upon attempting in peace what even after

your victory in the civil wars you did not demand, why, contrary to

the habit of obedience, contrary to the law of discipline, do you

meditate violence? Decide on sending envoys, and give them

instructions in your presence."

It was carried by acclamation that the son of Blaesus, one of the

tribunes, should undertake the mission, and demand for the soldiers

release from service after sixteen years. He was to have the rest of

their message when the first part had been successful. After the young

man departure there was comparative quiet, but there was an arrogant

tone among the soldiers, to whom the fact that their commander's son

was pleading their common cause clearly showed that they had wrested

by compulsion what they had failed to obtain by good behaviour.

Meanwhile the companies which previous to the mutiny had been sent

to Nauportus to make roads and bridges and for other purposes, when

they heard of the tumult in the camp, tore up the standards, and

having plundered the neighbouring villages and Nauportus itself, which

was like a town, assailed the centurions who restrained them with

jeers and insults, last of all, with blows. Their chief rage was

against Aufidienus Rufus, the camp-prefect, whom they dragged from a

waggon, loaded with baggage, and drove on at the head of the column,

asking him in ridicule whether he liked to bear such huge burdens

and such long marches. Rufus, who had long been a common soldier, then

a centurion, and subsequently camp-prefect, tried to revive the old

severe discipline, inured as he was to work and toil, and all the

sterner because he had endured.

On the arrival of these troops the mutiny broke out afresh, and

straggling from the camp they plundered the neighbourhood. Blaesus

ordered a few who had conspicuously loaded themselves with spoil to be

scourged and imprisoned as a terror to the rest; for, even as it

then was, the commander was still obeyed by the centurions and by

all the best men among the soldiers. As the men were dragged off, they

struggled violently, clasped the knees of the bystanders, called to

their comrades by name, or to the company, cohort, or legion to

which they respectively belonged, exclaiming that all were

threatened with the same fate. At the same time they heaped abuse on

the commander; they appealed to heaven and to the gods, and left

nothing undone by which they might excite resentment and pity, alarm

and rage. They all rushed to the spot, broke open the guardhouse,

unbound the prisoners, and were in a moment fraternising with

deserters and men convicted on capital charges.

Thence arose a more furious outbreak, with more leaders of the

mutiny. Vibulenus, a common soldier, was hoisted in front of the

general's tribunal on the shoulders of the bystanders and addressed

the excited throng, who eagerly awaited his intentions. "You have

indeed," he said, "restored light and air to these innocent and most

unhappy men, but who restores to my brother his life, or my brother to

myself? Sent to you by the German army in our common cause, he was

last night butchered by the gladiators whom the general keeps and arms

for the destruction of his soldiers. Answer, Blaesus, where you have

flung aside the corpse? Even an enemy grudges not burial. When, with

embraces and tears, I have sated my grief, order me also to be

slain, provided only that when we have been destroyed for no crime,

but only because we consulted the good of the legions, we may be

buried by these men around me."

He inflamed their excitement by weeping and smiting his breast and

face with his hands. Then, hurling aside those who bore him on their

shoulders, and impetuously flinging himself at the feet of one man

after another, he roused such dismay and indignation that some of

the soldiers put fetters on the gladiators who were among the number

of Blaesus's slaves, others did the like to the rest of his household,

while a third party hurried out to look for the corpse. And had it not

quickly been known that no corpse was found, that the slaves, when

tortures were applied, denied the murder, and that the man never had a

brother, they would have been on the point of destroying the

general. As it was, they thrust out the tribunes and the camp-prefect;

they plundered the baggage of the fugitives, and they killed a

centurion, Lucilius, to whom, with soldiers' humour, they had given

the name "Bring another," because when he had broken one vine-stick on

a man's back, he would call in a loud voice for another and another.

The rest sheltered themselves in concealment, and one only was

detained, Clemens Julius, whom the soldiers considered a fit person to

carry messages, from his ready wit. Two legions, the eighth and the

fifteenth, were actually drawing swords against each other, the former

demanding the death of a centurion, whom they nicknamed Sirpicus,

while the men of the fifteenth defended him, but the soldiers of the

ninth interposed their entreaties, and when these were disregarded,

their menaces.

This intelligence had such an effect on Tiberius, close as he was,

and most careful to hush up every very serious disaster, that he

despatched his son Drusus with the leading men of the State and with

two praetorian cohorts, without any definite instructions, to take

suitable measures. The cohorts were strengthened beyond their usual

force with some picked troops. There was in addition a considerable

part of the Praetorian cavalry, and the flower of the German soldiery,

which was then the emperor's guard. With them too was the commander of

the praetorians, Aelius Sejanus, who had been associated with his

own father, Strabo, had great influence with Tiberius, and was to

advise and direct the young prince, and to hold out punishment or

reward to the soldiers. When Drusus approached, the legions, as a mark

of respect, met him, not as usual, with glad looks or the glitter of

military decorations, but in unsightly squalor, and faces which,

though they simulated grief, rather expressed defiance.

As soon as he entered the entrenchments, they secured the gates with

sentries, and ordered bodies of armed men to be in readiness at

certain points of the camp. The rest crowded round the general's

tribunal in a dense mass. Drusus stood there, and with a gesture of

his hand demanded silence. As often as they turned their eyes back

on the throng, they broke into savage exclamations, then looking up to

Drusus they trembled. There was a confused hum, a fierce shouting, and

a sudden lull. Urged by conflicting emotions, they felt panic and they

caused the like. At last, in an interval of the uproar, Drusus read

his father's letter, in which it was fully stated that he had a

special care for the brave legions with which he had endured a

number of campaigns; that, as soon as his mind had recovered from

its grief, he would lay their demands before the Senators; that

meanwhile he had sent his son to concede unhesitatingly what could

be immediately granted, and that the rest must be reserved for the

Senate, which ought to have a voice in showing either favour or


The crowd replied that they had delivered their instructions to

Clemens, one of the centurions, which he was to convey to Rome. He

began to speak of the soldiers' discharge after sixteen years, of

the rewards of completed service, of the daily pay being a denarius,

and of the veterans not being detained under a standard. When Drusus

pleaded in answer reference to the Senate and to his father, he was

interrupted by a tumultuous shout. "Why had he come, neither to

increase the soldiers' pay, nor to alleviate their hardships, in a

word, with no power to better their lot? Yet heaven knew that all were

allowed to scourge and to execute. Tiberius used formerly in the

name of Augustus to frustrate the wishes of the legions, and the

same tricks were now revived by Drusus. Was it only sons who were to

visit them? Certainly, it was a new thing for the emperor to refer

to the Senate merely what concerned the soldier's interests. Was

then the same Senate to be consulted whenever notice was given of an

execution or of a battle? Were their rewards to be at the discretion

of absolute rulers, their punishments to be without appeal?"

At last they deserted the general's tribunal, and to any

praetorian soldier or friend of Caesar's who met them, they used those

threatening gestures which are the cause of strife and the beginning

of a conflict, with special rage against Cneius Lentulus, because they

thought that he above all others, by his age and warlike renown,

encouraged Drusus, and was the first to scorn such blots on military

discipline. Soon after, as he was leaving with Drusus to betake

himself in foresight of his danger to the winter can they surrounded

him, and asked him again and again whither he was going; was it to the

emperor or to the Senate, there also to oppose the interests of the

legions. At the same moment they menaced him savagely and flung

stones. And now, bleeding from a blow, and feeling destruction

certain, he was rescued by the hurried arrival of the throng which had

accompanied Drusus.

That terrible night which threatened an explosion of crime was

tranquillised by a mere accident. Suddenly in a clear sky the moon's

radiance seemed to die away. This the soldiers in their ignorance of

the cause regarded as an omen of their condition, comparing the

failure of her light to their own efforts, and imagining that their

attempts would end prosperously should her brightness and splendour be

restored to the goddess. And so they raised a din with brazen

instruments and the combined notes of trumpets and horns, with joy

or sorrow, as she brightened or grew dark. When clouds arose and

obstructed their sight, and it was thought she was buried in the

gloom, with that proneness to superstition which steals over minds

once thoroughly cowed, they lamented that this was a portent of

never-ending hardship, and that heaven frowned on their deeds.

Drusus, thinking that he ought to avail himself of this change in

their temper and turn what chance had offered to a wise account,

ordered the tents to be visited. Clemens, the centurion was summoned

with all others who for their good qualities were liked by the

common soldiers. These men made their way among the patrols,

sentries and guards of the camp-gates, suggesting hope or holding

out threats. "How long will you besiege the emperor's son? What is

to be the end of our strifes? Will Percennius and Vibulenus give pay

to the soldiers and land to those who have earned their discharge?

In a word, are they, instead of the Neros and the Drusi, to control

the empire of the Roman people? Why are we not rather first in our

repentance as we were last in the offence? Demands made in common

are granted slowly; a separate favour you may deserve and receive at

the same moment."

With minds affected by these words and growing mutually

suspicious, they divided off the new troops from the old, and one

legion from another. Then by degrees the instinct of obedience

returned. They quitted the gates and restored to their places the

standards which at the beginning of the mutiny they had grouped into

one spot.

At daybreak Drusus called them to an assembly, and, though not a

practised speaker, yet with natural dignity upbraided them for their

past and commended their present behaviour. He was not, he said, to be

conquered by terror or by threats. Were he to see them inclining to

submission and hear the language of entreaty, he would write to his

father, that he might be merciful and receive the legions' petition.

At their prayer, Blaesus and Lucius Apronius, a Roman knight on

Drusus's staff, with Justus Catonius, a first-rank centurion, were

again sent to Tiberius. Then ensued a conflict of opinion among

them, some maintaining that it was best to wait the envoys' return and

meanwhile humour the soldiers, others, that stronger measures ought to

be used, inasmuch as the rabble knows no mean, and inspires fear,

unless they are afraid, though when they have once been overawed, they

can be safely despised. "While superstition still swayed them, the

general should apply terror by removing the leaders of the mutiny."

Drusus's temper was inclined to harsh measures. He summoned

Vibulenus and Percennius and ordered them to be put to death. The

common account is that they were buried in the general's tent,

though according to some their bodies were flung outside the

entrenchments for all to see.

Search was then made for all the chief mutineers. Some as they

roamed outside the camp were cut down by the centurions or by soldiers

of the praetorian cohorts. Some even the companies gave up in proof of

their loyalty. The men's troubles were increased by an early winter

with continuous storms so violent that they could not go beyond

their tents or meet together or keep the standards in their places,

from which they were perpetually tom by hurricane and rain. And

there still lingered the dread of the divine wrath; nor was it without

meaning, they thought, that, hostile to an impious host, the stars

grew dim and storms burst over them. Their only relief from misery was

to quit an ill-omened and polluted camp, and, having purged themselves

of their guilt, to betake themselves again every one to his

winterquarters. First the eighth, then the fifteenth legion

returned; the ninth cried again and again that they ought to wait

for the letter from Tiberius, but soon finding themselves isolated

by the departure of the rest, they voluntarily forestalled their

inevitable fate. Drusus, without awaiting the envoys' return, as for

the present all was quiet, went back to Rome.

About the same time, from the same causes, the legions of Germany

rose in mutiny, with a fury proportioned to their greater numbers,

in the confident hope that Germanicus Caesar would not be able to

endure another's supremacy and offer himself to the legions, whose

strength would carry everything before it. There were two armies on

the bank of the Rhine; that named the upper army had Caius Silius

for general; the lower was under the charge of Aulus Caecina. The

supreme direction rested with Germanicus, then busily employed in

conducting the assessment of Gaul. The troops under the control of

Silius, with minds yet in suspense, watched the issue of mutiny

elsewhere; but the soldiers of the lower army fell into a frenzy,

which had its beginning in the men of the twenty-first and fifth

legions, and into which the first and twentieth were also drawn. For

they were all quartered in the same summer-camp, in the territory of

the Ubii, enjoying ease or having only light on hearing of the death

of Augustus, a rabble of city slaves, who had been enlisted under a

recent levy at Rome, habituated to laxity and impatient of hardship,

filled the ignorant minds of the other soldiers with notions that

the time had come when the veteran might demand a timely discharge,

the young, more liberal pay, all, an end of their miseries, and

vengeance on the cruelty of centurions.

It was not one alone who spoke thus, as did Percennius among the

legions of Pannonia, nor was it in the ears of trembling soldiers, who

looked with apprehension to other and mightier armies, but there was

sedition in many a face and voice. "The Roman world," they said, was

in their hand; their victories aggrandised the State; it was from them

that emperors received their titles."

Nor did their commander check them. Indeed, the blind rage of so

many had robbed him of his resolution., In a sudden frenzy they rushed

with drawn swords on the centurions, the immemorial object of the

soldiers' resentment and the first cause of savage fury. They threw

them to the earth and beat them sorely, sixty to one, so as to

correspond with the number of centurions. Then tearing them from the

ground, mangled, and some lifeless, they flung them outside the

entrenchments or into the river Rhine. One Septimius, who fled to

the tribunal and was grovelling at Caecina's feet, was persistently

demanded till he was given up to destruction. Cassius Chaerea, who won

for himself a memory with posterity by the murder of Caius Caesar,

being then a youth of high spirit, cleared a passage with his sword

through the armed and opposing throng. Neither tribune nor

camp-prefect maintained authority any longer. Patrols, sentries, and

whatever else the needs of the time required, were distributed by

the men themselves. To those who could guess the temper of soldiers

with some penetration, the strongest symptom of a wide-spread and

intractable commotion, was the fact that, instead of being divided

or instigated by a few persons, they were unanimous in their fury

and equally unanimous in their composure, with so uniform a

consistency that one would have thought them to be under command.

Meantime Germanicus, while, as I have related, he was collecting the

taxes of Gaul, received news of the death of Augustus. He was

married to the granddaughter of Augustus, Agrippina, by whom he had

several children, and though he was himself the son of Drusus, brother

of Tiberius, and grandson of Augusta, he was troubled by the secret

hatred of his uncle and grandmother, the motives for which were the

more venomous because unjust. For the memory of Drusus was held in

honour by the Roman people, and they believed that had he obtained

empire, he would have restored freedom. Hence they regarded Germanicus

with favour and with the same hope. He was indeed a young man of

unaspiring temper, and of wonderful kindliness, contrasting strongly

with the proud and mysterious reserve that marked the conversation and

the features of Tiberius. Then, there were feminine jealousies,

Livia feeling a stepmother's bitterness towards Agrippina, and

Agrippina herself too being rather excitable, only her purity and love

of her husband gave a right direction to her otherwise imperious


But the nearer Germanicus was to the highest hope, the more

laboriously did he exert himself for Tiberius, and he made the

neighbouring Sequani and all the Belgic states swear obedience to him.

On hearing of the mutiny in the legions, he instantly went to the

spot, and met them outside the camp, eyes fixed on the ground, and

seemingly repentant. As soon as he entered the entrenchments, confused

murmurs became audible. Some men, seizing his hand under pretence of

kissing it, thrust his fingers into their mouths, that he might

touch their toothless gums; others showed him their limbs bowed with

age. He ordered the throng which stood near him, as it seemed a

promiscuous gathering, to separate itself into its military companies.

They replied that they would hear better as they were. The standards

were then to be advanced, so that thus at least the cohorts might be

distinguished. The soldiers obeyed reluctantly. Then beginning with

a reverent mention of Augustus, he passed on to the victories and

triumphs of Tiberius, dwelling with especial praise on his glorious

achievements with those legions in Germany. Next, he extolled the

unity of Italy, the loyalty of Gaul, the entire absence of

turbulence or strife. He was heard in silence or with but a slight


As soon as he touched on the mutiny and asked what had become of

soldierly obedience, of the glory of ancient discipline, whither

they had driven their tribunes and centurions, they all bared their

bodies and taunted him with the scars of their wounds and the marks of

the lash. And then with confused exclamations they spoke bitterly of

the prices of exemptions, of their scanty pay, of the severity of

their tasks, with special mention of the entrenchment, the fosse,

the conveyance of fodder, building-timber, firewood, and whatever else

had to be procured from necessity, or as a check on idleness in the

camp. The fiercest clamour arose from the veteran soldiers, who, as

they counted their thirty campaigns or more, implored him to relieve

worn-out men, and not let them die under the same hardships, but

have an end of such harassing service, and repose without beggary.

Some even claimed the legacy of the Divine Augustus, with words of

good omen for Germanicus, and, should he wish for empire, they

showed themselves abundantly willing. Thereupon, as though he were

contracting the pollution of guilt, he leapt impetuously from the

tribunal. The men opposed his departure with their weapons,

threatening him repeatedly if he would not go back. But Germanicus

protesting that he would die rather than cast off his loyalty, plucked

his sword from his side, raised it aloft and was plunging it into

his breast, when those nearest him seized his hand and held it by

force. The remotest and most densely crowded part of the throng,

and, what almost passes belief, some, who came close up to him,

urged him to strike the blow, and a soldier, by name Calusidius,

offered him a drawn sword, saying that it was sharper than his own.

Even in their fury, this seemed to them a savage act and one of evil

precedent, and there was a pause during which Caesar's friends hurried

him into his tent.

There they took counsel how to heal matters. For news was also

brought that the soldiers were preparing the despatch of envoys who

were to draw the upper army into their cause; that the capital of

the Ubii was marked out for destruction, and that hands with the stain

of plunder on them would soon be daring enough for the pillage of

Gaul. The alarm was heightened by the knowledge that the enemy was

aware of the Roman mutiny, and would certainly attack if the Rhine

bank were undefended. Yet if the auxiliary troops and allies were to

be armed against the retiring legions, civil war was in fact begun.

Severity would be dangerous; profuse liberality would be scandalous.

Whether all or nothing were conceded to the soldiery, the State was

equally in jeopardy.

Accordingly, having weighed their plans one against each other, they

decided that a letter should be written in the prince's name, to the

effect that full discharge was granted to those who had served in

twenty campaigns; that there was a conditional release for those who

had served sixteen, and that they were to be retained under a standard

with immunity from everything except actually keeping off the enemy;

that the legacies which they had asked, were to be paid and doubled.

The soldiers perceived that all this was invented for the

occasion, and instantly pressed their demands. The discharge from

service was quickly arranged by the tribunes. Payment was put off till

they reached their respective winterquarters. The men of the fifth and

twenty-first legions refused to go till in the summer-camp where

they stood the money was made up out of the purses of Germanicus

himself and his friends, and paid in full. The first and twentieth

legions were led back by their officer Caecina to the canton of the

Ubii, marching in disgrace, since sums of money which had been

extorted from the general were carried among the eagles and standards.

Germanicus went to the Upper Army, and the second, thirteenth, and

sixteenth legions, without any delay, accepted from him the oath of

allegiance. The fourteenth hesitated a little, but their money and the

discharge were offered even without their demanding it.

Meanwhile there was an outbreak among the Chauci, begun by some

veterans of the mutinous legions on garrison duty. They were quelled

for a time by the instant execution of two soldiers. Such was the

order of Mennius, the camp-prefect, more as a salutary warning than as

a legal act. Then, when the commotion increased, he fled and having

been discovered, as his hiding place was now unsafe, he borrowed a

resource from audacity. "It was not," he told them, "the camp-prefect,

it was Germanicus, their general, it was Tiberius, their emperor, whom

they were insulting." At the same moment, overawing all resistance, he

seized the standard, faced round towards the river-bank, and

exclaiming that whoever left the ranks, he would hold as a deserter,

he led them back into their winter-quarters, disaffected indeed, but


Meanwhile envoys from the Senate had an interview with Germanicus,

who had now returned, at the Altar of the Ubii. Two legions, the first

and twentieth, with veterans discharged and serving under a

standard, were there in winter-quarters. In the bewilderment of terror

and conscious guilt they were penetrated by an apprehension that

persons had come at the Senate's orders to cancel the concessions they

had extorted by mutiny. And as it is the way with a mob to fix any

charge, however groundless, on some particular person, they reproached

Manatius Plancus, an ex-consul and the chief envoy, with being the

author of the Senate's decree. At midnight they began to demand the

imperial standard kept in Germanicus's quarters, and having rushed

together to the entrance, burst the door, dragged Caesar from his bed,

and forced him by menaces of death to give up the standard. Then

roaming through the camp-streets, they met the envoys, who on

hearing of the tumult were hastening to Germanicus. They loaded them

with insults, and were on the point of murdering them, Plancus

especially, whose high rank had deterred him from flight. In his peril

he found safety only in the camp of the first legion. There clasping

the standards and the eagle, he sought to protect himself under

their sanctity. And had not the eagle-bearer, Calpurnius, saved him

from the worst violence, the blood of an envoy of the Roman people, an

occurrence rare even among our foes, would in a Roman camp have

stained the altars of the gods.

At last, with the light of day, when the general and the soldiers

and the whole affair were clearly recognised, Germanicus entered the

camp, ordered Plancus to be conducted to him, and received him on

the tribunal. He then upbraided them with their fatal infatuation,

revived not so much by the anger of the soldiers as by that of heaven,

and explained the reasons of the envoys' arrival. On the rights of

ambassadors, on the dreadful and undeserved peril of Plancus, and also

on the disgrace into which the legion had brought itself, he dwelt

with the eloquence of pity, and while the throng was confounded rather

than appeased, he dismissed the envoys with an escort of auxiliary


Amid the alarm all condemned Germanicus for not going to the Upper

Army, where he might find obedience and help against the rebels.

"Enough and more than enough blunders," they said, "had been made by

granting discharges and money, indeed, by conciliatory measures.

Even if Germanicus held his own life cheap, why should he keep a

little son and a pregnant wife among madmen who outraged every human

right? Let these, at least, be restored safely to their grandsire

and to the State."

When his wife spurned the notion, protesting that she was a

descendant of the Divine Augustus and could face peril with no

degenerate spirit, he at last embraced her and the son of their love

with many tears, and after long delay compelled her to depart.

Slowly moved along a pitiable procession of women, a general's

fugitive wife with a little son in her bosom, her friends' wives

weeping round her, as with her they were dragging themselves from

the camp. Not less sorrowful were those who remained.

There was no appearance of the triumphant general about

Germanicus, and he seemed to be in a conquered city rather than in his

own camp, while groans and wailings attracted the ears and looks

even of the soldiers. They came out of their tents, asking "what was

that mournful sound? What meant the sad sight? Here were ladies of

rank, not a centurion to escort them, not a soldier, no sign of a

prince's wife, none of the usual retinue. Could they be going to the

Treveri, to be subjects of the foreigner?" Then they felt shame and

pity, and remembered his father Agrippa, her grandfather Augustus, her

father-in-law Drusus, her own glory as a mother of children, her noble

purity. And there was her little child too, born in the camp,

brought up amid the tents of the legions, whom they used to call in

soldiers' fashion, Caligula, because he often wore the shoe so called,

to win the men's goodwill. But nothing moved them so much as

jealousy towards the Treveri. They entreated, stopped the way, that

Agrippina might return and remain, some running to meet her, while

most of them went back to Germanicus. He, with a grief and anger

that were yet fresh, thus began to address the throng around him-

"Neither wife nor son are dearer to me than my father and the State.

But he will surely have the protection of his own majesty, the

empire of Rome that of our other armies. My wife and children whom,

were it a question of your glory, I would willingly expose to

destruction, I now remove to a distance from your fury, so that

whatever wickedness is thereby threatened, may be expiated by my blood

only, and that you may not be made more guilty by the slaughter of a

great-grandson of Augustus, and the murder of a daughter-in-law of

Tiberius. For what have you not dared, what have you not profaned

during these days? What name shall I give to this gathering? Am I to

call you soldiers, you who have beset with entrenchments and arms your

general's son, or citizens, when you have trampled under foot the

authority of the Senate? Even the rights of public enemies, the sacred

character of the ambassador, and the law of nations have been violated

by you. The Divine Julius once quelled an army's mutiny with a

single word by calling those who were renouncing their military

obedience 'citizens.' The Divine Augustus cowed the legions who had

fought at Actium with one look of his face. Though I am not yet what

they were, still, descended as I am from them, it would be a strange

and unworthy thing should I be spurned by the soldiery of Spain or

Syria. First and twentieth legions, you who received your standards

from Tiberius, you, men of the twentieth who have shared with me so

many battles and have been enriched with so many rewards, is not

this a fine gratitude with which you are repaying your general? Are

these the tidings which I shall have to carry to my father when he

hears only joyful intelligence from our other provinces, that his

own recruits, his own veterans are not satisfied with discharge or

pay; that here only centurions are murdered, tribunes driven away,

envoys imprisoned, camps and rivers stained with blood, while I am

myself dragging on a precarious existence amid those who hate me?

"Why, on the first day of our meeting, why did you, my friends,

wrest from me, in your blindness, the steel which I was preparing to

plunge into my breast? Better and more loving was the act of the man

who offered me the sword. At any rate I should have perished before

I was as yet conscious of all the disgraces of my army, while you

would have chosen a general who though he might allow my death to pass

unpunished would avenge the death of Varus and his three legions.

Never indeed may heaven suffer the Belgae, though they proffer their

aid, to have the glory and honour of having rescued the name of Rome

and quelled the tribes of Germany. It is thy spirit, Divine

Augustus, now received into heaven, thine image, father Drusus, and

the remembrance of thee, which, with these same soldiers who are now

stimulated by shame and ambition, should wipe out this blot and turn

the wrath of civil strife to the destruction of the foe. You too, in

whose faces and in whose hearts I perceive a change, if only you

restore to the Senate their envoys, to the emperor his due allegiance,

to myself my wife and son, do you stand aloof from pollution and

separate the mutinous from among you. This will be a pledge of your

repentance, a guarantee of your loyalty."

Thereupon, as suppliants confessing that his reproaches were true,

they implored him to punish the guilty, pardon those who had erred,

and lead them against the enemy. And he was to recall his wife, to let

the nursling of the legions return and not be handed over as a hostage

to the Gauls. As to Agrippina's return, he made the excuse of her

approaching confinement and of winter. His son, he said, would come,

and the rest they might settle themselves. Away they hurried hither

and thither, altered men, and dragged the chief mutineers in chains to

Caius Caetronius commander of the first legion, who tried and punished

them one by one in the following fashion. In front of the throng stood

the legions with drawn swords. Each accused man was on a raised

platform and was pointed out by a tribune. If they shouted out that he

was guilty, he was thrown headlong and cut to pieces. The soldiers

gloated over the bloodshed as though it gave them absolution. Nor

did Caesar check them, seeing that without any order from himself

the same men were responsible for all the cruelty and all the odium of

the deed.

The example was followed by the veterans, who were soon afterwards

sent into Raetia, nominally to defend the province against a

threatened invasion of the Suevi but really that they might tear

themselves from a camp stamped with the horror of a dreadful remedy no

less than with the memory of guilt. Then the general revised the

list of centurions. Each, at his summons, stated his name, his rank,

his birthplace, the number of his campaigns, what brave deeds he had

done in battle, his military rewards, if any. If the tribunes and

the legion commended his energy and good behaviour, he retained his

rank; where they unanimously charged him with rapacity or cruelty,

he was dismissed the service.

Quiet being thus restored for the present, a no less formidable

difficulty remained through the turbulence of the fifth and

twenty-first legions, who were in winter quarters sixty miles away

at Old Camp, as the place was called. These, in fact, had been the

first to begin the mutiny, and the most atrocious deeds had been

committed by their hands. Unawed by the punishment of their

comrades, and unmoved by their contrition, they still retained their

resentment. Caesar accordingly proposed to send an armed fleet with

some of our allies down the Rhine, resolved to make war on them should

they reject his authority.

At Rome, meanwhile, when the result of affairs in Illyrium was not

yet known, and men had heard of the commotion among the German

legions, the citizens in alarm reproached Tiberius for the

hypocritical irresolution with which he was befooling the senate and

the people, feeble and disarmed as they were, while the soldiery

were all the time in revolt, and could not be quelled by the yet

imperfectly-matured authority of two striplings. "He ought to have

gone himself and confronted with his imperial majesty those who

would have soon yielded, when they once saw a sovereign of long

experience, who was the supreme dispenser of rigour or of bounty.

Could Augustus, with the feebleness of age on him, so often visit

Germany, and is Tiberius, in the vigour of life, to sit in the

Senate and criticise its members' words? He had taken good care that

there should be slavery at Rome; he should now apply some soothing

medicine to the spirit of soldiers, that they might be willing to

endure peace."

Notwithstanding these remonstrances, it was the inflexible purpose

of Tiberius not to quit the head-quarters of empire or to imperil

himself and the State. Indeed, many conflicting thoughts troubled him.

The army in Germany was the stronger; that in Pannonia the nearer; the

first was supported by all the strength of Gaul; the latter menaced

Italy. Which was he to prefer, without the fear that those whom he

slighted would be infuriated by the affront? But his sons might

alike visit both, and not compromise the imperial dignity, which

inspired the greatest awe at a distance. There was also an excuse

for mere youths referring some matters to their father, with the

possibility that he could conciliate or crush those who resisted

Germanicus or Drusus. What resource remained, if they despised the

emperor? However, as if on the eve of departure, he selected his

attendants, provided his camp-equipage, and prepared a fleet; then

winter and matters of business were the various pretexts with which he

amused, first, sensible men, then the populace, last, and longest of

all, the provinces.

Germanicus meantime, though he had concentrated his army and

prepared vengeance against the mutineers, thought that he ought

still to allow them an interval, in case they might, with the late

warning before them, regard their safety. He sent a despatch to

Caecina, which said that he was on the way with a strong force, and

that, unless they forestalled his arrival by the execution of the

guilty, he would resort to an indiscriminate massacre. Caecina read

the letter confidentially to the eagle and standardbearers, and to all

in the camp who were least tainted by disloyalty, and urged them to

save the whole army from disgrace, and themselves from destruction.

"In peace," he said, "the merits of a man's case are carefully

weighed; when war bursts on us, innocent and guilty alike perish."

Upon this, they sounded those whom they thought best for their

purpose, and when they saw that a majority of their legions remained

loyal, at the commander's suggestion they fixed a time for falling

with the sword on all the vilest and foremost of the mutineers.

Then, at a mutually given signal, they rushed into the tents, and

butchered the unsuspecting men, none but those in the secret knowing

what was the beginning or what was to be the end of the slaughter.

The scene was a contrast to all civil wars which have ever occurred.

It was not in battle, it was not from opposing camps, it was from

those same dwellings where day saw them at their common meals, night

resting from labour, that they divided themselves into two factions,

and showered on each other their missiles. Uproar, wounds,

bloodshed, were everywhere visible; the cause was a mystery. All

else was at the disposal of chance. Even some loyal men were slain,

for, on its being once understood who were the objects of fury, some

of the worst mutineers too had seized on weapons. Neither commander

nor tribune was present to control them; the men were allowed

license and vengeance to their heart's content. Soon afterwards

Germanicus entered the camp, and exclaiming with a flood of tears,

that this was destruction rather than remedy, ordered the bodies to be


Even then their savage spirit was seized with desire to march

against the enemy, as an atonement for their frenzy, and it was felt

that the shades of their fellow-soldiers could be appeased only by

exposing such impious breasts to honourable scars. Caesar followed

up the enthusiasm of the men, and having bridged over the Rhine, he

sent across it 12,000 from the legions, with six-and-twenty allied

cohorts, and eight squadrons of cavalry, whose discipline had been

without a stain during the mutiny.

There was exultation among the Germans, not far off, as long as we

were detained by the public mourning for the loss of Augustus, and

then by our dissensions. But the Roman general in a forced march,

cut through the Caesian forest and the barrier which had been begun by

Tiberius, and pitched his camp on this barrier, his front and rear

being defended by intrenchments, his flanks by timber barricades. He

then penetrated some forest passes but little known, and, as there

were two routes, he deliberated whether he should pursue the short and

ordinary route, or that which was more difficult unexplored, and

consequently unguarded by the enemy. He chose the longer way, and

hurried on every remaining preparation, for his scouts had brought

word that among the Germans it was a night of festivity, with games,

and one of their grand banquets. Caecina had orders to advance with

some light cohorts, and to clear away any obstructions from the woods.

The legions followed at a moderate interval. They were helped by a

night of bright starlight, reached the villages of the Marsi, and

threw their pickets round the enemy, who even then were stretched on

beds or at their tables, without the least fear, or any sentries

before their camp, so complete was their carelessness and disorder;

and of war indeed there was no apprehension. Peace it certainly was

not- merely the languid and heedless ease of half-intoxicated people.

Caesar, to spread devastation widely, divided his eager legions into

four columns, and ravaged a space of fifty miles with fire and

sword. Neither sex nor age moved his compassion. Everything, sacred or

profane, the temple too of Tamfana, as they called it, the special

resort of all those tribes, was levelled to the ground. There was

not a wound among our soldiers, who cut down a half-asleep, an

unarmed, or a straggling foe. The Bructeri, Tubantes, and Usipetes,

were roused by this slaughter, and they beset the forest passes

through which the army had to return. The general knew this, and he

marched, prepared both to advance and to fight. Part of the cavalry,

and some of the auxiliary cohorts led the van; then came the first

legion, and, with the baggage in the centre, the men of the

twenty-first closed up the left, those of the fifth, the right

flank. The twentieth legion secured the rear, and, next, were the rest

of the allies.

Meanwhile the enemy moved not till the army began to defile in

column through the woods, then made slight skirmishing attacks on

its flanks and van, and with his whole force charged the rear. The

light cohorts were thrown into confusion by the dense masses of the

Germans, when Caesar rode up to the men of the twentieth legion, and

in a loud voice exclaimed that this was the time for wiping out the

mutiny. "Advance," he said, "and hasten to turn your guilt into

glory." This fired their courage, and at a single dash they broke

through the enemy, and drove him back with great slaughter into the

open country. At the same moment the troops of the van emerged from

the woods and intrenched a camp. After this their march was

uninterrupted, and the soldiery, with the confidence of recent

success, and forgetful of the past, were placed in winter-quarters.

The news was a source of joy and also of anxiety to Tiberius. He

rejoiced that the mutiny was crushed, but the fact that Germanicus had

won the soldiers' favour by lavishing money, and promptly granting the

discharge, as well as his fame as a soldier, annoyed him. Still, he

brought his achievements under the notice of the Senate, and spoke

much of his greatness in language elaborated for effect, more so

than could be believed to come from his inmost heart. He bestowed a

briefer praise on Drusus, and on the termination of the disturbance in

Illyricum, but he was more earnest, and his speech more hearty. And he

confirmed, too, in the armies of Pannonia all the concessions of


That same year Julia ended her days. For her profligacy she had

formerly been confined by her father Augustus in the island of

Pandateria, and then in the town of the Regini on the shores of the

straits of Sicily. She had been the wife of Tiberius while Caius and

Lucius Caesar were in their glory, and had disdained him as an unequal

match. This was Tiberius's special reason for retiring to Rhodes. When

he obtained the empire, he left her in banishment and disgrace,

deprived of all hope after the murder of Postumus Agrippa, and let her

perish by a lingering death of destitution, with the idea that an

obscurity would hang over her end from the length of her exile. He had

a like motive for cruel vengeance on Sempronius Gracchus, a man of

noble family, of shrewd understanding, and a perverse eloquence, who

had seduced this same Julia when she was the wife of Marcus Agrippa.

And this was not the end of the intrigue. When she had been handed

over to Tiberius, her persistent paramour inflamed her with

disobedience and hatred towards her husband; and a letter which

Julia wrote to her father, Augustus, inveighing against Tiberius,

was supposed to be the composition of Gracchus. He was accordingly

banished to Cercina, where he endured an exile of fourteen years. Then

the soldiers who were sent to slay him, found him on a promontory,

expecting no good. On their arrival, he begged a brief interval in

which to give by letter his last instructions to his wife Alliaria,

and then offered his neck to the executioners, dying with a courage

not unworthy of the Sempronian name, which his degenerate life had

dishonoured. Some have related that these soldiers were not sent

from Rome, but by Lucius Asprenas, proconsul of Africa, on the

authority of Tiberius, who had vainly hoped that the infamy of the

murder might be shifted on Asprenas.

The same year witnessed the establishment of religious ceremonies in

a new priesthood of the brotherhood of the Augustales, just as in

former days Titus Tatius, to retain the rites of the Sabines, had

instituted the Titian brotherhood. Twenty-one were chosen by lot

from the chief men of the State; Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius, and

Germanicus, were added to the number. The Augustal game's which were

then inaugurated, were disturbed by quarrels arising out of rivalry

between the actors. Augustus had shown indulgence to the entertainment

by way of humouring Maecenas's extravagant passion for Bathyllus,

nor did he himself dislike such amusements, and he thought it

citizenlike to mingle in the pleasures of the populace. Very different

was the tendency of Tiberius's character. But a people so many years

indulgently treated, he did not yet venture to put under harsher


In the consulship of Drusus Caesar and Caius Norbanus, Germanicus

had a triumph decreed him, though war still lasted. And though it

was for the summer campaign that he was most vigorously preparing,

he anticipated it by a sudden inroad on the Chatti in the beginning of

spring. There had, in fact, sprung up a hope of the enemy being

divided between Arminius and Segestes, famous, respectively, for

treachery and loyalty towards us. Arminius was the disturber of

Germany. Segestes often revealed the fact that a rebellion was being

organized, more especially at that last banquet after which they

rushed to arms, and he urged Varus to arrest himself and Arminius

and all the other chiefs, assuring him that the people would attempt

nothing if the leading men were removed, and that he would then have

an opportunity of sifting accusations and distinguishing the innocent.

But Varus fell by fate and by the sword of Arminius, with whom

Segestes, though dragged into war by the unanimous voice of the

nation, continued to be at feud, his resentment being heightened by

personal motives, as Arminius had married his daughter who was

betrothed to another. With a son-in-law detested, and fathers-in-law

also at enmity, what are bonds of love between united hearts became

with bitter foes incentives to fury.

Germanicus accordingly gave Caecina four legions, five thousand

auxiliaries, with some hastily raised levies from the Germans dwelling

on the left bank of the Rhine. He was himself at the head of an

equal number of legions and twice as many allies. Having established a

fort on the site of his father's entrenchments on Mount Taunus he

hurried his troops in quick marching order against the Chatti, leaving

Lucius Apronius to direct works connected with roads and bridges. With

a dry season and comparatively shallow streams, a rare circumstance in

that climate, he had accomplished, without obstruction, rapid march,

and he feared for his return heavy rains and swollen rivers. But so

suddenly did he come on the Chatti that all the helpless from age or

sex were at once captured or slaughtered. Their able-bodied men had

swum across the river Adrana, and were trying to keep back the

Romans as they were commencing a bridge. Subsequently they were driven

back by missiles and arrows, and having in vain attempted for peace,

some took refuge with Germanicus, while the rest leaving their cantons

and villages dispersed themselves in their forests.

After burning Mattium, the capital of the tribe, and ravaging the

open country, Germanicus marched back towards the Rhine, the enemy not

daring to harass the rear of the retiring army, which was his usual

practice whenever he fell back by way of stratagem rather than from

panic. It had been the intention of the Cherusci to help the Chatti;

but Caecina thoroughly cowed them, carrying his arms everywhere, and

the Marsi who ventured to engage him, he repulsed in a successful


Not long after envoys came from Segestes, imploring aid against

the violence of his fellow-countrymen, by whom he was hemmed in, and

with whom Arminius had greater influence, because he counselled war.

For with barbarians, the more eager a man's daring, the more does he

inspire confidence, and the more highly is he esteemed in times of

revolution. With the envoys Segestes had associated his son, by name

Segimundus, but the youth hung back from a consciousness of guilt. For

in the year of the revolt of Germany he had been appointed a priest at

the altar of the Ubii, and had rent the sacred garlands, and fled to

the rebels. Induced, however, to hope for mercy from Rome, he

brought his father's message; he was graciously received and sent with

an escort to the Gallic bank of the Rhine.

It was now worth while for Germanicus to march back his army. A

battle was fought against the besiegers and Segestes was rescued

with a numerous band of kinsfolk and dependents. In the number were

some women of rank; among them, the wife of Arminius, who was also the

daughter of Segestes, but who exhibited the spirit of her husband

rather than of her father, subdued neither to tears nor to the tones

of a suppliant, her hands tightly clasped within her bosom, and eyes

which dwelt on her hope of offspring. The spoils also taken in the

defeat of Varus were brought in, having been given as plunder to

many of those who were then being surrendered.

Segestes too was there in person, a stately figure, fearless in

the remembrance of having been a faithful ally. His speech was to this

effect. "This is not my first day of steadfast loyalty towards the

Roman people. From the time that the Divine Augustus gave me the

citizenship, I have chosen my friends and foes with an eye to your

advantage, not from hatred of my fatherland (for traitors are detested

even by those whom they prefer) but because I held that Romans and

Germans have the same interests, and that peace is better than war.

And therefore I denounced to Varus, who then commanded your army,

Arminius, the ravisher of my daughter, the violater of your treaty.

I was put off by that dilatory general, and, as I found but little

protection in the laws, I urged him to arrest myself, Arminius, and

his accomplices. That night is my witness; would that it had been my

last. What followed, may be deplored rather than defended. However,

I threw Arminius into chains and I endured to have them put on

myself by his partisans. And as soon as give opportunity, I show my

preference for the old over the new, for peace over commotion, not

to get a reward, but that I may clear myself from treachery and be

at the same time a fit mediator for a German people, should they

choose repentance rather than ruin, For the youth and error of my

son I entreat forgiveness. As for my daughter, I admit that it is by

compulsion she has been brought here. It will be for you to consider

which fact weighs most with you, that she is with child by Arminius or

that she owes her being to me."

Caesar in a gracious reply promised safety to his children and

kinsfolk and a home for himself in the old province. He then led

back the army and received on the proposal of Tiberius the title of

Imperator. The wife of Arminius gave birth to a male child; the boy,

who was brought up at Ravenna, soon afterwards suffered an insult,

which at the proper time I shall relate.

The report of the surrender and kind reception of Segestes, when

generally known, was heard with hope or grief according as men

shrank from war or desired it. Arminius, with his naturally furious

temper, was driven to frenzy by the seizure of his wife and the

foredooming to slavery of his wife's unborn child. He flew hither

and thither among the Cherusci, demanding "war against Segestes, war

against Caesar." And he refrained not from taunts. "Noble the father,"

he would say, "mighty the general, brave the army which, with such

strength, has carried off one weak woman. Before me, three legions,

three commanders have fallen. Not by treachery, not against pregnant

women, but openly against armed men do I wage war. There are still

to be seen in the groves of Germany the Roman standards which I hung

up to our country's gods. Let Segestes dwell on the conquered bank;

let him restore to his son his priestly office; one thing there is

which Germans will never thoroughly excuse, their having seen

between the Elbe and the Rhine the Roman rods, axes, and toga. Other

nations in their ignorance of Roman rule, have no experience of

punishments, know nothing of tributes, and, as we have shaken them

off, as the great Augustus, ranked among dieties, and his chosen

heir Tiberius, departed from us, baffled, let us not quail before an

inexperienced stripling, before a mutinous army. If you prefer your

fatherland, your ancestors, your ancient life to tyrants and to new

colonies, follow as your leader Arminius to glory and to freedom

rather than Segestes to ignominious servitude."

This language roused not only the Cherusci but the neighbouring

tribes and drew to their side Inguiomerus, the uncle of Arminius,

who had long been respected by the Romans. This increased Caesar's

alarm. That the war might not burst in all its fury on one point, he

sent Caecina through the Bructeri to the river Amisia with forty Roman

cohorts to distract the enemy, while the cavalry was led by its

commander Pedo by the territories of the Frisii. Germanicus himself

put four legions on shipboard and conveyed them through the lakes, and

the infantry, cavalry, and fleet met simultaneously at the river

already mentioned. The Chauci, on promising aid, were associated

with us in military fellowship. Lucius Stertinius was despatched by

Germanicus with a flying column and routed the Bructeri as they were

burning their possessions, and amid the carnage and plunder, found the

eagle of the nineteenth legion which had been lost with Varus. The

troops were then marched to the furthest frontier of the Bructeri, and

all the country between the rivers Amisia and Luppia was ravaged,

not far from the forest of Teutoburgium where the remains of Varus and

his legions were said to lie unburied.

Germanicus upon this was seized with an eager longing to pay the

last honour to those soldiers and their general, while the whole

army present was moved to compassion by the thought of their

kinsfolk and friends, and, indeed, of the calamities of wars and the

lot of mankind. Having sent on Caecina in advance to reconnoitre the

obscure forest-passes, and to raise bridges and causeways over

watery swamps and treacherous plains, they visited the mournful

scenes, with their horrible sights and associations. Varus's first

camp with its wide circumference and the measurements of its central

space clearly indicated the handiwork of three legions. Further on,

the partially fallen rampart and the shallow fosse suggested the

inference that it was a shattered remnant of the army which had

there taken up a position. In the centre of the field were the

whitening bones of men, as they had fled, or stood their ground,

strewn everywhere or piled in heaps. Near, lay fragments of weapons

and limbs of horses, and also human heads, prominently nailed to

trunks of trees. In the adjacent groves were the barbarous altars,

on which they had immolated tribunes and first-rank centurions. Some

survivors of the disaster who had escaped from the battle or from

captivity, described how this was the spot where the officers fell,

how yonder the eagles were captured, where Varus was pierced by his

first wound, where too by the stroke of his own ill-starred hand he

found for himself death. They pointed out too the raised ground from

which Arminius had harangued his army, the number of gibbets for the

captives, the pits for the living, and how in his exultation he

insulted the standards and eagles.

And so the Roman army now on the spot, six years after the disaster,

in grief and anger, began to bury the bones of the three legions,

not a soldier knowing whether he was interring the relics of a

relative or a stranger, but looking on all as kinsfolk and of their

own blood, while their wrath rose higher than ever against the foe. In

raising the barrow Caesar laid the first sod, rendering thus a most

welcome honour to the dead, and sharing also in the sorrow of those

present. This Tiberius did not approve, either interpreting

unfavourably every act of Germanicus, or because he thought that the

spectacle of the slain and unburied made the army slow to fight and

more afraid of the enemy, and that a general invested with the

augurate and its very ancient ceremonies ought not to have polluted

himself with funeral rites.

Germanicus, however, pursued Arminius as he fell back into trackless

wilds, and as soon as he had the opportunity, ordered his cavalry to

sally forth and scour the plains occupied by the enemy. Arminius

having bidden his men to concentrate themselves and keep close to

the woods, suddenly wheeled round, and soon gave those whom he had

concealed in the forest passes the signal to rush to the attack.

Thereupon our cavalry was thrown into disorder by this new force,

and some cohorts in reserve were sent, which, broken by the shock of

flying troops, increased the panic. They were being pushed into a

swamp, well known to the victorious assailants, perilous to men

unacquainted with it, when Caesar led forth his legions in battle

array. This struck terror into the enemy and gave confidence to our

men, and they separated without advantage to either.

Soon afterwards Germanicus led back his army to the Amisia, taking

his legions by the fleet, as he had brought them up. Part of the

cavalry was ordered to make for the Rhine along the sea-coast.

Caecina, who commanded a division of his own, was advised, though he

was returning by a route which he knew, to pass Long Bridges with

all possible speed. This was a narrow road amid vast swamps, which had

formerly been constructed by Lucius Domitius; on every side were

quagmires of thick clinging mud, or perilous with streams. Around were

woods on a gradual slope, which Arminius now completely occupied, as

soon as by a short route and quick march he had outstripped troops

heavily laden with baggage and arms. As Caecina was in doubt how he

could possibly replace bridges which were ruinous from age, and at the

same time hold back the enemy, he resolved to encamp on the spot, that

some might begin the repair and others the attack.

The barbarians attempted to break through the outposts and to

throw themselves on the engineering parties, which they harassed,

pacing round them and continually charging them. There was a

confused din from the men at work and the combatants. Everything alike

was unfavourable to the Romans, the place with its deep swamps,

insecure to the foot and slippery as one advanced, limbs burdened with

coats of mail, and the impossibility of aiming their javelins amid the

water. The Cherusci, on the other hand, were familiar with fighting in

fens; they had huge frames, and lances long enough to inflict wounds

even at a distance. Night at last released the legions, which were now

wavering, from a disastrous engagement. The Germans whom success

rendered unwearied, without even then taking any rest, turned all

the streams which rose from the slopes of the surrounding hills into

the lands beneath. The ground being thus flooded and the completed

portion of our works submerged, the soldiers' labour was doubled.

This was Caecina's fortieth campaign as a subordinate or a

commander, and, with such experience of success and peril, he was

perfectly fearless. As he thought over future possibilities, he

could devise no plan but to keep the enemy within the woods, till

the wounded and the more encumbered troops were in advance. For

between the hills and the swamps there stretched a plain which would

admit of an extended line. The legions had their assigned places,

the fifth on the right wing, the twenty-first on the left, the men

of the first to lead the van, the twentieth to repel pursuers.

It was a restless night for different reasons, the barbarians in

their festivity filling the valleys under the hills and the echoing

glens with merry song or savage shouts, while in the Roman camp were

flickering fires, broken exclamations, and the men lay scattered along

the intrenchments or wandered from tent to tent, wakeful rather than

watchful. A ghastly dream appalled the general. He seemed to see

Quintilius Varus, covered with blood, rising out of the swamps, and to

hear him, as it were, calling to him, but he did not, as he

imagined, obey the call; he even repelled his hand, as he stretched it

over him. At daybreak the legions, posted on the wings, from panic

or perversity, deserted their position and hastily occupied a plain

beyond the morass. Yet Arminius, though free to attack, did not at the

moment rush out on them. But when the baggage was clogged in the mud

and in the fosses, the soldiers around it in disorder, the array of

the standards in confusion, every one in selfish haste and all ears

deaf to the word of command he ordered the Germans to charge,

exclaiming again and again, "Behold a Varus and legions once more

entangled in Varus's fate." As he spoke, he cut through the column

with some picked men, inflicting wounds chiefly on the horses.

Staggering in their blood on the slippery marsh, they shook off

their riders, driving hither and thither all in their way, and

trampling on the fallen. The struggle was hottest round the eagles,

which could neither be carried in the face of the storm of missiles,

nor planted in the miry soil. Caecina, while he was keeping up the

battle, fell from his horse, which was pierced under him, and was

being hemmed in, when the first legion threw itself in the way. The

greed of the foe helped him, for they left the slaughter to secure the

spoil, and the legions, towards evening, struggled on to open and firm


Nor did this end their miseries. Entrenchments had to be thrown

up, materials sought for earthworks, while the army had lost to a

great extent their implements for digging earth and cutting turf.

There were no tents for the rank and file, no comforts for the

wounded. As they shared their food, soiled by mire or blood, they

bewailed the darkness with its awful omen, and the one day which yet

remained to so many thousand men.

It chanced that a horse, which had broken its halter and wandered

wildly in fright at the uproar, overthrew some men against whom it

dashed. Thence arose such a panic, from the belief that the Germans

had burst into the camp, that all rushed to the gates. Of these the

decuman gate was the point chiefly sought, as it was furthest from the

enemy and safer for flight. Caecina, having ascertained that the alarm

was groundless, yet being unable to stop or stay the soldiers by

authority or entreaties or even by force, threw himself to the earth

in the gateway, and at last by an appeal to their pity, as they

would have had to pass over the body of their commander, closed the

way. At the same moment the tribunes and the centurions convinced them

that it was a false alarm.

Having then assembled them at his headquarters, and ordered them

to hear his words in silence, he reminded them of the urgency of the

crisis. "Their safety," he said, "lay in their arms, which they

must, however, use with discretion, and they must remain within the

entrenchments, till the enemy approached closer, in the hope of

storming them; then, there must be a general sortie; by that sortie

the Rhine might be reached. Whereas if they fled, more forests, deeper

swamps, and a savage foe awaited them; but if they were victorious,

glory and renown would be theirs." He dwelt on all that was dear to

them at home, all that testified to their honour in the camp,

without any allusion to disaster. Next he handed over the horses,

beginning with his own, of the officers and tribunes, to the bravest

fighters in the army, quite impartially, that these first, and then

the infantry, might charge the enemy.

There was as much restlessness in the German host with its hopes,

its eager longings, and the conflicting opinions of its chiefs.

Arminius advised that they should allow the Romans to quit their

position, and, when they had quitted it, again surprise them in swampy

and intricate ground. Inguiomerus, with fiercer counsels, heartily

welcome to barbarians, was for beleaguering the entrenchment in

armed array, as to storm them would, he said, be easy, and there would

be more prisoners and the booty unspoilt. So at daybreak they trampled

in the fosses, flung hurdles into them, seized the upper part of the

breastwork, where the troops were thinly distributed and seemingly

paralysed by fear. When they were fairly within the fortifications,

the signal was given to the cohorts, and the horns and trumpets

sounded. Instantly, with a shout and sudden rush, our men threw

themselves on the German rear, with taunts, that here were no woods or

swamps, but that they were on equal ground, with equal chances. The

sound of trumpets, the gleam of arms, which were so unexpected,

burst with all the greater effect on the enemy, thinking only, as they

were, of the easy destruction of a few half-armed men, and they were

struck down, as unprepared for a reverse as they had been elated by

success. Arminius and Inguiomerus fled from the battle, the first

unhurt, the other severely wounded. Their followers were

slaughtered, as long as our fury and the light of day lasted. It was

not till night that the legions returned, and though more wounds and

the same want of provisions distressed them, yet they found

strength, healing, sustenance, everything indeed, in their victory.

Meanwhile a rumour had spread that our army was cut off, and that

a furious German host was marching on Gaul. And had not Agrippina

prevented the bridge over the Rhine from being destroyed, some in

their cowardice would have dared that base act. A woman of heroic

spirit, she assumed during those days the duties of a general, and

distributed clothes or medicine among the soldiers, as they were

destitute or wounded. According to Caius Plinius, the historian of the

German wars, she stood at the extremity of the bridge, and bestowed

praise and thanks on the returning legions. This made a deep

impression on the mind of Tiberius. "Such zeal," he thought, "could

not be guileless; it was not against a foreign foe that she was thus

courting the soldiers. Generals had nothing left them when a woman

went among the companies, attended the standards, ventured on bribery,

as though it showed but slight ambition to parade her son in a

common soldier's uniform, and wish him to be called Caesar Caligula.

Agrippina had now more power with the armies than officers, than

generals. A woman had quelled a mutiny which the sovereign's name

could not check." All this was inflamed and aggravated by Sejanus,

who, with his thorough comprehension of the character of Tiberius,

sowed for a distant future hatreds which the emperor might treasure up

and might exhibit when fully matured.

Of the legions which he had conveyed by ship, Germanicus gave the

second and fourteenth to Publius Vitellius, to be marched by land,

so that the fleet might sail more easily over a sea full of shoals, or

take the ground more lightly at the ebb-tide. Vitellius at first

pursued his route without interruption, having a dry shore, or the

waves coming in gently. After a while, through the force of the

north wind and the equinoctial season, when the sea swells to its

highest, his army was driven and tossed hither and thither. The

country too was flooded; sea, shore, fields presented one aspect,

nor could the treacherous quicksands be distinguished from solid

ground or shallows from deep water. Men were swept away by the waves

or sucked under by eddies; beasts of burden, baggage, lifeless

bodies floated about and blocked their way. The companies were mingled

in confusion, now with the breast, now with the head only above water,

sometimes losing their footing and parted from their comrades or

drowned. The voice of mutual encouragement availed not against the

adverse force of the waves. There was nothing to distinguish the brave

from the coward, the prudent from the careless, forethought from

chance; the same strong power swept everything before it. At last

Vitellius struggled out to higher ground and led his men up to it.

There they passed the night, without necessary food, without fire,

many of them with bare or bruised limbs, in a plight as pitiable as

that of men besieged by an enemy. For such, at least, have the

opportunity of a glorious death, while here was destruction without

honour. Daylight restored land to their sight, and they pushed their

way to the river Visurgis, where Caesar had arrived with the fleet.

The legions then embarked, while a rumour was flying about that they

were drowned. Nor was there a belief in their safety till they saw

Caesar and the army returned.

By this time Stertinius, who had been despatched to receive the

surrender of Segimerus, brother of Segestes, had conducted the

chief, together with his son, to the canton of the Ubii. Both were

pardoned, Segimerus readily, the son with some hesitation, because

it was said that he had insulted the corpse of Quintilius Varus.

Meanwhile Gaul, Spain, and Italy vied in repairing the losses of the

army, offering whatever they had at hand, arms, horses, gold.

Germanicus having praised their zeal, took only for the war their arms

and horses, and relieved the soldiers out of his own purse. And that

he might also soften the remembrance of the disaster by kindness, he

went round to the wounded, applauded the feats of soldier after

soldier, examined their wounds, raised the hopes of one, the

ambition of another, and the spirits of all by his encouragement and

interest, thus strengthening their ardour for himself and for battle.

That year triumphal honours were decreed to Aulus Caecina, Lucius

Apronius, Caius Silius for their achievements under Germanicus. The

title of "father of his country," which the people had so often thrust

on him, Tiberius refused, nor would he allow obedience to be sworn

to his enactments, though the Senate voted it, for he said

repeatedly that all human things were uncertain, and that the more

he had obtained, the more precarious was his position. But he did

not thereby create a belief in his patriotism, for he had revived

the law of treason, the name of which indeed was known in ancient

times, though other matters came under its jurisdiction, such as the

betrayal of an army, or seditious stirring up of the people, or, in

short, any corrupt act by which a man had impaired "the majesty of the

people of Rome." Deeds only were liable to accusation; words went

unpunished. It was Augustus who first, under colour of this law,

applied legal inquiry to libellous writings provoked, as he had

been, by the licentious freedom with which Cassius Severus had defamed

men and women of distinction in his insulting satires. Soon

afterwards, Tiberius, when consulted by Pompeius Macer, the praetor,

as to whether prosecutions for treason should be revived, replied that

the laws must be enforced. He too had been exasperated by the

publication of verses of uncertain authorship, pointed at his cruelty,

his arrogance, and his dissensions with his mother.

It will not be uninteresting if I relate in the cases of Falanius

and Rubrius, Roman knights of moderate fortune, the first

experiments at such accusations, in order to explain the origin of a

most terrible scourge, how by Tiberius's cunning it crept in among us,

how subsequently it was checked, finally, how it burst into flame

and consumed everything. Against Falanius it was alleged by his

accuser that he had admitted among the votaries of Augustus, who in

every great house were associated into a kind of brotherhood, one

Cassius, a buffoon of infamous life, and that he had also in selling

his gardens included in the sale a statue of Augustus. Against Rubrius

the charge was that he had violated by perjury the divinity of

Augustus. When this was known to Tiberius, he wrote to the consuls

"that his father had not had a place in heaven decreed to him, that

the honour might be turned to the destruction of the citizens.

Cassius, the actor, with men of the same profession, used to take part

in the games which had been consecrated by his mother to the memory of

Augustus. Nor was it contrary to the religion of the State for the

emperor's image, like those of other deities, to be added to a sale of

gardens and houses. As to the oath, the thing ought to be considered

as if the man had deceived Jupiter. Wrongs done to the gods were the

gods' concern."

Not long afterwards, Granius Marcellus, proconsul of Bithynia, was

accused of treason by his quaestor, Caepio Crispinus, and the charge

was supported by Romanus Hispo. Crispinus then entered on a line of

life afterwards rendered notorious by the miseries of the age and

men's shamelessness. Needy, obscure, and restless, he wormed himself

by stealthy informations into the confidence of a vindictive prince,

and soon imperilled all the most distinguished citizens; and having

thus gained influence with one, hatred from all besides, he left an

example in following which beggars became wealthy, the

insignificant, formidable, and brought ruin first on others, finally

on themselves. He alleged against Marcellus that he had made some

disrespectful remarks about Tiberius, a charge not to be evaded,

inasmuch as the accuser selected the worst features of the emperor's

character and grounded his case on them. The things were true, and

so were believed to have been said.

Hispo added that Marcellus had placed his own statue above those

of the Caesars, and had set the bust of Tiberius on another statue

from which he had struck off the head of Augustus. At this the

emperor's wrath blazed forth, and, breaking through his habitual

silence, he exclaimed that in such a case he would himself too give

his vote openly on oath, that the rest might be under the same

obligation. There lingered even then a few signs of expiring

freedom. And so Cneius Piso asked, "In what order will you vote,

Caesar? If first, I shall know what to follow; if last, I fear that

I may differ from you unwillingly." Tiberius was deeply moved, and

repenting of the outburst, all the more because of its

thoughtlessness, he quietly allowed the accused to be acquitted of the

charges of treason. As for the question of extortion, it was

referred to a special commission.

Not satisfied with judicial proceedings in the Senate, the emperor

would sit at one end of the Praetor's tribunal, but so as not to

displace him from the official seat. Many decisions were given in

his presence, in opposition to improper influence and the

solicitations of great men. This, though it promoted justice, ruined

freedom. Pius Aurelius, for example, a senator, complained that the

foundations of his house had been weakened by the pressure of a public

road and aqueduct, and he appealed to the Senate for assistance. He

was opposed by the praetors of the treasury, but the emperor helped

him, and paid him the value of his house, for he liked to spend

money on a good purpose, a virtue which he long retained, when he cast

off all others. To Propertius Celer, an ex-praetor, who sought because

of his indigence to be excused from his rank as a senator, he gave a

million sesterces, having ascertained that he had inherited poverty.

He bade others, who attempted the same, prove their case to the

Senate, as from his love of strictness he was harsh even where he

acted on right grounds. Consequently every one else preferred

silence and poverty to confession and relief.

In the same year the Tiber, swollen by continuous rains, flooded the

level portions of the city. Its subsidence was followed by a

destruction of buildings and of life. Thereupon Asinius Gallus

proposed to consult the Sibylline books. Tiberius refused, veiling

in obscurity the divine as well as the human. However, the devising of

means to confine the river was intrusted to Ateius Capito and Lucius


Achaia and Macedonia, on complaining of their burdens, were, it

was decided, to be relieved for a time from proconsular government and

to be transferred to the emperor. Drusus presided over a show of

gladiators which he gave in his own name and in that of his brother

Germanicus, for he gloated intensely over bloodshed, however cheap its

victims. This was alarming to the populace, and his father had, it was

said, rebuked him. Why Tiberius kept away from the spectacle was

variously explained. According to some, it was his loathing of a

crowd, according to others, his gloomy temper, and a fear of

contrast with the gracious presence of Augustus. I cannot believe that

he deliberately gave his son the opportunity of displaying his

ferocity and provoking the people's disgust, though even this was


Meanwhile the unruly tone of the theatre which first showed itself

in the preceding year, broke out with worse violence, and some

soldiers and a centurion, besides several of the populace, were

killed, and the tribune of a praetorian cohort was wounded, while they

were trying to stop insults to the magistrates and the strife of the

mob. This disturbance was the subject of a debate in the Senate, and

opinions were expressed in favour of the praetors having authority

to scourge actors. Haterius Agrippa, tribune of the people, interposed

his veto, and was sharply censured in a speech from Asinius Gallus,

without a word from Tiberius, who liked to allow the Senate such shows

of freedom. Still the interposition was successful, because Augustus

had once pronounced that actors were exempt from the scourge, and it

was not lawful for Tiberius to infringe his decisions. Many enactments

were passed to fix the amount of their pay and to check the disorderly

behaviour of their partisans. Of these the chief were that no

Senator should enter the house of a pantomime player, that Roman

knights should not crowd round them in the public streets, that they

should exhibit themselves only in the theatre, and that the praetors

should be empowered to punish with banishment any riotous conduct in

the spectators.

A request from the Spaniards that they might erect a temple to

Augustus in the colony of Tarraco was granted, and a precedent thus

given for all the provinces. When the people of Rome asked for a

remission of the one per cent. tax on all saleable commodities,

Tiberius declared by edict "that the military exchequer depended on

that branch of revenue, and, further, that the State was unequal to

the burden, unless the twentieth year of service were to be that of

the veteran's discharge." Thus the ill-advised results of the late

mutiny, by which a limit of sixteen campaigns had been extorted,

were cancelled for the future.

A question was then raised in the Senate by Arruntius and Ateius

whether, in order to restrain the inundations of the Tiber, the rivers

and lakes which swell its waters should be diverted from their

courses. A hearing was given to embassies from the municipal towns and

colonies, and the people of Florentia begged that the Clanis might not

be turned out of its channel and made to flow into the Arnus, as

that would bring ruin on themselves. Similar arguments were used by

the inhabitants of Interamna. The most fruitful plains of Italy,

they said, would be destroyed if the river Nar (for this was the

plan proposed) were to be divided into several streams and overflow

the country. Nor did the people of Reate remain silent. They

remonstrated against the closing up of the Veline lake, where it

empties itself into the Nar, "as it would burst in a flood on the

entire neighbourhood. Nature had admirably provided for human

interests in having assigned to rivers their mouths, their channels,

and their limits, as well as their sources. Regard, too, must be

paid to the different religions of the allies, who had dedicated

sacred rites, groves, and altars to the rivers of their country. Tiber

himself would be altogether unwilling to be deprived of his

neighbour streams and to flow with less glory." Either the

entreaties of the colonies, or the difficulty of the work or

superstitious motives prevailed, and they yielded to Piso's opinion,

who declared himself against any change.

Poppaeus Sabinus was continued in his government of the province

of Moesia with the addition of Achaia and Macedonia. It was part of

Tiberius' character to prolong indefinitely military commands and to

keep many men to the end of their life with the same armies and in the

same administrations. Various motives have been assigned for this.

Some say that, out of aversion to any fresh anxiety, he retained

what he had once approved as a permanent arrangement; others, that

he grudged to see many enjoying promotion. Some, again, think that

though he had an acute intellect, his judgment was irresolute, for

he did not seek out eminent merit, and yet he detested vice. From

the best men he apprehended danger to himself, from the worst,

disgrace to the State. He went so far at last in this irresolution,

that he appointed to provinces men whom he did not mean to allow to

leave Rome.

I can hardly venture on any positive statement about the consular

elections, now held for the first time under this emperor, or, indeed,

subsequently, so conflicting are the accounts we find not only in

historians but in Tiberius' own speeches. Sometimes he kept back the

names of the candidates, describing their origin, their life and

military career, so that it might be understood who they were.

Occasionally even these hints were withheld, and, after urging them

not to disturb the elections by canvassing, he would promise his own

help towards the result. Generally he declared that only those had

offered themselves to him as candidates whose names he had given to

the consuls, and that others might offer themselves if they had

confidence in their influence or merit. A plausible profession this in

words, but really unmeaning and delusive, and the greater the disguise

of freedom which marked it, the more cruel the enslavement into

which it was soon to plunge us.

BOOK II, A.D. 16-19

IN the consulship of Sisenna Statilius Taurus and Lucius Libo

there was a commotion in the kingdoms and Roman provinces of the East.

It had its origin among the Parthians, who disdained as a foreigner

a king whom they had sought and received from Rome, though he was of

the family of the Arsacids. This was Vonones, who had been given as an

hostage to Augustus by Phraates. For although he had driven before him

armies and generals from Rome, Phraates had shown to Augustus every

token of reverence and had sent him some of his children, to cement

the friendship, not so much from dread of us as from distrust of the

loyalty of his countrymen.

After the death of Phraates and the succeeding kings in the

bloodshed of civil wars, there came to Rome envoys from the chief

men of Parthia, in quest of Vonones, his eldest son. Caesar thought

this a great honour to himself, and loaded Vonones with wealth. The

barbarians, too, welcomed him with rejoicing, as is usual with new

rulers. Soon they felt shame at Parthians having become degenerate, at

their having sought a king from another world, one too infected with

the training of the enemy, at the throne of the Arsacids now being

possessed and given away among the provinces of Rome. "Where," they

asked, "was the glory of the men who slew Crassus, who drove out

Antonius, if Caesar's drudge, after an endurance of so many years'

slavery, were to rule over Parthians."

Vonones himself too further provoked their disdain, by his

contrast with their ancestral manners, by his rare indulgence in the

chase, by his feeble interest in horses, by the litter in which he was

carried whenever he made a progress through their cities, and by his

contemptuous dislike of their national festivities. They also

ridiculed his Greek attendants and his keeping under seal the

commonest household articles. But he was easy of approach; his

courtesy was open to all, and he had thus virtues with which the

Parthians were unfamiliar, and vices new to them. And as his ways were

quite alien from theirs they hated alike what was bad and what was

good in him.

Accordingly they summoned Artabanus, an Arsacid by blood, who had

grown to manhood among the Dahae, and who, though routed in the

first encounter, rallied his forces and possessed himself of the

kingdom. The conquered Vonones found a refuge in Armenia, then a

free country, and exposed to the power of Parthia and Rome, without

being trusted by either, in consequence of the crime of Antonius, who,

under the guise of friendship, had inveigled Artavasdes, king of the

Armenians, then loaded him with chains, and finally murdered him.

His son, Artaxias, our bitter foe because of his father's memory,

found defence for himself and his kingdom in the might of the

Arsacids. When he was slain by the treachery of kinsmen, Caesar gave

Tigranes to the Armenians, and he was put in possession of the kingdom

under the escort of Tiberius Nero. But neither Tigranes nor his

children reigned long, though, in foreign fashion, they were united in

marriage and in royal power.

Next, at the bidding of Augustus, Artavasdes was set on the

throne, nor was he deposed without disaster to ourselves. Caius Caesar

was then appointed to restore order in Armenia. He put over the

Armenians Ariobarzanes, a Mede by birth, whom they willingly accepted,

because of his singularly handsome person and noble spirit. On the

death of Ariobarzanes through a fatal accident, they would not

endure his son. Having tried the government of a woman named Erato and

having soon afterwards driven her from them, bewildered and

disorganised, rather indeed without a ruler than enjoying freedom,

they received for their king the fugitive Vonones. When, however,

Artabanus began to threaten, and but feeble support could be given

by the Armenians, or war with Parthia would have to be undertaken,

if Vonones was to be upheld by our arms, the governor of Syria,

Creticus Silanus, sent for him and kept him under surveillance,

letting him retain his royal pomp and title. How Vonones meditated

an escape from this mockery, I will relate in the proper place.

Meanwhile the commotion in the East was rather pleasing to Tiberius,

as it was a pretext for withdrawing Germanicus from the legions

which knew him well, and placing him over new provinces where he would

be exposed both to treachery and to disasters. Germanicus, however, in

proportion to the strength of the soldiers' attachment and to his

uncle's dislike, was eager to hasten his victory, and he pondered on

plans of battle, and on the reverses or successes which during more

than three years of war had fallen to his lot. The Germans, he knew,

were beaten in the field and on fair ground; they were helped by

woods, swamps, short summers, and early winters. His own troops were

affected not so much by wounds as by long marches and damage to

their arms. Gaul had been exhausted by supplying horses; a long

baggage-train presented facilities for ambuscades, and was

embarrassing to its defenders. But by embarking on the sea, invasion

would be easy for them, and a surprise to the enemy, while a

campaign too would be more quickly begun, the legions and supplies

would be brought up simultaneously, and the cavalry with their

horses would arrive, in good condition, by the rivermouths and

channels, at the heart of Germany.

To this accordingly he gave his mind, and sent Publius Vitellius and

Caius Antius to collect the taxes of Gaul. Silius, Anteius, and

Caecina had the charge of building a fleet. It seemed that a

thousand vessels were required, and they were speedily constructed,

some of small draught with a narrow stem and stern and a broad centre,

that they might bear the waves more easily; some flat-bottomed, that

they might ground without being injured; several, furnished with a

rudder at each end, so that by a sudden shifting of the oars they

might be run into shore either way. Many were covered in with decks,

on which engines for missiles might be conveyed, and were also fit for

the carrying of horses or supplies, and being equipped with sails as

well as rapidly moved by oars, they assumed, through the enthusiasm of

our soldiers, an imposing and formidable aspect.

The island of the Batavi was the appointed rendezvous, because of

its easy landing-places, and its convenience for receiving the army

and carrying the war across the river. For the Rhine after flowing

continuously in a single channel or encircling merely insignificant

islands, divides itself, so to say, where the Batavian territory

begins, into two rivers, retaining its name and the rapidity of its

course in the stream which washes Germany, till it mingles with the

ocean. On the Gallic bank, its flow is broader and gentler; it is

called by an altered name, the Vahal, by the inhabitants of its shore.

Soon that name too is changed for the Mosa river, through whose vast

mouth it empties itself into the same ocean.

Caesar, however, while the vessels were coming up, ordered Silius,

his lieutenant-general, to make an inroad on the Chatti with a

flying column. He himself, on hearing that a fort on the river

Luppia was being besieged, led six legions to the spot. Silius owing

to sudden rains did nothing but carry off a small booty, and the

wife and daughter of Arpus, the chief of the Chatti. And Caesar had no

opportunity of fighting given him by the besiegers, who dispersed on

the rumour of his advance. They had, however, destroyed the barrow

lately raised in memory of Varus's legions, and the old altar of

Drusus. The prince restored the altar, and himself with his legions

celebrated funeral games in his father's honour. To raise a new barrow

was not thought necessary. All the country between the fort Aliso

and the Rhine was thoroughly secured by new barriers and earthworks.

By this time the fleet had arrived, and Caesar, having sent on his

supplies and assigned vessels for the legions and the allied troops,

entered "Drusus's fosse," as it was called. He prayed Drusus his

father to lend him, now that he was venturing on the same

enterprise, the willing and favourable aid of the example and wi

memory of his counsels and achievements, and he arrived after a

prosperous voyage through the lakes and the ocean as far as the

river Amisia. His fleet remained there on the left bank of the stream,

and it was a blunder that he did not have it brought up the river.

He disembarked the troops, which were to be marched to the country

on the right, and thus several days were wasted in the construction of

bridges. The cavalry and the legions fearlessly crossed the first

estuaries in which the tide had not yet risen. The rear of the

auxiliaries, and the Batavi among the number, plunging recklessly into

the water and displaying their skill in swimming, fell into

disorder, and some were drowned. While Caesar was measuring out his

camp, he was told of a revolt of the Angrivarii in his rear. He at

once despatched Stertinius with some cavalry and a light armed

force, who punished their perfidy with fire and sword.

The waters of the Visurgis flowed between the Romans and the

Cherusci. On its banks stood Arminius with the other chiefs. He

asked whether Caesar had arrived, and on the reply that he was

present, he begged leave to have an interview with his brother. That

brother, surnamed Flavus, was with our army, a man famous for his

loyalty, and for having lost an eye by a wound, a few years ago,

when Tiberius was in command. The permission was then given, and he

stepped forth and was saluted by Arminius, who had removed his

guards to a distance and required that the bowmen ranged on our bank

should retire. When they had gone away, Arminius asked his brother

whence came the scar which disfigured his face, and on being told

the particular place and battle, he inquired what reward he had

received. Flavus spoke of increased pay, of a neck chain, a crown, and

other military gifts, while Arminius jeered at such a paltry

recompense for slavery.

Then began a controversy. The one spoke of the greatness of Rome,

the resources of Caesar, the dreadful punishment in store for the

vanquished, the ready mercy for him who surrenders, and the fact

that neither Arminius's wife nor his son were treated as enemies;

the other, of the claims of fatherland, of ancestral freedom, of the

gods of the homes of Germany, of the mother who shared his prayers,

that Flavus might not choose to be the deserter and betrayer rather

than the ruler of his kinsfolk and relatives, and indeed of his own


By degrees they fell to bitter words, and even the river between

them would not have hindered them from joining combat, had not

Stertinius hurried up and put his hand on Flavus, who in the full tide

of his fury was demanding his weapons and his charger. Arminius was

seen facing him, full of menaces and challenging him to conflict. Much

of what he said was in Roman speech, for he had served in our camp

as leader of his fellow-countrymen.

Next day the German army took up its position on the other side of

the Visurgis. Caesar, thinking that without bridges and troops to

guard them, it would not be good generalship to expose the legions

to danger, sent the cavalry across the river by the fords. It was

commanded by Stertinius and Aemilius, one of the first rank

centurions, who attacked at widely different points so as to

distract the enemy. Chariovalda, the Batavian chief, dashed to the

charge where the stream is most rapid. The Cherusci, by a pretended

flight, drew him into a plain surrounded by forest-passes. Then

bursting on him in a sudden attack from all points they thrust aside

all who resisted, pressed fiercely on their retreat, driving them

before them, when they rallied in compact array, some by close

fighting, others by missiles from a distance. Chariovalda, after

long sustaining the enemy's fury, cheered on his men to break by a

dense formation the onset of their bands, while he himself, plunging

into the thickest of the battle, fell amid a shower of darts with

his horse pierced under him, and round him many noble chiefs. The rest

were rescued from the peril by their own strength, or by the cavalry

which came up with Stertinius and Aemilius.

Caesar on crossing the Visurgis learnt by the information of a

deserter that Arminius had chosen a battle-field, that other tribes

too had assembled in a forest sacred to Hercules, and would venture on

a night attack on his camp. He put faith in this intelligence, and,

besides, several watchfires were seen. Scouts also, who had crept

close up to the enemy, reported that they had heard the neighing of

horses and the hum of a huge and tumultuous host. And so as the

decisive crisis drew near, that he ought thoroughly to sound the

temper of his soldiers, he considered with himself how this was to

be accomplished with a genuine result. Tribunes and centurions, he

knew, oftener reported what was welcome than what was true; freedmen

had slavish spirits, friends a love of flattery. If an assembly were

called, there too the lead of a few was followed by the shout of the

many. He must probe their inmost thoughts, when they were uttering

their hopes and fears at the military mess, among themselves, and


At nightfall, leaving his tent of augury by a secret exit, unknown

to the sentries, with one companion, his shoulders covered with a wild

beast's skin, he visited the camp streets, stood by the tents, and

enjoyed the men's talk about himself, as one extolled his noble

rank, another, his handsome person, nearly all of them, his endurance,

his gracious manner and the evenness of his temper, whether he was

jesting or was serious, while they acknowledged that they ought to

repay him with their gratitude in battle, and at the same time

sacrifice to a glorious vengeance the perfidious violators of peace.

Meanwhile one of the enemy, acquainted with the Roman tongue,

spurred his horse up to the entrenchments, and in a loud voice

promised in the name of Arminius to all deserters wives and lands with

daily pay of a hundred sesterces as long as war lasted. The insult

fired the wrath of the legions. "Let daylight come," they said, "let

battle be given. The soldiers will possess themselves of the lands

of the Germans and will carry off their wives. We hail the omen; we

mean the women and riches of the enemy to be our spoil." About

midday there was a skirmishing attack on our camp, without any

discharge of missiles, when they saw the cohorts in close array before

the lines and no sign of carelessness.

The same night brought with it a cheering dream to Germanicus. He

saw himself engaged in sacrifice, and his robe being sprinkled with

the sacred blood, another more beautiful was given him by the hands of

his grandmother Augusta. Encouraged by the omen and finding the

auspices favourable, he called an assembly, and explained the

precautions which wisdom suggested as suitable for the impending

battle. "It is not," he said, "plains only which are good for the

fighting of Roman soldiers, but woods and forest passes, if science be

used. For the huge shields and unwieldly lances of the barbarians

cannot, amid trunks of trees and brushwood that springs from the

ground, be so well managed as our javelins and swords and closefitting

armour. Shower your blows thickly; strike at the face with your

swords' points. The German has neither cuirass nor helmet; even his

shield is not strengthened with leather or steel, but is of osiers

woven together or of thin and painted board. If their first line is

armed with spears, the rest have only weapons hardened by fire or very

short. Again, though their frames are terrible to the eye and

formidable in a brief onset, they have no capacity of enduring wounds;

without, any shame at the disgrace, without any regard to their

leaders, they quit the field and flee; they quail under disaster, just

as in success they forget alike divine and human laws. If in your

weariness of land and sea you desire an end of service, this battle

prepares the way to it. The Elbe is now nearer than the Rhine, and

there is no war beyond, provided only you enable me, keeping close

as I do to my father's and my uncle's footsteps, to stand a

conqueror on the same spot."

The general's speech was followed by enthusiasm in the soldiers, and

the signal for battle was given. Nor were Arminius and the other

German chiefs slow to call their respective clansmen to witness that

"these Romans were the most cowardly fugitives out of Varus's army,

men who rather than endure war had taken to mutiny. Half of them

have their backs covered with wounds; half are once again exposing

limbs battered by waves and storms to a foe full of fury, and to

hostile deities, with no hope of advantage. They have, in fact, had

recourse to a fleet and to a trackless ocean, that their coming

might be unopposed, their flight unpursued. But when once they have

joined conflict with us, the help of winds or oars will be

unavailing to the vanquished. Remember only their greed, their

cruelty, their pride. Is anything left for us but to retain our

freedom or to die before we are enslaved?

When they were thus roused and were demanding battle, their chiefs

led them down into a plain named Idistavisus. It winds between the

Visurgis and a hill range, its breadth varying as the river banks

recede or the spurs of the hills project on it. In their rear rose a

forest, with the branches rising to a great height, while there were

clear spaces between the trunks. The barbarian army occupied the plain

and the outskirts of the wood. The Cherusci were posted by

themselves on the high ground, so as to rush down on the Romans during

the battle.

Our army advanced in the following order. The auxiliary Gauls and

Germans were in the van, then the foot-archers, after them, four

legions and Caesar himself with two praetorian cohorts and some picked

cavalry. Next came as many other legions, and light-armed troops

with horse-bowmen, and the remaining cohorts of the allies. The men

were quite ready and prepared to form in line of battle according to

their marching order.

Caesar, as soon as he saw the Cheruscan bands which in their

impetuous spirit had rushed to the attack, ordered the finest of his

cavalry to charge them in flank, Stertinius with the other squadrons

to make a detour and fall on their rear, promising himself to come

up in good time. Meanwhile there was a most encouraging augury.

Eight eagles, seen to fly towards the woods and to enter them,

caught the general's eye. "Go," he exclaimed, "follow the Roman birds,

the true deities of our legions." At the same moment the infantry

charged, and the cavalry which had been sent on in advance dashed on

the rear and the flanks. And, strange to relate, two columns of the

enemy fled in opposite directions, that, which had occupied the

wood, rushing into the open, those who had been drawn up on the

plains, into the wood. The Cherusci, who were between them, were

dislodged from the hills, while Arminius, conspicuous among them by

gesture, voice, and a wound he had received, kept up the fight. He had

thrown himself on our archers and was on the point of breaking through

them, when the cohorts of the Raeti, Vendelici, and Gauls faced his

attack. By a strong bodily effort, however, and a furious rush of

his horse, he made his way through them, having smeared his face

with his blood, that he might not be known. Some have said that he was

recognised by Chauci serving among the Roman auxiliaries, who let

him go.

Inguiomerus owed his escape to similar courage or treachery. The

rest were cut down in every direction. Many in attempting to swim

across the Visurgis were overwhelmed under a storm of missiles or by

the force of the current, lastly, by the rush of fugitives and the

falling in of the banks. Some in their ignominious flight climbed

the tops of trees, and as they were hiding themselves in the boughs,

archers were brought up and they were shot for sport. Others were

dashed to the ground by the felling of the trees.

It was a great victory and without bloodshed to us. From nine in the

morning to nightfall the enemy were slaughtered, and ten miles were

covered with arms and dead bodies, while there were found amid the

plunder the chains which the Germans had brought with them for the

Romans, as though the issue were certain. The soldiers on the battle

field hailed Tiberius as Imperator, and raised a mound on which arms

were piled in the style of a trophy, with the names of the conquered

tribes inscribed beneath them.

That sight caused keener grief and rage among the Germans than their

wounds, their mourning, and their losses. Those who but now were

preparing to quit their settlements and to retreat to the further side

of the Elbe, longed for battle and flew to arms. Common people and

chiefs, young and old, rushed on the Roman army, and spread

disorder. At last they chose a spot closed in by a river and by

forests, within which was a narrow swampy plain. The woods too were

surrounded by a bottomless morass, only on one side of it the

Angrivarii had raised a broad earthwork, as a boundary between

themselves and the Cherusci. Here their infantry was ranged. Their

cavalry they concealed in neighbouring woods, so as to be on the

legions' rear, as soon as they entered the forest.

All this was known to Caesar. He was acquainted with their plans,

their positions, with what met the eye, and what was hidden, and he

prepared to turn the enemy's stratagems to their own destruction. To

Seius Tubero, his chief officer, he assigned the cavalry and the

plain. His infantry he drew up so that part might advance on level

ground into the forest, and part clamber up the earthwork which

confronted them. He charged himself with what was the specially

difficult operation, leaving the rest to his officers. Those who had

the level ground easily forced a passage. Those who had to assault the

earthwork encountered heavy blows from above, as if they were

scaling a wall. The general saw how unequal this close fighting was,

and having withdrawn his legions to a little distance, ordered the

slingers and artillerymen to discharge a volley of missiles and

scatter the enemy. Spears were hurled from the engines, and the more

conspicuous were the defenders of the position, the more the wounds

with which they were driven from it. Caesar with some praetorian

cohorts was the first, after the storming of the ramparts, to dash

into the woods. There they fought at close quarters. A morass was in

the enemy's rear, and the Romans were hemmed in by the river or by the

hills. Both were in a desperate plight from their position; valour was

their only hope, victory their only safety.

The Germans were equally brave, but they were beaten by the nature

of the fighting and of the weapons, for their vast host in so confined

a space could neither thrust out nor recover their immense lances,

or avail themselves of their nimble movements and lithe frames, forced

as they were to a close engagement. Our soldiers, on the other hand,

with their shields pressed to their breasts, and their hands

grasping their sword-hilts, struck at the huge limbs and exposed faces

of the barbarians, cutting a passage through the slaughtered enemy,

for Arminius was now less active, either from incessant perils, or

because he was partially disabled by his recent wound. As for

Inguiomerus, who flew hither and thither over the battlefield, it

was fortune rather than courage which forsook him. Germanicus, too,

that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and

begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not

prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only

conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of

his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till

nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy's blood. Our cavalry

fought with indecisive success.

Having publicly praised his victorious troops, Caesar raised a

pile of arms with the proud inscription, "The army of Tiberius Caesar,

after thoroughly conquering the tribes between the Rhine and the Elbe,

has dedicated this monument to Mars, Jupiter, and Augustus." He

added nothing about himself, fearing jealousy, or thinking that the

conciousness of the achievement was enough. Next he charged Stertinius

with making war on the Angrivarii, but they hastened to surrender.

And, as suppliants, by refusing nothing, they obtained a full pardon.

When, however, summer was at its height some of the legions were

sent back overland into winter-quarters, but most of them Caesar put

on board the fleet and brought down the river Amisia to the ocean.

At first the calm waters merely sounded with the oars of a thousand

vessels or were ruffled by the sailing ships. Soon, a hailstorm

bursting from a black mass of clouds, while the waves rolled hither

and thither under tempestuous gales from every quarter, rendered clear

sight impossible, and the steering difficult, while our soldiers,

terrorstricken and without any experience of disasters on the sea,

by embarrassing the sailors or giving them clumsy aid, neutralized the

services of the skilled crews. After a while, wind and wave shifted

wholly to the south, and from the hilly lands and deep rivers of

Germany came with a huge line of rolling clouds, a strong blast, all

the more frightful from the frozen north which was so near to them,

and instantly caught and drove the ships hither and thither into the

open ocean, or on islands with steep cliffs or which hidden shoals

made perilous. these they just escaped, with difficulty, and when

the tide changed and bore them the same way as the wind, they could

not hold to their anchors or bale out the water which rushed in upon

them. Horses, beasts of burden, baggage, were thrown overboard, in

order to lighten the hulls which leaked copiously through their sides,

while the waves too dashed over them.

As the ocean is stormier than all other seas, and as Germany is

conspicuous for the terrors of its climate, so in novelty and extent

did this disaster transcend every other, for all around were hostile

coasts, or an expanse so vast and deep that it is thought to be the

remotest shoreless sea. Some of the vessels were swallowed up; many

were wrecked on distant islands, and the soldiers, finding there no

form of human life, perished of hunger, except some who supported

existence on carcases of horses washed on the same shores.

Germanicus's trireme alone reached the country of the Chauci. Day

and night, on those rocks and promontories he would incessantly

exclaim that he was himself responsible for this awful ruin, and

friends scarce restrained him from seeking death in the same sea.

At last, as the tide ebbed and the wind blew favourably, the

shattered vessels with but few rowers, or clothing spread as sails,

some towed by the more powerful, returned, and Germanicus, having

speedily repaired them, sent them to search the islands. Many by

that means were recovered. The Angrivarii, who had lately been

admitted to our alliance, restored to us several had ransomed from the

inland tribes. Some had been carried to Britain and were sent back

by the petty chiefs. Every one, as he returned from some far-distant

region, told of wonders, of violent hurricanes, and unknown birds,

of monsters of the sea, of forms half-human, half beast-like, things

they had really seen or in their terror believed.

Meanwhile the rumoured loss of the fleet stirred the Germans to hope

for war, as it did Caesar to hold them down. He ordered Caius Silius

with thirty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry to march

against the Chatti. He himself, with a larger army, invaded the Marsi,

whose leader, Mallovendus, whom we had lately admitted to surrender,

pointed out a neighbouring wood, where, he said, an eagle of one of

Varus's legions was buried and guarded only by a small force.

Immediately troops were despatched to draw the enemy from his position

by appearing in his front, others, to hem in his rear and open the

ground. Fortune favoured both. So Germanicus, with increased energy,

advanced into the country, laying it waste, and utterly ruining a

foe who dared not encounter him, or who was instantly defeated

wherever he resisted, and, as we learnt from prisoners, was never more

panic-stricken. The Romans, they declared, were invincible, rising

superior to all calamities; for having thrown away a fleet, having

lost their arms, after strewing the shores with the carcases of horses

and of men, they had rushed to the attack with the same courage,

with equal spirit, and, seemingly, with augmented numbers.

