EBook PDF, MB, This text-based PDF or EBook was created from the HTML Gordon's translation and his lengthy Discourses on Tacitus bring Tacitus'. For other English-language translations of this work, see Annals (Tacitus). The Annals (From the Passing of the Divine Augustus) (). 1. In the consulship of Sisenna Statilius Taurus and Lucius Libo there was a commotion in the kingdoms and Roman provinces of the East.
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The Annals By Tacitus Written A.C.E.. Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. The Annals has been divided into the following. ISBN Digital (PDF): ISBN Digital ebook as a work (in our case the Annals), an oeuvre (here that of Tacitus), historical settings (Neronian. EBook PDF, KB, This text-based PDF or EBook was created from the HTML version of this book and is part of the Portable Library of Liberty. HTML, KB.
Many of the productions then, and particularly the Royal productions, are wretched beyond measure; I wish the honour and politics of those days had been better nor could so considerable a man as Sir Francis Bacon escape the infection. 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. A morass was in the enemy's rear, and the Romans were hemmed in by the river or by the hills. It was to Piso that the symbols of power and a praetor's jurisdiction and the legions had been given. Certainly worse, much worse than none, is that Religion which inspires pride, bigotry, and fierceness, and hath not charity for all men. He shews how the truth was corrupted, first by flattery, then by resentment; and professes to be far from either. 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.
I shall quote one more; it is in the thirteenth Annal, cap. It was importunately urged in the Senate that such freedmen as by abusing their Lords, had shewn themselves unworthy of their liberty, should remain at the mercy of the said Lords, and be subject to their former chains, nec deerant qui censerent, says Tacitus, sed Consules relationem incipere non ausi ignaro principe i. I cannot omit one polite phrase more out of this Book. Suilius Senecam increpans, says Tacitus. He indeed has stolen all he knew of Tacitus from the old Translation, with all its blunders and stupidity, and improved both notably.
Behold another specimen. A Fresh hand has undertaken the three following Annals, and by good fortune such a hand as has preserved an eminent uniformity with the foregoing; only he is somewhat more gross. Tacitus says, it was reported that when Agrippina studied to draw Nero her son into an incestuous commerce with herself, Senecam contra muliebres inlecebras subsidium a femina petivisse: When Agrippina had escaped the first attempt upon her life, she dissembled, and seemed not to think it designed, nor to entertain any future apprehensions: But as Acerronia one of her maids had perished in that attempt, she ordered her Will to be found, and all her effects to be sealed up.
This she did, says Tacitus, without any dissimulation; id tantum non per simulationem, c. Here however there seems to be some meaning aimed at; in what follows, even that is wanting: In truth, to expose the insipidness and nonsense of these Annals, were to transcribe them. His Translation of this is abominable, as well as ridiculous and false; and many such like instances there are in him.
I beg leave to quote one short passage more out of this Annal. This is a fine reflection; observe how execrably it is rendred: The fifteenth Annal is done just like the fourteenth, wretchedly. Here follows a specimen: Corbulo and Cesennius Petus commanded in the East: That he would impose laws and demand contributions, introduce the Roman power in the place of their Knights, and render them a meer shadow.
He goes on: They were now beginning to talk that the Antients were always commended Edition: This is another discovery which he has made from these words: When Petus had submitted to such shameful conditions from the Parthians, he, amongst the rest, made a bridge over the river Arsanias, and to hide his disgrace, pretended it was to shorten his own march; when in truth, it was done in obedience to the commands of the Parthians, as a monument of their superiority and conquest: He often adds words of his own to those of Tacitus, and often drops many more of the original, sometimes whole sentences.
Tacitus says, there prevailed then a pestilent custom of making fraudulent Adoptions, by such Candidates for Offices as had no children of their own; and as soon as the Election was over, they instantly dismissed such as they had occasionally adopted. All this is dropped by the Translator, and the following jargon of his own inserted: I am afraid I have tired my reader, as I have done my self, with such a dull deduction of stupidities.