The soldiers were then led back into winter-quarters, rejoicing in

their hearts at having been compensated for their disasters at sea

by a successful expedition. They were helped too by Caesar's bounty,

which made good whatever loss any one declared he had suffered. It was

also regarded as a certainty that the enemy were wavering and

consulting on negotiations for peace, and that, with an additional

campaign next summer the war might be ended. Tiberius, however, in

repeated letters advised Germanicus to return for the triumph

decreed him. "He had now had enough of success, enough of disaster. He

had fought victorious battles on a great scale; he should also

remember those losses which the winds and waves had inflicted, and

which, though due to no fault of the general, were still grievous

and shocking. He, Tiberius, had himself been sent nine times by

Augustus into Germany, and had done more by policy than by arms. By

this means the submission of the Sugambri had been secured, and the

Suevi with their king Maroboduus had been forced into peace. The

Cherusci too and the other insurgent tribes, since the vengeance of

Rome had been satisfied, might be left to their internal feuds."

When Germanicus requested a year for the completion of his

enterprise, Tiberius put a severer pressure on his modesty by offering

him a second consulship, the functions of which he was to discharge in

person. He also added that if war must still be waged, he might as

well leave some materials for renown to his brother Drusus, who, as

there was then no other enemy, could win only in Germany the

imperial title and the triumphal laurel. Germanicus hesitated no

longer, though he saw that this was a pretence, and that he was

hurried away through jealousy from the glory he had already acquired.

About the same time Libo Drusus, of the family of Scribonii, was

accused of revolutionary schemes. I will explain, somewhat minutely,

the beginning, progress, and end of this affair, since then first were

originated those practices which for so many years have eaten into the

heart of the State. Firmius Catus, a senator, an intimate friend of

Libo's, prompted the young man, who was thoughtless and an easy prey

to delusions, to resort to astrologers' promises, magical rites, and

interpreters of dreams, dwelling ostentatiously on his

great-grandfather Pompeius, his aunt Scribonia, who had formerly

been wife of Augustus, his imperial cousins, his house crowded with

ancestral busts, and urging him to extravagance and debt, himself

the companion of his profligacy and desperate embarrassments,

thereby to entangle him in all the more proofs of guilt.

As soon as he found enough witnesses, with some slaves who knew

the facts, he begged an audience of the emperor, after first

indicating the crime and the criminal through Flaccus Vescularius, a

Roman knight, who was more intimate with Tiberius than himself.

Caesar, without disregarding the information, declined an interview,

for the communication, he said, might be conveyed to him through the

same messenger, Flaccus. Meanwhile he conferred the praetorship on

Libo and often invited him to his table, showing no unfriendliness

in his looks or anger in his words (so thoroughly had he concealed his

resentment); and he wished to know all his saying and doings, though

it was in his power to stop them, till one Junius, who had been

tampered with by Libo for the purpose of evoking by incantations

spirits of the dead, gave information to Fulcinius Trio. Trio's

ability was conspicuous among informers, as well as his eagerness

for an evil notoriety. He at once pounced on the accused, went to

the consuls, and demanded an inquiry before the Senate. The Senators

were summoned, with a special notice that they must consult on a

momentous and terrible matter.

Libo meanwhile, in mourning apparel and accompanied by ladies of the

highest rank, went to house after house, entreating his relatives, and

imploring some eloquent voice to ward off his perils; which all

refused, on different pretexts, but from the same apprehension. On the

day the Senate met, jaded with fear and mental anguish, or, as some

have related, feigning illness, he was carried in a litter to the

doors of the Senate House, and leaning on his brother he raised his

hands and voice in supplication to Tiberius, who received him with

unmoved countenance. The emperor then read out the charges and the

accusers' names, with such calmness as not to seem to soften or

aggravate the accusations.

Besides Trio and Catus, Fonteius Agrippa and Caius Vibius were among

his accusers, and claimed with eager rivalry the privilege of

conducting the case for the prosecution, till Vibius, as they would

not yield one to the other, and Libo had entered without counsel,

offered to state the charges against him singly, and produced an

extravagantly absurd accusation, according to which Libo had consulted

persons whether he would have such wealth as to be able to cover the

Appian road as far as Brundisium with money. There were other

questions of the same sort, quite senseless and idle; if leniently

regarded, pitiable. But there was one paper in Libo's handwriting,

so the prosecutor alleged, with the names of Caesars and of

Senators, to which marks were affixed of dreadful or mysterious

significance. When the accused denied this, it was decided that his

slaves who recognised the writing should be examined by torture. As an

ancient statute of the Senate forbade such inquiry in a case affecting

a master's life, Tiberius, with his cleverness in devising new law,

ordered Libo's slaves to be sold singly to the State-agent, so that,

forsooth, without an infringement of the Senate's decree, Libo might

be tried on their evidence. As a consequence, the defendant asked an

adjournment till next day, and having gone home he charged his

kinsman, Publius Quirinus, with his last prayer to the emperor.

The answer was that he should address himself to the Senate.

Meanwhile his house was surrounded with soldiers; they crowded noisily

even about the entrance, so that they could be heard and seen; when

Libo, whose anguish drove him from the very banquet he had prepared as

his last gratification, called for a minister of death, grasped the

hands of his slaves, and thrust a sword into them. In their confusion,

as they shrank back, they overturned the lamp on the table at his

side, and in the darkness, now to him the gloom of death, he aimed two

blows at a vital part. At the groans of the falling man his freedmen

hurried up, and the soldiers, seeing the bloody deed, stood aloof. Yet

the prosecution was continued in the Senate with the same persistency,

and Tiberius declared on oath that he would have interceded for his

life, guilty though he was, but for his hasty suicide.

His property was divided among his accusers, and praetorships out of

the usual order were conferred on those who were of senators' rank.

Cotta Messalinus then proposed that Libo's bust should not be

carried in the funeral procession of any of his descendants; and

Cneius Lentulus, that no Scribonius should assume the surname of

Drusus. Days of public thanksgiving were appointed on the suggestion

of Pomponius Flaccus. Offerings were given to Jupiter, Mars, and

Concord, and the 13th day of September, on which Libo had killed

himself, was to be observed as a festival, on the motion of Gallus

Asinius, Papius Mutilus, and Lucius Apronius. I have mentioned the

proposals and sycophancy of these men, in order to bring to light this

old-standing evil in the State.

Decrees of the Senate were also passed to expel from Italy

astrologers and magicians. One of their number, Lucius Pituanius,

was hurled from the Rock. Another, Publius Marcius, was executed,

according to ancient custom, by the consuls outside the Esquiline

Gate, after the trumpets had been bidden to sound.

On the next day of the Senate's meeting much was said against the

luxury of the country by Quintus Haterius, an ex-consul, and by

Octavius Fronto, an ex-praetor. It was decided that vessels of solid

gold should not be made for the serving of food, and that men should

not disgrace themselves with silken clothing from the East. Fronto

went further, and insisted on restrictions being put on plate,

furniture, and household establishments. It was indeed still usual

with the Senators, when it was their turn to vote, to suggest anything

they thought for the State's advantage. Gallus Asinius argued on the

other side. "With the growth of the empire private wealth too," he

said, "had increased, and there was nothing new in this, but it

accorded with the fashions of the earliest antiquity. Riches were

one thing with the Fabricii, quite another with the Scipios. The State

was the standard of everything; when it was poor, the homes of the

citizens were humble; when it reached such magnificence, private

grandeur increased. In household establishments, and plate, and in

whatever was provided for use, there was neither excess nor

parsimony except in relation to the fortune of the possessor. A

distinction had been made in the assessments of Senators and

knights, not because they differed naturally, but that the superiority

of the one class in places in the theatre, in rank and in honour,

might be also maintained in everything else which insured mental

repose and bodily recreation, unless indeed men in the highest

position were to undergo more anxieties and more dangers, and to be at

the same time deprived of all solace under those anxieties and

dangers." Gallus gained a ready assent, under these specious

phrases, by a confession of failings with which his audience

symphathised. And Tiberius too had added that this was not a time

for censorship, and that if there were any declension in manners, a

promoter of reform would not be wanting.

During this debate Lucius Piso, after exclaiming against the

corruption of the courts, the bribery of judges, the cruel threats

of accusations from hired orators, declared that he would depart and

quit the capital, and that he meant to live in some obscure and

distant rural retreat. At the same moment he rose to leave the

Senate House. Tiberius was much excited, and though he pacified Piso

with gentle words, he also strongly urged his relatives to stop his

departure by their influence or their entreaties.

Soon afterwards this same Piso gave an equal proof of a fearless

sense of wrong by suing Urgulania, whom Augusta's friendship had

raised above the law. Neither did Urgulania obey the summons, for in

defiance of Piso she went in her litter to the emperor's house; nor

did Piso give way, though Augusta complained that she was insulted and

her majesty slighted. Tiberius, to win popularity by so humouring

his mother as to say that he would go to the praetor's court and

support Urgulania, went forth from the palace, having ordered soldiers

to follow him at a distance. He was seen, as the people thronged about

him, to wear a calm face, while he prolonged his time on the way

with various conversations, till at last when Piso's relatives tried

in vain to restrain him, Augusta directed the money which was

claimed to be handed to him. This ended the affair, and Piso, in

consequence, was not dishonoured, and the emperor rose in

reputation. Urgulania's influence, however, was so formidable to the

State, that in a certain cause which was tried by the Senate she would

not condescend to appear as a witness. The praetor was sent to

question her at her own house, although the Vestal virgins,

according to ancient custom, were heard in the courts, before

judges, whenever they gave evidence.

I should say nothing of the adjournment of public business in this

year, if it were not worth while to notice the conflicting opinions of

Cneius Piso and Asinius Gallus on the subject. Piso, although the

emperor had said that he would be absent, held that all the more ought

the business to be transacted, that the State might have honour of its

Senate and knights being able to perform their duties in the

sovereign's absence. Gallus, as Piso had forestalled him in the

display of freedom, maintained that nothing was sufficiently

impressive or suitable to the majesty of the Roman people, unless done

before Caesar and under his very eyes, and that therefore the

gathering from all Italy and the influx from the provinces ought to be

reserved for his presence. Tiberius listened to this in silence, and

the matter was debated on both sides in a sharp controversy. The

business, however, was adjourned.

A dispute then arose between Gallus and the emperor. Gallus proposed

that the elections of magistrates should be held every five years, and

that the commanders of the legions who before receiving a

praetorship discharged this military service should at once become

praetorselect, the emperor nominating twelve candidates every year. It

was quite evident that this motion had a deeper meaning and was an

attempt to explore the secrets of imperial policy. Tiberius,

however, argued as if his power would be thus increased. "It would,"

he said, "be trying to his moderation to have to elect so many and

to put off so many. He scarcely avoided giving offence from year to

year, even though a candidate's rejection was solaced by the near

prospect of office. What hatred would be incurred from those whose

election was deferred for five years! How could he foresee through

so long an interval what would be a man's temper, or domestic

relations, or estate? Men became arrogant even with this annual

appointment. What would happen if their thoughts were fixed on

promotion for five years? It was in fact a multiplying of the

magistrates five-fold, and a subversion of the laws which had

prescribed proper periods for the exercise of the candidate's activity

and the seeking or securing office. With this seemingly conciliatory

speech he retained the substance of power.

He also increased the incomes of some of the Senators. Hence it

was the more surprising that he listened somewhat disdainfully to

the request of Marcus Hortalus, a youth of noble rank in conspicuous

poverty. He was the grandson of the orator Hortensius, and had been

induced by Augustus, on the strength of a gift of a million sesterces,

to marry and rear children, that one of our most illustrious

families might not become extinct. Accordingly, with his four sons

standing at the doors of the Senate House, the Senate then sitting

in the palace, when it was his turn to speak he began to address

them as follows, his eyes fixed now on the statue of Hortensius

which stood among those of the orators, now on that of Augustus:-

"Senators, these whose numbers and boyish years you behold I have

reared, not by my own choice, but because the emperor advised me. At

the same time, my ancestors deserved to have descendants. For

myself, not having been able in these altered times to receive or

acquire wealth or popular favour, or that eloquence which has been the

hereditary possession of our house, I was satisfied if my narrow means

were neither a disgrace to myself nor burden to others. At the

emperor's bidding I married. Behold the offspring and progeny of a

succession of consuls and dictators. Not to excite odium do I recall

such facts, but to win compassion. While you prosper, Caesar, they

will attain such promotion as you shall bestow. Meanwhile save from

penury the great-grandsons of Quintus Hortensius, the

foster-children of Augustus."

The Senate's favourable bias was an incitement to Tiberius to

offer prompt opposition, which he did in nearly these words:- "If

all poor men begin to come here and to beg money for their children,

individuals will never be satisfied, and the State will be bankrupt.

Certainly our ancestors did not grant the privilege of occasionally

proposing amendments or of suggesting, in our turn for speaking,

something for the general advantage in order that we might in this

house increase our private business and property, thereby bringing

odium on the Senate and on emperors whether they concede or refuse

their bounty. In fact, it is not a request, but an importunity, as

utterly unreasonable as it is unforeseen, for a senator, when the

house has met on other matters, to rise from his place and, pleading

the number and age of his children, put a pressure on the delicacy

of the Senate, then transfer the same constraint to myself, and, as it

were, break open the exchequer, which, if we exhaust it by improper

favouritism, will have to be replenished by crimes. Money was given

you, Hortalus, by Augustus, but without solicitation, and not on the

condition of its being always given. Otherwise industry will

languish and idleness be encouraged, if a man has nothing to fear,

nothing to hope from himself, and every one, in utter recklessness,

will expect relief from others, thus becoming useless to himself and a

burden to me."

These and like remarks, though listened to with assent by those

who make it a practice to eulogise everything coming from

sovereigns, both good and bad, were received by the majority in

silence or with suppressed murmurs. Tiberius perceived it, and

having paused a while, said that he had given Hortalus his answer, but

that if the senators thought it right, he would bestow two hundred

thousand sesterces on each of his children of the male sex. The others

thanked him; Hortalus said nothing, either from alarm or because

even in his reduced fortunes he clung to his hereditary nobility.

Nor did Tiberius afterwards show any pity, though the house of

Hortensius sank into shameful poverty.

That same year the daring of a single slave, had it not been

promptly checked, would have ruined the State by discord and civil

war. A servant of Postumus Agrippa, Clemens by name, having

ascertained that Augustus was dead, formed a design beyond a slave's

conception, of going to the island of Planasia and seizing Agrippa

by craft or force and bringing him to the armies of Germany. The

slowness of a merchant vessel thwarted his bold venture. Meanwhile the

murder of Agrippa had been perpetrated, and then turning his

thoughts to a greater and more hazardous enterprise, he stole the

ashes of the deceased, sailed to Cosa, a promontory of Etruria, and

there hid himself in obscure places till his hair and beard were long.

In age and figure he was not unlike his master. Then through

suitable emissaries who shared his secret, it was rumoured that

Agrippa was alive, first in whispered gossip, soon, as is usual with

forbidden topics, in vague talk which found its way to the credulous

ears of the most ignorant people or of restless and revolutionary

schemers. He himself went to the towns, as the day grew dark,

without letting himself be seen publicly or remaining long in the same

places, but, as he knew that truth gains strength by notoriety and

time, falsehood by precipitancy and vagueness, he would either

withdraw himself from publicity or else forestall it.

It was rumoured meanwhile throughout Italy, and was believed at

Rome, that Agrippa had been saved by the blessing of Heaven. Already

at Ostia, where he had arrived, he was the centre of interest to a

vast concourse as well as to secret gatherings in the capital, while

Tiberius was distracted by the doubt whether he should crush this

slave of his by military force or allow time to dissipate a silly

credulity. Sometimes he thought that he must overlook nothing,

sometimes that he need not be afraid of everything, his mind

fluctuating between shame and terror. At last he entrusted the

affair to Sallustius Crispus, who chose two of his dependants (some

say they were soldiers) and urged them to go to him as pretended

accomplices, offering money and promising faithful companionship in

danger. They did as they were bidden; then, waiting for an unguarded

hour of night, they took with them a sufficient force, and having

bound and gagged him, dragged him to the palace. When Tiberius asked

him how he had become Agrippa, he is said to have replied, "As you

became Caesar." He could not be forced to divulge his accomplices.

Tiberius did not venture on a public execution, but ordered him to

be slain in a private part of the palace and his body to be secretly

removed. And although many of the emperor's household and knights

and senators were said to have supported him with their wealth and

helped him with their counsels, no inquiry was made.

At the close of the year was consecrated an arch near the temple

of Saturn to commemorate the recovery of the standards lost with

Varus, under the leadership of Germanicus and the auspices of

Tiberius; a temple of Fors Fortuna, by the Tiber, in the gardens which

Caesar, the dictator, bequeathed to the Roman people; a chapel to

the Julian family, and statues at Bovillae to the Divine Augustus.

In the consulship of Caius Caecilius and Lucius Pomponius,

Germanicus Caesar, on the 26th day of May, celebrated his triumph over

the Cherusci, Chatti, and Angrivarii, and the other tribes which

extend as far as the Elbe. There were borne in procession spoils,

prisoners, representations of the mountains, the rivers and battles;

and the war, seeing that he had been forbidden to finish it, was taken

as finished. The admiration of the beholders was heightened by the

striking comeliness of the general and the chariot which bore his five

children. Still, there was a latent dread when they remembered how

unfortunate in the case of Drusus, his father, had been the favour

of the crowd; how his uncle Marcellus, regarded by the city populace

with passionate enthusiasm, had been snatched from them while yet a

youth, and how short-lived and ill-starred were the attachments of the

Roman people.

Tiberius meanwhile in the name of Germanicus gave every one of the

city populace three hundred sesterces, and nominated himself his

colleague in the consulship. Still, failing to obtain credit for

sincere affection, he resolved to get the young prince out of the way,

under pretence of conferring distinction, and for this he invented

reasons, or eagerly fastened on such as chance presented.

King Archelaus had been in possession of Cappadocia for fifty years,

and Tiberius hated him because he had not shown him any mark of

respect while he was at Rhodes. This neglect of Archelaus was not

due to pride, but was suggested by the intimate friends of Augustus,

because, when Caius Caesar was in his prime and had charge of the

affairs of the East, Tiberius's friendship was thought to be

dangerous. When, after the extinction of the family of the Caesars,

Tiberius acquired the empire, he enticed Archelaus by a letter from

his mother, who without concealing her son's displeasure promised

mercy if he would come to beg for it. Archelaus, either quite

unsuspicious of treachery, or dreading compulsion, should it be

thought that he saw through it, hastened to Rome. There he was

received by a pitiless emperor, and soon afterwards was arraigned

before the Senate. In his anguish and in the weariness of old age, and

from being unused, as a king, to equality, much less to degradation,

not, certainly, from fear of the charges fabricated against him, he

ended his life, by his own act or by a natural death. His kingdom

was reduced into a province, and Caesar declared that, with its

revenues, the one per cent. tax could be lightened, which, for the

future, he fixed at one-half per cent.

During the same time, on the deaths of Antiochus and Philopator,

kings respectively of the Commageni and Cilicians, these nations

became excited, a majority desiring the Roman rule, some, that of

their kings. The provinces too of Syria and Judaea, exhausted by their

burdens, implored a reduction of tribute.

Tiberius accordingly discussed these matters and the affairs of

Armenia, which I have already related, before the Senate. "The

commotions in the East," he said, "could be quieted only by the

wisdom, of Germanicus; own life was on the decline, and Drusus had not

yet reached his maturity." Thereupon, by a decree of the Senate, the

provinces beyond sea were entrusted to Germanicus, with greater powers

wherever he went than were given to those who obtained their provinces

by lot or by the emperor's appointment.

Tiberius had however removed from Syria Creticus Silanus, who was

connected by a close tie with Germanicus, his daughter being betrothed

to Nero, the eldest of Germanicus's children. He appointed to it

Cneius Piso, a man of violent temper, without an idea of obedience,

with indeed a natural arrogance inherited from his father Piso, who in

the civil war supported with the most energetic aid against Caesar the

reviving faction in Africa, then embraced the cause of Brutus and

Cassius, and, when suffered to return, refrained from seeking

promotion till, he was actually solicited to accept a consulship

offered by Augustus. But beside the father's haughty temper there

was also the noble rank and wealth of his wife Plancina, to inflame

his ambition. He would hardly be the inferior of Tiberius, and as

for Tiberius's children, he looked down on them as far beneath him. He

thought it a certainty that he had been chosen to govern Syria in

order to thwart the aspirations of Germanicus. Some believed that he

had even received secret instructions from Tiberius, and it was beyond

a question that Augusta, with feminine jealousy, had suggested to

Plancina calumnious insinuations against Agrippina. For there was

division and discord in the court, with unexpressed partialities

towards either Drusus or Germanicus. Tiberius favoured Drusus, as his.

son and born of his own blood. As for Germanicus, his uncle's

estrangement had increased the affection which all others felt for

him, and there was the fact too that he had an advantage in the

illustrious rank of his mother's family, among whom he could point

to his grandfather Marcus Antonius and to his great-uncle Augustus.

Drusus, on the other hand, had for his great-grandfather a Roman

knight, Pomponius Atticus, who seemed to disgrace the ancestral images

of the Claudii. Again, the consort of Germanicus, Agrippina, in number

of children and in character, was superior to Livia, the wife of

Drusus. Yet the brothers were singularly united, and were wholly

unaffected by the rivalries of their kinsfolk.

Soon afterwards Drusus was sent into Illyricum to be familiarised

with military service, and to win the goodwill of the army. Tiberius

also thought that it was better for the young prince, who was being

demoralised by the luxury of the capital, to serve in a camp, while he

felt himself the safer with both his sons in command of legions.

However, he made a pretext of the Suevi, who were imploring help

against the Cherusci. For when the Romans had departed and they were

free from the fear of an invader, these tribes, according to the

custom of the race, and then specially as rivals in fame, had turned

their arms against each other. The strength of the two nations, the

valour of their chiefs were equal. But the title of king rendered

Maroboduus hated among his countrymen, while Arminius was regarded

with favour as the champion of freedom.

Thus it was not only the Cherusci and their allies, the old soldiers

of Arminius, who took up arms, but even the Semnones and Langobardi

from the kingdom of Maroboduus revolted to that chief. With this

addition he must have had an overwhelming superiority, had not

Inguiomerus deserted with a troop of his dependants to Maroboduus,

simply for the reason that the aged uncle scorned to obey a

brother's youthful son. The armies were drawn up, with equal

confidence on both sides, and there were not those desultory attacks

or irregular bands, formerly so common with the Germans. Prolonged

warfare against us had accustomed them to keep close to their

standards, to have the support of reserves, and to take the word of

command from their generals. On this occasion Arminius, who reviewed

the whole field on horseback, as he rode up to each band, boasted of

regained freedom, of slaughtered legions, of spoils and weapons

wrested from the Romans, and still in the hands of many of his men. As

for Maroboduus, he called him a fugitive, who had no experience of

battles, who had sheltered himself in the recesses of the Hercynian

forest and then with presents and embassies sued for a treaty; a

traitor to his country, a satellite of Caesar, who deserved to be

driven out, with rage as furious as that with which they had slain

Quintilius Varus. They should simply remember their many battles,

the result of which, with the final expulsion of the Romans,

sufficiently showed who could claim the crowning success in war.

Nor did Maroboduus abstain from vaunts about himself or from

revilings of the foe. Clasping the hand of Inguiomerus, he protested

"that in the person before them centred all the renown of the

Cherusci, that to his counsels was due whatever had ended

successfully. Arminius in his infatuation and ignorance was taking

to himself the glory which belonged to another, for he had

treacherously surprised three unofficered legions and a general who

had not an idea of perfidy, to the great hurt of Germany and to his

own disgrace, since his wife and his son were still enduring

slavery. As for himself, he had been attacked by twelve legions led by

Tiberius, and had preserved untarnished the glory of the Germans,

and then on equal terms the armies had parted. He was by no means

sorry that they had the matter in their own hands, whether they

preferred to war with all their might against Rome, or to accept a

bloodless peace."

To these words, which roused the two armies, was added the

stimulus of special motives of their own. The Cherusci and

Langobardi were fighting for ancient renown or newly-won freedom;

the other side for the increase of their dominion. Never at any time

was the shock of battle more tremendous or the issue more doubtful, as

the right wings of both armies were routed. Further fighting was

expected, when Maroboduus withdrew his camp to the hills. This was a

sign of discomfiture. He was gradually stripped of his strength by

desertions, and, having fled to the Marcomanni, he sent envoys to

Tiberius with entreaties for help. The answer was that he had no right

to invoke the aid of Roman arms against the Cherusci, when he had

rendered no assistance to the Romans in their conflict with the same

enemy. Drusus, however, was sent as I have related, to establish


That same year twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in

the night, so that the destruction was all the more unforeseen and

fearful. Nor were there the means of escape usual in, such a disaster,

by rushing out into the open country, for there people were

swallowed up by the yawning earth. Vast mountains, it is said,

collapsed; what had been level ground seemed to be raised aloft, and

fires blazed out amid the ruin. The calamity fell most fatally on

the inhabitants of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest

share of sympathy. The emperor promised ten million sesterces, and

remitted for five years all they paid to the exchequer or to the

emperor's purse. Magnesia, under Mount Sipylus, was considered to come

next in loss and in need of help. The people of Temnus, Philadelpheia,

Aegae, Apollonis, the Mostenians, and Hyrcanian Macedonians, as they

were called, with the towns of Hierocaesarea, Myrina, Cyme, and

Tmolus, were; it was decided, to be exempted from tribute for the same

time, and some one was to be sent from the Senate to examine their

actual condition and to relieve them. Marcus Aletus, one of the

expraetors, was chosen, from a fear that, as an exconsul was

governor of Asia, there might be rivalry between men of equal rank,

and consequent embarrassment.

To his splendid public liberality the emperor added bounties no less

popular. The property of Aemilia Musa, a rich woman who died

intestate, on which the imperial treasury had a claim, he handed

over to Aemilius Lepidus, to whose family she appeared to belong;

and the estate of Patuleius, a wealthy Roman knight, though he was

himself left in part his heir, he gave to Marcus Servilius, whose name

he discovered in an earlier and unquestioned will. In both these cases

he said that noble rank ought to have the support of wealth. Nor did

he accept a legacy from any one unless he had earned it by friendship.

Those who were strangers to him, and who, because they were at

enmity with others, made the emperor their heir, he kept at a

distance. While, however, he relieved the honourable poverty of the

virtuous, he expelled from the Senate or suffered voluntarily to

retire spendthrifts whose vices had brought them to penury, like

Vibidius Varro, Marius Nepos, Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sulla, and

Quintus Vitellius.

About the same time he dedicated some temples of the gods, which had

perished from age or from fire, and which Augustus had begun to

restore. These were temples to Liber, Libera, and Ceres, near the

Great Circus, which last Aulus Postumius, when Dictator, had vowed;

a temple to Flora in the same place, which had been built by Lucius

and Marcus Publicius, aediles, and a temple to Janus, which had been

erected in the vegetable market by Caius Duilius, who was the first to

make the Roman power successful at sea and to win a naval triumph over

the Carthaginians. A temple to Hope was consecrated by Germanicus;

this had been vowed by Atilius in that same war.

Meantime the law of treason was gaining strength. Appuleia

Varilia, grand-niece of Augustus, was accused of treason by an

informer for having ridiculed the Divine Augustus, Tiberius, and

Tiberius's mother, in some insulting remarks, and for having been

convicted of adultery, allied though she was to Caesar's house.

Adultery, it was thought, was sufficiently guarded against by the

Julian law. As to the charge of treason, the emperor insisted that

it should be taken separately, and that she should be condemned if she

had spoken irreverently of Augustus. Her insinuations against

himself he did not wish to be the subject of judicial inquiry. When

asked by the consul what he thought of the unfavourable speeches she

was accused of having uttered against his mother, he said nothing.

Afterwards, on the next day of the Senate's meeting, he even begged in

his mother's name that no words of any kind spoken against her might

in any case be treated as criminal. He then acquitted Appuleia of

treason. For her adultery, he deprecated the severer penalty, and

advised that she should be removed by her kinsfolk, after the

example of our forefathers, to more than two hundred miles from

Rome. Her paramour, Manlius, was forbidden to live in Italy or Africa.

A contest then arose about the election of a praetor in the room

of Vipstanus Gallus, whom death had removed. Germanicus and Drusus

(for they were still at Rome) supported Haterius Agrippa, a relative

of Germanicus. Many, on the other hand, endeavoured to make the number

of children weigh most in favour of the candidates. Tiberius

rejoiced to see a strife in the Senate between his sons and the law.

Beyond question the law was beaten, but not at once, and only by a few

votes, in the same way as laws were defeated even when they were in


In this same year a war broke out in Africa, where the enemy was led

by Tacfarinas. A Numidian by birth, he had served as an auxiliary in

the Roman camp, then becoming a deserter, he at first gathered round

him a roving band familiar with robbery, for plunder and for rapine.

After a while, he marshalled them like regular soldiers, under

standards and in troops, till at last he was regarded as the leader,

not of an undisciplined rabble, but of the Musulamian people. This

powerful tribe, bordering on the deserts of Africa, and even then with

none of the civilisation of cities, took up arms and drew their

Moorish neighbours into the war. These too had a leader, Mazippa.

The army was so divided that Tacfarinas kept the picked men who were

armed in Roman fashion within a camp, and familiarised them with a

commander's authority, while Mazippa, with light troops, spread around

him fire, slaughter, and consternation. They had forced the

Ciniphii, a far from contemptible tribe, into their cause, when Furius

Camillus, proconsul of Africa, united in one force a legion and all

the regularly enlisted allies, and, with an army insignificant

indeed compared with the multitude of the Numidians and Moors, marched

against the enemy. There was nothing however which he strove so much

to avoid as their eluding an engagement out of fear. It was by the

hope of victory that they were lured on only to be defeated. The

legion was in the army's centre; the light cohorts and two cavalry

squadrons on its wings. Nor did Tacfarinas refuse battle. The

Numidians were routed, and after a number of years the name of

Furius won military renown. Since the days of the famous deliverer

of our city and his son Camillus, fame as a general had fallen to

the lot of other branches of the family, and the man of whom I am

now speaking was regarded as an inexperienced soldier. All the more

willingly did Tiberius commemorate his achievements in the Senate, and

the Senators voted him the ornaments of triumph, an honour which

Camillus, because of his unambitious life, enjoyed without harm.

In the following year Tiberius held his third, Germanicus his

second, consulship. Germanicus, however, entered on the office at

Nicopolis, a city of Achaia, whither he had arrived by the coast of

Illyricum, after having seen his brother Drusus, who was then in

Dalmatia, and endured a stormy voyage through the Adriatic and

afterwards the Ionian Sea. He accordingly devoted a few days to the

repair of his fleet, and, at the same time, in remembrance of his

ancestors, he visited the bay which the victory of Actium had made

famous, the spoils consecrated by Augustus, and the camp of

Antonius. For, as I have said, Augustus was his great-uncle,

Antonius his grandfather, and vivid images of disaster and success

rose before him on the spot. Thence he went to Athens, and there, as a

concession to our treaty with an allied and ancient city, he was

attended only by a single lictor. The Greeks welcomed him with the

most elaborate honours, and brought forward all the old deeds and

sayings of their countrymen, to give additional dignity to their


Thence he directed his course to Euboea and crossed to Lesbos, where

Agrippina for the last time was confined and gave birth to Julia. He

then penetrated to the remoter parts of the province of Asia,

visited the Thracian cities, Perinthus and Byzantium; next, the narrow

strait of the Propontis and the entrance of the Pontus, from an

anxious wish to become acquainted with those ancient and celebrated

localities. He gave relief, as he went, to provinces which had been

exhausted by internal feuds or by the oppressions of governors. In his

return he attempted to see the sacred mysteries of the

Samothracians, but north winds which he encountered drove him aside

from his course. And so after visiting Ilium and surveying a scene

venerable from the vicissitudes of fortune and as the birth-place of

our people, he coasted back along Asia, and touched at Colophon, to

consult the oracle of the Clarian Apollo. There, it is not a woman, as

at Delphi, but a priest chosen from certain families, generally from

Miletus, who ascertains simply the number and the names of the

applicants. Then descending into a cave and drinking a draught from

a secret spring, the man, who is commonly ignorant of letters and of

poetry, utters a response in verse answering to the thoughts conceived

in the mind of any inquirer. It was said that he prophesied to

Germanicus, in dark hints, as oracles usually do, an early doom.

Cneius Piso meanwhile, that he might the sooner enter on his design,

terrified the citizens of Athens by his tumultuous approach, and

then reviled them in a bitter speech, with indirect reflections on

Germanicus, who, he said, had derogated from the honour of the Roman

name in having treated with excessive courtesy, not the people of

Athens, who indeed had been exterminated by repeated disasters, but

a miserable medley of tribes. As for the men before him, they had been

Mithridates's allies against Sulla, allies of Antonius against the

Divine Augustus. He taunted them too with the past, with their

ill-success against the Macedonians, their violence to their own

countrymen, for he had his own special grudge against this city,

because they would not spare at his intercession one Theophilus whom

the Areopagus had condemned for forgery. Then, by sailing rapidly

and by the shortest route through the Cyclades, he overtook Germanicus

at the island of Rhodes. The prince was not ignorant of the slanders

with which he had been assailed, but his good nature was such that

when a storm arose and drove Piso on rocks, and his enemy's

destruction could have been referred to chance, he sent some triremes,

by the help of which he might be rescued from danger. But this did not

soften Piso's heart. Scarcely allowing a day's interval, he left

Germanicus and hastened on in advance. When he reached Syria and the

legions, he began, by bribery and favouritism, to encourage the lowest

of the common soldiers, removing the old centurions and the strict

tribunes and assigning their places to creatures of his own or to

the vilest of the men, while he allowed idleness in the camp,

licentiousness in the towns, and the soldiers to roam through the

country and take their pleasure. He went such lengths in

demoralizing them, that he was spoken of in their vulgar talk as the

father of the legions.

Plancina too, instead of keeping herself within the proper limits of

a woman, would be present at the evolutions of the cavalry and the

manoeuvres of the cohorts, and would fling insulting remarks at

Agrippina and Germanicus. Some even of the good soldiers were inclined

to a corrupt compliance, as a whispered rumour gained ground that

the emperor was not averse to these proceedings. Of all this

Germanicus was aware, but his most pressing anxiety was to be first in

reaching Armenia.

This had been of old an unsettled country from the character of

its people and from its geographical position, bordering, as it

does, to a great extent on our provinces and stretching far away to

Media. It lies between two most mighty empires, and is very often at

strife with them, hating Rome and jealous of Parthia. It had at this

time no king, Vonones having been expelled, but the nation's likings

inclined towards Zeno, son of Polemon, king of Pontus, who from his

earliest infancy had imitated Armenian manners and customs, loving the

chase, the banquet, and all the popular pastimes of barbarians, and

who had thus bound to himself chiefs and people alike. Germanicus

accordingly, in the city of Artaxata, with the approval of the

nobility, in the presence of a vast multitude, placed the royal diadem

on his head. All paid him homage and saluted him as King Artaxias,

which name they gave him from the city.

Cappadocia meanwhile, which had been reduced to the form of a

province, received as its governor Quintus Veranius. Some of the royal

tributes were diminished, to inspire hope of a gentler rule under

Rome. Quintus Servaeus was appointed to Commagene, then first put

under a praetor's jurisdiction.

Successful as was this settlement of all the interests of our

allies, it gave Germanicus little joy because of the arrogance of

Piso. Though he had been ordered to march part of the legions into

Armenia under his own or his son's command, he had neglected to do

either. At length the two met at Cyrrhus, the winterquarters of the

tenth legion, each controlling his looks, Piso concealing his fears,

Germanicus shunning the semblance of menace. He was indeed, as I

have said, a kind-hearted man. But friends who knew well how to

inflame a quarrel, exaggerated what was true and added lies,

alleging various charges against Piso, Plancina, and their sons.

At last, in the presence of a few intimate associates, Germanicus

addressed him in language such as suppressed resentment suggests, to

which Piso replied with haughty apologies. They parted in open enmity.

After this Piso was seldom seen at Caesar's tribunal, and if he ever

sat by him, it was with a sullen frown and a marked display of

opposition. He was even heard to say at a banquet given by the king of

the Nabataeans, when some golden crowns of great weight were presented

to Caesar and Agrippina and light ones to Piso and the rest, that

the entertainment was given to the son of a Roman emperor, not of a

Parthian king. At the same time he threw his crown on the ground, with

a long speech against luxury, which, though it angered Germanicus,

he still bore with patience.

Meantime envoys arrived from Artabanus, king of the Parthians. He

had sent them to recall the memory of friendship and alliance, with an

assurance that he wished for a renewal of the emblems of concord,

and that he would in honour of Germanicus yield the point of advancing

to the bank of the Euphrates. He begged meanwhile that Vonones might

not be kept in Syria, where, by emissaries from an easy distance, he

might draw the chiefs of the tribes into civil strife. Germanicus'

answer as to the alliance between Rome and Parthia was dignified; as

to the king's visit and the respect shown to himself, it was

graceful and modest. Vonones was removed to Pompeiopolis, a city on

the coast of Cilicia. This was not merely a concession to the

request of Artabanus, but was meant as an affront to Piso, who had a

special liking for Vonones, because of the many attentions and

presents by which he had won Plancina's favour.

In the consulship of Marcus Silanus and Lucius Norbanus,

Germanicus set out for Egypt to study its antiquities. His

ostensible motive however was solicitude for the province. He

reduced the price of corn by opening the granaries, and adopted many

practices pleasing to the multitude. He would go about without

soldiers, with sandalled feet, and apparelled after the Greek fashion,

in imitation of Publius Scipio, who, it is said, habitually did the

same in Sicily, even when the war with Carthage was still raging.

Tiberius having gently expressed disapproval of his dress and manners,

pronounced a very sharp censure on his visit to Alexandria without the

emperor's leave, contrary to the regulations of Augustus. That prince,

among other secrets of imperial policy, had forbidden senators and

Roman knights of the higher rank to enter Egypt except by

permission, and he had specially reserved the country, from a fear

that any one who held a province containing the key of the land and of

the sea, with ever so small a force against the mightiest army,

might distress Italy by famine.

Germanicus, however, who had not yet learnt how much he was blamed

for his expedition, sailed up the Nile from the city of Canopus as his

starting-point. Spartans founded the place because Canopus, pilot of

one of their ships, had been buried there, when Menelaus on his return

to Greece was driven into a distant sea and to the shores of Libya.

Thence he went to the river's nearest mouth, dedicated to a Hercules

who, the natives say, was born in the country and was the original

hero, others, who afterwards showed like valour, having received his

name. Next he visited the vast ruins of ancient Thebes. There yet

remained on the towering piles Egyptian inscriptions, with a

complete account of the city's past grandeur. One of the aged priests,

who was desired to interpret the language of his country, related

how once there had dwelt in Thebes seven hundred thousand men of

military age, and how with such an army king Rhamses conquered

Libya, Ethiopia, Media, Persia, Bactria, and Scythia, and held under

his sway the countries inhabited by the Syrians, Armenians, and

their neighbours, the Cappadocians, from the Bithynian to the Lycian

sea. There was also to be read what tributes were imposed on these

nations, the weight of silver and gold, the tale of arms and horses,

the gifts of ivory and of perfumes to the temples, with the amount

of grain and supplies furnished by each people, a revenue as

magnificent as is now exacted by the might of Parthia or the power

of Rome.

But Germanicus also bestowed attention on other wonders. Chief of

these were the stone image of Memnon, which, when struck by the

sun's rays, gives out the sound of a human voice; the pyramids, rising

up like mountains amid almost impassable wastes of shifting sand,

raised by the emulation and vast wealth of kings; the lake hollowed

out of the earth to be a receptacle for the Nile's overflow; and

elsewhere the river's narrow channel and profound depth which no

line of the explorer can penetrate. He then came to Elephantine and

Syene, formerly the limits of the Roman empire, which now extends to

the Red Sea.

While Germanicus was spending the summer in visits to several

provinces, Drusus gained no little glory by sowing discord among the

Germans and urging them to complete the destruction of the now

broken power of Maroboduus. Among the Gotones was a youth of noble

birth, Catualda by name, who had formerly been driven into exile by

the might of Maroboduus, and who now, when the king's fortunes were

declining, ventured on revenge. He entered the territory of the

Marcomanni with a strong force, and, having corruptly won over the

nobles to join him, burst into the palace and into an adjacent

fortress. There he found the long-accumulated plunder of the Suevi and

camp followers and traders from our provinces who had been attracted

to an enemy's land, each from their various homes, first by the

freedom of commerce, next by the desire of amassing wealth, finally by

forgetfulness of their fatherland.

Maroboduus, now utterly deserted, had no resource but in the mercy

of Caesar. Having crossed the Danube where it flows by the province of

Noricum, he wrote to Tiberius, not like a fugitive or a suppliant, but

as one who remembered his past greatness. When as a most famous king

in former days he received invitations from many nations, he had

still, he said, preferred the friendship of Rome. Caesar replied

that he should have a safe and honourable home in Italy, if he would

remain there, or, if his interests required something different, he

might leave it under the same protection under which he had come.

But in the Senate he maintained that Philip had not been so formidable

to the Athenians, or Pyrrhus or Antiochus to the Roman people, as

was Maroboduus. The speech is extant, and in it he magnifies the man's

power, the ferocity of the tribes under his sway, his proximity to

Italy as a foe, finally his own measures for his overthrow. The result

was that Maroboduus was kept at Ravenna, where his possible return was

a menace to the Suevi, should they ever disdain obedience. But he

never left Italy for eighteen years, living to old age and losing much

of his renown through an excessive clinging to life.

Catualda had a like downfall and no better refuge. Driven out soon

afterwards by the overwhelming strength of the Hermundusi led by

Vibilius, he was received and sent to Forum Julii, a colony of

Narbonensian Gaul. The barbarians who followed the two kings, lest

they might disturb the peace of the provinces by mingling with the

population, were settled beyond the Danube between the rivers Marus

and Cusus, under a king, Vannius, of the nation of the Quadi.

Tidings having also arrived of Artaxias being made king of Armenia

by Germanicus, the Senate decreed that both he and Drusus should enter

the city with an ovation. Arches too were raised round the sides of

the temple of Mars the Avenger, with statues of the two Caesars.

Tiberius was the more delighted at having established peace by wise

policy than if he had finished a war by battle. And so next he planned

a crafty scheme against Rhescuporis, king of Thrace. That entire

country had been in the possession of Rhoemetalces, after whose

death Augustus assigned half to the king's brother Rhescuporis, half

to his son Cotys. In this division the cultivated lands, the towns,

and what bordered on Greek territories, fell to Cotys; the wild and

barbarous portion, with enemies on its frontier, to Rhescuporis. The

kings too themselves differed, Cotys having a gentle and kindly

temper, the other a fierce and ambitious spirit, which could not brook

a partner. Still at first they lived in a hollow friendship, but

soon Rhescuporis overstepped his bounds and appropriated to himself

what had been given to Cotys, using force when he was resisted, though

somewhat timidly under Augustus, who having created both kingdoms

would, he feared, avenge any contempt of his arrangement. When however

he heard of the change of emperor, he let loose bands of freebooters

and razed the fortresses, as a provocation to war.

Nothing made Tiberius so uneasy as an apprehension of the

disturbance of any settlement. He commissioned a centurion to tell the

kings not to decide their dispute by arms. Cotys at once dismissed the

forces which he had prepared. Rhescuporis, with assumed modesty, asked

for a place of meeting where, he said, they might settle their

differences by an interview. There was little hesitation in fixing

on a time, a place, finally on terms, as every point was mutually

conceded and accepted, by the one out of good nature, by the other

with a treacherous intent. Rhescuporis, to ratify the treaty, as he

said, further proposed a banquet; and when their mirth had been

prolonged far into the night, and Cotys amid the feasting and the wine

was unsuspicious of danger, he loaded him with chains, though he

appealed, on perceiving the perfidy, to the sacred character of a

king, to the gods of their common house, and to the hospitable

board. Having possessed himself of all Thrace, he wrote word to

Tiberius that a plot had been formed against him, and that he had

forestalled the plotter. Meanwhile, under pretext of a war against the

Bastarnian and Scythian tribes, he was strengthening himself with

fresh forces of infantry and cavalry.

He received a conciliatory answer. If there was no treachery in

his conduct, he could rely on his innocence, but neither the emperor

nor the Senate would decide on the right or wrong of his cause without

hearing it. He was therefore to surrender Cotys, come in person

transfer from himself the odium of the charge.

This letter Latinius Pandus, propraetor of Moesia, sent to Thrace,

with soldiers to whose custody Cotys was to be delivered. Rhescuporis,

hesitating between fear and rage, preferred to be charged with an

accomplished rather than with an attempted crime. He ordered Cotys

to be murdered and falsely represented his death as self-inflicted.

Still the emperor did not change the policy which he had once for

all adopted. On the death of Pandus, whom Rhescuporis accused of being

his personal enemy, he appointed to the government of Moesia Pomponius

Flaccus, a veteran soldier, specially because of his close intimacy

with the king and his consequent ability to entrap him.

Flaccus on arriving in Thrace induced the king by great promises,

though he hesitated and thought of his guilty deeds, to enter the

Roman lines. He then surrounded him with a strong force under pretence

of showing him honour, and the tribunes and centurions, by counsel, by

persuasion, and by a more undisguised captivity the further he went,

brought him, aware at last of his desperate plight, to Rome. He was

accused before the Senate by the wife of Cotys, and was condemned to

be kept a prisoner far away from his kingdom. Thrace was divided

between his son Rhoemetalces, who, it was proved, had opposed his

father's designs, and the sons of Cotys. As these were still minors,

Trebellienus Rufus, an expraetor, was appointed to govern the

kingdom in the meanwhile, after the precedent of our ancestors who

sent Marcus Lepidus into Egypt as guardian to Ptolemy's children.

Rhescuporis was removed to Alexandria, and there attempting or falsely

charged with attempting escape, was put to death.

About the same time, Vonones, who, as I have related, had been

banished to Cilicia, endeavoured by bribing his guards to escape

into Armenia, thence to Albania and Heniochia, and to his kinsman, the

king of Scythia. Quitting the sea-coast on the pretence of a hunting

expedition, he struck into trackless forests, and was soon borne by

his swift steed to the river Pyramus, the bridges over which had

been broken down by the natives as soon as they heard of the king's

escape. Nor was there a ford by which it could be crossed. And so on

the river's bank he was put in chains by Vibius Fronto, an officer

of cavalry; and then Remmius, an enrolled pensioner, who had

previously been entrusted with the king's custody, in pretended

rage, pierced him with his sword. Hence there was more ground for

believing that the man, conscious of guilty complicity and fearing

accusation, had slain Vonones.

Germanicus meanwhile, as he was returning from Egypt, found that all

his directions to the legions and to the various cities had been

repealed or reversed. This led to grievous insults on Piso, while he

as savagely assailed the prince. Piso then resolved to quit Syria.

Soon he was detained there by the failing health of Germanicus, but

when he heard of his recovery, while people were paying the vows

they had offered for his safety, he went attended by his lictors,

drove away the victims placed by the altars with all the

preparations for sacrifice, and the festal gathering of the populace

of Antioch. Then he left for Seleucia and awaited the result of the

illness which had again attacked Germanicus. The terrible intensity of

the malady was increased by the belief that he had been poisoned by

Piso. And certainly there were found hidden in the floor and in the

walls disinterred remains of human bodies, incantations and spells,

and the name of Germanicus inscribed on leaden tablets, half-burnt

cinders smeared with blood, and other horrors by which in popular

belief souls are devoted so the infernal deities. Piso too was accused

of sending emissaries to note curiously every unfavourable symptom

of the illness.

Germanicus heard of all this with anger, no less than with fear. "If

my doors," he said, "are to be besieged, if I must gasp out my last

breath under my enemies' eyes, what will then be the lot of my most

unhappy wife, of my infant children? Poisoning seems tedious; he is in

eager haste to have the sole control of the province and the

legions. But Germanicus is not yet fallen so low, nor will the

murderer long retain the reward of the fatal deed."

He then addressed a letter to Piso, renouncing his friendship,

and, as many also state, ordered him to quit the province. Piso

without further delay weighed anchor, slackening his course that he

might not have a long way to return should Germanicus' death leave

Syria open to him.

For a brief space the prince's hopes rose; then his frame became

exhausted, and, as his end drew near, he spoke as follows to the

friends by his side:-

"Were I succumbing to nature, I should have just ground of complaint

even against the gods for thus tearing me away in my youth by an

untimely death from parents, children, country. Now, cut off by the

wickedness of Piso and Plancina, I leave to your hearts my last

entreaties. Describe to my father and brother, torn by what

persecutions, entangled by what plots, I have ended by the worst of

deaths the most miserable of lives. If any were touched by my bright

prospects, by ties of blood, or even by envy towards me while I lived,

they will weep that the once prosperous survivor of so many wars has

perished by a woman's treachery. You will have the opportunity of

complaint before the Senate, of an appeal to the laws. It is not the

chief duty of friends to follow the dead with unprofitable laments,

but to remember his wishes, to fulfil his commands. Tears for

Germanicus even strangers will shed; vengeance must come from you,

if you loved the man more than his fortune. Show the people of Rome

her who is the granddaughter of the Divine Augustus, as well as my

consort; set before them my six children. Sympathy will be on the side

of the accusers, and to those who screen themselves under infamous

orders belief or pardon will be refused."

His friends clasped the dying man's right hand, and swore that

they would sooner lose life than revenge.

He then turned to his wife and implored her by the memory of her

husband and by their common offspring to lay aside her high spirit, to

submit herself to the cruel blows of fortune, and not, when she

returned to Rome, to enrage by political rivalry those who were

stronger than herself. This was said openly; other words were

whispered, pointing, it was supposed, to his fears from Tiberius. Soon

afterwards he expired, to the intense sorrow of the province and of

the neighbouring peoples. Foreign nations and kings grieved over

him, so great was his courtesy to allies, his humanity to enemies.

He inspired reverence alike by look and voice, and while he maintained

the greatness and dignity of the highest rank, he had escaped the

hatred that waits on arrogance.

His funeral, though it lacked the family statues and procession, was

honoured by panegyrics and a commemoration of his virtues. Some

there were who, as they thought of his beauty, his age, and the manner

of his death, the vicinity too of the country where he died, likened

his end to that of Alexander the Great. Both had a graceful person and

were of noble birth; neither had much exceeded thirty years of age,

and both fell by the treachery of their own people in strange lands.

But Germanicus was gracious to his friends, temperate in his

pleasures, the husband of one wife, with only legitimate children.

He was too no less a warrior, though rashness he had none, and, though

after having cowed Germany by his many victories, he was hindered from

crushing it into subjection. Had he had the sole control of affairs,

had he possessed the power and title of a king, he would have attained

military glory as much more easily as he had excelled Alexander in

clemency, in self-restraint, and in all other virtues.

As to the body which, before it was burnt, lay bare in the forum

at Antioch, its destined place of burial, it is doubtful whether it

exhibited the marks of poisoning. For men according as they pitied

Germanicus and were prepossessed with suspicion or were biased by

partiality towards Piso, gave conflicting accounts.

Then followed a deliberation among the generals and other senators

present about the appointment of a governor to Syria. The contest

was slight among all but Vibius Marsus and Cneius Sentius, between

whom there was a long dispute. Finally Marsus yielded to Sentius as an

older and keener competitor. Sentius at once sent to Rome a woman

infamous for poisonings in the province and a special favourite of

Plancina, Martina by name, on the demand of Vitellius and Veranius and

others, who were preparing the charges and the indictment as if a

prosecution had already been commenced.

Agrippina meantime, worn out though she was with sorrow and bodily

weakness, yet still impatient of everything which might delay her

vengeance, embarked with the ashes of Germanicus and with her

children, pitied by all. Here indeed was a woman of the highest

nobility, and but lately because of her splendid union wont to be seen

amid an admiring and sympathizing throng, now bearing in her bosom the

mournful relics of death, with an uncertain hope of revenge, with

apprehensions for herself, repeatedly at fortune's mercy by reason

of the ill-starred fruitfulness of her marriage. Piso was at the

island of Coos when tidings reached him that Germanicus was dead. He

received the news with extravagant joy, slew victims, visited the

temples, with no moderation in his transports; while Plancina's

insolence increased, and she then for the first time exchanged for the

gayest attire the mourning she had worn for her lost sister.

Centurions streamed in, and hinted to Piso that he had the

sympathy of the legions at his command. "Go back," they said, "to

the province which has not been rightfully taken from you, and is

still vacant." While he deliberated what he was to do, his son, Marcus

Piso, advised speedy return to Rome. "As yet," he said, "you have

not contracted any inexpiable guilt, and you need not dread feeble

suspicions or vague rumours. Your strife with Germanicus deserved

hatred perhaps, but not punishment, and by your having been deprived

of the province, your enemies have been fully satisfied. But if you

return, should Sentius resist you, civil war is begun, and you will

not retain on your side the centurions and soldiers, who are

powerfully swayed by the yet recent memory of their general and by a

deep-rooted affection for the Caesars."

Against this view Domitius Celer, one of Piso's intimate friends,

argued that he ought to profit by the opportunity. "It was Piso, not

Sentius, who had been appointed to Syria. It was to Piso that the

symbols of power and a praetor's jurisdiction and the legions had been

given. In case of a hostile menace, who would more rightfully confront

it by arms than the man who had received the authority and special

commission of a governor? And as for rumours, it is best to leave time

in which they may die away. Often the innocent cannot stand against

the first burst of unpopularity. But if Piso possesses himself of

the army, and increases his resources, much which cannot be foreseen

will haply turn out in his favour. Are we hastening to reach Italy

along with the ashes of Germanicus, that, unheard and undefended,

you may be hurried to ruin by the wailings of Agrippina and the

first gossip of an ignorant mob? You have on your side the

complicity of Augusta and the emperor's favour, though in secret,

and none mourn more ostentatiously over the death of Germanicus than

those who most rejoice at it."

Without much difficulty Piso, who was ever ready for violent action,

was led into this view. He sent a letter to Tiberius accusing

Germanicus of luxury and arrogance, and asserting that, having been

driven away to make room for revolution, he had resumed the command of

the army in the same loyal spirit in which he had before held it. At

the same time he put Domitius on board a trireme, with an order to

avoid the coast and to push on to Syria through the open sea away from

the islands. He formed into regular companies the deserters who

flocked to him, armed the camp-followers, crossed with his ships to

the mainland, intercepted a detachment of new levies on their way to

Syria, and wrote word to the petty kings of Cilicia that they were

to help him with auxiliaries, the young Piso actively assisting in all

the business of war, though he had advised against undertaking it.

And so they coasted along Lycia and Pamphylia, and on meeting the

fleet which conveyed Agrippina, both sides in hot anger at first armed

for battle, and then in mutual fear confined themselves to

revilings, Marsus Vibius telling Piso that he was to go to Rome to

defend himself. Piso mockingly replied that he would be there as

soon as the praetor who had to try poisoning cases had fixed a day for

the accused and his prosecutors.

Meanwhile Domitius having landed at Laodicea, a city of Syria, as he

was on his way to the winter-quarters of the sixth legion, which

was, he believed, particularly open to revolutionary schemes, was

anticipated by its commander Pacuvius. Of this Sentius informed Piso

in a letter, and warned him not to disturb the armies by agents of

corruption or the province by war. He gathered round him all whom he

knew to cherish the memory of Germanicus, and to be opposed to his

enemies, dwelling repeatedly on the greatness of the general, with

hints that the State was being threatened with an armed attack, and he

put himself at the head of a strong force, prepared for battle.

Piso, too, though his first attempts were unsuccessful, did not omit

the safest precautions under present circumstances, but occupied a

very strongly fortified position in Cilicia, named, Celenderis. He had

raised to the strength of a legion the Cilician auxiliaries which

the petty kings had sent, by mixing with them some deserters, and

the lately intercepted recruits with his own and Plancina's slaves.

And he protested that he, though Caesar's legate, was kept out of

the province which Caesar had given him, not by the legions (for he

had come at their invitation) but by Sentius, who was veiling

private animosity under lying charges. "Only," he said, "stand in

battle array, and the soldiers will not fight when they see that

Piso whom they themselves once called 'father,' is the stronger, if

right is to decide; if arms, is far from powerless."

He then deployed his companies before the lines of the fortress on a

high and precipitous hill, with the sea surrounding him on every other

side. Against him were the veteran troops drawn up in ranks and with

reserves, a formidable soldiery on one side, a formidable position

on the other. But his men had neither heart nor hope, and only

rustic weapons, extemporised for sudden use. When they came to

fighting, the result was doubtful only while the Roman cohorts were

struggling up to level ground; then, the Cilicians turned their

backs and shut themselves up within the fortress.

Meanwhile Piso vainly attempted an attack on the fleet which

waited at a distance; he then went back, and as he stood before the

walls, now smiting his breast, now calling on individual soldiers by

name, and luring them on by rewards, sought to excite a mutiny. He had

so far roused them that a standard bearer of the sixth legion went

over to him with his standard. Thereupon Sentius ordered the horns and

trumpets to be sounded, the rampart to be assaulted, the scaling

ladders to be raised, all the bravest men to mount on them, while

others were to discharge from the engines spears, stones, and

brands. At last Piso's obstinacy was overcome, and he begged that he

might remain in the fortress on surrendering his arms, while the

emperor was being consulted about the appointment of a governor to

Syria. The proposed terms were refused, and all that was granted him

were some ships and a safe return to Rome.

There meantime, when the illness of Germanicus was universally

known, and all news, coming, as it did, from a distance, exaggerated

the danger, there was grief and indignation. There was too an outburst

of complaint. "Of course this was the meaning," they said, "of

banishing him to the ends of the earth, of giving Piso the province;

this was the drift of Augusta's secret interviews with Plancina.

What elderly men had said of Drusus was perfectly true, that rulers

disliked a citizen-like temper in their sons, and the young princes

had been put out of the way because they had the idea of comprehending

in a restored era of freedom the Roman people under equal laws."

This popular talk was so stimulated by the news of Germanicus's

death that even before the magistrate's proclamation or the Senate's

resolution, there was a voluntary suspension of business, the public

courts were deserted, and private houses closed. Everywhere there

was a silence broken only by groans; nothing was arranged for mere

effect. And though they refrained not from the emblems of the mourner,

they sorrowed yet the more deeply in their hearts.

It chanced that some merchants who left Syria while Germanicus was

still alive, brought more cheering tidings about his health. These

were instantly believed, instantly published. Every one passed on to

others whom he met the intelligence, ill-authenticated as it was,

and they again to many more, with joyous exaggeration. They ran to and

fro through the city and broke open the doors of the temples. Night

assisted their credulity, and amid the darkness confident assertion

was comparatively easy. Nor did Tiberius check the false reports

till by lapse of time they died away.

And so the people grieved the more bitterly as though Germanicus was

again lost to them. New honours were devised and decreed, as men

were inspired by affection for him or by genius. His name was to be

celebrated in the song of the Salii; chairs of state with oaken

garlands over them were to be set up in the places assigned to the

priesthood of the Augustales; his image in ivory was to head the

procession in the games of the circus; no flamen or augur, except from

the Julian family, was to be chosen in the room of Germanicus.

Triumphal arches were erected at Rome, on the banks of the Rhine,

and on mount Amanus in Syria, with an inscription recording his

achievements, and how he had died in the public service. A cenotaph

was raised at Antioch, where the body was burnt, a lofty mound at

Epidaphna, where he had ended his life. The number of his statues,

or of the places in which they were honoured, could not easily be

computed. When a golden shield of remarkable size was voted him as a

leader among orators, Tiberius declared that he would dedicate to

him one of the usual kind, similar to the rest, for in eloquence, he

said, there was no distinction of rank, and it was a sufficient

glory for him to be classed among ancient writers. The knights

called the seats in the theatre known as "the juniors," Germanicus's

benches, and arranged that their squadrons were to ride in

procession behind his effigy on the fifteenth of July. Many of these

honours still remain; some were at once dropped, or became obsolete

with time.

While men's sorrow was yet fresh, Germanicus's sister Livia, who was

married to Drusus, gave birth to twin sons. This, as a rare event,

causing joy even in humble homes, so delighted the emperor that he did

not refrain from boasting before the senators that to no Roman of

the same rank had twin offspring ever before been born. In fact, he

would turn to his own glory every incident, however casual. But at

such a time, even this brought grief to the people, who thought that

the increase of Drusus's family still further depressed the house of


That same year the profligacy of women was checked by stringent

enactments, and it was provided that no woman whose grandfather,

father, or husband had been a Roman knight should get money by

prostitution. Vistilia, born of a praetorian family, had actually

published her name with this object on the aedile's list, according to

a recognised custom of our ancestors, who considered it a sufficient

punishment on unchaste women to have to profess their shame.

Titidius Labeo, Vistilia's husband, was judicially called on to say

why with a wife whose guilt was manifest he had neglected to inflict

the legal penalty. When he pleaded that the sixty days given for

deliberation had not yet expired, it was thought sufficient to

decide Vistilia's case, and she was banished out of sight to the

island of Seriphos.

There was a debate too about expelling the Egyptian and Jewish

worship, and a resolution of the Senate was passed that four

thousand of the freedmen class who were infected with those

superstitions and were of military age should be transported to the

island of Sardinia, to quell the brigandage of the place, a cheap

sacrifice should they die from the pestilential climate. The rest were

to quit Italy, unless before a certain day they repudiated their

impious rites.

Next the emperor brought forward a motion for the election of a

Vestal virgin in the room of Occia, who for fifty-seven years had

presided with the most immaculate virtue over the Vestal worship. He

formally thanked Fonteius Agrippa and Domitius Pollio for offering

their daughters and so vying with one another in zeal for the

commonwealth. Pollio's daughter was preferred, only because her mother

had lived with one and the same husband, while Agrippa had impaired

the honour of his house by a divorce. The emperor consoled his

daughter, passed over though she was, with a dowry of a million


As the city populace complained of the cruel dearness of corn, he

fixed a price for grain to be paid by the purchaser, promising himself

to add two sesterces on every peck for the traders. But he would not

therefore accept the title of "father of the country" which once

before too had been offered him, and he sharply rebuked those who

called his work "divine" and himself "lord." Consequently, speech

was restricted and perilous under an emperor who feared freedom

while he hated sycophancy.

I find it stated by some writers and senators of the period that a

letter from Adgandestrius, chief of the Chatti, was read in the

Senate, promising the death of Arminius, if poison were sent for the

perpetration of the murder, and that the reply was that it was not

by secret treachery but openly and by arms that the people of Rome

avenged themselves on their enemies. A noble answer, by which Tiberius

sought to liken himself to those generals of old who had forbidden and

even denounced the poisoning of king Pyrrhus.

Arminius, meanwhile, when the Romans retired and Maroboduus was

expelled, found himself opposed in aiming at the throne by his

countrymen's independent spirit. He was assailed by armed force, and

while fighting with various success, fell by the treachery of his

kinsmen. Assuredly he was the deliverer of Germany, one too who had

defied Rome, not in her early rise, as other kings and generals, but

in the height of her empire's glory, had fought, indeed, indecisive

battles, yet in war remained unconquered. He completed thirty-seven

years of life, twelve years of power, and he is still a theme of

song among barbarous nations, though to Greek historians, who admire

only their own achievements, he is unknown, and to Romans not as

famous as he should be, while we extol the past and are indifferent to

our own times.

BOOK III, A.D. 20-22

WITHOUT pausing in her winter voyage Agrippina arrived at the island

of Corcyra, facing the shores of Calabria. There she spent a few

days to compose her mind, for she was wild with grief and knew not how

to endure. Meanwhile on hearing of her arrival, all her intimate

friends and several officers, every one indeed who had served under

Germanicus, many strangers too from the neighbouring towns, some

thinking it respectful to the emperor, and still more following

their example, thronged eagerly to Brundisium, the nearest and

safest landing place for a voyager.

As soon as the fleet was seen on the horizon, not only the harbour

and the adjacent shores, but the city walls too and the roofs and

every place which commanded the most distant prospect were filled with

crowds of mourners, who incessantly asked one another, whether, when

she landed, they were to receive her in silence or with some utterance

of emotion. They were not agreed on what befitted the occasion when

the fleet slowly approached, its crew, not joyous as is usual, but

wearing all a studied expression of grief. When Agrippina descended

from the vessel with her two children, clasping the funeral urn,

with eyes riveted to the earth, there was one universal groan. You

could not distinguish kinsfolk from strangers, or the laments of men

from those of women; only the attendants of Agrippina, worn out as

they were by long sorrow, were surpassed by the mourners who now met

them, fresh in their grief.

The emperor had despatched two praetorian cohorts with

instructions that the magistrates of Calabria, Apulia, and Campania

were to pay the last honours to his son's memory. Accordingly tribunes

and centurions bore Germanicus's ashes on their shoulders. They were

preceded by the standards unadorned and the faces reversed. As they

passed colony after colony, the populace in black, the knights in

their state robes, burnt vestments and perfumes with other usual

funeral adjuncts, in proportion to the wealth of the place. Even those

whose towns were out of the route, met the mourners, offered victims

and built altars to the dead, testifying their grief by tears and

wailings. Drusus went as far as Tarracina with Claudius, brother of

Germanicus, and had been at Rome. Marcus Valerius and Caius

Aurelius, the consuls, who had already entered on office, and a

great number of the people thronged the road in scattered groups,

every one weeping as he felt inclined. Flattery there was none, for

all knew that Tiberius could scarcely dissemble his joy at the death

of Germanicus.

Tiberius Augusta refrained from showing themselves, thinking it

below their dignity to shed tears in public, or else fearing that,

if all eyes scrutinised their faces, their hypocrisy would be

revealed. I do not find in any historian or in the daily register that

Antonia, Germanicus's mother, rendered any conspicuous honour to the

deceased, though besides Agrippina, Drusus, and Claudius, all his

other kinsfolk are mentioned by name. She may either have been

hindered by illness, or with a spirit overpowered by grief she may not

have had the heart to endure the sight of so great an affliction.

But I can more easily believe that Tiberius and Augusta, who did not

leave the palace, kept her within, that their sorrow might seem

equal to hers, and that the grandmother and uncle might be thought

to follow the mother's example in staying at home.

The day on which the remains were consigned to the tomb of Augustus,

was now desolate in its silence, now distracted by lamentations. The

streets of the city were crowded; torches were blazing throughout

the Campus Martius. There the soldiers under arms, the magistrates

without their symbols of office, the people in the tribes, were all

incessantly exclaiming that the commonwealth was ruined, that not a

hope remained, too boldly and openly to let one think that they

remembered their rulers. But nothing impressed Tiberius more deeply

than the enthusiasm kindled in favor of Agrippina, whom men spoke of

as the glory of the country, the sole surviving off spring of

Augustus, the solitary example of the old times, while looking up to

heaven and the gods they prayed for the safety of her children and

that they might outlive their oppressors.

Some there were who missed the grandeur of a state-funeral, and

contrasted the splendid honours conferred by Augustus on Drusus, the

father of Germanicus. "Then the emperor himself," they said, "went

in the extreme rigour of winter as far as Ticinum, and never leaving

the corpse entered Rome with it. Round the funeral bier were ranged

the images of the Claudii and the Julii; there was weeping in the

forum, and a panegyric before the rostra; every honour devised by

our ancestors or invented by their descendants was heaped on him.

But as for Germanicus, even the customary distinctions due to any

noble had not fallen to his lot. Granting that his body, because of

the distance of tie journey, was burnt in any fashion in foreign

lands, still all the more honours ought to have been afterwards paid

him, because at first chance had denied them. His brother had gone but

one day's journey to meet him; his uncle, not even to the city

gates. Where were all those usages of the past, the image at the

head of the bier, the lays composed in commemoration of worth, the

eulogies and laments, or at least the semblance of grief?"

All this was known to Tiberius, and, to silence popular talk, he

reminded the people in a proclamation that many eminent Romans had

died for their country and that none had been honoured with such

passionate regret. This regret was a glory both to himself and to all,

provided only a due mean were observed; for what was becoming in

humble homes and communities, did not befit princely personages and an

imperial people. Tears and the solace found in mourning were

suitable enough for the first burst of grief; but now they must

brace their hearts to endurance, as in former days the Divine Julius

after the loss of his only daughter, and the Divine Augustus when he

was bereft of his grandchildren, had thrust away their sorrow. There

was no need of examples from the past, showing how often the Roman

people had patiently endured the defeats of armies, the destruction of

generals, the total extinction of noble families. Princes were mortal;

the State was everlasting. Let them then return to their usual

pursuits, and, as the shows of the festival of the Great Goddess

were at hand, even resume their amusements.

The suspension of business then ceased, and men went back to their

occupations. Drusus was sent to the armies of Illyricum, amidst an

universal eagerness to exact vengeance on Piso, and ceaseless

complaints that he was meantime roaming through the delightful regions

of Asia and Achaia, and was weakening the proofs of his guilt by an

insolent and artful procrastination. It was indeed widely rumoured

that the notorius poisoner Martina, who, as I have related, had been

despatched to Rome by Cneius Sentius, had died suddenly at Brundisium;

that poison was concealed in a knot of her hair, and that no

symptoms of suicide were discovered on her person.

Piso meanwhile sent his son on to Rome with a message intended to

pacify the emporer, and then made his way to Drusus, who would, he

hoped, be not so much infuriated at his brother's death as kindly

disposed towards himself in consequence of a rival's removal.

Tiberius, to show his impartiality, received the youth courteously,

and enriched him with the liberality he usually bestowed on the sons

of noble families. Drusus replied to Piso that if certain insinuations

were true, he must be foremost in his resentment, but he preferred

to believe that they were false and groundless, and that

Germanicus's death need be the ruin of no one. This he said openly,

avoiding anything like secrecy. Men did not doubt that his answer

prescribed him by Tiberius, inasmuch as one who had generally all

the simplicity and candour of youth, now had recourse to the artifices

of old age.

Piso, after crossing the Dalmatian sea and leaving his ships at

Ancona, went through Picenum and along the Flaminian road, where he

overtook a legion which was marching from Pannonia to Rome and was

then to garrison Africa. It was a matter of common talk how he had

repeatedly displayed himself to the soldiers on the road during the

march. From Narnia, to avoid suspicion or because the plans of fear

are uncertain, he sailed down the Nar, then down the Tiber, and

increased the fury of the populace by bringing his vessel to shore

at the tomb of the Caesars. In broad daylight, when the river-bank was

thronged, he himself with a numerous following of dependents, and

Plancina with a retinue of women, moved onward with joy in their

countenances. Among other things which provoked men's anger was his

house towering above the forum, gay with festal decorations, his

banquets and his feasts, about which there was no secrecy, because the

place was so public.

Next day, Fulcinius Trio asked the consul's leave to prosecute Piso.

It was contended against him by Vitellius and Veranius and the

others who had been the companions of Germanicus, that this was not

Trio's proper part, and that they themselves meant to report their

instructions from Germanicus, not as accusers, but as deponents and

witnesses to facts. Trio, abandoning the prosecution on this count,

obtained leave to accuse Piso's previous career, and the emperor was

requested to undertake the inquiry. This even the accused did not

refuse, fearing, as he did, the bias of the people and of the

Senate; while Tiberius, he knew, was resolute enough to despise

report, and was also entangled in his mother's complicity. Truth too

would be more easily distinguished from perverse misrepresentation

by a single judge, where a number would be swayed by hatred and


Tiberius was not unaware of the formidable difficulty of the inquiry

and of the rumours by which he was himself assailed. Having

therefore summoned a few intimate friends, he listened to the

threatening speeches of the prosecutors and to the pleadings of the

accused, and finally referred the whole case to the Senate.

Drusus meanwhile, on his return from Illyricum, though the Senate

had voted him an ovation for the submission of Maroboduus and the

successes of the previous summer, postponed the honour and entered

Rome. Then the defendant sought the advocacy of Lucius Arruntius,

Marcus Vinicius, Asinius Gallus, Aeserninus Marcellus and Sextus

Pompeius, and on their declining for different reasons, Marcus

Lepidus, Lucius Piso, and Livineius Regulus became his counsel, amid

the excitement of the whole country, which wondered how much

fidelity would be shown by the friends of Germanicus, on what the

accused rested his hopes, and how far Tiberius would repress and

hide his feelings. Never were the people more keenly interested; never

did they indulge themselves more freely in secret whispers against the

emperor or in the silence of suspicion.

On the day the Senate met, Tiberius delivered a speech of studied

moderation. "Piso," he said, "was my father's representative and

friend, and was appointed by myself, on the advice of the Senate, to

assist Germanicus in the administration of the East. Whether he

there had provoked the young prince by wilful opposition and

rivalry, and had rejoiced at his death or wickedly destroyed him, is

for you to determine with minds unbiassed. Certainly if a

subordinate oversteps the bounds of duty and of obedience to his

commander, and has exulted in his death and in my affliction, I

shall hate him and exclude him from my house, and I shall avenge a

personal quarrel without resorting to my power as emperor. If

however a crime is discovered which ought to be punished, whoever

the murdered man may be, it is for you to give just reparation both to

the children of Germanicus and to us, his parents.

"Consider this too, whether Piso dealt with the armies in a

revolutionary and seditious spirit; whether he sought by intrigue

popularity with the soldiers; whether he attempted to repossess

himself of the province by arms, or whether these are falsehoods which

his accusers have published with exaggeration. As for them, I am

justly angry with their intemperate zeal. For to what purpose did they

strip the corpse and expose it to the pollution of the vulgar gaze,

and circulate a story among foreigners that he was destroyed by

poison, if all this is still doubtful and requires investigation?

For my part, I sorrow for my son and shall always sorrow for him;

still I would not hinder the accused from producing all the evidence

which can relieve his innocence or convict Germanicus of any

unfairness, if such there was. And I implore you not to take as proven

charges alleged, merely because the case is intimately bound up with

my affliction. Do you, whom ties of blood or your own true-heartedness

have made his advocates, help him in his peril, every one of you, as

far as each man's eloquence and diligence can do so. To like exertions

and like persistency I would urge the prosecutors. In this, and in

this only, will we place Germanicus above the laws, by conducting

the inquiry into his death in this house instead of in the forum,

and before the Senate instead of before a bench of judges. In all else

let the case be tried as simply as others. Let no one heed the tears

of Drusus or my own sorrow, or any stories invented to our discredit."

Two days were then assigned for the bringing forward of the charges,

and after six days' interval, the prisoner's defence was to occupy

three days. Thereupon Fulcinius Trio began with some old and

irrelevant accusations about intrigues and extortion during Piso's

government of Spain. This, if proved, would not have been fatal to the

defendant, if he cleared himself as to his late conduct, and, if

refuted, would not have secured his acquittal, if he were convicted of

the greater crimes. Next, Servaeus, Veranius, and Vitellius, all

with equal earnestness, Vitellius with striking eloquence, alleged

against Piso that out of hatred of Germanicus and a desire of

revolution he had so corrupted the common soldiers by licence and

oppression of the allies that he was called by the vilest of them

"father of the legions" while on the other hand to all the best men,

especially to the companions and friends of Germanicus, he had been

savagely cruel. Lastly, he had, they said, destroyed Germanicus

himself by sorceries and poison, and hence came those ceremonies and

horrible sacrifices made by himself and Plancina; then he had

threatened the State with war, and had been defeated in battle, before

he could be tried as a prisoner.

On all points but one the defence broke down. That he had tampered

with the soldiers, that his province had been at the mercy of the

vilest of them, that he had even insulted his chief, he could not

deny. It was only the charge of poisoning from which he seemed to have

cleared himself. This indeed the prosecutors did not adequately

sustain by merely alleging that at a banquet given by Germanicus,

his food had been tainted with poison by the hands of Piso who sat

next above him. It seemed absurd to suppose that he would have dared

such an attempt among strange servants, in the sight of so many

bystanders, and under Germanicus's own eyes. And, besides, the

defendant offered his slaves to the torture, and insisted on its

application to the attendants on that occasion. But the judges for

different reasons were merciless, the emperor, because war had been

made on a province, the Senate because they could not be

sufficiently convinced that there had been no treachery about the

death of Germanicus.

At the same time shouts were heard from the people in front of the

Senate House, threatening violence if he escaped the verdict of the

Senators. They had actually dragged Piso's statues to the Gemonian

stairs, and were breaking them in pieces, when by the emperor's

order they were rescued and replaced. Piso was then put in a litter

and attended by a tribune of one of the Praetorian cohorts, who

followed him, so it was variously rumoured, to guard his person or

to be his executioner.

Plancina was equally detested, but had stronger interest.

Consequently it was considered a question how far the emperor would be

allowed to go against her. While Piso's hopes were in suspense, she

offered to share his lot, whatever it might be, and in the worst

event, to be his companion in death. But as soon as she had secured

her pardon through the secret intercessions of Augusta, she

gradually withdrew from her husband and separated her defence from

his. When the prisoner saw that this was fatal to him, he hesitated

whether he should still persist, but at the urgent request of his sons

braced his courage and once more entered the Senate. There he bore

patiently the renewal of the accusation, the furious voices of the

Senators, savage opposition indeed from every quarter, but nothing

daunted him so much as to see Tiberius, without pity and without

anger, resolutely closing himself against any inroad of emotion. He

was conveyed back to his house, where, seemingly by way of preparing

his defence for the next day, he wrote a few words, sealed the paper

and handed it to a freedman. Then he bestowed the usual attention on

his person; after a while, late at night, his wife having left his

chamber, he ordered the doors to be closed, and at daybreak was

found with his throat cut and a sword lying on the ground.

I remember to have heard old men say that a document was often

seen in Piso's hands, the substance of which he never himself

divulged, but which his friends repeatedly declared contained a letter

from Tiberius with instructions referring to Germanicus, and that it

was his intention to produce it before the Senate and upbraid the

emperor, had he not been deluded by vain promises from Sejanus. Nor

did he perish, they said, by his own hand, but by that of one sent

to be his executioner. Neither of these statements would I

positively affirm; still it would not have been right for me to

conceal what was related by those who lived up to the time of my


The emperor, assuming an air of sadness, complained in the Senate

that the purpose of such a death was to bring odium on himself, and he

asked with repeated questionings how Piso had spent his last day and

night. Receiving answers which were mostly judicious, though in part

somewhat incautious, he read out a note written by Piso, nearly to the

following effect:-

"Crushed by a conspiracy of my foes and the odium excited by a lying

charge, since my truth and innocence find no place here, I call the

immortal gods to witness that towards you Caesar, I have lived

loyally, and with like dutiful respect towards your mother. And I

implore you to think of my children, one of whom, Cneius is in way

implicated in my career, whatever it may have been, seeing that all

this time he has been at Rome, while the other, Marcus Piso, dissuaded

me from returning to Syria. Would that I had yielded to my young son

rather than he to his aged father! And therefore I pray the more

earnestly that the innocent may not pay the penalty of my

wickedness. By forty-five years of obedience, by my association with

you in the consulate, as one who formerly won the esteem of the Divine

Augustus, your father, as one who is your friend and will never

hereafter ask a favour, I implore you to save my unhappy son." About

Plancina he added not a word.

Tiberius after this acquitted the young Piso of the charge of

civil war on the ground that a son could not have refused a father's

orders, compassionating at the same time the high rank of the family

and the terrible downfall even of Piso himself, however he might

have deserved it. For Plancina he spoke with shame and conscious

disgrace, alleging in excuse the intercession of his mother, secret

complaints against whom from all good men were growing more and more

vehement. "So it was the duty of a grandmother," people said, "to look

a grandson's murderess in the face, to converse with her and rescue

her from the Senate. What the laws secure on behalf of every

citizen, had to Germanicus alone been denied. The voices of a

Vitellius and Veranius had bewailed a Caesar, while the emperor and

Augusta had defended Plancina. She might as well now turn her

poisonings, and her devices which had proved so successful, against

Agrippina and her children, and thus sate this exemplary grandmother

and uncle with the blood of a most unhappy house."

Two days were frittered away over this mockery of a trial,

Tiberius urging Piso's children to defend their mother. While the

accusers and their witnesses pressed the prosecution with rival

zeal, and there was no reply, pity rather than anger was on the

increase. Aurelius Cotta, the consul, who was first called on for

his vote (for when the emperor put the question, even those in

office went through the duty of voting), held that Piso's name ought

to be erased from the public register, half of his property

confiscated, half given up to his son, Cneius Piso, who was to

change his first name; that Marcus Piso, stript of his rank, with an

allowance of five million sesterces, should be banished for ten years,

Plancina's life being spared in consideration of Augusta's


Much of the sentence was mitigated by the emperor. The name of

Piso was not to be struck out of the public register, since that of

Marcus Antonius who had made war on his country, and that of Julius

Antonius who had dishonoured the house of Augustus, still remained.

Marcus Piso too he saved from degradation, and gave him his father's

property, for he was firm enough, as I have often related, against the

temptation of money, and now for very shame at Plancina's acquittal,

he was more than usually merciful. Again, when Valerius Messalinus and

Caecina Severus proposed respectively the erection of a golden

statue in the temple of Mars the Avenger and of an altar to Vengeance,

he interposed, protesting that victories over the foreigner were

commemorated with such monuments, but that domestic woes ought to be

shrouded in silent grief.

There was a further proposal of Messalinus, that Tiberius,

Augusta, Antonia, Agrippina and Drusus ought to be publicly thanked

for having avenged Germanicus. He omitted all mention of Claudius.

Thereupon he was pointedly asked by Lucius Asprenas before the Senate,

whether the omission had been intentional, and it was only then that

the name of Claudius was added. For my part, the wider the scope of my

reflection on the present and the past, the more am I impressed by

their mockery of human plans in every transaction. Clearly, the very

last man marked out for empire by public opinion, expectation and

general respect was he whom fortune was holding in reserve as the

emperor of the future.

A few days afterwards the emperor proposed to the Senate to confer

the priesthood on Vitellius, Veranius and Servaeus. To Fulcinius he

promised his support in seeking promotion, but warned him not to

ruin his eloquence by rancour. This was the end of avenging the

death of Germanicus, a subject of conflicting rumours not only among

the people then living but also in after times. So obscure are the

greatest events, as some take for granted any hearsay, whatever its

source, others turn truth into falsehood, and both errors find

encouragement with posterity.

Drusus meanwhile quitted Rome to resume his command and soon

afterwards re-entered the city with an ovation. In the course of a few

days his mother Vipsania died, the only one of all Agrippa's

children whose death was without violence. As for the rest, they

perished, some it is certain by the sword, others it was believed by

poison or starvation.

That same year Tacfarinas who had been defeated, as I have

related, by Camillus in the previous summer, renewed hostilities in

Africa, first by mere desultory raids, so swift as to be unpunished;

next, by destroying villages and carrying off plunder wholesale.

Finally, he hemmed in a Roman cohort near the river Pagyda. The

position was commanded by Decrius, a soldier energetic in action and

experienced in war, who regarded the siege as a disgrace. Cheering

on his men to offer battle in the open plain, he drew up his line in

front of his intrenchments. At the first shock, the cohort was

driven back, upon which he threw himself fearlessly amid the

missiles in the path of the fugitives and cried shame on the

standard-bearers for letting Roman soldiers show their backs to a

rabble of deserters. At the same moment he was covered with wounds,

and though pierced through the eye, he resolutely faced the enemy

and ceased not to fight till he fell deserted by his men.

On receiving this information, Lucius Apronius, successor to

Camillus, alarmed more by the dishonour of his own men than by the

glory of the enemy, ventured on a deed quite exceptional at that

time and derived from old tradition. He flogged to death every tenth

man drawn by lot from the disgraced cohort. So beneficial was this

rigour that a detachment of veterans, numbering not more than five

hundred, routed those same troops of Tacfarinas on their attacking a

fortress named Thala. In this engagement Rufus Helvius, a common

soldier, won the honour of saving a citizen's life, and was rewarded

by Apronius with a neck-chain and a spear. To these the emperor

added the civic crown, complaining, but without anger, that Apronius

had not used his right as proconsul to bestow this further


Tacfarinas, however, finding that the Numidians were cowed and had a

horror of siege-operations, pursued a desultory warfare, retreating

when he was pressed, and then again hanging on his enemy's rear. While

the barbarian continued these tactics, he could safely insult the

baffled and exhausted Romans. But when he marched away towards the

coast and, hampered with booty, fixed himself in a regular camp,

Caesianus was despatched by his father Apronius with some cavalry

and auxiliary infantry, reinforced by the most active of the

legionaries, and, after a successful battle with the Numidians,

drove them into the desert.

At Rome meanwhile Lepida, who beside the glory of being one of the

Aemilii was the great-granddaughter of Lucius Sulla and Cneius

Pompeius, was accused of pretending to be a mother by Publius

Quirinus, a rich and childless man. Then, too, there were charges of

adulteries, of poisonings, and of inquiries made through astrologers

concerning the imperial house. The accused was defended by her brother

Manius Lepidus. Quirinus by his relentless enmity even after his

divorce, had procured for her some sympathy, infamous and guilty as

she was. One could not easily perceive the emperor's feelings at her

trial; so effectually did he interchange and blend the outward signs

of resentment and compassion. He first begged the Senate not to deal

with the charges of treason, and subsequently induced Marcus

Servilius, an ex-consul, to divulge what he had seemingly wished to

suppress. He also handed over to the consuls Lepida's slaves, who were

in military custody, but would not allow them to be examined by

torture on matters referring to his own family. Drusus too, the

consul-elect, he released from the necessity of having to speak

first to the question. Some thought this a gracious act, done to

save the rest of the Senators from a compulsory assent, while others

ascribed it to malignity, on the ground that he would have yielded

only where there was a necessity of condemning.

On the days of the games which interrupted the trial, Lepida went

into the theatre with some ladies of rank, and as she appealed with

piteous wailings to her ancestors and to that very Pompey, the

public buildings and statues of whom stood there before their eyes,

she roused such sympathy that people burst into tears and shouted,

without ceasing, savage curses on Quirinus, "to whose childless

old-age and miserably obscure family, one once destined to be the wife

of Lucius Caesar and the daughter-in-law of the Divine Augustus was

being sacrificed." Then, by the torture of the slaves, her infamies

were brought to light, and a motion of Rubellius Blandus was carried

which outlawed her. Drusus supported him, though others had proposed a

milder sentence. Subsequently, Scaurus, who had had daughter by her,

obtained as a concession that her property should not be

confiscated. Then at last Tiberius declared that he had himself too

ascertained from the slaves of Publius Quirinus that Lepida had

attempted their master's life by poison.

It was some compensation for the misfortunes of great houses (for

within a short interval the Calpurnii had lost Piso and the Aemilii

Lepida) that Decimus Silanus was now restored to the Junian family.

I will briefly relate his downfall.

Though the Divine Augustus in his public life enjoyed unshaken

prosperity, he was unfortunate at home from the profligacy of his

daughter and granddaughter, both of whom he banished from Rome, and

punished their paramours with death or exile. Calling, as he did, a

vice so habitual among men and women by the awful name of sacrilege

and treason, he went far beyond the indulgent spirit of our ancestors,

beyond indeed his own legislation. But I will relate the deaths of

others with the remaining events of that time, if after finishing

the work I have now proposed to myself, I prolong my life for

further labours.

Decimus Silanus, the paramour of the granddaughter of Augustus,

though the only severity he experienced was exclusion from the

emperor's friendship, saw clearly that it meant exile; and it was

not till Tiberius's reign that he ventured to appeal to the Senate and

to the prince, in reliance on the influence of his brother Marcus

Silanus, who was conspicuous both for his distinguished rank and

eloquence. But Tiberius, when Silanus thanked him, replied in the

Senate's presence, "that he too rejoiced at the brother's return

from his long foreign tour, and that this was justly allowable,

inasmuch as he had been banished not by a decree of the Senate or

under any law. Still, personally," he said, "he felt towards him his

father's resentment in all its force, and the return of Silanus had

not cancelled the intentions of Augustus." Silanus after this lived at

Rome without attaining office.

It was next proposed to relax the Papia Poppaea law, which

Augustus in his old age had passed subsequently to the Julian

statutes, for yet further enforcing the penalties on celibacy and

for enriching the exchequer. And yet, marriages and the rearing of

children did not become more frequent, so powerful were the

attractions of a childless state. Meanwhile there was an increase in

the number of persons imperilled, for every household was undermined

by the insinuations of informers; and now the country suffered from

its laws, as it had hitherto suffered from its vices. This suggests to

me a fuller discussion of the origin of law and of the methods by

which we have arrived at the present endless multiplicity and

variety of our statutes.

Mankind in the earliest age lived for a time without a single

vicious impulse, without shame or guilt, and, consequently, without

punishment and restraints. Rewards were not needed when everything

right was pursued on its own merits; and as men desired nothing

against morality, they were debarred from nothing by fear. When

however they began to throw off equality, and ambition and violence

usurped the place of self-control and modesty, despotisms grew up

and became perpetual among many nations. Some from the beginning, or

when tired of kings, preferred codes of laws. These were at first

simple, while men's minds were unsophisticated. The most famous of

them were those of the Cretans, framed by Minos; those of the

Spartans, by Lycurgus, and, subsequently, those which Solan drew up

for the Athenians on a more elaborate and extensive scale. Romulus

governed us as he pleased; then Numa united our people by religious

ties and a constitution of divine origin, to which some additions were

made by Tullus and Ancus. But Servius Tullius was our chief

legislator, to whose laws even kings were to be subject.

After Tarquin's expulsion, the people, to check cabals among the

Senators, devised many safeguards for freedom and for the

establishment of unity. Decemvirs were appointed; everything specially

admirable elsewhere was adopted, and the Twelve Tables drawn up, the

last specimen of equitable legislation. For subsequent enactments,

though occasionally directed against evildoers for some crime, were

oftener carried by violence amid class dissensions, with a view to

obtain honours not as yet conceded, or to banish distinguished

citizens, or for other base ends. Hence the Gracchi and Saturnini,

those popular agitators, and Drusus too, as flagrant a corrupter in

the Senate's name; hence, the bribing of our allies by alluring

promises and the cheating them by tribunes vetoes. Even the Italian

and then the Civil war did not pass without the enactment of many

conflicting laws, till Lucius Sulla, the Dictator, by the repeal or

alteration of past legislation and by many additions, gave us a

brief lull in this process, to be instantly followed by the

seditious proposals of Lepidus, and soon afterwards by the tribunes

recovering their license to excite the people just as they chose.

And now bills were passed, not only for national objects but for

individual cases, and laws were most numerous when the commonwealth

was most corrupt.

Cneius Pompeius was then for the third time elected consul to reform

public morals, but in applying remedies more terrible than the evils

and repealing the legislation of which he had himself been the author,

he lost by arms what by arms he had been maintaining. Then followed

twenty years of continuous strife; custom or law there was none; the

vilest deeds went unpunished, while many noble acts brought ruin. At

last, in his sixth consulship, Caesar Augustus, feeling his power

secure, annulled the decrees of his triumvirate, and gave us a

constitution which might serve us in peace under a monarchy.

Henceforth our chains became more galling, and spies were set over us,

stimulated by rewards under the Papia Poppaea law, so that if men

shrank from the privileges of fatherhood, the State, as universal

parent, might possess their ownerless properties. But this espionage

became too searching, and Rome and Italy and Roman citizens everywhere

fell into its clutches. Many men's fortunes were ruined, and over

all there hung a terror till Tiberius, to provide a remedy, selected

by lot five ex-consuls, five ex-praetors, and five senators, by whom

most of the legal knots were disentangled and some light temporary

relief afforded.

About this same time he commended to the Senate's favour, Nero,

Germanicus's son, who was just entering on manhood, and asked them,

not without smiles of ridicule from his audience, to exempt him from

serving as one of the Twenty Commissioners, and let him be a candidate

for quaestorship five years earlier than the law allowed. His excuse

was that a similar decree had been made for himself and his brother at

the request of Augustus. But I cannot doubt that even then there

were some who secretly laughed at such a petition, though the

Caesars were but in the beginning of their grandeur, and ancient usage

was more constantly before men's eyes, while also the tie between

stepfather and stepson was weaker than that between grandfather and

grandchild. The pontificate was likewise conferred on Nero, and on the

day on which he first entered the forum, a gratuity was given to the

city-populace, who greatly rejoiced at seeing a son of Germanicus

now grown to manhood. Their joy was further increased by Nero's

marriage to Julia, Drusus's daughter. This news was met with

favourable comments, but it was heard with disgust that Sejanus was to

be the father-in-law of the son of Claudius. The emperor was thought

to have polluted the nobility of his house and to have yet further

elevated Sejanus, whom they already suspected of overweening ambition.

Two remarkable men died at the end of the year, Lucius Volusius

and Sallustius Crispus. Volusius was of an old family, which had

however never risen beyond the praetorship. He brought into it the

consulship; he also held the office of censor for arranging the

classes of the knights, and was the first to pile up the wealth

which that house enjoyed to a boundless extent.

Crispus was of equestrian descent and grandson of a sister of

Caius Sallustius, that most admirable Roman historian, by whom he

was adopted and whose name he took. Though his road to preferment

was easy, he chose to emulate Maecenas, and without rising to a

senator's rank, he surpassed in power many who had won triumphs and

consulships. He was a contrast to the manners of antiquity in his

elegance and refinement, and in the sumptuousness of his wealth he was

almost a voluptuary. But beneath all this was a vigorous mind, equal

to the greatest labours, the more active in proportion as he made a

show of sloth and apathy. And so while Maecenas lived, he stood next

in favour to him, and was afterwards the chief depository of

imperial secrets, and accessory to the murder of Postumus Agrippa,

till in advanced age he retained the shadow rather than the

substance of the emperor's friendship. The same too had happened to

Maecenas, so rarely is it the destiny of power to be lasting, or

perhaps a sense of weariness steals over princes when they have

bestowed everything, or over favourites, when there is nothing left

them to desire.

Next followed Tiberius's fourth, Drusus's second consulship,

memorable from the fact that father and son were colleagues. Two years

previously the association of Germanicus and Tiberius in the same

honour had not been agreeable to the uncle, nor had it the link of

so close a natural tie.

At the beginning of this year Tiberius, avowedly to recruit his

health, retired to Campania, either as a gradual preparation for

long and uninterrupted seclusion, or in order that Drusus alone in his

father's absence might discharge the duties of the consulship. It

happened that a mere trifle which grew into a sharp contest gave the

young prince the means of acquiring popularity. Domitius Corbulo, an

ex-praetor, complained to the Senate that Lucius Sulla, a young noble,

had not given place to him at a gladiatorial show. Corbulo had age,

national usage and the feelings of the older senators in his favour.

Against him Mamercus Scaurus, Lucius Arruntius and other kinsmen of

Sulla strenuously exerted themselves. There was a keen debate, and

appeal was made to the precedents of our ancestors, as having censured

in severe decrees disrespect on the part of the young, till Drusus

argued in a strain calculated to calm their feelings. Corbulo too

received an apology from Mamercus, who was Sulla's uncle and

stepfather, and the most fluent speaker of that day.

It was this same Corbulo, who, after raising a cry that most of

the roads in Italy were obstructed or impassable through the

dishonesty of contractors and the negligence of officials, himself

willingly undertook the complete management of the business. This

proved not so beneficial to the State as ruinous to many persons,

whose property and credit he mercilessly attacked by convictions and


Soon afterwards Tiberius informed the Senate by letter that Africa

was again disturbed by an incursion of Tacfarinas, and that they

must use their judgment in choosing as proconsul an experienced

soldier of vigorous constitution, who would be equal to the war.

Sextus Pompeius caught at this opportunity of venting his hatred

against Lepidus, whom he condemned as a poor-spirited and needy man,

who was a disgrace to his ancestors, and therefore deserved to lose

even his chance of the province of Asia. But the Senate were against

him, for they thought Lepidus gentle rather than cowardly, and that

his inherited poverty, with the high rank in which he had lived

without a blot, ought to be considered a credit to instead of a

reproach. And so he was sent to Asia, and with respect to Africa it

was decided that the emperor should choose to whom it was to be


During this debate Severus Caecina proposed that no magistrate who

had obtained a province should be accompanied by his wife. He began by

recounting at length how harmoniously he had lived with his wife,

who had borne him six children, and how in his own home he had

observed what he was proposing for the public, by having kept her in

Italy, though he had himself served forty campaigns in various

provinces. "With good reason," he said, "had it been formerly

decided that women were not to be taken among our allies or into

foreign countries. A train of women involves delays through luxury

in peace and through panic in war, and converts a Roman army on the

march into the likeness of a barbarian progress. Not only is the sex

feeble and unequal to hardship, but, when it has liberty, it is

spiteful, intriguing and greedy of power. They show themselves off

among the soldiers and have the centurions at their beck. Lately a

woman had presided at the drill of the cohorts and the evolutions of

the legions. You should yourselves bear in mind that, whenever men are

accused of extortion, most of the charges are directed against the

wives. It is to these that the vilest of the provincials instantly

attach themselves; it is they who undertake and settle business; two

persons receive homage when they appear; there are two centres of

government, and the women's orders are the more despotic and

intemperate. Formerly they were restrained by the Oppian and other

laws; now, loosed from every bond, they rule our houses, our

tribunals, even our armies."

A few heard this speech with approval, but the majority

clamorously objected that there was no proper motion on the subject,

and that Caecina was no fit censor on so grave an issue. Presently

Valerius Messalinus, Messala's son, in whom the father's eloquence was

reproduced, replied that much of the sternness of antiquity had been

changed into a better and more genial system. "Rome," he said, "is not

now, as formerly, beset with wars, nor are the provinces hostile. A

few concessions are made to the wants of women, but such as are not

even a burden to their husbands homes, much less to the allies. In all

other respects man and wife share alike, and this arrangement involves

no trouble in peace. War of course requires that men should be

unincumbered, but when they return what worthier solace can they

have after their hardships than a wife's society? But some wives

have abandoned themselves to scheming and rapacity. Well; even among

our magistrates, are not many subject to various passions? Still, that

is not a reason for sending no one into a province. Husbands have

often been corrupted by the vices of their wives. Are then all

unmarried men blameless? The Oppian laws were formerly adopted to meet

the political necessities of the time, and subsequently there was some

remission and mitigation of them on grounds of expediency. It is

idle to shelter our own weakness under other names; for it is the

husband's fault if the wife transgresses propriety. Besides, it is

wrong that because of the imbecility of one or two men, all husbands

should be cut off from their partners in prosperity and adversity. And

further, a sex naturally weak will be thus left to itself and be at

the mercy of its own voluptuousness and the passions of others. Even

with the husband's personal vigilance the marriage tie is scarcely

preserved inviolate. What would happen were it for a number of years

to be forgotten, just as in a divorce? You must not check vices abroad

without remembering the scandals of the capital."

Drusus added a few words on his own experience as a husband.

"Princes," he said, "must often visit the extremities of their empire.

How often had the Divine Augustus travelled to West and to the East

accompanied by Livia? He had himself gone to Illyricum and, should

it be expedient, he would go to other countries, not always however

with a contented mind, if he had to tear himself from a much loved

wife, the mother of his many children."

Caecina's motion was thus defeated. At the Senate's next meeting

came a letter from Tiberius, which indirectly censured them for

throwing on the emperor every political care, and named Marcus Lepidus

and Junius Blaesus, one of whom was to be chosen pro-consul of Africa.

Both spoke on the subject, and Lepidus begged earnestly to be excused.

He alleged ill-health, his children's tender age, his having a

daughter to marry, and something more of which he said nothing, was

well understood, the fact that Blaesus was uncle of Sejanus and so had

very powerful interest. Blaesus replied with an affectation of

refusal, but not with the same persistency, nor was he backed up by

the acquiescence of flatterers.

Next was exposed an abuse, hitherto the subject of many a

whispered complaint. The vilest wretches used a growing freedom in

exciting insult and obloquy against respectable citizens, and

escaped punishment by clasping some statue of the emperor. The very

freedman or slave was often an actual terror to his patron or master

whom he would menace by word and gesture. Accordingly Caius Cestius, a

senator, argued that "though princes were like deities, yet even the

gods listened only to righteous prayers from their suppliants, and

that no one fled to the Capitol or any other temple in Rome to use

it as an auxiliary in crime. There was an end and utter subversion

of all law when, in the forum and on the threshold of the Senate

House, Annia Rufilla, whom he had convicted of fraud before a judge,

assailed him with insults and threats, while he did not himself dare

to try legal proceedings, because he was confronted by her with the

emperor's image." There rose other clamorous voices, with even more

flagrant complaints, and all implored Drusus to inflict exemplary

vengeance, till he ordered Rufilla to be summoned, and on her

conviction to be confined in the common prison.

Considius Aequus too and Coelius Cursor, Roman knights, were

punished on the emperor's proposal, by a decree of the Senate, for

having attacked the praetor, Magius Caecilianus, with false charges of

treason. Both these results were represented as an honour to Drusus.

By moving in society at Rome, amid popular talk, his father's dark

policy, it was thought, was mitigated. Even voluptuousness in one so

young gave little offence. Better that he should incline that way,

spend his days in architecture, his nights in banquets, than that he

should live in solitude, cut off from every pleasure, and absorbed

in a gloomy vigilance and mischievous schemes.

Tiberius indeed and the informers were never weary. Ancharius

Priscus had prosecuted Caesius Cordus, proconsul of Crete, for

extortion, adding a charge of treason, which then crowned all

indictments. Antistius Vetus, one of the chief men of Macedonia, who

had been acquitted of adultery, was recalled by the emperor himself,

with a censure on the judges, to be tried for treason, as a

seditious man who had been implicated in the designs of Rhescuporis,

when that king after the murder of his brother Cotys had meditated war

against us. The accused was accordingly outlawed, with the further

sentence that he was to be confined in an island from which neither

Macedonia nor Thrace were conveniently accessible.

As for Thrace, since the division of the kingdom between

Rhoemetalces and the children of Cotys, who because of their tender

age were under the guardianship of Trebellienus Rufus, it was

divided against itself, from not being used to our rule, and blamed

Rhoemetalces no less than Trebellienus for allowing the wrongs of

his countrymen to go unpunished. The Coelaletae, Odrusae and Dii,

powerful tribes, took up arms, under different leaders, all on a level

from their obscurity. This hindered them from combining in a

formidable war. Some roused their immediate neighbourhood; others

crossed Mount Haemus, to stir up remote tribes; most of them, and

the best disciplined, besieged the king in the city of

Philippopolis, founded by the Macedonian Philip.

When this was known to Publius Vellaeus who commanded the nearest

army, he sent some allied cavalry and light infantry to attack those

who were roaming in quest of plunder or of reinforcements, while he

marched in person with the main strength of the foot to raise the

siege. Every operation was at the same moment successful; the

pillagers were cut to pieces; dissensions broke out among the

besiegers, and the king made a well-timed sally just as the legion

arrived. A battle or even a skirmish it did not deserve to be

called, in which merely half-armed stragglers were slaughtered without

bloodshed on our side.

That same year, some states of Gaul, under the pressure of heavy

debts, attempted a revolt. Its most active instigators were Julius

Florus among the Treveri and Julius Sacrovir among the Aedui. Both

could show noble birth and signal services rendered by ancestors,

for which Roman citizenship had formerly been granted them, when the

gift was rare and a recompense only of merit. In secret conferences to

which the fiercest spirits were admitted, or any to whom poverty or

the fear of guilt was an irresistible stimulus to crime, they arranged

that Florus was to rouse the Belgae, Sacrovir the Gauls nearer home.

These men accordingly talked sedition before small gatherings and

popular assemblies about the perpetual tributes, the oppressive usury,

the cruelty and arrogance of their governors, hinting too that there

was disaffection among our soldiers, since they had heard of the

murder of Germanicus. "It was," they said, "a grand opportunity for

the recovery of freedom, if only they would contrast their own

vigour with the exhaustion of Italy, the unwarlike character of the

city populace, and the utter weakness of Rome's armies in all but

their foreign element."

Scarcely a single community was untouched by the germs of this

commotion. First however in actual revolt were the Andecavi and

Turoni. Of these the former were put down by an officer, Acilius

Aviola, who had summoned a cohort which was on garrison duty at

Lugdunum. The Turoni were quelled by some legionary troops sent by

Visellius Varro who commanded in Lower Germany, and led by the same

Aviola and some Gallic chieftains who brought aid, in order that

they might disguise their disaffection and exhibit it at a better

opportunity. Sacrovir too was conspicuous, with head uncovered,

cheering on his men to fight for Rome, to display, as he said, his

valour. But the prisoners asserted that he sought recognition that

he might not be a mark for missiles. Tiberius when consulted on the

matter disdained the information, and fostered the war by his


Florus meanwhile followed up his designs and tried to induce a

squadron of cavalry levied among the Treveri, trained in our service

and discipline, to begin hostilities by a massacre of the Roman

traders. He corrupted a few of the men, but the majority were

steadfast in their allegiance. A host however of debtors and

dependents took up arms, and they were on their way to the forest

passes known as the Arduenna, when they were stopped by legions

which Visellius and Silius had sent from their respective armies, by

opposite routes, to meet them. Julius Indus from the same state, who

was at feud with Florus and therefore particularly eager to render

us a service, was sent on in advance with a picked force, and

dispersed the undisciplined rabble. Florus after eluding the

conquerors by hiding himself in one place after another, at last

when he saw some soldiers who had barred every possible escape, fell

by his own hand. Such was the end of the rebellion of the Treveri.

A more formidable movement broke out among the Aedui, proportioned

to the greater wealth of the state and the distance of the force which

should repress it. Sacrovir with some armed cohorts had made himself

master of Augustodunum, the capital of the tribe, with the noblest

youth of Gaul, there devoting themselves to a liberal education, and

with such hostages he proposed to unite in his cause their parents and

kinsfolk. He also distributed among the youth arms which he had had

secretly manufactured. There were forty thousand, one fifth armed like

our legionaries; the rest had spears and knives and other weapons used

in the chase. In addition were some slaves who were being trained

for gladiators, clad after the national fashion in a complete covering

of steel. They were called crupellarii, and though they were

ill-adapted for inflicting wounds, they were impenetrable to them.

This army was continually increased, not yet by any open combination

of the neighbouring states, but by zealous individual enthusiasm, as

well as by strife between the Roman generals, each of whom claimed the

war for himself. Varro after a while, as he was infirm and aged,

yielded to Silius who was in his prime.

At Rome meanwhile people said that it was not only the Treveri and

Aedui who had revolted, but sixty-four states of Gaul with the Germans

in alliance, while Spain too was disaffected; anything in fact was

believed, with rumour's usual exaggeration. All good men were saddened

by anxiety for the country, but many in their loathing of the

present system and eagerness for change, rejoiced at their very perils

and exclaimed against Tiberius for giving attention amid such

political convulsions to the calumnies of informers. "Was Sacrovir

too," they asked, "to be charged with treason before the Senate? We

have at last found men to check those murderous missives by the sword.

Even war is a good exchange for a miserable peace." Tiberius all the

more studiously assumed an air of unconcern. He changed neither his

residence nor his look, but kept up his usual demeanour during the

whole time, either from the profoundness of his reserve; or was it

that he had convinced himself that the events were unimportant and

much more insignificant than the rumours represented?

Silius meantime was advancing with two legions, and having sent

forward some auxiliary troops was ravaging those villages of the

Sequani, which, situated on the border, adjoin the Aedui, and were

associated with them in arms. He then pushed on by forced marches to

Augustodunum, his standard-bearers vying in zeal, and even the

privates loudly protesting against any halt for their usual rest or

during the hours of night. "Only," they said, "let us have the foe

face to face; that will be enough for victory." Twelve miles from

Augustodunum they saw before them Sacrovir and his army in an open

plain. His men in armour he had posted in the van, his light

infantry on the wings, and the half-armed in the rear. He himself rode

amid the foremost ranks on a splendid charger, reminding them of the

ancient glories of the Gauls, of the disasters they had inflicted on

the Romans, how grand would be the freedom of the victorious, how more

intolerable than ever the slavery of a second conquest.

His words were brief and heard without exultation. For now the

legions in battle array were advancing, and the rabble of townsfolk

who knew nothing of war had their faculties of sight and hearing quite

paralysed. Silius, on the one hand, though confident hope took away

any need for encouragement, exclaimed again and again that it was a

shame to the conquerors of Germany to have to be led against Gauls, as

against an enemy. "Only the other day the rebel Turoni had been

discomfited by a single cohort, the Treveri by one cavalry squadron,

the Sequani by a few companies of this very army. Prove to these Aedui

once for all that the more they abound in wealth and luxury, the

more unwarlike are they, but spare them when they flee."

Then there was a deafening cheer; the cavalry threw itself on the

flanks, and the infantry charged the van. On the wings there was but a

brief resistance. The men in mail were somewhat of an obstacle, as the

iron plates did not yield to javelins or swords; but our men,

snatching up hatchets and pickaxes, hacked at their bodies and their

armour as if they were battering a wall. Some beat down the unwieldy

mass with pikes and forked poles, and they were left lying on the

ground, without an effort to rise, like dead men. Sacrovir with his

most trustworthy followers hurried first to Augustodunum and then,

from fear of being surrendered, to an adjacent country house. There by

his own hand he fell, and his comrades by mutually inflicted wounds.

The house was fired over their heads, and with it they were all


Then at last Tiberius informed the Senate by letter of the beginning

and completion of the war, without either taking away from or adding

to the truth, but ascribing the success to the loyalty and courage

of his generals, and to his own policy. He also gave the reasons why

neither he himself nor Drusus had gone to the war; he magnified the

greatness of the empire, and said it would be undignified for

emperors, whenever there was a commotion in one or two states, to quit

the capital, the centre of all government. Now, as he was not

influenced by fear, he would go to examine and settle matters.

The Senate decreed vows for his safe return, with thanksgivings

and other appropriate ceremonies. Cornelius Dolabella alone, in

endeavouring to outdo the other Senators, went the length of a

preposterous flattery by proposing that he should enter Rome from

Campania with an ovation. Thereupon came a letter from the emperor,

declaring that he was not so destitute of renown as after having

subdued the most savage nations and received or refused so many

triumphs in his youth, to covet now that he was old an unmeaning

honour for a tour in the neighbourhood of Rome.

About the same time he requested the Senate to let the death of

Sulpicius Quirinus be celebrated with a public funeral. With the old

patrician family of the Sulpicii this Quirinus, who was born in the

town of Lanuvium, was quite unconnected. An indefatigable soldier,

he had by his zealous services won the consulship under the Divine

Augustus, and subsequently the honours of a triumph for having stormed

some fortresses of the Homonadenses in Cilicia. He was also

appointed adviser to Caius Caesar in the government of Armenia, and

had likewise paid court to Tiberius, who was then at Rhodes. The

emperor now made all this known to the Senate, and extolled the good

offices of Quirinus to himself, while he censured Marcus Lollius, whom

he charged with encouraging Caius Caesar in his perverse and

quarrelsome behaviour. But people generally had no pleasure in the

memory of Quirinus, because of the perils he had brought, as I have

related, on Lepida, and the meanness and dangerous power of his last


At the close of the year, Caius Lutorius Priscus, a Roman knight,

who, after writing a popular poem bewailing the death of Germanicus,

had received a reward in money from the emperor, was fastened on by an

informer, and charged with having composed another during the

illness of Drusus, which, in the event of the prince's death, might be

published with even greater profit to himself. He had in his vanity

read it in the house of Publius Petronius before Vitellia, Petronius's

mother-in-law, and several ladies of rank. As soon as the accuser

appeared, all but Vitellia were frightened into giving evidence. She

alone swore that she had heard not a word. But those who criminated

him fatally were rather believed, and on the motion of Haterius

Agrippa, the consul-elect, the last penalty was invoked on the


Marcus Lepidus spoke against the sentence as follows:- "Senators, if

we look to the single fact of the infamous utterance with which

Lutorius has polluted his own mind and the ears of the public, neither

dungeon nor halter nor tortures fit for a slave would be punishment

enough for him. But though vice and wicked deeds have no limit,

penalties and correctives are moderated by the clemency of the

sovereign and by the precedents of your ancestors and yourselves.

Folly differs from wickedness; evil words from evil deeds, and thus

there is room for a sentence by which this offence may not go

unpunished, while we shall have no cause to regret either leniency

or severity. Often have I heard our emperor complain when any one

has anticipated his mercy by a self-inflicted death. Lutorius's life

is still safe; if spared, he will be no danger to the State; if put to

death, he will be no warning to others. His productions are as empty

and ephemeral as they are replete with folly. Nothing serious or

alarming is to be apprehended from the man who is the betrayer of

his own shame and works on the imaginations not of men but of silly

women. However, let him leave Rome, lose his property, and be

outlawed. That is my proposal, just as though he were convicted

under the law of treason."

Only one of the ex-consuls, Rubellius Blandus, supported Lepidus.

The rest voted with Agrippa. Priscus was dragged off to prison and

instantly put to death. Of this Tiberius complained to the Senate with

his usual ambiguity, extolling their loyalty in so sharply avenging

the very slightest insults to the sovereign, though he deprecated such

hasty punishment of mere words, praising Lepidus and not censuring

Agrippa. So the Senate passed a resolution that their decrees should

not be registered in the treasury till nine days had expired, and so

much respite was to be given to condemned persons. Still the Senate

had not liberty to alter their purpose, and lapse of time never

softened Tiberius.

Caius Sulpicius and Didius Haterius were the next consuls. It was

a year free from commotions abroad, while at home stringent

legislation was apprehended against the luxury which had reached

boundless excess in everything on which wealth is lavished. Some

expenses, though very serious, were generally kept secret by a

concealment of the real prices; but the costly preparations for

gluttony and dissipation were the theme of incessant talk, and had

suggested a fear that a prince who clung to oldfashioned frugality

would be too stern in his reforms. In fact, when the aedile Caius

Bibulus broached the topic, all his colleagues had pointed out that

the sumptuary laws were disregarded, that prohibited prices for

household articles were every day on the increase, and that moderate

measures could not stop the evil.

The Senate on being consulted had, without handling the matter,

referred it to the emperor. Tiberius, after long considering whether

such reckless tastes could be repressed, whether the repression of

them would not be still more hurtful to the State, also, how

undignified it would be to meddle with what he could not succeed in,

or what, if effected, would necessitate the disgrace and infamy of men

of distinction, at last addressed a letter to the Senate to the

following purport:-

Perhaps in any other matter, Senators, it would be more convenient

that I should be consulted in your presence, and then state what I

think to be for the public good. In this debate it was better that

my eyes should not be on you, for while you were noting the anxious

faces of individual senators charged with shameful luxury, I too

myself might observe them and, as it were, detect them. Had those

energetic men, our aediles, first taken counsel with me, I do not know

whether I should not have advised them to let alone vices so strong

and so matured, rather than merely attain the result of publishing

what are the corruptions with which we cannot cope. They however

have certainly done their duty, as I would wish all other officials

likewise to fulfil their parts. For myself, it is neither seemly to

keep silence nor is it easy to speak my mind, as I do not hold the

office of aedile, praetor, or consul. Something greater and loftier is

expected of a prince, and while everybody takes to himself the

credit of right policy, one alone has to bear the odium of every

person's failures. For what am I first to begin with restraining and

cutting down to the old standard? The vast dimensions of country

houses? The number of slaves of every nationality? The masses of

silver and gold? The marvels in bronze and painting? The apparel

worn indiscriminately by both sexes, or that peculiar luxury of

women which, for the sake of jewels, diverts our wealth to strange

or hostile nations?

I am not unaware that people at entertainments and social gatherings

condemn all this and demand some restriction. But if a law were to

be passed and a penalty imposed, those very same persons will cry

out that the State is revolutionised, that ruin is plotted against all

our most brilliant fashion, that not a citizen is safe from

incrimination. Yet as even bodily disorders of long standing and

growth can be checked only by sharp and painful treatment, so the

fever of a diseased mind, itself polluted and a pollution to others,

can be quenched only by remedies as strong as the passions which

inflame it. Of the many laws devised by our ancestors, of the many

passed by the Divine Augustus, the first have been forgotten, while

his (all the more to our disgrace) have become obsolete through

contempt, and this has made luxury bolder than ever. The truth is,

that when one craves something not yet forbidden, there is a fear that

it may be forbidden; but when people once transgress prohibitions with

impunity, there is no longer any fear or any shame.

Why then in old times was economy in the ascendant? Because every

one practised self-control; because we were all members of one city.

Nor even afterwards had we the same temptations, while our dominion

was confined to Italy. Victories over the foreigner taught us how to

waste the substance of others; victories over ourselves, how to

squander our own. What a paltry matter is this of which the aediles

are reminding us! What a mere trifle if you look at everything else!

No one represents to the Senate that Italy requires supplies from

abroad, and that the very existence of the people of Rome is daily

at the mercy of uncertain waves and storms. And unless masters,

slaves, and estates have the resources of the provinces as their

mainstay, our shrubberies, forsooth, and our country houses will

have to support us.

Such, Senators, are the anxieties which the prince has to sustain,

and the neglect of them will be utter ruin to the State. The cure

for other evils must be sought in our own hearts. Let us be led to

amendment, the poor by constraint, the rich by satiety. Or if any of

our officials give promise of such energy and strictness as can stem

the corruption, I praise the man, and I confess that I am relieved

of a portion of my burdens. But if they wish to denounce vice, and

when they have gained credit for so doing they arouse resentments

and leave them to me, be assured, Senators, that I too am by no

means eager to incur enmities, and though for the public good I

encounter formidable and often unjust enmities, yet I have a right

to decline such as are unmeaning and purposeless and will be of use

neither to myself nor to you.

When they had heard the emperor's letter, the aediles were excused

from so anxious a task, and that luxury of the table which from the

close of the war ended at Actium to the armed revolution in which

Servius Galba rose to empire, had been practised with profuse

expenditure, gradually went out of fashion. It is as well that I

should trace the causes of this change.

Formerly rich or highly distinguished noble families often sank into

ruin from a passion for splendour. Even then men were still at liberty

to court and be courted by the city populace, by our allies and by

foreign princes, and every one who from his wealth, his mansion and

his establishment was conspicuously grand, gained too proportionate

lustre by his name and his numerous clientele. After the savage

massacres in which greatness of renown was fatal, the survivors turned

to wiser ways. The new men who were often admitted into the Senate

from the towns, colonies and even the provinces, introduced their

household thrift, and though many of them by good luck or energy

attained an old age of wealth, still their former tastes remained. But

the chief encourager of strict manners was Vespasian, himself

old-fashioned both in his dress and diet. Henceforth a respectful

feeling towards the prince and a love of emulation proved more

efficacious than legal penalties or terrors. Or possibly there is in

all things a kind of cycle, and there may be moral revolutions just as

there are changes of seasons. Nor was everything better in the past,

but our own age too has produced many specimens of excellence and

culture for posterity to imitate. May we still keep up with our

ancestors a rivalry in all that is honourable!

Tiberius having gained credit for forbearance by the check he had

given to the growing terror of the informers, wrote a letter to the

Senate requesting the tribunitian power for Drusus. This was a

phrase which Augustus devised as a designation of supremacy, so that

without assuming the name of king or dictator he might have some title

to mark his elevation above all other authority. He then chose

Marcus Agrippa to be his associate in this power, and on Agrippa's

death, Tiberius Nero, that there might be no uncertainty as to the

succession. In this manner he thought to check the perverse ambition

of others, while he had confidence in Nero's moderation and in his own


Following this precedent, Tiberius now placed Drusus next to the

throne, though while Germanicus was alive he had maintained an

impartial attitude towards the two princes. However in the beginning

of his letter he implored heaven to prosper his plans on behalf of the

State, and then added a few remarks, without falsehood or

exaggeration, on the character of the young prince. He had, he

reminded them, a wife and three children, and his age was the same

as that at which he had himself been formerly summoned by the Divine

Augustus to undertake this duty. Nor was it a precipitate step; it was

only after an experience of eight years, after having quelled mutinies

and settled wars, after a triumph and two consulships, that he was

adopted as a partner in trials already familiar to him.

The senators had anticipated this message and hence their flattery

was the more elaborate. But they could devise nothing but voting

statues of the two princes, shrines to certain deities, temples,

arches and the usual routine, except that Marcus Silanus sought to

honour the princes by a slur on the consulate, and proposed that on

all monuments, public or private, should be inscribed, to mark the

date, the names, not of the consuls, but of those who were holding the

tribunitian power. Quintus Haterius, when he brought forward a

motion that the decrees passed that day should be set up in the Senate

House in letters of gold, was laughed at as an old dotard, who would

get nothing but infamy out of such utterly loathsome sycophancy.

Meantime Junius Blaesus received an extension of his government of

Africa, and Servius Maluginensis, the priest of Jupiter, demanded to

have Asia allotted to him. "It was," he asserted, "a popular error

that it was not lawful for the priests of Jupiter to leave Italy; in

fact, his own legal position differed not from that of the priests

of Mars and of Quirinus. If these latter had provinces allotted to

them, why was it forbidden to the priests of Jupiter? There were no

resolutions of the people or anything to be found in the books of

ceremonies on the subject. Pontiffs had often performed the rites to

Jupiter when his priest was hindered by illness or by public duty. For

seventy-five years after the suicide of Cornelius Merula no

successor to his office had been appointed; yet religious rites had

not ceased. If during so many years it was possible for there to be no

appointment without any prejudice to religion, with what comparative

ease might he be absent for one year's proconsulate? That these

priests in former days were prohibited by the pontiff from going

into the provinces, was the result of private feuds. Now, thank

heaven, the supreme pontiff was also the supreme man, and was

influenced by no rivalry, hatred or personal feeling."

As the augur Lentulus and others argued on various grounds against

this view, the result was that they awaited the decision of the

supreme pontiff. Tiberius deferred any investigation into the priest's

legal position, but he modified the ceremonies which had been

decreed in honour of Drusus's tribunitian power with special censure

on the extravagance of the proposed inscription in gold, so contrary

to national usage. Letters also from Drusus were read, which, though

studiously modest in expression, were taken to be extremely

supercilious. "We have fallen so low," people said, "that even a

mere youth who has received so high an honour does not go as a

worshipper to the city's gods, does not enter the Senate, does not

so much as take the auspices on his country's soil. There is a war,

forsooth, or he is kept from us in some remote part of the world. Why,

at this very moment, he is on a tour amid the shores and lakes of

Campania. Such is the training of the future ruler of mankind; such

the lesson he first learns from his father's counsels. An aged emperor

may indeed shrink from the citizen's gaze, and plead the weariness

of declining years and the toils of the past. But, as for Drusus, what

can be his hindrance but pride?"

Tiberius meantime, while securing to himself the substance of

imperial power, allowed the Senate some shadow of its old constitution

by referring to its investigation certain demands of the provinces. In

the Greek cities license and impunity in establishing sanctuaries were

on the increase. Temples were thronged with the vilest of the

slaves; the same refuge screened the debtor against his creditor, as

well as men suspected of capital offences. No authority was strong

enough to check the turbulence of a people which protected the

crimes of men as much as the worship of the gods.

It was accordingly decided that the different states were to send

their charters and envoys to Rome. Some voluntarily relinquished

privileges which they had groundlessly usurped; many trusted to old

superstitions, or to their services to the Roman people. It was a

grand spectacle on that day, when the Senate examined grants made by

our ancestors, treaties with allies, even decrees of kings who had

flourished before Rome's ascendancy, and the forms of worship of the

very deities, with full liberty as in former days, to ratify or to


First of all came the people of Ephesus. They declared that Diana

and Apollo were not born at Delos, as was the vulgar belief. They

had in their own country a river Cenchrius, a grove Ortygia, where

Latona, as she leaned in the pangs of labour on an olive still

standing, gave birth to those two deities, whereupon the grove at

the divine intimation was consecrated. There Apollo himself, after the

slaughter of the Cyclops, shunned the wrath of Jupiter; there too

father Bacchus, when victorious in war, pardoned the suppliant Amazons

who had gathered round the shrine. Subsequently by the permission of

Hercules, when he was subduing Lydia, the grandeur of the temple's

ceremonial was augmented, and during the Persian rule its privileges

were not curtailed. They had afterwards been maintained by the

Macedonians, then by ourselves.

Next the people of Magnesia relied on arrangements made by Lucius

Scipio and Lucius Sulla. These generals, after respectively

defeating Antiochus and Mithridates, honoured the fidelity and courage

of the Magnesians by allowing the temple of Diana of the White Brow to

be an inviolable sanctuary. Then the people of Aphrodisia produced a

decree of the dictator Caesar for their old services to his party, and

those of Stratonicea, one lately passed by the Divine Augustus, in

which they were commended for having endured the Parthian invasion

without wavering in their loyalty to the Roman people. Aphrodisia

maintained the worship of Venus; Stratonicea, that of Jupiter and of

Diana of the Cross Ways.

Hierocaesarea went back to a higher antiquity, and spoke of having a

Persian Diana, whose fane was consecrated in the reign of Cyrus.

They quoted too the names of Perperna, Isauricus, and many other

generals who had conceded the same sacred character not only to the

temple but to its precincts for two miles. Then came the Cyprians on

behalf of three shrines, the oldest of which had been set up by

their founder Aerias to the Paphian Venus, the second by his son

Amathus to Venus of Amathus, and the last to Jupiter of Salamis, by

Teucer when he fled from the wrath of his father Telamon.

Audience was also given to embassies from other states. The senators

wearied by their multiplicity and seeing the party spirit that was

being roused, intrusted the inquiry to the consuls, who were to sift

each title and see if it involved any abuse, and then refer back the

entire matter to the Senate. Besides the states already mentioned, the

consuls reported that they had ascertained that at Pergamus there

was a sanctuary of Aesculapius, but that the rest relied on an

origin lost in the obscurity of antiquity. For example, the people

of Smyrna quoted an oracle of Apollo, which had commanded them to

dedicate a temple to Venus Stratonicis; and the islanders of Tenos, an

utterance from the same deity, bidding them consecrate a statue and

a fane to Neptune. Sardis preferred a more modern claim, a grant

from the victorious Alexander. So again Miletus relied on king Darius.

But in each case their religious worship was that of Diana or

Apollo. The Cretans too demanded a like privilege for a statue of

the Divine Augustus. Decrees of the Senate were passed, which though

very respectful, still prescribed certain limits, and the

petitioners were directed to set up bronze tablets in each temple,

to be a sacred memorial and to restrain them from sinking into selfish

aims under the mask of religion.

About this time Julia Augusta had an alarming illness, which

compelled the emperor to hasten his return to Rome, for hitherto there

had been a genuine harmony between the mother and son, or a hatred

well concealed. Not long before, for instance, Julia in dedicating a

statue to the Divine Augustus near the theatre of Marcellus had

inscribed the name of Tiberius below her own, and it was surmised that

the emperor, regarding this as a slight on a sovereign's dignity,

had brooded over it with deep and disguised resentment. However the

Senate now decreed supplications to the gods and the celebration of

the Great Games, which were to be exhibited by the pontiffs, augurs,

the colleges of the Fifteen and of the Seven, with the Augustal

Brotherhood. Lucius Apronius moved that the heralds too should preside

over these Games. This the emperor opposed, distinguishing the

peculiar privileges of the sacred guilds, and quoting precedents.

Never, he argued, had the heralds this dignity. "The Augustal

priests were included expressly because their sacred office was

specially attached to the family for which vows were being performed."

My purpose is not to relate at length every motion, but only such as

were conspicuous for excellence or notorious for infamy. This I regard

as history's highest function, to let no worthy action be

uncommemorated, and to hold out the reprobation of posterity as a

terror to evil words and deeds. So corrupted indeed and debased was

that age by sycophancy that not only the foremost citizens who were

forced to save their grandeur by servility, but every exconsul, most

of the ex-praetors and a host of inferior senators would rise in eager

rivalry to propose shameful and preposterous motions. Tradition says

that Tiberius as often as he left the Senate-House used to exclaim

in Greek, "How ready these men are to be slaves." Clearly, even he,

with his dislike of public freedom, was disgusted at the abject

abasement of his creatures.

From unseemly flatteries they passed by degrees to savage acts.

Caius Silanus, pro-consul of Asia, was accused by our allies of

extortion; whereupon Mamercus Scaurus, an ex-consul, Junius Otho, a

praetor, Brutidius Niger, an aedile, simultaneously fastened on him

and charged him with sacrilege to the divinity of Augustus, and

contempt of the majesty of Tiberius, while Mamercus Scaurus quoted old

precedents, the prosecutions of Lucius Cotta by Scipio Africanus, of

Servius Galba by Cato the Censor and of Publius Rutilius by Scaurus.

As if indeed Scipio's and Cato's vengeance fell on such offences, or

that of the famous Scaurus, whom his great grandson, a blot on his

ancestry, this Mamercus was now disgracing by his infamous occupation.

Junius Otho's old employment had been the keeping of a preparatory

school. Subsequently, becoming a senator by the influence of

Sejanus, he shamed his origin, low as it was, by his unblushing

effronteries. Brutidius who was rich in excellent accomplishments, and

was sure, had he pursued a path of virtue, to reach the most brilliant

distinction, was goaded on by an eager impatience, while he strove

to outstrip his equals, then his superiors, and at last even his own

aspirations. Many have thus perished, even good men, despising slow

and safe success and hurrying on even at the cost of ruin to premature


Gellius Publicola and Marcus Paconius, respectively quaestor and

lieutenant of Silanus, swelled the number of the accusers. No doubt

was felt as to the defendant's conviction for oppression and

extortion, but there was a combination against him, that must have

been perilous even to an innocent man. Besides a host of adverse

Senators there were the most accomplished orators of all Asia, who, as

such, had been retained for the prosecution, and to these he had to

reply alone, without any experience in pleading, and under that

personal apprehension which is enough to paralyse even the most

practised eloquence. For Tiberius did not refrain from pressing him

with angry voice and look, himself putting incessant questions,

without allowing him to rebut or evade them, and he had often even

to make admissions, that the questions might not have been asked in

vain. His slaves too were sold by auction to the state-agent, to be

examined by torture. And that not a friend might help him in his

danger, charges of treason were added, a binding guarantee for

sealed lips. Accordingly he begged a few days' respite, and at last

abandoned his defence, after venturing on a memorial to the emperor,

in which he mingled reproach and entreaty.

Tiberius, that his proceedings against Silanus might find some

justification in precedent, ordered the Divine Augustus's indictment

of Volesus Messala, also a proconsul of Asia, and the Senate's

sentence on him to be read. He then asked Lucius Piso his opinion.

After a long preliminary eulogy on the prince's clemency, Piso

pronounced that Silanus ought to be outlawed and banished to the

island of Gyarus. The rest concurred, with the exception of Cneius

Lentulus, who, with the assent of Tiberius, proposed that the property

of Silanus's mother, as she was very different from him, should be

exempted from confiscation, and given to the son.

Cornelius Dolabella however, by way of carrying flattery yet

further, sharply censured the morals of Silanus, and then moved that

no one of disgraceful life and notorious infamy should be eligible for

a province, and that of this the emperor should be judge. "Laws,

indeed," he said, "punish crimes committed; but how much more merciful

would it be to individuals, how much better for our allies, to provide

against their commission."

The emperor opposed the motion. "Although," he said, "I am not

ignorant of the reports about Silanus, still we must decide nothing by

hearsay. Many a man has behaved in a province quite otherwise than was

hoped or feared of him. Some are roused to higher things by great

responsibility; others are paralysed by it. It is not possible for a

prince's knowledge to embrace everything, and it is not expedient that

he should be exposed to the ambitious schemings of others. Laws are

ordained to meet facts, inasmuch as the future is uncertain. It was

the rule of our ancestors that, whenever there was first an offence,

some penalty should follow. Let us not revolutionise a wisely

devised and ever approved system. Princes have enough burdens, and

also enough power. Rights are invariably abridged, as despotism

increases; nor ought we to fall back on imperial authority, when we

can have recourse to the laws."

Such constitutional sentiments were so rare with Tiberius, that they

were welcomed with all the heartier joy. Knowing, as he did, how to be

forbearing, when he was not under the stimulus of personal resentment,

he further said that Gyarus was a dreary and uninhabited island, and

that, as a concession to the Junian family and to a man of the same

order as themselves, they might let him retire by preference to

Cythnus. This, he added, was also the request of Torquata, Silanus's

sister, a vestal of primitive purity. The motion was carried after a


Audience was next given to the people of Cyrene, and on the

prosecution of Ancharius Priscus, Caesius Cordus was convicted of

extortion. Lucius Ennius, a Roman knight, was accused of treason,

for having converted a statue of the emperor to the common use of

silver plate; but the emperor forbade his being put upon his trial,

though Ateius Capito openly remonstrated, with a show of independence.

"The Senate," he said, "ought not to have wrested from it the power of

deciding a question, and such a crime must not go unpunished.

Granted that the emperor might be indifferent to a personal grievance,

still he should not be generous in the case of wrongs to the

commonwealth." Tiberius interpreted the remark according to its

drift rather than its mere expression, and persisted in his veto.

Capito's disgrace was the more conspicuous, for, versed as he was in

the science of law, human and divine, he had now dishonoured a

brilliant public career as well as a virtuous private life.

Next came a religious question, as to the temple in which ought to

be deposited the offering which the Roman knights had vowed to Fortune

of the Knights for the recovery of Augusta. Although that Goddess

had several shrines in Rome, there was none with this special

designation. It was ascertained that there was a temple so called at

Antium, and that all sacred rites in the towns of Italy as well as

temples and images of deities were under the jurisdiction and

authority of Rome. Accordingly the offering was placed at Antium.

As religious questions were under discussion, the emperor now

produced his answer to Servius Maluginensis, Jupiter's priest, which

he had recently deferred, and read the pontifical decree,

prescribing that whenever illness attacked a priest of Jupiter, he

might, with the supreme pontiff's permission, be absent more than

two nights, provided it was not during the days of public sacrifice or

more than twice in the same year. This regulation of the emperor

Augustus sufficiently proved that a year's absence and a provincial

government were not permitted to the priests of Jupiter. There was

also cited the precedent of Lucius Metellus, supreme pontiff, who

had detained at Rome the priest Aulus Postumius. And so Asia was

allotted to the exconsul next in seniority to Maluginensis.

About the same time Lepidus asked the Senate's leave to restore

and embellish, at his own expense, the basilica of Paulus, that

monument of the Aemilian family. Public-spirited munificence was still

in fashion, and Augustus had not hindered Taurus, Philippus, or Balbus

from applying the spoils of war or their superfluous wealth to adorn

the capital and to win the admiration of posterity. Following these

examples, Lepidus, though possessed of a moderate fortune, now revived

the glory of his ancestors.

Pompeius's theatre, which had been destroyed by an accidental

fire, the emperor promised to rebuild, simply because no member of the

family was equal to restoring it, but Pompeius's name was to be

retained. At the same time he highly extolled Sejanus on the ground

that it was through his exertions and vigilance that such fury of

the flames had been confined to the destruction of a single

building. The Senate voted Sejanus a statue, which was to be placed in

Pompeius's theatre. And soon afterwards the emperor in honouring

Junius Blaesus proconsul of Africa, with triumphal distinctions,

said that he granted them as a compliment to Sejanus, whose uncle

Blaesus was.

Still the career of Blaesus merited such a reward. For Tacfarinas,

though often driven back, had recruited his resources in the

interior of Africa, and had become so insolent as to send envoys to

Tiberius, actually demanding a settlement for himself and his army, or

else threatening us with an interminable war. Never, it is said, was

the emperor so exasperated by an insult to himself and the Roman

people as by a deserter and brigand assuming the character of a

belligerent. "Even Spartacus when he had destroyed so many consular

armies and was burning Italy with impunity, though the State was

staggering under the tremendous wars of Sertorius and Mithridates, had

not the offer of an honourable surrender on stipulated conditions; far

less, in Rome's most glorious height of power, should a robber like

Tacfarinas be bought off by peace and concessions of territory." He

intrusted the affair to Blaesus, who was to hold out to the other

rebels the prospect of laying down their arms without hurt to

themselves, while he was by any means to secure the person of the

chief. Many surrendered themselves on the strength of this amnesty.

Before long the tactics of Tacfarinas were encountered in a similar


Unequal to us in solid military strength, but better in a war of

surprises, he would attack, would elude pursuit, and still arrange

ambuscades with a multitude of detachments. And so we prepared three

expeditions and as many columns. One of the three under the command of

Cornelius Scipio, Blaesus's lieutenant, was to stop the enemy's forays

on the Leptitani and his retreat to the Garamantes. In another

quarter, Blaesus's son led a separate force of his own, to save the

villages of Cirta from being ravaged with impunity. Between the two

was the general himself with some picked troops. By establishing

redoubts and fortified lines in commanding positions, he had

rendered the whole country embarrassing and perilous to the foe,

for, whichever way he turned, a body of Roman soldiers was in his

face, or on his flank, or frequently in the rear. Many were thus slain

or surprised.

Blaesus then further divided his triple army into several

detachments under the command of centurions of tried valour. At the

end of the summer he did not, as was usual, withdraw his troops and

let them rest in winter-quarters in the old province; but, forming a

chain of forts, as though he were on the threshold of a campaign, he

drove Tacfarinas by flying columns well acquainted with the desert,

from one set of huts to another, till he captured the chief's brother,

and then returned, too soon however for the welfare of our allies,

as there yet remained those who might renew hostilities.

Tiberius however considered the war as finished, and awarded Blaesus

the further distinction of being hailed "Imperator" by the legions, an

ancient honour conferred on generals who for good service to the State

were saluted with cheers of joyful enthusiasm by a victorious army.

Several men bore the title at the same time, without pre-eminence

above their fellows. Augustus too granted the name to certain persons;

and now, for the last time, Tiberius gave it to Blaesus.

Two illustrious men died that year. One was Asinius Saloninus,

distinguished as the grandson of Marcus Agrippa, and Asinius Pollio,

as the brother of Drusus and the intended husband of the emperor's

granddaughter. The other was Capito Ateius, already mentioned, who had

won a foremost position in the State by his legal attainments,

though his grandfather was but a centurion in Sulla's army, his father

having been a praetor. He was prematurely advanced to the consulship

by Augustus, so that he might be raised by the honour of this

promotion above Labeo Antistius, a conspicuous member of the same

profession. That age indeed produced at one time two brilliant

ornaments of peace. But while Labeo was a man of sturdy independence

and consequently of wider fame, Capito's obsequiousness was more

acceptable to those in power. Labeo, because his promotion was

confined to the praetorship, gained in public favour through the

wrong; Capito, in obtaining the consulship, incurred the hatred

which grows out of envy.

Junia too, the niece of Cato, wife of Caius Cassius and sister of

Marcus Brutus, died this year, the sixty-fourth after the battle of

Philippi. Her will was the theme of much popular criticism, for,

with her vast wealth, after having honourably mentioned almost every

nobleman by name, she passed over the emperor. Tiberius took the

omission graciously and did not forbid a panegyric before the Rostra

with the other customary funeral honours. The busts of twenty most

illustrious families were borne in the procession, with the names of

Manlius, Quinctius, and others of equal rank. But Cassius and Brutus

outshone them all, from the very fact that their likenesses were not

to be seen.

BOOK IV, A.D. 23-28

THE year when Caius Asinius and Caius Antistius were consuls was the

ninth of Tiberius's reign, a period of tranquillity for the State

and prosperity for his own house, for he counted Germanicus's death

a happy incident. Suddenly fortune deranged everything; the emperor

became a cruel tyrant, as well as an abettor of cruelty in others.

Of this the cause and origin was Aelius Sejanus, commander of the

praetorian cohorts, of whose influence I have already spoken. I will

now fully describe his extraction, his character, and the daring

wickedness by which he grasped at power.

Born at Vulsinii, the son of Seius Strabo, a Roman knight, he

attached himself in his early youth to Caius Caesar, grandson of the

Divine Augustus, and the story went that he had sold his person to

Apicius, a rich debauchee. Soon afterwards he won the heart of

Tiberius so effectually by various artifices that the emperor, ever

dark and mysterious towards others, was with Sejanus alone careless

and freespoken. It was not through his craft, for it was by this

very weapon that he was overthrown; it was rather from heaven's

wrath against Rome, to whose welfare his elevation and his fall were

alike disastrous. He had a body which could endure hardships, and a

daring spirit. He was one who screened himself, while he was attacking

others; he was as cringing as he was imperious; before the world he

affected humility; in his heart he lusted after supremacy, for the

sake of which he sometimes lavish and luxurious, but oftener energetic

and watchful, qualities quite as mischievous when hypocritically

assumed for the attainment of sovereignty.

He strengthened the hitherto moderate powers of his office by

concentrating the cohorts scattered throughout the capital into one

camp, so that they might all receive orders at the same moment, and

that the sight of their numbers and strength might give confidence

to themselves, while it would strike terror into the citizens. His

pretexts were the demoralisation incident to a dispersed soldiery, the

greater effectiveness of simultaneous action in the event of a

sudden peril, and the stricter discipline which would be insured by

the establishment of an encampment at a distance from the

temptations of the city. As soon as the camp was completed, he crept

gradually into the affections of the soldiers by mixing with them

and addressing them by name, himself selecting the centurions and

tribunes. With the Senate too he sought to ingratiate himself,

distinguishing his partisans with offices and provinces, Tiberius

readily yielding, and being so biassed that not only in private

conversation but before the senators and the people he spoke highly of

him as the partner of his toils, and allowed his statues to be

honoured in theatres, in forums, and at the head-quarters of our


There were however obstacles to his ambition in the imperial house

with its many princes, a son in youthful manhood and grown-up

grandsons. As it would be unsafe to sweep off such a number at once by

violence, while craft would necessitate successive intervals in crime,

he chose, on the whole, the stealthier way and to begin with Drusus,

against whom he had the stimulus of a recent resentment. Drusus, who

could not brook a rival and was somewhat irascible, had, in a casual

dispute, raised his fist at Sejanus, and, when he defended himself,

had struck him in the face. On considering every plan Sejanus

thought his easiest revenge was to turn his attention to Livia,

Drusus's wife. She was a sister of Germanicus, and though she was

not handsome as a girl, she became a woman of surpassing beauty.

Pretending an ardent passion for her, he seduced her, and having won

his first infamous triumph, and assured that a woman after having

parted with her virtue will hesitate at nothing, he lured her on to

thoughts of marriage, of a share in sovereignty, and of her

husband's destruction. And she, the niece of Augustus, the

daughter-in-law of Tiberius, the mother of children by Drusus, for a

provincial paramour, foully disgraced herself, her ancestors, and

her descendants, giving up honour and a sure position for prospects as

base as they were uncertain. They took into their confidence

Eudemus, Livia's friend and physician, whose profession was a

pretext for frequent secret interviews. Sejanus, to avert his

mistress's jealousy, divorced his wife Apicata, by whom he had had

three children. Still the magnitude of the crime caused fear and

delay, and sometimes a conflict of plans.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of this year, Drusus, one of the

children of Germanicus, assumed the dress of manhood, with a

repetition of the honours decreed by the Senate to his brother Nero.

The emperor added a speech with warm praise of his son for sharing a

father's affection to his brother's children. Drusus indeed, difficult

as it is for power and mutual harmony to exist side by side, had the

character of being kindly disposed or at least not unfriendly

towards the lads. And now the old plan, so often insincerely broached,

of a progress through the provinces, was again discussed. The

emperor's pretext was the number of veterans on the eve of discharge

and the necessity of fresh levies for the army. Volunteers were not

forthcoming, and even if they were sufficiently numerous, they had not

the same bravery and discipline, as it is chiefly the needy and the

homeless who adopt by their own choice a soldier's life. Tiberius also

rapidly enumerated the legions and the provinces which they had to

garrison. I too ought, I think, to go through these details, and

thus show what forces Rome then had under arms, what kings were our

allies, and how much narrower then were the limits of our empire.

Italy on both seas was guarded by fleets, at Misenum and at Ravenna,

and the contiguous coast of Gaul by ships of war captured in the

victory of Actium, and sent by Augustus powerfully manned to the

town of Forojulium. But chief strength was on the Rhine, as a

defence alike against Germans and Gauls, and numbered eight legions.

Spain, lately subjugated, was held by three. Mauretania was king

Juba's, who had received it as a gift from the Roman people. The

rest of Africa was garrisoned by two legions, and Egypt by the same

number. Next, beginning with Syria, all within the entire tract of

country stretching as far as the Euphrates, was kept in restraint by

four legions, and on this frontier were Iberian, Albanian, and other

kings, to whom our greatness was a protection against any foreign

power. Thrace was held by Rhoemetalces and the children of Cotys;

the bank of the Danube by two legions in Pannonia, two in Moesia,

and two also were stationed in Dalmatia, which, from the situation

of the country, were in the rear of the other four, and, should

Italy suddenly require aid, not to distant to be summoned. But the

capital was garrisoned by its own special soldiery, three city, nine

praetorian cohorts, levied for the most part in Etruria and Umbria, or

ancient Latium and the old Roman colonies. There were besides, in

commanding positions in the provinces, allied fleets, cavalry and

light infantry, of but little inferior strength. But any detailed

account of them would be misleading, since they moved from place to

place as circumstances required, and had their numbers increased and

sometimes diminished.

It is however, I think, a convenient opportunity for me to review

the hitherto prevailing methods of administration in the other

departments of the State, inasmuch as that year brought with it the

beginning of a change for the worse in Tiberius's policy. In the first

place, public business and the most important private matters were

managed by the Senate: the leading men were allowed freedom of

discussion, and when they stooped to flattery, the emperor himself

checked them. He bestowed honours with regard to noble ancestry,

military renown, or brilliant accomplishments as a civilian, letting

it be clearly seen that there were no better men to choose. The consul

and the praetor retained their prestige; inferior magistrates

exercised their authority; the laws too, with the single exception

of cases of treason, were properly enforced.

As to the duties on corn, the indirect taxes and other branches of

the public revenue, they were in the hands of companies of Roman

knights. The emperor intrusted his own property to men of the most

tried integrity or to persons known only by their general

reputation, and once appointed they were retained without any

limitation, so that most of them grew old in the same employments. The

city populace indeed suffered much from high prices, but this was no

fault of the emperor, who actually endeavoured to counteract barren

soils and stormy seas with every resource of wealth and foresight. And

he was also careful not to distress the provinces by new burdens,

and to see that in bearing the old they were safe from any rapacity or

oppression on the part of governors. Corporal punishments and

confiscations of property were unknown.

The emperor had only a few estates in Italy, slaves on a moderate

scale, and his household was confined to a few freedmen. If ever he

had a dispute with a private person, it was decided in the law courts.

All this, not indeed with any graciousness, but in a blunt fashion

which often alarmed, he still kept up, until the death of Drusus

changed everything. While he lived, the system continued, because

Sejanus, as yet only in the beginning of his power, wished to be known

as an upright counsellor, and there was one whose vengeance he

dreaded, who did not conceal his hatred and incessantly complained

"that a stranger was invited to assist in the government while the

emperor's son was alive. How near was the step of declaring the

stranger a colleague! Ambition at first had a steep path before it;

when once the way had been entered, zealous adherents were

forthcoming. Already, at the pleasure of the commander of the

guards, a camp had been established; the soldiers given into his

hands; his statues were to be seen among the monuments of Cneius

Pompeius; his grandsons would be of the same blood as the family of

the Drusi. Henceforth they must pray that he might have

self-control, and so be contented." So would Drusus talk, not

unfrequently, or only in the hearing of a few persons. Even his

confidences, now that his wife had been corrupted, were betrayed.

Sejanus accordingly thought that he must be prompt, and chose a

poison the gradual working of which might be mistaken for a natural

disorder. It was given to Drusus by Lygdus, a eunuch, as was

ascertained eight years later. As for Tiberius, he went to the

Senate house during the whole time of the prince's illness, either

because he was not afraid, or to show his strength of mind, and even

in the interval between his death and funeral. Seeing the consuls,

in token of their grief, sitting on the ordinary benches, he

reminded them of their high office and of their proper place; and when

the Senate burst into tears, suppressing a groan, he revived their

spirits with a fluent speech. "He knew indeed that he might be

reproached for thus encountering the gaze of the Senate after so

recent an affliction. Most mourners could hardly bear even the

soothing words of kinsfolk or to look on the light of day. And such

were not to be condemned as weak. But he had sought a more manly

consolation in the bosom of the commonwealth."

Then deploring the extreme age of Augusta, the childhood of his

grandsons, and his own declining years, he begged the Senate to summon

Germanicus's children, the only comfort under their present misery.

The consuls went out, and having encouraged the young princes with

kind words, brought them in and presented them to the emperor.

Taking them by the hand he said: "Senators, when these boys lost their

father, I committed them to their uncle, and begged him, though he had

children of his own, to cherish and rear them as his own offspring,

and train them for himself and for posterity. Drusus is now lost to

us, and I turn my prayers to you, and before heaven and your country I

adjure you to receive into your care and guidance the

great-grandsons of Augustus, descendants of a most noble ancestry.

So fulfil your duty and mine. To you, Nero and Drusus, these

senators are as fathers. Such is your birth that your prosperity and

adversity must alike affect the State."

There was great weeping at these words, and then many a benediction.

Had the emperor set bounds to his speech, he must have filled the

hearts of his hearers with sympathy and admiration. But he now fell

back on those idle and often ridiculed professions about restoring the

republic, and the wish that the consuls or some one else might

undertake the government, and thus destroyed belief even in what was

genuine and noble.

The same honours were decreed to the memory of Drusus as to that

of Germanicus, and many more were added. Such is the way with

flattery, when repeated. The funeral with its procession of statues

was singularly grand. Aeneas, the father of the Julian house, all

the Alban kings, Romulus, Rome's founder, then the Sabine nobility,

Attus Clausus, and the busts of all the other Claudii were displayed

in a long train.

In relating the death of Drusus I have followed the narrative of

most of the best historians. But I would not pass over a rumour of the

time, the strength of which is not even yet exhausted. Sejanus, it

is said, having seduced Livia into crime, next secured, by the foulest

means, the consent of Lygdus, the eunuch, as from his youth and beauty

he was his master's favourite, and one of his principal attendants.

When those who were in the secret had decided on the time and place of

the poisoning, Sejanus, with the most consummate daring, reversed

his plan, and, whispering an accusation against Drusus of intending to

poison his father, warned Tiberius to avoid the first draught

offered him as he was dining at his son's house. Thus deceived, the

old emperor, on sitting down to the banquet, took the cup and handed

it to Drusus. His suspicions were increased when Drusus, in perfect

unconsciousness, drank it off with youthful eagerness, apparently, out

of fear and shame, bringing on himself the death which he had

plotted against his father.

These popular rumours, over and above the fact that they are not

vouched for by any good writer, may be instantly refuted. For who,

with moderate prudence, far less Tiberius with his great experience,

would have thrust destruction on a son, without even hearing him, with

his own hand too, and with an impossibility of returning to better

thoughts. Surely he would rather have had the slave who handed the

poison, tortured, have sought to discover the traitor, in short, would

have been as hesitating and tardy in the case of an only son

hitherto unconvicted of any crime, as he was naturally even with

strangers. But as Sejanus had the credit of contriving every sort of

wickedness, the fact that he was the emperor's special favourite,

and that both were hated by the rest of the world, procured belief for

any monstrous fiction, and rumour too always has a dreadful side in

regard to the deaths of men in power. Besides, the whole process of

the crime was betrayed by Apicata, Sejanus's wife, and fully divulged,

under torture, by Eudemus and Lygdus. No writer has been found

sufficiently malignant to fix the guilt on Tiberius, though every

circumstance was scrutinized and exaggerated. My object in

mentioning and refuting this story is, by a conspicuous example, to

put down hearsay, and to request all into whose hands my work shall

come, not to catch eagerly at wild and improbable rumours in

preference to genuine history which has not been perverted into


Tiberius pronounced a panegyric on his son before the Rostra, during

which the Senate and people, in appearance rather than in heart, put

on the expression and accents of sorrow, while they inwardly

rejoiced at the brightening future of the family of Germanicus. This

beginning of popularity and the ill-concealed ambition of their mother

Agrippina, hastened its downfall. Sejanus when he saw that the death

of Drusus was not avenged on the murderers and was no grief to the

people, grew bold in wickedness, and, now that his first attempt had

succeeded, speculated on the possibility of destroying the children of

Germanicus, whose succession to the throne was a certainty. There were

three, and poison could not be distributed among them, because of

the singular fidelity of their guardians and the unassailable virtue

of Agrippina. So Sejanus inveighed against Agrippina's arrogance,

and worked powerfully on Augusta's old hatred of her and on Livia's

consciousness of recent guilt, and urged both these women to represent

to the emperor that her pride as a mother and her reliance on

popular enthusiasm were leading her to dream of empire. Livia

availed herself of the cunning of accusers, among whom she had

selected Julius Postumus, a man well suited to her purpose, as he

had an intrigue with Mutilia Prisca, and was consequently in the

confidence of Augusta, over whose mind Prisca had great influence. She

thus made her aged grandmother, whose nature it was to tremble for her

power, irreconcilably hostile to her grandson's widow. Agrippina's

friends too were induced to be always inciting her proud spirit by

mischievous talk.

Tiberius meanwhile, who did not relax his attention to business, and

found solace in his work, occupied himself with the causes of citizens

at Rome and with petitions from allies. Decrees of the Senate were

passed at his proposal for relieving the cities of Cibyra and Aegium

in Asia and Achaia, which had suffered from earthquakes, by a

remission of three years' tribute. Vibius Serenus too, proconsul of

Further Spain, was condemned for violence in his official capacity,

and was banished to the island of Amorgus for his savage temper.

Carsidius Sacerdos, accused of having helped our enemy Tacfarinas with

supplies of grain, was acquitted, as was also Caius Gracchus on the

same charge. Gracchus's father, Sempronius, had taken him when a

mere child to the island of Cercina to be his companion in exile.

There he grew up among outcasts who knew nothing of a liberal

education, and after a while supported himself in Africa and Sicily by

petty trade. But he did not escape the dangers of high rank. Had not

his innocence been protected by Aelius Lamia and Lucius Apronius,

successive governors of Africa, the splendid fame of that

ill-starred family and the downfall of his father would have dragged

him to ruin.

This year too brought embassies from the Greek communities. The

people of Samos and Cos petitioned for the confirmation of the ancient

right of sanctuary for the respective temples of Juno and Aesculapius.

The Samians relied on a decree of the Amphictyonic Council, which

had the supreme decision of all questions when the Greeks, through the

cities they had founded in Asia, had possession of the sea-coast.

Cos could boast equal antiquity, and it had an additional claim

connected with the place. Roman citizens had been admitted to the

temple of Aesculapius, when king Mithridates ordered a general

massacre of them throughout all the islands and cities of Asia.

Next, after various and usually fruitless complaints from the

praetors, the emperor finally brought forward a motion about the

licentious behaviour of the players. "They had often," he said,

"sought to disturb the public peace, and to bring disgrace on

private families, and the old Oscan farce, once a wretched amusement

for the vulgar, had become at once so indecent and so popular, that it

must be checked by the Senate's authority. The players, upon this,

were banished from Italy.

That same year also brought fresh sorrow to the emperor by being

fatal to one of the twin sons of Drusus, equally too by the death of

an intimate friend. This was Lucilius Longus, the partner of all his

griefs and joys, the only senator who had been the companion of his

retirement in Rhodes. And so, though he was a man of humble origin,

the Senate decreed him a censor's funeral and a statue in the forum of

Augustus at the public expense. Everything indeed was as yet in the

hands of the Senate, and consequently Lucilius Capito, procurator of

Asia, who was impeached by his province, was tried by them, the

emperor vehemently asserting "that he had merely given the man

authority over the slaves and property of the imperial establishments;

that if he had taken upon himself the powers of a praetor and used

military force, he had disregarded his instructions; therefore they

must hear the provincials." So the case was heard and the accused

condemned. The cities of Asia, gratified by this retribution and the

punishment inflicted in the previous year on Caius Silanus, voted a

temple to Tiberius, his mother, and the Senate, and were permitted

to build it. Nero thanked the Senators and his grandfather on their

behalf and carried with him the joyful sympathies of his audience,

who, with the memory of Germanicus fresh in their minds, imagined that

it was his face they saw, his voice they heard. The youth too had a

modesty and a grace of person worthy of a prince, the more charming

because of his peril from the notorious enmity of Sejanus.

About the same time the emperor spoke on the subject of electing a

priest of Jupiter in the room of Servius Maluginensis, deceased, and

of the enactment of a new law. "It was," he said, "the old custom to

nominate together three patricians, sons of parents wedded according

to the primitive ceremony, and of these one was to be chosen. Now

however there was not the same choice as formerly, the primitive

form of marriage having been given up or being observed only by a

few persons." For this he assigned several reasons, the chief being

men's and women's indifference; then, again, the ceremony itself had

its difficulties, which were purposely avoided; and there was the

objection that the man who obtained this priesthood was emancipated

from the father's authority, as also was his wife, as passing into the

husband's control. So the Senate, Tiberius argued, ought to apply some

remedy by a decree of a law, as Augustus had accommodated certain

relics of a rude antiquity to the modern spirit.

It was then decided, after a discussion of religious questions, that

the institution of the priests of Jupiter should remain unchanged. A

law however was passed that the priestess, in regard to her sacred

functions, was to be under the husband's control, but in other

respects to retain the ordinary legal position of women. Maluginensis,

the son, was chosen successor to his father. To raise the dignity of

the priesthood and to inspire the priests with more zeal in

attending to the ceremonial, a gift of two million sesterces was

decreed to the Vestal Cornelia, chosen in the room of Scantia; and,

whenever Augusta entered the theatre, she was to have a place in the

seats of the Vestals.

In the consulship of Cornelius Cethegus and Visellius Varro, the

pontiffs, whose example was followed by the other priests in

offering prayers for the emperor's health, commended also Nero and

Drusus to the same deities, not so much out of love for the young

princes as out of sycophancy, the absence and excess of which in a

corrupt age are alike dangerous. Tiberius indeed, who was never

friendly to the house of Germanicus, was then vexed beyond endurance

at their youth being honoured equally with his declining years. He

summoned the pontiffs, and asked them whether it was to the entreaties

or the threats of Agrippina that they had made this concession. And

though they gave a flat denial, he rebuked them but gently, for many

of them were her own relatives or were leading men in the State.

However he addressed a warning to the Senate against encouraging pride

in their young and excitable minds by premature honours. For Sejanus

spoke vehemently, and charged them with rending the State almost by

civil war. "There were those," he said, "who called themselves the

party of Agrippina, and, unless they were checked, there would be

more; the only remedy for the increasing discord was the overthrow

of one or two of the most enterprising leaders."

Accordingly he attacked Caius Silius and Titius Sabinus. The

friendship of Germanicus was fatal to both. As for Silius, his

having commanded a great army for seven years, and won in Germany

the distinctions of a triumph for his success in the war with

Sacrovir, would make his downfall all the more tremendous and so

spread greater terror among others. Many thought that he had

provoked further displeasure by his own presumption and his

extravagant boasts that his troops had been steadfastly loyal, while

other armies were falling into mutiny, and that Tiberius's throne

could not have lasted had his legions too been bent on revolution. All

this the emperor regarded as undermining his own power, which seemed

to be unequal to the burden of such an obligation. For benefits

received are a delight to us as long as we think we can requite

them; when that possibility is far exceeded, they are repaid with

hatred instead of gratitude.

Silius had a wife, Sosia Galla, whose love of Agrippina made her

hateful to the emperor. The two, it was decided, were to be

attacked, but Sabinus was to be put off for a time. Varro, the consul,

was let loose on them, who, under colour of a hereditary feud,

humoured the malignity of Sejanus to his own disgrace. The accused

begged a brief respite, until the prosecutor's consulship expired, but

the emperor opposed the request. "It was usual," he argued, "for

magistrates to bring a private citizen to trial, and a consul's

authority ought not to be impaired, seeing that it rested with his

vigilance to guard the commonwealth from loss." It was

characteristic of Tiberius to veil new devices in wickedness under

ancient names. And so, with a solemn appeal, he summoned the Senate,

as if there were any laws by which Silius was being tried, as if Varro

were a real consul, or Rome a commonwealth. The accused either said

nothing, or, if he attempted to defend himself, hinted, not obscurely,

at the person whose resentment was crushing him. A long concealed

complicity in Sacrovir's rebellion, a rapacity which sullied his

victory, and his wife Sosia's conduct, were alleged against him.

Unquestionably, they could not extricate themselves from the charge of

extortion. The whole affair however was conducted as a trial for

treason, and Silius forestalled impending doom by a self-inflicted


Yet there was a merciless confiscation of his property, though not

to refund their money to the provincials, none of whom pressed any

demand. But Augustus's bounty was wrested from him, and the claims

of the imperial exchequer were computed in detail. This was the

first instance on Tiberius's part of sharp dealing with the wealth

of others. Sosia was banished on the motion of Asinius Gallus, who had

proposed that half her estate should be confiscated, half left to

the children. Marcus Lepidus, on the contrary, was for giving a fourth

to the prosecutors, as the law required, and the remainder to the


This Lepidus, I am satisfied, was for that age a wise and

high-principled man. Many a cruel suggestion made by the flattery of

others he changed for the better, and yet he did not want tact, seeing

that he always enjoyed an uniform prestige, and also the favour of

Tiberius. This compels me to doubt whether the liking of princes for

some men and their antipathy to others depend, like other

contingencies, on a fate and destiny to which we are born, or, to some

degree, on our own plans; so that it is possible to pursue a course

between a defiant independence and a debasing servility, free from

ambition and its perils. Messalinus Cotta, of equally illustrious

ancestry as Lepidus, but wholly different in disposition, proposed

that the Senate should pass a decree providing that even innocent

governors who knew nothing of the delinquencies of others should be

punished for their wives' offences in the provinces as much as for

their own.

Proceedings were then taken against Calpurnius Piso, a high-spirited

nobleman. He it was, as I have related, who had exclaimed more than

once in the Senate that he would quit Rome because of the combinations

of the informers, and had dared in defiance of Augusta's power, to sue

Urgulania and summon her from the emperor's palace. Tiberius submitted

to this at the time not ungraciously, but the remembrance of it was

vividly impressed on a mind which brooded over its resentments, even

though the first impulse of his displeasure had subsided.

Quintus Granius accused Piso of secret treasonable conversation, and

added that he kept poison in his house and wore a dagger whenever he

came into the Senate. This was passed over as too atrocious to be

true. He was to be tried on the other charges, a multitude of which

were heaped on him, but his timely death cut short the trial.

Next was taken the case of Cassius Severus' an exile. A man of

mean origin and a life of crime, but a powerful pleader, he had

brought on himself, by his persistent quarrelsomeness, a decision of

the Senate, under oath, which banished him to Crete. There by the same

practices he drew on himself, fresh odium and revived the old;

stripped of his property and outlawed, he wore out his old age on

the rock of Seriphos.

About the same time Plautius Silvanus, the praetor, for unknown

reasons, threw his wife Apronia out of a window. When summoned

before the emperor by Lucius Apronius, his father-in-law, he replied

incoherently, representing that he was in a sound sleep and

consequently knew nothing, and that his wife had chosen to destroy

herself. Without a moment's delay Tiberius went to the house and

inspected the chamber, where were seen the marks of her struggling and

of her forcible ejection. He reported this to the Senate, and as

soon as judges had been appointed, Urgulania, the grandmother of

Silvanus, sent her grandson a dagger. This was thought equivalent to a

hint from the emperor, because of the known intimacy between Augusta

and Urgulania. The accused tried the steel in vain, and then allowed

his veins to be opened. Shortly afterwards Numantina, his former wife,

was charged with having caused her husband's insanity by magical

incantations and potions, but she was acquitted.

This year at last released Rome from her long contest with the

Numidian Tacfarinas. Former generals, when they thought that their

successes were enough to insure them triumphal distinctions, left

the enemy to himself. There were now in Rome three laurelled

statues, and yet Tacfarinas was still ravaging Africa, strengthened by

reinforcements from the Moors, who, under the boyish and careless rule

of Ptolemaeus, Juba's son, had chosen war in preference to the

despotism of freedmen and slaves. He had the king of the Garamantes to

receive his plunder and to be the partner of his raids, not indeed

with a regular army, but with detachments of light troops whose

strength, as they came from a distance, rumour exaggerated. From the

province itself every needy and restless adventurer hurried to join

him, for the emperor, as if not an enemy remained in Africa after

the achievements of Blaesus, had ordered the ninth legion home, and

Publius Dolabella, proconsul that year, had not dared to retain it,

because he feared the sovereign's orders more than the risks of war.

Tacfarinas accordingly spread rumours; that elsewhere also nations

were rending the empire of Rome and that therefore her soldiers were

gradually retiring from Africa, and that the rest might be cut off

by a strong effort on the part of all who loved freedom more than

slavery. He thus augmented his force, and having formed a camp, he

besieged the town of Thubuscum. Dolabella meanwhile collecting all the

troops on the spot, raised the siege at his first approach, by the

terror of the Roman name and because the Numidians cannot stand

against the charge of infantry. He then fortified suitable

positions, and at the same time beheaded some chiefs of the Musulamii,

who were on the verge of rebellion. Next, as several expeditions

against Tacfarinas had proved the uselessness of following up the

enemy's desultory movements with the attack of heavy troops from a

single point, he summoned to his aid king Ptolemaeus and his people,

and equipped four columns, under the command of his lieutenants and

tribunes. Marauding parties were also led by picked Moors, Dolabella

in person directing every operation.

Soon afterwards news came that the Numidians had fixed their tents

and encamped near a half-demolished fortress, by name Auzea, to

which they had themselves formerly set fire, and on the position of

which they relied, as it was inclosed by vast forests. Immediately the

light infantry and cavalry, without knowing whither they were being

led, were hurried along at quick march. Day dawned, and with the sound

of trumpets and fierce shouts, they were on the half-asleep

barbarians, whose horses were tethered or roaming over distant

pastures. On the Roman side, the infantry was in close array, the

cavalry in its squadrons, everything prepared for an engagement, while

the enemy, utterly surprised, without arms, order, or plan, were

seized, slaughtered, or captured like cattle. The infuriated soldiers,

remembering their hardships and how often the longed-for conflict

had been eluded, sated themselves to a man with vengeance and

bloodshed. The word went through the companies that all were to aim at

securing Tacfarinas, whom, after so many battles, they knew well, as

there would be no rest from war except by the destruction of the

enemy's leader. Tacfarinas, his guards slain round him, his son a

prisoner, and the Romans bursting on him from every side, rushed on

the darts, and by a death which was not unavenged, escaped captivity.

This ended the war. Dolabella asked for triumphal distinctions,

but was refused by Tiberius, out of compliment to Sejanus, the glory

of whose uncle Blaesus he did not wish to be forgotten. But this did

not make Blaesus more famous, while the refusal of the honour

heightened Dolabella's renown. He had, in fact, with a smaller army,

brought back with him illustrious prisoners and the fame of having

slain the enemy's leader and terminated the war. In his train were

envoys from the Garamantes, a rare spectacle in Rome. The nation, in

its terror at the destruction of Tacfarinas, and innocent of any

guilty intention, had sent them to crave pardon of the Roman people.

And now that this war had proved the zealous loyalty of Ptolemaeus,

a custom of antiquity was revived, and one of the Senators was sent to

present him with an ivory sceptre and an embroidered robe, gifts

anciently bestowed by the Senate, and to confer on him the titles of

king, ally, and friend.

The same summer, the germs of a slave war in Italy were crushed by a

fortunate accident. The originator of the movement was Titus

Curtisius, once a soldier of the praetorian guard. First, by secret

meetings at Brundisium and the neighbouring towns, then by placards

publicly exhibited, he incited the rural and savage slave-population

of the remote forests to assert their freedom. By divine providence,

three vessels came to land for the use of those who traversed that

sea. In the same part of the country too was Curtius Lupus, the

quaestor, who, according to ancient precedent, had had the charge of

the "woodland pastures" assigned to him. Putting in motion a force

of marines, he broke up the seditious combination in its very first

beginnings. The emperor at once sent Staius, a tribune, with a

strong detachment, by whom the ringleader himself, with his most

daring followers, were brought prisoners to Rome where men already

trembled at the vast scale of the slave-establishments, in which there

was an immense growth, while the freeborn populace daily decreased.

That same consulship witnessed a horrible instance of misery and

brutality. A father as defendant, a son as prosecutor, (Vibius Serenus

was the name of both) were brought before the Senate; the father,

dragged from exile in filth and squalor now stood in irons, while

the son pleaded for his guilt. With studious elegance of dress and

cheerful looks, the youth, at once accuser and witness, alleged a plot

against the emperor and that men had been sent to Gaul to excite

rebellion, further adding that Caecilius Cornutus, an ex-praetor,

had furnished money. Cornutus, weary of anxiety and feeling that peril

was equivalent to ruin, hastened to destroy himself. But the accused

with fearless spirit, looked his son in the face, shook his chains,

and appealed to the vengeance of the gods, with a prayer that they

would restore him to his exile, where he might live far away from such

practices, and that, as for his son, punishment might sooner or

later overtake him. He protested too that Cornutus was innocent and

that his terror was groundless, as would easily be perceived, if other

names were given up; for he never would have plotted the emperor's

murder and a revolution with only one confederate.

Upon this the prosecutor named Cneius Lentulus and Seius Tubero,

to the great confusion of the emperor, at finding a hostile

rebellion and disturbance of the public peace charged on two leading

men in the state, his own intimate friends, the first of whom was in

extreme old age and the second in very feeble health. They were,

however, at once acquitted. As for the father, his slaves were

examined by torture, and the result was unfavourable to the accuser.

The man, maddened by remorse, and terror-stricken by the popular

voice, which menaced him with the dungeon, the rock, or a

parricide's doom, fled from Rome. He was dragged back from Ravenna,

and forced to go through the prosecution, during which Tiberius did

not disguise the old grudge he bore the exile Serenus. For after

Libo's conviction, Serenus had sent the emperor a letter, upbraiding

him for not having rewarded his special zeal in that trial, with

further hints more insolent than could be safely trusted to the easily

offended ears of a despot. All this Tiberius revived eight years

later, charging on him various misconduct during that interval, even

though the examination by torture, owing to the obstinacy of the

slaves, had contradicted his guilt.

The Senate then gave their votes that Serenus should be punished

according to ancient precedent, when the emperor, to soften the

odium of the affair, interposed with his veto. Next, Gallus Asinius

proposed that he should be confined in Gyaros or Donusa, but this he

rejected, on the ground that both these islands were deficient in

water, and that he whose life was spared, ought to be allowed the

necessaries of life. And so Serenus was conveyed back to Amorgus.

In consequence of the suicide of Cornutus, it was proposed to

deprive informers of their rewards whenever a person accused of

treason put an end to his life by his own act before the completion of

the trial. The motion was on the point of being carried when the

emperor, with a harshness contrary to his manner, spoke openly for the

informers, complaining that the laws would be ineffective, and the

State brought to the verge of ruin. "Better," he said, "to subvert the

constitution than to remove its guardians." Thus the informers, a

class invented to destroy the commonwealth, and never enough

controlled even by legal penalties, were stimulated by rewards.

Some little joy broke this long succession of horrors. Caius

Cominius, a Roman knight, was spared by the emperor, against whom he

was convicted of having written libellous verses, at the

intercession of his brother, who was a Senator. Hence it seemed the

more amazing that one who knew better things and the glory which waits

on mercy, should prefer harsher courses. He did not indeed err from

dulness, and it is easy to see when the acts of a sovereign meet

with genuine, and when with fictitious popularity. And even he

himself, though usually artificial in manner, and though his words

escaped him with a seeming struggle, spoke out freely and fluently

whenever he came to a man's rescue.

In another case, that of Publius Suillius, formerly quaestor to

Germanicus, who was to be expelled from Italy on a conviction of

having received money for a judicial decision, he held that the man

ought to be banished to an island, and so intensely strong was his

feeling that he bound the Senate by an oath that this was a State

necessity. The act was thought cruel at the moment, but subsequently

it redounded to his honour when Suillius returned from exile. The next

age saw him in tremendous power and a venal creature of the emperor

Claudius, whose friendship he long used, with success, never for good.

The same punishment was adjudged to Catus Firmius, a Senator, for

having (it was alleged) assailed his sister with a false charge of

treason. Catus, as I have related, had drawn Libo into a snare and

then destroyed him by an information. Tiberius remembering this

service, while he alleged other reasons, deprecated a sentence of

exile, but did not oppose his expulsion from the Senate.

Much what I have related and shall have to relate, may perhaps, I am

aware, seem petty trifles to record. But no one must compare my annals

with the writings of those who have described Rome in old days. They

told of great wars, of the storming of cities, of the defeat and

capture of kings, or whenever they turned by preference to home

affairs, they related, with a free scope for digression, the strifes

of consuls with tribunes, land and corn-laws, and the struggles

between the commons and the aristocracy. My labours are

circumscribed and inglorious; peace wholly unbroken or but slightly

disturbed, dismal misery in the capital, an emperor careless about the

enlargement of the empire, such is my theme. Still it will not be

useless to study those at first sight trifling events out of which the

movements of vast changes often take their rise.

All nations and cities are ruled by the people, the nobility, or

by one man. A constitution, formed by selection out of these elements,

it is easy to commend but not to produce; or, if it is produced, it

cannot be lasting. Formerly, when the people had power or when the

patricians were in the ascendant, the popular temper and the methods

of controlling it, had to be studied, and those who knew most

accurately the spirit of the Senate and aristocracy, had the credit of

understanding the age and of being wise men. So now, after a

revolution, when Rome is nothing but the realm of a single despot,

there must be good in carefully noting and recording this period,

for it is but few who have the foresight to distinguish right from

wrong or what is sound from what is hurtful, while most men learn

wisdom from the fortunes of others. Still, though this is instructive,

it gives very little pleasure. Descriptions of countries, the

various incidents of battles, glorious deaths of great generals,

enchain and refresh a reader's mind. I have to present in succession

the merciless biddings of a tyrant, incessant prosecutions,

faithless friendships, the ruin of innocence, the same causes

issuing in the same results, and I am everywhere confronted by a

wearisome monotony in my subject matter. Then, again, an ancient

historian has but few disparagers, and no one cares whether you praise

more heartily the armies of Carthage or Rome. But of many who

endured punishment or disgrace under Tiberius, the descendants yet

survive; or even though the families themselves may be now extinct,

you will find those who, from a resemblance of character, imagine that

the evil deeds of others are a reproach to themselves. Again, even

honour and virtue make enemies, condemning, as they do, their

opposites by too close a contrast. But I return to my work.

In the year of the consulship of Cornelius Cossus and Asinius

Agrippa, Cremutius Cordus was arraigned on a new charge, now for the

first time heard. He had published a history in which he had praised

Marcus Brutus and called Caius Cassius the last of the Romans. His

accusers were Satrius Secundus and Pinarius Natta, creatures of

Sejanus. This was enough to ruin the accused; and then too the emperor

listened with an angry frown to his defence, which Cremutius, resolved

to give up his life, began thus:-

"It is my words, Senators, which are condemned, so innocent am I

of any guilty act; yet these do not touch the emperor or the emperor's

mother, who are alone comprehended under the law of treason. I am said

to have praised Brutus and Cassius, whose careers many have

described and no one mentioned without eulogy. Titus Livius,

pre-eminently famous for eloquence and truthfulness, extolled Cneius

Pompeius in such a panegyric that Augustus called him Pompeianus,

and yet this was no obstacle to their friendship. Scipio, Afranius,

this very Cassius, this same Brutus, he nowhere describes as

brigands and traitors, terms now applied to them, but repeatedly as

illustrious men. Asinius Pollio's writings too hand down a glorious

memory of them, and Messala Corvinus used to speak with pride of

Cassius as his general. Yet both these men prospered to the end with

wealth and preferment. Again, that book of Marcus Cicero, in which

he lauded Cato to the skies, how else was it answered by Caesar the

dictator, than by a written oration in reply, as if he was pleading in

court? The letters Antonius, the harangues of Brutus contain

reproaches against Augustus, false indeed, but urged with powerful

sarcasm; the poems which we read of Bibaculus and Catullus are crammed

with invectives on the Caesars. Yet the Divine Julius, the Divine

Augustus themselves bore all this and let it pass, whether in

forbearance or in wisdom I cannot easily say. Assuredly what is

despised is soon forgotten; when you resent a thing, you seem to

recognise it."

"Of the Greeks I say nothing; with them not only liberty, but even

license went unpunished, or if a person aimed at chastising, he

retaliated on satire by satire. It has, however, always been perfectly

open to us without any one to censure, to speak freely of those whom

death has withdrawn alike from the partialities of hatred or esteem.

Are Cassius and Brutus now in arms on the fields of Philippi, and am I

with them rousing the people by harangues to stir up civil war? Did

they not fall more than seventy years ago, and as they are known to us

by statues which even the conqueror did not destroy, so too is not

some portion of their memory preserved for us by historians? To

every man posterity gives his due honour, and, if a fatal sentence

hangs over me, there will be those who will remember me as well as

Cassius and Brutus."

He then left the Senate and ended his life by starvation. His books,

so the Senators decreed, were to be burnt by the aediles; but some

copies were left which were concealed and afterwards published. And so

one is all the more inclined to laugh at the stupidity of men who

suppose that the despotism of the present can actually efface the

remembrances of the next generation. On the contrary, the

persecution of genius fosters its influence; foreign tyrants, and

all who have imitated their oppression, have merely procured infamy

for themselves and glory for their victims.

That year was such a continuous succession of prosecutions that on

the days of the Latin festival when Drusus, as city-prefect, had

ascended his tribunal for the inauguration of his office, Calpurnius

Salvianus appeared before him against Sextus Marius. This the

emperor openly censured, and it caused the banishment of Salvianus.

Next, the people of Cyzicus were accused of publicly neglecting the

established worship of the Divine Augustus, and also of acts of

violence to Roman citizens. They were deprived of the franchise

which they had earned during the war with Mithridates, when their city

was besieged, and when they repulsed the king as much by their own

bravery as by the aid of Lucullus. Then followed the acquittal of

Fonteius Capito, the late proconsul of Asia, on proof that charges

brought against him by Vibius Serenus were fictitious. Still this

did not injure Serenus, to whom public hatred was actually a

protection. Indeed any conspicuously restless informer was, so to say,

inviolable; only the insignificant and undistinguished were punished.

About the same time Further Spain sent a deputation to the Senate,

with a request to be allowed, after the example of Asia, to erect a

temple to Tiberius and his mother. On this occasion, the emperor,

who had generally a strong contempt for honours, and now thought it

right to reply to the rumour which reproached him with having

yielded to vanity, delivered the following speech:-

"I am aware, Senators, that many deplore my want of firmness in

not having opposed a similar recent petition from the cities of

Asia. I will therefore both explain the grounds of my previous silence

and my intentions for the future. Inasmuch as the Divine Augustus

did not forbid the founding of a temple at Pergamos to himself and

to the city of Rome, I who respect as law all his actions and sayings,

have the more readily followed a precedent once approved, seeing

that with the worship of myself was linked an expression of

reverence towards the Senate. But though it may be pardonable to

have allowed this once, it would be a vain and arrogant thing to

receive the sacred honour of images representing the divine throughout

all the provinces, and the homage paid to Augustus will disappear if

it is vulgarised by indiscriminate flattery.

"For myself, Senators, I am mortal and limited to the functions of

humanity, content if I can adequately fill the highest place; of

this I solemnly assure you, and would have posterity remember it. They

will more than sufficiently honour my memory by believing me to have

been worthy of my ancestry, watchful over your interests, courageous

in danger, fearless of enmity, when the State required it. These

sentiments of your hearts are my temples, these my most glorious and

abiding monuments. Those built of stone are despised as mere tombs, if

the judgment of posterity passes into hatred. And therefore this is my

prayer to our allies, our citizens, and to heaven itself; to the last,

that, to my life's close, it grant me a tranquil mind, which can

discern alike human and divine claims; to the first, that, when I die,

they honour my career and the reputation of my name with praise and

kindly remembrance."