I did not at first intend to say any thing of the former Translations: I took it for granted that every man who had seen them, must have condemned them, and found them as pitiful and bad as they really are. But when upon publishing my Proposals, I found that some, who by their titles and profession should be learned, others who by their high quality, ought to have taste and elegance, had commended the former Translation, and uttered their despair of seeing a better; I found it necessary to give some account of that performance, which I think to be as low, defective, and wretched as any thing in print; neither language, nor sense, nor decency, and as much unlike Tacitus the Historian, as the meanest slave of Tacitus the Consul, was unlike his master.
It is much worse than the old Translation, which is exceeding bad. It is in my own defence, as well as in defence of Tacitus, that I have censured it, and against my inclination. It looks indeed as if the Translators themselves had no opinion of it, since they have not, as is usual, said one word about it by way of Preface. This is what Mr.
Dryden particularly never used to omit doing; why did he omit it now in the Translation of a work of such name and weight? AS to the Character of Tacitus and his writings; he was the greatest Orator, Statesman, and Historian of his time; he had long frequented the Bar; he had passed through all the high offices of State: For this task he was excellently qualified: No man had seen more, scarce any man had ever thought so much, or conveyed his thoughts with greater force and vivacity; a mighty genius, for which no conception or design was too vast; a powerful Orator, who abounds in great sentiments and description: Germanicus under all his hardships and disfavour, is a happier man than Tiberius with all his power and Empire; happier in peace of mind, happier in his fame and memory.
Tigellinus is a great favourite with Nero, but detested by all the rest of the world and fearful of all men. Seneca is disliked by the Emperor, but universally beloved and regretted. Tacitus is a fine Gentleman, who suffers nothing pedantick or low, nothing that is trifling or indecent to fall from his pen. He is also a man of wit; not such a one as is fond of conceits and the quaintness of words, but a wit that is grave, majestick, and sublime; one that blends the solemnity of truth with the fire of imagination, and touches the heart rather than the fancy; yet for the better reception of truth, pleases and awakens the fancy.
The telling of truth is dry and unaffecting; but to enliven it with imagery, is describing it: Hence the force of fine painting; though, in my opinion, the Orator has the advantage of the Painter, as words can multiply ideas better than the pencil, throw them thicker together, and inflame them more. What picture of Love can equal the description of that passion by Lucretius, the noblest wit of all the Latin Poets? It Edition: His images are many, but close and thick; his words are few, but pointed and glowing; and even his silence is instructive and affecting.
How justly does he represent that noble sullenness and disdain of the wife of Arminius, when brought with other captives before Germanicus?
A circumstance of distress more moving than this last, could not be devised; and what words, or exclamations, or tears could raise compassion so effectually, as the representation of a spirit too great to weep or complain; of a grief too mighty to be uttered? The March of Germanicus and his Army to the Forest of Teutburg, to bury the bones of Varus and his Legions, there massacred by the Germans; the description of that Camp, with the revival of the circumstances of that tragical event; and the sympathy and resentments of the Soldiers, are all beautifully displayed with great force and brevity, with equal tenderness and horror.
Permoto ad miserationem omni qui aderat exercitu, ob propinquos, amicos, denique ob casus bellorum, Edition: Here is eloquence and description! What can be added, what can be taken away? His stile is every where warm and pathetick, and he never informs the understanding, or entertains the imagination, but he kindles the affections.
You are not only convinced by his sentiments, but governed by them, charmed with them, and grow zealous for them. This is a trial of the power and skill of a writer: To display Tyrants and Tyranny he chuses the strongest words and figures: You see the bloody hands of the executioners, Rome swimming in the blood of her own Citizens, and all the rage of unrelenting Tyranny; undantem per domos sanguinem, aut manus carnificum. You see the barbarous outrages of an insolent and merciless soldiery; cuncta sanguine, ferro, flammisque miscent.
You see madmen bear rule, these mad rulers governed and made worse by slaves, villains, and harlots; yet all these monsters adored, their persons, wickedness, and even their fury sanctified; iniquity exalted, virtue trod under foot, laws perverted, righteousness and truth depressed and banished; every worthy man doomed to scaffolds, rocks, and dungeons; the basest of all men pronouncing that doom, and making a prey or a sacrifice of the best; fear and distrust and treachery prevailing; the destroyers themselves haunted with the perpetual dread of destruction, at last overtaken by it, yet seldom leaving better in their room.
All these melancholy scenes you see exposed in colours strong and moving: It is all a picture: It puzzles one to give instances, because there are so many in every page. How many affecting images are there in these few words near the beginning of the first Annal; Quotusquisque reliquus qui rempublicam vidisset?
How mournful too and expressive, yet how plain are these which immediately follow! Igitur verso civitatis Edition: With what thunder and vehemence does Arminius rouse the Cheruscans, his country-men, to arms, when his wife became a captive to the Romans, and his child a slave though yet unborn? Egregium patrem! Cerni adhuc Germanorum in lucis signa Romana.
In how few words does he comprise a long and perplexed debate in the council held by Germanicus, how to proceed with the mutinous Legions! HIS account of the persecutions of Germanicus, with his last words and amiable Character, makes a fine Tragedy; so does the Death of Seneca; so does that of the Conspirators against Nero.
With what magnanimity and calmness does Sulpitius Asper the Centurion answer the brutal Tyrant, when asked, why he had conspired against his life? With what silence and firmness did the Consul Vestinus die?
How beautiful, how deep, and just are his observations upon human nature! Molles in calamitate humani animi: Vivorum ut magna admiratio, ita censura difficilis: How masterly and profound are those upon Government! Primas dominandi spes in arduo: Potentia cautis consiliis tutius habetur. Major e longinquo reverentia. Insociabile regnum: Scaurum cui implacabilius irascebatur Tiberius silentio tramisit.
Intelligebantur artes, sed pars obsequii in eo, ne deprehenderentur. These I do not quote as the finest Thoughts in Tacitus, but only such as occur to me. His imagination is boundless, yet never out-runs his judgment; his wisdom is solid and vast, yet always enlivened by his imagination. His designing is great, his drawing just, his colouring beautiful. See the description Edition: Domus corporibus exanimis, itinera funeribus complebantur.
Under a Tyrant, a Plague was a blessing. Who but Tacitus could have said as he does of the antient Germans: These are such instances of discernment, sagacity and happy expression, as few Writings can shew. By them and a thousand more, it is manifest that Tacitus saw every thing in a true and uncommon light: I cannot help thinking That to be a bold and gallant Saying of Boiocalus to the Roman General, who refused him a mansion for himself and his people in the vacant lands of Frizia; and thence provoked him to implore the Sun and Stars: Deesse nobis terram in qua vivamus; in qua moriamur non potest.
What a sublime thought is that of his concerning the Fennians? The most savage and wretched race this of all the wild Germans; their cloathing, skins; their bed, the earth; their food, the grass; destitute of horses, houses, and arms; Edition: Here they find cradles and protection for their babes; here live the old men, and hither resort the young.
Yet this miserable life they prefer to that of sweating at the plough, and to the pains of rearing houses: AS obvious too as his other great qualities, is his love of Mankind, of Civil Liberty, and of private and publick Virtue. His Book is a great tablature of the ugliness and horrors of Tyranny; of the scandal and infamy of servitude and debasement; of the loveliness of virtue and a free spirit; of the odiousness of vice and sycophancy.
He grieves for the slavish spirit, for the stupid tameness of the Romans under the Tyranny of the detestable Nero. So much Roman blood wantonly shed by that monster, is a load upon his soul, and oppresses it with sorrow. He delights in good times, in publick Liberty and virtuous Reigns, and delights to praise them; Edition: In what a different strain does he speak of the foregoing Emperors? He is fond of a virtuous Character; as that of Labeo: How amiable are the Death and last words of L.
Arruntius, like those of a Patriot, and a Prophet! But how vile every where, and even miserable and insecure, are Tyrants, Flatterers and the Ministers of Iniquity? What he says of the first I have quoted above: Delatores genus hominum in exitium publicum repertum, perniciem aliis, ac postremo sibi invenere.
What an odious insect is Vatinius; what a horrible villain Tigellinus; what infamous sycophants are Capito and Vitellius; and what a shocking paricide is Serenus, the accuser of his father and a general accuser?
He starts the Idea, and leaves the Imagination to pursue it. The sample he gives you is so fine, that you are presently curious to see the whole piece, and then you have your share in the merit of the discovery; a compliment which some able Writers have forgot to pay to their Readers.