Henceforth Tiberius even in private conversations persisted in

showing contempt for such homage to himself. Some attributed this to

modesty; many to self-distrust; a few to a mean spirit. "The noblest

men," it was said, "have the loftiest aspirations, and so Hercules and

Bacchus among the Greeks and Quirinus among us were enrolled in the

number of the gods. Augustus, did better, seeing that he had

aspired. All other things princes have as a matter of course; one

thing they ought insatiably to pursue, that their memory may be

glorious. For to despise fame is to despise merit."

Sejanus meanwhile, dazed by his extravagant prosperity and urged

on too by a woman's passion, Livia now insisting on his promise of

marriage, addressed a memorial to the emperor. For it was then the

custom to apply to him by writing, even though he was at Rome. This

petition was to the following effect:- The kindness of Augustus, the

father, and then the many favourable testimonies of Tiberius, the son,

had engendered the habit of confiding his hopes and wishes to the ears

of emperors as readily as to those of the gods. The splendour of

high distinctions he had never craved; he had rather chosen

watchings and hardships, like one of the common soldiers, for the

emperor's safety. But there was one most glorious honour he had won,

the reputation of being worthy of an alliance with a Caesar. This

was the first motive of his ambition. As he had heard that Augustus,

in marrying his daughter, had even entertained some thoughts of

Roman knights, so if a husband were sought for Livia, he hoped

Tiberius would bear in mind a friend who would find his reward

simply in the glory of the alliance. He did not wish to rid himself of

the duties imposed on him; he thought it enough for his family to be

secured against the unjust displeasure of Agrippina, and this for

the sake of his children. For, as for himself, enough and more than

enough for him would be a life completed while such a sovereign

still reigned.

Tiberius, in reply, after praising the loyal sentiments of Sejanus

and briefly enumerating the favours he had bestowed on him, asked time

for impartial consideration, adding that while other men's plans

depended on their ideas of their own interest, princes, who had to

regulate their chief actions by public opinion, were in a different

position. "Hence," he said, "I do not take refuge in an answer which

it would be easy to return, that Livia can herself decide whether

she considers that, after Drusus, she ought again to marry or rather

to endure life in the same home, and that she has in her mother and

grandmother counsellors nearer and dearer to her. I will deal more

frankly. First, as to the enmity of Agrippina, I maintain that it will

blaze out more fiercely if Livia's marriage rends, so to say, the

house of the Caesars into two factions. Even as it is, feminine

jealousies break out, and my grandsons are torn asunder by the strife.

What will happen if the rivalry is rendered more intense by such a

marriage? For you are mistaken, Sejanus, if you think that you will

then remain in the same position, and that Livia, who has been the

wife of Caius Caesar and afterwards of Drusus, will have the

inclination to pass her old age with a mere Roman knight. Though I

might allow it, do you imagine it would be tolerated by those who have

seen her brother, her father, and our ancestors in the highest offices

of state? You indeed desire to keep within your station; but those

magistrates and nobles who intrude on you against your wishes and

consult you on all matters, openly give out that you have long

overstepped the rank of a knight and gone far beyond my father's

friendships, and from their dislike of you they also condemn me.

But, you say, Augustus had thoughts of giving his daughter to a

Roman knight. Is it surprising that, with so many distracting cares,

foreseeing too the immense elevation to which a man would be raised

above others by such an alliance, he talked of Caius Proculeius and

certain persons of singularly quiet life, wholly free from political

entanglements? Still, if the hesitation of Augustus is to influence

us, how much stronger is the fact that he bestowed his daughter on

Marcus Agrippa, then on myself. All this, as a friend, I have stated

without reserve, but I will not oppose your plans or those of Livia.

My own earnest thoughts and the ties with which I am still purposing

to unite you to myself, I shall for the present forbear to explain.

This only I will declare, that nothing is too grand to be deserved

by your merits and your goodwill towards me. When an opportunity

presents itself, either in the Senate, or in a popular assembly, I

shall not be silent."

Sejanus, no longer thinking of his marriage but filled with a deeper

alarm, rejoined by deprecating the whispers of suspicion, popular

rumour and the gathering storm of odium. That he might not impair

his influence by closing his doors on the throngs of his many visitors

or strengthen the hands of accusers by admitting them, he made it

his aim to induce Tiberius to live in some charming spot at a distance

from Rome. In this he foresaw several advantages. Access to the

emperor would be under his own control, and letters, for the most part

being conveyed by soldiers, would pass through his hands. Caesar

too, who was already in the decline of life, would soon, when

enervated by retirement, more readily transfer to him the functions of

empire; envy towards himself would be lessened when there was an end

to his crowded levies and the reality of power would be increased by

the removal of its empty show. So he began to declaim against the

laborious life of the capital, the bustling crowds and streaming

multitudes, while he praised repose and solitude, with their freedom

from vexations and misunderstandings, and their special

opportunities for the study of the highest questions.

It happened that the trial at this time of Votienus Montanus, a

popular wit, convinced the hesitating Tiberius that he ought to shun

all assemblies of the Senate, where speeches, often true and

offensive, were flung in his very face. Votienus was charged with

insulting expressions towards the emperor, and while the witness,

Aemilius, a military man, in his eagerness to prove the case, repeated

the whole story and amid angry clamour struggled on with loud

assertion, Tiberius heard the reproaches by which he was assailed in

secret, and was so deeply impressed that he exclaimed that he would

clear himself either at once or on a legal inquiry, and the entreaties

of friends, with the flattery of the whole assembly, hardly restored

his composure. As for Votienus, he suffered the penalty of treason;

but the emperor, clinging all the more obstinately to the harshness

with which he had been reproached in regard to accused persons,

punished Aquilia with exile for the crime of adultery with Varius

Ligur, although Lentulus Gaetulicus, the consul-elect, had proposed

that she should be sentenced under the Julian law. He next struck

off Apidius Merula from the register of the Senate for not having

sworn obedience to the legislation of the Divine Augustus.

Then a hearing was given to embassies from the Lacedaemonians and

Messenians on the question of the temple of Diana in the Marshes.

The Lacedaemonians asserted that it had been dedicated by their

ancestors and in their territory, and appealed to the records of their

history and the hymns of poets, but it had been wrested from, they

said, by the arms of the Macedonian Philip, with whom they had fought,

and subsequently restored by the decision of Caius Caesar and Marcus

Antonius. The Messenians, on the contrary, alleged the ancient

division of the Peloponnesus among the descendants of Hercules, in

which the territory of Denthelia (where the temple stood) had fallen

to their king. Records of this event still existed, engraven on

stone and ancient bronze. But if they were asked for the testimony

of poetry and of history, they had it, they said, in greater abundance

and authenticity. Philip had not decided arbitrarily, but according to

fact, and king Antigonus, as also the general Mummius, had

pronounced the same judgment. Such too had been the award of the

Milesians to whom the arbitration had been publicly entrusted, and,

finally, of Atidius Geminus, the praetor of Achaia. And so the

question was decided in favour of the Messenians.

Next the people of Segesta petitioned for the restoration of the

temple of Venus at Mount Eryx, which had fallen to ruin from its

antiquity. They repeated the well-known story of its origin, which

delighted Tiberius. He undertook the work willingly, as being a

kinsman of the goddess. After this was discussed a petition from the

city of Massilia, and sanction given to the precedent of Publius

Rutilius, who having been legally banished from Rome, had been adopted

as a citizen by the people of Smyrna. Volcatius Moschus, also an

exile, had been received with a similar privilege by the inhabitants

of Massilia, and had left his property to their community, as being

now his own country.

Two men of noble rank died in that year, Cneius Lentulus and

Lucius Domitius. It had been the glory of Lentulus, to say nothing

of his consulship and his triumphal distinctions over the Gaetuli,

to have borne poverty with a good grace, then to have attained great

wealth, which had been blamelessly acquired and was modestly

enjoyed. Domitius derived lustre from a father who during the civil

war had been master of the sea, till he united himself to the party of

Antonius and afterwards to that of Caesar. His grandfather had

fallen in the battle of Pharsalia, fighting for the aristocracy. He

had himself been chosen to be the husband of the younger Antonia,

daughter of Octavia, and subsequently led an army across the Elbe,

penetrating further into Germany than any Roman before him. For this

achievement he gained triumphal honours.

Lucius Antonius too then died, of a most illustrious but unfortunate

family. His father, Julius Antonius, was capitally punished for

adultery with Julia, and the son, when a mere youth, was banished by

Augustus, whose sister's grandson he was, to the city of Massilia,

where the name of exile might be masked under that of student. Yet

honour was paid him in death, and his bones, by the Senate's decree,

were consigned to the sepulchre of the Octavii.

While the same consuls were in office, an atrocious crime was

committed in Nearer Spain by a peasant of the Termestine tribe.

Suddenly attacking the praetor of the province, Lucius Piso, as he was

travelling in all the carelessness of peace, he killed him with a

single wound. He then fled on a swift horse, and reached a wooded

country, where he parted with his steed and eluded pursuit amid

rocky and pathless wilds. But he was soon discovered. The horse was

caught and led through the neighbouring villages, and its owner

ascertained. Being found and put to the torture that he might be

forced to reveal his accomplices, he exclaimed in a loud voice, in the

language of his country, that it was in vain to question him; his

comrades might stand by and look on, but that the most intense agony

would not wring the truth from him. Next day, when he was dragged back

to torture, he broke loose from his guards and dashed his head against

a stone with such violence that he instantly fell dead. It was however

believed that Piso was treacherously murdered by the Termestini.

Some public money had been embezzled, and he was pressing for its

payment too rigorously for the patience of barbarians.

In the consulship of Lentulus Gaetulicus and Caius Calvisius,

triumphal distinctions were decreed to Poppaeus Sabinus, for a

crushing defeat of some Thracian tribes, whose wild life in the

highlands of a mountainous country made them unusually fierce. Besides

their natural ferocity, the rebellion had its origin in their scornful

refusal to endure levies and to supply our armies with their bravest

men. Even native princes they would obey only according to their

caprice, and if they sent aid, they used to appoint their own

leaders and fight only against their neighbours. A rumour had then

spread itself among them that, dispersed and mingled with other

tribes, they were to be dragged away to distant countries. Before

however they took up arms, they sent envoys with assurances of their

friendship and loyalty, which, they said, would continue, if they were

not tried by any fresh burden. But if they were doomed to slavery as a

conquered people, they had swords and young warriors and a spirit bent

on freedom or resigned to death. As they spoke, they pointed to

fortresses amid rocks whither they had conveyed their parents and

their wives, and threatened us with a difficult, dangerous and

sanguinary war.

Sabinus meantime, while he was concentrating his troops, returned

gentle answers; but on the arrival of Pomponius Labeo with a legion

from Moesia and of king Rhoemetalces with some reinforcements from his

subjects, who had not thrown off their allegiance, with these and

the force he had on the spot, he advanced on the enemy, who were drawn

up in some wooded defiles. Some ventured to show themselves on the

open hills; these the Roman general approached in fighting order and

easily dislodged them, with only a small slaughter of the

barbarians, who had not far to flee. In this position he soon

established a camp, and held with a strong detachment a narrow and

unbroken mountain ridge, stretching as far as the next fortress, which

was garrisoned by a large force of armed soldiers along with some

irregulars. Against the boldest of these, who after the manner of

their country were disporting themselves with songs and dances in

front of the rampart, he sent some picked archers, who, discharging

distant volleys, inflicted many wounds without loss to themselves.

As they advanced, a sudden sortie put them to the rout, and they

fell back on the support of a Sugambrian cohort, drawn up at no

great distance by the Roman general, ready for any emergency and as

terrible as the foe, with the noise of their war songs and the

clashing of their arms.

He then moved his camp near to the enemy, leaving in his former

entrenchments the Thracians who, as I have mentioned, were with us.

These had permission to ravage, burn, and plunder, provided they

confined their forays to daylight, and passed the night securely and

vigilantly in their camp. This at first they strictly observed. Soon

they resigned themselves to enjoyment, and, enriched by plunder,

they neglected their guards, and amid feasts and mirth sank down in

the carelessness of the banquet, of sleep and of wine. So the enemy,

apprised of their heedlessness, prepared two detachments, one of which

was to attack the plunderers, the other, to fall on the Roman camp,

not with the hope of taking it, but to hinder the din of the other

battle from being heard by our soldiers, who, with shouts and missiles

around them, would be all intent on their own peril. Night too was

chosen for the movement to increase the panic. Those however who tried

to storm the entrenchment of the legions were easily repulsed; the

Thracian auxiliaries were dismayed by the suddenness of the onset, for

though some were lying close to their lines, far more were

straggling beyond them, and the massacre was all the more savage,

inasmuch as they were taunted with being fugitives and traitors and

bearing arms for their own and their country's enslavement.

Next day Sabinus displayed his forces in the plain, on the chance of

the barbarians being encouraged by the night's success to risk an

engagement. Finding that they did not quit the fortress and the

adjoining hills, he began a siege by means of the works which he had

opportunely began to construct; then he drew a fosse and stockade

enclosing an extent of four miles, and by degrees contracted and

narrowed his lines, with the view of cutting off their water and

forage. He also threw up a rampart, from which to discharge stones,

darts, and brands on the enemy, who was now within range. It was

thirst however which chiefly distressed them, for there was only one

spring for the use of a vast multitude of soldiers and non-combatants.

Their cattle too, penned up close to them, after the fashion of

barbarians, were dying of want of fodder; near them lay human bodies

which had perished from wounds or thirst, and the whole place was

befouled with rotting carcases and stench and infection. To their

confusion was added the growing misery of discord, some thinking of

surrender, others of destruction by mutual blows. Some there were

who suggested a sortie instead of an unavenged death, and these were

all men of spirit, though they differed in their plans.

One of their chiefs, Dinis, an old man who well knew by long

experience both the strength and clemency of Rome, maintained that

they must lay down their arms, this being the only remedy for their

wretched plight, and he was the first to give himself up with his wife

and children to the conqueror. He was followed by all whom age or

sex unfitted for war, by all too who had a stronger love of life

than of renown. The young were divided between Tarsa and Turesis, both

of whom had resolved to fall together with their freedom. Tarsa

however kept urging them to speedy death and to the instant breaking

off of all hope and fear, and, by way of example, plunged his sword

into his heart. And there were some who chose the same death.

Turesis and his band waited for night, not without the knowledge of

our general. Consequently, the sentries were strengthened with

denser masses of troops. Night was coming on with a fierce storm,

and the foe, one moment with a tumultuous uproar, another in awful

silence, had perplexed the besiegers, when Sabinus went round the

camp, entreating the men not to give a chance to their stealthy

assailants by heeding embarrassing noises or being deceived by

quiet, but to keep, every one, to his post without moving or

discharging their darts on false alarms.

The barbarians meanwhile rushed down with their bands, now hurling

at the entrenchments stones such as the hand could grasp, stakes

with points hardened by fire, and boughs lopped from oaks; now filling

up the fosses with bushes and hurdles and dead bodies, while others

advanced up to the breastwork with bridges and ladders which they

had constructed for the occasion, seized it, tore it down, and came to

close quarters with the defenders. Our soldiers on the other side

drove them back with missiles, repelled them with their shields, and

covered them with a storm of long siege-javelins and heaps of

stones. Success already gained and the more marked disgrace which

would follow repulse, were a stimulus to the Romans, while the courage

of the foe was heightened by this last chance of deliverance and the

presence of many mothers and wives with mournful cries. Darkness,

which increased the daring of some and the terror of others, random

blows, wounds not foreseen, failure to recognise friend or enemy,

echoes, seemingly in their rear, from the winding mountain valleys,

spread such confusion that the Romans abandoned some of their lines in

the belief that they had been stormed. Only however a very few of

the enemy had broken through them; the rest, after their bravest men

had been beaten back or wounded, were towards daybreak pushed back

to the upper part of the fortress and there at last compelled to

surrender. Then the immediate neighbourhood, by the voluntary action

of the inhabitants, submitted. The early and severe winter of Mount

Haemus saved the rest of the population from being reduced by

assault or blockade.

At Rome meanwhile, besides the shocks already sustained by the

imperial house, came the first step towards the destruction of

Agrippina, Claudia Pulchra, her cousin, being prosecuted by Domitius

Afer. Lately a praetor, a man of but moderate position and eager to

become notorious by any sort of deed, Afer charged her with

unchastity, with having Furnius for her paramour, and with attempts on

the emperor by poison and sorcery. Agrippina, always impetuous, and

now kindled into fury by the peril of her kinswoman, went straight

to Tiberius and found him, as it happened, offering a sacrifice to his

father. This provoked an indignant outburst. "It is not," she

exclaimed, "for the same man to slay victims to the Divine Augustus

and to persecute his posterity. The celestial spirit has not

transferred itself to the mute statue; here is the true image,

sprung of heavenly blood, and she perceives her danger, and assumes

its mournful emblems. Pulchra's name is a mere blind; the only

reason for her destruction is that she has, in utter folly, selected

Agrippina for her admiration, forgetting that Sosia was thereby

ruined." These words wrung from the emperor one of the rare utterances

of that inscrutable breast; he rebuked Agrippina with a Greek verse,

and reminded her that "she was not wronged because she was not a

queen." Pulchra and Furnius were condemned. Afer was ranked with the

foremost orators, for the ability which he displayed, and which won

strong praise from Tiberius, who pronounced him a speaker of natural

genius. Henceforward as a counsel for the defence or the prosecution

he enjoyed the fame of eloquence rather than of virtue, but old age

robbed him of much of his speaking power, while, with a failing

intellect, he was still impatient of silence.

Agrippina in stubborn rage, with the grasp of disease yet on her,

when the emperor came to see her, wept long and silently, and then

began to mingle reproach and supplication. She begged him "to

relieve her loneliness and provide her with a husband; her youth still

fitted her for marriage, which was a virtuous woman's only solace, and

there were citizens in Rome who would not disdain to receive the

wife of Germanicus and his children." But the emperor, who perceived

the political aims of her request, but did not wish to show

displeasure or apprehension, left her, notwithstanding her urgency,

without an answer. This incident, not mentioned by any historian, I

have found in the memoirs of the younger Agrippina, the mother of

the emperor Nero, who handed down to posterity the story of her life

and of the misfortunes of her family.

Sejanus meanwhile yet more deeply alarmed the sorrowing and

unsuspecting woman by sending his agents, under the guise of

friendship, with warnings that poison was prepared for her, and that

she ought to avoid her father-in-law's table. Knowing not how to

dissemble, she relaxed neither her features nor tone of voice as she

sat by him at dinner, nor did she touch a single dish, till at last

Tiberius noticed her conduct, either casually or because he was told

of it. To test her more closely, he praised some fruit as it was set

on the table and passed it with his own hand to his daughter-in-law.

This increased the suspicions of Agrippina, and without putting the

fruit to her lips she gave it to the slaves. Still no remark fell from

Tiberius before the company, but he turned to his mother and whispered

that it was not surprising if he had decided on harsh treatment

against one who implied that he was a poisoner. Then there was a

rumour that a plan was laid for her destruction, that the emperor

did not dare to attempt it openly, and was seeking to veil the deed in


Tiberius, to divert people's talk, continually attended the

Senate, and gave an audience of several days to embassies from Asia on

a disputed question as to the city in which the temple before

mentioned should be erected. Eleven cities were rivals for the honour,

of which they were all equally ambitious, though they differed

widely in resources. With little variation they dwelt on antiquity

of race and loyalty to Rome throughout her wars with Perseus,

Aristonicus, and other kings. But the people of Hypaepa, Tralles,

Laodicaea, and Magnesia were passed over as too insignificant; even

Ilium, though it boasted that Troy was the cradle of Rome, was

strong only in the glory of its antiquity. There was a little

hesitation about Halicarnassus, as its inhabitants affirmed that for

twelve hundred years their homes had not been shaken by an

earthquake and that the foundations of their temple were on the living

rock. Pergamos, it was thought, had been sufficiently honoured by

having a temple of Augustus in the city, on which very fact they

relied. The Ephesians and Milesians had, it seemed, wholly devoted

their respective towns to the worships of Apollo and Diana. And so the

question lay between Sardis and Smyrna. The envoys from Sardis read

a decree of the Etrurians, with whom they claimed kindred.

"Tyrrhenus and Lydus," it was said, "the sons of King Atys, divided

the nation between them because of its multitude; Lydus remained in

the country of his fathers; Tyrrhenus had the work assigned him of

establishing new settlements, and names, taken from the two leaders,

were given to the one people in Asia and to the other in Italy. The

resources of the Lydians were yet further augmented by the immigration

of nations into that part of Greece which afterwards took its name

from Pelops." They spoke too of letters from Roman generals, of

treaties concluded with us during the Macedonian war, and of their

copious rivers, of their climate, and the rich countries round them.

The envoys from Smyrna, after tracing their city's antiquity back to

such founders as either Tantalus, the son of Jupiter, or Theseus, also

of divine origin, or one of the Amazons, passed on to that on which

they chiefly relied, their services to the Roman people, whom they had

helped with naval armaments, not only in wars abroad, but in those

under which we struggled in Italy. They had also been the first,

they said, to build a temple in honour of Rome, during the

consulship of Marcus Porcius Cato, when Rome's power indeed was great,

but not yet raised to the highest point, inasmuch as the Punic capital

was still standing and there were mighty kings in Asia. They

appealed too to the of Lucius Sulla, whose army was once in terrible

jeopardy from a severe winter and want of clothing, and this having

been announced at Smyrna in a public assembly, all who were present

stript their clothes off their backs and sent them to our legions. And

so the Senate, when the question was put, gave the preference to

Smyrna. Vibius Marsus moved that Marcus Lepidus, to whom the

province of Asia had been assigned, should have under him a special

commissioner to undertake the charge of this temple. As Lepidus

himself, out of modesty, declined to appoint, Valerius Naso, one of

the ex-praetors, was chosen by lot and sent out.

Meanwhile, after long reflection on his purpose and frequent

deferment of it, the emperor retired into Campania to dedicate, as

he pretended, a temple to Jupiter at Capua and another to Augustus

at Nola, but really resolved to live at a distance from Rome. Although

I have followed most historians in attributing the cause of his

retirement to the arts of Sejanus, still, as he passed six consecutive

years in the same solitude after that minister's destruction, I am

often in doubt whether it is not to be more truly ascribed to himself,

and his wish to hide by the place of his retreat the cruelty and

licentiousness which he betrayed by his actions. Some thought that

in his old age he was ashamed of his personal appearance. He had

indeed a tall, singularly slender and stooping figure, a bald head,

a face full of eruptions, and covered here and there with plasters. In

the seclusion of Rhodes he had habituated himself to shun society

and to hide his voluptuous life. According to one account his mother's

domineering temper drove him away; he was weary of having her as his

partner in power, and he could not thrust her aside, because he had

received this very power as her gift. For Augustus had had thoughts of

putting the Roman state under Germanicus, his sister's grandson,

whom all men esteemed, but yielding to his wife's entreaties he left

Germanicus to be adopted by Tiberius and adopted Tiberius himself.

With this Augusta would taunt her son, and claim back what she had


His departure was attended by a small retinue, one senator, who

was an ex-consul, Cocceius Nerva, learned in the laws, one Roman

knight, besides Sejanus, of the highest order, Curtius Atticus, the

rest being men of liberal culture, for the most part Greeks, in

whose conversation he might find amusement. It was said by men who

knew the stars that the motions of the heavenly bodies when Tiberius

left Rome were such as to forbid the possibility of his return. This

caused ruin for many who conjectured that his end was near and

spread the rumour; for they never foresaw the very improbable

contingency of his voluntary exile from his home for eleven years.

Soon afterwards it was clearly seen what a narrow margin there is

between such science and delusion and in what obscurity truth is

veiled. That he would not return to Rome was not a mere random

assertion; as to the rest, they were wholly in the dark, seeing that

he lived to extreme old age in the country or on the coast near Rome

and often close to the very walls of the city.

It happened at this time that a perilous accident which occurred

to the emperor strengthened vague rumours and gave him grounds for

trusting more fully in the friendship and fidelity of Sejanus. They

were dining in a country house called "The Cave," between the gulf

of Amuclae and the hills of Fundi, in a natural grotto. The rocks at

its entrance suddenly fell in and crushed some of the attendants;

there upon panic seized the whole company and there was a general

flight of the guests. Sejanus hung over the emperor, and with knee,

face, and hand encountered the falling stones; and was found in this

attitude by the soldiers who came to their rescue. After this he was

greater than ever, and though his counsels were ruinous, he was

listened to with confidence, as a man who had no care for himself.

He pretended to act as a judge towards the children of Germanicus,

after having suborned persons to assume the part of prosecutors and to

inveigh specially against Nero, next in succession to the throne, who,

though he had proper youthful modesty, often forgot present

expediency, while freedmen and clients, eager to get power, incited

him to display vigour and self-confidence. "This," they said, "was

what the Roman people wished, what the armies desired, and Sejanus

would not dare to oppose it, though now he insulted alike the tame

spirit of the old emperor and the timidity of the young prince."

Nero, while he listened to this and like talk, was not indeed

inspired with any guilty ambition, but still occasionally there

would break from him wilful and thoughtless expressions which spies

about his person caught up and reported with exaggeration, and this he

had no opportunity of rebutting. Then again alarms under various forms

were continually arising. One man would avoid meeting him; another

after returning his salutation would instantly turn away; many after

beginning a conversation would instantly break it off, while Sejanus's

friends would stand their ground and laugh at him. Tiberius indeed

wore an angry frown or a treacherous smile. Whether the young prince

spoke or held his tongue, silence and speech were alike criminal.

Every night had its anxieties, for his sleepless hours, his dreams and

sighs were all made known by his wife to her mother Livia and by Livia

to Sejanus. Nero's brother Drusus Sejanus actually drew into his

scheme by holding out to him the prospect of becoming emperor

through the removal of an elder brother, already all but fallen. The

savage temper of Drusus, to say nothing of lust of power and the usual

feuds between brothers, was inflamed with envy by the partiality of

the mother Agrippina towards Nero. And yet Sejanus, while he

favoured Drusus, was not without thoughts of sowing the seeds of his

future ruin, well knowing how very impetuous he was and therefore

the more exposed to treachery.

Towards the close of the year died two distinguished men, Asinius

Agrippa and Quintus Haterius. Agrippa was of illustrious rather than

ancient ancestry, which his career did not disgrace; Haterius was of a

senatorian family and famous for his eloquence while he lived,

though the monuments which remain of his genius are not admired as

of old. The truth is he succeeded more by vehemence than by finish

of style. While the research and labours of other authors are valued

by an after age, the harmonious fluency of Haterius died with him.

In the year of the consulship of Marcus Licinius and Lucius

Calpurnius, the losses of a great war were matched by an unexpected

disaster, no sooner begun than ended. One Atilius, of the freedman

class, having undertaken to build an amphitheatre at Fidena for the

exhibition of a show of gladiators, failed to lay a solid foundation

to frame the wooden superstructure with beams of sufficient

strength; for he had neither an abundance of wealth, nor zeal for

public popularity, but he had simply sought the work for sordid

gain. Thither flocked all who loved such sights and who during the

reign of Tiberius had been wholly debarred from such amusements; men

and women of every age crowding to the place because it was near Rome.

And so the calamity was all the more fatal. The building was densely

crowded; then came a violent shock, as it fell inwards or spread

outwards, precipitating and burying an immense multitude which was

intently gazing on the show or standing round. Those who were

crushed to death in the first moment of the accident had at least

under such dreadful circumstances the advantage of escaping torture.

More to be pitied were they who with limbs torn from them still

retained life, while they recognised their wives and children by

seeing them during the day and by hearing in the night their screams

and groans. Soon all the neighbours in their excitement at the

report were bewailing brothers, kinsmen or parents. Even those whose

friends or relatives were away from home for quite a different reason,

still trembled for them, and as it was not yet known who had been

destroyed by the crash, suspense made the alarm more widespread.

As soon as they began to remove the debris, there was a rush to

see the lifeless forms and much embracing and kissing. Often a dispute

would arise, when some distorted face, bearing however a general

resemblance of form and age, had baffled their efforts at recognition.

Fifty thousand persons were maimed or destroyed in this disaster.

For the future it was provided by a decree of the Senate that no one

was to exhibit a show of gladiators, whose fortune fell short of

four hundred thousand sesterces, and that no amphitheatre was to be

erected except on a foundation, the solidity of which had been

examined. Atilius was banished. At the moment of the calamity the

nobles threw open houses and supplied indiscriminately medicines and

physicians, so that Rome then, notwithstanding her sorrowful aspect,

wore a likeness to the manners of our forefathers who after a great

battle always relieved the wounded with their bounty and attentions.

This disaster was not forgotten when a furious conflagration damaged

the capital to an unusual extent, reducing Mount Caelius to ashes. "It

was an ill-starred year," people began to say, "and the emperor's

purpose of leaving Rome must have been formed under evil omens."

They began in vulgar fashion to trace ill-luck to guilt, when Tiberius

checked them by distributing money in proportion to losses

sustained. He received a vote of thanks in the Senate from its

distinguished members, and was applauded by the populace for having

assisted with his liberality, without partiality or the

solicitations of friends, strangers whom he had himself sought out.

And proposals were also made that Mount Caelius should for the

future be called Mount Augustus, inasmuch as when all around was in

flames only a single statue of Tiberius in the house of one Junius,

a senator, had remained uninjured. This, it was said, had formerly

happened to Claudia Quinta; her statue, which had twice escaped the

violence of fire, had been dedicated by our ancestors in the temple of

the Mother of Gods; hence the Claudii had been accounted sacred and

numbered among deities, and so additional sanctity ought to be given

to a spot where heaven showed such honour to the emperor.

It will not be uninteresting to mention that Mount Caelius was

anciently known by the name of Querquetulanus, because it grew oak

timber in abundance and was afterwards called Caelius by Caeles

Vibenna, who led the Etruscan people to the aid of Rome and had the

place given him as a possession by Tarquinius Priscus or by some other

of the kings. As to that point historians differ; as to the rest, it

is beyond a question that Vibenna's numerous forces established

themselves in the plain beneath and in the neighbourhood of the forum,

and that the Tuscan street was named after these strangers.

But though the zeal of the nobles and the bounty of the prince

brought relief to suffering, yet every day a stronger and fiercer host

of informers pursued its victims, without one alleviating

circumstance. Quintilius Varus, a rich man and related to the emperor,

was suddenly attacked by Domitius Afer, the successful prosecutor of

Claudia Pulchra, his mother, and no one wondered that the needy

adventurer of many years who had squandered his lately gotten

recompense was now preparing himself for fresh iniquities. That

Publius Dolabella should have associated himself in the prosecution

was a marvel, for he was of illustrious ancestry, was allied to Varus,

and was now himself seeking to destroy his own noble race, his own

kindred. The Senate however stopped the proceeding, and decided to

wait for the emperor, this being the only means of escaping for a time

impending horrors.

Caesar, meanwhile, after dedicating the temples in Campania,

warned the public by an edict not to disturb his retirement and posted

soldiers here and there to keep off the throngs of townsfolk. But he

so loathed the towns and colonies and, in short, every place on the

mainland, that he buried himself in the island of Capreae which is

separated by three miles of strait from the extreme point of the

promontory of Sorrentum. The solitude of the place was, I believe, its

chief attraction, for a harbourless sea surrounds it and even for a

small vessel it has but few safe retreats, nor can any one land

unknown to the sentries. Its air in winter is soft, as it is

screened by a mountain which is a protection against cutting winds. In

summer it catches the western breezes, and the open sea round it

renders it most delightful. It commanded too a prospect of the most

lovely bay, till Vesuvius, bursting into flames, changed the face of

the country. Greeks, so tradition says, occupied those parts and

Capreae was inhabited by the Teleboi. Tiberius had by this time filled

the island with twelve country houses, each with a grand name and a

vast structure of its own. Intent as he had once been on the cares

of state, he was now for thoroughly unbending himself in secret

profligacy and a leisure of malignant schemes. For he still retained

that rash proneness to suspect and to believe, which even at Rome

Sejanus used to foster, and which he here excited more keenly, no

longer concealing his machinations against Agrippina and Nero.

Soldiers hung about them, and every message, every visit, their public

and their private life were I may say regularly chronicled. And

persons were actually suborned to advise them to flee to the armies of

Germany, or when the Forum was most crowded, to clasp the statue of

statue of the Divine Augustus and appeal to the protection of the

people and Senate. These counsels they disdained, but they were

charged with having had thoughts of acting on them.

The year of the consulship of Silanus and Silius Nerva opened with a

foul beginning. A Roman knight of the highest rank, Titius Sabinus,

was dragged to prison because he had been a friend of Germanicus. He

had indeed persisted in showing marked respect towards his wife and

children, as their visitor at home, their companion in public, the

solitary survivor of so many clients, and he was consequently esteemed

by the good, as he was a terror to the evil-minded. Latinius Latiaris,

Porcius Cato, Petitius Rufus, and Marcus Opsius, ex-praetors,

conspired to attack him, with an eye to the consulship, to which there

was access only through Sejanus, and the good will of Sejanus was to

be gained only by a crime. They arranged amongst themselves that

Latiaris, who had some slight acquaintance with Sabinus, should devise

the plot, that the rest should be present as witnesses, and that

then they should begin the prosecution. Accordingly Latiaris, after

first dropping some casual remarks, went on to praise the fidelity

of Sabinus in not having, like others, forsaken after its fall the

house of which he had been the friend in its prosperity. He also spoke

highly of Germanicus and compassionately of Agrippina. Sabinus, with

the natural softness of the human heart under calamity, burst into

tears, which he followed up with complaints, and soon with yet more

daring invective against Sejanus, against his cruelty, pride and

ambition. He did not spare even Tiberius in his reproaches. That

conversation, having united them, as it were, in an unlawful secret,

led to a semblance of close intimacy. Henceforward Sabinus himself

sought Latiaris, went continually to his house, and imparted to him

his griefs, as to a most faithful friend.

The men whom I have named now consulted how these conversations

might fall within the hearing of more persons. It was necessary that

the place of meeting should preserve the appearance of secrecy, and,

if witnesses were to stand behind the doors, there was a fear of their

being seen or heard, or of suspicion casually arising. Three

senators thrust themselves into the space between the roof and

ceiling, a hiding-place as shameful as the treachery was execrable.

They applied their ears to apertures and crevices. Latiaris

meanwhile having met Sabinus in the streets, drew him to his house and

to the room, as if he was going to communicate some fresh discoveries.

There he talked much about past and impending troubles, a copious

topic indeed, and about fresh horrors. Sabinus spoke as before and

at greater length, as sorrow, when once it has broken into

utterance, is the harder to restrain. Instantly they hastened to

accuse him, and having despatched a letter to the emperor, they

informed him of the order of the plot and of their own infamy. Never

was Rome more distracted and terror-stricken. Meetings, conversations,

the ear of friend and stranger were alike shunned; even things mute

and lifeless, the very roofs and walls, were eyed with suspicion.

The emperor in his letter on the first of January, after offering

the usual prayers for the new year, referred to Sabinus, whom he

reproached with having corrupted some of his freedmen and having

attempted his life, and he claimed vengeance in no obscure language.

It was decreed without hesitation, and the condemned man was dragged

off, exclaiming as loudly as he could, with head covered and throat

tightly bound, "that this was inaugurating the year; these were the

victims slain to Sejanus." Wherever he turned his eyes, wherever his

words fell, there was flight and solitude; the streets and public

places were forsaken. A few retraced their steps and again showed

themselves, shuddering at the mere fact that they had betrayed

alarm. "What day," they asked, "will be without some execution, when

amid sacrifices and prayers, a time when it is usual to refrain even

from a profane word, the chain and halter are introduced? Tiberius has

not incurred such odium blindly; this is a studied device to make us

believe that there is no reason why the new magistrates should not

open the dungeons as well as the temple and the altars." Thereupon

there came a letter of thanks to them for having punished a bitter foe

to the State, and the emperor further added that he had an anxious

life, that he apprehended treachery from enemies, but he mentioned

no one by name. Still there was no question that this was aimed at

Nero and Agrippina.

But for my plan of referring each event to its own year, I should

feel a strong impulse to anticipate matters and at once relate the

deaths by which Latinius and Opsius and the other authors of this

atrocious deed perished, some after Caius became emperor, some even

while Tiberius yet ruled. For although he would not have the

instruments of his wickedness destroyed by others, he frequently, when

he was tired of them, and fresh ones offered themselves for the same

services, flung off the old, now become a mere incubus. But these

and other punishments of guilty men I shall describe in due course.

Asinius Gallus, to whose children Agrippina was aunt, then moved

that the emperor should be requested to disclose his apprehensions

to the Senate and allow their removal. Of all his virtues, as he

counted them, there was none on which Tiberius so prided himself as

his ability to dissemble, and he was therefore the more irritated at

an attempt to expose what he was hiding. Sejanus however pacified him,

not out of love for Gallus, but rather to wait the result of the

emperor's wavering mood, knowing, as he did, that, though slow in

forming his purpose, yet having once broken through his reserve, he

would follow up harsh words with terrible deeds.

About the same time Julia died, the granddaughter of Augustus. He

had condemned her on a conviction of adultery and had banished her

to the island of Trimerus, not far from the shores of Apulia. There

she endured a twenty years' exile, in which she was supported by

relief from Augusta, who having overthrown the prosperity of her

step-children by secret machinations, made open display of her

compassion to the fallen family.

That same year the Frisii, a nation beyond the Rhine, cast off

peace, more because of our rapacity than from their impatience of

subjection. Drusus had imposed on them a moderate tribute, suitable to

their limited resources, the furnishing of ox hides for military

purposes. No one ever severely scrutinized the size or thickness

till Olennius, a first-rank centurion, appointed to govern the Frisii,

selected hides of wild bulls as the standard according to which they

were to be supplied. This would have been hard for any nation, and

it was the less tolerable to the Germans, whose forests abound in huge

beasts, while their home cattle are undersized. First it was their

herds, next their lands, last, the persons of their wives and

children, which they gave up to bondage. Then came angry

remonstrances, and when they received no relief, they sought a

remedy in war. The soldiers appointed to collect the tribute were

seized and gibbeted. Olennius anticipated their fury by flight, and

found refuge in a fortress, named Flevum, where a by no means

contemptible force of Romans and allies kept guard over the shores

of the ocean.

As soon as this was known to Lucius Apronius, propraetor of Lower

Germany, he summoned from the Upper province the legionary veterans,

as well as some picked auxiliary infantry and cavalry. Instantly

conveying both armies down the Rhine, he threw them on the Frisii,

raising at once the siege of the fortress and dispersing the rebels in

defence of their own possessions. Next, he began constructing solid

roads and bridges over the neighbouring estuaries for the passage of

his heavy troops, and meanwhile having found a ford, he ordered the

cavalry of the Canninefates, with all the German infantry which served

with us, to take the enemy in the rear. Already in battle array,

they were beating back our auxiliary horse as well as that of the

legions sent to support them, when three light cohorts, then two more,

and after a while the entire cavalry were sent to the attack. They

were strong enough, had they charged altogether, but coming up, as

they did, at intervals, they did not give fresh courage to the

repulsed troops and were themselves carried away in the panic of the

fugitives. Apronius entrusted the rest of the auxiliaries to

Cethegus Labeo, the commander of the fifth legion, but he too, finding

his men's position critical and being in extreme peril, sent

messages imploring the whole strength of the legions. The soldiers

of the fifth sprang forward, drove back the enemy in a fierce

encounter, and saved our cohorts and cavalry, who were exhausted by

their wounds. But the Roman general did not attempt vengeance or

even bury the dead, although many tribunes, prefects, and first-rank

centurions had fallen. Soon afterwards it was ascertained from

deserters that nine hundred Romans had been cut to pieces in a wood

called Braduhenna's, after prolonging the fight to the next day, and

that another body of four hundred, which had taken possession of the

house of one Cruptorix, once a soldier in our pay, fearing betrayal,

had perished by mutual slaughter.

The Frisian name thus became famous in Germany, and Tiberius kept

our losses a secret, not wishing to entrust any one with the war.

Nor did the Senate care whether dishonour fell on the extreme

frontiers of the empire. Fear at home had filled their hearts, and for

this they sought relief in sycophancy. And so, although their advice

was asked on totally different subjects, they decreed an altar to

Clemency, an altar to Friendship, and statues round them to Caesar and

Sejanus, both of whom they earnestly begged with repeated entreaties

to allow themselves to be seen in public. Still, neither of them would

visit Rome or even the neighbourhood of Rome; they thought it enough

to quit the island and show themselves on the opposite shores of

Campania. Senators, knights, a number of the city populace flocked

thither, anxiously looking to Sejanus, approach to whom was

particularly difficult and was consequently sought by intrigue and

by complicity in his counsels. It was sufficiently clear that his

arrogance was increased by gazing on this foul and openly displayed

servility. At Rome indeed hurrying crowds are a familiar sight, from

the extent of the city no one knows on what business each citizen is

bent; but there, as they lounged in promiscuous crowds in the fields

or on the shore, they had to bear day and night alike the

patronising smiles and the supercilious insolence of hall-porters,

till even this was forbidden them, and those whom Sejanus had not

deigned to accost or to look on, returned to the capital in alarm,

while some felt an evil joy, though there hung over them the

dreadful doom of that ill-starred friendship.

Tiberius meanwhile having himself in person bestowed the hand of his

granddaughter Agrippina, Germanicus's daughter, on Cneius Domitius,

directed the marriage to be celebrated at Rome. In selecting

Domitius he looked not only to his ancient lineage, but also to his

alliance with the blood of the Caesars, for he could point to

Octavia as his grandmother and through her to Augustus as his


BOOK V, A.D. 29-31

IN the consulship of Rubellius and Fufius, both of whom had the

surname Geminus, died in an advanced old age Julia Augusta. A

Claudia by birth and by adoption a Livia and a Julia, she united the

noblest blood of Rome. Her first marriage, by which she had

children, was with Tiberius Nero, who, an exile during the Perusian

war, returned to Rome when peace had been concluded between Sextus

Pompeius and the triumvirs. After this Caesar, enamoured of her

beauty, took her away from her husband, whether against her wish is

uncertain. So impatient was he that he brought her to his house

actually pregnant, not allowing time for her confinement. She had no

subsequent issue, but allied as she was through the marriage of

Agrippina and Germanicus to the blood of Augustus, her

great-grandchildren were also his. In the purity of her home life

she was of the ancient type, but was more gracious than was thought

fitting in ladies of former days. An imperious mother and an amiable

wife, she was a match for the diplomacy of her husband and the

dissimulation of her son. Her funeral was simple, and her will long

remained unexecuted. Her panegyric was pronounced from the Rostra by

her great-grandson, Caius Caesar, who afterwards succeeded to power.

Tiberius however, making no change in his voluptuous life, excused

himself by letter for his absence from his last duty to his mother

on the ground of the pressure of business. He even abridged, out of

moderation, as it seemed, the honours which the Senate had voted on

a lavish scale to her memory, allowing only a very few, and adding

that no religious worship was to be decreed, this having been her

own wish. In a part of the same letter he sneered at female

friendships, with an indirect censure on the consul Fufius, who had

risen to distinction through Augusta's partiality. Fufius was indeed a

man well fitted to win the affection of a woman; he was witty too, and

accustomed to ridicule Tiberius with those bitter jests which the

powerful remember so long.

This at all events was the beginning of an unmitigated and

grinding despotism. As long indeed as Augusta lived, there yet

remained a refuge, for with Tiberius obedience to his mother was the

habit of a life, and Sejanus did not dare to set himself above a

parent's authority. Now, so to say, they threw off the reins and let

loose their fury. A letter was sent, directed against Agrippina and

Nero, which was popularly believed to have been long before

forwarded and to have been kept back by Augusta, as it was publicly

read soon after her death. It contained expressions of studied

harshness, yet it was not armed rebellion or a longing for revolution,

but unnatural passions and profligacy which the emperor imputed to his

grandson. Against his daughter-in-law he did not dare to invent this

much; he merely censured her insolent tongue and defiant spirit,

amid the panic-stricken silence of the Senate, till a few who had no

hope from merit (and public calamities are ever used by individuals

for interested purposes) demanded that the question should be debated.

The most eager was Cotta Messalinus, who made a savage speech.

Still, the other principal senators, and especially the magistrates,

were perplexed, for Tiberius, notwithstanding his furious invective,

had left everything else in doubt.

There was in the Senate one Junius Rusticus, who having been

appointed by the emperor to register its debates was therefore

supposed to have an insight into his secret purposes. This man,

whether through some fatal impulse (he had indeed never before given

any evidence of courage) or a misdirected acuteness which made him

tremble at the uncertain future, while he forgot impending perils,

attached himself to the waverers, and warned the consuls not to

enter on the debate. He argued that the highest issues turned on

trivial causes, and that the fall of the house of Germanicus might one

day move the old man's remorse. At the same moment the people, bearing

the images of Agrippina and Nero, thronged round the Senate-house,

and, with words of blessing on the emperor, kept shouting that the

letter was a forgery and that it was not by the prince's will that

ruin was being plotted against his house. And so that day passed

without any dreadful result.

Fictitious speeches too against Sejanus were published under the

names of ex-consuls, for several persons indulged, all the more

recklessly because anonymously, the caprice of their imaginations.

Consequently the wrath of Sejanus was the more furious, and he had

ground for alleging that the Senate disregarded the emperor's trouble;

that the people were in revolt; that speeches in a new style and new

resolutions were being heard and read. What remained but to take the

sword and chose for their generals and emperors those whose images

they had followed as standards.

Upon this the emperor, after repeating his invectives against his

grandson and his daughter-in-law and reprimanding the populace in an

edict complained to the Senate that by the trick of one senator the

imperial dignity had been publicly flouted, and he insisted that,

after all, the whole matter should be left to his exclusive

decision. Without further deliberation, they proceeded, not indeed

to pronounce the final sentence (for this was forbidden), but to

declare that they were prepared for vengeance, and were restrained

only by the strong hand of the sovereign.

[The remainder of the fifth book and the beginning of the sixth,

recounting Sejanus' marriage and fall and covering a space of nearly

three years, are lost. Newer editions of Tacitus mark the division

between the fifth and sixth books at this point rather than at the end

of section 11; but references are regularly made to the older

numbering, and so it has been retained here. The beginning of

section 6 is obviously fragmentary.]

.... forty-four speeches were delivered on this subject, a few of

which were prompted by fear, most by the habit of flattery...

"There is now a change of fortune, and even he who chose Sejanus

to be his colleague and his son-in-law excuses his error. As for the

rest, the man whom they encouraged by shameful baseness, they now

wickedly revile. Which is the most pitiable, to be accused for

friendship's sake or to have to accuse a friend, I cannot decide. I

will not put any man's cruelty or compassion to the test, but, while I

am free and have a clear conscience, I will anticipate peril. I

implore you to cherish my memory with joy rather than with sorrow,

numbering me too with those who by noble death have fled from the

miseries of our country."

Then detaining those of his friends who were minded to stay with him

and converse, or, if otherwise, dismissing them, he thus spent part of

the day, and with a numerous circle yet round him, all gazing on his

fearless face, and imagining that there was still time to elapse

before the last scene, he fell on a sword which he had concealed in

his robe. The emperor did not pursue him after his death with either

accusation or reproach, although he had heaped a number of foul

charges on Blaesus.

Next were discussed the cases of Publius Vitellius and Pomponius

Secundus. The first was charged by his accusers with having offered

the keys of the treasury, of which he was prefect, and the military

chest in aid of a revolution. Against the latter, Considius, an

ex-praetor, alleged intimacy with Aelius Gallus, who, after the

punishment of Sejanus, had fled to the gardens of Pomponius, as his

safest refuge. They had no resource in their peril but in the

courageous firmness of their brothers who became their sureties. Soon,

after several adjournments, Vitellius, weary alike of hope and fear,

asked for a penknife, avowedly, for his literary pursuits, and

inflicted a slight wound in his veins, and died at last of a broken

heart. Pomponius, a man of refined manners and brilliant genius,

bore his adverse fortune with resignation, and outlived Tiberius.

It was next decided to punish the remaining children of Sejanus,

though the fury of the populace was subsiding, and people generally

had been appeased by the previous executions. Accordingly they were

carried off to prison, the boy, aware of his impending doom, and the

little girl, who was so unconscious that she continually asked what

was her offence, and whither she was being dragged, saying that she

would do so no more, and a childish chastisement was enough for her

correction. Historians of the time tell us that, as there was no

precedent for the capital punishment of a virgin, she was violated

by the executioner, with the rope on her neck. Then they were

strangled and their bodies, mere children as they were, were flung

down the Gemoniae.

About the same time Asia and Achaia were alarmed by a prevalent

but short-lived rumour that Drusus, the son of Germanicus, had been

seen in the Cyclades and subsequently on the mainland. There was

indeed a young man of much the same age, whom some of the emperor's

freedmen pretended to recognise, and to whom they attached

themselves with a treacherous intent. The renown of the name attracted

the ignorant, and the Greek mind eagerly fastens on what is new and

marvellous. The story indeed, which they no sooner invented than

believed, was that Drusus had escaped from custody, and was on his way

to the armies of his father, with the design of invading Egypt or

Syria. And he was now drawing to himself a multitude of young men

and much popular enthusiasm, enjoying the present and cherishing

idle hopes of the future, when Poppaeus Sabinus heard of the affair.

At the time he was chiefly occupied with Macedonia, but he also had

the charge of Achaia. So, to forestall the danger, let the story be

true or false, he hurried by the bays of Torone and Thermae, then

passed on to Euboea, an island of the Aegaean, to Piraeus, on the

coast of Attica, thence to the shores of Corinth and the narrow

Isthmus, and having arrived by the other sea at Nicopolis, a Roman

colony, he there at last ascertained that the man, when skilfully

questioned, had said that he was the son of Marcus Silanus, and

that, after the dispersion of a number of his followers' he had

embarked on a vessel, intending, it seemed, to go to Italy. Sabinus

sent this account to Tiberius, and of the origin and issue of the

affair nothing more is known to me.

At the close of the year a long growing feud between the consuls

broke out. Trio, a reckless man in incurring enmities and a

practised lawyer, had indirectly censured Regulus as having been

half-hearted in crushing the satellites of Sejanus. Regulus, who,

unless he was provoked, loved quietness, not only repulsed his

colleague's attack, but was for dragging him to trial as a guilty

accomplice in the conspiracy. And though many of the senators implored

them to compose a quarrel likely to end fatally, they continued

their enmity and their mutual menaces till they retired from office.

BOOK VI, A.D. 32-37

CNEIUS Domitius and Camillus Scribonianus had entered on the

consulship when the emperor, after crossing the channel which

divides Capreae from Surrentum, sailed along Campania, in doubt

whether he should enter Rome, or, possibly, simulating the intention

of going thither, because he had resolved otherwise. He often landed

at points in the neighborhood, visited the gardens by the Tiber, but

went back again to the cliffs and to the solitude of the sea shores,

in shame at the vices and profligacies into which he had plunged so

unrestrainedly that in the fashion of a despot he debauched the

children of free-born citizens. It was not merely beauty and a

handsome person which he felt as an incentive to his lust, but the

modesty of childhood in some, and noble ancestry in others. Hitherto

unknown terms were then for the first time invented, derived from

the abominations of the place and the endless phases of sensuality.

Slaves too were set over the work of seeking out and procuring, with

rewards for the willing, and threats to the reluctant, and if there

was resistance from a relative or a parent, they used violence and

force, and actually indulged their own passions as if dealing with


At Rome meanwhile, in the beginning of the year, as if Livia's

crimes had just been discovered and not also long ago punished,

terrible decrees were proposed against her very statues and memory,

and the property of Sejanus was to be taken from the exchequer and

transferred to the imperial treasury; as if there was any

difference. The motion was being urged with extreme persistency, in

almost the same or with but slightly changed language, by such men

as Scipio, Silanus, and Cassius, when suddenly Togonius Gallus

intruding his own obscurity among illustrious names, was heard with

ridicule. He begged the emperor to select a number of senators, twenty

out of whom should be chosen by lot to wear swords and to defend his

person, whenever he entered the Senate House. The man had actually

believed a letter from him in which he asked the protection of one

of the consuls, so that he might go in safety from Capreae to Rome.

Tiberius however, who usually combined jesting and seriousness,

thanked the senators for their goodwill, but asked who could be

rejected, who could be chosen? "Were they always to be the same, or

was there to be a succession? Were they to be men who had held

office or youths, private citizens or officials? Then, again, what a

scene would be presented by persons grasping their swords on the

threshold of the Senate House? His life was not of so much worth if it

had to be defended by arms." This was his answer to Togonius,

guarded in its expression, and he urged nothing beyond the rejection

of the motion.

Junius Gallio however, who had proposed that the praetorian

soldiers, after having served their campaigns, should acquire the

privilege of sitting in the fourteen rows of the theatre, received a

savage censure. Tiberius, just as if he were face to face with him,

asked what he had to do with the soldiers, who ought to receive the

emperor's orders or his rewards except from the emperor himself? He

had really discovered something which the Divine Augustus had not

foreseen. Or was not one of Sejanus's satellites rather seeking to sow

discord and sedition, as a means of prompting ignorant minds, under

the pretence of compliment, to ruin military discipline? This was

Gallio's recompense for his carefully prepared flattery, with

immediate expulsion from the Senate, and then from Italy. And as men

complained that he would endure his exile with equanimity, since he

had chosen the famous and lovely island of Lesbos, he was dragged back

to Rome, and confined in the houses of different officials.

The emperor in the same letter crushed Sextius Paconianus, an

ex-praetor, to the great joy of the senators, as he was a daring,

mischievous man, who pryed into every person's secrets, and had been

the chosen instrument of Sejanus in his treacherous designs against

Caius Caesar. When this fact was divulged, there came an outburst of

long-concealed hatreds, and there must have been a sentence of capital

punishment, had he not himself volunteered a disclosure.

As soon as he named Latinius Latiaris, accuser and accused, both

alike objects of execration, presented a most welcome spectacle.

Latiaris, as I have related, had been foremost in contriving the

ruin of Titius Sabinus, and was now the first to pay the penalty. By

way of episode, Haterius Agrippa inveighed against the consuls of

the previous year for now sitting silent after their threats of

impeaching one another. "It must be fear," he said, "and a guilty

conscience which are acting as a bond of union. But the senators

must not keep back what they have heard." Regulus replied that he

was awaiting the opportunity for vengeance, and meant to press it in

the emperor's presence. Trio's answer was that it was best to efface

the memory of rivalries between colleagues, and of any words uttered

in quarrels. When Agrippa still persisted, Sanquinius Maximus, one

of the ex-consuls, implored the Senate not to increase the emperor's

anxieties by seeking further occasions of bitterness, as he was

himself competent to provide remedies. This secured the safety of

Regulus and the postponement of Trio's ruin. Haterius was hated all

the more. Wan with untimely slumbers and nights of riot, and not

fearing in his indolence even the cruellest of princes, he yet plotted

amid his gluttony and lust the destruction of illustrious men.

Several charges were next brought, as soon as the opportunity

offered, against Cotta Messalinus, the author of every unusually cruel

proposal, and consequently, regarded with inveterate hatred. He had

spoken, it was said, of Caius Caesar, as if it were a question whether

he was a man, and of an entertainment at which he was present on

Augusta's birthday with the priests, as a funeral banquet. In

remonstrating too against the influence of Marcus Lepidus and Lucius

Arruntius, with whom he had disputes on many matters, he had added the

remark, "They will have the Senate's support; I shall have that of

my darling Tiberius." But the leading men of the State failed to

convict him on all the charges. When they pressed the case, he

appealed to the emperor. Soon afterwards, a letter arrived, in which

Tiberius traced the origin of the friendship between himself and

Cotta, enumerated his frequent services, and then requested that words

perversely misrepresented and the freedom of table talk might not be

construed into a crime.

The beginning of the emperor's letter seemed very striking. It

opened thus: "May all the gods and goddesses destroy me more miserably

than I feel myself to be daily perishing, if I know at know at this

moment what to write to you, Senators, how to write it, or what, in

short, not to write." So completely had his crimes and infamies

recoiled, as a penalty, on himself. With profound meaning was it often

affirmed by the greatest teacher of philosophy that, could the minds

of tyrants be laid bare, there would be seen gashes and wounds; for,

as the body is lacerated by scourging, so is the spirit by

brutality, by lust and by evil thoughts. Assuredly Tiberius was not

saved by his elevation or his solitude from having to confess the

anguish of his heart and his self-inflicted punishment.

Authority was then given to the Senate to decide the case of

Caecilianus, one of its members, the chief witness against Cotta,

and it was agreed that the same penalty should be inflicted as on

Aruseius and Sanquinius, the accusers of Lucius Arruntius. Nothing

ever happened to Cotta more to his distinction. Of noble birth, but

beggared by extravagance and infamous for his excesses, he was now

by dignity of his revenge, raised to a level with the stainless

virtues of Arruntius.

Quintus Servaeus and Minucius Thermus were next arraigned.

Servaeus was an ex-praetor, and had formerly been a companion of

Germanicus; Minucius was of equestrian rank, and both had enjoyed,

though discreetly, the friendship of Sejanus. Hence they were the more

pitied. Tiberius, on the contrary, denounced them as foremost in

crime, and bade Caius Cestius, the elder, tell the Senate what he

had communicated to the emperor by letter. Cestius undertook the

prosecution. And this was the most dreadful feature of the age, that

leading members of the Senate, some openly, some secretly employed

themselves in the very lowest work of the informer. One could not

distinguish between aliens and kinsfolk, between friends and

strangers, or say what was quite recent, or what half-forgotten from

lapse of time. People were incriminated for some casual remark in

the forum or at the dinner-table, for every one was impatient to be

the first to mark his victim, some to screen themselves, most from

being, as it were, infected with the contagion of the malady.

Minucius and Servaeus, on being condemned, went over to the

prosecution, and then Julius Africanus with Seius Quadratus were

dragged into the same ruin. Africanus was from the Santones, one of

the states of Gaul; the origin of Quadratus I have not ascertained.

Many authors, I am well aware, have passed over the perils and

punishments of a host of persons, sickened by the multiplicity of

them, or fearing that what they had themselves found wearisome and

saddening would be equally fatiguing to their readers. For myself, I

have lighted on many facts worth knowing, though other writers have

not recorded them.

A Roman knight, Marcus Terentius, at the crisis when all others

had hypocritically repudiated the friendship of Sejanus, dared, when

impeached on that ground, to cling to it by the following avowal to

the Senate: "In my position it is perhaps less to my advantage to

acknowledge than to deny the charge. Still, whatever is to be the

issue of the matter, I shall admit that I was the friend of Sejanus,

that I anxiously sought to be such, and was delighted when I was

successful. I had seen him his father's colleague in the command of

the praetorian cohorts, and subsequently combining the duties of civil

and military life. His kinsfolk and connections were loaded with

honours; intimacy with Sejanus was in every case a powerful

recommendation to the emperor's friendship. Those, on the contrary,

whom he hated, had to struggle with danger and humiliation. I take

no individual as an instance. All of us who had no part in his last

design, I mean to defend at the peril of myself alone. It was really

not Sejanus of Vulsinii, it was a member of the Claudian and Julian

houses, in which he had taken a position by his marriage-alliance,

it was your son-in-law, Caesar, your partner in the consulship, the

man who administered your political functions, whom we courted. It

is not for us to criticise one whom you may raise above all others, or

your motives for so doing. Heaven has intrusted you with the supreme

decision of affairs, and for us is left the glory of obedience. And,

again, we see what takes place before our eyes, who it is on whom

you bestow riches and honours, who are the most powerful to help or to

injure. That Sejanus was such, no one will deny. To explore the

prince's secret thoughts, or any of his hidden plans, is a

forbidden, a dangerous thing, nor does it follow that one could

reach them.

"Do not, Senators, think only of Sejanus's last day, but of his

sixteen years of power. We actually adored a Satrius and a

Pomponius. To be known even to his freedmen and hall-porters was

thought something very grand. What then is my meaning? Is this apology

meant to be offered for all without difference and discrimination? No;

it is to be restricted within proper limits. Let plots against the

State, murderous designs against the emperor be punished. As for

friendship and its obligations, the same principle must acquit both

you, Caesar, and us."

The courage of this speech and the fact that there had been found

a man to speak out what was in all people's thoughts, had such an

effect that the accusers of Terentius were sentenced to banishment

or death, their previous offences being taken into account. Then

came a letter from Tiberius against Sextus Vestilius, an ex-praetor,

whom, as a special favourite of his brother Drusus, the emperor had

admitted into his own select circle. His reason for being displeased

with Vestilius was that he had either written an attack on Caius

Caesar as a profligate, or that Tiberius believed a false charge.

For this Vestilius was excluded from the prince's table. He then tried

the knife with his aged hand, but again bound up his veins, opening

them once more however on having begged for pardon by letter and

received a pitiless answer. After him a host of persons were charged

with treason, Annius Pollio, Appius Silanus, Scaurus Mamercus, Sabinus

Calvisius, Vinicianus too, coupled with Pollio, his father, men all of

illustrious descent, some too of the highest political distinction.

The senators were panic-stricken, for how few of their number were not

connected by alliance or by friendship with this multitude of men of

rank! Celsus however, tribune of a city cohort, and now one of the

prosecutors, saved Appius and Calvisius from the peril. The emperor

postponed the cases of Pollio, Vinicianus, and Scaurus, intending to

try them himself with the Senate, not however without affixing some

ominous marks to the name of Scaurus.

Even women were not exempt from danger. Where they could not be

accused of grasping at political power, their tears were made a crime.

Vitia, an aged woman, mother of Fufius Geminus, was executed for

bewailing the death of her son. Such were the proceedings in the

Senate. It was the same with the emperor. Vescularius Atticus and

Julius Marinus were hurried off to execution, two of his oldest

friends, men who had followed him to Rhodes and been his inseparable

companions at Capreae. Vescularius was his agent in the plot against

Libo, and it was with the co-operation of Marinus that Sejanus had

ruined Curtius Atticus. Hence there was all the more joy at the recoil

of these precedents on their authors.

About the same time Lucius Piso, the pontiff, died a natural

death, a rare incident in so high a rank. Never had he by choice

proposed a servile motion, and, whenever necessity was too strong

for him, he would suggest judicious compromises. His father, as I have

related, had been a censor. He lived to the advanced age of eighty,

and had won in Thrace the honour of a triumph. But his chief glory

rested on the wonderful tact with which as city-prefect he handled

an authority, recently made perpetual and all the more galling to

men unaccustomed to obey it.

In former days, when the kings and subsequently the chief

magistrates went from Rome, an official was temporarily chosen to

administer justice and provide for emergencies, so that the capital

might not be left without government. It is said that Denter

Romulius was appointed by Romulus, then Numa Marcius by Tullus

Hostilius, and Spurius Lucretius by Tarquinius Superbus. Afterwards,

the consuls made the appointment. The shadow of the old practice still

survives, whenever in consequence of the Latin festival some one is

deputed to exercise the consul's functions. And Augustus too during

the civil wars gave Cilnius Maecenas, a Roman knight, charge of

everything in Rome and Italy. When he rose to supreme power, in

consideration of the magnitude of the State and the slowness of

legal remedies, he selected one of the exconsuls to overawe the slaves

and that part of the population which, unless it fears a strong

hand, is disorderly and reckless. Messala Corvinus was the first to

obtain the office, which he lost within a few days, as not knowing how

to discharge it. After him Taurus Statilius, though in advanced years,

sustained it admirably; and then Piso, after twenty years of similar

credit, was, by the Senate's decree, honoured with a public funeral.

A motion was next brought forward in the Senate by Quintilianus, a

tribune of the people, respecting an alleged book of the Sibyl.

Caninius Gallus, a book of the College of the Fifteen, had asked

that it might be received among the other volumes of the same

prophetess by a decree on the subject. This having been carried by a

division, the emperor sent a letter in which he gently censured the

tribune, as ignorant of ancient usage because of his youth. Gallus

he scolded for having introduced the matter in a thin Senate,

notwithstanding his long experience in the science of religious

ceremonies, without taking the opinion of the College or having the

verses read and criticised, as was usual, by its presidents, though

their authenticity was very doubtful. He also reminded him that, as

many spurious productions were current under a celebrated name,

Augustus had prescribed a day within which they should be deposited

with the city-praetor, and after which it should not be lawful for any

private person to hold them. The same regulations too had been made by

our ancestors after the burning of the Capitol in the social war, when

there was a search throughout Samos, Ilium, Erythrae, and even in

Africa, Sicily and the Italian colonies for the verses of the Sibyl

(whether there were but one or more) and the priests were charged with

the business of distinguishing, as far as they could by human means,

what were genuine. Accordingly the book in question was now also

submitted to the scrutiny of the College of the Fifteen.

During the same consulship a high price of corn almost brought on an

insurrection. For several days there were many clamorous demands

made in the theatre with an unusual freedom of language towards the

emperor. This provoked him to censure the magistrates and the Senate

for not having used the authority of the State to put down the people.

He named too the corn-supplying provinces, and dwelt on the far larger

amount of grain imported by himself than by Augustus. So the Senate

drew up a decree in the severe spirit of antiquity, and the consuls

issued a not less stringent proclamation. The emperor's silence was

not, as he had hoped, taken as a proof of patriotism, but of pride.

At the year's close Geminius, Celsus and Pompeius, Roman knights,

fell beneath a charge of conspiracy. Of these Caius Geminius, by

lavish expenditure and a luxurious life, had been a friend of Sejanus,

but with no serious result. Julius Celsus, a tribune, while in

confinement, loosened his chain, and having twisted it around him,

broke his neck by throwing himself in an opposite direction. Rubrius

Fabatus was put under surveillance, on a suspicion that, in despair of

the fortunes of Rome, he meant to throw himself on the mercy of the

Parthians. He was, at any rate, found near the Straits of the

Sicily, and, when dragged back by a centurion, he assigned no adequate

reason for his long journey. Still, he lived on in safety, thanks to

forgetfulness rather than to mercy.

In the consulship of Servius Galba and Lucius Sulla, the emperor,

after having long considered whom he was to choose to be husbands

for his granddaughters, now that the maidens were of marriageable age,

selected Lucius Cassius and Marcus Vinicius. Vinicius was of

provincial descent; he was born at Cales, his father and grandfather

having been consuls, and his family, on the other side, being of the

rank of knights. He was a man of amiable temper and of cultivated

eloquence. Cassius was of an ancient and honourable, though plebeian

house, at Rome. Though he was brought up by his father under a

severe training, he won esteem more frequently by his good-nature than

by his diligence. To him and to Vinicius the emperor married

respectively Drusilla and Julia, Germanicus's daughters, and addressed

a letter on the subject to the Senate, with a slightly complimentary

mention of the young men. He next assigned some very vague reasons for

his absence, then passed to more important matters, the ill-will

against him originating in his state policy, and requested that Macro,

who commanded the praetorians, with a few tribunes and centurions,

might accompany him whenever he entered the Senate-house. But though a

decree was voted by the Senate on a liberal scale and without any

restrictions as to rank or numbers, he never so much as went near

the walls of Rome, much less the State-council, for he would often

go round and avoid his native city by circuitous routes.

Meanwhile a powerful host of accusers fell with sudden fury on the

class which systematically increased its wealth by usury in defiance

of a law passed by Caesar the Dictator defining the terms of lending

money and of holding estates in Italy, a law long obsolete because the

public good is sacrificed to private interest. The curse of usury

was indeed of old standing in Rome and a most frequent cause of

sedition and discord, and it was therefore repressed even in the early

days of a less corrupt morality. First, the Twelve Tables prohibited

any one from exacting more than 10 per cent., when, previously, the

rate had depended on the caprice of the wealthy. Subsequently, by a

bill brought in by the tribunes, interest was reduced to half that

amount, and finally compound interest was wholly forbidden. A check

too was put by several enactments of the people on evasions which,

though continually put down, still, through strange artifices,

reappeared. On this occasion, however, Gracchus, the praetor, to whose

jurisdiction the inquiry had fallen, felt himself compelled by the

number of persons endangered to refer the matter to the Senate. In

their dismay the senators, not one of whom was free from similar

guilt, threw themselves on the emperor's indulgence. He yielded, and a

year and six months were granted, within which every one was to settle

his private accounts conformably to the requirements of the law.

Hence followed a scarcity of money, a great shock being given to all

credit, the current coin too, in consequence of the conviction of so

many persons and the sale of their property, being locked up in the

imperial treasury or the public exchequer. To meet this, the Senate

had directed that every creditor should have two-thirds his capital

secured on estates in Italy. Creditors however were suing for

payment in full, and it was not respectable for persons when sued to

break faith. So, at first, there were clamorous meetings and

importunate entreaties; then noisy applications to the praetor's

court. And the very device intended as a remedy, the sale and purchase

of estates, proved the contrary, as the usurers had hoarded up all

their money for buying land. The facilities for selling were

followed by a fall of prices, and the deeper a man was in debt, the

more reluctantly did he part with his property, and many were

utterly ruined. The destruction of private wealth precipitated the

fall of rank and reputation, till at last the emperor interposed his

aid by distributing throughout the banks a hundred million

sesterces, and allowing freedom to borrow without interest for three

years, provided the borrower gave security to the State in land to

double the amount. Credit was thus restored, and gradually private

lenders were found. The purchase too of estates was not carried out

according to the letter of the Senate's decree, rigour at the

outset, as usual with such matters, becoming negligence in the end.

Former alarms then returned, as there was a charge of treason

against Considius Proculus. While he was celebrating his birthday

without a fear, he was hurried before the Senate, condemned and

instantly put to death. His sister Sancia was outlawed, on the

accusation of Quintus Pomponius, a restless spirit, who pretended that

he employed himself in this and like practices to win favour with

the sovereign, and thereby alleviate the perils hanging over his

brother Pomponius Secundus.

Pompeia Macrina too was sentenced to banishment. Her husband

Argolicus and her father-in-law Laco, leading men of Achaia, had

been ruined by the emperor. Her father likewise, an illustrious

Roman knight, and her brother, an ex-praetor, seeing their doom was

near, destroyed themselves. It was imputed to them as a crime that

their great-grandfather Theophanes of Mitylene had been one of the

intimate friends of Pompey the Great, and that after his death Greek

flattery had paid him divine honours.

Sextus Marius, the richest man in Spain, was next accused of

incest with his daughter, and thrown headlong from the Tarpeian

rock. To remove any doubt that the vastness of his wealth had proved

the man's ruin, Tiberius kept his gold-mines for himself, though

they were forfeited to the State. Executions were now a stimulus to

his fury, and he ordered the death of all who were lying in prison

under accusation of complicity with Sejanus. There lay, singly or in

heaps, the unnumbered dead, of every age and sex, the illustrious with

the obscure. Kinsfolk and friends were not allowed to be near them, to

weep over them, or even to gaze on them too long. Spies were set round

them, who noted the sorrow of each mourner and followed the rotting

corpses, till they were dragged to the Tiber, where, floating or

driven on the bank, no one dared to burn or to touch them. The force

of terror had utterly extinguished the sense of human fellowship, and,

with the growth of cruelty, pity was thrust aside.

About this time Caius Caesar, who became his grandfather's companion

on his retirement to Capreae, married Claudia, daughter of Marcus

Silanus. He was a man who masked a savage temper under an artful guise

of self-restraint, and neither his mother's doom nor the banishment of

his brothers extorted from him a single utterance. Whatever the humour

of the day with Tiberius, he would assume the like, and his language

differed as little. Hence the fame of a clever remark from the

orator Passienus, that "there never was a better slave or a worse


I must not pass over a prognostication of Tiberius respecting

Servius Galba, then consul. Having sent for him and sounded him on

various topics, he at last addressed him in Greek to this effect: "You

too, Galba, will some day have a taste of empire." He thus hinted at a

brief span of power late in life, on the strength of his

acquaintance with the art of astrologers, leisure for acquiring

which he had had at Rhodes, with Thrasyllus for instructor. This man's

skill he tested in the following manner.

Whenever he sought counsel on such matters, he would make use of the

top of the house and of the confidence of one freedman, quite

illiterate and of great physical strength. The man always walked in

front of the person whose science Tiberius had determined to test,

through an unfrequented and precipitous path (for the house stood on

rocks), and then, if any suspicion had arisen of imposture or of

trickery, he hurled the astrologer, as he returned, into the sea

beneath, that no one might live to betray the secret. Thrasyllus

accordingly was led up the same cliffs, and when he had deeply

impressed his questioner by cleverly revealing his imperial destiny

and future career, he was asked whether he had also thoroughly

ascertained his own horoscope, and the character of that particular

year and day. After surveying the positions and relative distances

of the stars, he first paused, then trembled, and the longer he gazed,

the more was he agitated by amazement and terror, till at last he

exclaimed that a perilous and well-nigh fatal crisis impended over

him. Tiberius then embraced him and congratulated him on foreseeing

his dangers and on being quite safe. Taking what he had said as an

oracle, he retained him in the number of his intimate friends.

When I hear of these and like occurrences, I suspend my judgment

on the question whether it is fate and unchangeable necessity or

chance which governs the revolutions of human affairs. Indeed, among

the wisest of the ancients and among their disciples you will find

conflicting theories, many holding the conviction that heaven does not

concern itself with the beginning or the end of our life, or, in

short, with mankind at all; and that therefore sorrows are continually

the lot of the good, happiness of the wicked; while others, on the

contrary, believe that though there is a harmony between fate and

events, yet it is not dependent on wandering stars, but on primary

elements, and on a combination of natural causes. Still, they leave us

the capacity of choosing our life, maintaining that, the choice once

made, there is a fixed sequence of events. Good and evil, again, are

not what vulgar opinion accounts them; many who seem to be

struggling with adversity are happy; many, amid great affluence, are

utterly miserable, if only the first bear their hard lot with

patience, and the latter make a foolish use of their prosperity.

Most men, however, cannot part with the belief that each person's

future is fixed from his very birth, but that some things happen

differently from what has been foretold through the impostures of

those who describe what they do not know, and that this destroys the

credit of a science, clear testimonies to which have been given both

by past ages and by our own. In fact, how the son of this same

Thrasyllus predicted Nero's reign I shall relate when the time

comes, not to digress too far from my subject.

That same year the death of Asinius Gallus became known. That he

died of starvation, there was not a doubt; whether of his own choice

or by compulsion, was a question. The emperor was asked whether he

would allow him to be buried, and he blushed not to grant the

favour, and actually blamed the accident which had proved fatal to the

accused before he could be convicted in his presence. Just as if in

a three years' interval an opportunity was wanting for the trial of an

old ex-consul and the father of a number of ex-consuls.

Next Drusus perished, after having prolonged life for eight days

on the most wretched of food, even chewing the stuffing, his bed.

According to some writers, Macro had been instructed that, in case

of Sejanus attempting an armed revolt, he was to hurry the young

prince out of the confinement in which he was detained in the Palace

and put him at the head of the people. Subsequently the emperor, as

a rumour was gaining ground that he was on the point of a

reconciliation with his daughter-in-law and his grandson, chose to

be merciless rather than to relent.

He even bitterly reviled him after his death, taunting him with

nameless abominations and with a spirit bent on his family's ruin

and hostile to the State. And, what seemed most horrible of all, he

ordered a daily journal of all that he said and did to be read in

public. That there had been spies by his side for so many years, to

note his looks, his sighs, and even his whispered thoughts, and that

his grandfather could have heard read, and published all, was scarce

credible. But letters of Attius, a centurion, and Didymus, a freedman,

openly exhibited the names of slave after slave who had respectively

struck or scared Drusus as he was quitting his chamber. The

centurion had actually added, as something highly meritorious, his own

language in all its brutality, and some utterances of the dying man in

which, at first feigning loss of reason, he imprecated in seeming

madness fearful things on Tiberius, and then, when hope of life was

gone, denounced him with a studied and elaborate curse. "As he had

slain a daughter-in-law, a brother's son, and son's sons, and filled

his whole house with bloodshed, so might he pay the full penalty due

to the name and race of his ancestors as well as to future


The Senate clamorously interrupted, with an affectation of horror,

but they were penetrated by alarm and amazement at seeing that a

hitherto cunning prince, who had shrouded his wickedness in mystery,

had waxed so bold as to remove, so to speak, the walls of his house

and display his grandson under a centurion's lash, amid the buffetings

of slaves, craving in vain the last sustenance of life.

Men's grief at all this had not died away when news was heard of

Agrippina. She had lived on, sustained by hope, I suppose, after the

destruction of Sejanus, and, when she found no abatement of horrors,

had voluntarily perished, though possibly nourishment was refused

her and a fiction concocted of a death that might seem self-chosen.

Tiberius, it is certain, vented his wrath in the foulest charges. He

reproached her with unchastity, with having had Asinius Gallus as a

paramour and being driven by his death to loathe existence. But

Agrippina, who could not endure equality and loved to domineer, was

with her masculine aspirations far removed from the frailties of

women. The emperor further observed that she died on the same day on

which Sejanus had paid the penalty of his crime two years before, a

fact, he said, to be recorded; and he made it a boast that she had not

been strangled by the halter and flung down the Gemonian steps. He

received a vote of thanks, and it was decreed that on the

seventeenth of October, the day on which both perished, through all

future years, an offering should be consecrated to Jupiter.

Soon afterwards Cocceius Nerva, a man always at the emperor's

side, a master of law both divine and human, whose position was secure

and health sound, resolved to die. Tiberius, as soon as he knew it,

sat by him and asked his reasons, adding intreaties, and finally

protesting that it would be a burden on his conscience and a blot on

his reputation, if the most intimate of his friends were to fly from

life without any cause for death. Nerva turned away from his

expostulations and persisted in his abstinence from all food. Those

who knew his thoughts said that as he saw more closely into the

miseries of the State, he chose, in anger and alarm, an honourable

death, while he was yet safe and unassailed on.

Meanwhile Agrippina's ruin, strange to say, dragged Plancina with

it. Formerly the wife of Cneius Piso, and one who had openly exulted

at the death of Germanicus, she had been saved, when Piso fell, by the

intreaties of Augusta, and not less by the enmity of Agrippina. When

hatred and favour had alike passed away, justice asserted itself.

Pursued by charges universally notorious, she suffered by her own hand

a penalty tardy rather than undeserved.

Amid the many sorrows which saddened Rome, one cause of grief was

the marriage of Julia, Drusus's daughter and Nero's late wife, into

the humbler family of Rubellius Blandus, whose grandfather many

remembered as a Roman knight from Tibur. At the end of the year the

death of Aelius Lamia, who, after being at last released from the

farce of governing Syria, had become city-prefect, was celebrated with

the honours of a censor's funeral. He was a man of illustrious

descent, and in a hale old age; and the fact of the province having

been withheld gained him additional esteem. Subsequently, on the death

of Flaccus Pomponius, propraetor of Syria, a letter from the emperor

was read, in which he complained that all the best men who were fit to

command armies declined the service, and that he was thus

necessarily driven to intreaties, by which some of the ex-consuls

might be prevailed on to take provinces. He forgot that Arruntius

had been kept at home now for ten years, that he might not go to


That same year Marcus Lepidus also died. I have dwelt at

sufficient length on his moderation and wisdom in my earlier books,

and I need not further enlarge on his noble descent. Assuredly the

family of the Aemilii has been rich in good citizens, and even the

members of that house whose morals were corrupt, still lived with a

certain splendour.

During the consulship of Paulus Fabius and Lucius Vitellius, the

bird called the phoenix, after a long succession of ages, appeared

in Egypt and furnished the most learned men of that country and of

Greece with abundant matter for the discussion of the marvellous

phenomenon. It is my wish to make known all on which they agree with

several things, questionable enough indeed, but not too absurd to be


That it is a creature sacred to the sun, differing from all other

birds in its beak and in the tints of its plumage, is held unanimously

by those who have described its nature. As to the number of years it

lives, there are various accounts. The general tradition says five

hundred years. Some maintain that it is seen at intervals of

fourteen hundred and sixty-one years, and that the former birds flew

into the city called Heliopolis successively in the reigns of

Sesostris, Amasis, and Ptolemy, the third king of the Macedonian

dynasty, with a multitude of companion birds marvelling at the novelty

of the appearance. But all antiquity is of course obscure. From

Ptolemy to Tiberius was a period of less than five hundred years.

Consequently some have supposed that this was a spurious phoenix,

not from the regions of Arabia, and with none of the instincts which

ancient tradition has attributed to the bird. For when the number of

years is completed and death is near, the phoenix, it is said,

builds a nest in the land of its birth and infuses into it a germ of

life from which an offspring arises, whose first care, when fledged,

is to bury its father. This is not rashly done, but taking up a load

of myrrh and having tried its strength by a long flight, as soon as it

is equal to the burden and to the journey, it carries its father's

body, bears it to the altar of the Sun, and leaves it to the flames.

All this is full of doubt and legendary exaggeration. Still, there

is no question that the bird is occasionally seen in Egypt.

Rome meanwhile being a scene of ceaseless bloodshed, Pomponius

Labeo, who was, as I have related, governor of Moesia, severed his

veins and let his life ebb from him. His wife, Paxaea, emulated her

husband. What made such deaths eagerly sought was dread of the

executioner, and the fact too that the condemned, besides forfeiture

of their property, were deprived of burial, while those who decided

their fate themselves, had their bodies interred, and their wills

remained valid, a recompense this for their despatch. The emperor,

however, argued in a letter to the Senate that it had been the

practice of our ancestors, whenever they broke off an intimacy, to

forbid the person their house, and so put an end to friendship.

"This usage he had himself revived in Labeo's case, but Labeo, being

pressed by charges of maladministration in his province and other

crimes, had screened his guilt by bringing odium on another, and had

groundlessly alarmed his wife, who, though criminal, was still free

from danger."

Mamercus Scaurus was then for the second time impeached, a man of

distinguished rank and ability as an advocate, but of infamous life.

He fell, not through the friendship of Sejanus, but through what was

no less powerful to destroy, the enmity of Macro, who practised the

same arts more secretly. Macro's information was grounded on the

subject of a tragedy written by Scaurus, from which he cited some

verses which might be twisted into allusions to Tiberius. But

Servilius and Cornelius, his accusers, alleged adultery with Livia and

the practice of magical rites. Scaurus, as befitted the old house of

the Aemilii, forestalled the fatal sentence at the persuasion of his

wife Sextia, who urged him to die and shared his death.

Still the informers were punished when ever an opportunity occurred.

Servilius and Cornelius, for example, whom the destruction of

Scaurus had made notorious, were outlawed and transported to some

islands for having taken money from Varius Ligur for dropping a

prosecution. Abudius Ruso too, who had been an aedile, in seeking to

imperil Lentulus Gaetulicus, under whom he had commanded a legion,

by alleging that he had fixed on a son of Sejanus for his

son-in-law, was himself actually condemned and banished from Rome.

Gaetulicus at this time was in charge of the legions of Upper Germany,

and had won from them singular affection, as a man of unbounded

kindliness, moderate in his strictness, and popular even with the

neighbouring army through his father-in-law, Lucius Apronius. Hence

rumour persistently affirmed that he had ventured to send the

emperor a letter, reminding him that his alliance with Sejanus had not

originated in his own choice, but in the advice of Tiberius; that he

was himself as liable to be deceived as Tiberius, and that the same

mistake ought not to be held innocent in the prince and be a source of

ruin to others. His loyalty was still untainted and would so remain,

if he was not assaIled by any plot. A successor he should accept as an

announcement of his doom. A compact, so to say, ought to be sealed

between them, by which he should retain his province, and the

emperor be master of all else. Strange as this story was, it derived

credibility from the fact that Gaetulicus alone of all connected

with Sejanus lived in safety and in high favour, Tiberius bearing in

mind the people's hatred, his own extreme age how his government

rested more on prestige than on power.

In the consulship of Caius Cestius and Marcus Servilius, some

Parthian nobles came to Rome without the knowledge of their king

Artabanus. Dread of Germanicus had made that prince faithful to the

Romans and just to his people, but he subsequently changed this

behaviour for insolence towards us and tyranny to his subjects. He was

elated by the wars which he had successfully waged against the

surrounding nations, while he disdained the aged and, as he thought,

unwarlike Tiberius, eagerly coveting Armenia, over which, on the death

of Artaxias, he placed Arsaces, his eldest son. He further added

insult, and sent envoys to reclaim the treasures left by Vonones in

Syria and Cilicia. Then too he insisted on the ancient boundaries of

Persia and Macedonia, and intimated, with a vainglorious threat,

that he meant to seize on the country possessed by Cyrus and

afterwards by Alexander.

The chief adviser of the Parthians in sending the secret embassy was

Sinnaces, a man of distinguished family and corresponding wealth. Next

in influence was Abdus, an eunuch, a class which, far from being

despised among barbarians, actually possesses power. These, with

some other nobles whom they admitted to their counsels, as there was

not a single Arsacid whom they could put on the throne, most of the

family having been murdered by Artabanus or being under age,

demanded that Phraates, son of king Phraates, should be sent from

Rome. "Only a name," they said, "and an authority were wanted; only,

in fact, that, with Caesar's consent, a scion of the house of

Arsaces should show himself on the banks of the Euphrates."

This suited the wishes of Tiberius. He provided Phraates with what

he needed for assuming his father's sovereignty, while he clung to his

purpose of regulating foreign affairs by a crafty policy and keeping

war at a distance. Artabanus meanwhile, hearing of the treacherous

arrangement, was one moment perplexed by apprehension, the next

fired with a longing for revenge. With barbarians, indecision is a

slave's weakness; prompt action king-like. But now expediency

prevailed, and he invited Abdus, under the guise of friendship, to a

banquet, and disabled him by a lingering poison; Sinnaces he put off

by pretexts and presents, and also by various employments. Phraates

meanwhile, on arriving in Syria, where he threw off the Roman fashions

to which for so many years he had been accustomed, and adapted himself

to Parthian habits, unable to endure the customs of his country, was

carried off by an illness. Still, Tiberius did not relinquish his

purpose. He chose Tiridates, of the same stock as Artabanus, to be his

rival, and the Iberian Mithridates to be the instrument of

recovering Armenia, having reconciled him to his brother

Pharasmanes, who held the throne of that country. He then intrusted

the whole of his eastern policy to Lucius Vitellius. The man, I am

aware, had a bad name at Rome, and many a foul story was told of

him. But in the government of provinces he acted with the virtue of

ancient times. He returned, and then, through fear of Caius Caesar and

intimacy with Claudius, he degenerated into a servility so base that

he is regarded by an after-generation as the type of the most

degrading adulation. The beginning of his career was forgotten in

its end, and an old age of infamy effaced the virtues of youth.

Of the petty chiefs Mithridates was the first to persuade

Pharasmanes to aid his enterprise by stratagem and force, and agents

of corruption were found who tempted the servants of Arsaces into

crime by a quantity of gold. At the same instant the Iberians burst

into Armenia with a huge host, and captured the city of Artaxata.

Artabanus, on hearing this, made his son Orodes the instrument of

vengeance. He gave him the Parthian army and despatched men to hire

auxiliaries. Pharasmanes, on the other hand, allied himself with the

Albanians, and procured aid from the Sarmatae, whose highest chiefs

took bribes from both sides, after the fashion of their countrymen,

and engaged themselves in conflicting interests. But the Iberians, who

were masters of the various positions, suddenly poured the Sarmatae

into Armenia by the Caspian route. Meanwhile those who were coming

up to the support of the Parthians were easily kept back, all other

approaches having been closed by the enemy except one, between the sea

and the mountains on the Albanian frontier, which summer rendered

difficult, as there the shallows are flooded by the force of the

Etesian gales. The south wind in winter rolls back the waves, and when

the sea is driven back upon itself, the shallows along the coast,

are exposed.

Meantime, while Orodes was without an ally, Pharasmanes, now

strengthened by reinforcements, challenged him to battle, taunted

him on his refusal, rode up to his camp and harassed his foraging

parties. He often hemmed him in with his picquets in the fashion of

a blockade, till the Parthians, who were unused to such insults,

gathered round the king and demanded battle. Their sole strength was

in cavalry; Pharasmanes was also powerful in infantry, for the

Iberians and Albanians, inhabiting as they did a densely wooded

country, were more inured to hardship and endurance. They claim to

have been descended from the Thessalians, at the period when Jason,

after the departure of Medea and the children born of her, returned

subsequently to the empty palace of Aeetes, and the vacant kingdom

of Colchi. They have many traditions connected with his name and

with the oracle of Phrixus. No one among them would think of

sacrificing a ram, the animal supposed to have conveyed Phrixus,

whether it was really a ram or the figure-head of a ship.

Both sides having been drawn up in battle array, the Parthian leader

expatiated on the empire of the East, and the renown of the

Arsacids, in contrast to the despicable Iberian chief with his

hireling soldiery. Pharasmanes reminded his people that they had

been free from Parthian domination, and that the grander their aims,

the more glory they would win if victorious, the more disgrace and

peril they would incur if they turned their backs. He pointed, as he

spoke, to his own menacing array, and to the Median bands with their

golden embroidery; warriors, as he said, on one side, spoil on the


Among the Sarmatae the general's voice was not alone to be heard.

They encouraged one another not to begin the battle with volleys of

arrows; they must, they said, anticipate attack by a hand to hand

charge. Then followed every variety of conflict. The Parthians,

accustomed to pursue or fly with equal science, deployed their

squadrons, and sought scope for their missiles. The Sarmatae, throwing

aside their bows, which at a shorter range are effective, rushed on

with pikes and swords. Sometimes, as in a cavalry-action, there

would be alternate advances and retreats, then, again, close fighting,

in which, breast to breast, with the clash of arms, they repulsed

the foe or were themselves repulsed. And now the Albanians and

Iberians seized, and hurled the Parthians from their steeds, and

embarrassed their enemy with a double attack, pressed as they were

by the cavalry on the heights and by the nearer blows of the infantry.

Meanwhile Pharasmanes and Orodes, who, as they cheered on the brave

and supported the wavering, were conspicuous to all, and so recognised

each other, rushed to the combat with a shout, with javelins, and

galloping chargers, Pharasmanes with the greater impetuosity, for he

pierced his enemy's helmet at a stroke. But he could not repeat the

blow, as he was hurried onwards by his horse, and the wounded man

was protected by the bravest of his guards. A rumour that he was

slain, which was believed by mistake, struck panic into the Parthians,

and they yielded the victory.