I cannot help thinking Mr. Locke a great deal too wordy, and that the plainness of his propositions, as well as their strength, suffers often by an explanation over-diffuse.
These two great names are by no man reverenced more than I reverence them, and without malignity I mention them, as I do that of the worthy Lord Clarendon, whose language is weighty, and grave, but encumbred and even darkened, I might say flattened, with a multiplication of words. Stile is a part of Genius, and Tacitus had one peculiar to himself, a sort of a language of his own, one fit to express the amazing vigour of his spirit, and that redundancy of reflections which for force and frequency are to be equalled by no Writer before or since.
Besides, the course and Edition: It is plain too that the older he grew, the more he pruned and curtailed his Stile; for his Histories are much more copious and flowing than his Annals: Neither were his Works intended for the populace; but for such as governed States, or such as attended to the conduct of Governors; nor, were the Stile and Latin ever so plain, would they ever be understood by such as do not. As Plutarch came to understand the Roman Tongue by understanding their Affairs; Tacitus is to be known by knowing human nature, and the elements and mechanism of Government.
It is madness to wish for the manner and redundancy of Livy in the Writings of Tacitus. They wrote at different times, and of Governments differently formed. Tacitus had transactions of another sort to describe, and other sorts of men; for by Government men are changed ; the crooked arts of policy, the false smiles of power, the jealousy, fury and wantonness of Princes uncontrolled; the flattery of the grandees; the havock made by the accusers, and universal debasement of all men: Livy had another field and more scope; the History of a Commonwealth rising, forming and conquering; perpetual victories and matter of panegyrick; and his pen flowed like the prosperity of the State.
Ingentia bello, expugnationes urbium, fusos captosque reges, discordias Consulum adversus Tribunos, agrarias frumentariasque leges, Edition: Doubtless he could have adopted another Stile if he would, perhaps the stile of Livy, as I think this very quotation shews; but Tacitus had another view and different topicks; nor would another stile, the easy and numerous stile of Livy, have answered his purpose.
I fancy too that no body who knows Tacitus, would wish him to have written in a strain different from what he has done. There are charms in his manner and words, as well as in his thoughts, and he wears the only dress that would become him.
It is amazing that this obscurity of his should never be mentioned by any of the Antients who mention him. His Latin is truly pure and classical; he has few or no words which had not been used by approved writers, nor does he often give new ideas to old words. If his Works were no wise obscure to men of sense when he composed them, as we have no reason to think; it is insolence and folly in us to reckon his obscurity a fault.
It is a dead language which he writes in, and he wrote seventeen hundred years ago. When Tacitus the Emperor directed copies of his Books to be placed in all the Libraries, and for their better preservation, to be transcribed ten times every year, he ordered no Grammarian to explain his abstruse places; though the Historian had been then dead near two hundred years.
Great Writers are in their manner and phrase a Law and Authority to themselves; and not confined to the Rules that fill the heads or grammars of small wits and pedants. Milton has a stile of his own, and rules for writing of his own; and who that tastes his genius Edition: But here I chiefly mean his poetical style. Of his prose I shall make mention hereafter. When the subject varies, so should the stile: To me nothing is more so than the manner of Tacitus; his words and phrases are admirably adapted to his matter and conceptions, and make impressions sudden and wonderful upon the mind of man.
The doleful condition of the Emperor Vitellius, when deserted by his fortune and all men, is strong and tragical as imagination and words can make it.
What follows is in the same affecting strain; as are the first sensible approaches of his calamity. Vitellius, capta urbe, Aventinum in domum uxoris cellula defertur, ut si diem latebra vitavisset Terracinam—perfugeret: Who would blame Tacitus for a paucity of words, when he conveys so many images in so few? Is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur? Where can there be a happier expression than that concerning Galba, when the Empire was already rent from Edition: What can be more solemn, sounding and sublime, even in Lucretius?
THERE is no end of specimens and examples; it is all over a wonderful Book, full of wisdom, full of virtue; of astonishing strokes of genius and superior sense. Yet he seems not to value himself upon his great thoughts; the finest things fall from him like common things; he says them naturally, and never dwells upon one, because he has always more to utter.
When he has struck your imagination, and you want to stand still and ruminate, you have no time; he draws, or rather forces you forward, and the next thought strikes you as much; so does the third, and all of them; and you go on reading and wondering, yet wishing for leisure to ponder and recollect.
But he gives you Edition: It is no wise akin to your pretty trifles of humour and fancy, that just tickle the imagination, but go no deeper, and please for a day. His beauties are solid, and upon the strictest examination discover no paint or tinsel; his wisdom and instruction are inexhaustible, and his works consequently an everlasting feast. I have seen several performances of tolerable length and notable reputation, all derived from so many short sentences of Tacitus, well wiredrawn and paraphrased.
He is indeed a fund for Writers who have discretion and stile, but want depth. HE is accused too of over-much subtilty and refining, and of deriving the actions of his Princes, even the most innocent and plausible, from crooked designs, and a base heart; and of imputing to craft and politicks what was often no more than the effect of inclination and passion: A charge in my opinion intirely groundless.
Tacitus describes things and men as they are, shews particulars acting agreeably to their characters, their situation and views; and represents counsels flowing from such sources only as were likely to produce them. Let us examine his reign of Tiberius for which he is chiefly censured. The first feat of this reign, was the murder of Agrippa, the grandson of Augustus. Tiberius ordered it, and denied it, and threatned the Centurion who was the executioner, that he should answer for it to the Senate.
This is the account given by Tacitus, and the same is given by Suetonius; the former adds, that it was done from jealousy of State, and for the removal of a Rival; and what other reason is to be given? Nor was any thing more natural than his apprehensions of Germanicus, a young Prince popular above all men, and at the head of a great army, who wanted him for their Emperor in the room of Tiberius. This is matter of fact, and well attested.
Now where is the extreme refining, to represent Tiberius as contriving to remove such a dangerous man, one of such good pretences and powerful interest, first from his faithful Legions, and then from home, for ever; though at the same time he flattered him, extolled him, and heaped honours upon him? All this is but the common road of such Courts, when they have the same designs and fears. Is it not usual in Turkey to load a Bashaw with Imperial Presents, to bestow upon him some great Government, and to murder him before he arrive at it?
Is not power a jealous and artificial thing, full of fears and wiles; and is not Tiberius allowed by all men to have been a Prince of infinite distrust, craft, and cruelty? What meant he by making great men Governors of Provinces, and yet never suffering them to go thither for a course of years, nor even out of Rome, though they still held the name?
What meant he by continuing others in the actual possession of Provinces for a long tract of years, nay Edition: Was it not his distrust of the former; and that as to the latter, he could not make a safer choice, and therefore was afraid to choose any?
Quidam, invidia, ne plures fruerentur. Never was any thing said more impartial, never any thing more just and solid. From the doubles and even contradictions that possess the heart of man, the conduct of men will be perplexed and contradictory.
It is allowed that alieni appetens, sui profusus, was a just branch in the Character of Catiline, and is reckoned one of the beauties and strong places in Sallust. Is not this accounting, from the principles of nature and self-preservation, for the conduct and politicks of Tiberius? Many of his actions and measures, recounted by Tacitus, are supported by collateral evidence, by Suetonius, Pliny, Dion Cassius, and others; many by them omitted are by him related, with such probability, and so perfectly resemble the rest of his conduct, that we must deny Tiberius to have been such a Prince as all men agree he was, or believe the account of him given by Tacitus.
His dissimulation was constant and notorious. In the very beginning, while he confidently acted Edition: Does Tacitus represent him as hating and fearing the great Romans, and illustrious Senators? And do not other Historians; do not the facts themselves prove it? Was he not continually destroying them, till they were almost all destroyed? Of the twenty Grandees particularly principum Civitatis whom he desired of the Senate, for his Confidents and Counsellors, he left not above two or three alive; all the rest were by treachery and feigned crimes cut off by him: Is Tacitus therefore too refined, in discovering what facts demonstrate?
For what reason did he suffer the boundaries of the Empire to be invaded, and Provinces to be seized by the Barbarians, but from fear of trusting any great Officer with the conduct of the War?
That he affected to derive all power from the Senate, yet left them but the shadow of authority, and was even jealous of that shadow, is sacredly true.