Artabanus very soon marched with the whole strength of his

kingdom, intent on vengeance. The Iberians from their knowledge of the

country fought at an advantage. Still Artabanus did not retreat till

Vitellius had assembled his legions and, by starting a report that

he meant to invade Mesopotamia, raised an alarm of war with Rome.

Armenia was then abandoned, and the fortunes of Artabanus were

overthrown, Vitellius persuading his subjects to forsake a king who

was a tyrant in peace, and ruinously unsuccessful in war. And so

Sinnaces, whose enmity to the prince I have already mentioned, drew

into actual revolt his father Abdageses and others, who had been

secretly in his counsel, and were now after their continued

disasters more eager to fight. By degrees, many flocked to him who,

having been kept in subjection by fear rather than by goodwill, took

courage as soon as they found leaders.

Artabanus had now no resources but in some foreigners who guarded

his person, men exiled from their own homes, who had no perception

of honour, or any scruple about a base act, mere hireling

instruments of crime. With these attendants he hastened his flight

into the remote country on the borders of Scythia, in the hope of aid,

as he was connected by marriage alliances with the Hyrcanians and

Carmanians. Meantime the Parthians, he thought, indulgent as they

are to an absent prince, though restless under his presence, might

turn to a better mind.

Vitellius, as soon as Artabanus had fled and his people were

inclined to have a new king, urged Tiridates to seize the advantage

thus offered, and then led the main strength of the legions and the

allies to the banks of the Euphrates. While they were sacrificing, the

one, after Roman custom, offering a swine, a ram and a bull; the

other, a horse which he had duly prepared as a propitiation to the

river-god, they were informed by the neighbouring inhabitants that the

Euphrates, without any violent rains, was of itself rising to an

immense height, and that the white foam was curling into circles

like a diadem, an omen of a prosperous passage. Some explained it with

more subtlety, of a successful commencement to the enterprise,

which, however, would not be lasting, on the ground, that though a

confident trust might be placed in prognostics given in the earth or

in the heavens, the fluctuating character of rivers exhibited omens

which vanished the same moment.

A bridge of boats having been constructed and the army having

crossed, the first to enter the camp was Ornospades, with several

thousand cavalry. Formerly an exile, he had rendered conspicuous aid

to Tiberius in the completion of the Dalmatic war, and had for this

been rewarded with Roman citizenship. Subsequently, he had again

sought the friendship of his king, by whom he had been raised to

high honour, and appointed governor of the plains, which, being

surrounded by the waters of those famous rivers, the Euphrates and

Tigris, have received the name of Mesopotamia. Soon afterwards,

Sinnaces reinforced the army, and Abdageses, the mainstay of the

party, came with the royal treasure and what belonged to the crown.

Vitellius thought it enough to have displayed the arms of Rome, and he

then bade Tiridates remember his grandfather Phraates, and his

foster-father Caesar, and all that was glorious in both of them, while

the nobles were to show obedience to their king, and respect for us,

each maintaining his honour and his loyalty. This done, he returned

with the legions to Syria.

I have related in sequence the events of two summer-campaigns, as

a relief to the reader's mind from our miseries at home. Though

three years had elapsed since the destruction of Sejanus, neither

time, intreaties, nor sated gratification, all which have a soothing

effect on others, softened Tiberius, or kept him from punishing

doubtful or forgotten offenses as most flagrant and recent crimes.

Under this dread, Fulcinius Trio, unwilling to face an onslaught of

accusers, inserted in his will several terrible imputations on Macro

and on the emperor's principal freedmen, while he taunted the

emperor himself with the mental decay of old age, and the virtual

exile of continuous retirement. Tiberius ordered these insults,

which Trio's heirs had suppressed, to be publicly read, thus showing

his tolerance of free speech in others and despising his own shame,

or, possibly, because he had long been ignorant of the villanies of

Sejanus, and now wished any remarks, however reckless, to published,

and so to ascertain, through invective, if it must be so, the truth,

which flattery obscures. About the same time Granius Marcianus, a

senator, who was accused of treason by Caius Gracchus, laid hands on

himself. Tarius Gratianus too, an ex-praetor, was condemned under

the same law to capital punishment.

A similar fate befell Trebellienus Rufus and Sextius Paconianus.

Trebellienus perished by his own hand; Paconianus was strangled in

prison for having there written some lampoons on the emperor. Tiberius

received the news, no longer parted by the sea, as he had been once,

or through messengers from a distance, but in close proximity to Rome,

so that on the same day, or after the interval of a single night, he

could reply to the despatches of the consuls, and almost behold the

bloodshed as it streamed from house to house, and the strokes of the


At the year's close Poppaeus Sabinus died, a man of somewhat

humble extraction, who had risen by his friendship with two emperors

to the consulship and the honours of a triumph. During twenty-four

years he had the charge of the most important provinces, not for any

remarkable ability, but because he was equal to business and was not

too great for it.

Quintus Plautius and Sextus Papinius were the next consuls. The fact

that that year Lucius Aruseius was put to death did not strike men

as anything horrible, from their familiarity with evil deeds. But

there was a panic when Vibulenus Agrippa, a Roman knight, as soon as

his accusers had finished their case, took from his robe, in the

very Senate-house, a dose of poison, drank it off, and, as he fell

expiring, was hurried away to prison by the prompt hands of lictors,

where the neck of the now lifeless man was crushed with the halter.

Even Tigranes, who had once ruled Armenia and was now impeached, did

not escape the punishment of an ordinary citizen on the strength of

his royal title.

Caius Galba meanwhile and the Blaesi perished by a voluntary

death; Galba, because a harsh letter from the emperor forbade him to

have a province allotted to him; while, as for the Blaesi, the

priesthoods intended for them during the prosperity of their house,

Tiberius had withheld, when that prosperity was shaken, and now

conferred, as vacant offices, on others. This they understood as a

signal of their doom, and acted on it.

Aemilia Lepida too, whose marriage with the younger Drusus I have

already related, who, though she had pursued her husband with

ceaseless accusations, remained unpunished, infamous as she was, as

long as her father Lepidus lived, subsequently fell a victim to the

informers for adultery with a slave. There was no question about her

guilt, and so without an attempt at defence she put an end to her


At this same time the Clitae, a tribe subject to the Cappadocian

Archelaus, retreated to the heights of Mount Taurus, because they were

compelled in Roman fashion to render an account of their revenue and

submit to tribute. There they defended themselves by means of the

nature of the country against the king's unwarlike troops, till Marcus

Trebellius, whom Vitellius, the governor of Syria, sent as his

lieutenant with four thousand legionaries and some picked auxiliaries,

surrounded with his lines two hills occupied by the barbarians, the

lesser of which was named Cadra, the other Davara. Those who dared

to sally out, he reduced to surrender by the sword, the rest by


Tiridates meanwhile, with the consent of the Parthians, received the

submission of Nicephorium, Anthemusias and the other cities, which

having been founded by Macedonians, claim Greek names, also of the

Parthian towns Halus and Artemita. There was a rivalry of joy among

the inhabitants who detested Artabanus, bred as he had been among

the Scythians, for his cruelty, and hoped to find in Tiridates a

kindly spirit from his Roman training.

Seleucia, a powerful and fortified city which had never lapsed

into barbarism, but had clung loyally to its founder Seleucus, assumed

the most marked tone of flattery. Three hundred citizens, chosen for

wealth or wisdom, form a kind of senate, and the people have powers of

their own. When both act in concert, they look with contempt on the

Parthians; as soon as they are at discord, and the respective

leaders invite aid for themselves against their rivals, the ally

summoned to help a faction crushes them all. This had lately

happened in the reign of Artabanus, who, for his own interest, put the

people at the mercy of the nobles. As a fact, popular government

almost amounts to freedom, while the rule of the few approaches

closely to a monarch's caprice.

Seleucia now celebrated the arrival of Tiridates with all the

honours paid to princes of old and all which modern times, with a more

copious inventiveness, have devised. Reproaches were at the same

time heaped on Artabanus, as an Arsacid indeed on his mother's side,

but as in all else degenerate. Tiridates gave the government of

Seleucia to the people. Soon afterwards, as he was deliberating on

what day he should inaugurate his reign, he received letters from

Phraates and Hiero, who held two very powerful provinces, imploring

a brief delay. It was thought best to wait for men of such

commanding influence, and meanwhile Ctesiphon, the seat of empire, was

their chosen destination. But as they postponed their coming from

day to day, the Surena, in the presence of an approving throng,

crowned Tiridates, according to the national usage, with the royal


And now had he instantly made his way to the heart of the country

and to its other tribes, the reluctance of those who wavered, would

have been overpowered, and all to a man would have yielded. By

besieging a fortress into which Artabanus had conveyed his treasure

and his concubines, he gave them time to disown their compact.

Phraates and Hiero, with others who had not united in celebrating

the day fixed for the coronation, some from fear, some out of jealousy

of Abdageses, who then ruled the court and the new king, transferred

their allegiance to Artabanus. They found him in Hyrcania, covered

with filth and procuring sustenance with his bow. He was at first

alarmed under the impression that treachery was intended, but when

they pledged their honour that they had come to restore to him his

dominion, his spirit revived, and he asked what the sudden change

meant. Hiero then spoke insultingly of the boyish years of

Tiridates, hinting that the throne was not held by an Arsacid, but

that a mere empty name was enjoyed by a feeble creature bred in

foreign effeminacy, while the actual power was in the house of


An experienced king, Artabanus knew that men do not necessarily

feign hatred because they are false in friendship. He delayed only

while he was raising auxiliaries in Scythia, and then pushed on in

haste, thus anticipating the plots of enemies and the fickleness of

friends. Wishing to attract popular sympathy, he did not even cast off

his miserable garb. He stooped to wiles and to entreaties, to anything

indeed by which he might allure the wavering and confirm the willing.

He was now approaching the neighbourhood of Seleucia with a large

force, while Tiridates, dismayed by the rumour. and then by the king's

presence in person, was divided in mind, and doubted whether he should

march against him or prolong the war by delay. Those who wished for

battle with its prompt decision argued that ill-arrayed levies

fatigued by a long march could not even in heart be thoroughly

united in obedience, traitors and enemies as they had lately been,

to the prince whom now again they were supporting. Abdageses, however,

advised a retreat into Mesopotamia. There, with a river in their

front, they might in the interval summon to their aid the Armenians

and Elymaeans and other nations in their rear, and then, reinforced by

allies and troops which would be sent by the Roman general, they might

try the fortune of war. This advice prevailed, for Abdageses had the

chief influence and Tiridates was a coward in the face of danger.

But their retreat resembled a flight. The Arabs made a beginning,

and then the rest went to their homes or to the camp of Artabanus,

till Tiridates returned to Syria with a few followers and thus

relieved all from the disgrace of desertion.

That same year Rome suffered from a terrible fire, and part of the

circus near the Aventine hill was burnt, as well as the Aventine

quarter itself. This calamity the emperor turned to his own glory by

paying the values of the houses and blocks of tenements. A hundred

million of sesterces was expended in this munificence, a boon all

the more acceptable to the populace, as Tiberius was rather sparing in

building at his private expense. He raised only two structures even at

the public cost, the temple of Augustus and the stage of Pompey's

theatre, and when these were completed, he did not dedicate them,

either out of contempt for popularity or from his extreme age. Four

commissioners, all husbands of the emperor's granddaughters- Cneius

Domitius, Cassius Longinus, Marcus Vinicius, Rubellius Blandus- were

appointed to assess the damage in each case, and Publius Petronius was

added to their number on the nomination of the consuls. Various

honours were devised and decreed to the emperor such as each man's

ingenuity suggested. It is a question which of these he rejected or

accepted, as the end of his life was so near.

For soon afterwards Tiberius's last consuls, Cneius Acerronius and

Caius Pontius, entered on office, Macro's power being now excessive.

Every day the man cultivated more assiduously than ever the favour

of Caius Caesar, which, indeed, he had never neglected, and after

the death of Claudia, who had, as I have related, been married to

Caius, he had prompted his wife Ennia to inveigle the young prince

by a pretence of love, and to bind him by an engagement of marriage,

and the lad, provided he could secure the throne, shrank from no

conditions. For though he was of an excitable temper, he had

thoroughly learnt the falsehoods of hypocrisy under the loving care of

his grandfather.

This the emperor knew, and he therefore hesitated about

bequeathing the empire, first, between his grandsons. Of these, the

son of Drusus was nearest in blood and natural affection, but he was

still in his childhood. Germanicus's son was in the vigour of youth

and enjoyed the people's favour, a reason for having his grandfather's

hatred. Tiberius had even thought of Claudius, as he was of sedate age

and had a taste for liberal culture, but a weak intellect was

against him. If however he were to seek a successor outside of his

house, he feared that the memory of Augustus and the name of the

Caesars would become a laughing-stock and a scorn. It was, in fact,

not so much popularity in the present for which he cared as for

glory in the future.

Perplexed in mind, exhausted in body, he soon left to destiny a

question to which he was unequal, though he threw out some hints

from which it might be inferred that he foresaw what was to come. He

taunted Macro, in no obscure terms, with forsaking the setting and

looking to the rising sun. Once too when Caius Caesar in a casual

conversation ridiculed Lucius Sulla, he predicted to him that he would

have all Sulla's vices and none of his virtues. At the same moment

he embraced the younger of his two grandsons with a flood of tears,

and, noting the savage face of the other, said, "You will slay this

boy, and will be yourself slain by another." But even while his

strength was fast failing he gave up none of his debaucheries. In

his sufferings he would simulate health, and was wont to jest at the

arts of the physician and at all who, after the age of thirty, require

another man's advice to distinguish between what is beneficial or

hurtful to their constitutions.

At Rome meanwhile were being sown the seeds of bloodshed to come

even after Tiberius's death. Acutia, formerly the wife of Publius

Vitellius, had been accused of treason by Laelius Balbus. When on

her condemnation a reward was being voted to her prosecutor, Junius

Otho, tribune of the people, interposed his veto. Hence a feud between

Vitellius and Otho, ending in Otho's banishment. Then Albucilla,

notorious for the number of her lovers, who had been married to

Satrius Secundus, the betrayer of the late conspiracy, was charged

with irreverence towards the emperor. With her were involved as her

accomplices and paramours Cneius Domitius, Vibius Marsus and Lucius

Arruntius. I have already spoken of the illustrious rank of

Domitius. Marsus too was distinguished by the honours of his ancestors

and by his own attainments. It was, however, stated in the notes of

the proceedings furnished to the Senate that Macro had superintended

the examination of the witnesses and the torture of the slaves, and

the fact that there was no letter from the emperor against the

defendants caused a suspicion that, while he was very feeble and

possibly ignorant of the matter, the charge was to a great extent

invented to gratify Macro's well-known enmity against Arruntius.

And so Domitius and Marsus prolonged their lives, Domitius,

preparing his defence, Marsus, having apparently resolved on

starvation. Arruntius, when his friends advised delay and temporising,

replied that "the same conduct was not becoming in all persons. He had

had enough of life, and all he regretted was that he had endured

amid scorn and peril an old age of anxious fears, long detested by

Sejanus, now by Macro, always, indeed, by some powerful minister,

not for any fault, but as a man who could not tolerate gross

iniquities. Granted the possibility of passing safely through the

few last days of Tiberius. How was he to be secure under the youth

of the coming sovereign? Was it probable that, when Tiberius with

his long experience of affairs was, under the influence of absolute

power, wholly perverted and changed, Caius Caesar, who had hardly

completed his boyhood, was thoroughly ignorant and bred under the

vilest training, would enter on a better course, with Macro for his

guide, who having been selected for his superior wickedness, to

crush Sejanus had by yet more numerous crimes been the scourge of

the State? He now foresaw a still more galling slavery, and

therefore sought to flee alike from the past and from the impending


While he thus spoke like a prophet, he opened his veins. What

followed will be a proof that Arruntius rightly chose death.

Albucilla, having stabbed herself with an ineffectual wound, was by

the Senate's order carried off to prison. Those who had ministered

to her profligacy, Carsidius Sacerdos, an ex-praetor, and Pontius

Fregellanus were sentenced, respectively, to transportation to an

island and to loss of a senator's rank. A like punishment was adjudged

in the case of Laelius Balbus, and, indeed, with intense satisfaction,

as Balbus was noted for his savage eloquence and his eagerness to

assail the innocent.

About the same time Sextus Papinius, who belonged to a family of

consular rank, chose a sudden and shocking death, by throwing

himself from a height. The cause was ascribed to his mother who,

having been repeatedly repulsed in her overtures, had at last by her

arts and seductions driven him to an extremity from which he could

find no escape but death. She was accordingly put on her trial

before the Senate, and, although she grovelled at the knees of the

senators and long urged a parent's grief, the greater weakness of a

woman's mind under such an affliction and other sad and pitiful

pleas of the same painful kind, she was after all banished from Rome

for ten years, till her younger son would have passed the frail period

of youth.

Tiberius's bodily powers were now leaving him, but not his skill

in dissembling. There was the same stern spirit; he had his words

and looks under strict control, and occasionally would try to hide his

weakness, evident as it was, by a forced politeness. After frequent

changes of place, he at last settled down on the promontory of Misenum

in a country-house once owned by Lucius Lucullus. There it was

noted, in this way, that he was drawing near his end. There was a

physician, distinguished in his profession, of the name of

Charicles, usually employed, not indeed to have the direction of the

emperor's varying health, but to put his advice at immediate disposal.

This man, as if he were leaving on business his own, clasped his hand,

with a show of homage, and touched his pulse. Tiberius noticed it.

Whether he was displeased and strove the more to hide his anger, is

a question; at any rate, he ordered the banquet to be renewed, and sat

at the table longer than usual, by way, apparently, of showing

honour to his departing friend. Charicles, however, assured Macro that

his breath was failing and that he would not last more than two

days. All was at once hurry; there were conferences among those on the

spot and despatches to the generals and armies. On the 15th of

March, his breath failing, he was believed to have expired, and

Caius Caesar was going forth with a numerous throng of

congratulating followers to take the first possession of the empire,

when suddenly news came that Tiberius was recovering his voice and

sight, and calling for persons to bring him food to revive him from

his faintness. Then ensued a universal panic, and while the rest

fled hither and thither, every one feigning grief or ignorance,

Caius Caesar, in silent stupor, passed from the highest hopes to the

extremity of apprehension. Macro, nothing daunted, ordered the old

emperor to be smothered under a huge heap of clothes, and all to

quit the entrance-hall.

And so died Tiberius, in the seventy eighth year of his age. Nero

was his father, and he was on both sides descended from the Claudian

house, though his mother passed by adoption, first into the Livian,

then into the Julian family. From earliest infancy, perilous

vicissitudes were his lot. Himself an exile, he was the companion of a

proscribed father, and on being admitted as a stepson into the house

of Augustus, he had to struggle with many rivals, so long as Marcellus

and Agrippa and, subsequently, Caius and Lucius Caesar were in their

glory. Again his brother Drusus enjoyed in a greater degree the

affection of the citizens. But he was more than ever on dangerous

ground after his marriage with Julia, whether he tolerated or

escaped from his wife's profligacy. On his return from Rhodes he ruled

the emperor's now heirless house for twelve years, and the Roman

world, with absolute sway, for about twenty-three. His character too

had its distinct periods. It was a bright time in his life and

reputation, while under Augustus he was a private citizen or held high

offices; a time of reserve and crafty assumption of virtue, as long as

Germanicus and Drusus were alive. Again, while his mother lived, he

was a compound of good and evil; he was infamous for his cruelty,

though he veiled his debaucheries, while he loved or feared Sejanus.

Finally, he plunged into every wickedness and disgrace, when fear

and shame being cast off, he simply indulged his own inclinations.

[The four following books and the beginning of Book XI, which are

lost, contained the history of a period of nearly ten years, from A.D.

37 to A.D. 47. These years included the reign of Caius Caesar

(Caligula), the son of Germanicus by the elder Agrippina, and the

first six years of the reign of Claudius. Caius Caesar's reign was

three years ten months and eight days in duration. Claudius

(Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus), the brother of Germanicus,

succeeded him, at the age of fifty, and reigned from A.D. 41 to A.D.


The Eleventh Book of the Annals opens with the seventh year of

Claudius's reign. The power of his wife Messalina was then at its

height. She was, it seems, jealous of a certain Poppaea Sabina, who is

mentioned in Book XIII., as "having surpassed in beauty all the ladies

of her day." This Poppaea was the daughter of the Poppaeus Sabinus

alluded to in Book VI., and the mother of the more famous Poppaea,

afterwards the wife of the emperor Nero. Messalina contrived to

involve this lady and her lover, Valerius Asiaticus, in a ruinous

charge. Asiaticus had been twice consul, once under Caius Caesar, a

second time under Claudius in A.D. 46. He was rich as well as noble.

The Eleventh Book, as we have it, begins with the account of his

prosecution by means Messalina, who with the help of Lucius Vitellius,

Vitellius, father of the Vitellius, afterwards emperor, effected his


BOOK XI, A.D. 47, 48

MESSALINA believed that Valerius Asiaticus, who had been twice

consul, was one of Poppaea's old lovers. At the same time she was

looking greedily at the gardens which Lucullus had begun and which

Asiaticus was now adorning with singular magnificence, and so she

suborned Suilius to accuse both him and Poppaea. With Suilius was

associated Sosibius, tutor to Britannicus, who was to give Claudius an

apparently friendly warning to beware of a power and wealth which

threatened the throne. Asiaticus, he said, had been the ringleader

in the murder of a Caesar, and then had not feared to face an assembly

of the Roman people, to own the deed, and challenge its glory for

his own. Thus grown famous in the capital, and with a renown widely

spread through the provinces, he was planning a journey to the

armies of Germany. Born at Vienna, and supported by numerous and

powerful connections, he would find it easy to rouse nations allied to

his house. Claudius made no further inquiry, but sent Crispinus,

commander of the Praetorians, with troops in hot haste, as though to

put down a revolt. Crispinus found him at Baiae, loaded him with

chains, and hurried him to Rome.

No hearing before the Senate was granted him. It was in the

emperor's chamber, in the presence of Messalina, that he was heard.

There Suilius accused him of corrupting the troops, of binding them by

bribes and indulgences to share in every crime, of adultery with

Poppaea, and finally of unmanly vice. It was at this last that the

accused broke silence, and burst out with the words, "Question thy own

sons, Suilius;they will own my manhood." Then he entered on his

defence. Claudius he moved profoundly, and he even drew tears from

Messalina. But as she left the chamber to wipe them away, she warned

Vitellius not to let the man escape. She hastened herself to effect

Poppaea's destruction, and hired agents to drive her to suicide by the

terrors of a prison. Caesar meanwhile was so unconscious that a few

days afterwards he asked her husband Scipio, who was dining with

him, why he sat down to table without his wife, and was told in

reply that she had paid the debt of nature.

When Claudius began to deliberate about the acquittal of

Asiaticus, Vitellius, with tears in his eyes, spoke of his old

friendship with the accused, and of their joint homage to the

emperor's mother, Antonia. He then briefly reviewed the services of

Asiaticus to the State, his recent campaign in the invasion of

Britain, and everything else which seemed likely to win compassion,

and suggested that he should be free to choose his death. Claudius's

reply was in the same tone of mercy. Some friends urged on Asiaticus

the quiet death of self-starvation, but he declined it with thanks. He

took his usual exercise, then bathed and dined cheerfully, and

saying that he had better have fallen by the craft of Tiberius or

the fury of Caius Caesar than by the treachery of a woman and the

shameless mouth of Vitellius, he opened his veins, but not till he had

inspected his funeral pyre, and directed its removal to another

spot, lest the smoke should hurt the thick foliage of the trees. So

complete was his calmness even to the last.

The senators were then convoked, and Suilius proceeded to find new

victims in two knights of the first rank who bore the surname of

Petra. The real cause of their destruction was that they had lent

their house for the meetings of Mnester and Poppaea. But it was a

vision of the night that was the actual charge against one of them. He

had, it was alleged, beheld Claudius crowned with a garland of

wheat, the ears of which were turned downwards, and, from this

appearance, he foretold scanty harvests. Some have said that it was

a vine-wreath, of which the leaves were white, which he saw, and

that he interpreted it to signify the death of the emperor after the

turn of autumn. It is, however, beyond dispute that in consequence

of some dream, whatever it was, both the man and his brother perished.

Fifteen hundred thousand sesterces and the decorations of the

praetorship were voted to Crispinus. Vitellius bestowed a million on

Sosibius, for giving Britannicus the benefit of his teaching and

Claudius that of his counsels. I may add that when Scipio was called

on for his opinion, he replied, "As I think what all men think about

the deeds of Poppaea, suppose me to say what all men say." A

graceful compromise this between the affection of the husband and

the necessities of the senator.

Suilius after this plied his accusations without cessation or

pity, and his audacity had many rivals. By assuming to himself all the

functions of laws and magistrates, the emperor had left exposed

everything which invited plunder, and of all articles of public

merchandise nothing was more venal than the treachery of advocates.

Thus it happened that one Samius, a Roman knight of the first rank,

who had paid four hundred thousand sesterces to Suilius, stabbed

himself in the advocate's house, on ascertaining his collusion with

the adversary. Upon this, following the lead of Silius,

consul-elect, whose elevation and fall I shall in due course relate,

the senators rose in a body, and demanded the enforcement of the

Cincian law, an old enactment, which forbade any one to receive a

fee or a gift for pleading a cause.

When the men, at whom this strong censure was levelled, loudly

protested, Silius, who had a quarrel with Suilius, attacked them

with savage energy. He cited as examples the orators of old who had

thought fame with posterity the fairest recompense of eloquence.

And, "apart from this," he said, "the first of noble accomplishments

was debased by sordid services, and even good faith could not be

upheld in its integrity, when men looked at the greatness of their

gains. If law suits turned to no one's profit, there would be fewer of

them. As it was, quarrels, accusations, hatreds and wrongs were

encouraged, in order that, as the violence of disease brings fees to

the physician, so the corruption of the forum might enrich the

advocate. They should remember Caius Asinius and Messala, and, in

later days, Arruntius and Aeserninus, men raised by a blameless life

and by eloquence to the highest honours."

So spoke the consul-elect, and others agreed with him. A

resolution was being framed to bring the guilty under the law of

extortion, when Suilius and Cossutianus and the rest, who saw

themselves threatened with punishment rather than trial, for their

guilt was manifest, gathered round the emperor, and prayed forgiveness

for the past.

When he had nodded assent, they began to plead their cause. "Who,"

they asked, "can be so arrogant as to anticipate in hope an eternity

of renown? It is for the needs and the business of life that the

resource of eloquence is acquired, thanks to which no one for want

of an advocate is at the mercy of the powerful. But eloquence cannot

be obtained for nothing; private affairs are neglected, in order

that a man may devote himself to the business of others. Some

support life by the profession of arms, some by cultivating land. No

work is expected from any one of which he has not before calculated

the profits. It was easy for Asinius and Messala, enriched with the

prizes of the conflict between Antony and Augustus, it was easy for

Arruntius and Aeserninus, the heirs of wealthy families, to assume

grand airs. We have examples at hand. How great were the fees for

which Publius Clodius and Caius Curio were wont to speak! We are

ordinary senators, seeking in the tranquillity of the State for none

but peaceful gains. You must consider the plebeian, how he gains

distinction from the gown. Take away the rewards of a profession,

and the profession must perish." The emperor thought that these

arguments, though less noble, were not without force. He limited the

fee which might be taken to ten thousand sesterces, and those who

exceeded this limit were to be liable to the penalties of extortion.

About this same time Mithridates, of whom I have before spoken as

having ruled Armenia, and having been imprisoned by order of Caius

Caesar, made his way back to his kingdom at the suggestion of Claudius

and in reliance on the help of Pharasmanes. This Pharasmanes, who

was king of the Iberians and Mithridates' brother, now told him that

the Parthians were divided, and that the highest questions of empire

being uncertain, lesser matters were neglected. Gotarzes, among his

many cruelties, had caused the death of his brother Artabanus, with

his wife and son. Hence his people feared for themselves and sent

for Vardanes. Ever ready for daring achievements, Vardanes traversed

375 miles in two days, and drove before him the surprised and

terrified Gotarzes. Without moment's delay, he seized the neighbouring

governments, Seleucia alone refusing his rule. Rage against the place,

which indeed had also revolted from his father, rather than

considerations of policy, made him embarrass himself with the siege of

a strong city, which the defence of a river flowing by it, with

fortifications and supplies, had thoroughly secured. Gotarzes

meanwhile, aided by the resources of the Dahae and Hyrcanians, renewed

the war; and Vardanes, compelled to raise the siege of Seleucia,

encamped on the plains of Bactria.

Then it was that while the forces of the East were divided, and

hesitated which side they should take, the opportunity of occupying

Armenia was presented to Mithridates, who had the vigorous soldiers of

Rome to storm the fortified heights, while his Iberian cavalry scoured

the plain. The Armenians made no resistance after their governor,

Demonax, had ventured on a battle and had been routed. Cotys, king

of Lesser Armenia, to whom some of the nobles inclined, caused some

delay, but he was stopped by a despatch from Claudius, and then

everything passed into the hands of Mithridates, who showed more

cruelty than was wise in a new ruler. The Parthian princes however,

just when they were beginning battle, came to a sudden agreement, on

discovering a plot among their people, which Gotarzes revealed to

his brother. At first they approached each other with hesitation;

then, joining right hands, they promised before the altars of their

gods to punish the treachery of their enemies and to yield one to

the other. Vardanes seemed more capable of retaining rule. Gotarzes,

to avoid all rivalry, retired into the depths of Hyrcania. When

Vardanes returned, Seleucia capitulated to him, seven years after

its revolt, little to the credit of the Parthians, whom a single

city had so long defied.

He then visited the strongest governments, and was eager to

recover Armenia, but was stopped by Vibius Marsus, governor of

Syria, who threatened war. Meanwhile Gotarzes, who repented of

having relinquished his throne, at the solicitation of the nobility,

to whom subjection is a special hardship in peace, collected a

force. Vardanes marched against him to the river Charinda; a fierce

battle was fought over the passage, Vardanes winning a complete

victory, and in a series of successful engagements subduing the

intermediate tribes as far as the river Sindes, which is the

boundary between the Dahae and the Arians. There his successes

terminated. The Parthians, victorious though they were, rebelled

against distant service. So after erecting monuments on which he

recorded his greatness, and the tribute won from peoples from whom

no Arsacid had won it before, he returned covered with glory, and

therefore the more haughty and more intolerable to his subjects than

ever. They arranged a plot, and slew him when he was off his guard and

intent upon the chase. He was still in his first youth, and might have

been one of the illustrious few among aged princes, had he sought to

be loved by his subjects as much as to be feared by his foes.

The murder of Vardanes threw the affairs of Parthia into

confusion, as the people were in doubt who should be summoned to the

throne. Many inclined to Gotarzes, some to Meherdates, a descendant of

Phraates, who was a hostage in our hands. Finally Gotarzes

prevailed. Established in the palace, he drove the Parthians by his

cruelty and profligacy to send a secret entreaty to the Roman

emperor that Meherdates might be allowed to mount the throne of his


It was during this consulship, in the eight hundredth year after the

foundation of Rome and the sixty-fourth after their celebration by

Augustus that the secular games were exhibited. I say nothing of the

calculations of the two princes, which I have sufficiently discussed

in my history of the emperor Domitian; for he also exhibited secular

games, at which indeed, being one of the priesthood of the Fifteen and

praetor at the time, I specially assisted. It is in no boastful spirit

that I mention this, but because this duty has immemorially belonged

to the College of the Fifteen, and the praetors have performed the

chief functions in these ceremonies. While Claudius sat to witness the

games of the circus, some of the young nobility acted on horseback the

battle of Troy. Among them was Britannicus, the emperor's son, and

Lucius Domitius, who became soon afterwards by adoption heir to the

empire with the surname of Nero. The stronger popular enthusiasm which

greeted him was taken to presage his greatness. It was commonly

reported that snakes had been seen by his cradle, which they seemed to

guard, a fabulous tale invented to match the marvels of other lands.

Nero, never a disparager of himself, was wont to say that but one

snake, at most, had been seen in his chamber.

Something however of popular favour was bequeathed to him from the

remembrance of Germanicus, whose only male descendant he was, and

the pity felt for his mother Agrippina was increased by the cruelty of

Messalina, who, always her enemy, and then more furious than ever, was

only kept from planning an accusation and suborning informers by a new

and almost insane passion. She had grown so frantically enamoured of

Caius Silius, the handsomest of the young nobility of Rome, that she

drove from his bed Junia Silana, a high-born lady, and had her lover

wholly to herself. Silius was not unconscious of his wickedness and

his peril; but a refusal would have insured destruction, and he had

some hope of escaping exposure; the prize too was great, so he

consoled himself by awaiting the future and enjoying the present. As

for her, careless of concealment, she went continually with a numerous

retinue to his house, she haunted his steps, showered on him wealth

and honours, and, at last, as though empire had passed to another, the

slaves, the freedmen, the very furniture of the emperor were to be

seen in the possession of the paramour.

Claudius meanwhile, who knew nothing about his wife, and was busy

with his functions as censor, published edicts severely rebuking the

lawlessness of the people in the theatre, when they insulted Caius

Pomponius, an ex-consul, who furnished verses for the stage, and

certain ladies of rank. He introduced too a law restraining the

cruel greed of the usurers, and forbidding them to lend at interest

sums repayable on a father's death. He also conveyed by an aqueduct

into Rome the waters which flow from the hills of Simbrua. And he

likewise invented and published for use some new letters, having

discovered, as he said, that even the Greek alphabet had not been

completed at once.

It was the Egyptians who first symbolized ideas, and that by the

figures of animals. These records, the most ancient of all human

history, are still seen engraved on stone. The Egyptians also claim to

have invented the alphabet, which the Phoenicians, they say, by

means of their superior seamanship, introduced into Greece, and of

which they appropriated the glory, giving out that they had discovered

what they had really been taught. Tradition indeed says that Cadmus,

visiting Greece in a Phoenician fleet, was the teacher of this art

to its yet barbarous tribes. According to one account, it was

Cecrops of Athens or Linus of Thebes, or Palamedes of Argos in

Trojan times who invented the shapes of sixteen letters, and others,

chiefly Simonides, added the rest. In Italy the Etrurians learnt

them from Demaratus of Corinth, and the Aborigines from the Arcadian

Evander. And so the Latin letters have the same form as the oldest

Greek characters. At first too our alphabet was scanty, and

additions were afterwards made. Following this precedent Claudius

added three letters, which were employed during his reign and

subsequently disused. These may still be seen on the tablets of

brass set up in the squares and temples, on which new statutes are


Claudius then brought before the Senate the subject of the college

of "haruspices," that, as he said, "the oldest of Italian sciences

might not be lost through negligence. It had often happened in evil

days for the State that advisers had been summoned at whose suggestion

ceremonies had been restored and observed more duly for the future.

The nobles of Etruria, whether of their own accord or at the

instigation of the Roman Senate, had retained this science, making

it the inheritance of distinct families. It was now less zealously

studied through the general indifference to all sound learning and

to the growth of foreign superstitions. At present all is well, but we

must show gratitude to the favour of Heaven, by taking care that the

rites observed during times of peril may not be forgotten in

prosperity." A resolution of the Senate was accordingly passed,

charging the pontiffs to see what should be retained or reformed

with respect to the "haruspices."

It was in this same year that the Cherusci asked Rome for a king.

They had lost all their nobles in their civil wars, and there was left

but one scion of the royal house, Italicus by name, who lived at Rome.

On the father's side he was descended from Flavus, the brother of

Arminius; his mother was a daughter of Catumerus, chief of the Chatti.

The youth himself was of distinguished beauty, a skilful horseman

and swordsman both after our fashion and that of his country. So the

emperor made him a present of money, furnished him with an escort, and

bade him enter with a good heart on the honours of his house. "Never

before," he said, "had a native of Rome, no hostage but a citizen,

gone to mount a foreign throne." At first his arrival was welcome to

the Germans, and they crowded to pay him court, for he was untainted

by any spirit of faction, and showed the same hearty goodwill to

all, practising sometimes the courtesy and temperance which can

never offend, but oftener those excesses of wine and lust in which

barbarians delight. He was winning fame among his neighbours and

even far beyond them, when some who had found their fortune in party

feuds, jealous of his power, fled to the tribes on the border,

protesting that Germany was being robbed of her ancient freedom, and

that the might of Rome was on the rise. "Is there really," they

said, "no native of this country to fill the place of king without

raising the son of the spy Flavus above all his fellows? It is idle to

put forward the name of Arminius. Had even the son of Arminius come to

the throne after growing to manhood on a hostile soil, he might well

be dreaded, corrupted as he would be by the bread of dependence, by

slavery, by luxury, by all foreign habits. But if Italicus had his

father's spirit, no man, be it remembered, had ever waged war

against his country and his home more savagely than that father." By

these and like appeals they collected a large force. No less

numerous were the partisans of Italicus. "He was no intruder," they

said, "on an unwilling people; he had obeyed a call. Superior as he

was to all others in noble birth, should they not put his valour to

the test, and see whether he showed himself worthy of his uncle

Arminius and his grandfather Catumerus? He need not blush because

his father had never relinquished the loyalty which, with the

consent of the Germans, he had promised to Rome. The name of liberty

was a lying pretext in the mouths of men who, base in private,

dangerous in public life, had nothing to hope except from civil


The people enthusiastically applauded him. After a fierce conflict

among the barbarians, the king was victorious. Subsequently, in his

good fortune, he fell into a despot's pride, was dethroned, was

restored by the help of the Langobardi, and still, in prosperity or

adversity, did mischief to the interests of the Cheruscan nation.

It was during the same period that the Chauci, free, as it happened,

from dissension at home and emboldened by the death of Sanquinius,

made, while Corbulo was on his way, an inroad into Lower Germany,

under the leadership of Gannascus. This man was of the tribe of the

Canninefates, had served long as our auxiliary, had then deserted,

and, getting some light vessels, had made piratical descents specially

on the coast of Gaul, inhabited, he knew, by a wealthy and unwarlike

population. Corbulo meanwhile entered the province with careful

preparation and soon winning a renown of which that campaign was the

beginning, he brought his triremes up the channel of the Rhine and the

rest of his vessels up the estuaries and canals to which they were

adapted. Having sunk the enemy's flotilla, driven out Gannascus, and

brought everything into good order, he restored the discipline of

former days among legions which had forgotten the labours and toils of

the soldier and delighted only in plunder. No one was to fall out of

the line; no one was to fight without orders. At the outposts, on

guard, in the duties of day and of night, they were always to be under

arms. One soldier, it was said, had suffered death for working at

the trenches without his sword, another for wearing nothing as he dug,

but his poniard. These extreme and possibly false stories at least had

their origin in the general's real severity. We may be sure that he

was strict and implacable to serious offences, when such sternness

in regard to trifles could be believed of him.

The fear thus inspired variously affected his own troops and the

enemy. Our men gained fresh valour; the barbarians felt their pride

broken. The Frisians, who had been hostile or disloyal since the

revolt which had been begun by the defeat of Lucius Apronius, gave

hostages and settled down on territories marked out by Corbulo, who,

at the same time, gave them a senate, magistrates, and a constitution.

That they might not throw off their obedience, he built a fort among

them, while he sent envoys to invite the Greater Chauci to

submission and to destroy Gannascus by stratagem. This stealthy

attempt on the life of a deserter and a traitor was not

unsuccessful, nor was it anything ignoble. Yet the Chauci were

violently roused by the man's death, and Corbulo was now sowing the

seeds of another revolt, thus getting a reputation which many liked,

but of which many thought ill. "Why," men asked, "was he irritating

the foe? His disasters will fall on the State. If he is successful, so

famous a hero will be a danger to peace, and a formidable subject

for a timid emperor." Claudius accordingly forbade fresh attacks on

Germany, so emphatically as to order the garrisons to be withdrawn

to the left bank of the Rhine.

Corbulo was actually preparing to encamp on hostile soil when the

despatch reached him. Surprised, as he was, and many as were the

thoughts which crowded on him, thoughts of peril from the emperor,

of scorn from the barbarians, of ridicule from the allies, he said

nothing but this, "Happy the Roman generals of old," and gave the

signal for retreat. To keep his soldiers free from sloth, he dug a

canal of twenty-three miles in length between the Rhine and the Meuse,

as a means of avoiding the uncertain perils of the ocean. The emperor,

though he had forbidden war, yet granted him triumphal distinctions.

Soon afterwards Curtius Rufus obtained the same honour. He had

opened mines in the territory of the Mattiaci for working certain

veins of silver. The produce was small and soon exhausted. The toil

meanwhile of the legions was only to a loss, while they dug channels

for water and constructed below the surface works which are

difficult enough in the open air. Worn out by the labour, and

knowing that similar hardships were endured in several provinces,

the soldiers wrote a secret despatch in the name of the armies,

begging the emperor to give in advance triumphal distinctions to one

to whom he was about to entrust his forces.

Of the birth of Curtius Rufus, whom some affirm to have been the son

of a gladiator, I would not publish a falsehood, while I shrink from

telling the truth. On reaching manhood he attached himself to a

quaestor to whom Africa had been allotted, and was walking alone at

midday in some unfrequented arcade in the town of Adrumetum, when he

saw a female figure of more than human stature, and heard a voice,

"Thou, Rufus, art the man who will one day come into this province

as proconsul." Raised high in hope by such a presage, he returned to

Rome, where, through the lavish expenditure of his friends and his own

vigorous ability, he obtained the quaestorship, and, subsequently,

in competition with well-born candidates, the praetorship, by the vote

of the emperor Tiberius, who threw a veil over the discredit of his

origin, saying, "Curtius Rufus seems to me to be his own ancestor."

Afterwards, throughout a long old age of surly sycophancy to those

above him, of arrogance to those beneath him, and of moroseness

among his equals, he gained the high office of the consulship,

triumphal distinctions, and, at last, the province of Africa. There he

died, and so fulfilled the presage of his destiny.

At Rome meanwhile, without any motive then known or subsequently

ascertained, Cneius Nonius, a Roman knight, was found wearing a

sword amid a crowd who were paying their respects to the emperor.

The man confessed his own guilt when he was being torn in pieces by

torture, but gave up no accomplices, perhaps having none to hide.

During the same consulship, Publius Dolabella proposed that a

spectacle of gladiators should be annually exhibited at the cost of

those who obtained the quaestorship. In our ancestors' days this

honour had been a reward of virtue, and every citizen, with good

qualities to support him, was allowed to compete for office. At

first there were no distinctions even of age, which prevented a man in

his early youth from becoming a consul or a dictator. The quaestors

indeed were appointed while the kings still ruled, and this the

revival by Brutus of the lex curiata plainly shows. The consuls

retained the power of selecting them, till the people bestowed this

office as well as others. The first so created were Valerius Potitus

and Aemilius Mamercus sixty-three years after the expulsion of the

Tarquins, and they were to be attached to the war-department. As the

public business increased, two more were appointed to attend to

affairs at Rome. This number was again doubled, when to the

contributions of Italy was added the tribute of the provinces.

Subsequently Sulla, by one of his laws, provided that twenty should be

elected to fill up the Senate, to which he had intrusted judicial

functions. These functions the knights afterwards recovered, but the

quaestorship was obtained, without expense, by merit in the candidates

or by the good nature of the electors, till at Dolabella's

suggestion it was, so to speak, put up to sale.

In the consulship of Aulus Vitellius and Lucius Vipstanus the

question of filling up the Senate was discussed, and the chief men

of Gallia Comata, as it was called, who had long possessed the

rights of allies and of Roman citizens, sought the privilege of

obtaining public offices at Rome. There was much talk of every kind on

the subject, and it was argued before the emperor with vehement

opposition. "Italy," it was asserted, "is not so feeble as to be

unable to furnish its own capital with a senate. Once our

native-born citizens sufficed for peoples of our own kin, and we are

by no means dissatisfied with the Rome of the past. To this day we

cite examples, which under our old customs the Roman character

exhibited as to valour and renown. Is it a small thing that Veneti and

Insubres have already burst into the Senate-house, unless a mob of

foreigners, a troop of captives, so to say, is now forced upon us?

What distinctions will be left for the remnants of our noble houses,

or for any impoverished senators from Latium? Every place will be

crowded with these millionaires, whose ancestors of the second and

third generations at the head of hostile tribes destroyed our armies

with fire and sword, and actually besieged the divine Julius at

Alesia. These are recent memories. What if there were to rise up the

remembrance of those who fell in Rome's citadel and at her altar by

the hands of these same barbarians! Let them enjoy indeed the title of

citizens, but let them not vulgarise the distinctions of the Senate

and the honours of office."

These and like arguments failed to impress the emperor. He at once

addressed himself to answer them, and thus harangued the assembled

Senate. "My ancestors, the most ancient of whom was made at once a

citizen and a noble of Rome, encourage me to govern by the same policy

of transferring to this city all conspicuous merit, wherever found.

And indeed I know, as facts, that the Julii came from Alba, the

Coruncanii from Camerium, the Porcii from Tusculum, and not to inquire

too minutely into the past, that new members have been brought into

the Senate from Etruria and Lucania and the whole of Italy, that Italy

itself was at last extended to the Alps, to the end that not only

single persons but entire countries and tribes might be united under

our name. We had unshaken peace at home; we prospered in all our

foreign relations, in the days when Italy beyond the Po was admitted

to share our citizenship, and when, enrolling in our ranks the most

vigorous of the provincials, under colour of settling our legions

throughout the world, we recruited our exhausted empire. Are we

sorry that the Balbi came to us from Spain, and other men not less

illustrious from Narbon Gaul? Their descendants are still among us,

and do not yield to us in patriotism.

"What was the ruin of Sparta and Athens, but this, that mighty as

they were in war, they spurned from them as aliens those whom they had

conquered? Our founder Romulus, on the other hand, was so wise that he

fought as enemies and then hailed as fellow-citizens several nations

on the very same day. Strangers have reigned over us. That

freedmen's sons should be intrusted with public offices is not, as

many wrongly think, a sudden innovation, but was a common practice

in the old commonwealth. But, it will be said, we have fought with the

Senones. I suppose then that the Volsci and Aequi never stood in array

against us. Our city was taken by the Gauls. Well, we also gave

hostages to the Etruscans, and passed under the yoke of the

Samnites. On the whole, if you review all our wars, never has one been

finished in a shorter time than that with the Gauls. Thenceforth

they have preserved an unbroken and loyal peace. United as they now

are with us by manners, education, and intermarriage, let them bring

us their gold and their wealth rather than enjoy it in isolation.

Everything, Senators, which we now hold to be of the highest

antiquity, was once new. Plebeian magistrates came after patrician;

Latin magistrates after plebeian; magistrates of other Italian peoples

after Latin. This practice too will establish itself, and what we

are this day justifying by precedents, will be itself a precedent."

The emperor's speech was followed by a decree of the Senate, and the

Aedui were the first to obtain the right of becoming senators at Rome.

This compliment was paid to their ancient alliance, and to the fact

that they alone of the Gauls cling to the name of brothers of the

Roman people.

About the same time the emperor enrolled in the ranks of the

patricians such senators as were of the oldest families, and such as

had had distinguished ancestors. There were now but scanty relics of

the Greater Houses of Romulus and of the Lesser Houses of Lucius

Brutus, as they had been called, and those too were exhausted which

the Dictator Caesar by the Cassian and the emperor Augustus by the

Saenian law had chosen into their place. These acts, as being

welcome to the State, were undertaken with hearty gladness by the

imperial censor. Anxiously considering how he was to rid the Senate of

men of notorious infamy, he preferred a gentle method, recently

devised, to one which accorded with the sternness of antiquity, and

advised each to examine his own case and seek the privilege of

laying aside his rank. Permission, he said, would be readily obtained.

He would publish in the same list those who had been expelled and

those who had been allowed to retire, that by this confounding

together of the decision of the censors and the modesty of voluntary

resignation the disgrace might be softened.

For this, the consul Vipstanus moved that Claudius should be

called "Father of the Senate." The title of "Father of the Country"

had, he argued, been indiscriminately bestowed; new services ought

to be recognized by unusual titles. The emperor, however, himself

stopped the consul's flattery, as extravagant. He closed the

lustrum, the census for which gave a total of 5,984,072 citizens. Then

too ended his blindness as to his domestic affairs. He was soon

compelled to notice and punish his wife's infamies, till he afterwards

craved passionately for an unhallowed union.

Messalina, now grown weary of the very facility of her adulteries,

was rushing into strange excesses, when even Silius, either through

some fatal infatuation or because he imagined that, amid the dangers

which hung over him, danger itself was the best safety, urged the

breaking off of all concealment. "They were not," he said, "in such an

extremity as to have to wait for the emperor's old age. Harmless

measures were for the innocent. Crime once exposed had no refuge but

in audacity. They had accomplices in all who feared the same fate. For

himself, as he had neither wife nor child, he was ready to marry and

to adopt Britannicus. Messalina would have the same power as before,

with the additional advantage of a quiet mind, if only they took

Claudius by surprise, who, though unsuspicious of treachery, was hasty

in his wrath."

The suggestion was coldly received, not because the lady loved her

husband, but from a fear that Silius, after attaining his highest

hopes, would spurn an adulteress, and soon estimate at its true

value the crime which in the midst of peril he had approved. But she

craved the name of wife, for the sake of the monstrous infamy, that

last source of delight to the reckless. She waited only till

Claudius set out for Ostia to perform a sacrifice, and then celebrated

all the solemnities of marriage.

I am well aware that it will seem a fable that any persons in the

world could have been so obtuse in a city which knows everything and

hides nothing, much more, that these persons should have been a

consul-elect and the emperor's wife; that, on an appointed day, before

witnesses duly summoned, they should have come together as if for

the purpose of legitimate marriage; that she should have listened to

the words of the bridegroom's friends, should have sacrificed to the

gods, have taken her place among a company of guests, have lavished

her kisses and caresses, and passed the night in the freedom which

marriage permits. But this is no story to excite wonder; I do but

relate what I have heard and what our fathers have recorded.

The emperor's court indeed shuddered, its powerful personages

especially, the men who had much to fear from a revolution. From

secret whisperings they passed to loud complaints. "When an actor,"

they said, "impudently thrust himself into the imperial chamber, it

certainly brought scandal on the State, but we were a long way from

ruin. Now, a young noble of stately beauty, of vigorous intellect,

with the near prospect of the consulship, is preparing himself for a

loftier ambition. There can be no secret about what is to follow

such a marriage." Doubtless there was thrill of alarm when they

thought of the apathy of Claudius, of his devotion to his wife and

of the many murders perpetrated at Messalina's bidding. On the other

hand, the very good nature of the emperor inspired confident hope that

if they could overpower him by the enormity of the charge, she might

be condemned and crushed before she was accused. The critical point

was this, that he should not hear her defence, and that his ears

should be shut even against her confession.

At first Callistus, of whom I have already spoken in connection with

the assassination of Caius Caesar, Narcissus, who had contrived the

death of Appius, and Pallas, who was then in the height of favour,

debated whether they might not by secret threats turn Messalina from

her passion for Silius, while they concealed all else. Then fearing

that they would be themselves involved in ruin, they abandoned the

idea, Pallas out of cowardice, and Callistus, from his experience of a

former court, remembering that prudent rather than vigorous counsels

insure the maintenance of power. Narcissus persevered, only so far

changing his plan as not to make her aware beforehand by a single word

what was the charge or who was the accuser. Then he eagerly watched

his opportunity, and, as the emperor lingered long at Ostia, he sought

two of the mistresses to whose society Claudius was especially

partial, and, by gifts, by promises, by dwelling on power increased by

the wife's fall, he induced them to undertake the work of the


On this, Calpurnia (that was the woman's name), as soon as she was

allowed a private interview, threw herself at the emperor's knees,

crying out that Messalina was married to Silius. At the same time

she asked Cleopatra, who was standing near and waiting for the

question, whether she knew it. Cleopatra nodding assent, she begged

that Narcissus might be summoned. Narcissus entreated pardon for the

past, for having concealed the scandal while confined to a Vettius

or a Plautius. Even now, he said, he would not make charges of

adultery, and seem to be asking back the palace, the slaves, and the

other belongings of imperial rank. These Silius might enjoy; only,

he must give back the wife and annul the act of marriage. "Do you

know," he said "of your divorce? The people, the army, the Senate

saw the marriage of Silius. Act at once, or the new husband is

master of Rome."

Claudius then summoned all his most powerful friends. First he

questioned Turranius, superintendent of the corn market; next,

Lusius Geta, who commanded the praetorians. When they confessed the

truth, the whole company clamoured in concert that he must go to the

camp, must assure himself of the praetorian cohorts, must think of

safety before he thought of vengeance. It is quite certain that

Claudius was so overwhelmed by terror that he repeatedly asked whether

he was indeed in possession of the empire, whether Silius was still

a subject.

Messalina meanwhile, more wildly profligate than ever, was

celebrating in mid-autumn a representation of the vintage in her new

home. The presses were being trodden; the vats were overflowing; women

girt with skins were dancing, as Bacchanals dance in their worship

or their frenzy. Messalina with flowing hair shook the thyrsus, and

Silius at her side, crowned with ivy and wearing the buskin, moved his

head to some lascivious chorus. It is said that one Vettius Valens

climbed a very lofty tree in sport, and when they asked him what he

saw, replied, "A terrible storm from Ostia." Possibly such

appearance had begun; perhaps, a word dropped by chance became a


Meanwhile no mere rumour but messengers from all parts brought the

news that everything was known to Claudius, and that he was coming,

bent on vengeance. Messalina upon this went to the gardens of

Lucullus; Silius, to conceal his fear, to his business in the forum.

The other guests were flying in all directions when the centurions

appeared and put every one in irons where they found them, either in

the public streets or in hiding. Messalina, though her peril took away

all power of thought, promptly resolved to meet and face her

husband, a course in which she had often found safety; while she

bade Britannicus and Octavia hasten to embrace their father. She

besought Vibidia, the eldest of the Vestal Virgins, to demand audience

of the supreme pontiff and to beg for mercy. Meanwhile, with only

three companions, so lonely did she find herself in a moment, she

traversed the whole length of the city, and, mounting on a cart used

to remove garden refuse, proceeded along the road to Ostia; not

pitied, so overpoweringly hideous were her crimes, by a single person.

There was equal alarm on the emperor's side. They put but little

trust in Geta, who commanded the praetorians, a man swayed with good

case to good or evil. Narcissus in concert with others who dreaded the

same fate, declared that the only hope of safety for the emperor lay

in his transferring for that one day the command of the soldiers to

one of the freedmen, and he offered to undertake it himself. And

that Claudius might not be induced by Lucius Vitellius and Largus

Caecina to repent, while he was riding into Rome, he asked and took

a seat in the emperor's carriage.

It was currently reported in after times that while the emperor

broke into contradictory exclamations, now inveighing against the

infamies of his wife, and now, returning in thought to the remembrance

of his love and of his infant children, Vitellius said nothing but,

"What audacity! what wickedness!" Narcissus indeed kept pressing him

to clear up his ambiguities and let the truth be known, but still he

could not prevail upon him to utter anything that was not vague and

susceptible of any meaning which might be put on it, or upon Largus

Caecina, to do anything but follow his example. And now Messalina

had presented herself, and was insisting that the emperor should

listen to the mother of Octavia and Britannicus, when the accuser

roared out at her the story of Silius and her marriage. At the same

moment, to draw Caesar's eyes away from her, he handed him some papers

which detailed her debaucheries. Soon afterwards, as he was entering

Rome, his children by Messalina were to have shown themselves, had not

Narcissus ordered their removal. Vibidia he could not repel, when,

with a vehemently indignant appeal, she demanded that a wife should

not be given up to death without a hearing. So Narcissus replied

that the emperor would hear her, and that she should have an

opportunity of disproving the charge. Meanwhile the holy virgin was to

go and discharge her sacred duties.

All throughout, Claudius preserved a strange silence; Vitellius

seemed unconscious. Everything was under the freedman's control. By

his order, the paramour's house was thrown open and the emperor

conducted thither. First, on the threshold, he pointed out the

statue of Silius's father, which a decree of the Senate had directed

to be destroyed; next, how the heirlooms of the Neros and the Drusi

had been degraded into the price of infamy. Then he led the emperor,

furious and bursting out in menace, into the camp, where the

soldiers were purposely assembled. Claudius spoke to them a few

words at the dictation of Narcissus. Shame indeed checked the

utterance even of a righteous anger. Instantly there came a shout from

the cohorts, demanding the names of the culprits and their punishment.

Brought before the tribunal, Silius sought neither defence nor

delay, but begged that his death might be hastened. A like courage

made several Roman knights of the first rank desirous of a speedy

doom. Titius Proculus, who had been appointed to watch Messalina and

was now offering his evidence, Vettius Valens, who confessed his

guilt, together with Pompeius Urbicus and Saufellus Trogus from

among her accomplices, were ordered to execution. Decius

Calpurnianus too, commander of the watch, Sulpicius Rufus, who had the

charge of the Games, and Juncus Virgilianus, a senator, were similarly


Mnester alone occasioned a pause. Rending off his clothes, he

insisted on Claudius looking at the scars of his stripes and

remembering his words when he surrendered himself, without reserve, to

Messalina's bidding. The guilt of others had been the result of

presents or of large promises; his, of necessity. He must have been

the first victim had Silius obtained empire.

Caesar was touched by his appeal and inclined to mercy, but his

freedmen prevailed on him not to let any indulgence be shown to a

player when so many illustrious citizens had fallen. "It mattered

not whether he had sinned so greatly from choice or compulsion."

Even the defence of Traulus Montanus, a Roman knight, was not

admitted. A young man of pure life, yet of singular beauty, he had

been summoned and dismissed within the space of one night by

Messalina, who was equally capricious in her passions and dislikes. In

the cases of Suilius Caesoninus and Plautius Lateranus, the extreme

penalty was remitted. The latter was saved by the distinguished

services of his uncle; the former by his very vices, having amid

that abominable throng submitted to the worst degradation.

Messalina meanwhile, in the gardens of Lucullus, was struggling

for life, and writing letters of entreaty, as she alternated between

hope arid fury. In her extremity, it was her pride alone which forsook

her. Had not Narcissus hurried on her death, ruin would have

recoiled on her accuser. Claudius had returned home to an early

banquet; then, in softened mood, when the wine had warmed him, he bade

some one go and tell the "poor creature" (this is the word which

they say he used) to come the morrow and plead her cause. Hearing

this, seeing too that his wrath was subsiding and his passion

returning, and fearing, in the event of delay, the effect of

approaching night and conjugal recollections, Narcissus rushed out,

and ordered the centurions and the tribunes, who were on guard, to

accomplish the deed of blood. Such, he said, was the emperor's

bidding. Evodus, one of the freedmen, was appointed to watch and

complete the affair. Hurrying on before with all speed to the gardens,

he found Messalina stretched upon the ground, while by her side sat

Lepida, her mother, who, though estranged from her daughter in

prosperity, was now melted to pity by her inevitable doom, and urged

her not to wait for the executioner. "Life," she said, "was over;

all that could be looked for was honour in death." But in that

heart, utterly corrupted by profligacy, nothing noble remained. She

still prolonged her tears and idle complaints, till the gates were

forced open by the rush of the new comers, and there stood at her side

the tribune, sternly silent, and the freedman, overwhelming her with

the copious insults of a servile tongue.

Then for the first time she understood her fate and put her hand

to a dagger. In her terror she was applying it ineffectually to her

throat and breast, when a blow from the tribune drove it through

her. Her body was given up to her mother. Claudius was still at the

banquet when they told him that Messalina was dead, without mentioning

whether it was by her own or another's hand. Nor did he ask the

question, but called for the cup and finished his repast as usual.

During the days which followed he showed no sign of hatred or joy or

anger or sadness, in a word, of any human emotion, either when he

looked on her triumphant accusers or on her weeping children. The

Senate assisted his forgetfulness by decreeing that her name and her

statues should be removed from all places, public or private. To

Narcissus were voted the decorations of the quaestorship, a mere

trifle to the pride of one who rose in the height of his power above

Pallas and Callistus.

BOOK XII, A.D. 48-54

THE destruction of Messalina shook the imperial house; for a

strife arose among the freedmen, who should choose a wife for

Claudius, impatient as he was of a single life and submissive to the

rule of wives. The ladies were fired with no less jealousy. Each

insisted on her rank, beauty, and fortune, and pointed to her claims

to such a marriage. But the keenest competition was between Lollia

Paulina, the daughter of Marcus Lollius, an ex-consul, and Julia

Agrippina, the daughter of Germanicus. Callistus favoured the first,

Pallas the second. Aelia Paetina however, of the family of the

Tuberones, had the support of Narcissus. The emperor, who inclined now

one way, now another, as he listened to this or that adviser, summoned

the disputants to a conference and bade them express their opinions

and give their reasons.

Narcissus dwelt on the marriage of years gone by, on the tie of

offspring, for Paetina was the mother of Antonia, and on the advantage

of excluding a new element from his household, by the return of a wife

to whom he was accustomed, and who would assuredly not look with a

stepmother's animosity on Britannicus and Octavia, who were next in

her affections to her own children. Callistus argued that she was

compromised by her long separation, and that were she to be taken

back, she would be supercilious on the strength of it. It would be far

better to introduce Lollia, for, as she had no children of her own,

she would be free from jealousy, and would take the place of a

mother towards her stepchildren.

Pallas again selected Agrippina for special commendation because she

would bring with her Germanicus's grandson, who was thoroughly

worthy of imperial rank, the scion of a noble house and a link to

unite the descendants of the Claudian family. He hoped that a woman

who was the mother of many children and still in the freshness of

youth, would not carry off the grandeur of the Caesars to some other


This advice prevailed, backed up as it was by Agrippina's charms. On

the pretext of her relationship, she paid frequent visits to her

uncle, and so won his heart, that she was preferred to the others,

and, though not yet his wife, already possessed a wife's power. For as

soon as she was sure of her marriage, she began to aim at greater

things, and planned an alliance between Domitius, her son by Cneius

Aenobarbus, and Octavia, the emperor's daughter. This could not be

accomplished without a crime, for the emperor had betrothed Octavia to

Lucius Silanus, a young man otherwise famous, whom he had brought

forward as a candidate for popular favour by the honour of triumphal

distinctions and by a magnificent gladiatorial show. But no difficulty

seemed to be presented by the temper of a sovereign who had neither

partialities nor dislikes, but such as were suggested and dictated

to him.

Vitellius accordingly, who used the name of censor to screen a

slave's trickeries, and looked forward to new despotisms, already

impending, associated himself in Agrippina's plans, with a view to her

favour, and began to bring charges against Silanus, whose sister,

Junia Calvina, a handsome and lively girl, had shortly before become

his daughter-in-law. Here was a starting point for an accuser.

Vitellius put an infamous construction on the somewhat incautious

though not criminal love between the brother and sister. The emperor

listened, for his affection for his daughter inclined him the more

to admit suspicions against his son-in-law. Silanus meanwhile, who

knew nothing of the plot, and happened that year to be praetor, was

suddenly expelled from the Senate by an edict of Vitellius, though the

roll of Senators had been recently reviewed and the lustrum closed.

Claudius at the same time broke off the connection; Silanus was forced

to resign his office, and the one remaining day of his praetorship was

conferred on Eprius Marcellus.

In the year of the consulship of Caius Pompeius and Quintus

Veranius, the marriage arranged between Claudius and Agrippina was

confirmed both by popular rumour and by their own illicit love. Still,

they did not yet dare to celebrate the nuptials in due form, for there

was no precedent for the introduction of a niece into an uncle's

house. It was positively incest, and if disregarded, it would,

people feared, issue in calamity to the State. These scruples ceased

not till Vitellius undertook the management of the matter in his own

way. He asked the emperor whether he would yield to the

recommendations of the people and to the authority of the Senate. When

Claudius replied that he was one among the citizens and could not

resist their unanimous voice, Vitellius requested him to wait in the

palace, while he himself went to the Senate. Protesting that the

supreme interest of the commonwealth was at stake, he begged to be

allowed to speak first, and then began to urge that the very

burdensome labours of the emperor in a world-wide administration,

required assistance, so that, free from domestic cares, he might

consult the public welfare. How again could there be a more virtuous

relief for the mind of an imperial censor than the taking of a wife to

share his prosperity and his troubles, to whom he might intrust his

inmost thoughts and the care of his young children, unused as he was

to luxury and pleasure, and wont from his earliest youth to obey the


Vitellius, having first put forward these arguments in a

conciliatory speech, and met with decided acquiescence from the

Senate, began afresh to point out, that, as they all recommended the

emperor's marriage, they ought to select a lady conspicuous for

noble rank and purity, herself too the mother of children. "It

cannot," he said, "be long a question that Agrippina stands first in

nobility of birth. She has given proof too that she is not barren, and

she has suitable moral qualities. It is, again, a singular advantage

to us, due to divine providence, for a widow to be united to an

emperor who has limited himself to his own lawful wives. We have heard

from our fathers, we have ourselves seen that married women were

seized at the caprice of the Caesars. This is quite alien to the

propriety of our day. Rather let a precedent be now set for the taking

of a wife by an emperor. But, it will be said, marriage with a

brother's daughter is with us a novelty. True; but it is common in

other countries, and there is no law to forbid it. Marriages of

cousins were long unknown, but after a time they became frequent.

Custom adapts itself to expediency, and this novelty will hereafter

take its place among recognized usages."

There were some who rushed out of the Senate passionately protesting

that if the emperor hesitated, they would use violence. A

promiscuous throng assembled, and kept exclaiming that the same too

was the prayer of the Roman people. Claudius without further delay

presented himself in the forum to their congratulations; then entering

the Senate, he asked from them a decree which should decide that for

the future marriages between uncles and brothers' daughters should

be legal. There was, however, found only one person who desired such a

marriage, Alledius Severus, a Roman knight, who, as many said, was

swayed by the influence of Agrippina. Then came a revolution in the

State, and everything was under the control of a woman, who did not,

like Messalina, insult Rome by loose manners. It was a stringent, and,

so to say, masculine despotism; there was sternness and generally

arrogance in public, no sort of immodesty at home, unless it

conduced to power. A boundless greed of wealth was veiled under the

pretext that riches were being accumulated as a prop to the throne.

On the day of the marriage Silanus committed suicide, having up to

that time prolonged his hope of life, or else choosing that day to

heighten the popular indignation. His sister, Calvina, was banished

from Italy. Claudius further added that sacrifices after the

ordinances of King Tullius, and atonements were to be offered by the

pontiffs in the grove of Diana, amid general ridicule at the idea

devising penalties and propitiations for incest at such a time.

Agrippina, that she might not be conspicuous only by her evil deeds,

procured for Annaeus Seneca a remission of his exile, and with it

the praetorship. She thought this would be universally welcome, from

the celebrity of his attainments, and it was her wish too for the

boyhood of Domitius to be trained under so excellent an instructor,

and for them to have the benefit of his counsels in their designs on

the throne. For Seneca, it was believed, was devoted to Agrippina from

a remembrance of her kindness, and an enemy to Claudius from a

bitter sense of wrong.

It was then resolved to delay no longer. Memmius Pollio, the

consul-elect, was induced by great promises to deliver a speech,

praying Claudius to betroth Octavia to Domitius. The match was not

unsuitable to the age of either, and was likely to develop still

more important results. Pollio introduced the motion in much the

same language as Vitellius had lately used. So Octavia was

betrothed, and Domitius, besides his previous relationship, became now

the emperor's affianced son-in-law, and an equal of Britannicus,

through the exertions of his mother and the cunning of those who had

been the accusers of Messalina, and feared the vengeance of her son.

About the same time an embassy from the Parthians, which had been

sent, as I have stated, to solicit the return of Meherdates, was

introduced into the Senate, and delivered a message to the following

effect:- "They were not," they said, "unaware of the treaty of

alliance, nor did their coming imply any revolt from the family of the

Arsacids; indeed, even the son of Vonones, Phraates's grandson, was

with them in their resistance to the despotism of Gotarzes, which

was alike intolerable to the nobility and to the people. Already

brothers, relatives, and distant kin had been swept off by murder

after murder; wives actually pregnant, and tender children were

added to Gotarzes' victims, while, slothful at home and unsuccessful

in war, he made cruelty a screen for his feebleness. Between the

Parthians and ourselves there was an ancient friendship, founded on

a state alliance, and we ought to support allies who were our rivals

in strength, and yet yielded to us out of respect. Kings' sons were

given as hostages, in order that when Parthia was tired of home

rule, it might fall back on the emperor and the Senate, and receive

from them a better sovereign, familiar with Roman habits."

In answer to these and like arguments Claudius began to speak of the

grandeur of Rome and the submissive attitude of the Parthians. He

compared himself to the Divine Augustus, from whom, he reminded

them, they had sought a king, but omitted to mention Tiberius,

though he too had sent them sovereigns. He added some advice for

Meherdates, who was present, and told him not to be thinking of a

despot and his slaves, but rather of a ruler among fellow citizens,

and to practise clemency and justice which barbarians would like the

more for being unused to them. Then he turned to the envoys and

bestowed high praise on the young foster-son of Rome, as one whose

self-control had hitherto been exemplary. "Still," he said, "they must

bear with the caprices of kings, and frequent revolutions were bad.

Rome, sated with her glory, had reached such a height that, she wished

even foreign nations to enjoy repose." Upon this Caius Cassius,

governor of Syria, was commissioned to escort the young prince to

the bank of the Euphrates.

Cassius was at that time pre-eminent for legal learning. The

profession of the soldier is forgotten in a quiet period, and peace

reduces the enterprising and indolent to an equality. But Cassius,

as far as it was possible without war, revived ancient discipline,

kept exercising the legions, in short, used as much diligence and

precaution as if an enemy were threatening him. This conduct he

counted worthy of his ancestors and of the Cassian family which had

won renown even in those countries.

He then summoned those at whose suggestion a king had been sought

from Rome, and having encamped at Zeugma where the river was most

easily fordable and awaited the arrival of the chief men of Parthia

and of Acbarus, king of the Arabs, he reminded Meherdates that the

impulsive enthusiasm of barbarians soon flags from delay or even

changes into treachery, and that therefore he should urge on his

enterprise. The advice was disregarded through the perfidy Acbarus, by

whom the foolish young prince, who thought that the highest position

merely meant self-indulgence, was detained for several days in the

town of Edessa. Although a certain Carenes pressed them to come and

promised easy success if they hastened their arrival, they did not

make for Mesopotamia, which was close to them, but, by a long

detour, for Armenia, then ill-suited to their movements, as winter was


As they approached the plains, wearied with the snows and mountains,

they were joined by the forces of Carenes, and having crossed the

river Tigris they traversed the country of the Adiabeni, whose king

Izates had avowedly embraced the alliance of Meherdates, though

secretly and in better faith he inclined to Gotarzes. In their march

they captured the city of Ninos, the most ancient capital of

Assyria, and a fortress, historically famous, as the spot where the

last battle between Darius and Alexander the power of Persia fell.

Gotarzes meantime was offering vows to the local divinities on a

mountain called Sambulos, with special worship of Hercules, who at a

stated time bids the priests in a dream equip horses for the chase and

place them near his temple. When the horses have been laden with

quivers full of arrows, they scour the forest and at length return

at night with empty quivers, panting violently. Again the god in a

vision of the night reveals to them the track along which he roamed

through the woods, and everywhere slaughtered beasts are found.

Gotarzes, his army not being yet in sufficient force, made the river

Corma a line of defence, and though he was challenged to an engagement

by taunting messages, he contrived delays, shifted his positions and

sent emissaries to corrupt the enemy and bribe them to throw off their

allegiance. Izates of the Adiabeni and then Acbarus of the Arabs

deserted with their troops, with their countrymen's characteristic

fickleness, confirming previous experience, that barbarians prefer

to seek a king from Rome than to keep him. Meherdates, stript of his

powerful auxiliaries and suspecting treachery in the rest, resolved,

as his last resource, to risk everything and try the issue of a

battle. Nor did Gotarzes, who was emboldened by the enemy's diminished

strength, refuse the challenge. They fought with terrible courage

and doubtful result, till Carenes, who having beaten down all

resistance had advanced too far, was surprised by a fresh detachment

in his rear. Then Meherdates in despair yielded to promises from

Parrhaces, one of his father's adherents, and was by his treachery

delivered in chains to the conqueror. Gotarzes taunted him with

being no kinsman of his or of the Arsacids, but a foreigner and a

Roman, and having cut off his ears, bade him live, a memorial of his

own clemency, and a disgrace to us. After this Gotarzes fell ill and

died, and Vonones, who then ruled the Medes, was summoned to the

throne. He was memorable neither for his good nor bad fortune; he

completed a short and inglorious reign, and then the empire of Parthia

passed to his son Vologeses.

Mithridates of Bosporus, meanwhile, who had lost his power and was a

mere outcast, on learning that the Roman general, Didius, and the main

strength of his army had retired, and that Cotys, a young prince

without experience, was left in his new kingdom with a few cohorts

under Julius Aquila, a Roman knight, disdaining both, roused the

neighbouring tribes, and drew deserters to his standard. At last he

collected an army, drove out the king of the Dandaridae, and possessed

himself of his dominions. When this was known, and the invasion of

Bosporus was every moment expected, Aquila and Cotys, seeing that

hostilities had been also resumed by Zorsines, king of the Siraci,

distrusted their own strength, and themselves too sought the

friendship of the foreigner by sending envoys to Eunones, who was then

chief of the Adorsi. There was no difficulty about alliance, when they

pointed to the power of Rome in contrast with the rebel Mithridates.

It was accordingly stipulated that Eunones should engage the enemy

with his cavalry, and the Romans undertake the siege of towns.

Then the army advanced in regular formation, the Adorsi in the van

and the rear, while the centre was strengthened by the cohorts, and

native troops of Bosporus with Roman arms. Thus the enemy was

defeated, and they reached Soza, a town in Dandarica, which

Mithridates had abandoned, where it was thought expedient to leave a

garrison, as the temper of the people was uncertain. Next they marched

on the Siraci, and after crossing the river Panda besieged the city of

Uspe, which stood on high ground, and had the defence of wall and

fosses; only the walls, not being of stone, but of hurdles and

wicker-work with earth between, were too weak to resist an assault.

Towers were raised to a greater height as a means of annoying the

besieged with brands and darts. Had not night stopped the conflict,

the siege would have been begun and finished within one day.

Next day they sent an embassy asking mercy for the freeborn, and

offering ten thousand slaves. As it would have been inhuman to slay

the prisoners, and very difficult to keep them under guard, the

conquerors rejected the offer, preferring that they should perish by

the just doom of war. The signal for massacre was therefore given to

the soldiers, who had mounted the walls by scaling ladders. The

destruction of Uspe struck terror into the rest of the people, who

thought safety impossible when they saw how armies and ramparts,

heights and difficult positions, rivers and cities, alike yielded to

their foe. And so Zorsines, having long considered whether he should

still have regard to the fallen fortunes of Mithridates or to the

kingdom of his fathers, and having at last preferred his country's

interests, gave hostages and prostrated himself before the emperor's

image, to the great glory of the Roman army, which all men knew to

have come after a bloodless victory within three days' march of the

river Tanais. In their return however fortune was not equally

favourable; some of their vessels, as they were sailing back, were

driven on the shores of the Tauri and cut off by the barbarians, who

slew the commander of a cohort and several centurions.

Meanwhile Mithridates, finding arms an unavailing resource,

considered on whose mercy he was to throw himself. He feared his

brother Cotys, who had once been a traitor, then become his open

enemy. No Roman was on the spot of authority sufficient to make his

promises highly valued. So he turned to Eunones, who had no personal

animosity against him, and had been lately strengthened by his

alliance with us. Adapting his dress and expression of countenance

as much as possible to his present condition, he entered the palace,

and throwing himself at the feet of Eunones he exclaimed,

"Mithridates, whom the Romans have sought so many years by land and

sea, stands before you by his own choice. Deal as you please with

the descendant of the great Achaemenes, the only glory of which

enemies have not robbed me."

The great name of Mithridates, his reverse, his prayer, full of

dignity, deeply affected Eunones. He raised the suppliant, and

commended him for having chosen the nation of the Adorsi and his own

good faith in suing for mercy. He sent at the same time envoys to

Caesar with a letter to this effect, that friendship between

emperors of Rome and sovereigns of powerful peoples was primarily

based on a similarity of fortune, and that between himself and

Claudius there was the tie of a common victory. Wars had glorious

endings, whenever matters were settled by an amnesty. The conquered

Zorsines had on this principle been deprived of nothing. For

Mithridates, as he deserved heavier punishment, he asked neither power

nor dominions, only that he might not be led in triumph, and pay the

penalty of death.

Claudius, though merciful to foreign princes, was yet in doubt

whether it were better to receive the captive with a promise of safety

or to claim his surrender by the sword. To this last he was urged by

resentment at his wrongs, and by thirst for vengeance. On the other

hand it was argued that it would be undertaking a war in a country

without roads, on a harbourless sea, against warlike kings and

wandering tribes, on a barren soil; that a weary disgust would come of

tardy movements, and perils of precipitancy; that the glory of victory

would be small, while much disgrace would ensue on defeat. Why

should not the emperor seize the offer and spare the exile, whose

punishment would be the greater, the longer he lived in poverty?

Moved by these considerations, Claudius wrote to Eunones that

Mithridates had certainly merited an extreme and exemplary penalty,

which he was not wanting in power to inflict, but it had been the

principle of his ancestors to show as much forbearance to a

suppliant as they showed persistence against a foe. As for triumphs,

they were won over nations and kings hitherto unconquered.

After this, Mithridates was given up and brought to Rome by Junius

Cilo, the procurator of Pontus. There in the emperor's presence he was

said to have spoken too proudly for his position, and words uttered by

him to the following effect became the popular talk: "I have not

been sent, but have come back to you; if you do not believe me, let me

go and pursue me." He stood too with fearless countenance when he

was exposed to the people's gaze near the Rostra, under military

guard. To Cilo and Aquila were voted, respectively, the consular and

praetorian decorations.

In the same consulship, Agrippina, who was terrible in her hatred

and detested Lollia, for having competed with her for the emperor's

hand, planned an accusation, through an informer who was to tax her

with having consulted astrologers and magicians and the image of the

Clarian Apollo, about the imperial marriage. Upon this, Claudius,

without hearing the accused, first reminded the Senate of her

illustrious rank, that the sister of Lucius Volusius was her mother,

Cotta Messalinus her granduncle, Memmius Regulus formerly her

husband (for of her marriage to Caius Caesar he purposely said

nothing), and then added that she had mischievous designs on the

State, and must have the means of crime taken from her.

Consequently, her property should be confiscated, and she herself

banished from Italy. Thus out of immense wealth only five million

sesterces were left to the exile. Calpurnia too, a lady of high

rank, was ruined, simply because the emperor had praised her beauty in

a casual remark, without any passion for her. And so Agrippina's

resentment stopped short of extreme vengeance. A tribune was

despatched to Lollia, who was to force her to suicide. Next on the

prosecution of the Bithynians, Cadius Rufus, was condemned under the

law against extortion.

Narbon Gaul, for its special reverence of the Senate, received a

privilege. Senators belonging to the province, without seeking the

emperor's approval, were to be allowed to visit their estates, a right

enjoyed by Sicily. Ituraea and Judaea, on the death of their kings,

Sohaemus and Agrippa, were annexed to the province of Syria.

It was also decided that the augury of the public safety, which

for twenty-five years had been neglected, should be revived and

henceforth observed. The emperor likewise widened the sacred precincts

of the capital, in conformity with the ancient usage, according to

which, those who had enlarged the empire were permitted also to extend

the boundaries of Rome. But Roman generals, even after the conquest of

great nations, had never exercised this right, except Lucius Sulla and

the Divine Augustus.

There are various popular accounts of the ambitious and vainglorious

efforts of our kings in this matter. Still, I think, it is interesting

to know accurately the original plan of the precinct, as it was

fixed by Romulus. From the ox market, where we see the brazen statue

of a bull, because that animal is yoked to the plough, a furrow was

drawn to mark out the town, so as to embrace the great altar of

Hercules; then, at regular intervals, stones were placed along the

foot of the Palatine hill to the altar of Consus, soon afterwards,

to the old Courts, and then to the chapel of Larunda. The Roman

forum and the Capitol were not, it was supposed, added to the city

by Romulus, but by Titus Tatius. In time, the precinct was enlarged

with the growth of Rome's fortunes. The boundaries now fixed by

Claudius may be easily recognized, as they are specified in the public


In the consulship of Caius Antistius and Marcus Suilius, the

adoption of Domitius was hastened on by the influence of Pallas. Bound

to Agrippina, first as the promoter of her marriage, then as her

paramour, he still urged Claudius to think of the interests of the

State, and to provide some support for the tender years of

Britannicus. "So," he said, "it had been with the Divine Augustus,

whose stepsons, though he had grandsons to be his stay, had been

promoted; Tiberius too, though he had offspring of his own, had

adopted Germanicus. Claudius also would do well to strengthen

himself with a young prince who could share his cares with him."

Overcome by these arguments, the emperor preferred Domitius to his

own son, though he was but two years older, and made a speech in the

senate, the same in substance as the representations of his

freedman. It was noted by learned men, that no previous example of

adoption into the patrician family of the Claudii was to be found; and

that from Attus Clausus there had been one unbroken line.

However, the emperor received formal thanks, and still more

elaborate flattery was paid to Domitius. A law was passed, adopting

him into the Claudian family with the name of Nero. Agrippina too

was honoured with the title of Augusta. When this had been done, there

was not a person so void of pity as not to feel keen sorrow at the

position of Britannicus. Gradually forsaken by the very slaves who

waited on him, he turned into ridicule the ill-timed attentions of his

stepmother, perceiving their insincerity. For he is said to have had

by no means a dull understanding; and this is either a fact, or

perhaps his perils won him sympathy, and so he possessed the credit of

it, without actual evidence.

Agrippina, to show her power even to the allied nations, procured

the despatch of a colony of veterans to the chief town of the Ubii,

where she was born. The place was named after her. Agrippa, her

grandfather, had, as it happened, received this tribe, when they

crossed the Rhine, under our protection.

During the same time, there was a panic in Upper Germany through

an irruption of plundering bands of Chatti. Thereupon Lucius

Pomponius, who was in command, directed the Vangiones and Nemetes,

with the allied cavalry, to anticipate the raid, and suddenly to

fall upon them from every quarter while they were dispersed. The

general's plan was backed up by the energy of the troops. These were

divided into two columns; and those who marched to the left cut off

the plunderers, just on their return, after a riotous enjoyment of

their spoil, when they were heavy with sleep. It added to the men's

joy that they had rescued from slavery after forty years some

survivors of the defeat of Varus.

The column which took the right-hand and the shorter route,

inflicted greater loss on the enemy who met them, and ventured on a

battle. With much spoil and glory they returned to Mount Taunus, where

Pomponius was waiting with the legions, to see whether the Chatti,

in their eagerness for vengeance, would give him a chance of fighting.

They however fearing to be hemmed in on one side by the Romans, on the

other by the Cherusci, with whom they are perpetually at feud, sent

envoys and hostages to Rome. To Pomponius was decreed the honour of

a triumph; a mere fraction of his renown with the next generation,

with whom his poems constitute his chief glory.

At this same time, Vannius, whom Drusus Caesar had made king of

the Suevi, was driven from his kingdom. In the commencement of his

reign he was renowned and popular with his countrymen; but

subsequently, with long possession, he became a tyrant, and the enmity

of neighbours, joined to intestine strife, was his ruin. Vibillius,

king of the Hermunduri, and Vangio and Sido, sons of a sister of

Vannius, led the movement. Claudius, though often entreated,

declined to interpose by arms in the conflict of the barbarians, and

simply promised Vannius a safe refuge in the event of his expulsion.

He wrote instructions to Publius Atellius Hister, governor of

Pannonia, that he was to have his legions, with some picked

auxiliaries from the province itself, encamped on the riverbank, as

a support to the conquered and a terror to the conqueror, who might

otherwise, in the elation of success, disturb also the peace of our

empire. For an immense host of Ligii, with other tribes, was

advancing, attracted by the fame of the opulent realm which Vannius

had enriched during thirty years of plunder and of tribute.

Vannius's own native force was infantry, and his cavalry was from

the Iazyges of Sarmatia; an army which was no match for his numerous

enemy. Consequently, he determined to maintain himself in fortified

positions, and protract the war.

But the Iazyges, who could not endure a siege, dispersed

themselves throughout the surrounding country and rendered an

engagement inevitable, as the Ligii and Hermunduri had there rushed to

the attack. So Vannius came down out of his fortresses, and though

he was defeated in battle, notwithstanding his reverse, he won some

credit by having fought with his own hand, and received wounds on

his breast. He then fled to the fleet which was awaiting him on the

Danube, and was soon followed by his adherents, who received grants of

land and were settled in Pannonia. Vangio and Sido divided his kingdom

between them; they were admirably loyal to us, and among their

subjects, whether the cause was in themselves or in the nature of

despotism, much loved, while seeking to acquire power, and yet more

hated when they had acquired it.

Meanwhile, in Britain, Publius Ostorius, the propraetor, found

himself confronted by disturbance. The enemy had burst into the

territories of our allies with all the more fury, as they imagined

that a new general would not march against them with winter

beginning and with an army of which he knew nothing. Ostorius, well

aware that first events are those which produce alarm or confidence,

by a rapid movement of his light cohorts, cut down all who opposed

him, pursued those who fled, and lest they should rally, and so an

unquiet and treacherous peace might allow no rest to the general and

his troops, he prepared to disarm all whom he suspected, and to occupy

with encampments the whole country to the Avon and Severn. The

Iceni, a powerful tribe, which war had not weakened, as they had

voluntarily joined our alliance, were the first to resist. At their

instigation the surrounding nations chose as a battlefield a spot

walled in by a rude barrier, with a narrow approach, impenetrable to

cavalry. Through these defences the Roman general, though he had

with him only the allied troops, without the strength of the

legions, attempted to break, and having assigned their positions to

his cohorts, he equipped even his cavalry for the work of infantry.

Then at a given signal they forced the barrier, routing the enemy

who were entangled in their own defences. The rebels, conscious of

their guilt, and finding escape barred, performed many noble feats. In

this battle, Marius Ostorius, the general's son, won the reward for

saving a citizen's life.

The defeat of the Iceni quieted those who were hesitating between

war and peace. Then the army was marched against the Cangi; their

territory was ravaged, spoil taken everywhere without the enemy

venturing on an engagement, or if they attempted to harass our march

by stealthy attacks, their cunning was always punished. And now

Ostorius had advanced within a little distance of the sea, facing

the island Hibernia, when feuds broke out among the Brigantes and

compelled the general's return, for it was his fixed purpose not to

undertake any fresh enterprise till he had consolidated his previous

successes. The Brigantes indeed, when a few who were beginning

hostilities had been slain and the rest pardoned, settled down

quietly; but on the Silures neither terror nor mercy had the least

effect; they persisted in war and could be quelled only by legions

encamped in their country. That this might be the more promptly

effected, a colony of a strong body of veterans was established at

Camulodunum on the conquered lands, as a defence against the rebels,

and as a means of imbuing the allies with respect for our laws.

The army then marched against the Silures, a naturally fierce people

and now full of confidence in the might of Caractacus, who by many

an indecisive and many a successful battle had raised himself far

above all the other generals of the Britons. Inferior in military

strength, but deriving an advantage from the deceptiveness of the

country, he at once shifted the war by a stratagem into the

territory of the Ordovices, where, joined by all who dreaded peace

with us, he resolved on a final struggle. He selected a position for

the engagement in which advance and retreat alike would be difficult

for our men and comparatively easy for his own, and then on some lofty

hills, wherever their sides could be approached by a gentle slope,

he piled up stones to serve as a rampart. A river too of varying depth

was in his front, and his armed bands were drawn up before his


Then too the chieftains of the several tribes went from rank to

rank, encouraging and confirming the spirit of their men by making

light of their fears, kindling their hopes, and by every other warlike

incitement. As for Caractacus, he flew hither and thither,

protesting that that day and that battle would be the beginning of the

recovery of their freedom, or of everlasting bondage. He appealed,

by name, to their forefathers who had driven back the dictator Caesar,

by whose valour they were free from the Roman axe and tribute, and

still preserved inviolate the persons of their wives and of their

children. While he was thus speaking, the host shouted applause; every

warrior bound himself by his national oath not to shrink from

weapons or wounds.

Such enthusiasm confounded the Roman general. The river too in his

face, the rampart they had added to it, the frowning hilltops, the

stern resistance and masses of fighting men everywhere apparent,

daunted him. But his soldiers insisted on battle, exclaiming that

valour could overcome all things; and the prefects and tribunes,

with similar language, stimulated the ardour of the troops. Ostorius

having ascertained by a survey the inaccessible and the assailable

points of the position, led on his furious men, and crossed the

river without difficulty. When he reached the barrier, as long as it

was a fight with missiles, the wounds and the slaughter fell chiefly

on our soldiers; but when he had formed the military testudo, and

the rude, ill-compacted fence of stones was torn down, and it was an

equal hand-to-hand engagement, the barbarians retired to the

heights. Yet even there, both light and heavy-armed soldiers rushed to

the attack; the first harassed the foe with missiles, while the latter

closed with them, and the opposing ranks of the Britons were broken,

destitute as they were of the defence of breast-plates or helmets.

When they faced the auxiliaries, they were felled by the swords and

javelins of our legionaries; if they wheeled round, they were again

met by the sabres and spears of the auxiliaries. It was a glorious

victory; the wife and daughter of Caractacus were captured, and his

brothers too were admitted to surrender.