It was even natural; and wanted no resining, to discover it. Did not Cromwel do the same? Will any one say, that the Senate liked his acts of Sovereignty, his frequent impeachments of their Members, often the best and most innocent, and his obliging them to condemn, for he that dares not refuse is forced to consent and his leaving every particular in continual dread of being the next; which was a farther motive in each to hatred and complaisance?
He knew he had earned their hate, reputante sibi publicum odium. Is it likely now that he loved them, or that there was or could be sincerity or confidence on either side? This too is related by Suetonius.
It is certain the Senate were to all these Tyrants a constant mark of jealousy and hate; and some of them, particularly Caligula and Nero, had proposed to extirpate that venerable Assembly, by murdering the whole Body. That he doomed almost his whole family to exile, famine, or the Edition: Nor does Tacitus relate any part of the conduct or politicks of Tiberius, but what evidently results either from the nature of the man, or the nature of his power. He frequently speaks well of that Prince; and ill he could not avoid speaking, if he spoke of him at all.
Nay the whole sixth chapter of the fourth Annal, is a fine panegyrick upon the moderation and wisdom of his Government for eight years before: What can be fairer than this? And is it just upon Tacitus, to accuse him of displaying the subtleties and craft of a Prince, who was all craft and subtlety? Does he not give us the good and bad of his character, and frequently defend it? Does he not represent Tiberius elsewhere as mollifying a rigorous sentence of the Senate, for banishing a criminal to a barren and desolate Island, and arguing that to whomsoever they granted life, they ought to grant the conveniences of life; dandos Edition: Does he not represent him in another place absolutely refusing a new accession of power, and arguing against it, like a Republican; yet charges him there with no dissimulation?
In Tacitus you have no false colouring, no true worth blemished, no bad qualities disguised; but fair representations and equal justice. Tiberius is a dangerous Prince, extremely false, extremely cruel; but he has many abilities, and some good qualities.
He loved power without bounds; yet was constant and resolute in rejecting pompous honours; spernendis honoribus validus: He is inflexible in his vengeance, and where-ever his jealousy or anger centers, there terrible tragedies are sure to follow; yet the popular imputation of his poisoning his son, is by Tacitus exposed as incredible and fabulous; with many the like instances of eminent impartiality. He gives fair quarter to the Man, but none to the Tyrant.
To Claudius, a stupid Prince, and almost a changeling, who had no judgment, no aversion of his own, but only such as were insused and managed by others, he allows a share of sense at intervals; allows that he did some reasonable things, gave good advice to the Prince of Parthia; and wanted not elegance in his speeches, when his speeches were premeditated.
He owns the spirit of Sovereignty to be jealous and unsociable; but as an exception from this rule, mentions the amiable friendship and Edition: He owns the friendship of Drusus, for the children of Germanicus; though the participation of power, and the union of hearts, are seldom compatible. The same fair temper and truth he observes in the Conduct and Character of Galba, Otho, and even of Nero and Vitellius; and it was his business and design to lay open the iniquity and horrors of their misrule.
These are some of the objections made to the Writings of Tacitus, and I think with extreme injustice. His Critics are more subtle than he; they are false refiners, who for the reputation of sagacity, make singular remarks, and serve him as they say he did Tiberius; they pervert and blacken his designs, and are too curious to be equitable.
Tacitus, with a masterly discernment, unravels the mysterious conduct of Tiberius; it is from awe of his Mother, it is from fear of Germanicus, it is from jealousy of the Grandees, and with design to amuse and humour, or to deceive them all, that he rules and acts with such temper and moderation, against the bent and pride of his nature always imperious and tyrannical.
But when he had well established himself; when Germanicus was dead; when his Mother too was gone; when he had crushed some of the Grandees, and terrified all; and especially when he was far from the eyes of Rome, is it not most true, that he then gave a loose to all the excesses of vileness and cruelty? It is not Tacitus who says this.
Was he not continually mocking and deluding the Senate? First he would by no means accept the Edition: He carried the deceit so far, that he often visited the Continent, and the very Walls and Gardens about Rome; but never once returned to Rome, nor visited the Provinces, nor had a thought of resigning.
The Commonwealth was always in his mouth, even when he was acting the Tyrant most; he professed eminent moderation while he was meditating acts of cruelty; and in instances of injustice and rigour, pleaded law and mercy. His malice in leaving so wicked a Successor appears more from Suetonius than from Tacitus, who allows him to have had some thoughts of appointing another; but the former testifies expresly, that Tiberius was wont to foretel what a devouring Dragon he reared for the Roman people, and what a Phaeton or incendiary to the whole earth.
Tacitus is vouched by Suetonius in what he says was reported for the motive which determined Augustus to adopt Tiberius; ambitione tractum, ut tali successore considerabilior ipse quandoque fieret. The same too is testified by Dion Cassius. Bayle in his Dictionary in the Article of Tacitus, quotes some passages out of a Book entitled Anonymiana, a very foolish book where Tacitus is criticized as above, and approves those passages.
This is the less matter of wonder to me, for that Mr. Bayle, with all his immense learning, acuteness, and candour, had a strange and unnatural biass to absolute Monarchy, though he had fled from the fury of it, and taken refuge in a free State.
A proof this that great weakness cleaves to the greatest minds; and who can boast an exemption from prejudices, when a spirit so signally disinterested and philosophical as that of Bayle was not exempted? That this charge is groundless I have already proved.
Much less to be regarded is the authority of Mr. Evremond in his censure upon Tacitus: What he has said of the Romans, is superficial, and often wrong. Tacitus knew perfectly the Laws of History, and blames the passionate and partial accounts given by those who described the same reigns; since those of them which were written during the lives of the Princes, were falsified through dread of their Tyranny, and when dead, through detestation of their late cruelties.
He had no motive to be Edition: Of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius he says, that to him they were known by no mark either of favour or diskindness. He shews how the truth was corrupted, first by flattery, then by resentment; and professes to be far from either. I think he is as good as his word. Concerning the Jews, he followed the tradition and accounts current amongst the Romans.
He tells you what different relations there were, and neither adds any thing, nor misrepresents things maliciously. They had not common mercy or charity toward the Gentiles and uncircumcised; and being persuaded that the Almighty loved only themselves, they fancied that he abhorred, and therefore they abhorred, the whole human race besides: They were likewise ever solicitous to hide their mysteries from the Edition: Yet he was not ill informed in some instances, especially in their spiritual notions of the Deity, with their aversion to Images, and to the adoration of the Emperors: Of the Gospel it is manifest he knew nothing; he could not else have made so ugly a picture of those who professed it; for it is not likely that the Christians were yet so degenerated as to disgrace the Christian Religion.
Tacitus wanted an opportunity to be better informed. That Religion, as it began among the lower sort of people, had not probably hitherto gained many proselytes of name and quality, to countenance and recommend it to men of figure.
Tacitus considered it like a Statesman, as a new Sect inconsistent with the Laws of Rome, and threatning civil tumults and innovations. It is probable too he had heard and credited the calumnies then usually thrown upon the manners and meetings of that people. Nor after the best instruction could he have become a Believer without the illumination of the Spirit; which, it is plain, was withheld from him: Yet he does them the justice to vindicate them from the obloquy of Nero, and exposes the barbarity of their treatment by that Tyrant.
For his disregarding the Religion then received, when I consider what sorts of absurdities the Pagans held for Religion, I cannot so much blame him. It was a worship paid to Deities altogether frantick and impure, by sacrifices and follies ridiculous and vain; and both their Worship and their Gods were invented by the cunning or delusion of men.
Public calamities were never thought to be brought down by public depravity and vice, nor to be averted or removed by public reformation. The Gods were not offended but by the omission, or wrong performance of some ceremony or grimace; and by grimace and ceremony they were to be appeased. And when the Deities were deemed to be endowed with the peevishness and caprices of children and apes, or the phrenzy of lunatics, what man of sense could reverence them, or believe in them? It would not have redounded to the reputation of his sense, if he had.