There is seldom safety for the unfortunate, and Caractacus,

seeking the protection of Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, was

put in chains and delivered up to the conquerors, nine years after the

beginning of the war in Britain. His fame had spread thence, and

travelled to the neighbouring islands and provinces, and was

actually celebrated in Italy. All were eager to see the great man, who

for so many years had defied our power. Even at Rome the name of

Caractacus was no obscure one; and the emperor, while he exalted his

own glory, enhanced the renown of the vanquished. The people were

summoned as to a grand spectacle; the praetorian cohorts were drawn up

under arms in the plain in front of their camp; then came a procession

of the royal vassals, and the ornaments and neck-chains and the spoils

which the king had won in wars with other tribes, were displayed. Next

were to be seen his brothers, his wife and daughter; last of all,

Caractacus himself. All the rest stooped in their fear to abject

supplication; not so the king, who neither by humble look nor speech

sought compassion.

When he was set before the emperor's tribunal, he spoke as

follows: "Had my moderation in prosperity been equal to my noble birth

and fortune, I should have entered this city as your friend rather

than as your captive; and you would not have disdained to receive,

under a treaty of peace, a king descended from illustrious ancestors

and ruling many nations. My present lot is as glorious to you as it is

degrading to myself. I had men and horses, arms and wealth. What

wonder if I parted with them reluctantly? If you Romans choose to lord

it over the world, does it follow that the world is to accept slavery?

Were I to have been at once delivered up as a prisoner, neither my

fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be

followed by oblivion, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an

everlasting memorial of your clemency."

Upon this the emperor granted pardon to Caractacus, to his wife, and

to his brothers. Released from their bonds, they did homage also to

Agrippina who sat near, conspicuous on another throne, in the same

language of praise and gratitude. It was indeed a novelty, quite alien

to ancient manners, for a woman to sit in front of Roman standards. In

fact, Agrippina boasted that she was herself a partner in the empire

which her ancestors had won.

The Senate was then assembled, and speeches were delivered full of

pompous eulogy on the capture of Caractacus. It was as glorious,

they said, as the display of Syphax by Scipio, or of Perses by

Lucius Paulus, or indeed of any captive prince by any of our

generals to the people of Rome. Triumphal distinctions were voted to

Ostorius, who thus far had been successful, but soon afterwards met

with reverses; either because, when Caractacus was out of the way, our

discipline was relaxed under an impression that the war was ended,

or because the enemy, out of compassion for so great a king, was

more ardent in his thirst for vengeance. Instantly they rushed from

all parts on the camp-prefect, and legionary cohorts left to establish

fortified positions among the Silures, and had not speedy succour

arrived from towns and fortresses in the neighbourhood, our forces

would then have been totally destroyed. Even as it was, the

camp-prefect, with eight centurions, and the bravest of the

soldiers, were slain; and shortly afterwards, a foraging party of

our men, with some cavalry squadrons sent to their support, was

utterly routed.

Ostorius then deployed his light cohorts, but even thus he did not

stop the flight, till our legions sustained the brunt of the battle.

Their strength equalized the conflict, which after a while was in

our favour. The enemy fled with trifling loss, as the day was on the

decline. Now began a series of skirmishes, for the most part like

raids, in woods and morasses, with encounters due to chance or to

courage, to mere heedlessness or to calculation, to fury or to lust of

plunder, under directions from the officers, or sometimes even without

their knowledge. Conspicuous above all in stubborn resistance were the

Silures, whose rage was fired by words rumoured to have been spoken by

the Roman general, to the effect, that as the Sugambri had been

formerly destroyed or transplanted into Gaul, so the name of the

Silures ought to be blotted out. Accordingly they cut off two of our

auxiliary cohorts, the rapacity of whose officers let them make

incautious forays; and by liberal gifts of spoil and prisoners to

the other tribes, they were luring them too into revolt, when

Ostorius, worn out by the burden of his anxieties, died, to the joy of

the enemy, who thought that a campaign at least, though not a single

battle, had proved fatal to general whom none could despise.

The emperor on hearing of the death of his representative

appointed Aulus Didius in his place, that the province might not be

left without a governor. Didius, though he quickly arrived, found

matters far from prosperous, for the legion under the command of

Manlius Valens had meanwhile been defeated, and the disaster had

been exaggerated by the enemy to alarm the new general, while he again

magnified it, that he might win the more glory by quelling the

movement or have a fairer excuse if it lasted. This loss too had

been inflicted on us by the Silures, and they were scouring the

country far and wide, till Didius hurried up and dispersed them. After

the capture of Caractacus, Venutius of the Brigantes, as I have

already mentioned, was pre-eminent in military skill; he had long been

loyal to Rome and had been defended by our arms while he was united in

marriage to the queen Cartismandua. Subsequently a quarrel broke out

between them, followed instantly by war, and he then assumed a hostile

attitude also towards us. At first, however, they simply fought

against each other, and Cartismandua by cunning stratagems captured

the brothers and kinsfolk of Venutius. This enraged the enemy, who

were stung with shame at the prospect of falling under the dominion of

a woman. The flower of their youth, picked out for war, invaded her

kingdom. This we had foreseen; some cohorts were sent to her aid and a

sharp contest followed, which was at first doubtful but had a

satisfactory termination.

The legion under the command of Caesius Nasica fought with a similar

result. For Didius, burdened with years and covered with honours,

was content with acting through his officers and merely holding back

the enemy. These transactions, though occurring under two propraetors,

and occupying several years, I have closely connected, lest, if

related separately, they might be less easily remembered. I now return

to the chronological order.

In the fifth consulship of Tiberius Claudius with Sextius

Cornelius Orfitus for his colleague, Nero was prematurely invested

with the dress of manhood, that he might be thought qualified for

political life. The emperor willingly complied with the flatteries

of the Senate who wished Nero to enter on the consulship in his

twentieth year, and meanwhile, as consul-elect, to have pro-consular

authority beyond the limits of the capital with the title of "prince

of the youth of Rome." A donative was also given to the soldiery in

Nero's name, and presents to the city populace. At the games too of

the circus which were then being celebrated to win for him popular

favour, Britannicus wore the dress of boyhood, Nero the triumphal

robe, as they rode in the procession. The people would thus behold the

one with the decorations of a general, the other in a boy's habit, and

would accordingly anticipate their respective destinies. At the same

time those of the centurions and tribunes who pitied the lot of

Britannicus were removed, some on false pretexts, others by way of a

seeming compliment. Even of the freedmen, all who were of

incorruptible fidelity were discarded on the following provocation.

Once when they met, Nero greeted Britannicus by that name and was

greeted in return as Domitius. Agrippina reported this to her husband,

with bitter complaint, as the beginning of a quarrel, as implying,

in fact, contempt of Nero's adoption and a cancelling at home of the

Senate's decree and the people's vote. She said, too, that, if the

perversity of such malignant suggestions were not checked, it would

issue in the ruin of the State. Claudius, enraged by what he took as a

grave charge, punished with banishment or death all his son's best

instructors, and set persons appointed by his stepmother to have the

care of him.

Still Agrippina did not yet dare to attempt her greatest scheme,

unless Lusius Geta and Rufius Crispinus were removed from the

command of the praetorian cohorts; for she thought that they cherished

Messalina's memory and were devoted to her children. Accordingly, as

the emperor's wife persistently affirmed that faction was rife among

these cohorts through the rivalry of the two officers, and that

there would be stricter discipline under one commander, the

appointment was transferred to Burrus Afranius, who had a brilliant

reputation as a soldier, but knew well to whose wish he owed his

promotion. Agrippina, too, continued to exalt her own dignity; she

would enter the Capitol in a chariot, a practice, which being

allowed of old only to the priests and sacred images, increased the

popular reverence for a woman who up to this time was the only

recorded instance of one who, an emperor's daughter, was sister, wife,

and mother of a sovereign. Meanwhile her foremost champion, Vitellius,

in the full tide of his power and in extreme age (so uncertain are the

fortunes of the great) was attacked by an accusation of which Junius

Lupus, a senator, was the author. He was charged with treason and

designs on the throne. The emperor would have lent a ready ear, had

not Agrippina, by threats rather than entreaties, induced him to

sentence the accuser to outlawry. This was all that Vitellius desired.

Several prodigies occurred in that year. Birds of evil omen

perched on the Capitol; houses were thrown down by frequent shocks

of earthquake, and as the panic spread, all the weak were trodden down

in the hurry and confusion of the crowd. Scanty crops too, and

consequent famine were regarded as a token of calamity. Nor were there

merely whispered complaints; while Claudius was administering justice,

the populace crowded round him with a boisterous clamour and drove him

to a corner of the forum, where they violently pressed on him till

he broke through the furious mob with a body of soldiers. It was

ascertained that Rome had provisions for no more than fifteen days,

and it was through the signal bounty of heaven and the mildness of the

winter that its desperate plight was relieved. And yet in past days

Italy used to send supplies for the legions into distant provinces,

and even now it is not a barren soil which causes distress. But we

prefer to cultivate Africa and Egypt, and trust the life of the

Roman people to ships and all their risks.

In the same year war broke out between the Armenians and Iberians,

and was the cause of very serious disturbances between Parthia and

Rome. Vologeses was king of the Parthians; on the mother's side, he

was the offspring of a Greek concubine, and he obtained the throne

by the retirement of his brothers. Pharasmanes had been long in

possession of Iberia, and his brother, Mithridates, ruled Armenia with

our powerful support. There was a son of Pharasmanes named

Rhadamistus, tall and handsome, of singular bodily strength, trained

in all the accomplishments of his countrymen and highly renowned among

his neighbours. He boasted so arrogantly and persistently that his

father's prolonged old age kept back from him the little kingdom of

Iberia as to make no concealment of his ambition. Pharasmanes

accordingly seeing the young prince had power in his grasp and was

strong in the attachment of his people, fearing too his own

declining years, tempted him with other prospects and pointed to

Armenia, which, as he reminded him, he had given to Mithridates

after driving out the Parthians. But open violence, he said, must be

deferred; artful measures, which might crush him unawares, were

better. So Rhadamistus pretended to be at feud with his father as

though his stepmother's hatred was too strong for him, and went to his

uncle. While he was treated by him like a son, with excessive

kindness, he lured the nobles of Armenia into revolutionary schemes,

without the knowledge of Mithridates, who was actually loading him

with honours.

He then assumed a show of reconciliation with his father, to whom he

returned, telling him all that could be accomplished by treachery

was now ready and that he must complete the affair by the sword.

Meanwhile Pharasmanes invented pretexts for war; when he was

fighting with the king of the Albanians and appealing to the Romans

for aid, his brother, he said, had opposed him, and he would now

avenge that wrong by his destruction. At the same time he gave a large

army to his son, who by a sudden invasion drove Mithridates in

terror from the open country and forced him into the fortress of

Gorneas, which was strongly situated and garrisoned by some soldiers

under the command of Caelius Pollio, a camp-prefect, and Casperius,

a centurion.

There is nothing of which barbarians are so ignorant as military

engines and the skilful management of sieges, while that is a branch

of military science which we especially understand. And so Rhadamistus

having attempted the fortified walls in vain or with loss, began a

blockade, and, finding that his assaults were despised, tried to bribe

the rapacity of the camp-prefect. Casperius protested earnestly

against the overthrow of an allied king and of Armenia, the gift of

the Roman people, through iniquity and greed of gain. At last, as

Pollio pleaded the overpowering numbers of the enemy and Rhadamistus

the orders of his father, the centurion stipulated for a truce and

retired, intending, if he could not deter Pharasmanes from further

hostilities, to inform Ummidius Quadratus, the governor of Syria, of

the state of Armenia.

By the centurion's departure the camp prefect was released, so to

say, from surveillance; and he now urged Mithridates to conclude a

treaty. He reminded him of the tie of brotherhood, of the seniority in

age of Pharasmanes, and of their other bonds of kindred, how he was

united by marriage to his brother's daughter, and was himself the

father-in-law of Rhadamistus. "The Iberians," he said, "were not

against peace, though for the moment they were the stronger; the

perfidy of the Armenians was notorious, and he had nothing to fall

back on but a fortress without stores; so he must not hesitate to

prefer a bloodless negotiation to arms." As Mithridates wavered, and

suspected the intentions of the camp-prefect, because he had seduced

one of the king's concubines and was reputed a man who could be bribed

into any wickedness, Casperius meantime went to Pharasmanes, and

required of him that the Iberians should raise the blockade.

Pharasmanes, to his face, replied vaguely and often in a

conciliatory tone, while by secret messages he recommended Rhadamistus

to hurry on the siege by all possible means. Then the price of

infamy was raised, and Pollio by secret corruption induced the

soldiers to demand peace and to threaten that they would abandon the

garrison. Under this compulsion, Mithridates agreed to a day and a

place for negotiation and quitted the fortress.

Rhadamistus at first threw himself into his embraces, feigning

respect and calling him father-in-law and parent. He swore an oath too

that he would do him no violence either by the sword or by poison.

At the same time he drew him into a neighbouring grove, where he

assured him that the appointed sacrifice was prepared for the

confirmation of peace in the presence of the gods. It is a custom of

these princes, whenever they join alliance, to unite their right hands

and bind together the thumbs in a tight knot; then, when the blood has

flowed into the extremities, they let it escape by a slight puncture

and suck it in turn. Such a treaty is thought to have a mysterious

sanctity, as being sealed with the blood of both parties. On this

occasion he who was applying the knot pretended that it had fallen

off, and suddenly seizing the knees of Mithridates flung him to the

ground. At the same moment a rush was made by a number of persons, and

chains were thrown round him. Then he was dragged along by a fetter,

an extreme degradation to a barbarian; and soon the common people,

whom he had held under a harsh sway, heaped insults on him with

menacing gestures, though some, on the contrary, pitied such a reverse

of fortune. His wife followed him with his little children, and filled

every place with her wailings. They were hidden away in different

covered carriages till the orders of Pharasmanes were distinctly

ascertained. The lust of rule was more to him than his brother and his

daughter, and his heart was steeled to any wickedness. Still he spared

his eyes the seeing them slain before his face. Rhadamistus too,

seemingly mindful of his oath, neither unsheathed the sword nor used

poison against his sister and uncle, but had them thrown on the ground

and then smothered them under a mass of heavy clothes. Even the sons

of Mithridates were butchered for having shed tears over their

parent's murder.

Quadratus, learning that Mithridates had been betrayed and that

his kingdom was in the hands of his murderers, summoned a council,

and, having informed them of what had occurred, consulted them whether

he should take vengeance. Few cared for the honour of the State;

most argued in favour of a safe course, saying "that any crime in a

foreign country was to be welcomed with joy, and that the seeds of

strife ought to be actually sown, on the very principle on which Roman

emperors had often under a show of generosity given away this same

kingdom of Armenia to excite the minds of the barbarians.

Rhadamistus might retain his ill-gotten gains, as long as he was hated

and infamous; for this was more to Rome's interest than for him to

have succeeded with glory." To this view they assented, but that

they might not be thought to have approved the crime and receive

contrary orders from the emperor, envoys were sent to Pharasmanes,

requiring him to withdraw from Armenian territory and remove his son.

Julius Pelignus was then procurator of Cappadocia, a man despised

alike for his feebleness of mind and his grotesque personal

appearance. He was however very intimate with Claudius, who, when in

private life, used to beguile the dullness of his leisure with the

society of jesters. This Pelignus collected some provincial

auxiliaries, apparently with the design of recovering Armenia, but,

while he plundered allies instead of enemies, finding himself, through

the desertion of his men and the raids of the barbarians, utterly

defenceless, he went to Rhadamistus, whose gifts so completely

overcame him that he positively encouraged him to assume the ensigns

of royalty, and himself assisted at the ceremony, authorizing and

abetting. When the disgraceful news had spread far and wide, lest

the world might judge of other governors by Pelignus, Helvidius

Priscus was sent in command of a legion to regulate, according to

circumstances, the disordered state of affairs. He quickly crossed

Mount Taurus, and had restored order to a great extent more by

moderation than by force, when he was ordered to return to Syria, that

nothing might arise to provoke a war with Parthia.

For Vologeses, thinking that an opportunity presented itself of

invading Armenia, which, though the possession of his ancestors, was

now through a monstrous crime held by a foreign prince, raised an army

and prepared to establish Tiridates on the throne, so that not a

member of his house might be without kingly power. On the advance of

the Parthians, the Iberians dispersed without a battle, and the

Armenian cities, Artaxata and Tigranocerta, submitted to the yoke.

Then a frightful winter or deficient supplies, with pestilence arising

from both causes, forced Vologeses to abandon his present plans.

Armenia was thus again without a king, and was invaded by Rhadamistus,

who was now fiercer than ever, looking on the people as disloyal and

sure to rebel on the first opportunity. They however, though

accustomed to be slaves, suddenly threw off their tameness and

gathered round the palace in arms.

Rhadamistus had no means of escape but in the swiftness of the

horses which bore him and his wife away. Pregnant as she was, she

endured, somehow or other, out of fear of the enemy and love of her

husband, the first part of the flight, but after a while, when she

felt herself shaken by its continuous speed, she implored to be

rescued by an honourable death from the shame of captivity. He at

first embraced, cheered, and encouraged her, now admiring her heroism,

now filled with a sickening apprehension at the idea of her being left

to any man's mercy. Finally, urged by the intensity of his love and

familiarity with dreadful deeds, he unsheathed his scymitar, and

having stabbed her, dragged her to the bank of the Araxes and

committed her to the stream, so that her very body might be swept

away. Then in headlong flight he hurried to Iberia, his ancestral

kingdom. Zenobia meanwhile (this was her name), as she yet breathed

and showed signs of life on the calm water at the river's edge, was

perceived by some shepherds, who inferring from her noble appearance

that she was no base-born woman, bound up her wound and applied to

it their rustic remedies. As soon as they knew her name and her

adventure, they conveyed her to the city of Artaxata, whence she was

conducted at the public charge to Tiridates, who received her kindly

and treated her as a royal person.

In the consulship of Faustus Sulla and Salvius Otho, Furius

Scribonianus was banished on the ground that he was consulting the

astrologers about the emperor's death. His mother, Junia, was included

in the accusation, as one who still resented the misfortune of exile

which she had suffered in the past. His father, Camillus, had raised

an armed insurrection in Dalmatia, and the emperor in again sparing

a hostile family sought the credit of clemency. But the exile did

not live long after this; whether he was cut off by a natural death,

or by poison, was matter of conflicting rumours, according to people's


A decree of the Senate was then passed for the expulsion of the

astrologers from Italy, stringent but ineffectual. Next the emperor,

in a speech, commended all who, from their limited means,

voluntarily retired from the Senatorian order, while those were

degraded from it who, by retaining their seats, added effrontery to


During these proceedings he proposed to the Senate a penalty on

women who united themselves in marriage to slaves, and it was

decided that those who had thus demeaned themselves, without the

knowledge of the slave's master, should be reduced to slavery; if with

his consent, should be ranked as freedwomen. To Pallas, who, as the

emperor declared, was the author of this proposal, were offered on the

motion of Barea Soranus, consul-elect, the decorations of the

praetorship and fifteen million sesterces. Cornelius Scipio added that

he deserved public thanks for thinking less of his ancient nobility as

a descendant from the kings of Arcadia, than of the welfare of the

State, and allowing himself to be numbered among the emperor's

ministers. Claudius assured them that Pallas was content with the

honour, and that he limited himself to his former poverty. A decree of

the Senate was publicly inscribed on a bronze tablet, heaping the

praises of primitive frugality on a freedman, the possessor of three

hundred million sesterces.

Not equally moderate was his brother, surnamed Felix, who had for

some time been governor of Judaea, and thought that he could do any

evil act with impunity, backed up as he was by such power. It is

true that the Jews had shown symptoms of commotion in a seditious

outbreak, and when they had heard of the assassination of Caius, there

was no hearty submission, as a fear still lingered that any of the

emperors might impose the same orders. Felix meanwhile, by ill-timed

remedies, stimulated disloyal acts; while he had, as a rival in the

worst wickedness, Ventidius Cumanus, who held a part of the

province, which was so divided that Galilea was governed by Cumanus,

Samaria by Felix. The two peoples had long been at feud, and now

less than ever restrained their enmity, from contempt of their rulers.

And accordingly they plundered each other, letting loose bands of

robbers, forming ambuscades, and occasionally fighting battles, and

carrying the spoil and booty to the two procurators, who at first

rejoiced at all this, but, as the mischief grew, they interposed

with an armed force, which was cut to pieces. The flame of war would

have spread through the province, but it was saved by Quadratus,

governor of Syria. In dealing with the Jews, who had been daring

enough to slay our soldiers, there was little hesitation about their

being capitally punished. Some delay indeed was occasioned by

Cumanus and Felix; for Claudius on hearing the causes of the rebellion

had given authority for deciding also the case of these procurators.

Quadratus, however, exhibited Felix as one of the judges, admitting

him to the bench with the view of cowing the ardour of the

prosecutors. And so Cumanus was condemned for the crimes which the two

had committed, and tranquillity was restored to the province.

Not long afterwards some tribes of the wild population of Cilicia,

known as the Clitae, which had often been in commotion, established

a camp, under a leader Troxobor, on their rocky mountains, whence

rushing down on the coast, and on the towns, they dared to do violence

to the farmers and townsfolk, frequently even to the merchants and

shipowners. They besieged the city Anemurium, and routed some troopers

sent from Syria to its rescue under the command of Curtius Severus;

for the rough country in the neighbourhood, suited as it is for the

fighting of infantry, did not allow of cavalry operations. After a

time, Antiochus, king of that coast, having broken the unity of the

barbarian forces, by cajolery of the people and treachery to their

leader, slew Troxobor and a few chiefs, and pacified the rest by

gentle measures.

About the same time, the mountain between Lake Fucinus and the river

Liris was bored through, and that this grand work might be seen by a

multitude of visitors, preparations were made for a naval battle on

the lake, just as formerly Augustus exhibited such a spectacle, in a

basin he had made this side the Tiber, though with light vessels,

and on a smaller scale. Claudius equipped galleys with three and

four banks of oars, and nineteen thousand men; he lined the

circumference of the lake with rafts, that there might be no means

of escape at various points, but he still left full space for the

strength of the crews, the skill of the pilots, the impact of the

vessels, and the usual operations of a seafight. On the raft stood

companies of the praetorian cohorts and cavalry, with a breastwork

in front of them, from which catapults and balistas might be worked.

The rest of the lake was occupied by marines on decked vessels. An

immense multitude from the neighbouring towns, others from Rome

itself, eager to see the sight or to show respect to the emperor,

crowded the banks, the hills, and mountain tops, which thus

resembled a theatre. The emperor, with Agrippina seated near him,

presided; he wore a splendid military cloak, she, a mantle of cloth of

gold. A battle was fought with all the courage of brave men, though it

was between condemned criminals. After much bloodshed they were

released from the necessity of mutual slaughter.

When the sight was over, the outlet of the water was opened. The

careless execution of the work was apparent, the tunnel not having

been bored down so low as the bottom, or middle of the lake.

Consequently after an interval the excavations were deepened, and to

attract a crowd once more, a show of gladiators was exhibited, with

floating pontoons for an infantry engagement. A banquet too was

prepared close to the outflow of the lake, and it was the means of

greatly alarming the whole company, for the water, in the violence

of its outburst, swept away the adjoining parts, shook the more

remote, and spread terror with the tremendous crash. At the same time,

Agrippina availed herself of the emperor's fright to charge Narcissus,

who had been the agent of the work, with avarice and peculation. He

too was not silent, but inveighed against the domineering temper of

her sex, and her extravagant ambition.

In the consulship of Didius Junius and Quintus Haterius, Nero, now

sixteen years of age, married Octavia, the emperor's daughter. Anxious

to distinguish himself by noble pursuits, and the reputation of an

orator, he advocated the cause of the people of Ilium, and having

eloquently recounted how Rome was the offspring of Troy, and Aeneas

the founder of the Julian line, with other old traditions akin to

myths, he gained for his clients exemption from all public burdens.

His pleading too procured for the colony of Bononia, which had been

ruined by a fire, a subvention of ten million sesterces. The

Rhodians also had their freedom restored to them, which had often been

taken away, or confirmed, according to their services to us in our

foreign wars, or their seditious misdeeds at home. Apamea, too,

which had been shaken by an earthquake, had its tribute remitted for

five years.

Claudius, on the other hand, was being prompted to exhibit the worst

cruelty by the artifices of the same Agrippina. On the accusation of

Tarquitius Priscus, she ruined Statilius Taurus, who was famous for

his wealth, and at whose gardens she cast a greedy eye. Priscus had

served under Taurus in his proconsular government of Africa, and after

their return charged him with a few acts of extortion, but

particularly with magical and superstitious practices. Taurus, no

longer able to endure a false accusation and an undeserved

humiliation, put a violent end to his life before the Senate's

decision was pronounced. Tarquitius was however expelled from the

Senate, a point which the senators carried, out of hatred for the

accuser, notwithstanding the intrigues of Agrippina.

That same year the emperor was often heard to say that the legal

decisions of the commissioners of the imperial treasury ought to

have the same force as if pronounced by himself. Lest it might be

supposed that he had stumbled inadvertently into this opinion, its

principle was also secured by a decree of the Senate on a more

complete and ample scale than before. It had indeed already been

arranged by the Divine Augustus that the Roman knights who governed

Egypt should hear causes, and that their decisions were to be as

binding as those of Roman magistrates, and after a time most of the

cases formerly tried by the praetors were submitted to the knights.

Claudius handed over to them the whole administration of justice for

which there had been by sedition or war so many struggles; the

Sempronian laws vesting judicial power in the equestrian order, and

those of Servilius restoring it to the Senate, while it was for this

above everything else that Marius and Sulla fought of old. But those

were days of political conflict between classes, and the results of

victory were binding on the State. Caius Oppius and Cornelius Balbus

were the first who were able, with Caesar's support, to settle

conditions of peace and terms of war. To mention after them the Matii,

Vedii, and other too influential names of Roman knights would be

superfluous, when Claudius, we know, raised freedmen whom he had set

over his household to equality with himself and with the laws.

Next the emperor proposed to grant immunity from taxation to the

people of Cos, and he dwelt much on their antiquity. "The Argives or

Coeus, the father of Latona, were the earliest inhabitants of the

island; soon afterwards, by the arrival of Aesculapius, the art of the

physician was introduced and was practised with much fame by his

descendants." Claudius named them one by one, with the periods in

which they had respectively flourished. He said too that Xenophon,

of whose medical skill he availed himself, was one of the same family,

and that they ought to grant his request and let the people of Cos

dwell free from all tribute in their sacred island, as a place devoted

to the sole service of their god. It was also certain that many

obligations under which they had laid Rome and joint victories with

her might have been recounted. Claudius however did not seek to veil

under any external considerations a concession he had made, with his

usual good nature, to an individual.

Envoys from Byzantium having received audience, in complaining to

the Senate of their heavy burdens, recapitulated their whole

history. Beginning with the treaty which they concluded with us when

we fought against that king of Macedonia whose supposed spurious birth

acquired for him the name of the Pseudo Philip, they reminded us of

the forces which they had afterwards sent against Antiochus, Perses

and Aristonicus, of the aid they had given Antonius in the pirate-war,

of their offers to Sulla, Lucullus, and Pompeius, and then of their

late services to the Caesars, when they were in occupation of a

district peculiarly convenient for the land or sea passage of generals

and armies, as well as for the conveyance of supplies.

It was indeed on that very narrow strait which parts Europe from

Asia, at Europe's furthest extremity, that the Greeks built Byzantium.

When they consulted the Pythian Apollo as to where they should found a

city, the oracle replied that they were to seek a home opposite to the

blind men's country. This obscure hint pointed to the people of

Chalcedon, who, though they arrived there first and saw before

others the advantageous position, chose the worse. For Byzantium has a

fruitful soil and productive seas, as immense shoals of fish pour

out of the Pontus and are driven by the sloping surface of the rocks

under water to quit the windings of the Asiatic shore and take

refuge in these harbours. Consequently the inhabitants were at first

money-making and wealthy traders, but afterwards, under the pressure

of excessive burdens, they petitioned for immunity or at least relief,

and were supported by the emperor, who argued to the Senate that,

exhausted as they were by the late wars in Thrace and Bosporus, they

deserved help. So their tribute was remitted for five years.

In the year of the consulship of Marcus Asinius and Manius Acilius

it was seen to be portended by a succession of prodigies that there

were to be political changes for the worse. The soldiers' standards

and tents were set in a blaze by lightning. A swarm of bees settled on

the summit of the Capitol; births of monsters, half man, half beast,

and of a pig with a hawk's talons, were reported. It was accounted a

portent that every order of magistrates had had its number reduced,

a quaestor, an aedile, a tribune, a praetor and consul having died

within a few months. But Agrippina's terror was the most

conspicuous. Alarmed by some words dropped by Claudius when half

intoxicated, that it was his destiny to have to endure his wives'

infamy and at last punish it, she determined to act without a moment's

delay. First she destroyed Lepida from motives of feminine jealousy.

Lepida indeed as the daughter of the younger Antonia, as the

grandniece of Augustus, the cousin of Agrippina, and sister of her

husband Cneius, thought herself of equally high rank. In beauty,

youth, and wealth they differed but slightly. Both were shameless,

infamous, and intractable, and were rivals in vice as much as in the

advantages they had derived from fortune. It was indeed a desperate

contest whether the aunt or the mother should have most power over

Nero. Lepida tried to win the young prince's heart by flattery and

lavish liberality, while Agrippina on the other hand, who could give

her son empire but could not endure that he should be emperor, was

fierce and full of menace.

It was charged on Lepida that she had made attempts on the Emperor's

consort by magical incantations, and was disturbing the peace of Italy

by an imperfect control of her troops of slaves in Calabria. She was

for this sentenced to death, notwithstanding the vehement opposition

of Narcissus, who, as he more and more suspected Agrippina, was said

to have plainly told his intimate friends that "his destruction was

certain, whether Britannicus or Nero were to be emperor, but that he

was under such obligations to Claudius that he would sacrifice life to

his welfare. Messalina and Silius had been convicted, and now again

there were similar grounds for accusation. If Nero were to rule, or

Britannicus succeed to the throne, he would himself have no claim on

the then reigning sovereign. Meanwhile, a stepmother's treacherous

schemes were convulsing the whole imperial house, with far greater

disgrace than would have resulted from his concealment of the

profligacy of the emperor's former wife. Even as it was, there was

shamelessness enough, seeing that Pallas was her paramour, so that

no one could doubt that she held honour, modesty and her very

person, everything, in short, cheaper than sovereignty."

This, and the like, he was always saying, and he would embrace

Britannicus, expressing earnest wishes for his speedy arrival at a

mature age, and would raise his hand, now to heaven, now to the

young prince, with entreaty that as he grew up, he would drive out his

father's enemies and also take vengeance on the murderers of his


Under this great burden of anxiety, he had an attack of illness, and

went to Sinuessa to recruit his strength with its balmy climate and

salubrious waters. Thereupon, Agrippina, who had long decided on the

crime and eagerly grasped at the opportunity thus offered, and did not

lack instruments, deliberated on the nature of the poison to be

used. The deed would be betrayed by one that was sudden and

instantaneous, while if she chose a slow and lingering poison, there

was a fear that Claudius, when near his end, might, on detecting the

treachery, return to his love for his son. She decided on some rare

compound which might derange his mind and delay death. A person

skilled in such matters was selected, Locusta by name, who had

lately been condemned for poisoning, and had long been retained as one

of the tools of despotism. By this woman's art the poison was

prepared, and it was to be administered by an eunuch, Halotus, who was

accustomed to bring in and taste the dishes.

All the circumstances were subsequently so well known, that

writers of the time have declared that the poison was infused into

some mushrooms, a favourite delicacy, and its effect not at the

instant perceived, from the emperor's lethargic, or intoxicated

condition. His bowels too were relieved, and this seemed to have saved

him. Agrippina was thoroughly dismayed. Fearing the worst, and defying

the immediate obloquy of the deed, she availed herself of the

complicity of Xenophon, the physician, which she had already

secured. Under pretence of helping the emperor's efforts to vomit,

this man, it is supposed, introduced into his throat a feather smeared

with some rapid poison; for he knew that the greatest crimes are

perilous in their inception, but well rewarded after their


Meanwhile the Senate was summoned, and prayers rehearsed by the

consuls and priests for the emperor's recovery, though the lifeless

body was being wrapped in blankets with warm applications, while all

was being arranged to establish Nero on the throne. At first

Agrippina, seemingly overwhelmed by grief and seeking comfort, clasped

Britannicus in her embraces, called him the very image of his

father, and hindered him by every possible device from leaving the

chamber. She also detained his sisters, Antonia and Octavia, closed

every approach to the palace with a military guard, and repeatedly

gave out that the emperor's health was better, so that the soldiers

might be encouraged to hope, and that the fortunate moment foretold by

the astrologers might arrive.

At last, at noon on the 13th of October, the gates of the palace

were suddenly thrown open, and Nero, accompanied by Burrus, went forth

to the cohort which was on guard after military custom. There, at

the suggestion of the commanding officer, he was hailed with joyful

shouts, and set on a litter. Some, it is said, hesitated, and looked

round and asked where Britannicus was; then, when there was no one

to lead a resistance, they yielded to what was offered them. Nero

was conveyed into the camp, and having first spoken suitably to the

occasion and promised a donative after the example of his father's

bounty, he was unanimously greeted as emperor. The decrees of the

Senate followed the voice of the soldiers, and there was no hesitation

in the provinces. Divine honours were decreed to Claudius, and his

funeral rites were solemnized on the same scale as those of

Augustus; for Agrippina strove to emulate the magnificence of her

great-grandmother, Livia. But his will was not publicly read, as the

preference of the stepson to the son might provoke a sense of wrong

and angry feeling in the popular mind.

BOOK XIII, A.D. 54-58

THE first death under the new emperor, that of Junius Silanus,

proconsul of Asia, was, without Nero's knowledge, planned by the

treachery of Agrippina. Not that Silanus had provoked destruction by

any violence of temper, apathetic as he was, and so utterly despised

under former despotisms, that Caius Caesar used to call him the golden

sheep. The truth was that Agrippina, having contrived the murder of

his brother Lucius Silanus, dreaded his vengeance; for it was the

incessant popular talk that preference ought to be given over Nero,

who was scarcely out of his boyhood and had gained the empire by

crime, to a man of mature age, of blameless life, of noble birth, and,

as a point then much regarded, of the line of the Caesars. Silanus

in fact was the son of a great-grandson of Augustus. This was the

cause of his destruction. The agents of the deed were Publius Celer, a

Roman knight, and Helius, a freedman, men who had the charge of the

emperor's domains in Asia. They gave the proconsul poison at a

banquet, too openly to escape discovery.

With no less precipitation, Narcissus, Claudius's freedman, whose

quarrels with Agrippina I have mentioned, was driven to suicide by his

cruel imprisonment and hopeless plight, even against the wishes of

Nero, with whose yet concealed vices he was wonderfully in sympathy

from his rapacity and extravagance.

And now they had proceeded to further murders but for the opposition

of Afranius Burrus and Annaeus Seneca. These two men guided the

emperor's youth with an unity of purpose seldom found where

authority is shared, and though their accomplishments were wholly

different, they had equal influence. Burrus, with his soldier's

discipline and severe manners, Seneca, with lessons of eloquence and a

dignified courtesy, strove alike to confine the frailty of the

prince's youth, should he loathe virtue, within allowable indulgences.

They had both alike to struggle against the domineering spirit of

Agrippina, who inflamed with all the passions of an evil ascendency

had Pallas on her side, at whose suggestion Claudius had ruined

himself by an incestuous marriage and a fatal adoption of a son.

Nero's temper however was not one to submit to slaves, and Pallas,

by a surly arrogance quite beyond a freedman, had provoked disgust.

Still every honour was openly heaped on Agrippina, and to a tribune

who according to military custom asked the watchword, Nero gave "the

best of mothers." The Senate also decreed her two lictors, with the

office of priestess to Claudius, and voted to the late emperor a

censor's funeral, which was soon followed by deification.

On the day of the funeral the prince pronounced Claudius's

panegyric, and while he dwelt on the antiquity of his family and on

the consulships and triumphs of his ancestors, there was enthusiasm

both in himself and his audience. The praise of his graceful

accomplishments, and the remark that during his reign no disaster

had befallen Rome from the foreigner, were heard with favour. When the

speaker passed on to his foresight and wisdom, no one could refrain

from laughter, though the speech, which was composed by Seneca,

exhibited much elegance, as indeed that famous man had an attractive

genius which suited the popular ear of the time. Elderly men who amuse

their leisure with comparing the past and the present, observed that

Nero was the first emperor who needed another man's eloquence. The

dictator Caesar rivalled the greatest orators, and Augustus had an

easy and fluent way of speaking, such as became a sovereign.

Tiberius too thoroughly understood the art of balancing words, and was

sometimes forcible in the expression of his thoughts, or else

intentionally obscure. Even Caius Caesar's disordered intellect did

not wholly mar his faculty of speech. Nor did Claudius, when he

spoke with preparation, lack elegance. Nero from early boyhood

turned his lively genius in other directions; he carved, painted,

sang, or practised the management of horses, occasionally composing

verses which showed that he had the rudiments of learning.

When he had done with his mimicries of sorrow he entered the Senate,

and having first referred to the authority of the senators and the

concurrence of the soldiery, he then dwelt on the counsels and

examples which he had to guide him in the right administration of

empire. "His boyhood," he said, "had not had the taint of civil wars

or domestic feuds, and he brought with him no hatreds, no sense of

wrong, no desire of vengeance." He then sketched the plan of his

future government, carefully avoiding anything which had kindled

recent odium. "He would not," he said, "be judge in all cases, or,

by confining the accuser and the accused within the same walls, let

the power of a few favourites grow dangerously formidable. In his

house there should be nothing venal, nothing open to intrigue; his

private establishment and the State should be kept entirely

distinct. The Senate should retain its ancient powers; Italy and the

State-provinces should plead their causes before the tribunals of

the consuls, who would give them a hearing from the senators. Of the

armies he would himself take charge, as specially entrusted to him."

He was true to his word and several arrangements were made on the

Senate's authority. No one was to receive a fee or a present for

pleading a cause; the quaestors-elect were not to be under the

necessity of exhibiting gladiatorial shows. This was opposed by

Agrippina, as a reversal of the legislation of Claudius, but it was

carried by the senators who used to be summoned to the palace, in

order that she might stand close to a hidden door behind them,

screened by a curtain which was enough to shut her out of sight, but

not out of hearing. When envoys from Armenia were pleading their

nation's cause before Nero, she actually was on the point of

mounting the emperor's tribunal and of presiding with him; but Seneca,

when every one else was paralysed with alarm, motioned to the prince

to go and meet his mother. Thus, by an apparently dutiful act, a

scandalous scene was prevented.

With the close of the year came disquieting rumours that the

Parthians had again broken their bounds and were ravaging Armenia,

from which they had driven Rhadamistus, who, having often possessed

himself of the kingdom and as often been thrust out of it, had now

relinquished hostilities. Rome with its love of talking began to ask

how a prince of scarce seventeen was to encounter and avert this

tremendous peril, how they could fall back on one who was ruled by a

woman; or whether battles and sieges and the other operations of war

could be directed by tutors. "Some, on the contrary, argued that

this was better than it would have been, had Claudius in his feeble

and spiritless old age, when he would certainly have yielded to the

bidding of slaves, been summoned to the hardships of a campaign.

Burrus, at least, and Seneca were known to be men of very varied

experience, and, as for the emperor himself, how far was he really

short of mature age, when Cneius Pompeius and Caesar Octavianus, in

their eighteenth and nineteenth years respectively, bore the brunt

of civil wars? The highest rank chiefly worked through its prestige

and its counsels more than by the sword and hand. The emperor would

give a plain proof whether he was advised by good or bad friends by

putting aside all jealousy and selecting some eminent general,

rather than by promoting out of favouritism, a rich man backed up by


Amidst this and like popular talk, Nero ordered the young recruits

levied in the adjacent provinces to be brought up for the supply of

the legions of the East, and the legions themselves to take up a

position on the Armenian frontier while two princes of old standing,

Agrippa and Antiochus, were to prepare a force for the invasion of the

Parthian territories. The Euphrates too was to be spanned by

bridges; Lesser Armenia was intrusted to Aristobulus, Sophene to

Sohaemus, each with the ensigns of royalty. There rose up at this

crisis a rival to Vologeses in his son Vardanes, and the Parthians

quitted Armenia, apparently intending to defer hostilities.

All this however was described with exaggeration to the Senate, in

the speeches of those members who proposed a public thanksgiving,

and that on the days of the thanksgiving the prince should wear the

triumphal robe and enter Rome in ovation, lastly, that he should

have statues on the same scale as those of Mars the Avenger, and in

the same temple. To their habitual flattery was added a real joy at

his having appointed Domitius Corbulo to secure Armenia, thus opening,

as it seemed, a field to merit. The armies of the East were so divided

that half the auxiliaries and two legions were to remain in the

province of Syria under its governor, Quadratus Ummidius; while

Corbulo was to have an equal number of citizen and allied troops,

together with the auxiliary infantry and cavalry which were in

winter quarters in Cappadocia. The confederate kings were instructed

to obey orders, just as the war might require. But they had a

specially strong liking for Corbulo. That general, with a view to

the prestige which in a new enterprise is supremely powerful, speedily

accomplished his march, and at Aegeae, a city of Cilicia, met

Quadratus who had advanced to the place under an apprehension that,

should Corbulo once enter Armenia to take command of the army, he

would draw all eyes on himself, by his noble stature, his imposing

eloquence, and the impression he would make, not only by his wisdom

and experience, but also by the mere display of showy attributes.

Meantime both sent messages to king Vologeses, advising him to

choose peace rather than war, and to give hostages and so continue the

habitual reverence of his ancestors towards the people of Rome.

Vologeses, wishing to prepare for war at an advantage, or to rid

himself of suspected rivals under the name of hostages, delivered up

some of the noblest of the Arsacids. A centurion, Insteius, sent

perhaps by Ummidius on some previous occasion, received them after

an interview with the king. Corbulo, on knowing this, ordered Arrius

Varus, commander of a cohort, to go and take the hostages. Hence arose

a quarrel between the commander and the centurion, and to stop such

a scene before foreigners, the decision of the matter was left to

the hostages and to the envoys who conducted them. They preferred

Corbulo, for his recent renown, and from a liking which even enemies

felt for him. Then there was a feud between the two generals; Ummidius

complained that he was robbed of what his prudence had achieved, while

Corbulo on the other hand appealed to the fact that Vologeses had

not brought himself to offer hostages till his own appointment to

the conduct of the war turned the king's hopes into fears. Nero, to

compose their differences, directed the issue of a proclamation that

for the successes of Quadratus and Corbulo the laurel was to be

added to the imperial "fasces." I have closely connected these events,

though they extend into another consulship.

The emperor in the same year asked the Senate for a statue to his

father Domitius, and also that the consular decorations might be

conferred on Asconius Labeo, who had been his guardian. Statues to

himself of solid gold and silver he forbade, in opposition to offers

made, and although the Senate passed a vote that the year should begin

with the month of December, in which he was born, he retained for

its commencement, the old sacred associations of the first of January.

Nor would he allow the prosecution of Carinas Celer, a senator, whom a

slave accused, or of Julius Densus, a knight, whose partiality for

Britannicus was construed into a crime.

In the year of his consulship with Lucius Antistius, when the

magistrates were swearing obedience to imperial legislation, he

forbade his colleague to extend the oath to his own enactments, for

which he was warmly praised by the senators, in the hope that his

youthful spirit, elated with the glory won by trifles, would follow on

to nobler aspirations. Then came an act of mercy to Plautius

Lateranus, who had been degraded from his rank for adultery with

Messalina, and whom he now restored, assuring them of his clemency

in a number of speeches which Seneca, to show the purity of his

teaching or to display his genius, published to the world by the

emperor's mouth.

Meanwhile the mother's influence was gradually weakened, as Nero

fell in love with a freedwoman, Acte by name, and took into his

confidence Otho and Claudius Senecio, two young men of fashion, the

first of whom was descended from a family of consular rank, while

Senecio's father was one of the emperor's freedmen. Without the

mother's knowledge, then in spite of her opposition, they had crept

into his favour by debaucheries and equivocal secrets, and even the

prince's older friends did not thwart him, for here was a girl who

without harm to any one gratified his desires, when he loathed his

wife Octavia, high born as she was, and of approved virtue, either

from some fatality, or because vice is overpoweringly attractive. It

was feared too that he might rush into outrages on noble ladies,

were he debarred from this indulgence.

Agrippina, however, raved with a woman's fury about having a

freedwoman for a rival, a slave girl for a daughter-in-law, with

like expressions. Nor would she wait till her son repented or

wearied of his passion. The fouler her reproaches, the more powerfully

did they inflame him, till completely mastered by the strength of

his desire, he threw off all respect for his mother, and put himself

under the guidance of Seneca, one of whose friends, Annaeus Serenus,

had veiled the young prince's intrigue in its beginning by

pretending to be in love with the same woman, and had lent his name as

the ostensible giver of the presents secretly sent by the emperor to

the girl. Then Agrippina, changing her tactics, plied the lad with

various blandishments, and even offered the seclusion of her chamber

for the concealment of indulgences which youth and the highest rank

might claim. She went further; she pleaded guilty to an ill-timed

strictness, and handed over to him the abundance of her wealth,

which nearly approached the imperial treasures, and from having been

of late extreme in her restraint of her son, became now, on the

other hand, lax to excess. The change did not escape Nero; his most

intimate friends dreaded it, and begged him to beware of the arts of a

woman, was always daring and was now false.

It happened at this time that the emperor after inspecting the

apparel in which wives and mothers of the imperial house had been seen

to glitter, selected a jewelled robe and sent it as a gift to his

mother, with the unsparing liberality of one who was bestowing by

preference on her a choice and much coveted present. Agrippina,

however, publicly declared that so far from her wardrobe being

furnished by these gifts, she was really kept out of the remainder,

and that her son was merely dividing with her what he derived wholly

from herself.

Some there were who put even a worse meaning on her words. And so

Nero, furious with those who abetted such arrogance in a woman,

removed Pallas from the charge of the business with which he had

been entrusted by Claudius, and in which he acted, so to say, as the

controller of the throne. The story went that as he was departing with

a great retinue of attendants, the emperor rather wittily remarked

that Pallas was going to swear himself out of office. Pallas had in

truth stipulated that he should not be questioned for anything he

had done in the past, and that his accounts with the State were to

be considered as balanced. Thereupon, with instant fury, Agrippina

rushed into frightful menaces, sparing not the prince's ears her

solemn protest "that Britannicus was now of full age, he who was the

true and worthy heir of his father's sovereignty, which a son, by mere

admission and adoption, was abusing in outrages on his mother. She

shrank not from an utter exposure of the wickedness of that

ill-starred house, of her own marriage, to begin with, and of her

poisoner's craft. All that the gods and she herself had taken care

of was that her stepson was yet alive; with him she would go to the

camp, where on one side should be heard the daughter of Germanicus; on

the other, the crippled Burrus and the exile Seneca, claiming,

forsooth, with disfigured hand, and a pedant's tongue, the

government of the world." As she spoke, she raised her hand in

menace and heaped insults on him, as she appealed to the deified

Claudius, to the infernal shades of the Silani, and to those many

fruitless crimes.

Nero was confounded at this, and as the day was near on which

Britannicus would complete his fourteenth year, he reflected, now on

the domineering temper of his mother, and now again on the character

of the young prince, which a trifling circumstance had lately

tested, sufficient however to gain for him wide popularity. During the

feast of Saturn, amid other pastimes of his playmates, at a game of

lot drawing for king, the lot fell to Nero, upon which he gave all his

other companions different orders, and such as would not put them to

the blush; but when he told Britannicus to step forward and begin a

song, hoping for a laugh at the expense of a boy who knew nothing of

sober, much less of riotous society, the lad with perfect coolness

commenced some verses which hinted at his expulsion from his

father's house and from supreme power. This procured him pity, which

was the more conspicuous, as night with its merriment had stript off

all disguise. Nero saw the reproach and redoubled his hate. Pressed by

Agrippina's menaces, having no charge against his brother and not

daring openly to order his murder, he meditated a secret device and

directed poison to be prepared through the agency of Julius Pollio,

tribune of one of the praetorian cohorts, who had in his custody a

woman under sentence for poisoning, Locusta by name, with a vast

reputation for crime. That every one about the person of Britannicus

should care nothing for right or honour, had long ago been provided

for. He actually received his first dose of poison from his tutors and

passed it off his bowels, as it was rather weak or so qualified as not

at once to prove deadly. But Nero, impatient at such slow progress

in crime, threatened the tribune and ordered the poisoner to execution

for prolonging his anxiety while they were thinking of the popular

talk and planning their own defence. Then they promised that death

should be as sudden as if it were the hurried work of the dagger,

and a rapid poison of previously tested ingredients was prepared close

to the emperor's chamber.

It was customary for the imperial princes to sit during their

meals with other nobles of the same age, in the sight of their

kinsfolk, at a table of their own, furnished somewhat frugally.

There Britannicus was dining, and as what he ate and drank was

always tested by the taste of a select attendant, the following device

was contrived, that the usage might not be dropped or the crime

betrayed by the death of both prince and attendant. A cup as yet

harmless, but extremely hot and already tasted, was handed to

Britannicus; then, on his refusing it because of its warmth, poison

was poured in with some cold water, and this so penetrated his

entire frame that he lost alike voice and breath. There was a stir

among the company; some, taken by surprise, ran hither and thither,

while those whose discernment was keener, remained motionless, with

their eyes fixed on Nero, who, as he still reclined in seeming

unconsciousness, said that this was a common occurrence, from a

periodical epilepsy, with which Britannicus had been afflicted from

his earliest infancy, and that his sight and senses would gradually

return. As for Agrippina, her terror and confusion, though her

countenance struggled to hide it, so visibly appeared, that she was

clearly just as ignorant as was Octavia, Britannicus's own sister. She

saw, in fact, that she was robbed of her only remaining refuge, and

that here was a precedent for parricide. Even Octavia, notwithstanding

her youthful inexperience, had learnt to hide her grief, her

affection, and indeed every emotion.

And so after a brief pause the company resumed its mirth. One and

the same night witnessed Britannicus's death and funeral, preparations

having been already made for his obsequies, which were on a humble

scale. He was however buried in the Campus Martius, amid storms so

violent, that in the popular belief they portended the wrath of heaven

against a crime which many were even inclined to forgive when they

remembered the immemorial feuds of brothers and the impossibility of a

divided throne. It is related by several writers of the period that

many days before the murder, Nero had offered the worst insult to

the boyhood of Britannicus; so that his death could no longer seem a

premature or dreadful event, though it happened at the sacred board,

without even a moment for the embraces of his sisters, hurried on too,

as it was, under the eyes of an enemy, on the sole surviving offspring

of the Claudii, the victim first of dishonour, then of poison. The

emperor apologised for the hasty funeral by reminding people that it

was the practice of our ancestors to withdraw from view any grievously

untimely death, and not to dwell on it with panegyrics or display. For

himself, he said, that as he had now lost a brother's help, his

remaining hopes centred in the State, and all the more tenderness

ought to be shown by the Senate and people towards a prince who was

the only survivor of a family born to the highest greatness.

He then enriched his most powerful friends with liberal presents.

Some there were who reproached men of austere professions with

having on such an occasion divided houses and estates among

themselves, like so much spoil. It was the belief of others that a

pressure had been put on them by the emperor, who, conscious as he was

of guilt, hoped for merciful consideration if he could secure the most

important men by wholesale bribery. But his mother's rage no lavish

bounty could allay. She would clasp Octavia to her arms, and have many

a secret interview with her friends; with more than her natural

rapacity, she clutched at money everywhere, seemingly for a reserve,

and courteously received tribunes and centurions. She honoured the

names and virtues of the nobles who still were left, seeking

apparently a party and a leader. Of this Nero became aware, and he

ordered the departure of the military guard now kept for the emperor's

mother, as it had formerly been for the imperial consort, along with

some German troops, added as a further honour. He also gave her a

separate establishment, that throngs of visitors might no longer

wait on her, and removed her to what had been Antonia's house; and

whenever he went there himself, he was surrounded by a crowd of

centurions, and used to leave her after a hurried kiss.

Of all things human the most precarious and transitory is a

reputation for power which has no strong support of its own. In a

moment Agrippina's doors were deserted; there was no one to comfort or

to go near her, except a few ladies, whether out of love or malice was

doubtful. One of these was Junia Silana, whom Messalina had driven

from her husband, Caius Silius, as I have already related. Conspicuous

for her birth, her beauty, and her wantonness, she had long been a

special favourite of Agrippina, till after a while there were secret

mutual dislikes, because Sextius Africanus, a noble youth, had been

deterred from marrying Silana by Agrippina, who repeatedly spoke of

her as an immodest woman in the decline of life, not to secure

Africanus for herself, but to keep the childless and wealthy widow out

of a husband's control. Silana having now a prospect of vengeance,

suborned as accusers two of her creatures, Iturius and Calvisius,

not with the old and often-repeated charges about Agrippina's mourning

the death of Britannicus or publishing the wrongs of Octavia, but with

a hint that it was her purpose to encourage in revolutionary designs

Rubellius Plautus, who his mother's side was as nearly connected as

Nero with the Divine Augustus; and then, by marrying him and making

him emperor, again seize the control of the State. All this Iturius

and Calvisius divulged to Atimetus, a freedman of Domitia, Nero's

aunt. Exulting in the opportunity, for Agrippina and Domitia were in

bitter rivalry, Atimetus urged Paris, who was himself also a

freedman of Domitia, to go at once and put the charge in the most

dreadful form.

Night was far advanced and Nero was still sitting over his cups,

when Paris entered, who was generally wont at such times to heighten

the emperor's enjoyments, but who now wore a gloomy expression. He

went through the whole evidence in order, and so frightened his hearer

as to make him resolve not only on the destruction of his mother and

of Plautus, but also on the removal of Burrus from the command of

the guards, as a man who had been promoted by Agrippina's interest,

and was now showing his gratitude. We have it on the authority of

Fabius Rusticus that a note was written to Caecina Tuscus,

intrusting to him the charge of the praetorian cohorts, but that

through Seneca's influence that distinguished post was retained for

Burrus. According to Plinius and Cluvius, no doubt was felt about

the commander's loyalty. Fabius certainly inclines to the praise of

Seneca, through whose friendship he rose to honour. Proposing as I

do to follow the consentient testimony of historians, I shall give the

differences in their narratives under the writers' names. Nero, in his

bewilderment and impatience to destroy his mother, could not be put

off till Burrus answered for her death, should she be convicted of the

crime, but "any one," he said, "much more a parent, must be allowed

a defence. Accusers there were none forthcoming; they had before

them only the word of a single person from an enemy's house, and

this the night with its darkness and prolonged festivity and

everything savouring of recklessness and folly, was enough to refute."

Having thus allayed the prince's fears, they went at daybreak to

Agrippina, that she might know the charges against her, and either

rebut them or suffer the penalty. Burrus fulfilled his instructions in

Seneca's presence, and some of the freedmen were present to witness

the interview. Then Burrus, when he had fully explained the charges

with the authors' names, assumed an air of menace. Instantly

Agrippina, calling up all her high spirit, exclaimed, "I wonder not

that Silana, who has never borne offspring, knows nothing of a

mother's feelings.

Parents do not change their children as lightly as a shameless woman

does her paramours. And if Iturius and Calvisius, after having

wasted their whole fortunes, are now, as their last resource, repaying

an old hag for their hire by undertaking to be informers, it does

not follow that I am to incur the infamy of plotting a son's murder,

or that a Caesar is to have the consciousness of like guilt. As for

Domitia's enmity, I should be thankful for it, were she to vie with me

in goodwill towards my Nero. Now through her paramour, Atimetus, and

the actor, Paris, she is, so to say, concocting a drama for the stage.

She at her Baiae was increasing the magnificence of her fishponds,

when I was planning in my counsels his adoption with a proconsul's

powers and a consul-elect's rank and every other step to empire.

Only let the man come forward who can charge me with having tampered

with the praetorian cohorts in the capital, with having sapped the

loyalty of the provinces, or, in a word, with having bribed slaves and

freedmen into any wickedness. Could I have lived with Britannicus in

the possession of power? And if Plautus or any other were to become

master of the State so as to sit in judgment on me, accusers

forsooth would not be forthcoming, to charge me not merely with a

few incautious expressions prompted by the eagerness of affection, but

with guilt from which a son alone could absolve me."

There was profound excitement among those present, and they even

tried to soothe her agitation, but she insisted on an interview with

her son. Then, instead of pleading her innocence, as though she lacked

confidence, or her claims on him by way of reproach, she obtained

vengeance on her accusers and rewards for her friends.

The superintendence of the corn supply was given to Faenius Rufus,

the direction of the games which the emperor was preparing, to

Arruntius Stella, and the province of Egypt to Caius Balbillus.

Syria was to be assigned to Publius Anteius, but he was soon put off

by various artifices and finally detained at Rome. Silana was

banished; Calvisius and Iturius exiled for a time; Atimetus was

capitally punished, while Paris was too serviceable to the emperor's

profligacy to allow of his suffering any penalty. Plautus for the

present was silently passed over.

Next Pallas and Burrus were accused of having conspired to raise

Cornelius Sulla to the throne, because of his noble birth and

connection with Claudius, whose son-in-law he was by his marriage with

Antonia. The promoter of the prosecution was one Paetus, who had

become notorious by frequent purchases of property confiscated to

the exchequer and was now convicted clearly of imposture. But the

proved innocence of Pallas did Pallas did not please men so much, as

his arrogance offended them. When his freedmen, his alleged

accomplices, were called, he replied that at home he signified his

wishes only by a nod or a gesture, or, if further explanation was

required, he used writing, so as not to degrade his voice in such

company. Burrus, though accused, gave his verdict as one of the

judges. The prosecutor was sentenced to exile, and the account-books

in which he was reviving forgotten claims of the exchequer, were


At the end of the year the cohort usually on guard during the

games was withdrawn, that there might be a greater show of freedom,

that the soldiery too might be less demoralised when no longer in

contact with the licence of the theatre, and that it might be proved

whether the populace, in the absence of a guard, would maintain

their self-control. The emperor, on the advice of the augurs, purified

Rome by a lustration, as the temples of Jupiter and Minerva had been

struck by lightning.

In the consulship of Quintus Volusius and Publius Scipio, there

was peace abroad, but a disgusting licentiousness at home on the

part of Nero, who in a slave's disguise, so as to be unrecognized,

would wander through the streets of Rome, to brothels and taverns,

with comrades, who seized on goods exposed for sale and inflicted

wounds on any whom they encountered, some of these last knowing him so

little that he even received blows himself, and showed the marks of

them in his face. When it was notorious that the emperor was the

assailant, and the insults on men and women of distinction were

multiplied, other persons too on the strength of a licence once

granted under Nero's name, ventured with impunity on the same

practices, and had gangs of their own, till night presented the scenes

of a captured city. Julius Montanus, a senator, but one who had not

yet held any office, happened to encounter the prince in the darkness,

and because he fiercely repulsed his attack and then on recognizing

him begged for mercy, as though this was a reproach, forced to destroy

himself. Nero was for the future more timid, and surrounded himself

with soldiers and a number of gladiators, who, when a fray began on

a small scale and seemed a private affair, were to let it alone,

but, if the injured persons resisted stoutly, they rushed in with

their swords. He also turned the licence of the games and the

enthusiasm for the actors into something like a battle by the impunity

he allowed, and the rewards he offered, and especially by looking on

himself, sometimes concealed, but often in public view, till, with the

people at strife and the fear of a worse commotion, the only remedy

which could be devised was the expulsion of the offending actors

from Italy, and the presence once more of the soldiery in the theatre.

During the same time there was a discussion in the Senate on the

misconduct of the freedmen class, and a strong demand was made that,

as a check on the undeserving, patrons should have the right of

revoking freedom. There were several who supported this. But the

consuls did not venture to put the motion without the emperor's

knowledge, though they recorded the Senate's general opinion, to see

whether he would sanction the arrangement, considering that only a few

were opposed to it, while some loudly complained that the irreverent

spirit which freedom had fostered, had broken into such excess, that

freedmen would ask their patrons' advice as to whether they should

treat them with violence, or, as legally, their equals, and would

actually threaten them with blows, at the same time recommending

them not to punish. "What right," it was asked, "was conceded to an

injured patron but that of temporarily banishing the freedman a

hundred miles off to the shores of Campania? In everything else, legal

proceedings were equal and the same for both. Some weapon ought to

be given to the patrons which could not be despised. It would be no

grievance for the enfranchised to have to keep their freedom by the

same respectful behaviour which had procured it for them. But, as

for notorious offenders, they deserved to be dragged back into

slavery, that fear might be a restraint where kindness had had no


It was argued in reply that, though the guilt of a few ought to be

the ruin of the men themselves, there should be no diminution of the

rights of the entire class. "For it was," they contended, "a widely

diffused body; from it, the city tribes, the various public

functionaries, the establishments of the magistrates and priests

were for the most part supplied, as well as the cohorts of the

city-guard; very many too of the knights and several of the senators

derived their origin from no other source. If freedmen were to be a

separate class, the paucity of the freeborn would be conspicuously

apparent. Not without good reason had our ancestors, in distinguishing

the position of the different orders, thrown freedom open to all.

Again, two kinds of enfranchisement had been instituted, so as to

leave room for retracting the boon, or for a fresh act of grace. Those

whom the patron had not emancipated with the freedom-giving rod,

were still held, as it were, by the bonds of slavery. Every master

should carefully consider the merits of each case, and be slow to

grant what once given could not be taken away."

This view prevailed, and the emperor replied to the Senate that,

whenever freedmen were accused by their patrons, they were to

investigate each case separately and not to annul any right to their

common injury. Soon afterwards, his aunt Domitia had her freedman

Paris taken from her, avowedly by civil law, much to the emperor's

disgrace, by whose direction a decision that he was freeborn was


Still there yet remained some shadow of a free state. A contest

arose between Vibullius, the praetor, and Antistius, a tribune of

the people; for the tribune had ordered the release of some disorderly

applauders of certain actors, whom the praetor had imprisoned. The

Senate approved the imprisonment, and censured the presumption of

Antistius. Tribunes were also forbidden to usurp the authority of

praetors and consuls, or to summon from any part of Italy persons

liable to legal proceedings. It was further proposed by Lucius Piso,

consul-elect, that tribunes were not to try any case in their own

houses, that a fine imposed by them was not to be entered on the

public books by the officials of the exchequer, till four months had

expired, and that in the meantime appeals were to be allowed, which

the consuls were to decide.

Restrictions were also put on the powers of the aediles and a

limit fixed to the amount of bail or penalty which curule and plebeian

aediles could respectively exact. On this, Helvidius Priscus, a

tribune of the people, followed up a personal quarrel he had with

Obultronius Sabinus, one of the officials of the exchequer, by

insinuating that he stretched his right of confiscation with merciless

rigour against the poor. The emperor then transferred the charge of

the public accounts from these officers to the commissioners.

The arrangement of this business had been variously and frequently

altered. Augustus allowed the Senate to appoint commissioners; then,

when corrupt practices were suspected in the voting, men were chosen

by lot for the office out of the whole number of praetors. This did

not last long, as the lot strayed away to unfit persons. Claudius then

again appointed quaestors, and that they might not be too lax in their

duties from fear of offending, he promised them promotion out of the

usual course. But what they lacked was the firmness of mature age,

entering, as they did, on this office as their first step, and so Nero

appointed ex-praetors of approved competency.

During the same consulship, Vipsanius Laenas was condemned for

rapacity in his administration of the province of Sardinia. Cestius

Proculus was acquitted of extortion, his accusers dropping the charge.

Clodius Quirinalis, having, when in command of the crews at Ravenna,

caused grievous distress to Italy by his profligacy and cruelty,

just as if it were the most contemptible of countries, forestalled his

doom by poison. Caninius Rebilus, one of the first men in legal

knowledge and vastness of wealth, escaped the miseries of an old age

of broken health by letting the blood trickle from his veins, though

men did not credit him with sufficient resolution for a self-inflicted

death, because of his infamous effeminacy. Lucius Volusius on the

other hand died with a glorious name. There was his long life of

ninety-three years, his conspicuous wealth, honourably acquired, and

his wise avoidance of the malignity of so many emperors.

During Nero's second consulship with Lucius Piso for his

colleague, little occurred deserving mention, unless one were to

take pleasure in filling volumes with the praise of the foundations

and timber work on which the emperor piled the immense amphitheatre in

the Field of Mars. But we have learnt that it suits the dignity of the

Roman people to reserve history for great achievements, and to leave

such details to the city's daily register. I may mention that the

colonies of Nuceria and Capua were strengthened by an addition of

veterans; to every member of the city populace four hundred

sesterces were given, and forty million paid into the exchequer to

maintain the credit of the citizens.

A tax also of four per cent. on the sale of slaves was remitted,

an apparent more than a real boon, for as the seller was ordered to

pay it, purchasers found that it was added as part of the price. The

emperor by an edict forbade any magistrate or procurator in the

government of a province to exhibit a show of gladiators, or of wild

beasts, or indeed any other public entertainment; for hitherto our

subjects had been as much oppressed by such bribery as by actual

extortion, while governors sought to screen by corruption the guilty

deeds of arbitrary caprice.

The Senate next passed a decree, providing alike for punishment

and safety. If a master were murdered by his slaves, all those who

were enfranchised by his will and lived under the same roof, were to

suffer the capital punishment with his other slaves. Lucius Varius, an

ex-consul, who had been crushed in the past under charges of

extortion, was restored to his rank as a senator. Pomponia Graecina, a

distinguished lady, wife of the Plautius who returned from Britain

with an ovation, was accused of some foreign superstition and handed

over to her husband's judicial decision. Following ancient

precedent, he heard his wife's cause in the presence of kinsfolk,

involving, as it did, her legal status and character, and he

reported that she was innocent. This Pomponia lived a long life of

unbroken melancholy. After the murder of Julia, Drusus's daughter,

by Messalina's treachery, for forty years she wore only the attire

of a mourner, with a heart ever sorrowful. For this, during Claudius's

reign, she escaped unpunished, and it was afterwards counted a glory

to her.

The same year saw many impeached. One of these, Publius Celer,

prosecuted by the province of Asia, the emperor could not acquit,

and so he put off the case till the man died of old age. Celer, as I

have related, had murdered Silanus, the pro-consul, and the

magnitude of this crime veiled his other enormities. Cossutianus

Capito was accused by the people of Cilicia; he was a man stained with

the foulest guilt, and had actually imagined that his audacious

wickedness had the same rights in a province as he had claimed for

it at Rome. But he had to confront a determined prosecution, and at

last abandoned his defence. Eprius Marcellus, from whom Lycia demanded

compensation, was so powerfully supported by corrupt influence that

some of his accusers were punished with exile, as though they had

imperilled an innocent man.

Nero entered on his third consulship with Valerius Messala, whose

great-grandfather, the orator Corvinus, was still remembered by a

few old men, as having been the colleague of the Divine Augustus,

Nero's great-grandfather, in the same office. But the honour of a

noble house was further increased by an annual grant of five hundred

thousand sesterces on which Messala might support virtuous poverty.

Aurelius Cotta, too, and Haterius Antonius had yearly stipends

assigned them by the emperor, though they had squandered their

ancestral wealth in profligacy.

Early in this year a war between Parthia and Rome about the

possession of Armenia, which, feebly begun, had hitherto dragged on,

was vigorously resumed. For Vologeses would not allow his brother

Tiridates to be deprived of a kingdom which he had himself given

him, or to hold it as a gift from a foreign power, and Corbulo too

thought it due to the grandeur of Rome that he should recover what

Lucullus and Pompeius had formerly won. Besides, the Armenians in

the fluctuations of their allegiance sought the armed protection of

both empires, though by their country's position, by resemblance of

manners, and by the ties of intermarriage, they were more connected

with the Parthians, to whose subjection, in their ignorance of

freedom, they rather inclined.

Corbulo however had more to struggle against in the supineness of

his soldiers than in the treachery of the enemy. His legions indeed,

transferred as they had been from Syria and demoralised by a long

peace, endured most impatiently the duties of a Roman camp. It was

well known that that army contained veterans who had never been on

piquet duty or on night guard, to whom the rampart and the fosse

were new and strange sights, men without helmets or breastplates,

sleek money-making traders, who had served all their time in towns.

Corbulo having discharged all who were old or in ill-health, sought to

supply their places, and levies were held in Galatia and Cappadocia,

and to these were added a legion from Germany with its auxiliary

cavalry and light infantry. The entire army was kept under canvas,

though the winter was so severe that the ground, covered as it was

with ice, did not yield a place for the tents without being dug up.

Many of the men had their limbs frost-bitten through the intensity

of the cold, and some perished on guard. A soldier was observed

whose hands mortified as he was carrying a bundle of wood, so that

sticking to their burden they dropped off from his arms, now mere

stumps. The general, lightly clad, with head uncovered, was

continually with his men on the march, amid their labours; he had

praise for the brave, comfort for the feeble, and was a good example

to all. And then as many shrank from the rigour of the climate and

of the service, and deserted, he sought a remedy in strictness of

discipline. Not, as in other armies, was a first or second offense

condoned, but the soldier, who had quitted his colours, instantly paid

the penalty with his life. This was shown by experience to be a

wholesome measure, better than mercy; for there were fewer

desertions in that camp than in those in which leniency was habitual.

Meanwhile Corbulo kept his legions within the camp till spring

weather was fairly established, and having stationed his auxiliary

infantry at suitable points, he directed them not to begin an

engagement. The charge of these defensive positions he entrusted to

Paccius Orfitus, who had held the post of a first-rank centurion.

Though this officer had reported that the barbarians were heedless,

and that an opportunity for success presented itself, he was

instructed to keep within his entrenchments and to wait for a stronger

force. But he broke the order, and on the arrival of a few cavalry

squadrons from the nearest forts, who in their inexperience insisted

on fighting, he engaged the enemy and was routed. Panic-stricken by

his disaster, those who ought to have given him support returned in

precipitate flight to their respective encampments. Corbulo heard of

this with displeasure; he sharply censured Paccius, the officers and

soldiers, and ordered them to have their quarters outside the lines.

There they were kept in disgrace, and were released only on the

intercession of the whole army.

Tiridates meantime who, besides his own dependencies, had the

powerful aid of his brother Vologeses, ravaged Armenia, not in

stealthy raids as before, but in open war, plundering all whom he

thought loyal to Rome, while he eluded an action with any force

which was brought against him, and thus flying hither and thither,

he spread panic more widely by rumour than by arms. So Corbulo,

frustrated in his prolonged efforts to bring on an engagement and

compelled, like the enemy, to carry hostilities everywhere, divided

his army, so that his generals and officers might attack several

points simultaneously. He at the same time instructed king Antiochus

to hasten to the provinces on his frontier, as Pharasmanes, after

having slain his son Rhadamistus as a traitor to prove his loyalty

to us, was following up more keenly than ever his old feud with the

Armenians. Then, for the first time, we won the friendship of the

Moschi, a nation which became pre-eminently attached to Rome, and they

overran the wilds of Armenia. Thus the intended plans of Tiridates

were wholly reversed, and he sent envoys to ask on behalf of himself

and of the Parthians, why, when hostages had lately been given and a

friendship renewed which might open up a way to further acts of good

will, he was thus driven from Armenia, his ancient possession.

"As yet," he said, "Vologeses had not bestirred himself, simply

because they preferred negotiation to violence. Should however war

be persisted in, the Arsacids would not want the courage and good

fortune which had already been proved more than once by disaster to

Rome." Corbulo in reply, when he was certain that Vologeses was

detained by the revolt of Hyrcania, advised Tiridates to address a

petition to the emperor, assuring him that he might reign securely and

without bloodshed by relinquishing a prospect in the remote future for

the sake of one more solid within his reach.

As no progress was made towards a final settlement of peace by the

interchange of messages, it was at last decided to fix a time and a

place for an interview between the leaders. "A thousand troopers,"

Tiridates said, "would be his escort; what force of every kind was

to be with Corbulo, he did not prescribe, provided they came in

peaceful fashion, without breastplates and helmets." Any human

being, to say nothing of an old and wary general, would have seen

through the barbarian's cunning, which assigned a limited number on

one side and offered a larger on the other, expressly with a

treacherous intent; for, were they to be exposed to a cavalry

trained in the use of arrows, with the person undefended, numbers

would be unavailing. Corbulo however, pretending not to understand

this, replied that they would do better to discuss matters requiring

consideration for their common good, in the presence of the entire

armies, and he selected a place partly consisting of gently sloping

hills, suited for ranks of infantry, partly, of a spreading plain

where troops of cavalry could manoeuvre. On the appointed day,

arriving first, he posted his allied infantry with the king's

auxiliaries on the wings, the sixth legion in the centre, with which

he had united three thousand men of the third, brought up in the night

from another camp, with one eagle, so as to look like a single legion.

Tiridates towards evening showed himself at some distance whence he

could be seen rather than heard. And so the Roman general, without any

conference, ordered his troops to retire to their respective camps.

The king either suspecting a stratagem from these simultaneous

movements in different directions, or intending to cut off our

supplies as they were coming up from the sea of Pontus and the town of

Trapezus, hastily withdrew. He could not however make any attack on

the supplies, as they were brought over mountains in the occupation of

our forces. Corbulo, that war might not be uselessly protracted, and

also to compel the Armenians to defend their possessions, prepared

to destroy their fortresses, himself undertaking the assault on the

strongest of all in that province named Volandum. The weaker he

assigned to Cornelius Flaccus, his lieutenant, and to Insteius Capito,

his camp-prefect. Having then surveyed the defences and provided

everything suitable for storming them, he exhorted his soldiers to

strip of his home this vagabond foe who was preparing neither for

peace nor for war, but who confessed his treachery and cowardice by

flight, and so to secure alike glory and spoil. Then forming his

army into four divisions, he led one in the dense array of the

"testudo" close up to the rampart, to undermine it, while others

were ordered to apply scaling ladders to the walls, and many more were

to discharge brands and javelins from engines. The slingers and

artillerymen had a position assigned them from which to hurl their

missiles at a distance, so that, with equal tumult everywhere, no

support might be given from any point to such as were pressed. So

impetuous were the efforts of the army that within a third part of one

day the walls were stripped of their defenders, the barriers of the

gates overthrown, the fortifications scaled and captured, and all

the adult inhabitants massacred, without the loss of a soldier and

with but very few wounded. The nonmilitary population were sold by

auction; the rest of the booty fell to the conquerors.

Corbulo's lieutenant and camp-prefect met with similar success;

three forts were stormed by them in one day, and the remainder, some

from panic, others by the consent of the occupants, capitulated.

This inspired them with confidence to attack the capital of the

country, Artaxata. The legions however were not marched by the nearest

route, for should they cross the river Avaxes which washes the

city's walls by a bridge, they would be within missile-range. They

passed over it at a distance, where it was broad and shallow.

Meantime Tiridates, ashamed of seeming utterly powerless by not

interfering with the siege, and afraid that, in attempting to stop it,

he would entangle himself and his cavalry on difficult ground,

resolved finally to display his forces and either give battle on the

first opportunity, or, by a pretended flight, prepare the way for some

stratagem. Suddenly, he threw himself on the Roman columns, without

however surprising our general, who had formed his army for fighting

as well as for marching. On the right and left flanks marched the

third and sixth legions, with some picked men of the tenth in the

centre; the baggage was secured within the lines, and the rear was

guarded by a thousand cavalry, who were ordered to resist any close

attack of the enemy, but not to pursue his retreat. On the wings

were the foot-archers and the remainder of the cavalry, with a more

extended line on the left wing, along the base of some hills, so

that should the enemy penetrate the centre, he might be encountered

both in front and flank. Tiridates faced us in skirmishing order,

but not within missile-range, now threatening attack, now seemingly

afraid, with the view of loosening our formation and falling on

isolated divisions. Finding that there was no breaking of our ranks

from rashness, and that only one cavalry officer advanced too

boldly, and that he falling pierced with arrows, confirmed the rest in

obedience by the warning, he retired on the approach of darkness.

Corbulo then encamped on the spot, and considered whether he

should push on his legions without their baggage to Artaxata and

blockade the city, on which, he supposed, Tiridates had fallen back.

When his scouts reported that the king had undertaken a long march,

and that it was doubtful whether Media or Albania was its destination,

he waited for daylight, and then sent on his light-armed troops, which

were meanwhile to hover round the walls and begin the attack from a

distance. The inhabitants however opened the gates of their own

accord, and surrendered themselves and their property to the Romans.

This saved their lives; the city was fired, demolished and levelled to

the ground, as it could not be held without a strong garrison from the

extent of the walls, and we had not sufficient force to be divided

between adequately garrisoning it and carrying on the war. If again

the place were left untouched and unguarded, no advantage or glory

would accrue from its capture. Then too there was a wonderful

occurrence, almost a divine interposition. While the whole space

outside the town, up to its buildings, was bright with sunlight, the

enclosure within the walls was suddenly shrouded in a black cloud,

seamed with lightning-flashes, and thus the city was thought to be

given up to destruction, as if heaven was wroth against it.

For all this Nero was unanimously saluted emperor, and by the

Senate's decree a thanksgiving was held; statues also, arches and

successive consulships were voted to him, and among the holy days were

to be included the day on which the victory was won, that on which

it was announced, and that on which the motion was brought forward.

Other proposals too of a like kind were carried, on a scale so

extravagant, that Caius Cassius, after having assented to the rest

of the honours, argued that if the gods were to be thanked for the

bountiful favours of fortune, even a whole year would not suffice

for thanksgivings, and therefore there ought to be a classification of

sacred and business-days, that so they might observe divine ordinances

and yet not interfer with human affairs.

A man who had struggled with various calamities and earned the

hate of many, was then impeached and condemned, but not without

angry feelings towards Seneca. This was Publius Suilius. He had been

terrible and venal, while Claudius reigned, and when times were

changed, he was not so much humbled as his enemies wished, and was one

who would rather seem a criminal than a suppliant. With the intent

of crushing him, so men believed, a decree of the Senate was

revived, along with the penalty of the Cincian law against persons who

had pleaded for hire. Suilius spared not complaint or indignant

remonstrance; freespoken because of his extreme age as well as from

his insolent temper, he taunted Seneca with his savage enmity

against the friends of Claudius, under whose reign he had endured a

most righteously deserved exile. "The man," he said, "familiar as he

was only with profitless studies, and with the ignorance of boyhood,

envied those who employed a lively and genuine eloquence in the

defence of their fellow-citizens. He had been Germanicus's quaestor,

while Seneca had been a paramour in his house. Was it to be thought

a worse offence to obtain a reward for honest service with the

litigant's consent, than to pollute the chambers of the imperial

ladies? By what kind of wisdom or maxims of philosophy had Seneca

within four years of royal favour amassed three hundred million

sesterces? At Rome the wills of the childless were, so to say,

caught in his snare while Italy and the provinces were drained by a

boundless usury. His own money, on the other hand, had been acquired

by industry and was not excessive. He would suffer prosecutions,

perils, anything indeed rather than make an old and self-learned

position of honour to bow before an upstart prosperity."

Persons were not wanting to report all this to Seneca, in the

exact words, or with a worse sense put on it. Accusers were also found

who alleged that our allies had been plundered, when Suilius

governed the province of Asia, and that there had been embezzlement of

public monies. Then, as an entire year had been granted to them for

inquiries, it seemed a shorter plan to begin with his crimes at

Rome, the witnesses of which were on the spot. These men charged

Suilius with having driven Quintus Pomponius by a relentless

prosecution into the extremity of civil war, with having forced Julia,

Drusus's daughter, and Sabina Poppaea to suicide, with having

treacherously ruined Valerius Asiaticus, Lusius Saturninus and

Cornelius Lupus, in fact, with the wholesale conviction of troops of

Roman knights, and with all the cruelty of Claudius. His defence was

that of all this he had done nothing on his own responsibility but had

simply obeyed the emperor, till Nero stopped such pleadings, by

stating that he had ascertained from his father's notebooks that he

had never compelled the prosecution of a single person.

Suilius then sheltered himself under Messalina's orders, and the

defence began to collapse. "Why," it was asked, "was no one else

chosen to put his tongue at the service of that savage harlot? We must

punish the instruments of atrocious acts, when, having gained the

rewards of wickedness, they impute the wickedness to others."

And so, with the loss of half his property, his son and

granddaughter being allowed to retain the other half, and what they

had inherited under their mother's or grandmother's will being also

exempted from confiscation, Suilius was banished to the Balearic

isles. Neither in the crisis of his peril nor after his condemnation

did he quail in spirit. Rumour said that he supported that lonely

exile by a life of ease and plenty. When the accusers attacked his son

Nerullinus on the strength of men's hatred of the father and of some

charges of extortion, the emperor interposed, as if implying that

vengeange was fully satisfied.

About the same time Octavius Sagitta, a tribune of the people, who

was enamoured to frenzy of Pontia, a married woman, bribed her by most

costly presents into an intrigue and then into abandoning her husband.

He had offered her marriage and had won her consent. But as soon as

she was free, she devised delays, pretended that her father's wishes

were against it, and having secured the prospect of a richer

husband, she repudiated her promises. Octavius, on the other hand, now

remonstrated, now threatened; his good name, he protested, was lost,

his means exhausted, and as for his life, which was all that was

left to him, he surrendered it to her mercy. When she spurned him,

he asked the solace of one night, with which to soothe his passion,

that he might set bounds to it for the future. A night was fixed,

and Pontia intrusted the charge of her chamber to a female slave

acquainted with her secret. Octavius attended by one freedman

entered with a dagger concealed under his dress. Then, as usual in

lovers' quarrels, there were chidings, entreaties, reproaches,

excuses, and some period of the darkness was given up to passion;

then, when seemingly about to go, and she was fearing nothing, he

stabbed her with the steel, and having wounded and scared away the

slave girl who was hurrying to her, rushed out of the chamber. Next

day the murder was notorious, and there was no question as to the

murderer, for it was proved that he had passed some time with her. The

freedman, however, declared the deed was his, that he had, in fact,

avenged his patron's wrongs. He had made some impression by the

nobleness of his example, when the slave girl recovered and revealed

the truth. Octavius, when he ceased to be tribune, was prosecuted

before the consuls by the father of the murdered woman, and was

condemned by the sentence of the Senate under "the law concerning


A profligacy equally notorious in that same year proved the

beginning of great evils to the State. There was at Rome one Sabina

Poppaea; her father was Titus Ollius, but she had assumed the name

of her maternal grandfather Poppaeus Sabinus, a man of illustrious

memory and pre-eminently distinguished by the honours of a

consulship and a triumph. As for Ollius, before he attained promotion,

the friendship of Sejanus was his ruin. This Poppaea had everything

but a right mind. Her mother, who surpassed in personal attractions

all the ladies of her day, had bequeathed to her alike fame and

beauty. Her fortune adequately corresponded to the nobility of her

descent. Her conversation was charming and her wit anything but

dull. She professed virtue, while she practised laxity. Seldom did she

appear in public, and it was always with her face partly veiled,

either to disappoint men's gaze or to set off her beauty. Her

character she never spared, making no distinction between a husband

and a paramour, while she was never a slave to her own passion or to

that of her lover. Wherever there was a prospect of advantage, there

she transferred her favours. And so while she was living as the wife

of Rufius Crispinus, a Roman knight, by whom she had a son, she was

attracted by the youth and fashionable elegance of Otho, and by the

fact too that he was reputed to have Nero's most ardent friendship.

Without any delay the intrigue was followed by marriage.

Otho now began to praise his wife's beauty and accomplishments to

the emperor, either from a lover's thoughtlessness or to inflame

Nero's passion, in the hope of adding to his own influence by the

further tie which would arise out of possession of the same woman.

Often, as he rose from the emperor's table, was he heard repeatedly to

say that he was going to her, to the high birth and beauty which had

fallen to his lot, to that which all men pray for, the joy of the

fortunate. These and like incitements allowed but of brief delay. Once

having gained admission, Poppaea won her way by artful

blandishments, pretending that she could not resist her passion and

that she was captivated by Nero's person. Soon, as the emperor's

love grew ardent, she would change and be supercilious, and, if she

were detained more than one or two nights, would say again and again

that she was a married woman and could not give up her husband

attached as she was to Otho by a manner of life, which no one

equalled. "His ideas and his style were grand; at his house everything

worthy of the highest fortune was ever before her eyes. Nero, on the

contrary, with his slave girl mistress, tied down by his attachment to

Acte, had derived nothing from his slavish associations but what was

low and degrading."

Otho was now cut off from Nero's usual familiar intercourse, and

then even from interviews and from the royal suite, and at last was

appointed governor of the province of Lusitania, that he might not

be the emperor's rival at Rome. There he lived up to the time of the

civil wars, not in the fashion of his disgraceful past, but

uprightly and virtuously, a pleasure-loving man when idle, and

self-restrained when in power.

Hitherto Nero had sought a veil for his abominations and wickedness.

He was particularly suspicious of Cornelius Sulla, whose apathetic

temper he interpreted as really the reverse, inferring that he was, in

fact, an artful dissembler. Graptus, one of the emperor's freedmen,

whose age and experience had made him thoroughly acquainted with the

imperial household from the time of Tiberius, quickened these

apprehensions by the following falsehood. The Mulvian bridge was

then a famous haunt of nightly profligacy, and Nero used to go there

that he might take his pleasures more freely outside the city. So

Graptus, taking advantage of an idle panic into which the royal

attendants had chanced to have been thrown on their return by one of

those youthful frolics which were then everywhere practised,

invented a story that a treacherous attack had been planned on the

emperor, should he go back by the Flaminian road, and that through the

favour of destiny he had escaped it, as he went home by a different

way to Sallust's gardens. Sulla, he said, was the author of this plot.

Not one, however, of Sulla's slaves or clients was recognised, and his

character, despicable as it was and incapable of a daring act, was

utterly at variance with the charge. Still, just as if he had been

found guilty, he was ordered to leave his country, and confine himself

within the walls of Massilia.

During the same consulship a hearing was given to two conflicting

deputations from Puteoli, sent to the Senate by the town council and

by the populace. The first spoke bitterly of the violence of the

multitude; the second, of the rapacity of the magistrates and of all

the chief citizens. That the disturbance, which had gone as far as

stoning and threats of fire, might not lead on to bloodshed and

armed fighting, Caius Cassius was appointed to apply some remedy. As

they would not endure his rigour, the charge of the affair was at

his own request transferred to the brothers Scribonii, to whom was

given a praetorian cohort, the terror of which, coupled with the

execution of a few persons, restored peace to the townspeople.

I should not mention a very trivial decree of the Senate which

allowed the city of Syracuse to exceed the prescribed number in

their gladiatorial shows, had not Paetus Thrasea spoken against it and

furnished his traducers with a ground for censuring his motion. "Why,"

it was asked, "if he thought that the public welfare required

freedom of speech in the Senate, did he pursue such trifling abuses?

Why should he not speak for or against peace and war, or on the

taxes and laws and other matters involving Roman interests? The

senators, as often as they received the privilege of stating an

opinion, were at liberty to say out what they pleased, and to claim

that it should be put to the vote. Was it the only worthy object of

reform to provide that the Syracusans should not give shows on a

larger scale? Were all other matters in every department of the empire

as admirable as if Thrasea and not Nero had the direction of them? But

if the highest affairs were passed by and ignored, how much more ought

there to be no meddling with things wholly insignificant."

Thrasea in reply, when his friends asked an explanation, said

"that it was not in ignorance of Rome's actual condition that he

sought to correct such decrees, but that he was giving what was due to

the honour of the senators, in making it evident that those who

attended even to the merest trifles, would not disguise their

responsibility for important affairs."

That same year, repeated demands on the part of the people, who

denounced the excessive greed of the revenue collectors, made Nero

doubt whether he should not order the repeal of all indirect taxes,

and so confer a most splendid boon on the human race. But this

sudden impulse was checked by the senators, who, having first heartily

praised the grandeur of his conception, pointed out "that the

dissolution of the empire must ensue if the revenues which supported

the State were to be diminished; for as soon as the customs were swept

away, there would follow a demand for the abolition of the direct

taxes. Many companies for the collection of the indirect taxes had

been formed by consuls and tribunes, when the freedom of the Roman

people was still in its vigour, and arrangements were subsequently

made to insure an exact correspondence between the amount of income

and the necessary disbursements. Certainly some restraint, they

admitted, must be put on the cupidity of the revenue collectors,

that they might not by new oppressions bring into odium what for so

many years had been endured without a complaint."

Accordingly the emperor issued an edict that the regulations about

every branch of the public revenue, which had hitherto been kept

secret, should be published; that claims which had been dropped should

not be revived after a year; that the praetor at Rome, the

propraetor or proconsul in the provinces, should give judicial

precedence to all cases against the collectors; that the soldiers

should retain their immunities except when they traded for profit,

with other very equitable arrangements, which for a short time were

maintained and were subsequently disregarded. However, the repeal of

the two per cent. and two-and-a-half per cent. taxes remains in force,

as well as that of others bearing names invented by the collectors

to cover their illegal exactions. In our transmarine provinces the

conveyance of corn was rendered less costly, and it was decided that

merchant ships should not be assessed with their owner's property, and

that no tax should be paid on them.

Two men under prosecution from Africa, in which province they had

held proconsular authority, Sulpicius Camerinus and Pomponius

Silvanus, were acquitted by the emperor. Camerinus had against him a

few private persons who charged him with cruelty rather than with

extortion. Silvanus was beset by a host of accusers, who demanded time

for summoning their witnesses, while the defendant insisted on being

at once put on his defence. And he was successful, through his wealth,

his childlessness, and his old age, which he prolonged beyond the life

of those by whose corrupt influence he had escaped.

Up to this time everything had been quiet in Germany, from the

temper of the generals, who, now that triumphal decorations had been

vulgarised, hoped for greater glory by the maintenance of peace.

Paulinus Pompeius and Lucius Vetus were then in command of the army.

Still, to avoid keeping the soldiers in idleness, the first

completed the embankment begun sixty-three years before by Drusus to

confine the waters of the Rhine, while Vetus prepared to connect the

Moselle and the Arar by a canal, so that troops crossing the sea and

then conveyed on the Rhone and Arar might sail by this canal into

the Moselle and the Rhine, and thence to the ocean. Thus the

difficulties of the route being removed, there would be

communication for ships between the shores of the west and of the


Aelius Gracilis, the governor of Belgica, discouraged the work by

seeking to deter Vetus from bringing his legions into another man's

province, and so drawing to himself the attachment of Gaul. This

result he repeatedly said would excite the fears of the emperor, an

assertion by which meritorious undertakings are often hindered.

Meantime, from the continued inaction of our armies, a rumour

prevailed that the commanders had been deprived of the right of

leading them against the enemy. Thereupon the Frisii moved up their

youth to the forests and swamps, and their non-fighting population,

over the lakes, to the river-bank, and established themselves in

unoccupied lands, reserved for the use of our soldiers, under the

leadership of Verritus and Malorix, the kings of the tribe, as far

as Germans are under kings. Already they had settled themselves in

houses, had sown the fields, and were cultivating the soil as if it

had been their ancestors', when Dubius Avitus, who had succeeded

Paulinus in the province, by threatening them with a Roman attack if

they did not retire into their old country or obtain a new territory

from the emperor, constrained Verritus and Malorix to become

suppliants. They went to Rome, and while they waited for Nero, who was

intent on other engagements, among the sights shown to the

barbarians they were admitted into Pompey's theatre, where they

might behold the vastness of the Roman people. There at their

leisure (for in the entertainment, ignorant as they were, they found

no amusement) they asked questions about the crowd on the benches,

about the distinctions of classes, who were the knights, where was the

Senate, till they observed some persons in a foreign dress on the

seats of the senators. Having asked who they were, when they were told

that this honour was granted to envoys from those nations which were

distinguished for their bravery and their friendship to Rome, they

exclaimed that no men on earth surpassed the Germans in arms or in

loyalty. Then they went down and took their seat among the senators.

The spectators hailed the act goodnaturedly, as due to the

impulsiveness of a primitive people and to an honourable rivalry. Nero

gave both of them the Roman franchise, and ordered the Frisii to

withdraw from the territory in question. When they disdained

obedience, some auxiliary cavalry by a sudden attack made it a

necessity for them, capturing or slaughtering those who obstinately


Of this same territory, the Ampsivarii now possessed themselves, a

tribe more powerful not only from their numbers, but from having the

sympathy of the neighbouring peoples, as they had been expelled by the

Chauci and had to beg, as homeless outcasts, a secure exile. Their

cause was pleaded by a man, famous among those nations and loyal to

Rome, Boiocalus by name, who reminded us that on the Cheruscan

revolt he had been imprisoned by the order of Arminius, that

afterwards he had served under the leadership of Tiberius and of

Germanicus, and that to a fifty years' obedience he was adding the

merit of subjecting his tribe to our dominion. "What an extent of

plain," he would say, "lies open into which the flocks and herds of

the Roman soldiers may some day be sent! Let them by all means keep

retreats for their cattle, while men are starving; only let them not

prefer a waste and a solitude to friendly nations. Once these fields

belonged to the Chamavi; then to the Tubantes; after them to the

Usipii. As heaven is for the gods, so the earth has been given to

mankind, and lands uninhabited are common to all." Then looking up

to the sun and invoking the other heavenly bodies, he asked them, as

though standing in their presence, "whether they wished to behold an

empty soil; rather let them submerge it beneath the sea against the

plunderers of the land."

Avitus was impressed by this language and said that people must

submit to the rule of their betters; that the gods to whom they

appealed, had willed that the decision as to what should be given or

taken from them, was to rest with the Romans, who would allow none but

themselves to be judges. This was his public answer to the Ampsivarii;

to Boiocalus his reply was that in remembrance of past friendship he

would cede the lands in question. Boiocalus spurned the offer as the

price of treason, adding, "We may lack a land to live in; we cannot

lack one to die in." And so they parted with mutual exasperation.

The Ampsivarii now called on the Bructeri, the Tencteri, and yet

more distant tribes to be their allies in war. Avitus, having

written to Curtilius Mancia, commander of the Upper army, asking him

to cross the Rhine and display his troops in the enemy's rear, himself

led his legions into the territory of the Tencteri, and threatened

them with extermination unless they dissociated themselves from the

cause. When upon this the Tencteri stood aloof, the Bructeri were

cowed by a like terror. And so, as the rest too were for averting

perils which did not concern them, the Ampsivarian tribe in its

isolation retreated to the Usipii and Tubantes. Driven out of these

countries, they sought refuge with the Chatti and then with the

Cherusci, and after long wanderings, as destitute outcasts, received

now as friends now as foes, their entire youth were slain in a strange

land, and all who could not fight, were apportioned as booty.

The same summer a great battle was fought between the Hermunduri and

the Chatti, both forcibly claiming a river which produced salt in

plenty, and bounded their territories. They had not only a passion for

settling every question by arms, but also a deep-rooted superstition

that such localities are specially near to heaven, and that mortal

prayers are nowhere more attentively heard by the gods. It is, they

think, through the bounty of divine power, that in that river and in

those forests salt is produced, not, as in other countries, by the

drying up of an overflow of the sea, but by the combination of two

opposite elements, fire and water, when the latter had been poured

over a burning pile of wood. The war was a success for the Hermunduri,

and the more disastrous to the Chatti because they had devoted, in the

event of victory, the enemy's army to Mars and Mercury, a vow which

consigns horses, men, everything indeed on the vanquished side to

destruction. And so the hostile threat recoiled on themselves.

Meanwhile, a state in alliance with us, that of the Ubii, suffered

grievously from an unexpected calamity. Fires suddenly bursting from

the earth seized everywhere on country houses, crops, and villages,

and were rushing on to the very walls of the newly founded colony. Nor

could they be extinguished by the fall of rain, or by river-water,

or by any other moisture, till some countrymen, in despair of a remedy

and in fury at the disaster, flung stones from a distance, and then,

approaching nearer, as the flames began to sink, tried to scare them

away, like so many wild beasts, with the blows of clubs and other

weapons. At last they stript off their clothes and threw them on the

fire, which they were the more likely to quench, the more they had

been soiled by common use.

That same year, the fact that the tree in the Comitium, which 840

years before had sheltered the infancy of Romulus and Remus, was

impaired by the decay of its boughs and by the withering of its

stem, was accounted a portent, till it began to renew its life with

fresh shoots.

BOOK XIV, A.D. 59-62

IN the year of the consulship of Caius Vipstanus and Caius Fonteius,

Nero deferred no more a long meditated crime. Length of power had

matured his daring, and his passion for Poppaea daily grew more

ardent. As the woman had no hope of marriage for herself or of

Octavia's divorce while Agrippina lived, she would reproach the

emperor with incessant vituperation and sometimes call him in jest a

mere ward who was under the rule of others, and was so far from having

empire that he had not even his liberty. "Why," she asked, "was her

marriage put off? Was it, forsooth, her beauty and her ancestors, with

their triumphal honours, that failed to please, or her being a mother,

and her sincere heart? No; the fear was that as a wife at least she

would divulge the wrongs of the Senate, and the wrath of the people at

the arrogance and rapacity of his mother. If the only

daughter-in-law Agrippina could bear was one who wished evil to her

son, let her be restored to her union with Otho. She would go anywhere

in the world, where she might hear of the insults heaped on the

emperor, rather than witness them, and be also involved in his


These and the like complaints, rendered impressive by tears and by

the cunning of an adulteress, no one checked, as all longed to see the

mother's power broken, while not a person believed that the son's

hatred would steel his heart to her murder.

Cluvius relates that Agrippina in her eagerness to retain her

influence went so far that more than once at midday, when Nero, even

at that hour, was flushed with wine and feasting, she presented

herself attractively attired to her half intoxicated son and offered

him her person, and that when kinsfolk observed wanton kisses and

caresses, portending infamy, it was Seneca who sought a female's aid

against a woman's fascinations, and hurried in Acte, the freed-girl,

who alarmed at her own peril and at Nero's disgrace, told him that the

incest was notorious, as his mother boasted of it, and that the

soldiers would never endure the rule of an impious sovereign. Fabius

Rusticus tells us that it was not Agrippina, but Nero, who lusted

for the crime, and that it was frustrated by the adroitness of that

same freed-girl. Cluvius's account, however, is also that of all other

authors, and popular belief inclines to it, whether it was that

Agrippina really conceived such a monstrous wickedness in her heart,

or perhaps because the thought of a strange passion seemed

comparatively credible in a woman, who in her girlish years had

allowed herself to be seduced by Lepidus in the hope of winning power,

had stooped with a like ambition to the lust of Pallas, and had

trained herself for every infamy by her marriage with her uncle.

Nero accordingly avoided secret interviews with her, and when she

withdrew to her gardens or to her estates at Tusculum and Antium, he

praised her for courting repose. At last, convinced that she would

be too formidable, wherever she might dwell, he resolved to destroy

her, merely deliberating whether it was to be accomplished by

poison, or by the sword, or by any other violent means. Poison at

first seemed best, but, were it to be administered at the imperial

table, the result could not be referred to chance after the recent

circumstances of the death of Britannicus. Again, to tamper with the

servants of a woman who, from her familiarity with crime, was on her

guard against treachery, appeared to be extremely difficult, and then,

too, she had fortified her constitution by the use of antidotes. How

again the dagger and its work were to be kept secret, no one could

suggest, and it was feared too that whoever might be chosen to execute

such a crime would spurn the order.

An ingenious suggestion was offered by Anicetus, a freedman,

commander of the fleet at Misenum, who had been tutor to Nero in

boyhood and had a hatred of Agrippina which she reciprocated. He

explained that a vessel could be constructed, from which a part

might by a contrivance be detached, when out at sea, so as to plunge

her unawares into the water. "Nothing," he said, "allowed of accidents

so much as the sea, and should she be overtaken by shipwreck, who

would be so unfair as to impute to crime an offence committed by the

winds and waves? The emperor would add the honour of a temple and of

shrines to the deceased lady, with every other display of filial


Nero liked the device, favoured as it also was by the particular

time, for he was celebrating Minerva's five days' festival at Baiae.

Thither he enticed his mother by repeated assurances that children

ought to bear with the irritability of parents and to soothe their

tempers, wishing thus to spread a rumour of reconciliation and to

secure Agrippina's acceptance through the feminine credulity, which

easily believes what joy. As she approached, he went to the shore to

meet her (she was coming from Antium), welcomed her with

outstretched hand and embrace, and conducted her to Bauli. This was

the name of a country house, washed by a bay of the sea, between the

promontory of Misenum and the lake of Baiae. Here was a vessel

distinguished from others by its equipment, seemingly meant, among

other things, to do honour to his mother; for she had been

accustomed to sail in a trireme, with a crew of marines. And now she

was invited to a banquet, that night might serve to conceal the crime.

It was well known that somebody had been found to betray it, that

Agrippina had heard of the plot, and in doubt whether she was to

believe it, was conveyed to Baiae in her litter. There some soothing

words allayed her fear; she was graciously received, and seated at

table above the emperor. Nero prolonged the banquet with various

conversation, passing from a youth's playful familiarity to an air

of constraint, which seemed to indicate serious thought, and then,

after protracted festivity, escorted her on her departure, clinging

with kisses to her eyes and bosom, either to crown his hypocrisy or

because the last sight of a mother on the even of destruction caused a

lingering even in that brutal heart.

A night of brilliant starlight with the calm of a tranquil sea was

granted by heaven, seemingly, to convict the crime. The vessel had not

gone far, Agrippina having with her two of her intimate attendants,

one of whom, Crepereius Gallus, stood near the helm, while

Acerronia, reclining at Agrippina's feet as she reposed herself, spoke

joyfully of her son's repentance and of the recovery of the mother's

influence, when at a given signal the ceiling of the place, which

was loaded with a quantity of lead, fell in, and Crepereius was

crushed and instantly killed. Agrippina and Acerronia were protected

by the projecting sides of the couch, which happened to be too

strong to yield under the weight. But this was not followed by the

breaking up of the vessel; for all were bewildered, and those too, who

were in the plot, were hindered by the unconscious majority. The

crew then thought it best to throw the vessel on one side and so

sink it, but they could not themselves promptly unite to face the

emergency, and others, by counteracting the attempt, gave an

opportunity of a gentler fall into the sea. Acerronia, however,

thoughtlessly exclaiming that she was Agrippina, and imploring help

for the emperor's mother, was despatched with poles and oars, and such

naval implements as chance offered. Agrippina was silent and was

thus the less recognized; still, she received a wound in her shoulder.

She swam, then met with some small boats which conveyed her to the

Lucrine lake, and so entered her house.

There she reflected how for this very purpose she had been invited

by a lying letter and treated with conspicuous honour, how also it was

near the shore, not from being driven by winds or dashed on rocks,

that the vessel had in its upper part collapsed, like a mechanism

anything but nautical. She pondered too the death of Acerronia; she

looked at her own wound, and saw that her only safeguard against

treachery was to ignore it. Then she sent her freedman Agerinus to

tell her son how by heaven's favour and his good fortune she had

escaped a terrible disaster; that she begged him, alarmed, as he might

be, by his mother's peril, to put off the duty of a visit, as for

the present she needed repose. Meanwhile, pretending that she felt

secure, she applied remedies to her wound, and fomentations to her

person. She then ordered search to be made for the will of

Acerronia, and her property to be sealed, in this alone throwing off


Nero, meantime, as he waited for tidings of the consummation of

the deed, received information that she had escaped with the injury of

a slight wound, after having so far encountered the peril that there

could be no question as to its author. Then, paralysed with terror and

protesting that she would show herself the next moment eager for

vengeance, either arming the slaves or stirring up the soldiery, or

hastening to the Senate and the people, to charge him with the

wreck, with her wound, and with the destruction of her friends, he

asked what resource he had against all this, unless something could be

at once devised by Burrus and Seneca. He had instantly summoned both

of them, and possibly they were already in the secret. There was a

long silence on their part; they feared they might remonstrate in

vain, or believed the crisis to be such that Nero must perish,

unless Agrippina were at once crushed. Thereupon Seneca was so far the

more prompt as to glance back on Burrus, as if to ask him whether

the bloody deed must be required of the soldiers. Burrus replied "that

the praetorians were attached to the whole family of the Caesars,

and remembering Germanicus would not dare a savage deed on his

offspring. It was for Anicetus to accomplish his promise."

Anicetus, without a pause, claimed for himself the consummation of

the crime. At those words, Nero declared that that day gave him

empire, and that a freedman was the author of this mighty boon.

"Go," he said, "with all speed and take with you the men readiest to

execute your orders." He himself, when he had heard of the arrival

of Agrippina's messenger, Agerinus, contrived a theatrical mode of

accusation, and, while the man was repeating his message, threw down a

sword at his feet, then ordered him to be put in irons, as a

detected criminal, so that he might invent a story how his mother

had plotted the emperor's destruction and in the shame of discovered

guilt had by her own choice sought death.

Meantime, Agrippina's peril being universally known and taken to

be an accidental occurrence, everybody, the moment he heard of it,

hurried down to the beach. Some climbed projecting piers; some the

nearest vessels; others, as far as their stature allowed, went into

the sea; some, again, stood with outstretched arms, while the whole

shore rung with wailings, with prayers and cries, as different

questions were asked and uncertain answers given. A vast multitude

streamed to the spot with torches, and as soon as all knew that she

was safe, they at once prepared to wish her joy, till the sight of

an armed and threatening force scared them away. Anicetus then

surrounded the house with a guard, and having burst open the gates,

dragged off the slaves who met him, till he came to the door of her

chamber, where a few still stood, after the rest had fled in terror at

the attack. A small lamp was in the room, and one slave-girl with

Agrippina, who grew more and more anxious, as no messenger came from

her son, not even Agerinus, while the appearance of the shore was

changed, a solitude one moment, then sudden bustle and tokens of the

worst catastrophe. As the girl rose to depart, she exclaimed, "Do

you too forsake me?" and looking round saw Anicetus, who had with

him the captain of the trireme, Herculeius, and Obaritus, a

centurion of marines. "If," said she, "you have come to see me, take

back word that I have recovered, but if you are here to do a crime,

I believe nothing about my son; he has not ordered his mother's


The assassins closed in round her couch, and the captain of the

trireme first struck her head violently with a club. Then, as the

centurion bared his sword for the fatal deed, presenting her person,

she exclaimed, "Smite my womb," and with many wounds she was slain.

So far our accounts agree. That Nero gazed on his mother after her

death and praised her beauty, some have related, while others deny it.

Her body was burnt that same night on a dining couch, with a mean

funeral; nor, as long as Nero was in power, was the earth raised

into a mound, or even decently closed. Subsequently, she received from

the solicitude of her domestics, a humble sepulchre on the road to

Misenum, near the country house of Caesar the Dictator, which from a

great height commands a view of the bay beneath. As soon as the

funeral pile was lighted, one of her freedmen, surnamed Mnester, ran

himself through with a sword, either from love of his mistress or from

the fear of destruction.

Many years before Agrippina had anticipated this end for herself and

had spurned the thought. For when she consulted the astrologers

about Nero, they replied that he would be emperor and kill his mother.

"Let him kill her," she said, "provided he is emperor."

But the emperor, when the crime was at last accomplished, realised

its portentous guilt. The rest of the night, now silent and stupified,

now and still oftener starting up in terror, bereft of reason, he

awaited the dawn as if it would bring with it his doom. He was first

encouraged to hope by the flattery addressed to him, at the

prompting of Burrus, by the centurions and tribunes, who again and

again pressed his hand and congratulated him on his having escaped

an unforeseen danger and his mother's daring crime. Then his friends

went to the temples, and, an example having once been set, the

neighbouring towns of Campania testified their joy with sacrifices and

deputations. He himself, with an opposite phase of hypocrisy, seemed

sad, and almost angry at his own deliverance, and shed tears over

his mother's death. But as the aspects of places change not, as do the

looks of men, and as he had ever before his eyes the dreadful sight of

that sea with its shores (some too believed that the notes of a

funereal trumpet were heard from the surrounding heights, and wailings

from the mother's grave), he retired to Neapolis and sent a letter

to the Senate, the drift of which was that Agerinus, one of

Agrippina's confidential freedmen, had been detected with the dagger

of an assassin, and that in the consciousness of having planned the

crime she had paid its penalty.

He even revived the charges of a period long past, how she had aimed

at a share of empire, and at inducing the praetorian cohorts to

swear obedience to a woman, to the disgrace of the Senate and

people; how, when she was disappointed, in her fury with the soldiers,

the Senate, and the populace, she opposed the usual donative and

largess, and organised perilous prosecutions against distinguished

citizens. What efforts had it cost him to hinder her from bursting

into the Senate-house and giving answers to foreign nations! He

glanced too with indirect censure at the days of Claudius, and

ascribed all the abominations of that reign to his mother, thus

seeking to show that it was the State's good fortune which had

destroyed her. For he actually told the story of the shipwreck; but

who could be so stupid as to believe that it was accidental, or that a

shipwrecked woman had sent one man with a weapon to break through an

emperor's guards and fleets? So now it was not Nero, whose brutality

was far beyond any remonstrance, but Seneca who was in ill repute, for

having written a confession in such a style.

Still there was a marvellous rivalry among the nobles in decreeing

thanksgivings at all the shrines, and the celebration with annual

games of Minerva's festival, as the day on which the plot had been

discovered; also, that a golden image of Minerva with a statue of

the emperor by its side should be set up in the Senate-house, and that

Agrippina's birthday should be classed among the inauspicious days.

Thrasea Paetus, who had been used to pass over previous flatteries

in silence or with brief assent, then walked out of the Senate,

thereby imperilling himself, without communicating to the other

senators any impulse towards freedom.

There occurred too a thick succession of portents, which meant

nothing. A woman gave birth to a snake, and another was killed by a

thunderbolt in her husband's embrace. Then the sun was suddenly

darkened and the fourteen districts of the city were struck by

lightning. All this happened quite without any providential design; so

much so, that for many subsequent years Nero prolonged his reign and

his crimes. Still, to deepen the popular hatred towards his mother,

and prove that since her removal, his clemency had increased, he

restored to their ancestral homes two distinguished ladies, Junia

and Calpurnia, with two ex-praetors, Valerius Capito and Licinius

Gabolus, whom Agrippina had formerly banished. He also allowed the

ashes of Lollia Paulina to be brought back and a tomb to be built over

them. Iturius and Calvisius, whom he had himself temporarily exiled,

he now released from their penalty. Silana indeed had died a natural

death at Tarentum, whither she had returned from her distant exile,

when the power of Agrippina, to whose enmity she owed her fall,

began to totter, or her wrath was at last appeased.

While Nero was lingering in the towns of Campania, doubting how he

should enter Rome, whether he would find the Senate submissive and the

populace enthusiastic, all the vilest courtiers, and of these never

had a court a more abundant crop, argued against his hesitation by

assuring him that Agrippina's name was hated and that her death had

heightened his popularity. "He might go without a fear," they said,

"and experience in his person men's veneration for him." They insisted

at the same time on preceding him. They found greater enthusiasm

than they had promised, the tribes coming forth to meet him, the

Senate in holiday attire, troops of their children and wives

arranged according to sex and age, tiers of seats raised for the

spectacle, where he was to pass, as a triumph is witnessed. Thus

elated and exulting over his people's slavery, he proceeded to the

Capitol, performed the thanksgiving, and then plunged into all the

excesses, which, though ill-restrained, some sort of respect for his

mother had for a while delayed.

He had long had a fancy for driving a four-horse chariot, and a no

less degrading taste for singing to the harp, in a theatrical fashion,

when he was at dinner. This he would remind people was a royal custom,

and had been the practice of ancient chiefs; it was celebrated too

in the praises of poets and was meant to show honour to the gods.

Songs indeed, he said, were sacred to Apollo, and it was in the

dress of a singer that that great and prophetic deity was seen in

Roman temples as well as in Greek cities. He could no longer be

restrained, when Seneca and Burrus thought it best to concede one

point that he might not persist in both. A space was enclosed in the

Vatican valley where he might manage his horses, without the spectacle

being public. Soon he actually invited all the people of Rome, who

extolled him in their praises, like a mob which craves for

amusements and rejoices when a prince draws them the same way.

However, the public exposure of his shame acted on him as an incentive

instead of sickening him, as men expected. Imagining that he mitigated

the scandal by disgracing many others, he brought on the stage

descendants of noble families, who sold themselves because they were

paupers. As they have ended their days, I think it due to their

ancestors not to hand down their names. And indeed the infamy is his

who gave them wealth to reward their degradation rather than to

deter them from degrading themselves. He prevailed too on some

well-known Roman knights, by immense presents, to offer their services

in the amphitheatre; only pay from one who is able to command, carries

with it the force of compulsion.

Still, not yet wishing to disgrace himself on a public stage, he

instituted some games under the title of "juvenile sports," for

which people of every class gave in their names. Neither rank nor

age nor previous high promotion hindered any one from practising the

art of a Greek or Latin actor and even stooping to gestures and

songs unfit for a man. Noble ladies too actually played disgusting

parts, and in the grove, with which Augustus had surrounded the lake

for the naval fight, there were erected places for meeting and

refreshment, and every incentive to excess was offered for sale. Money

too was distributed, which the respectable had to spend under sheer

compulsion and which the profligate gloried in squandering. Hence a

rank growth of abominations and of all infamy. Never did a more filthy

rabble add a worse licentiousness to our long corrupted morals.

Even, with virtuous training, purity is not easily upheld; far less

amid rivalries in vice could modesty or propriety or any trace of good

manners be preserved. Last of all, the emperor himself came on the

stage, tuning his lute with elaborate care and trying his voice with

his attendants. There were also present, to complete the show, a guard

of soldiers with centurions and tribunes, and Burrus, who grieved

and yet applauded. Then it was that Roman knights were first

enrolled under the title of Augustani, men in their prime and

remarkable for their strength, some, from a natural frivolity,

others from the hope of promotion. Day and night they kept up a

thunder of applause, and applied to the emperor's person and voice the

epithets of deities. Thus they lived in fame and honour, as if on

the strength of their merits.

Nero however, that he might not be known only for his

accomplishments as an actor, also affected a taste for poetry, and

drew round him persons who had some skill in such compositions, but

not yet generally recognised. They used to sit with him, stringing

together verses prepared at home, or extemporised on the spot, and

fill up his own expressions, such as they were, just as he threw

them off. This is plainly shown by the very character of the poems,

which have no vigour or inspiration, or unity in their flow.

He would also bestow some leisure after his banquets on the teachers

of philosophy, for he enjoyed the wrangles of opposing dogmatists. And

some there were who liked to exhibit their gloomy faces and looks,

as one of the amusements of the court.

About the same time a trifling beginning led to frightful

bloodshed between the inhabitants of Nuceria and Pompeii, at a

gladiatorial show exhibited by Livineius Regulus, who had been, as I

have related, expelled from the Senate. With the unruly spirit of

townsfolk, they began with abusive language of each other; then they

took up stones and at last weapons, the advantage resting with the

populace of Pompeii, where the show was being exhibited. And so

there were brought to Rome a number of the people of Nuceria, with

their bodies mutilated by wounds, and many lamented the deaths of

children or of parents. The emperor entrusted the trial of the case to

the Senate, and the Senate to the consuls, and then again the matter

being referred back to the Senators, the inhabitants of Pompeii were

forbidden to have any such public gathering for ten years, and all

associations they had formed in defiance of the laws were dissolved.

Livineius and the others who had excited the disturbance, were

punished with exile.

Pedius Blaesus was also expelled from the Senate on the accusation

of the people of Cyrene, that he had violated the treasury of

Aesculapius and had tampered with a military levy by bribery and

corruption. This same people prosecuted Acilius Strabo who had held

the office of praetor, and had been sent by Claudius to adjudicate

on some lands which were bequeathed by king Apion, their former

possessor, together with his kingdom to the Roman people, and which

had since been seized by the neighbouring proprietors, who trusted

to a long continued licence in wrong, as if it constituted right and

justice. Consequently, when the adjudication was against them, there

arose a bitter feeling towards the judge, but the Senate replied

that they knew nothing of the instructions given by Claudius, and that

the emperor must be consulted. Nero, though he approved Strabo's

decision, wrote word that nevertheless he was for relieving the

allies, and that he waived all claim to what had been taken into


Then followed the deaths of two illustrious men, Domitius Afer and

Marcus Servilius, who had flourished through a career of the highest

honours and great eloquence. The first was a pleader; Servilius, after

long practice in the courts, distinguished himself by his history of

Rome and by the refinement of his life, which the contrast of his

character to that of Afer, whom he equalled in genius, rendered the

more conspicuous.

In Nero's fourth consulship with Cornelius Cossus for his colleague,

a theatrical entertainment to be repeated every five years was

established at Rome in imitation of the Greek festival. Like all

novelties, it was variously canvassed. There were some who declared

that even Cnius Pompeius was censured by the older men of the day

for having set up a fixed and permanent theatre. "Formerly," they

said, "the games were usually exhibited with hastily erected tiers

of benches and a temporary stage, and the people stood to witness

them, that they might not, by having the chance of sitting down, spend

a succession of entire days in idleness. Let the ancient character

of these shows be retained, whenever the praetors exhibited them,

and let no citizen be under the necessity of competing. As it was, the

morality of their fathers, which had by degrees been forgotten, was

utterly subverted by the introduction of a lax tone, so that all which

could suffer or produce corruption was to be seen at Rome, and a

degeneracy bred by foreign tastes was infecting the youth who

devoted themselves to athletic sports, to idle loungings and low

intrigues, with the encouragement of the emperor and Senate, who not

only granted licence to vice, but even applied a compulsion to drive

Roman nobles into disgracing themselves on the stage, under the

pretence of being orators and poets. What remained for them but to

strip themselves naked, put on the boxing-glove, and practise such

battles instead of the arms of legitimate warfare? Would justice be

promoted, or would they serve on the knights' commissions for the

honourable office of a judge, because they had listened with

critical sagacity to effeminate strains of music and sweet voices?

Night too was given up to infamy, so that virtue had not a moment left

to her, but all the vilest of that promiscuous throng dared to do in

the darkness anything they had lusted for in the day."

Many people liked this very licence, but they screened it under

respectable names. "Our ancestors," they said, "were not averse to the

attractions of shows on a scale suited to the wealth of their day, and

so they introduced actors from the Etruscans and horse-races from

Thurii. When we had possessed ourselves of Achaia and Asia, games were

exhibited with greater elaboration, and yet no one at Rome of good

family had stooped to the theatrical profession during the 200 years

following the triumph of Lucius Mummius, who first displayed this kind

of show in the capital. Besides, even economy had been consulted, when

a permanent edifice was erected for a theatre, in preference to a

structure raised and fitted up yearly at vast expense. Nor would the

magistrates, as hitherto, exhaust their substance, or would the

populace have the same motive for demanding of them the Greek

contests, when once the State undertakes the expenditure. The

victories won by orators and poets would furnish a stimulus to genius,

and it could not be a burden for any judge to bestow his attention

on graceful pursuits or on legitimate recreations. It was to mirth

rather than to profligacy that a few nights every five years were

devoted, and in these amid such a blaze of illumination no lawless

conduct could be concealed."

This entertainment, it is true, passed off without any notorious

scandal. The enthusiasm too of the populace was not even slightly

kindled, for the pantomimic actors, though permitted to return to

the stage, were excluded from the sacred contests. No one gained the

first prize for eloquence, but it was publicly announced that the

emperor was victorious. Greek dresses, in which most people showed

themselves during this festival, had then gone out of fashion.

A comet meantime blazed in the sky, which in popular opinion

always portends revolution to kingdoms. So people began to ask, as

if Nero was already dethroned, who was to be elected. In every one's

mouth was the name of Rubellius Blandus, who inherited through his

mother the high nobility of the Julian family. He was himself attached

to the ideas of our ancestors; his manners were austere, his home

was one of purity and seclusion, and the more he lived in retirement

from fear, the more fame did he acquire. Popular talk was confirmed by

an interpretation put with similar credulity on a flash of

lightning. While Nero was reclining at dinner in his house named

Sublaqueum on the Simbruine lake, the table with the banquet was

struck and shattered, and as this happened close to Tibur, from

which town Plautus derived his origin on his father's side, people

believed him to be the man marked out by divine providence; and he was

encouraged by that numerous class, whose eager and often mistaken

ambition it is to attach themselves prematurely to some new and

hazardous cause. This alarmed Nero, and he wrote a letter to

Plautus, bidding "him consider the tranquillity of Rome and withdraw

himself from mischievous gossip. He had ancestral possessions in Asia,

where he might enjoy his youth safely and quietly." And so thither

Plautus retired with his wife Antistia and a few intimate friends.

About the same time an excessive love of luxurious gratification

involved Nero in disgrace and danger. He had plunged for a swim into

the source of the stream which Quintus Marcius conveyed to Rome, and

it was thought that, by thus immersing his person in it, he had

polluted the sacred waters and the sanctity of the spot. A fit of

illness which followed, convinced people of the divine displeasure.

Corbulo meanwhile having demolished Artaxata thought that he ought

to avail himself of the recent panic by possessing himself of

Tigranocerta, and either, by destroying it, increase the enemy's

terror, or, by sparing it, win a name for mercy. Thither he marched

his army, with no hostile demonstrations, lest might cut off all

hope of quarter, but still without relaxing his vigilance, knowing, as

he did, the fickle temper of the people, who are as treacherous,

when they have an opportunity, as they are slow to meet danger. The

barbarians, following their individual inclinations, either came to

him with entreaties, or quitted their villages and dispersed into

their deserts. Some there were who hid themselves in caverns with

all that they held dearest. The Roman general accordingly dealt

variously with them; he was merciful to suppliants, swift in pursuit

of fugitives, pitiless towards those who had crept into hiding-places,

burning them out after filling up the entrances and exits with

brushwood and bushes. As he was on his march along the frontier of the

Mardi, he was incessantly attacked by that tribe which is trained to

guerilla warfare, and defended by mountains against an invader.

Corbulo threw the Iberians on them, ravaged their country and punished

the enemy's daring at the cost of the blood of the foreigner.

Both Corbulo and his army, though suffering no losses in battle,

were becoming exhausted by short supplies and hardships, compelled

as they were to stave off hunger solely by the flesh of cattle.

Added to this was scarcity of water, a burning summer and long

marches, all of which were alleviated only by the general's patient

endurance. He bore indeed the same or even more burdens than the

common soldier. Subsequently, they reached lands under cultivation,

and reaped the crops, and of two fortresses in which the Armenians had

fled for refuge, one was taken by storm; the other, which repulsed the

first attack, was reduced by blockade. Thence the general crossed into

the country of the Tauraunites, where he escaped an unforeseen

peril. Near his tent, a barbarian of no mean rank was discovered

with a dagger, who divulged under torture the whole method of the

plot, its contrivance by himself, and his associates. The men who

under a show of friendship planned the treachery, were convicted and


Soon afterwards, Corbulo's envoys whom he had sent to

Tigranocerta, reported that the city walls were open, and the

inhabitants awaiting orders. They also handed him a gift denoting

friendship, a golden crown, which he acknowledged in complimentary

language. Nothing was done to humiliate the city, that remaining

uninjured it might continue to yield a more cheerful obedience.

The citadel, however, which had been closed by an intrepid band of

youths, was not stormed without a struggle. They even ventured on an

engagement under the walls, but were driven back within their

fortifications and succumbed at last only to our siege-works and to

the swords of furious assailants. The success was the easier, as the

Parthians were distracted by a war with the Hyrcanians, who had sent

to the Roman emperor, imploring alliance, and pointing to the fact

that they were detaining Vologeses as a pledge of amity. When these

envoys were on their way home, Corbulo, to save them from being

intercepted by the enemy's picquets after their passage of the

Euphrates, gave them an escort, and conducted them to the shores of

the Red Sea, whence, avoiding Parthian territory, they returned to

their native possessions.

Corbulo too, as Tiridates was entering the Armenian frontier through

Media, sent on Verulanus, his lieutenant-general with the auxiliaries,

while he himself followed with the legions by forced marches, and

compelled him to retreat to a distance and abandon the idea of war.

Having harried with fire and sword all whom he had ascertained to be

against us, he began to take possession of Armenia, when Tigranes

arrived, whom Nero had selected to assume the sovereignty. Though a

Cappadocian noble and grandson of king Archelaus, yet, from having

long been a hostage at Rome, he had sunk into servile

submissiveness. Nor was he unanimously welcomed, as some still

cherished a liking for the Arsacids. Most, however, in their hatred of

Parthian arrogance preferred a king given them by Rome. He was

supported too with a force of a thousand legionaries, three allied

cohorts and two squadrons of cavalry, that he might the more easily

secure his new kingdom. Parts of Armenia, according to their

respective proximities, were put under the subjection of

Pharasmanes, Polemo, Aristobulus, and Antiochus. Corbulo retired

into Syria, which province, as being vacant by the death of its

governor Ummidius, was intrusted to him.

One of the famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was that same year

overthrown by an earthquake, and, without any relief from us,

recovered itself by its own resources. In Italy meanwhile the old town

of Puteoli obtained from Nero the privileges of a colony with an

additional name. A further enrolment of veterans in Tarentum and

Antium did but little for those thinly peopled places; for most

scattered themselves in the provinces where they had completed their

military service. Not being accustomed to tie themselves by marriage

and rear children, they left behind them homes without families. For

whole legions were no longer transplanted, as in former days, with

tribunes and centurions and soldiers of every grade, so as to form a

state by their unity and mutual attachment, but strangers to one

another from different companies, without a head or any community of

sentiment, were suddenly gathered together, as it might be out of

any other class of human beings, and became a mere crowd rather than a


As at the elections for praetors, now generally under the Senate's

control there was the excitement of a particularly keen competition,

the emperor quieted matters by promoting the three supernumerary

candidates to legionary commands. He also raised the dignity of the

Senate, by deciding that all who appealed from private judges to its

house, were to incur the same pecuniary risk as those who referred

their cause to the emperor. Hitherto such an appeal had been perfectly

open, and free from penalty.

At the close of the year Vibius Secundus, a Roman knight, on the

accusation of the Moors, was convicted of extortion, and banished from

Italy, contriving through the influence of his brother Vibius

Crispus to escape heavier punishment.

In the consulship of Caesonius Paetus and Petronius Turpilianus, a

serious disaster was sustained in Britain, where Aulius Didius, the

emperor's legate, had merely retained our existing possessions, and

his successor Veranius, after having ravaged the Silures in some

trifling raids, was prevented by death from extending the war. While

he lived, he had a great name for manly independence, though, in his

will's final words, he betrayed a flatterer's weakness; for, after

heaping adulation on Nero, he added that he should have conquered

the province for him, had he lived for the next two years. Now,

however, Britain was in the hands of Suetonius Paulinus, who in

military knowledge and in popular favour, which allows no one to be

without a rival, vied with Corbulo, and aspired to equal the glory

of the recovery of Armenia by the subjugation of Rome's enemies. He

therefore prepared to attack the island of Mona which had a powerful

population and was a refuge for fugitives. He built flat-bottomed

vessels to cope with the shallows, and uncertain depths of the sea.

Thus the infantry crossed, while the cavalry followed by fording,

or, where the water was deep, swam by the side of their horses.

On the shore stood the opposing army with its dense array of armed

warriors, while between the ranks dashed women, in black attire like

the Furies, with hair dishevelled, waving brands. All around, the

Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven, and pouring forth dreadful

imprecations, scared our soldiers by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as

if their limbs were paralysed, they stood motionless, and exposed to

wounds. Then urged by their general's appeals and mutual

encouragements not to quail before a troop of frenzied women, they

bore the standards onwards, smote down all resistance, and wrapped the

foe in the flames of his own brands. A force was next set over the

conquered, and their groves, devoted to inhuman superstitions, were

destroyed. They deemed it indeed a duty to cover their altars with the

blood of captives and to consult their deities through human entrails.

Suetonius while thus occupied received tidings of the sudden

revolt of the province. Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, famed for his

long prosperity, had made the emperor his heir along with his two

daughters, under the impression that this token of submission would

put his kingdom and his house out of the reach of wrong. But the

reverse was the result, so much so that his kingdom was plundered by

centurions, his house by slaves, as if they were the spoils of war.

First, his wife Boudicea was scourged, and his daughters outraged. All

the chief men of the Iceni, as if Rome had received the whole

country as a gift, were stript of their ancestral possessions, and the

king's relatives were made slaves. Roused by these insults and the

dread of worse, reduced as they now were into the condition of a

province, they flew to arms and stirred to revolt the Trinobantes

and others who, not yet cowed by slavery, had agreed in secret

conspiracy to reclaim their freedom. It was against the veterans

that their hatred was most intense. For these new settlers in the

colony of Camulodunum drove people out of their houses, ejected them

from their farms, called them captives and slaves, and the lawlessness

of the veterans was encouraged by the soldiers, who lived a similar

life and hoped for similar licence. A temple also erected to the

Divine Claudius was ever before their eyes, a citadel, as it seemed,

of perpetual tyranny. Men chosen as priests had to squander their

whole fortunes under the pretence of a religious ceremonial. It

appeared too no difficult matter to destroy the colony, undefended

as it was by fortifications, a precaution neglected by our generals,

while they thought more of what was agreeable than of what was


Meanwhile, without any evident cause, the statue of Victory at

Camulodunum fell prostrate and turned its back to the enemy, as though

it fled before them. Women excited to frenzy prophesied impending

destruction; ravings in a strange tongue, it was said, were heard in

their Senate-house; their theatre resounded with wailings, and in

the estuary of the Tamesa had been seen the appearance of an

overthrown town; even the ocean had worn the aspect of blood, and,

when the tide ebbed, there had been left the likenesses of human

forms, marvels interpreted by the Britons, as hopeful, by the

veterans, as alarming. But as Suetonius was far away, they implored

aid from the procurator, Catus Decianus. All he did was to send two

hundred men, and no more, without regular arms, and there was in the

place but a small military force. Trusting to the protection of the

temple, hindered too by secret accomplices in the revolt, who

embarrassed their plans, they had constructed neither fosse nor

rampart; nor had they removed their old men and women, leaving their

youth alone to face the foe. Surprised, as it were, in the midst of

peace, they were surrounded by an immense host of the barbarians.

All else was plundered or fired in the onslaught; the temple where the

soldiers had assembled, was stormed after a two days' siege. The

victorious enemy met Petilius Cerialis, commander of the ninth legion,

as he was coming to the rescue, routed his troops, and destroyed all

his infantry. Cerialis escaped with some cavalry into the camp, and

was saved by its fortifications. Alarmed by this disaster and by the

fury of the province which he had goaded into war by his rapacity, the

procurator Catus crossed over into Gaul.

Suetonius, however, with wonderful resolution, marched amidst a

hostile population to Londinium, which, though undistinguished by

the name of a colony, was much frequented by a number of merchants and

trading vessels. Uncertain whether he should choose it as a seat of

war, as he looked round on his scanty force of soldiers, and

remembered with what a serious warning the rashness of Petilius had

been punished, he resolved to save the province at the cost of a

single town. Nor did the tears and weeping of the people, as they

implored his aid, deter him from giving the signal of departure and

receiving into his army all who would go with him. Those who were

chained to the spot by the weakness of their sex, or the infirmity

of age, or the attractions of the place, were cut off by the enemy.

Like ruin fell on the town of Verulamium, for the barbarians, who

delighted in plunder and were indifferent to all else, passed by the

fortresses with military garrisons, and attacked whatever offered most

wealth to the spoiler, and was unsafe for defence. About seventy

thousand citizens and allies, it appeared, fell in the places which

I have mentioned. For it was not on making prisoners and selling them,

or on any of the barter of war, that the enemy was bent, but on

slaughter, on the gibbet, the fire and the cross, like men soon

about to pay the penalty, and meanwhile snatching at instant


Suetonius had the fourteenth legion with the veterans of the

twentieth, and auxiliaries from the neighbourhood, to the number of

about ten thousand armed men, when he prepared to break off delay

and fight a battle. He chose a position approached by a narrow defile,

closed in at the rear by a forest, having first ascertained that there

was not a soldier of the enemy except in his front, where an open

plain extended without any danger from ambuscades. His legions were in

close array; round them, the light-armed troops, and the cavalry in

dense array on the wings. On the other side, the army of the

Britons, with its masses of infantry and cavalry, was confidently

exulting, a vaster host than ever had assembled, and so fierce in

spirit that they actually brought with them, to witness the victory,

their wives riding in waggons, which they had placed on the extreme

border of the plain.

Boudicea, with her daughters before her in a chariot, went up to

tribe after tribe, protesting that it was indeed usual for Britons

to fight under the leadership of women. "But now," she said, "it is

not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people

that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged

chastity of my daughters. Roman lust has gone so far that not our very

persons, nor even age or virginity, are left unpolluted. But heaven is

on the side of a righteous vengeance; a legion which dared to fight

has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in their camp, or are

thinking anxiously of flight. They will not sustain even the din and

the shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows. If

you weigh well the strength of the armies, and the causes of the

war, you will see that in this battle you must conquer or die. This is

a woman's resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves."

Nor was Suetonius silent at such a crisis. Though he confided in the

valour of his men, he yet mingled encouragements and entreaties to

disdain the clamours and empty threats of the barbarians. "There,"

he said, "you see more women than warriors. Unwarlike, unarmed, they

will give way the moment they have recognised that sword and that

courage of their conquerors, which have so often routed them. Even

among many legions, it is a few who really decide the battle, and it

will enhance their glory that a small force should earn the renown

of an entire army. Only close up the ranks, and having discharged your

javelins, then with shields and swords continue the work of

bloodshed and destruction, without a thought of plunder. When once the

victory has been won, everything will be in your power."

Such was the enthusiasm which followed the general's address,

and so promptly did the veteran soldiery, with their long experience

of battles, prepare for the hurling of the javelins, that it was

with confidence in the result that Suetonius gave the signal of


At first, the legion kept its position, clinging to the narrow

defile as a defence; when they had exhausted their missiles, which

they discharged with unerring aim on the closely approaching foe, they

rushed out in a wedge-like column. Similar was the onset of the

auxiliaries, while the cavalry with extended lances broke through

all who offered a strong resistance. The rest turned their back in

flight, and flight proved difficult, because the surrounding waggons

had blocked retreat. Our soldiers spared not to slay even the women,

while the very beasts of burden, transfixed by the missiles, swelled

the piles of bodies. Great glory, equal to that of our old

victories, was won on that day. Some indeed say that there fell little

less than eighty thousand of the Britons, with a loss to our

soldiers of about four hundred, and only as many wounded. Boudicea put

an end to her life by poison. Poenius Postumus too, camp-prefect of

the second legion, when he knew of the success of the men of the

fourteenth and twentieth, feeling that he had cheated his legion out

of like glory, and had contrary to all military usage disregarded

the general's orders, threw himself on his sword.

The whole army was then brought together and kept under canvas to

finish the remainder of the war. The emperor strengthened the forces

by sending from Germany two thousand legionaries, eight cohorts of

auxiliaries, and a thousand cavalry. On their arrival the men of the

ninth had their number made up with legionary soldiers. The allied

infantry and cavalry were placed in new winter quarters, and

whatever tribes still wavered or were hostile were ravaged with fire

and sword. Nothing however distressed the enemy so much as famine, for

they had been careless about sowing corn, people of every age having

gone to the war, while they reckoned on our supplies as their own.

Nations, too, so high-spirited inclined the more slowly to peace,

because Julius Classicanus, who had been sent as successor to Catus

and was at variance with Suetonius, let private animosities

interfere with the public interest, and had spread an idea that they

ought to wait for a new governor who, having neither the anger of an

enemy nor the pride of a conqueror, would deal mercifully with those

who had surrendered. At the same time he stated in a despatch to

Rome that no cessation of fighting must be expected, unless

Suetonius were superseded, attributing that general's disasters to

perverseness and his successes to good luck.

Accordingly one of the imperial freedmen, Polyclitus, was sent to

survey the state of Britain, Nero having great hopes that his

influence would be able not only to establish a good understanding

between the governor and the pro-curator, but also to pacify the

rebellious spirit of the barbarians. And Polyclitus, who with his

enormous suite had been a burden to Italy and Gaul, failed not, as

soon as he had crossed the ocean, to make his progresses a terror even

to our soldiers. But to the enemy he was a laughing-stock, for they

still retained some of the fire of liberty, knowing nothing yet of the

power of freedmen, and so they marvelled to see a general and an

army who had finished such a war cringing to slaves. Everything,

however, was softened down for the emperor's ears, and Suetonius was

retained in the government; but as he subsequently lost a few

vessels on the shore with the crews, he was ordered, as though the war

continued, to hand over his army to Petronius Turpilianus, who had

just resigned his consulship. Petronius neither challenged the enemy

nor was himself molested, and veiled this tame inaction under the

honourable name of peace.

That same year two remarkable crimes were committed at Rome, one

by a senator, the other by the daring of a slave. Domitius Balbus,

an ex-praetor, from his prolonged old age, his childlessness and his

wealth, was exposed to many a plot. His kinsman, Valerius Fabianus,

who was marked out for a career of promotion, forged a will in his

name with Vinicius Rufinus and Terentius Lentinus, Roman knights,

for his accomplices. These men had associated with them Antonius

Primus and Asinius Marcellus. Antonius was a man of ready audacity;

Marcellus had the glory of being the great-grandson of Asinius Pollio,

and bore a character far from contemptible, except that he thought

poverty the greatest of all evils. So Fabianus, with the persons

whom I have named and some others less distinguished, executed the

will. The crime was proved against them before the Senate, and

Fabianus and Antonius with Rufinus and Terentius were condemned

under the Cornelian law. Marcellus was saved from punishment rather

than from disgrace by the memory of his ancestors and the

intercessions of the emperor.

That same day was fatal also to Pompeius Aelianus, a young

ex-quaestor, suspected of complicity in the villanies of Fabianus.

He was outlawed from Italy, and from Spain, where he was born.

Valerius Pontius suffered the same degradation for having indicted the

defendants before the praetor to save them from being prosecuted in

the court of the city-prefect, purposing meanwhile to defeat justice

on some legal pretext and subsequently by collusion. A clause was

added to the Senate's decree, that whoever bought or sold such a

service was to be just as liable to punishment as if he had been

publicly convicted of false accusation.

Soon afterwards one of his own slaves murdered the city-prefect,

Pedanius Secundus, either because he had been refused his freedom, for

which he had made a bargain, or in the jealousy of a love in which

he could not brook his master's rivalry. Ancient custom required

that the whole slave-establishment which had dwelt under the same roof

should be dragged to execution, when a sudden gathering of the

populace, which was for saving so many innocent lives, brought matters

to actual insurrection. Even in the Senate there was a strong

feeling on the part of those who shrank from extreme rigour, though

the majority were opposed to any innovation. Of these, Caius

Cassius, in giving his vote, argued to the following effect:-

"Often have I been present, Senators, in this assembly when new

decrees were demanded from us contrary to the customs and laws of

our ancestors, and I have refrained from opposition, not because I

doubted but that in all matters the arrangements of the past were

better and fairer and that all changes were for the worse, but that

I might not seem to be exalting my own profession out of an

excessive partiality for ancient precedent. At the same time I thought

that any influence I possess ought not to be destroyed by incessant

protests, wishing that it might remain unimpaired, should the State

ever need my counsels. To-day this has come to pass, since an

ex-consul has been murdered in his house by the treachery of slaves,

which not one hindered or divulged, though the Senate's decree,

which threatens the entire slave-establishment with execution, has

been till now unshaken. Vote impunity, in heaven's name, and then

who will be protected by his rank, when the prefecture of the

capital has been of no avail to its holder? Who will be kept safe by

the number of his slaves when four hundred have not protected Pedanius

Secundus? Which of us will be rescued by his domestics, who, even with

the dread of punishment before them, regard not our dangers? Was the

murderer, as some do not blush to pretend, avenging his wrongs because

he had bargained about money from his father or because a family-slave

was taken from him? Let us actually decide that the master was

justly slain.

"Is it your pleasure to search for arguments in a matter already

weighed in the deliberations of wiser men than ourselves? Even if we

had now for the first time to come to a decision, do you believe

that a slave took courage to murder his master without letting fall

a threatening word or uttering a rash syllable? Granted that he

concealed his purpose, that he procured his weapon without his

fellows' knowledge. Could he pass the night-guard, could he open the

doors of the chamber, carry in a light, and accomplish the murder,

while all were in ignorance? There are many preliminaries to guilt; if

these are divulged by slaves, we may live singly amid numbers, safe

among a trembling throng; lastly, if we must perish, it will be with

vengeance on the guilty. Our ancestors always suspected the temper

of their slaves, even when they were born on the same estates, or in

the same houses with themselves and thus inherited from their birth an

affection for their masters. But now that we have in our households

nations with different customs to our own, with a foreign worship or

none at all, it is only by terror you can hold in such a motley

rabble. But, it will be said, the innocent will perish. Well, even

in a beaten army when every tenth man is felled by the club, the lot

falls also on the brave. There is some injustice in every great

precedent, which, though injurious to individuals, has its

compensation in the public advantage."

No one indeed dared singly to oppose the opinion of Cassius, but

clamorous voices rose in reply from all who pitied the number, age, or

sex, as well as the undoubted innocence of the great majority.

Still, the party which voted for their execution prevailed. But the

sentence could not be obeyed in the face of a dense and threatening

mob, with stones and firebrands. Then the emperor reprimanded the

people by edict, and lined with a force of soldiers the entire route

by which the condemned had to be dragged to execution. Cingonius Varro

had proposed that even all the freedmen under the same roof should

be transported from Italy. This the emperor forbade, as he did not

wish an ancient custom, which mercy had not relaxed, to be strained

with cruel rigour.

During the same consulship, Tarquitius Priscus was convicted of

extortion on the prosecution of the Bithynians, to the great joy of

the senators, who remembered that he had impeached Statilius, his

own pro-consul. An assessment was made of Gaul by Quintus Volusius,

Sextius Africanus, and Trebellius Maximus. There was a rivalry, on the

score of rank, between Volusius and Africanus. While they both

disdained Trebellius, they raised him above themselves.

In that year died Memmius Regulus, who from his solid worth and

consistency was as distinguished as it is possible to be under the

shadow of an emperor's grandeur, so much so, in fact, that Nero when

he was ill, with flatterers round him, who said that if aught befell

him in the course of destiny, there must be an end of the empire,

replied that the State had a resource, and on their asking where it

was specially to be found, he added, "in Memmius Regulus." Yet Regulus

lived after this, protected by his retiring habits, and by the fact

that he was a man of newly-risen family and of wealth which did not

provoke envy. Nero, the same year, established a gymnasium, where

oil was furnished to knights and senators after the lax fashion of the


In the consulship of Publius Marius and Lucius Asinius, Antistius,

the praetor, whose lawless behaviour as tribune of the people I have

mentioned, composed some libellous verses on the emperor, which he

openly recited at a large gathering, when he was dining at the house

of Ostorius Scapula. He was upon this impeached of high treason by

Cossutianus Capito, who had lately been restored to a senator's rank

on the intercession of his father-in-law, Tigellinus. This was the

first occasion on which the law of treason was revived, and men

thought that it was not so much the ruin of Antistius which was

aimed at, as the glory of the emperor, whose veto as tribune might

save from death one whom the Senate had condemned. Though Ostorius had

stated that he had heard nothing as evidence, the adverse witnesses

were believed, and Junius Marullus, consul-elect, proposed that the

accused should be deprived of his praetorship, and be put to death

in the ancient manner. The rest assented, and then Paetus Thrasea,

after much eulogy of Caesar, and most bitter censure of Antistius,

argued that it was not what a guilty prisoner might deserve to suffer,

which ought to be decreed against him, under so excellent a prince,

and by a Senate bound by no compulsion. "The executioner and the

halter," he said, "we have long ago abolished; still, there are

punishments ordained by the laws, which prescribe penalties, without

judicial cruelty and disgrace to our age. Rather send him to some

island, after confiscating his property; there, the longer he drags on

his guilty life, the more wretched will he be personally, and the more

conspicuous as an example of public clemency."

Thrasea's freespokenness broke through the servility of the other

senators. As soon as the consul allowed a division, they voted with

him, with but few exceptions. Among these, the most enthusiastic in

his flattery was Aulus Vitellius, who attacked all the best men with

abuse, and was silent when they replied, the usual way of a cowardly

temper. The consuls, however, did not dare to ratify the Senate's

vote, and simply communicated their unanimous resolution to the

emperor. Hesitating for a while between shame and rage, he at last

wrote to them in reply "that Antistius, without having been provoked

by any wrong, had uttered outrageous insults against the sovereign;

that a demand for punishment had been submitted to the Senate, and

that it was right that a penalty should be decreed proportioned to the

offence; that for himself, inasmuch as he would have opposed

severity in the sentence, he would not be an obstacle to leniency.

They might determine as they pleased, and they had free liberty to


This and more to the same effect having been read out, clearly

showing his displeasure, the consuls did not for that reason alter the

terms of the motion, nor did Thrasea withdraw his proposal, or the

Senate reject what it had once approved. Some were afraid of seeming

to expose the emperor to odium; the majority felt safe in numbers,

while Thrasea was supported by his usual firmness of spirit, and a

determination not to let his fame perish.

A similar accusation caused the downfall of Fabricius Veiento. He

had composed many libels on senators and pontiffs in a work to which

he gave the title of "Codicils." Talius Geminus, the prosecutor,

further stated that he had habitually trafficked in the emperor's

favours and in the right of promotion. This was Nero's reason for

himself undertaking the trial, and having convicted Veiento, he

banished him from Italy, and ordered the burning of his books,

which, while it was dangerous to procure them, were anxiously sought

and much read. Soon full freedom for their possession caused their


But while the miseries of the State were daily growing worse, its

supports were becoming weaker. Burrus died, whether from illness or

from poison was a question. It was supposed to be illness from the

fact that from the gradual swelling of his throat inwardly and the

closing up of the passage he ceased to breathe. Many positively

asserted that by Nero's order his throat was smeared with some

poisonous drug under the pretence of the application of a remedy,

and that Burrus, who saw through the crime, when the emperor paid

him a visit, recoiled with horror from his gaze, and merely replied to

his question, "I indeed am well." Rome felt for him a deep and lasting

regret, because of the remembrance of his worth, because too of the

merely passive virtue of one of his successors and the very flagrant

iniquities of the other. For the emperor had appointed two men to

the command of the praetorian cohorts, Faenius Rufus, for a vulgar

popularity, which he owed to his administration of the corn-supplies

without profit to himself; and Sofonius Tigellinus, whose inveterate

shamelessness and infamy were an attraction to him. As might have been

expected from their known characters, Tigellinus had the greater

influence with the prince, and was the associate of his most secret

profligacy, while Rufus enjoyed the favour of the people and of the

soldiers, and this, he found, prejudiced him with Nero.

The death of Burrus was a blow to Seneca's power, for virtue had not

the same strength when one of its companions, so to say, was

removed, and Nero too began to lean on worse advisers. They assailed

Seneca with various charges, representing that he continued to

increase a wealth which was already so vast as to be beyond the

scale of a subject, and was drawing to himself the attachment of the

citizens, while in the picturesqueness of his gardens and the

magnificence of his country houses he almost surpassed the emperor.

They further alleged against him that he claimed for himself alone the

honours of eloquence, and composed poetry more assiduously, as soon as

a passion for it had seized on Nero. "Openly inimical to the

prince's amusements, he disparaged his ability in driving horses,

and ridiculed his voice whenever he sang. When was there to be an

end of nothing being publicly admired but what Seneca was thought to

have originated? Surely Nero's boyhood was over, and he was all but in

the prime of youthful manhood. He ought to shake off a tutor,

furnished as he was with sufficiently noble instructors in his own


Seneca, meanwhile, aware of these slanders, which were revealed to

him by those who had some respect for merit, coupled with the fact

that the emperor more and more shunned his intimacy, besought the

opportunity of an interview. This was granted, and he spoke as


"It is fourteen years ago, Caesar, that I was first associated

with your prospects, and eight years since you have been emperor. In

the interval, you have heaped on me such honours and riches that

nothing is wanting to my happiness but a right use of it. I will refer

to great examples taken not from my own but from your position. Your

great-grandfather Augustus granted to Marcus Agrippa the calm repose

of Mitylene, to Caius Maecenas what was nearly equivalent to a foreign

retreat in the capital itself. One of these men shared his wars; the

other struggled with many laborious duties at Rome; both received

awards which were indeed splendid, but only proportioned to their

great merits. For myself, what other recompense had I for your

munificence, than a culture nursed, so to speak, in the shade of

retirement, and to which a glory attaches itself, because I thus

seem to have helped on the early training of your youth, an ample

reward for the service.

"You on the other hand have surrounded me with vast influence and

boundless wealth, so that I often think within myself, Am I, who am

but of an equestrian and provincial family, numbered among the chief

men of Rome? Among nobles who can show a long succession of glories,

has my new name become famous? Where is the mind once content with a

humble lot? Is this the man who is building up his garden terraces,

who paces grandly through these suburban parks, and revels in the

affluence of such broad lands and such widely-spread investments? Only

one apology occurs to me, that it would not have been right in me to

have thwarted your bounty.

"And yet we have both filled up our respective measures, you in

giving as much as a prince can bestow on a friend, and I in

receiving as much as a friend can receive from a prince. All else only

fosters envy, which, like all things human, sinks powerless beneath

your greatness, though on me it weighs heavily. To me relief is a

necessity. Just as I should implore support if exhausted by warfare or

travel, so in this journey of life, old as I am and unequal even to

the lightest cares, since I cannot any longer bear the burden of my

wealth, I crave assistance. Order my property to be managed by your

agents and to be included in your estate. Still I shall not sink

myself into poverty, but having surrendered the splendours which

dazzle me, I will henceforth again devote to my mind all the leisure

and attention now reserved for my gardens and country houses. You have

yet before you a vigorous prime, and that on which for so many years

your eyes were fixed, supreme power. We, your older friends, can

answer for our quiet behaviour. It will likewise redound to your

honour that you have raised to the highest places men who could also

bear moderate fortune."

Nero's reply was substantially this:- "My being able to meet your

elaborate speech with an instant rejoinder is, I consider, primarily

your gift, for you taught me how to express myself not only after

reflection but at a moment's notice. My great-grandfather Augustus

allowed Agrippa and Maecenas to enjoy rest after their labours, but he

did it at an age carrying with it an authority sufficient to justify

any boon, of any sort, he might have bestowed. But neither of them did

he strip of the rewards he had given. It was by war and its perils

they had earned them; for in these the youth of Augustus was spent.

And if I had passed my years in arms, your sword and right hand

would not have failed me. But, as my actual condition required, you

watched over my boyhood, then over my youth, with wisdom, counsel, and

advice. And indeed your gifts to me will, as long as life holds out,

be lasting possessions; those which you owe to me, your parks,

investments, your country houses, are liable to accidents. Though they

seem much, many far inferior to you in merit have obtained more. I

am ashamed to quote the names of freedmen who parade a greater wealth.

Hence I actually blush to think that, standing as you do first in my

affections, you do not as yet surpass all in fortune.

"Yours too is a still vigorous manhood, quite equal to the labours

of business and to the fruit of those labours; and, as for myself, I

am but treading the threshold of empire. But perhaps you count

yourself inferior to Vitellius, thrice a consul, and me to Claudius.

Such wealth as long thrift has procured for Volusius, my bounty, you

think, cannot fully make up to you. Why not rather, if the frailty

of my youth goes in any respect astray, call me back and guide yet

more zealously with your help the manhood which you have instructed?

It will not be your moderation, if you restore me your wealth, not

your love of quiet, if you forsake your emperor, but my avarice, the

fear of my cruelty, which will be in all men's mouths. Even if your

self-control were praised to the utmost, still it would not be

seemly in a wise man to get glory for himself in the very act of

bringing disgrace on his friend."

To these words the emperor added embraces and kisses; for he was

formed by nature and trained by habit to veil his hatred under

delusive flattery. Seneca thanked him, the usual end of an interview

with a despot. But he entirely altered the practices of his former

greatness; he kept the crowds of his visitors at a distance, avoided

trains of followers, seldom appeared in Rome, as though weak health or

philosophical studies detained him at home.

When Seneca had fallen, it was easy to shake the position of Faenius

Rufus by making Agrippina's friendship a charge against him.

Tigellinus, who was daily becoming more powerful and who thought

that the wicked schemings which alone gave him strength, would be

better liked if he could secure the emperor's complicity in guilt,

dived into Nero's most secret apprehensions, and, as soon as he had

ascertained that Plautus and Sulla were the men he most dreaded,

Plautus having been lately sent away to Asia, Sulla to Gallia

Narbonensis, he spoke much of their noble rank and of their respective

proximity to the armies of the East and of Germany. "I have no eye,"

he said, "like Burrus, to two conflicting aims, but only to Nero's

safety, which is at least secured against treachery in Rome by my

presence. As for distant commotions, how can they be checked? Gaul

is roused at the name of the great dictator, and I distrust no less

the nations of Asia, because of the renown of such a grandfather as

Drusus. Sulla is poor, and hence comes his surpassing audacity; he

shams apathy, while he is seeking an opening for his reckless

ambition. Plautus again, with his great wealth, does not so much as

affect a love of repose, but he flaunts before us his imitations of

the old Romans, and assumes the self-consciousness of the Stoics along

with a philosophy, which makes men restless, and eager for a busy


There was not a moment's delay. Sulla, six days afterwards, was

murdered by assassins brought over to Massilia, while he was reclining

at the dinner-table, before he feared or heard of his danger. The head

was taken to Rome, and Nero scoffed at its premature grey hairs as

if they were a disfigurement.

It was less of a secret that there was a design to murder Plautus,

as his life was dear to many. The distance too by land and sea, and

the interval of time, had given rise to rumours, and the popular story

was that he had tampered with Corbulo, who was then at the head of

great armies, and would be a special mark for danger, if illustrious

and innocent men were to be destroyed. Again Asia, it was said, from

its partiality for the young man, had taken up arms, and the

soldiers sent to do the crime, not being sufficient in number or

decided in purpose, and, finding themselves unable to execute their

orders, had gone over to the new cause. These absurdities, like all

popular gossip, gathered strength from the idle leisure of a credulous


As it was, one of Plautus's freedmen, thanks to swift winds, arrived

before the centurion and brought him a message from his father-in-law,

Lucius Antistius. "He was to avoid the obvious refuge of a coward's

death, and in the pity felt for a noble name he would soon find good

men to help him, and daring spirits would rally round him. Meantime no

resource was to be rejected. If he did but repel sixty soldiers

(this was the number on the way), while tidings were being carried

back to Nero, while another force was on its march, many events

would follow which would ripen into war. Finally, by this plan he

either secured safety, or he would suffer nothing worse by daring than

by cowardice."

But all this had no effect on Plautus. Either he saw no resource

before him, an unarmed exile as he was, or he was weary of an

uncertain hope, or was swayed by his love of his wife and of his

children, to whom he thought the emperor, if harassed by no anxiety,

would be more merciful. Some say that another message came to him from

his father-in-law, representing that no dreadful peril hung over

him, and that two teachers of philosophy, Coeranus from Greece and

Musonius from Etruria, advised him to await death with firmness rather

than lead a precarious and anxious life. At all events, he was

surprised at midday, when stripped for exercise. In that state the

centurion slew him in the presence of Pelago, an eunuch, whom Nero had

set over the centurion and his company, like a despot's minister

over his satellites.

The head of the murdered man was brought to Rome. At its sight the

emperor exclaimed (I give his very words), "Why would you have been

a Nero?" Then casting off all fear he prepared to hurry on his

marriage with Poppaea, hitherto deferred because of such alarms as I

have described, and to divorce his wife Octavia, notwithstanding her

virtuous life, because her father's name and the people's affection

for her made her an offence to him. He wrote, however, a letter to the

Senate, confessing nothing about the murders of Sulla and Plautus, but

merely hinting that both had a restless temper, and that he gave the

most anxious thought to the safety of the State. On this pretext a

thanksgiving was decreed, and also the expulsion from the Senate of

Sulla and Plautus, more grievous, however, as a farce than as an

actual calamity.

Nero, on receiving this decree of the Senate and seeing that every

piece of his wickedness was regarded as a conspicuous merit, drove

Octavia from him, alleging that she was barren, and then married

Poppaea. The woman who had long been Nero's mistress and ruled him

first as a paramour, then as her husband, instigated one of

Octavia's servants to accuse her an intrigue with a slave. The man

fixed on as the guilty lover was one by name Eucaerus, an

Alexandrine by birth, skilled in singing to the flute. As a

consequence, her slave-girls were examined under torture, and though

some were forced by the intensity of agony into admitting

falsehoods, most of them persisted in upholding the virtue of their

mistress. One of them said, in answer to the furious menaces of

Tigellinus, that Octavia's person was purer than his mouth. Octavia,

however, was dismissed under the form of an ordinary divorce, and

received possession of the house of Burrus and of the estates of

Plautus, an ill-starred gift. She was soon afterwards banished to

Campania under military surveillance. This led to incessant and

outspoken remonstrances among the common people, who have less

discretion and are exposed to fewer dangers than others from the

insignificance of their position. Upon this Nero, though he did not

repent of his outrage, restored to Octavia her position as wife.

Then people in their joy went up to the Capitol and, at last, gave

thanks to the gods. They threw down the statues of Poppaea; they

bore on their shoulders the images of Octavia, covering them with

flowers, and setting them up in the forum and in the temples. There

was even a burst of applause for the emperor, men hailing the recalled

Octavia. And now they were pouring into the Palace in crowds, with

loud shoutings, when some companies of soldiers rushed out and

dispersed the tumultuous throng with blows, and at the point of the

sword. Whatever changes had been made in the riot, were reversed,

and Poppaea's honours restored. Ever relentless in her hatred, she was

now enraged by the fear that either the violence of the mob would

burst on her with yet fiercer fury, or that Nero would be swayed by

the popular bias, and so, flinging herself at his knees, she exclaimed

that she was not in the position of a rival fighting for marriage,

though that was dearer to her than life, but that her very life was

brought into jeopardy by the dependants and slaves of Octavia, who had

assumed the name of the people, and dared in peace what could hardly

happen in war. "Those arms," she said, "have been taken up against the

emperor; a leader only is wanting, and he will easily be found in a

commotion. Only let her whose mere beck, though she is far away, stirs

up tumult, quit Campania, and make her way in person to Rome. And,

again, what is my sin? What offense have I caused any one? Is it

that I am about to give to the house of the Caesars a lawful heir?

Do the people of Rome prefer that the offspring of an Egyptian

fluteplayer should be raised to the imperial throne? In a word, if

it be expedient, Nero should of his own choice rather than on

compulsion send for her who ruled him, or else secure his safety by

a righteous vengeance. The beginning of a commotion has often been

quieted by slight precautions; but if people once despair of Octavia

being Nero's wife, they will soon find her a husband."

Her various arguments, tending both to frighten and to enrage, at

once alarmed and incensed her listener. But the suspicion about the

slave was of little weight, and the torture of the slave-girls exposed

its absurdity. Consequently it was decided to procure a confession

from some one on whom could also be fastened a charge of revolutionary

designs. Fittest for this seemed the perpetrator of the mother's

murder, Anicetus, commander, as I have already mentioned, of the fleet

at Misenum, who got but scant gratitude after that atrocious deed, and

subsequently all the more vehement hatred, inasmuch as men look on

their instruments in crime as a sort of standing reproach to them.

The emperor accordingly sent for Anicetus, and reminded him of his

former service. "He alone," he said, "had come to the rescue of the

prince's life against a plotting mother. Close at hand was a chance of

winning no less gratitude by ridding him of a malignant wife. No

violence or weapons were needed; only let him confess to an intrigue

with Octavia." Nero then promised him a secret but ample immediate

recompense, and some delightful retreat, while he threatened him

with death in case of refusal. Anicetus, with the moral

insensibility of his nature and a promptness inspired by previous

atrocities, invented even more than was required of him, and confessed

before friends whom the prince had called in, as a sort of judicial

council. He was then banished to Sardinia, where he endured exile

without poverty, and died a natural death.

Nero meanwhile declared by edict that the prefect had been corrupted

into a design of gaining over the fleet, and added, in forgetfulness

of his late charge of barrenness against Octavia, that, conscious of

her profligacies, she had procured abortion, a fact he had himself

ascertained. Then he confined her in the island of Pandataria. No

exile ever filled the eyes of beholders with tears of greater

compassion. Some still remembered Agrippina, banished by Tiberius, and

the yet fresher memory of Julia, whom Claudius exiled, was present

to men's thoughts. But they had life's prime for their stay; they

had seen some happiness, and the horror of the moment was alleviated

by recollections of a better lot in the past. For Octavia, from the

first, her marriage-day was a kind of funeral, brought, as she was,

into a house where she had nothing but scenes of mourning, her

father and, an instant afterwards, her brother, having been snatched

from her by poison; then, a slave-girl raised above the mistress;

Poppaea married only to insure a wife's ruin, and, to end all, an

accusation more horrible than any death.

And now the girl, in her twentieth year, with centurions and

soldiers around her, already removed from among the living by the

forecast of doom, still could not reconcile herself to death. After an

interval of a few days, she received an order that she was to die,

although she protested that she was now a widow and only a sister, and

appealed to their common ancestors, the Germanici, and finally to

the name of Agrippina, during whose life she had endured a marriage,

which was miserable enough indeed, but not fatal. She was then tightly

bound with cords, and the veins of every limb were opened; but as

her blood was congealed by terror and flowed too slowly, she was

killed outright by the steam of an intensely hot bath. To this was

added the yet more appalling horror of Poppaea beholding the severed

head which was conveyed to Rome.

And for all this offerings were voted to the temples. I record the

fact with a special object. Whoever would study the calamities of that

period in my pages or those of other authors, is to take it for

granted that as often as the emperor directed banishments or

executions, so often was there a thanksgiving to the gods, and what

formerly commemorated some prosperous event, was then a token of

public disaster. Still, if any decree of the Senate was marked by some

new flattery, or by the lowest servility, I shall not pass it over

in silence.

That same year Nero was believed to have destroyed by poison two

of his most powerful freedmen, Doryphorus, on the pretext of his

having opposed the marriage with Poppaea, Pallas for still keeping his

boundless wealth by a prolonged old age. Romanus had accused Seneca in

stealthy calumnies, of having been an accomplice of Caius Piso, but he

was himself crushed more effectually by Seneca on the same charge.

This alarmed Piso, and gave rise to a huge fabric of unsuccessful

conspiracies against Nero.

BOOK XV, A.D. 62-65

MEANWHILE, the Parthian king, Vologeses, when he heard of

Corbulo's achievements and of a foreign prince, Tigranes, having

been set over Armenia, though he longed at the same time to avenge the

majesty of the Arsacids, which had been insulted by the expulsion of

his brother Tiridates, was, on the other hand, drawn to different

thoughts as he reflected on the greatness of Rome, and felt

reverence for a hitherto unbroken treaty. Naturally irresolute, he was

now hampered by a revolt of the Hyrcanians, a powerful tribe, and by

several wars arising out of it. Suddenly, as he was wavering, fresh

and further tidings of disgrace goaded him to action. Tigranes,

quitting Armenia, had ravaged the Adiabeni, a people on its border,

too extensively and continuously for mere plundering raids. The

chief men of the tribes were indignant at having fallen into such

contempt that they were victims to the inroads, not indeed of a

Roman general, but of a daring hostage, who for so many years had been

numbered among slaves. Their anger was inflamed by Monobazus, who

ruled the Adiabeni, and repeatedly asked what protection he was to

seek and from what quarter- "Already," he said, "Armenia has been

given up, and its borders are being wrested from us, and unless the

Parthians help us, we shall find that subjection to Rome is lighter

for those who surrender than for the conquered." Tiridates too,

exile as he was from his kingdom, by his silence or very moderate

complaints made the deeper impression. "It is not," he urged, "by weak

inaction that great empires are held together; there must be the

struggle of brave men in arms; might is right with those who are at

the summit of power. And though it is the glory of a private house

to keep its own, it is the glory of a king to fight for the

possessions of others."

Moved by these considerations Vologeses called a council, placed

Tiridates by his side, and began to speak as follows: "This man before

you, born from the same father as myself, having waived in my

favour, on the ground of age, the highest title of all, was

established by me in the possession of Armenia, which is accounted the

third grade of power. As for Media, Pacorus was already in

possession of it. And I thought to myself that I had duly arranged our

family and home so as to guard against the old feuds and rivalries

of brothers. The Romans thwart me, and though they have never with

success to themselves disturbed the peace between us, they are now

again breaking it to their own destruction. I will not attempt to deny

one thing. It was by just dealing rather than by bloodshed, by

having a good cause rather than by arms, that I had wished to retain

what my ancestors had won. If I have sinned through irresolution, my

valour shall make amends for it. Assuredly your strength and renown

are at their height, and you have in addition the repute of obedience,

which the greatest of mortals must not despise, and which the gods

highly esteem."

As he spoke, he encircled Tiridates' brow with a diadem, and to

Moneses, a noble, he entrusted a highly efficient body of cavalry,

which was the king's customary escort, giving him also some

auxiliaries from the Adiabeni, and orders that Tigranes was to be

driven out of Armenia. He would himself abandon his feud with the

Hyrcanians, and raise his own national force in all its warlike

strength by way of menace to the Roman provinces.

When Corbulo had heard all this from messengers he could trust, he

sent two legions under Verulanus Severus and Vettius Bolanus to the

support of Tigranes, with secret instructions that they were to

conduct all their operations with deliberation rather than despatch,

as he would prefer to sustain rather than to make war. And indeed he

had written to the emperor that a general was wanted specially for the

defence of Armenia, and that Syria, threatened as it was by Vologeses,

was in yet more imminent peril. Meanwhile he posted his remaining

legions on the bank of the Euphrates, armed a hastily collected

force of provincials, and occupied with troops the enemy's approaches.

And as the country was deficient in water, he established forts to

guard the wells, and concealed some of the streams with heaps of sand.

While Corbulo was thus preparing for the defence of Syria, Moneses

rapidly pushed on his forces to anticipate the rumour of his

advance, but he did not any the more find Tigranes unaware of or

unprepared for his movement. He had, in fact, occupied Tigranocerta, a

city strong from the multitude of its defenders and the vastness of

its fortifications. In addition, the river Nicephorius, the breadth of

which is far from contemptible, circled a portion of its walls, and

a wide fosse was drawn where they distrusted the protection of the

stream. There were some soldiers too, and supplies previously

provided. In the conveyance of these a few men had hurried on too

eagerly, and, having been surprised by a sudden attack from the enemy,

had inspired their comrades with rage rather than fear. But the

Parthian has not the daring in close combat needed for a successful

siege. His thin showers of arrows do not alarm men within walls, and

only disappoint himself. The Adiabeni, when they began to advance

their scaling ladders and engines, were easily driven back, and then

cut down by a sally of our men.

Corbulo, however, notwithstanding his successes thought he must

use his good fortune with moderation, and sent Vologeses a message

of remonstrance against the violence done to a Roman province, and the

blockade of an allied and friendly king and of Roman cohorts. "He

had better give up the siege, or he, Corbulo too would encamp in his

territory, as on hostile ground." Casperius, a centurion selected

for this mission, had an interview with the king at the town

Nisibis, thirty-seven miles distant from Tigranocerta, and with

fearless spirit announced his message. With Vologeses it was an old

and deep conviction that he should shun the arms of Rome. Nor was

the present going smoothly with him. The seige was a failure; Tigranes

was safe with his troops and supplies; those who had undertaken the

storming of the place had been routed; legions had been sent into

Armenia, and other legions were ready to rush to the attack on

behalf of Syria, while his own cavalry was crippled by want of food. A

host of locusts, suddenly appearing, had devoured every blade of grass

and every leaf. And so, hiding his fear and presenting a more

conciliatory attitude, he replied that he would send envoys to the

Roman emperor for the possession of Armenia and the conclusion of a

lasting peace. He ordered Moneses to leave Tigranocerta, while he

himself retired.

Many spoke highly of these results, as due to the king's alarm and

the threats of Corbulo, and as splendid successes. Others explained

them as a secret understanding that with the cessation of war on

both sides and the departure of Vologeses, Tigranes also was to quit

Armenia. "Why," it was asked, "had the Roman army been withdrawn

from Tigranocerta? Why had they abandoned in peace what they had

defended in war? Was it better for them to have wintered on the

confines of Cappadocia in hastily constructed huts, than in the

capital of a kingdom lately recovered? There had been, in short, a

suspension of arms, in order that Vologeses might fight some other foe

than Corbulo, and that Corbulo might not further risk the glory he had

earned in so many years. For, as I have related, he had asked for a

general exclusively for the defence of Armenia, and it was heard

that Caesennius Paetus was on his way. And indeed he had now

arrived, and the army was thus divided; the fourth and twelfth

legions, with the fifth which had lately been raised in Moesia and the

auxiliaries from Pontus, Galatia and Cappadocia, were under the

command of Paetus, while the third, sixth, and tenth legions and the

old soldiery of Syria remained with Corbulo. All else they were to

share or divide between them according to circumstances. But as

Corbulo could not endure a rival, so Paetus, who would have been

sufficiently honoured by ranking second to him, disparaged the results

of the war, and said repeatedly that there had been no bloodshed or

spoil, that the sieges of cities were sieges only in name, and that he

would soon impose on the conquered tribute and laws and Roman

administration, instead of the empty shadow of a king.

About the same time the envoys of Vologeses, who had been sent, as I

have related, to the emperor, returned without success, and the

Parthians made open war. Nor did Paetus decline the challenge, but

with two legions, the 4th and 12th, the first of which was then

commanded by Funisulanus Vettonianus and the second by Calavius

Sabinus, entered Armenia, with unlucky omen. In the passage of the

Euphrates, which they crossed by a bridge, a horse which carried the

consul's official emblems, took fright without any apparent cause

and fled to the rear. A victim, too, standing by some of the

winter-tents, which were being fortified, broke its way through

them, when the work was but half finished, and got clear out of the

entrenchments. Then again the soldiers' javelins gleamed with light, a

prodigy the more significant because the Parthian foe fights with


Paetus, however, despising omens, before he had yet thoroughly

fortified his winter-camp or provided for his corn supply, hurried his

army across Mount Taurus, for the recovery, as he gave out, of

Tigranocerta and the ravaging of the country which Corbulo had left

untouched. Some forts too were taken, and some glory as well as

plunder had been secured, if only he had enjoyed his glory modestly,

and his plunder with vigilance. While he was overrunning in tedious

expeditions districts which could not be held, the supplies which

had been captured, were spoilt, and as winter was now at hand, he

led back his army and wrote a letter to the emperor, as if the war was

finished, in pompous language, but barren of facts.

Meanwhile Corbulo occupied the bank of the Euphrates, which he had

never neglected, with troops at closer intervals. That he might have

no hindrance in throwing a bridge over it from the enemy's cavalry,

which was already scouring the adjoining plains with a formidable

display, he launched on the river some vessels of remarkable size,

linked together by beams, with towers rising from their decks, and

with catapults and balistas he drove off the barbarians. The stones

and spears penetrated their host at a range beyond the reach of the

opposing volleys of arrows. The bridge was then completed, and the

hills facing us were occupied by our auxiliary infantry, then, by

the entrenchments of the legions, with such rapidity and such a

display of force that the Parthians, giving up their preparations

for the invasion of Syria, concentrated all their hopes on Armenia.

Paetus, ignorant of the impending danger, was keeping the 5th legion

at a distance in Pontus; the rest he had weakened by indiscriminate

furloughs, till it was heard that Vologeses was approaching with a

powerful force bent on war. He summoned the 12th legion, and then

was discovered the numerical feebleness of the source from which he

had hoped for the repute of an augmented army. Yet even thus the

camp might have been held, and the Parthian foe baffled, by

protracting the war, had Paetus stood firm either by his own

counsels or by those of others. But though military men had put him on

his guard against imminent disasters, still, not wishing to seem to

need the advice of others, he would fall back on some quite

different and inferior plan. So now, leaving his winter quarters,

and exclaiming that not the fosse or the rampart, but the men's bodies

and weapons were given him for facing the foe, he led out his legions,

as if he meant to fight a battle. Then, after losing a centurion and a

few soldiers whom he had sent on in advance to reconnoitre the enemy's

forces, he returned in alarm. And, as Vologeses had not pressed his

advantage with much vigour, Paetus once again, with vain confidence,

posted 3000 chosen infantry on the adjacent ridge of the taurus, in

order to bar the king's passage. He also stationed some Pannonian

troopers, the flower of his cavalry, in a part of the plain. His

wife and son he removed to a fortress named Arsamosata, with a

cohort for their defence, thus dispersing the troops which, if kept

together, could easily have checked the desultory skirmishing of the

enemy. He could, it is said, scarcely be driven to confess to

Corbulo how the enemy was pressing him. Corbulo made no haste, that,

when the dangers thickened, the glory of the rescue might be enhanced.

Yet he ordered 1000 men from each of his three legions with 800

cavalry, and an equal number of infantry to be in instant readiness.

Vologeses meanwhile, though he had heard that the roads were blocked

by Paetus, here with infantry, there with cavalry, did not alter his

plan, but drove off the latter by the menace of an attack, and crushed

the legionaires, only one centurion of whom, Tarquitius Crescens,

dared to defend a tower in which he was keeping guard. He had often

sallied out, and cut to pieces such of the barbarians as came close up

to the walls, till he was overwhelmed with volleys of firebrands.

Every foot soldier still unwounded fled to remote wilds, and those who

were disabled, returned to the camp, exaggerating in their terror

the king's valour, and the warlike strength of his tribes,

everything in short, to the simple credulity of those who trembled

with like fear. Even the general did not struggle against his

reverses. He had indeed wholly abandoned all the duties of a

soldier, and had again sent an entreaty to Corbulo, that he would come

with speed to save the standards and eagles, and the name yet left

to the unfortunate army; they meantime, he said, would hold to their

fidelity while life lasted.

Corbulo, perfectly fearless, left half his army in Syria to retain

the forts built on the Euphrates, and taking the nearest route,

which also was not deficient in supplies, marched through the

country of Commagene, then through Cappadocia, and thence into

Armenia. Beside the other usual accompaniments of war, his army was

followed by a great number of camels laden with corn, to keep off

famine as well as the enemy. The first he met of the defeated army was

Paccius, a first-rank centurion, then many of the soldiers, whom, when

they pleaded various excuses for flight, he advised to return to their

standards and throw themselves on the mercy of Paetus. "For

himself," he said, "he had no forgiveness but for the victorious."

As he spoke, he went up to his legions, cheering them and

reminding them of their past career, and pointing the way to new

glory. "It was not to villages or towns of Armenia, but to a Roman

camp with two legions, a worthy recompense for their efforts, that

they were bound. If each common soldier were to have bestowed on him

by the emperor's hand the special honour of a crown for a rescued

citizen, how wonderfully great the glory, when the numbers would be

equal of those who had brought and of those had received deliverance."

Roused by these and like words into a common enthusiasm, and some

too were filled with an ardour peculiarly their own by the perils of

brothers and kinsfolk, they hurried on by day and night their

uninterrupted march.

All the more vigorously did Vologeses press the besieged, now

attacking the legions' entrenchments, and now again the fortress,

which guarded those whose years unfitted them for war. He advanced

closer than is the Parthian practice, seeking to lure the enemy to

an engagement by such rashness. They, however, could hardly be dragged

out of their tents, and would merely defend their lives, some held

back by the general's order, others by their own cowardice; they

seemed to be awaiting Corbulo, and should they be overpowered by

force, they had before them the examples of Candium and Numantia.

"Neither the Samnites, Italian people as they were, nor the

Carthaginians, the rivals of the Roman empire, were, it seemed,

equally formidable, and even the men of old, with all their strength

and glory, whenever fortune was adverse, had taken thought for


The general, although he was overcome by the despair of his army,

first wrote a letter to Vologeses, not a suppliant petition, but in

a tone of remonstrance against the doing of hostile acts on behalf

of the Armenians, who always had been under Roman dominion, or subject

to a king chosen by the emperor. Peace, he reminded him, was equally

for the interest of both, and it would be well for him not to look

only at the present. He indeed had advanced with the whole strength of

his kingdom against two legions, while the Romans had all the rest

of the world with which to sustain the war.

To this Vologeses replied nothing to the purpose, but merely that he

must wait for his brothers Pacorus and Tiridates, that the place and

time of their meeting had been fixed on as the occasion when they

would decide about Armenia, and that heaven had granted them a further

honour, well worthy of the Arsacids, the having to determine the

fate of Roman legions. Messengers were then despatched by Paetus and

an interview requested with the king, who ordered Vasaces, the

commander of the cavalry, to go. Thereupon Paetus dwelt on the

memories of the Luculli and Pompeii, and of all that the Caesars had

done in the way of holding or giving away Armenia, while Vasaces

declared that we had the mere shadow of possession and of bestowing,

but the Parthians, the reality of power. After much arguing on both

sides, Monobazus of the Adiabeni was called the next day to be a

witness to the stipulations into which they had entered. It was agreed

that the legions should be released from the blockade, that all the

troops should quit Armenian territory, and that the forts and supplies

should be surrendered to the Parthians, and when all this had been

completed, Vologeses was to have full permission to send envoys to


Meanwhile Paetus threw a bridge over the river Arsanias, which

flowed by the camp, apparently with the view of facilitating his

march. It was the Parthians, however, who had required this, as an

evidence of their victory; for the bridge was of use to them, while

our men went a different way. Rumour added that the legions had been

passed under the yoke, with other miserable disgraces, of which the

Armenians had borrowed imitations. For they not only entered our lines

before the Roman army began to retire, but also stood about the camp

streets, recognizing and dragging off slaves or beasts of burden which

we had previously captured. They even seized clothes and detained

weapons, for the soldiers were utterly cowed and gave up everything,

so that no cause for fighting might arise. Vologeses having piled up

the arms and bodies of the slain in order to attest our defeat,

refrained from gazing on the fugitive legions. He sought a character

for moderation after he had glutted his pride. Seated himself on an

elephant, he crossed the river Arsanias, while those next to his

person rushed through it at the utmost speed of their horses; for a

rumour had gained ground that the bridge would give way, through the

trickery of its builders. But those who ventured to go on it found

it to be firm and trustworthy.

As for the besieged, it appeared that they had such an abundance

of corn that they fired the granaries, and Corbulo declared that the

Parthians on the other hand were in want of supplies, and would have

abandoned the siege from their fodder being all but exhausted, and

that he was himself only three days' march distant. He further

stated that Paetus had guaranteed by an oath, before the standards, in

the presence of those whom the king had sent to be witnesses, that

no Roman was to enter Armenia until Nero's reply arrived as to whether

he assented to the peace. Though this may have been invented to

enhance our disgrace, yet about the rest of the story there is no

obscurity, that, in a single day Paetus traversed forty miles, leaving

his wounded behind him everywhere, and that the consternation of the

fugitives was as frightful as if they had turned their backs in

battle. Corbulo, as he met them with his forces on the bank of the

Euphrates, did not make such a display of his standards and arms as to

shame them by the contrast. His men, in their grief and pity for the

lot of their comrades, could not even refrain from tears. There was

scarce any mutual salutation for weeping. The spirit of a noble

rivalry and the desire of glory, emotions which stir men in success,

had died away; pity alone survived, the more strongly in the

inferior ranks.

Then followed a short conversation between the generals. While

Corbulo complained that his efforts had been fruitless and that the

war might have been ended with the flight of the Parthians, Paetus

replied that for neither of them was anything lost, and urged that

they should reverse the eagles, and with their united forces invade

Armenia, much weakened, as it was, by the departure of Vologeses.

Corbulo said that he had no such instructions from the emperor; it was

the peril of the legions which had stirred him to leave his

province, and, as there was uncertainty about the designs of the

Parthians, he should return to Syria, and, even as it was, he must

pray for fortune under her most favourable aspect in order that the

infantry, wearied out with long marches, might keep pace with the

enemy's untiring cavalry, certain to outstrip him on the plains, which

facilitated their movements. Paetus then went into winter quarters

in Cappadocia. Vologeses, however, sent a message to Corbulo,

requiring him to remove the fortresses on the further bank of the

Euphrates, and to leave the river to be, as formerly, the boundary

between them. Corbulo also demanded the evacuation of Armenia by the

garrisons posted throughout it. At last the king yielded, all the

positions fortified by Corbulo beyond the Euphrates were destroyed,

and the Armenians too left without a master.

At Rome meanwhile trophies for the Parthian war, and arches were

erected in the centre of the Capitoline hill; these had been decreed

by the Senate, while the war was yet undecided, and even now they were

not given up, appearances being consulted, in disregard of known

facts. And to hide his anxious fears about foreign affairs, Nero threw

the people's corn, which was so old as to be spoilt, into the Tiber,

with the view of keeping up a sense of security about the supplies.

There was no addition to the price, although about two hundred ships

were destroyed in the very harbour by a violent storm, and one hundred

more, which had sailed up the Tiber, by an accidental fire. Nero

next appointed three ex-consuls, Lucius Piso, Ducennius Geminus, and

Pompeius Paulinus, to the management of the public revenues, and

inveighed at the same time against former emperors whose heavy

expenditure had exceeded their legitimate income. He himself, he said,

made the state an annual present of sixty million sesterces.

A very demoralizing custom had at this time become rife, of

fictitious adoptions of children, on the eve of the elections or of

the assignment of the provinces, by a number of childless persons,

who, after obtaining along with real fathers praetorships and

provinces, forthwith dismissed from paternal control the sons whom

they had adopted. An appeal was made to the Senate under a keen

sense of wrong. Parents pleaded natural rights and the anxieties of

nurture against fraudulent evasions and the brief ceremony of

adoption. "It was," they argued, "sufficient reward for the

childless to have influence and distinction, everything, in short,

easy and open to them, without a care and without a burden. For

themselves, they found that the promises held out by the laws, for

which they had long waited, were turned into mockery, when one who

knew nothing of a parent's solicitude or of the sorrows of bereavement

could rise in a moment to the level of a father's long deferred


On this, a decree of the Senate was passed that a fictitious

adoption should be of no avail in any department of the public

service, or even hold good for acquiring an inheritance.

Next came the prosecution of Claudius Timarchus of Crete, on such

charges as often fall on very influential provincials, whom immense

wealth has emboldened to the oppression of the weak. But one speech of

his had gone to the extremity of a gross insult to the Senate; for

he had repeatedly declared that it was in his power to decide

whether the proconsuls who had governed Crete should receive the

thanks of the province. Paetus Thrasea, turning the occasion to public

advantage, after having stated his opinion that the accused ought to

be expelled from Crete, further spoke as follows:-

"It is found by experience, Senators, that admirable laws and

right precedents among the good have their origin in the misdeeds of

others. Thus the license of advocates resulted in the Cincian bill;

the corrupt practices of candidates, in the Julian laws; the

rapacity of magistrates, in the Calpurnian enactments. For, in point

of time, guilt comes before punishment, and correction follows after

delinquency. And therefore, to meet the new insolence of

provincials, let us adopt a measure worthy of Roman good faith and

resolution, whereby our allies may lose nothing of our protection,

while public opinion may cease to say of us, that the estimate of a

man's character is to found anywhere rather than in the judgment of

our citizens.

"Formerly, it was not only a praetor or a consul, but private

persons also, who were sent to inspect the provinces, and to report

what they thought about each man's loyalty. And nations were timidly

sensitive to the opinion of individuals. But now we court foreigners

and flatter them, and just as there is a vote of thanks at any one's

pleasure, so even more eagerly is a prosecution decided on. Well;

let it be decided on, and let the provincials retain the right of

showing their power in this fashion, but as for false praise which has

been extorted by entreaties, let it be as much checked as fraud or

tyranny. More faults are often committed, while we are trying to

oblige than while we are giving offence. Nay, some virtues are

actually hated; inflexible strictness, for example, and a temper proof

against partiality. Consequently, our magistrates' early career is

generally better than its close, which deteriorates, when we are

anxiously seeking votes, like candidates. If such practices are

stopped, our provinces will be ruled more equitably and more steadily.

For as the dread of a charge of extortion has been a check to

rapacity, so, by prohibiting the vote of thanks, will the pursuit of

popularity be restrained."

This opinion was hailed with great unanimity, but the Senate's

resolution could not be finally passed, as the consuls decided that

there had been no formal motion on the subject. Then, at the emperor's

suggestion, they decreed that no one was to propose to any council

of our allies that a vote of thanks ought to be given in the Senate to

propraetors or proconsuls, and that no one was to discharge such a


During the same consulship a gymnasium was wholly consumed by a

stroke of lightning, and a statue of Nero within it was melted down to

a shapeless mass of bronze. An earthquake too demolished a large

part of Pompeii, a populous town in Campania. And one of the vestal

virgins, Laelia, died, and in her place was chosen Cornelia, of the

family of the Cossi.

During the consulship of Memmius Regulus and Verginius Rufus, Nero

welcomed with something more than mortal joy the birth of a daughter

by Poppaea, whom he called Augusta, the same title having also been

given to Poppaea. The place of her confinement was the colony of

Antium, where the emperor himself was born. Already had the Senate

commended Poppaea's safety to the gods, and had made vows in the

State's name, which were repeated again and again and duly discharged.

To these was added a public thanksgiving, and a temple was decreed

to the goddess of fecundity, as well as games and contests after the

type of the ceremonies commemorative of Actium, and golden images of

the two Fortunes were to be set up on the throne of Jupiter of the

Capitol. Shows too of the circus were to be exhibited in honour of the

Claudian and Domitian families at Antium, like those at Bovillae in

commemoration of the Julii. Transient distinctions all of them, as

within four months the infant died. Again there was an outburst of

flattery, men voting the honours of deification, of a shrine, a

temple, and a priest.

The emperor, too, was as excessive in his grief as he had been in

his joy. It was observed that when all the Senate rushed out to Antium

to honour the recent birth, Thrasea was forbidden to go, and

received with fearless spirit an affront which foreboded his doom.

Then followed, as rumour says, an expression from the emperor, in

which he boasted to Seneca of his reconciliation with Thrasea, on

which Seneca congratulated him. And now henceforth the glory and the

peril of these illustrious men grew greater.

Meanwhile, in the beginning of spring, Parthian envoys brought a

message from king Vologeses, with a letter to the same effect. "He did

not," it was said, "repeat his former and frequent claims to the

holding of Armenia, since the gods who ruled the destinies of the most

powerful nations, had handed over its possession to the Parthians, not

without disgrace to Rome. Only lately, he had besieged Tigranes;

afterwards, he let Paetus and his legions depart in safety when he

could have destroyed them. He had tried force with a satisfactory

result; he had also given clemency a trial. Nor would Tiridates refuse

a journey to Rome to receive the crown, were he not detained at home

by the duties of a sacred office. He was ready to go to the

emperor's image in the Roman headquarters, and there in the presence

of the legions inaugurate his reign."

As Paetus's despatch contradicted this letter from Vologeses and

implied that matters were unchanged, the centurion who had arrived

with the envoys was questioned as to the state of Armenia. He

replied that all the Romans had quitted it. Then was perceived the

mockery of the barbarians in petitioning for what they had wrested

from us, and Nero consulted with the chief men of the State whether

they should accept a dangerous war or a disgraceful peace. There was

no hesitation about war. Corbulo, who had known our soldiers and the

enemy for so many years, was appointed to conduct it, that there might

be no more blunders through any other officer's incapacity; for people

were utterly disgusted with Paetus.

So the envoys were sent back without an answer, but with some

presents, in order to inspire a hope that Tiridates would not make the

same request in vain, if only he presented his petition in person. The

administration of Syria was intrusted to Caius Itius, and the military

forces to Corbulo, to which was added the fifteenth legion, under

the leadership of Marius Celsus, from Pannonia. Written orders were

sent to the tetrarchs, the tributaries, kings, prefects and

procurators, and all the praetors who governed the neighbouring

provinces, to obey Corbulo's commands, as his powers were enlarged

on much the same scale as that which the Roman people had granted to

Cneius Pompeius on the eve of his war against the Pirates. When Paetus

returned and dreaded something worse, the emperor thought it enough to

reproach him with a jest, to the effect that he pardoned him at

once, lest one so ready to take fright might sink under prolonged


Corbulo meantime transferred to Syria the fourth and twelfth

legions, which, from the loss of their bravest men and the panic of

the remainder, seemed quite unfit for battle, and led thence into

Armenia the third and sixth legions, troops in thorough efficiency,

and trained by frequent and successful service. And he added to his

army the fifth legion, which, having been quartered in Pontus, had

known nothing of disaster, with men of the fifteenth, lately brought

up, and picked veterans from Illyricum and Egypt, and all the allied

cavalry and infantry, and the auxiliaries of the tributary princes,

which had been concentrated at Melitene, where he was preparing to

cross the Euphrates. Then, after the due lustration of his army, he

called them together for an harangue, and began with grand allusions

to the imperial auspices, and to his own achievements, while he

attributed their disasters to the incapacity of Paetus. He spoke

with much impressiveness, which in him, as a military man, was as good

as eloquence.

He then pursued the route opened up in former days by Lucius

Lucullus, clearing away the obstructions of long years. Envoys who

came to him from Tiridates and Vologeses about peace, he did not

repulse, but sent back with them some centurions with a message

anything but harsh. "Matters," he said, "have not yet gone so far as

to require the extremity of war. Many successes have fallen to the lot

of Rome, some to that of Parthia, as a warning against pride.

Therefore, it is to the advantage of Tiridates to accept as a gift a

kingdom yet unhurt by the ravages of war, and Vologeses will better

consult the welfare of the Parthian people by an alliance with Rome

than by mutual injuries. I know how much there is of internal discord,

and over what untamably fierce tribes he reigns. My emperor, on the

other hand, has undisturbed peace all around him, and this is his only


In an instant Corbulo backed up his advice by a menacing attitude.

He drove from their possessions the nobles of Armenia, who had been

the first to revolt from us, destroyed their fortresses, and spread

equal panic throughout the plain and the hill country, among the

strong and among the weak.

Against the name of Corbulo no rage, nothing of the hatred of an

enemy, was felt by the barbarians, and they therefore thought his

advice trustworthy. Consequently Vologeses was not implacable to the

uttermost, and he even asked a truce for some divisions of his

kingdom. Tiridates demanded a place and a day for an interview. The

time was to be soon, the place that in which Paetus and his legions

had been lately besieged, for this was chosen by the barbarians in

remembrance for their more prosperous fortune. Corbulo did not refuse,

resolved that a widely different issue should enhance his renown.

Nor did the disgrace of Paetus trouble him, as was clearly proved by

the fact that he commanded Paetus' son, who was a tribune, to take

some companies with him and cover up the relics of that ill-starred

battle-field. On the day appointed, Tiberius Alexander, a

distinguished Roman knight, sent to assist in the campaign, and

Vinianus Annius, Corbulo's son-in-law, who, though not yet of a

senator's age, had the command of the fifth legion as "legatus,"

entered the camp of Tiridates, by way of compliment to him, and to

reassure him against treachery by so valuable a pledge. Each then took

with him twenty horsemen. The king, seeing Corbulo, was the first to

dismount, and Corbulo hesitated not a moment, but both on foot

joined their right hands.

Then the Roman commended the young prince for abandoning rash

courses, and adopting a safe and expedient policy. Tiridates first

dwelt much on the nobility of his race, but went on to speak in a tone

of moderation. He would go to Rome, and bring the emperor a new glory,

a suppliant Arsacid, while Parthia was prosperous. It was then

agreed that Tiridates should lay down his royal crown before

Caesar's image, and resume it only from the hand of Nero. The

interview then ended with a kiss. After an interval of a few days

there was a grand display on both sides; on the one, cavalry ranged in

squadrons with their national ensigns; on the other, stood the columns

of our legions with glittering eagles and standards and images of

deities, after the appearance of a temple. In the midst, on a

tribunal, was a chair of state, and on the chair a statue of Nero.

To this Tiridates advanced, and having slain the customary victims, he

removed the crown from his head, and set it at the foot of the statue;

whereupon all felt a deep thrill of emotion, rendered the more intense

by the sight which yet lingered before their eyes, of the slaughter or

siege of Roman armies. "But now," they thought, "the calamity is

reversed; Tiridates is about to go, a spectacle to the world, little

better than a prisoner."

To military glory Corbulo added courtesy and hospitality. When the

king continually asked the reason of whatever he noticed which was new

to him, the announcements, for example, by a centurion of the

beginnings of each watch, the dismissal of the guests by the sound

of a trumpet, and the lighting by a torch from beneath of an altar

in front of the headquarters, Corbulo, by exaggerating everything,

filled him with admiration of our ancient system. Next day Tiridates

begged for time which, as he was about to enter on so long a

journey, might suffice for a previous visit to his brothers and his

mother. Meanwhile he gave up his daughter as a hostage, and prepared a

suppliant letter to Nero.

He then departed, and found Pacorus in Media, and Vologeses at

Ecbatana, who was by no means unconcerned for his brother. In fact,

Vologeses had entreated Corbulo by special messengers, that

Tiridates might not have to endure any badge of slavery, or have to

deliver up his sword, or be debarred the honour of embracing the

governors of the provinces, or have to present himself at their doors,

and that he might be treated at Rome with as much respect as the

consuls. Accustomed, forsooth, to foreign arrogance, he had no

knowledge of us, who value the reality of empire and disregard its

empty show.

That same year the emperor put into possession of the Latin

franchise the tribes of the maritime Alps. To the Roman knights he

assigned places in the circus in front of the seats of the people, for

up to that time they used to enter in a promiscuous throng, as the

Roscian law extended only to fourteen rows in the theatre. The same

year witnessed shows of gladiators as magnificent as those of the

past. Many ladies of distinction, however, and senators, disgraced

themselves by appearing in the amphitheatre.

In the year of the consulship of Caius Laecanius and Marcus Licinius

a yet keener impulse urged Nero to show himself frequently on the

public stage. Hitherto he had sung in private houses or gardens,

during the juvenile games, but these he now despised, as being but

little frequented, and on too small a scale for so fine a voice. As,

however, he did not venture to make a beginning at Rome, he chose

Neapolis, because it was a Greek city. From this as his starting-point

he might cross into Achaia, and there, winning the well-known and

sacred garlands of antiquity, evoke, with increased fame, the

enthusiasm of the citizens. Accordingly, a rabble of the townsfolk was

brought together, with those whom the excitement of such an event

had attracted from the neighbouring towns and colonies, and such as

followed in the emperor's train to pay him honour or for various

objects. All these, with some companies of soldiers, filled the

theatre at Neapolis.

There an incident occurred, which many thought unlucky, though to

the emperor it seemed due to the providence of auspicious deities. The

people who had been present, had quitted the theatre, and the empty

building then fell in without harm to anyone. Thereupon Nero in an

elaborate ode thanked the gods, celebrating the good luck which

attended the late downfall, and as he was on his way to cross the

sea of Hadria, he rested awhile at Beneventum, where a crowded

gladiatorial show was being exhibited by Vatinius. The man was one

of the most conspicuously infamous sights in the imperial court, bred,

as he had been, in a shoemaker's shop, of a deformed person and vulgar

wit, originally introduced as a butt. After a time he grew so powerful

by accusing all the best men, that in influence, wealth, and ability

to injure, he was pre-eminent even in that bad company.

While Nero was frequently visiting the show, even amid his pleasures

there was no cessation to his crimes. For during the very same

period Torquatus Silanus was forced to die, because over and above his

illustrious rank as one of the Junian family he claimed to be the

great-grandson of Augustus. Accusers were ordered to charge him with

prodigality in lavishing gifts, and with having no hope but in

revolution. They said further that he had nobles about him for his

letters, books, and accounts, titles all and rehearsals of supreme

power. Then the most intimate of his freedmen were put in chains and

torn from him, till, knowing the doom which impended, Torquatus

divided the arteries in his arms. A speech from Nero followed, as

usual, which stated that though he was guilty and with good reason

distrusted his defence, he would yet have lived, had he awaited the

clemency of the judge.

Soon afterwards, giving up Achaia for the present (his reasons

were not certainly known), he returned to Rome, there dwelling in

his secret imaginations on the provinces of the east, especially

Egypt. Then having declared in a public proclamation that his

absence would not be long and that all things in the State would

remain unchanged and prosperous, he visited the temple of the

Capitol for advice about his departure. There he adored the gods; then

he entered also the temple of Vesta, and there feeling a sudden

trembling throughout his limbs, either from terror inspired by the

deity or because, from the remembrance of his crimes, he was never

free from fear, he relinquished his purpose, repeatedly saying that

all his plans were of less account than his love of his country. "He

had seen the sad countenances of the citizens, he heard their secret

complainings at the prospect of his entering on so long a journey,

when they could not bear so much as his brief excursions, accustomed

as they were to cheer themselves under mischances by the sight of

the emperor. Hence, as in private relationships the closest ties

were the strongest, so the people of Rome had the most powerful claims

and must be obeyed in their wish to retain him."

These and the like sentiments suited the people, who craved

amusement, and feared, always their chief anxiety, scarcity of corn,

should he be absent. The Senate and leading citizens were in doubt

whether to regard him as more terrible at a distance or among them.

After a while, as is the way with great terrors, they thought what

happened the worst alternative.

Nero, to win credit for himself of enjoying nothing so much as the

capital, prepared banquets in the public places, and used the whole

city, so to say, as his private house. Of these entertainments the

most famous for their notorious profligacy were those furnished by

Tigellinus, which I will describe as an illustration, that I may not

have again and again to narrate similar extravagance. He had a raft

constructed on Agrippa's lake, put the guests on board and set it in

motion by other vessels towing it. These vessels glittered with gold

and ivory; the crews were arranged according to age and experience

in vice. Birds and beasts had been procured from remote countries, and

sea monsters from the ocean. On the margin of the lake were set up

brothels crowded with noble ladies, and on the opposite bank were seen

naked prostitutes with obscene gestures and movements. As darkness

approached, all the adjacent grove and surrounding buildings resounded

with song, and shone brilliantly with lights. Nero, who polluted

himself by every lawful or lawless indulgence, had not omitted a

single abomination which could heighten his depravity, till a few days

afterwards he stooped to marry himself to one of that filthy herd,

by name Pythagoras, with all the forms of regular wedlock. The

bridal veil was put over the emperor; people saw the witnesses of

the ceremony, the wedding dower, the couch and the nuptial torches;

everything in a word was plainly visible, which, even when a woman

weds darkness hides.

A disaster followed, whether accidental or treacherously contrived

by the emperor, is uncertain, as authors have given both accounts,

worse, however, and more dreadful than any which have ever happened to

this city by the violence of fire. It had its beginning in that part

of the circus which adjoins the Palatine and Caelian hills, where,

amid the shops containing inflammable wares, the conflagration both

broke out and instantly became so fierce and so rapid from the wind

that it seized in its grasp the entire length of the circus. For

here there were no houses fenced in by solid masonry, or temples

surrounded by walls, or any other obstacle to interpose delay. The

blaze in its fury ran first through the level portions of the city,

then rising to the hills, while it again devastated every place

below them, it outstripped all preventive measures; so rapid was the

mischief and so completely at its mercy the city, with those narrow

winding passages and irregular streets, which characterised old

Rome. Added to this were the wailings of terror-stricken women, the

feebleness of age, the helpless inexperience of childhood, the

crowds who sought to save themselves or others, dragging out the

infirm or waiting for them, and by their hurry in the one case, by

their delay in the other, aggravating the confusion. Often, while they

looked behind them, they were intercepted by flames on their side or

in their face. Or if they reached a refuge close at hand, when this

too was seized by the fire, they found that, even places, which they

had imagined to be remote, were involved in the same calamity. At

last, doubting what they should avoid or whither betake themselves,

they crowded the streets or flung themselves down in the fields, while

some who had lost their all, even their very daily bread, and others

out of love for their kinsfolk, whom they had been unable to rescue,

perished, though escape was open to them. And no one dared to stop the

mischief, because of incessant menaces from a number of persons who

forbade the extinguishing of the flames, because again others openly

hurled brands, and kept shouting that there was one who gave them

authority, either seeking to plunder more freely, or obeying orders.

Nero at this time was at Antium, and did not return to Rome until

the fire approached his house, which he had built to connect the

palace with the gardens of Maecenas. It could not, however, be stopped

from devouring the palace, the house, and everything around it.

However, to relieve the people, driven out homeless as they were, he

threw open to them the Campus Martius and the public buildings of

Agrippa, and even his own gardens, and raised temporary structures

to receive the destitute multitude. Supplies of food were brought up

from Ostia and the neighbouring towns, and the price of corn was

reduced to three sesterces a peck. These acts, though popular,

produced no effect, since a rumour had gone forth everywhere that,

at the very time when the city was in flames, the emperor appeared

on a private stage and sang of the destruction of Troy, comparing

present misfortunes with the calamities of antiquity.

At last, after five days, an end was put to the conflagration at the

foot of the Esquiline hill, by the destruction of all buildings on a

vast space, so that the violence of the fire was met by clear ground

and an open sky. But before people had laid aside their fears, the

flames returned, with no less fury this second time, and especially in

the spacious districts of the city. Consequently, though there was

less loss of life, the temples of the gods, and the porticoes which

were devoted to enjoyment, fell in a yet more widespread ruin. And

to this conflagration there attached the greater infamy because it

broke out on the Aemilian property of Tigellinus, and it seemed that

Nero was aiming at the glory of founding a new city and calling it

by his name. Rome, indeed, is divided into fourteen districts, four of

which remained uninjured, three were levelled to the ground, while

in the other seven were left only a few shattered, half-burnt relics

of houses.

It would not be easy to enter into a computation of the private

mansions, the blocks of tenements, and of the temples, which were

lost. Those with the oldest ceremonial, as that dedicated by Servius

Tullius to Luna, the great altar and shrine raised by the Arcadian

Evander to the visibly appearing Hercules, the temple of Jupiter the

Stayer, which was vowed by Romulus, Numa's royal palace, and the

sanctuary of Vesta, with the tutelary deities of the Roman people,

were burnt. So too were the riches acquired by our many victories,

various beauties of Greek art, then again the ancient and genuine

historical monuments of men of genius, and, notwithstanding the

striking splendour of the restored city, old men will remember many

things which could not be replaced. Some persons observed that the

beginning of this conflagration was on the 19th of July, the day on

which the Senones captured and fired Rome. Others have pushed a

curious inquiry so far as to reduce the interval between these two

conflagrations into equal numbers of years, months, and days.

Nero meanwhile availed himself of his country's desolation, and

erected a mansion in which the jewels and gold, long familiar objects,

quite vulgarised by our extravagance, were not so marvellous as the

fields and lakes, with woods on one side to resemble a wilderness,

and, on the other, open spaces and extensive views. The directors

and contrivers of the work were Severus and Celer, who had the

genius and the audacity to attempt by art even what nature had

refused, and to fool away an emperor's resources. They had actually

undertaken to sink a navigable canal from the lake Avernus to the

mouths of the Tiber along a barren shore or through the face of hills,

where one meets with no moisture which could supply water, except

the Pomptine marshes. The rest of the country is broken rock and

perfectly dry. Even if it could be cut through, the labour would be

intolerable, and there would be no adequate result. Nero, however,

with his love of the impossible, endeavoured to dig through the

nearest hills to Avernus, and there still remain the traces of his

disappointed hope.

Of Rome meanwhile, so much as was left unoccupied by his mansion,

was not built up, as it had been after its burning by the Gauls,

without any regularity or in any fashion, but with rows of streets

according to measurement, with broad thoroughfares, with a restriction

on the height of houses, with open spaces, and the further addition of

colonnades, as a protection to the frontage of the blocks of

tenements. These colonnades Nero promised to erect at his own expense,

and to hand over the open spaces, when cleared of the debris, to the

ground landlords. He also offered rewards proportioned to each

person's position and property, and prescribed a period within which

they were to obtain them on the completion of so many houses or blocks

of building. He fixed on the marshes of Ostia for the reception of the

rubbish, and arranged that the ships which had brought up corn by

the Tiber, should sail down the river with cargoes of this rubbish.

The buildings themselves, to a certain height, were to be solidly

constructed, without wooden beams, of stone from Gabii or Alba, that

material being impervious to fire. And to provide that the water which

individual license had illegally appropriated, might flow in greater

abundance in several places for the public use, officers were

appointed, and everyone was to have in the open court the means of

stopping a fire. Every building, too, was to be enclosed by its own

proper wall, not by one common to others. These changes which were

liked for their utility, also added beauty to the new city. Some,

however, thought that its old arrangement had been more conducive to

health, inasmuch as the narrow streets with the elevation of the roofs

were not equally penetrated by the sun's heat, while now the open

space, unsheltered by any shade, was scorched by a fiercer glow.

Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was

to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the

Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to

Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the

matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast,

whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the

goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils

celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish

gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not

banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an

order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt

and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their

abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom

the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign

of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus,

and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment,

again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil,

but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every

part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly,

an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their

information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the

crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of

every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of

beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to

crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly

illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a

show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a

charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who

deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of

compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but

to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Meanwhile Italy was thoroughly exhausted by contributions of

money, the provinces were ruined, as also the allied nations and the

free states, as they were called. Even the gods fell victims to the

plunder; for the temples in Rome were despoiled and the gold carried

off, which, for a triumph or a vow, the Roman people in every age

had consecrated in their prosperity or their alarm. Throughout Asia

and Achaia not only votive gifts, but the images of deities were

seized, Acratus and Secundus Carinas having been sent into those

provinces. The first was a freedman ready for any wickedness; the

latter, as far as speech went, was thoroughly trained in Greek

learning, but he had not imbued his heart with sound principles.

Seneca, it was said, to avert from himself the obloquy of sacrilege,

begged for the seclusion of a remote rural retreat, and, when it was

refused, feigning ill health, as though he had a nervous ailment,

would not quit his chamber. According to some writers, poison was

prepared for him at Nero's command by his own freedman, whose name was

Cleonicus. This Seneca avoided through the freedman's disclosure, or

his own apprehension, while he used to support life on the very simple

diet of wild fruits, with water from a running stream when thirst


During the same time some gladiators in the town of Praeneste, who

attempted to break loose, were put down by a military guard

stationed on the spot to watch them, and the people, ever desirous and

yet fearful of change, began at once to talk of Spartacus, and of

bygone calamities. Soon afterwards, tidings of a naval disaster was

received, but not from war, for never had there been so profound a

peace. Nero, however, had ordered the fleet to return to Campania on a

fixed day, without making any allowance for the dangers of the sea.

Consequently the pilots, in spite of the fury of the waves, started

from Formiae, and while they were struggling to double the

promontory of Misenum, they were dashed by a violent south-west wind

on the shores of Cumae, and lost, in all directions, a number of their

triremes with some smaller vessels.

At the close of the year people talked much about prodigies,

presaging impending evils. Never were lightning flashes more frequent,

and a comet too appeared, for which Nero always made propitiation with

noble blood. Human and other births with two heads were exposed to

public view, or were discovered in those sacrifices in which it is

usual to immolate victims in a pregnant condition. And in the district

of Placentia, close to the road, a calf was born with its head

attached to its leg. Then followed an explanation of the diviners,

that another head was preparing for the world, which however would

be neither mighty nor hidden, as its growth had been checked in the

womb, and it had been born by the wayside.

Silius Nerva and Atticus Vestinus then entered on the consulship,

and now a conspiracy was planned, and at once became formidable, for

which senators, knights, soldiers, even women, had given their names

with eager rivalry, out of hatred of Nero as well as a liking for

Caius Piso. A descendant of the Calpurnian house, and embracing in his

connections through his father's noble rank many illustrious families,

Piso had a splendid reputation with the people from his virtue or

semblance of virtue. His eloquence he exercised in the defence of

fellow-citizens, his generosity towards friends, while even for

strangers he had a courteous address and demeanour. He had, too, the

fortuitous advantages of tall stature and a handsome face. But

solidity of character and moderation in pleasure were wholly alien

to him. He indulged in laxity, in display, and occasionally in excess.

This suited the taste of that numerous class who, when the attractions

of vice are so powerful, do not wish for strictness or special

severity on the throne.

The origin of the conspiracy was not in Piso's personal ambition.

But I could not easily narrate who first planned it, or whose

prompting inspired a scheme into which so many entered. That the

leading spirits were Subrius Flavus, tribune of a praetorian cohort,

and Sulpicius Asper, a centurion, was proved by the fearlessness of

their death. Lucanus Annaeus, too, and Plautius Lateranus, imported

into it an intensely keen resentment. Lucanus had the stimulus of

personal motives, for Nero tried to disparage the fame of his poems

and, with the foolish vanity of a rival, had forbidden him to

publish them. As for Lateranus, a consul-elect, it was no wrong, but

love of the State which linked him with the others. Flavius

Scaevinus and Afranius Quintianus, on the other hand, both of

senatorian rank, contrary to what was expected of them, undertook

the beginning of this daring crime. Scaevinus, indeed, had enfeebled

his mind by excess, and his life, accordingly, was one of sleepy

languor. Quintianus, infamous for his effeminate vice, had been

satirised by Nero in a lampoon, and was bent on avenging the insult.

So, while they dropped hints among themselves or among their friends

about the emperor's crimes, the approaching end of empire, and the

importance of choosing some one to rescue the State in its distress,

they associated with them Tullius Senecio, Cervarius Proculus,

Vulcatius Araricus, Julius Augurinus, Munatius Gratus, Antonius

Natalis, and Marcius Festus, all Roman knights. Of these Senecio,

one of those who was specially intimate with Nero, still kept up a

show of friendship, and had consequently to struggle with all the more

dangers. Natalis shared with Piso all his secret plans. The rest built

their hopes on revolution. Besides Subrius and Sulpicius, whom I

have already mentioned, they invited the aid of military strength,

of Gavius Silvanus and Statius Proximus, tribunes of praetorian

cohorts, and of two centurions, Maximus Scaurus and Venetus Paulus.

But their mainstay, it was thought, was Faenius Rufus, the commander

of the guard, a man of esteemed life and character, to whom Tigellinus

with his brutality and shamelessness was superior in the emperor's

regard. He harassed him with calumnies, and had often put him in

terror by hinting that he had been Agrippina's paramour, and from

sorrow at her loss was intent on vengeance. And so, when the

conspirators were assured by his own repeated language that the

commander of the praetorian guard had come over to their side, they

once more eagerly discussed the time and place of the fatal deed. It

was said that Subrius Flavus had formed a sudden resolution to

attack Nero when singing on the stage, or when his house was in flames

and he was running hither and thither, unattended, in the darkness. In

the one case was the opportunity of solitude; in the other, the very

crowd which would witness so glorious a deed, had roused a

singularly noble soul; it was only the desire of escape, that foe to

all great enterprises, which held him back.

Meanwhile, as they hesitated in prolonged suspense between hope

and fear, a certain Epicharis (how she informed herself is

uncertain, as she had never before had a thought of anything noble)

began to stir and upbraid the conspirators. Wearied at last of their

long delay, she endeavoured, when staying in Campania, to shake the

loyalty of the officers of the fleet at Misenum, and to entangle

them in a guilty complicity. She began thus. There was a captain in

the fleet, Volusius Proculus, who had been one of Nero's instruments

in his mother's murder, and had not, as he thought, been promoted in

proportion to the greatness of his crime. Either, as an old

acquaintance of the woman, or on the strength of a recent intimacy, he

divulged to her his services to Nero and their barren result to

himself, adding complaints, and his determination to have vengeance,

should the chance arise. He thus inspired the hope that he could be

persuaded, and could secure many others. No small help was to be found

in the fleet, and there would be numerous opportunities, as Nero

delighted in frequent enjoyment of the sea off Puteoli and Misenum.

Epicharis accordingly said more, and began the history of all the

emperor's crimes. "The Senate," she affirmed, "had no power left it;

yet means had been provided whereby he might pay the penalty of having

destroyed the State. Only let Proculus gird himself to do his part and

bring over to their side his bravest soldiers, and then look for an

adequate recompense." The conspirators' names, however, she

withheld. Consequently the information of Proculus was useless, even

though he reported what he had heard to Nero. For Epicharis being

summoned and confronted with the informer easily silenced him,

unsupported as he was by a single witness. But she was herself

detained in custody, for Nero suspected that even what was not

proved to be true, was not wholly false.

The conspirators, however, alarmed by the fear of disclosure,

resolved to hurry on the assassination at Baiae, in Piso's villa,

whither the emperor, charmed by its loveliness, often went, and where,

unguarded and without the cumbrous grandeur of his rank, he would

enjoy the bath and the banquet. But Piso refused, alleging the odium

of an act which would stain with an emperor's blood, however bad he

might be, the sanctity of the hospitable board and the deities who

preside over it. "Better," he said, "in the capital, in that hateful

mansion which was piled up with the plunder of the citizens, or in

public, to accomplish what on the State's behalf they had undertaken."

So he said openly, with however a secret apprehension that Lucius

Silanus might, on the strength of his distinguished rank and the

teachings of Caius Cassius, under whom he had been trained, aspire

to any greatness and seize an empire, which would be promptly

offered him by all who had no part in the conspiracy, and who would

pity Nero as the victim of a crime. Many thought that Piso shunned

also the enterprising spirit of Vestinus, the consul, who might, he

feared, rise up in the cause of freedom, or, by choosing another

emperor, make the State his own gift. Vestinus, indeed, had no share

in the conspiracy, though Nero on that charge gratified an old

resentment against an innocent man.

At last they decided to carry out their design on that day of the

circus games, which is celebrated in honour of Ceres, as the

emperor, who seldom went out, and shut himself up in his house or

gardens, used to go to the entertainments of the circus, and access to

him was the easier from his keen enjoyment of the spectacle. They

had so arranged the order of the plot, that Lateranus was to throw

himself at the prince's knees in earnest entreaty, apparently

craving relief for his private necessities, and, being a man of strong

nerve and huge frame, hurl him to the ground and hold him down. When

he was prostrate and powerless, the tribunes and centurions and all

the others who had sufficient daring were to rush up and do the

murder, the first blow being claimed by Scaevinus, who had taken a

dagger from the Temple of Safety, or, according to another account,

from that of Fortune, in the town of Ferentum, and used to wear the

weapon as though dedicated to some noble deed. Piso, meanwhile, was

wait in the sanctuary of Ceres, whence he was to be summoned by

Faenius, the commander of the guard, and by the others, and then

conveyed into the camp, accompanied by Antonia, the daughter of

Claudius Caesar, with a view to evoke the people's enthusiasm. So it

is related by Caius Pliny. Handed down from whatever source, I had

no intention of suppressing it, however absurd it may seem, either

that Antonia should have lent her name at her life's peril to a

hopeless project, or that Piso, with his well-known affection for

his wife, should have pledged himself to another marriage, but for the

fact that the lust of dominion inflames the heart more than any

other passion.

It was however wonderful how among people of different class,

rank, age, sex, among rich and poor, everything was kept in secrecy

till betrayal began from the house of Scaevinus. The day before the

treacherous attempt, after a long conversation with Antonius

Natalis, Scaevinus returned home, sealed his will, and, drawing from

its sheath the dagger of which I have already spoken, and

complaining that it was blunted from long disuse, he ordered it to

be sharpened on a stone to a keen and bright point. This task he

assigned to his freedman Milichus. At the same time sat down to a more

than usually sumptuous banquet, and gave his favourite slaves their

freedom, and money to others. He was himself depressed, and

evidently in profound thought, though he affected gaiety in

desultory conversation. Last of all, he directed ligatures for

wounds and the means of stanching blood to be prepared by the same

Milichus, who either knew of the conspiracy and was faithful up to

this point, or was in complete ignorance and then first caught

suspicions, as most authors have inferred from what followed. For when

his servile imagination dwelt on the rewards of perfidy, and he saw

before him at the same moment boundless wealth and power, conscience

and care for his patron's life, together with the remembrance of the

freedom he had received, fled from him. From his wife, too, he had

adopted a womanly and yet baser suggestion; for she even held over him

a dreadful thought, that many had been present, both freedmen and

slaves, who had seen what he had; that one man's silence would be

useless, whereas the rewards would be for him alone who was first with

the information.

Accordingly at daybreak Milichus went to the Servilian gardens, and,

finding the doors shut against him, said again and again that he was

the bearer of important and alarming news. Upon this he was

conducted by the gatekeepers to one of Nero's freedmen,

Epaphroditus, and by him to Nero, whom he informed of the urgent

danger, of the formidable conspiracy, and of all else which he had

heard or inferred. He showed him too the weapon prepared for his

destruction, and bade him summon the accused.

Scaevinus on being arrested by the soldiers began his defence with

the reply that the dagger about which he was accused, had of old

been regarded with a religious sentiment by his ancestors, that it had

been kept in his chamber, and been stolen by a trick of his

freedman. He had often, he said, signed his will without heeding the

observance of particular days, and had previously given presents of

money as well as freedom to some of his slaves, only on this

occasion he gave more freely, because, as his means were now

impoverished and his creditors were pressing him, he distrusted the

validity of his will. Certainly his table had always been profusely

furnished, and his life luxurious, such as rigid censors would

hardly approve. As to the bandages for wounds, none had been

prepared at his order, but as all the man's other charges were absurd,

he added an accusation in which he might make himself alike informer

and witness.

He backed up his words by an air of resolution. Turning on his

accuser, he denounced him as an infamous and depraved wretch, with

so fearless a voice and look that the information was beginning to

collapse, when Milichus was reminded by his wife that Antonious

Natalis had had a long secret conversation with Scaevinus, and that

both were Piso's intimate friends.

Natalis was therefore summoned, and they were separately asked

what the conversation was, and what was its subject. Then a

suspicion arose because their answers did not agree, and they were

both put in irons. They could not endure the sight and the threat of

torture. Natalis however, taking the initiative, knowing as he did

more of the whole conspiracy, and being also more practised in

accusing, first confessed about Piso, next added the name of Annaeus

Seneca, either as having been a messenger between him and Piso, or

to win the favour of Nero, who hated Seneca and sought every means for

his ruin. Then Scaevinus too, when he knew the disclosure of

Natalis, with like pusillanimity, or under the impression that

everything now divulged, and that there could be no advantage in

silence, revealed the other conspirators. Of these, Lucanus,

Quintianus, and Senecio long persisted in denial; after a time, when

bribed by the promise of impunity, anxious to excuse their reluctance,

Lucanus named his mother Atilla, Quintianus and Senecio, their chief

friends, respectively, Glitius Gallus and Annius Pollio.

Nero, meanwhile, remembering that Epicharis was in custody on the

information of Volusius Proculus, and assuming that a woman's frame

must be unequal to the agony, ordered her to be torn on the rack.

But neither the scourge nor fire, nor the fury of the men as they

increased the torture that they might not be a woman's scorn, overcame

her positive denial of the charge. Thus the first day's inquiry was

futile. On the morrow, as she was being dragged back on a chair to the

same torments (for with her limbs all dislocated she could not stand),

she tied a band, which she had stript off her bosom, in a sort of

noose to the arched back of the chair, put her neck in it, and then

straining with the whole weight of her body, wrung out of her frame

its little remaining breath. All the nobler was the example set by a

freedwoman at such a crisis in screening strangers and those whom

she hardly knew, when freeborn men, Roman knights, and senators, yet

unscathed by torture, betrayed, every one, his dearest kinsfolk. For

even Lucanus and Senecio and Quintianus failed not to reveal their

accomplices indiscriminately, and Nero was more and more alarmed,

though he had fenced his person with a largely augmented guard.

Even Rome itself he put, so to say, under custody, garrisoning its

walls with companies of soldiers and occupying with troops the coast

and the river-banks. Incessantly were there flying through the

public places, through private houses, country fields, and the

neighbouring villages, horse and foot soldiers, mixed with Germans,

whom the emperor trusted as being foreigners. In long succession,

troops of prisoners in chains were dragged along and stood at the

gates of his gardens. When they entered to plead their cause, a

smile of joy on any of the conspirators, a casual conversation, a

sudden meeting, or the fact of having entered a banquet or a public

show in company, was construed into a crime, while to the savage

questionings of Nero and Tigellinus were added the violent menaces

of Faenius Rufus, who had not yet been named by the informers, but

who, to get the credit of complete ignorance, frowned fiercely on

his accomplices. When Subius Flavus at his side asked him by a sign

whether he should draw his sword in the middle of the trial and

perpetrate the fatal deed, Rufus refused, and checked the man's

impulse as he was putting his hand to his sword-hilt.

Some there were who, as soon as the conspiracy was betrayed, urged

Piso, while Milichus' story was being heard, and Scaevinus was

hesitating, to go to the camp or mount the Rostra and test the

feelings of the soldiers and of the people. "If," said they, "your

accomplices join your enterprise, those also who are yet undecided,

will follow, and great will be the fame of the movement once

started, and this in any new scheme is all-powerful. Against it Nero

has taken no precaution. Even brave men are dismayed by sudden perils;

far less will that stageplayer, with Tigellinus forsooth and his

concubines in his train, raise arms against you. Many things are

accomplished on trial which cowards think arduous. It is vain to

expect secrecy and fidelity from the varying tempers and bodily

constitutions of such a host of accomplices. Torture or reward can

overcome everything. Men will soon come to put you also in chains

and inflict on you an ignominious death. How much more gloriously will

you die while you cling to the State and invoke aid for liberty.

Rather let the soldiers fail, the people be traitors, provided that

you, if prematurely robbed of life, justify your death to your

ancestors and descendants."

Unmoved by these considerations, Piso showed himself a few moments

in public, then sought the retirement of his house, and there

fortified his spirit against the worst, till a troop of soldiers

arrived, raw recruits, or men recently enlisted, whom Nero had

selected, because he was afraid of the veterans, imbued, though they

were, with a liking for him. Piso expired by having the veins in his

arms severed. His will, full of loathsome flatteries of Nero, was a

concession to his love of his wife, a base woman, with only a

beautiful person to recommend her, whom he had taken away from her

husband, one of his friends. Her name was Atria Galla; that of her

former husband, Domitius Silus. The tame spirit of the man, the

profligacy of the woman, blazoned Piso's infamy.

In quick succession Nero added the murder of Plautius Lateranus,

consul-elect, so promptly that he did not allow him to embrace his

children or to have the brief choice of his own death. He was

dragged off to a place set apart for the execution of slaves, and

butchered by the hand of the tribune Statius, maintaining a resolute

silence, and not reproaching the tribune with complicity in the plot.

Then followed the destruction of Annaeus Seneca, a special joy to

the emperor, not because he had convicted him of the conspiracy, but

anxious to accomplish with the sword what poison had failed to do.

It was, in fact, Natalis alone who divulged Seneca's name, to this

extent, that he had been sent to Seneca when ailing, to see him and

remonstrate with him for excluding Piso from his presence, when it

would have been better to have kept up their friendship by familiar

intercourse; that Seneca's reply was that mutual conversations and

frequent interviews were to the advantage of neither, but still that

his own life depended on Piso's safety. Gavius Silvanus, tribune of

a praetorian cohort, was ordered to report this to Seneca and to ask

him whether he acknowledged what Natalis said and his own answer.

Either by chance or purposely Seneca had returned on that day from

Campania, and had stopped at a countryhouse four miles from Rome.

Thither the tribune came next evening, surrounded the house with

troops of soldiers, and then made known the emperor's message to

Seneca as he was at dinner with his wife, Pompeia Paulina, and two


Seneca replied that Natalis had been sent to him and had

complained to him in Piso's name because of his refusal to see Piso,

upon which he excused himself on the ground of failing health and

the desire of rest. "He had no reason," he said, for "preferring the

interest of any private citizen to his own safety, and he had no

natural aptitude for flattery. No one knew this better than Nero,

who had oftener experienced Seneca's freespokenness than his

servility." When the tribune reported this answer in the presence of

Poppaea and Tigellinus, the emperor's most confidential advisers in

his moments of rage, he asked whether Seneca was meditating suicide.

Upon this the tribune asserted that he saw no signs of fear, and

perceived no sadness in his words or in his looks. He was

accordingly ordered to go back and to announce sentence of death.

Fabius Rusticus tells us that he did not return the way he came, but

went out of his course to Faenius, the commander of the guard, and

having explained to him the emperor's orders, and asked whether he was

to obey them, was by him admonished to carry them out, for a fatal

spell of cowardice was on them all. For this very Silvanus was one

of the conspirators, and he was now abetting the crimes which he had

united with them to avenge. But he spared himself the anguish of a

word or of a look, and merely sent in to Seneca one of his centurions,

who was to announce to him his last doom.

Seneca, quite unmoved, asked for tablets on which to inscribe his

will, and, on the centurion's refusal, turned to his friends,

protesting that as he was forbidden to requite them, he bequeathed

to them the only, but still the noblest possession yet remaining to

him, the pattern of his life, which, if they remembered, they would

win a name for moral worth and steadfast friendship. At the same

time he called them back from their tears to manly resolution, now

with friendly talk, and now with the sterner language of rebuke.

"Where," he asked again and again, "are your maxims of philosophy,

or the preparation of so many years' study against evils to come?

Who knew not Nero's cruelty? After a mother's and a brother's

murder, nothing remains but to add the destruction of a guardian and a


Having spoken these and like words, meant, so to say, for all, he

embraced his wife; then softening awhile from the stern resolution

of the hour, he begged and implored her to spare herself the burden of

perpetual sorrow, and, in the contemplation of a life virtuously

spent, to endure a husband's loss with honourable consolations. She

declared, in answer, that she too had decided to die, and claimed

for herself the blow of the executioner. There upon Seneca, not to

thwart her noble ambition, from an affection too which would not leave

behind him for insult one whom he dearly loved, replied: "I have shown

you ways of smoothing life; you prefer the glory of dying. I will

not grudge you such a noble example. Let the fortitude of so

courageous an end be alike in both of us, but let there be more in

your decease to win fame."

Then by one and the same stroke they sundered with a dagger the

arteries of their arms. Seneca, as his aged frame, attenuated by

frugal diet, allowed the blood to escape but slowly, severed also

the veins of his legs and knees. Worn out by cruel anguish, afraid too

that his sufferings might break his wife's spirit, and that, as he

looked on her tortures, he might himself sink into irresolution, he

persuaded her to retire into another chamber. Even at the last

moment his eloquence failed him not; he summoned his secretaries,

and dictated much to them which, as it has been published for all

readers in his own words, I forbear to paraphrase.

Nero meanwhile, having no personal hatred against Paulina and not

wishing to heighten the odium of his cruelty, forbade her death. At

the soldiers' prompting, her slaves and freedmen bound up her arms,

and stanched the bleeding, whether with her knowledge is doubtful. For

as the vulgar are ever ready to think the worst, there were persons

who believed that, as long as she dreaded Nero's relentlessness, she

sought the glory of sharing her husband's death, but that after a

time, when a more soothing prospect presented itself, she yielded to

the charms of life. To this she added a few subsequent years, with a

most praise worthy remembrance of her husband, and with a

countenance and frame white to a degree of pallor which denoted a loss

of much vital energy.

Seneca meantime, as the tedious process of death still lingered

on, begged Statius Annaeus, whom he had long esteemed for his faithful

friendship and medical skill, to produce a poison with which he had

some time before provided himself, same drug which extinguished the

life of those who were condemned by a public sentence of the people of

Athens. It was brought to him and he drank it in vain, chilled as he

was throughout his limbs, and his frame closed against the efficacy of

the poison. At last he entered a pool of heated water, from which he

sprinkled the nearest of his slaves, adding the exclamation, "I

offer this liquid as a libation to Jupiter the Deliverer." He was then

carried into a bath, with the steam of which he was suffocated, and he

was burnt without any of the usual funeral rites. So he had directed

in a codicil of his will, when even in the height of his wealth and

power he was thinking of his life's close.

There was a rumour that Sabrius Flavus had held a secret

consultation with the centurions, and had planned, not without

Seneca's knowledge, that when Nero had been slain by Piso's

instrumentality, Piso also was to be murdered, and the empire handed

over to Seneca, as a man singled out for his splendid virtues by all

persons of integrity. Even a saying of Flavus was popularly current,

"that it mattered not as to the disgrace if a harp-player were removed

and a tragic actor succeeded him." For as Nero used to sing to the

harp, so did Piso in the dress of a tragedian.

The soldiers' part too in the conspiracy no longer escaped

discovery, some in their rage becoming informers to betray Faenius

Rufus, whom they could not endure to be both an accomplice and a

judge. Accordingly Scaevinus, in answer to his browbeating and

menaces, said with a smile that no one knew more than he did, and

actually urged him to show gratitude to so good a prince. Faenius

could not meet this with either speech or silence. Halting in his

words and visibly terror-stricken, while the rest, especially

Cervarius Proculus, a Roman knight, did their utmost to convict him,

he was, at the emperor's bidding, seized and bound by Cassius, a

soldier, who because of his well-known strength of limb was in


Shortly afterwards, the information of the same men proved fatal

to Subrius Flavus. At first he grounded his defence on his moral

contrast to the others, implying that an armed soldier, like

himself, would never have shared such an attempt with unarmed and

effeminate associates. Then, when he was pressed, he embraced the

glory of a full confession. Questioned by Nero as to the motives which

had led him on to forget his oath of allegiance, "I hated you," he

replied; "yet not a soldier was more loyal to you while you deserved

to be loved. I began to hate you when you became the murderer of

your mother and your wife, a charioteer, an actor, and an incendiary."

I have given the man's very words, because they were not, like those

of Seneca, generally published, though the rough and vigorous

sentiments of a soldier ought to be no less known.

Throughout the conspiracy nothing, it was certain, fell with more

terror on the ears of Nero, who was as unused to be told of the crimes

he perpetrated as he was eager in their perpetration. The punishment

of Flavus was intrusted to Veianius Niger, a tribune. At his

direction, a pit was dug in a neighbouring field. Flavus, on seeing

it, censured it as too shallow and confined, saying to the soldiers

around him, "Even this is not according to military rule." When bidden

to offer his neck resolutely, "I wish," said he, "that your stroke may

be as resolute." The tribune trembled greatly, and having only just

severed his head at two blows, vaunted his brutality to Nero, saying

that he had slain him with a blow and a half.

Sulpicius Asper, a centurion, exhibited the next example of

fortitude. To Nero's question why he had conspired to murder him, he

briefly replied that he could not have rendered a better service to

his infamous career. He then underwent the prescribed penalty. Nor did

the remaining centurions forget their courage in suffering their

punishment. But Faenius Rufus had not equal spirit; he even put his

laments into his will.

Nero waited in the hope that Vestinus also, the consul, whom he

thought an impetuous and deeply disaffected man, would be involved

in the charge. None however of the conspirators had shared their

counsels with him, some from old feuds against him, most because

they considered him a reckless and dangerous associate. Nero's

hatred of him had had its origin in intimate companionship, Vestinus

seeing through and despising the emperor's cowardice, while Nero

feared the high spirit of his friend, who often bantered him with that

rough humour which, when it draws largely on facts, leaves a bitter

memory behind it. There was too a recent aggravation in the

circumstance of Vestinus having married Statilia Messalina, without

being ignorant that the emperor was one of her paramours.

As neither crime nor accuser appeared, Nero, being thus unable to

assume the semblance of a judge, had recourse to the sheer might of

despotism, and despatched Gerellanus, a tribune, with a cohort of

soldiers, and with orders to forestall the designs of the consul, to

seize what he might call his fortress, and crush his train of chosen

youths. For Vestinus had a house towering over the Forum, and a host

of handsome slaves of the same age. On that day he had performed all

his duties as consul, and was entertaining some guests, fearless of

danger, or perhaps by way of hiding his fears, when the soldiers

entered and announced to him the tribune's summons. He rose without

a moment's delay, and every preparation was at once made. He shut

himself into his chamber; a physician was at his side; his veins

were opened; with life still strong in him, he was carried into a

bath, and plunged into warm water, without uttering a word of pity for

himself. Meanwhile the guards surrounded those who had sat at his

table, and it was only at a late hour of the night that they were

dismissed, when Nero, having pictured to himself and laughed over

their terror at the expectation of a fatal end to their banquet,

said that they had suffered enough punishment for the consul's


Next he ordered the destruction of Marcus Annaeus Lucanus. As the

blood flowed freely from him, and he felt a chill creeping through his

feet and hands, and the life gradually ebbing from his extremities,

though the heart was still warm and he retained his mental power,

Lucanus recalled some poetry he had composed in which he had told

the story of a wounded soldier dying a similar kind of death, and he

recited the very lines. These were his last words. After him, Senecio,

Quintianus, and Scaevinus perished, not in the manner expected from

the past effeminacy of their life, and then the remaining

conspirators, without deed or word deserving record.

Rome all this time was thronged with funerals, the Capitol with

sacrificial victims. One after another, on the destruction of a

brother, a kinsman, or a friend, would return thanks to the gods, deck

his house with laurels, prostrate himself at the knees of the emperor,

and weary his hand with kisses. He, in the belief that this was

rejoicing, rewarded with impunity the prompt informations of

Antonius Natalis and Cervarius Proculus. Milichus was enriched with

gifts and assumed in its Greek equivalent the name of Saviour. Of

the tribunes, Gavius Silvanus, though acquitted, perished by his own

hand; Statius Proximus threw away the benefit of the pardon he had

accepted from the emperor by the folly of his end. Cornelius

Martialis, Flavius Nepos, Statius Domitius were then deprived of the

tribuneship, on the ground, not of actually hating the emperor, but of

having the credit of it. Novius Priscus, as Seneca's friend, Glitius

Gallus, and Annius Pollio, as men disgraced rather than convicted,

escaped with sentences of banishment. Priscus and Gallus were

accompanied respectively by their wives, Artoria Flaccilla and Egnatia

Maximilla. The latter possessed at first a great fortune, still

unimpaired, and was subsequently deprived of it, both which

circumstances enhanced her fame.

Rufius Crispinus too was banished, on the opportune pretext of the

conspiracy, but he was in fact hated by Nero, because he had once been

Poppaea's husband. It was the splendour of their name which drove

Verginius Flavus and Musonius Rufus into exile. Verginius encouraged

the studies of our youth by his eloquence; Rufus by the teachings of

philosophy. Cluvidienus Quietus, Julius Agrippa, Blitius Catulinus,

Petronius Priscus, Julius Altinus, mere rank and file, so to say,

had islands in the Aegean Sea assigned to them. Caedicia, the wife

of Scaevinus, and Caesonius Maximus were forbidden to live in Italy,

their penalty being the only proof they had of having been accused.

Atilla, the mother of Annaeus Lucanus, without either acquittal or

punishment, was simply ignored.

All this having been completed, Nero assembled the troops and

distributed two thousand sesterces to every common soldier, with an

addition of as much corn without payment, as they had previously the

use of at the market price. Then, as if he was going to describe

successes in war, he summoned the Senate, and awarded triumphal

honours to Petronius Turpilianus, an ex-consul, to Cocceius Nerva,

praetor-elect, and to Tigellinus, commander of the praetorians.

Tigellinus and Nerva he so distinguished as to place busts of them

in the palace in addition to triumphal statues in the Forum. He

granted a consul's decorations to Nymphidius, on whose origin, as he

now appears for the first time, I will briefly touch. For he too

will be a part of Rome's calamities.

The son of a freedwoman, who had prostituted a handsome person among

the slaves and freedmen of the emperors, he gave out that he was the

offspring of Caius Caesar, for he happened to be of tall stature and

to have a fierce look, or possibly Caius Caesar, who liked even

harlots, had also amused himself with the man's mother.

Nero meanwhile summoned the Senate, addressed them in a speech,

and further added a proclamation to the people, with the evidence

which had been entered on records, and the confessions of the

condemned. He was indeed perpetually under the lash of popular talk,

which said that he had destroyed men perfectly innocent out of

jealousy or fear. However, that a conspiracy was begun, matured, and

conclusively proved was not doubted at the time by those who took

pains to ascertain the truth, and is admitted by those who after

Nero's death returned to the capital. When every one in the Senate,

those especially who had most cause to mourn, abased himself in

flattery, Salienus Clemens denounced Junius Gallio, who was

terror-stricken at his brother Seneca's death was pleading for his

life. He called him an enemy and traitor to the State, till the

unanimous voice of the senators deterred him from perverting public

miseries into an occasion for a personal resentment, and thus

importing fresh bitterness into what by the prince's clemency had been

hushed up or forgotten.

Then offerings and thanksgivings to the gods were decreed, with

special honours to the Sun, who has an ancient temple in the circus

where the crime was planned, as having revealed by his power the

secrets of the conspiracy. The games too of Ceres in the circus were

to be celebrated with more horse-races, and the month of April was

to be called after the name of Nero. A temple also was to be erected

to Safety, on the spot whence Scaevinus had taken his dagger. The

emperor himself dedicated the weapon in the temple of the capital, and

inscribed on it, "To Jupiter the Avenger." This passed without

notice at the moment, but after the war of Julius Vindex it was

construed as an omen and presage of impending vengeance. I find in the

registers of the Senate that Cerialis Anicius, consul-elect,

proposed a motion that a temple should as soon as possible be built at

the public expense to the Divine Nero. He implied indeed by this

proposal that the prince had transcended all mortal grandeur and

deserved the adoration of mankind. Some however interpreted it as an

omen of his death, seeing that divine honours are not paid to an

emperor till he has ceased to live among men.

BOOK XVI, A.D. 65, 66

FORTUNE soon afterwards made a dupe of Nero through his own

credulity and the promises of Caesellius Bassus, a Carthaginian by

birth and a man of a crazed imagination, who wrested a vision seen

in the slumber of night into a confident expectation. He sailed to

Rome, and having purchased admission to the emperor, he explained

how he had discovered on his land a cave of immense depth, which

contained a vast quantity of gold, not in the form of coin, but in the

shapeless and ponderous masses of ancient days. In fact, he said,

ingots of great weight lay there, with bars standing near them in

another part of the cave, a treasure hidden for so many ages to

increase the wealth of the present. Phoenician Dido, as he sought to

show by inference, after fleeing from Tyre and founding Carthage,

had concealed these riches in the fear that a new people might be

demoralised by a superabundance of money, or that the Numidian

kings, already for other reasons hostile, might by lust of gold be

provoked to war.

Nero upon this, without sufficiently examining the credibility of

the author of the story, or of the matter itself, or sending persons

through whom he might ascertain whether the intelligence was true,

himself actually encouraged the report and despatched men to bring the

spoil, as if it were already acquired. They had triremes assigned them

and crews specially selected to promote speed. Nothing else at the

time was the subject of the credulous gossip of the people, and of the

very different conversation of thinking persons. It happened, too,

that the quinquennial games were being celebrated for the second time,

and the orators took from this same incident their chief materials for

eulogies on the emperor. "Not only," they said, "were there the

usual harvests, and the gold of the mine with its alloy, but the earth

now teemed with a new abundance, and wealth was thrust on them by

the bounty of the gods." These and other servile flatteries they

invented, with consummate eloquence and equal sycophancy,

confidently counting on the facility of his belief.

Extravagance meanwhile increased, on the strength of a chimerical

hope, and ancient wealth was wasted, as apparently the emperor had

lighted on treasures he might squander for many a year. He even gave

away profusely from this source, and the expectation of riches was one

of the causes of the poverty of the State. Bassus indeed dug up his

land and extensive plains in the neighbourhood, while he persisted

that this or that was the place of the promised cave, and was followed

not only by our soldiers but by the rustic population who were engaged

to execute the work, till at last he threw off his infatuation, and

expressing wonder that his dreams had never before been false, and

that now for the first time he had been deluded, he escaped disgrace

and danger by a voluntary death. Some have said that he was imprisoned

and soon released, his property having been taken from him as a

substitute for the royal treasure.

Meanwhile the Senate, as they were now on the eve of the

quinquennial contest, wishing to avert scandal, offered the emperor

the "victory in song," and added the "crown of eloquence," that thus a

veil might be thrown over a shameful exposure on the stage. Nero,

however, repeatedly declared that he wanted neither favour nor the

Senate's influence, as he was a match for his rivals, and was certain,

in the conscientious opinion of the judges, to win the honour by

merit. First, he recited a poem on the stage; then, at the importunate

request of the rabble that he would make public property of all his

accomplishments (these were their words), he entered the theatre,

and conformed to all the laws of harp-playing, not sitting down when

tired, nor wiping off the perspiration with anything but the garment

he wore, or letting himself be seen to spit or clear his nostrils.

Last of all, on bended knee he saluted the assembly with a motion of

the hand, and awaited the verdict of the judges with pretended

anxiety. And then the city-populace, who were wont to encourage

every gesture even of actors, made the place ring with measured

strains of elaborate applause. One would have thought they were

rejoicing, and perhaps they did rejoice, in their indifference to

the public disgrace.

All, however, who were present from remote towns, and still retained

the Italy of strict morals and primitive ways; all too who had come on

embassies or on private business from distant provinces, where they

had been unused to such wantonness, were unable to endure the

spectacle or sustain the degrading fatigue, which wearied their

unpractised hands, while they disturbed those who knew their part, and

were often struck by soldiers, stationed in the seats, to see that not

a moment of time passed with less vigorous applause or in the

silence of indifference. It was a known fact that several knights,

in struggling through the narrow approaches and the pressure of the

crowd, were trampled to death, and that others while keeping their

seats day and night were seized with some fatal malady. For it was a

still worse danger to be absent from the show, as many openly and many

more secretly made it their business to scrutinize names and faces,

and to note the delight or the disgust of the company. Hence came

cruel severities, immediately exercised on the humble, and

resentments, concealed for the moment, but subsequently paid off,

towards men of distinction. There was a story that Vespasian was

insulted by Phoebus, a freedman, for closing his eyes in a doze, and

that having with difficulty been screened by the intercessions of

the well disposed, he escaped imminent destruction through his grander


After the conclusion of the games Poppaea died from a casual

outburst of rage in her husband, who felled her with a kick when she

was pregnant. That there was poison I cannot believe, though some

writers so relate, from hatred rather than from belief, for the

emperor was desirous of children, and wholly swayed by love of his

wife. Her body was not consumed by fire according to Roman usage,

but after the custom of foreign princes was filled with fragrant

spices and embalmed, and then consigned to the sepulchre of the Julii.

She had, however, a public funeral, and Nero himself from the rostra

eulogized her beauty, her lot in having been the mother of a deified

child, and fortune's other gifts, as though they were virtues.

To the death of Poppaea, which, though a public grief, was a delight

to those who recalling the past thought of her shamelessness and

cruelty, Nero added fresh and greater odium by forbidding Caius

Cassius to attend the funeral. This was the first token of mischief.

Nor was it long delayed. Silanus was coupled with Cassius, no crime

being alleged, but that Cassius was eminent for his ancestral wealth

and dignity of character, Silanus for the nobility of his birth and

the quiet demeanour of his youth. The emperor accordingly sent the

Senate a speech in which he argued that both ought to be removed

from the State, and made it a reproach against Cassius that among

his ancestors' busts he had specially revered that of Caius Cassius,

which bore the inscription "to the Party-Leader." In fact, he had

thereby sought to sow the seeds of civil war and revolt from the House

of the Caesars. And that he might not merely avail himself of the

memory of a hated name to stir up strife, he had associated with him

Lucius Silanus, a youth of noble birth and reckless spirit, to whom he

might point as an instrument of revolution.

Nero next denounced Silanus himself in the same terms as he had

his uncle Torquatus, implying that he was already arranging the

details of imperial business, and setting freedmen to manage his

accounts, papers, and correspondence, imputations utterly groundless

and false. Silanus, in truth, was intensely apprehensive, and had been

frightened into caution by his uncle's destruction. Nero then procured

persons, under the name of informers, to invent against Lepida, the

wife of Cassius and aunt of Silanus, a charge of incest with her

brother's son, and of some ghastly religious ceremonial. Volcatius

Tullinus, and Marcellus Cornelius, senators, and Fabatus, a Roman

knight, were drawn in as accomplices. By an appeal to the emperor

these men eluded an impending doom and subsequently, as being too

insignificant, escaped from Nero, who was busy with crimes on a far

greater scale.

The Senate was then consulted and sentences of exile were passed

on Cassius and Silanus. As to Lepida, the emperor was to decide.

Cassius was transported to the island of Sardinia, and he was

quietly left to old age. Silanus was removed to Ostia, whence, it

was pretended, he was to be conveyed to Naxos. He was afterwards

confined in a town of Apulia named Barium. There, as he was wisely

enduring a most undeserved calamity, he was suddenly seized by a

centurion sent to slay him. When the man advised him to sever his

veins, he replied that, though he had resolved in his heart to die, he

would not let a cutthroat have the glory of the service. The centurion

seeing that, unarmed as he was, he was very powerful, and more an

enraged than a frightened man, ordered his soldiers to overpower

him. And Silanus failed not to resist and to strike blows, as well

as he could with his bare hands, till he was cut down by the

centurion, as though in battle, with wounds in his breast.

With equal courage Lucius Vetus, his mother-in-law Sextia, and his

daughter Pollutia submitted to death. They were hated by the emperor

because they seemed a living reproach to him for the murder of

Rubellius Plautus, son-in-law of Lucius Vetus. But the first

opportunity of unmasking his savage wrath was furnished by Fortunatus,

a freedman, who having embezzled his patron's property, deserted him

to become his accuser. He had as his accomplice Claudius Demianus,

whom Vetus, when proconsul of Asia, had imprisoned for his gross

misdeeds, and whom Nero now released as a recompense for the


When the accused knew this and saw that he and his freedman were

pitted against each other on an equal footing, he retired to his

estate at Formiae. There he was put under the secret surveillance of

soldiers. With him was his daughter, who, to say nothing of the now

imminent peril, had all the fury of a long grief ever since she had

seen the murderers of her husband Plautus. She had clasped his

bleeding neck, and still kept by her the blood-stained apparel,

clinging in her widowhood to perpetual sorrow, and using only such

nourishment as might suffice to avert starvation. Then at her father's

bidding she went to Neapolis. And as she was forbidden to approach

Nero, she would haunt his doors; and implore him to hear an innocent

man, and not surrender to a freedman one who had once been his

colleague in the consulship, now pleading with the cries of a woman,

now again forgetting her sex and lifting up her voice in a tone of

menace, till the emperor showed himself unmoved alike by entreaty

and reproach.

She therefore told her father by message that she cast hope aside

and yielded to necessity. He was at the same time informed that

judicial proceedings in the Senate and a dreadful sentence were

hanging over him. Some there were who advised him to name the

emperor as his chief heir, and so secure the remainder for his

grandchildren. But he spurned the notion, and unwilling to disgrace

a life which had clung to freedom by a final act of servility, he

bestowed on his slaves all his ready money, and ordered each to convey

away for himself whatever he could carry, leaving only three couches

for the last scene. Then in the same chamber, with the same weapon,

they sundered their veins, and speedily hurried into a bath, covered

each, as delicacy required, with a single garment, the father gazing

intently on his daughter, the grandmother on her grandchild, she again

on both, while with rival earnestness they prayed that the ebbing life

might have a quick departure, each wishing to leave a relative still

surviving, but just on the verge of death. Fortune preserved the due

order; the oldest died first, then the others according to priority of

age. They were prosecuted after their burial, and the sentence was

that "they should be punished in ancient fashion." Nero interposed his

veto, allowing them to die without his interference. Such were the

mockeries added to murders already perpetrated.

Publius Gallus, a Roman knight, was outlawed for having been

intimate with Faenius Rufus and somewhat acquainted with Vetus. To the

freedman who was the accuser, was given, as a reward for his

service, a seat in the theatre among the tribune's officers. The month

too following April, or Neroneus, was changed from Maius into the name

of Claudius, and Junius into that of Germanicus, Cornelius Orfitus,

the proposer of the motion, publicly declaring that the month Junius

had been passed over because the execution of the two Torquati for

their crimes had now rendered its name inauspicious.

A year of shame and of so many evil deeds heaven also marked by

storms and pestilence. Campania was devastated by a hurricane, which

destroyed everywhere countryhouses, plantations and crops, and carried

its fury to the neighbourhood of Rome, where a terrible plague was

sweeping away all classes of human beings without any such derangement

of the atmosphere as to be visibly apparent. Yet the houses were

filled with lifeless forms and the streets with funerals. Neither

age nor sex was exempt from peril. Slaves and the free-born populace

alike were suddenly cut off, amid the wailings of wives and

children, who were often consumed on the very funeral pile of their

friends by whom they had been sitting and shedding tears. Knights

and senators perished indiscriminately, and yet their deaths were less

deplored because they seemed to forestal the emperor's cruelty by an

ordinary death. That same year levies of troops were held in Narbon

Gaul, Africa and Asia, to fill up the legions of Illyricum, all

soldiers in which, worn out by age or ill-health, were receiving their

discharge. Lugdunum was consoled by the prince for a ruinous

disaster by a gift of four million sesterces, so that what was lost to

the city might be replaced. Its people had previously offered this

same amount for the distresses of Rome.

In the consulship of Caius Suetonius and Lucius Telesinus, Antistius

Sosianus, who, as I have stated, had been punished with exile for

repeated satires on Nero, having heard that there was such honour

for informers and that the emperor was so partial to bloodshed,

being himself too of a restless temper and quick to seize

opportunities, made a friend of a man in like condition with

himself, one Pammenes, an exile in the same place, noted for his skill

as an astrologer, and consequently bound to many in close intimacy. He

thought there must be a meaning in the frequent messages and the

consultations, and he learnt at the same time that an annual payment

was furnished him by Publius Anteius. He knew too that Anteius was

hated by Nero for his love of Agrippina, and that his wealth was

sufficiently conspicuous to provoke cupidity, and that this was the

cause of the destruction of many. Accordingly he intercepted a

letter from Anteius, and having also stolen some notes about the day

of his nativity and his future career, which were hidden away among

Pammenes' secret papers, and having further discovered some remarks on

the birth and life of Ostorius Scapula, he wrote to the emperor that

he would communicate important news which would contribute to his

safety, if he could but obtain a brief reprieve of his exile.

Anteius and Ostorius were, he hinted, grasping at empire and prying

into the destinies of themselves and of the prince. Some swift galleys

were then despatched and Sosianus speedily arrived. On the

disclosure of his information, Anteius and Ostorius were classed

with condemned criminals rather than with men on their trial, so

completely, indeed, that no one would attest the will of Anteius, till

Tigellinus interposed to sanction it. Anteius had been previously

advised by him not to delay this final document. Then he drank poison,

but disgusted at its slowness, he hastened death by severing his


Ostorius was living at the time on a remote estate on the Ligurian

frontier. Thither a centurion was despatched to hurry on his

destruction. There was a motive for promptitude arising out of the

fact that Ostorius, with his great military fame and the civic crown

he had won in Britain, possessed, too, as he was of huge bodily

strength and skill in arms, had made Nero, who was always timid and

now more frightened than ever by the lately discovered conspiracy,

fearful of a sudden attack. So the centurion, having barred every exit

from the house, disclosed the emperor's orders to Ostorius. That

fortitude which he had often shown in fighting the enemy Ostorius

now turned against himself. And as his veins, though severed,

allowed but a scanty flow of blood, he used the help of a slave,

simply to hold up a dagger firmly, and then pressing the man's hand

towards him, he met the point with his throat.

Even if I had to relate foreign wars and deaths encountered in the

service of the State with such a monotony of disaster, I should myself

have been overcome by disgust, while I should look for weariness in my

readers, sickened as they would be by the melancholy and continuous

destruction of our citizens, however glorious to themselves. But now a

servile submissiveness and so much wanton bloodshed at home fatigue

the mind and paralyze it with grief. The only indulgence I would ask

from those who will acquaint themselves with these horrors is that I

be not thought to hate men who perished so tamely. Such was the

wrath of heaven against the Roman State that one may not pass over

it with a single mention, as one might the defeat of armies and the

capture of cities. Let us grant this privilege to the posterity of

illustrious men, that just as in their funeral obsequies such men

are not confounded in a common burial, so in the record of their end

they may receive and retain a special memorial.

Within a few days, in quick succession, Annaeus Mela, Cerialis

Anicius, Rufius Crispinus, and Petronius fell, Mela and Crispinus

being Roman knights with senatorian rank. The latter had once

commanded the praetorians and had been rewarded with the decorations

of the consulate. He had lately been banished to Sardinia on a

charge of conspiracy, and on receiving a message that he was doomed to

die had destroyed himself. Mela, son of the same parents as Gallio and

Seneca, had refrained from seeking promotion out of a perverse

vanity which wished to raise a Roman knight to an equality with

ex-consuls. He also thought that there was a shorter road to the

acquisition of wealth through offices connected with the

administration of the emperor's private business. He had too in his

son Annaeus Lucanus a powerful aid in rising to distinction. After the

death of Lucanus, he rigorously called in the debts due to his estate,

and thereby provoked an accuser in the person of Fabius Romanus, one

of the intimate friends of Lucanus. A story was invented that the

father and son shared between them a knowledge of the conspiracy,

and a letter was forged in Lucanus's name. This Nero examined, and

ordered it to be conveyed to Mela, whose wealth he ravenously desired.

Mela meanwhile, adopting the easiest mode of death then in fashion,

opened his veins, after adding a codicil to his will bequeathing an

immense amount to Tigellinus and his son-in-law, Cossutianus Capito,

in order to save the remainder. In this codicil he is also said to

have written, by way of remonstrance against the injustice of his

death, that he died without any cause for punishment, while Rufius

Crispinus and Anicius Cerialis still enjoyed life, though bitter

foes to the prince. It was thought that he had invented this about

Crispinus, because the man had been already murdered; about

Cerialis, with the object of procuring his murder. Soon afterwards

Cerialis laid violent hands on himself, and received less pity than

the others, because men remembered that he had betrayed a conspiracy

to Caius Caesar.

With regard to Caius Petronius, I ought to dwell a little on his

antecedents. His days he passed in sleep, his nights in the business

and pleasures of life. Indolence had raised him to fame, as energy

raises others, and he was reckoned not a debauchee and spendthrift,

like most of those who squander their substance, but a man of

refined luxury. And indeed his talk and his doings, the freer they

were and the more show of carelessness they exhibited, were the better

liked, for their look of natural simplicity. Yet as proconsul of

Bithynia and soon afterwards as consul, he showed himself a man of

vigour and equal to business. Then falling back into vice or affecting

vice, he was chosen by Nero to be one of his few intimate

associates, as a critic in matters of taste, while the emperor thought

nothing charming or elegant in luxury unless Petronius had expressed

to him his approval of it. Hence jealousy on the part of Tigellinus,

who looked on him as a rival and even his superior in the science of

pleasure. And so he worked on the prince's cruelty, which dominated

every other passion, charging Petronius with having been the friend of

Scaevinus, bribing a slave to become informer, robbing him of the

means of defence, and hurrying into prison the greater part of his


It happened at the time that the emperor was on his way Campania and

that Petronius, after going as far as Cumae, was there detained. He

bore no longer the suspense of fear or of hope. Yet he did not fling

away life with precipitate haste, but having made an incision in his

veins and then, according to his humour, bound them up, he again

opened them, while he conversed with his friends, not in a serious

strain or on topics that might win for him the glory of courage. And

he listened to them as they repeated, not thoughts on the

immortality of the soul or on the theories of philosophers, but

light poetry and playful verses. To some of his slaves he gave liberal

presents, a flogging to others. He dined, indulged himself in sleep,

that death, though forced on him, might have a natural appearance.

Even in his will he did not, as did many in their last moments,

flatter Nero or Tigellinus or any other of the men in power. On the

contrary, he described fully the prince's shameful excesses, with

the names of his male and female companions and their novelties in

debauchery, and sent the account under seal to Nero. Then he broke his

signet-ring, that it might not be subsequently available for

imperilling others.

When Nero was in doubt how the ingenious varieties of his nightly

revels became notorious, Silia came into his mind, who, as a senator's

wife, was a conspicuous person, and who had been his chosen

associate in all his profligacy and was very intimate with

Petronius. She was banished for not having, as was suspected, kept

secret what she had seen and endured, a sacrifice to his personal

resentment. Minucius Thermus, an ex-praetor, he surrendered to the

hate of Tigellinus, because a freedman of Thermus had brought criminal

charges against Tigellinus, such that the man had to atone for them

himself by the torture of the rack, his patron by an undeserved death.

Nero after having butchered so many illustrious men, at last aspired

to extirpate virtue itself by murdering Thrasea Paetus and Barea

Soranus. Both men he had hated of old, Thrasea on additional

grounds, because he had walked out of the Senate when Agrippina's case

was under discussion, as I have already related, and had not given the

Juvenile games any conspicuous encouragement. Nero's displeasure at

this was the deeper, since this same Thrasea had sung in a tragedian's

dress at Patavium, his birth-place, in some games instituted by the

Trojan Antenor. On the day, too, on which the praetor Antistius was

being sentenced to death for libels on Nero, Thrasea proposed and

carried a more merciful decision. Again, when divine honours were

decreed to Poppaea, he was purposely absent and did not attend her

funeral. All this Capito Cossutianus would not allow to be

forgotten. He had a heart eager for the worst wickedness, and he

also bore ill-will to Thrasea, the weight of whose influence had

crushed him, while envoys from Cilicia, supported by Thrasea's

advocacy, were accusing him of extortion.

He alleged, too, against him the following charges:- "Thrasea," he

said, "at the beginning of the year always avoided the usual oath of

allegiance; he was not present at the recital of the public prayers,

though he had been promoted to the priesthood of the Fifteen; he had

never offered a sacrifice for the safety of the prince or for his

heavenly voice. Though formerly he had been assiduous and unwearied in

showing himself a supporter or an opponent even of the most ordinary

motions of senators, he had not entered the Senate-house for three

years, and very lately, when all were rushing thither with rival

eagerness to put down Silanus and Vetus, he had attended by preference

to the private business of his clients. This was political schism,

and, should many dare to do the like, it was actual war."

Capito further added, "The country in its eagerness for discord is

now talking of you, Nero, and of Thrasea, as it talked once of Caius

Caesar and Marcus Cato. Thrasea has his followers or rather his

satellites, who copy, not indeed as yet the audacious tone of his

sentiments, but only his manners and his looks, a sour and gloomy set,

bent on making your mirthfulness a reproach to you. He is the only man

who cares not for your safety, honours not your accomplishments. The

prince's prosperity he despises. Can it be that he is not satisfied

with your sorrows and griefs? It shows the same spirit not to

believe in Poppaea's divinity as to refuse to swear obedience to the

acts of the Divine Augustus and the Divine Julius. He contemns

religious rites; he annuls laws. The daily records of the Roman people

are read attentively in the provinces and the armies that they may

know what Thrasea has not done.

"Either let us go over to his system, if it is better than ours,

or let those who desire change have their leader and adviser taken

from them. That sect of his gave birth to the Tuberones and Favonii,

names hateful even to the old republic. They make a show of freedom,

to overturn the empire; should they destroy it, they will attack

freedom itself. In vain have you banished Cassius, if you are going to

allow rivals of the Bruti to multiply and flourish. Finally, write

nothing yourself about Thrasea; leave the Senate to decide for us."

Nero further stimulated the eager wrath of Cossutianus, and associated

with him the pungent eloquence of Marcellus Eprius.

As for the impeachment of Barea Soranus, Ostorius Sabinus, a Roman

knight, had already claimed it for himself. It arose out of his

proconsulate of Asia, where he increased the prince's animosity by his

uprightness and diligence, as well as by having bestowed pains on

opening the port of Ephesus and passed over without punishment the

violence of the citizens of Pergamos in their efforts to hinder

Acratus, one of the emperor's freedmen, from carrying off statues

and pictures. But the crime imputed to him was friendship with Plautus

and intrigues to lure the province into thoughts of revolt. The time

chosen for the fatal sentence was that at which Tiridates was on his

way to receive the sovereignty of Armenia, so that crime at home might

be partially veiled amid rumours on foreign affairs, or that Nero

might display his imperial grandeur by the murder of illustrious

men, as though it were a kingly exploit.

Accordingly when all Rome rushed out to welcome the emperor and

see the king, Thrasea, though forbidden to appear, did not let his

spirit be cast down, but wrote a note to Nero, in which he demanded to

know the charges against him, and asserted that he would clear

himself, if he were informed of the crimes alleged and had an

opportunity of refuting them. This note Nero received with

eagerness, in the hope that Thrasea in dismay had written something to

enhance the emperor's glory and to tarnish his own honour. When it

turned out otherwise, and he himself, on the contrary, dreaded the

glance and the defiant independence of the guiltless man, he ordered

the Senate to be summoned.

Thrasea then consulted his most intimate friends whether he should

attempt or spurn defence. Conflicting advice was offered. Those who

thought it best for him to enter the Senate house said that they

counted confidently on his courage, and were sure that he would say

nothing but what would heighten his renown. "It was for the feeble and

timid to invest their last moments with secrecy. Let the people behold

a man who could meet death. Let the Senate hear words, almost of

divine inspiration, more than human. It was possible that the very

miracle might impress even a Nero. But should he persist in his

cruelty, posterity would at least distinguish between the memory of an

honourable death and the cowardice of those who perished in silence."

Those, on the other hand, who thought that he ought to wait at home,

though their opinion of him was the same, hinted that mockeries and

insults were in store for him. "Spare your ears" they said, "taunts

and revilings. Not only are Cossutianus and Eprius eagerly bent on

crime; there are numbers more, daring enough, perchance, to raise

the hand of violence in their brutality. Even good men through fear do

the like. Better save the Senate which you have adorned to the last

the infamy of such an outrage, and leave it a matter of doubt what the

senators would have decided, had they seen Thrasea on his trial. It is

with a vain hope we are aiming to touch Nero with shame for his

abominations, and we have far more cause to fear that he will vent his

fury on your wife, your household, on all others dear to you. And

therefore, while you are yet stainless and undisgraced, seek to

close life with the glory of those in whose track and pursuits you

have passed it."

Present at this deliberation was Rusticus Arulenus, an

enthusiastic youth, who, in his ardour for renown, offered, as he

was tribune of the people, to protest against the sentence of the

Senate. Thrasea checked his impetuous temper, not wishing him to

attempt what would be as futile, and useless to the accused, as it

would be fatal to the protester. "My days," he said, "are ended, and I

must not now abandon a scheme of life in which for so many years I

have persevered. You are at the beginning of a career of office, and

your future is yet clear. Weigh thoroughly with yourself beforehand,

at such a crisis as this, the path of political life on which you

enter." He then reserved for his own consideration the question

whether it became him to enter the Senate.

Next day, however, two praetorian cohorts under arms occupied the

temple of Venus Genetrix. A group of ordinary citizens with swords

which they did not conceal, had blocked the approach to the Senate.

Through the squares and colonnades were scattered bodies of

soldiers, amid whose looks of menace the senators entered their house.

A speech from the emperor was read by his quaestor. Without addressing

any one by name, he censured the senators for neglecting their

public duties, and drawing by their example the Roman knights into

idleness. "For what wonder is it," he asked, "that men do not come

from remote provinces when many, after obtaining the consulate or some

sacred office, give all their thoughts by choice to the beauty of

their gardens?" Here was, so to say, a weapon for the accusers, on

which they fastened.

Cossutianus made a beginning, and then Marcellus in more violent

tones exclaimed that the whole commonwealth was at stake. "It is,"

he said, "the stubbornness of inferiors which lessens the clemency

of our ruler. We senators have hitherto been too lenient in allowing

him to be mocked with impunity by Thrasea throwing off allegiance,

by his son-in-law Helvidius Priscus indulging similar frenzies, by

Paconius Agrippinus, the inheritor of his father's hatred towards

emperors, and by Curtius Montanus, the habitual composer of abominable

verses. I miss the presence of an ex-consul in the Senate, of a priest

when we offer our vows, of a citizen when we swear obedience, unless

indeed, in defiance of the manners and rites of our ancestors, Thrasea

has openly assumed the part of a traitor and an enemy. In a word,

let the man, wont to act the senator and to screen those who disparage

the prince, come among us; let him propose any reform or change he may

desire. We shall more readily endure his censure of details than we

can now bear the silence by which he condemns everything. Is it the

peace throughout the world or victories won without loss to our armies

which vex him? A man who grieves at the country's prosperity, who

treats our public places, theatres and temples as if they were a

desert, and who is ever threatening us with exile, let us not enable

such an one to gratify his perverse vanity. To him the decrees of this

house, the offices of State, the city of Rome seem as nothing. Let him

sever his life from a country all love for which he has long lost

and the very sight of which he has now put from him."

While Marcellus, with the savage and menacing look he usually

wore, spoke these and like words with rising fury in his voice,

countenance, and eye, that familiar grief to which a thick

succession of perils had habituated the Senate gave way to a new and

profounder panic, as they saw the soldiers' hands on their weapons. At

the same moment the venerable form of Thrasea rose before their

imagination, and some there were who pitied Helvidius too, doomed as

he was to suffer for an innocent alliance. "What again," they asked,

"was the charge against Agrippinus except his father's sad fate, since

he too, though guiltless as his son, fell beneath the cruelty of

Tiberius? As for Montanus, a youth without a blemish, author of no

libellous poem, he was positively driven out an exile because he had

exhibited genius."

And meanwhile Ostorius Sabinus, the accuser of Soranus, entered, and

began by speaking of his friendship with Rubellius Plautus and of

his proconsulate in Asia which he had, he said, adapted to his own

glory rather than to the public welfare, by fostering seditious

movements in the various states. These were bygones, but there was a

fresh charge involving the daughter in the peril of the father, to the

effect that she had lavished money on astrologers. This indeed had

really occurred through the filial affection of Servilia (that was the

girl's name), who, out of love for her father and the

thoughtlessness of youth, had consulted them, only however about the

safety of her family, whether Nero could be appeased, and the trial

before the Senate have no dreadful result.

She was accordingly summoned before the Senate, and there they stood

facing one another before the consuls' tribunal, the aged parent,

and opposite to him the daughter, in the twentieth year of her age,

widowed and forlorn, her husband Annius Pollio having lately been

driven into banishment, without so much as a glance at her father,

whose peril she seemed to have aggravated.

Then on the accuser asking her whether she had sold her bridal

presents or stript her neck of its ornaments to raise money for the

performance of magical rites, she at first flung herself on the ground

and wept long in silence. After awhile, clasping the altar steps and

altar, she exclaimed, "I have invoked no impious deities, no

enchantments, nor aught else in my unhappy prayers, but only that

thou, Caesar, and you, senators, might preserve unharmed this best

of fathers. My jewels, my apparel, and the signs of my rank I gave up,

as I would have given up my life-blood had they demanded it. They must

have seen this, those men before unknown to me, both as to the name

they bear and the arts they practise. No mention was made by me of the

emperor, except as one of the divinities. But my most unhappy father

knows nothing, and, if it is a crime, I alone am guilty."

While she was yet speaking, Soranus caught up her words, and

exclaimed that she had not gone with him into the province; that, from

her youth, she could not have been known to Plautus, and that she

was not involved in the charges against her husband. "Treat

separately," he said, "the case of one who is guilty only of an

exaggerated filial piety, and as for myself, let me undergo any fate."

He was rushing, as he spoke, into the embraces of his daughter who

hurried towards him, but the lictors interposed and stopped them both.

Place was then given to the witnesses, and the appearance among them

of Publius Egnatius provoked as much indignation as the cruelty of the

prosecution had excited pity. A client of Soranus, and now hired to

ruin his friend, he professed the dignified character of a Stoic,

and had trained himself in demeanour and language to exhibit an

ideal of virtue. In his heart, however, treacherous and cunning, he

concealed greed and sensuality. As soon as money had brought these

vices to light, he became an example, warning us to beware just as

much of those who under the guise of virtuous tastes are false and

deceitful in friendship, as of men wholly entangled in falsehoods

and stained with every infamy.

That same day brought with it a noble pattern in Cassius

Asclepiodotus, whose vast wealth made him a foremost man in

Bithynia. He had honoured Soranus in his prosperity with a respect

which he did not cast off in his fall, and he was now stript of all

his property and driven into exile; so impartially indifferent is

heaven to examples of virtue and vice. Thrasea, Soranus, and

Servilia were allowed the choice of death. Helvidius and Paconius were

banished from Italy. Montanus was spared to his father's intercessions

on the understanding that he was not to be admitted to political life.

The prosecutors, Eprius and Cossutianus, received each five million

sesterces, Ostorius twelve hundred thousand, with the decorations of

the quaestorship.

Then, as evening approached, the consul's quaestor was sent to

Thrasea, who was passing his time in his garden. He had had a

crowded gathering of distinguished men and women, giving special

attention to Demetrius, a professor of the Cynic philosophy. With him,

as might be inferred from his earnest expression of face and from

words heard when they raised their voices, he was speculating on the

nature of the soul and on the separation of the spirit from the

body, till Domitius Caecilianus, one of his intimate friends, came

to him and told him in detail what the Senate had decided. When all

who were present, wept and bitterly complained, Thrasea urged them

to hasten their departure and not mingle their own perils with the

fate of a doomed man. Arria, too, who aspired to follow her

husband's end and the example of Arria, her mother, he counselled to

preserve her life, and not rob the daughter of their love of her

only stay.

Then he went out into a colonnade, where he was found by the

quaestor, joyful rather than otherwise, as he had learnt that

Helvidius, his son-in-law, was merely excluded from Italy.

When he heard the Senate's decision, he led Helvidius and

Demetrius into a chamber, and having laid bare the arteries of each

arm, he let the blood flow freely, and, as he sprinkled it on the

ground, he called the quaestor to his side and said, "We pour out a

libation to Jupiter the Deliverer. Behold, young man, and may the gods

avert the omen, but you have been born into times in which it is

well to fortify the spirit with examples of courage." Then as the

slowness of his end brought with it grievous anguish, turning his eyes

on Demetrius

[At this point the Annals are broken off. Much remained to be told

about the last two years of Nero's reign.]