Where Religion is pure Superstition, and the belief of it absolutely groundless and blind; where its Rites are fanciful, foolish, and unmanly, as the Religion, and Gods, and Worship of the Pagans were; it would have been a revolt from common Reason to have had any such Religion. We know how freely Cicero deals with their Gods. It is true that these great men of Rome, who either had no notion of Religion, or one quite opposite to that publicly received and practised, regarded it as far as it was interwoven with the constitution of the State, and subservient to the ends of Government: Men were punished for their libelling particulars, people of condition, and especially Magistrates; but to ridicule and lampoon the Deities, Jupiter himself, even upon the Stage, was a matter of impunity and diversion.
Their Religion therefore consisting in Rituals, a man might be very religious with a very debauched and libertine Spirit. One might, on the contrary, be exactly good and just, nay the pattern of Virtue, and a public patriot, without any tincture of their Religion. Such was Cato the Censor, such Epicurus, and such was Tacitus. But this bold reproach upon the Deities, he uttered after his heart, zealous for the good of his Country, had been heated by a terrible detail of her Calamities.
Nor indeed, according to the ideas conceived of these odd Beings, so easily humoured and provoked, could one say much good of them, or expect it from them. Hence he argues, that all these omens happened so apparently without any direction or interposition of the Gods, that, for many years after, Nero rioted in power and wickedness. Whatever were the speculations of our Author about Religion, his Morality is strong and Edition: These are the excellencies which in civil life recommend Books and Men; these the excellencies which recommend Tacitus; excellencies which he has carried as high as the utmost efforts of human genius could carry them.
Nor does he shew more abilities than probity, as astonishing as his abilities were; and having so much, what more did he want for his design? Which is the better instructor, he who has store of saith, but wants virtue, and abounds not in good sense; or he who wants the first, but abounds in knowledge and the rules of righteousness?
It is for this we consult Tacitus, not for his Theological Speculations. How do his metaphysical notions impede his excellencies as an Historian and Politician; or his mistakes in one thing, lessen his discernment and veracity in another? According to the accounts of our best Travellers concerning China, the Mandarins who are the Nobility of the country, the Learned, and such as hold the Magistracy, have no religion at all, their governing principle is publick spirit; their principal study the good of the State; and they are noted for politeness and virtue.
The Bonzes or Priests, on the contrary, pretend to extraordinary devotion; but are vicious, sordid, base, and void Edition: Here is an instance of a Monarchy the most thriving of any upon earth, or that ever was upon earth; an Empire that contains more people than half the rest of the globe, these people full of industry and arts; yet administred by men who are of no particular Religion, or Sect, but are guided by the natural lights of Reason and Morality; nor knows it a greater blot and disgrace than the vile lives of its Priests and Religious.
Now where but here should one look for the marks of opulence, ease, and plenty, and public happiness, if by an Administration of Priests and Devotees, public happiness were advanced? But behold a different and melancholy scene! Countries fertile, but desolate; the people ignorant, idle, and starving, and all the marks and weight of Misery! Does not this merit reflection, that a Church blended and debauched with excessive wealth and power, is worse, a thousand times worse than none; and that the mere light of nature and reason is many degrees more conducive to the temporal welfare of humankind, than a Religion or Church which is purely lucrative and selfish?
Were the Romish Church, or any other Church that teaches pains and penalties; any that exalts Ecclesiastics into power, and leaves them the sword, or weilds it for them, once established in China; there would in a little time be an end of their incredible numbers; and it would soon feel the cruel curse attending the change. In this sentiment I am vouched by that Edition: Make another comparison between two particuculars, a Heathen guided by reason, and a Christian by passion and false zeal; between Tacitus and St.
Jerom; behold the politeness, candour, eternal truth, and good sense in the one; mark the rashness and enthusiasm, the fierceness and falshood of the other. So much stronger were the passions and insincerity of this great Saint, than the impressions of the Christian Religion, which is all meekness and candour; nay, he often makes it a stale for his fury, forgeries, and implacable vengeance.
I meddle not with his strange maxims, some foolish, some mad, many impracticable, and others turbulent and seditious. In Tacitus you have the good sense and breeding of a Gentleman; in the Saint the rage and dreams of a Monk. Does the religion of the latter recommend his reveries and bitter spirit; or the want of it in Tacitus, weaken the shining truths that are in him? When a Writer relates facts, or reasons from principles, his good sense and veracity only are to be regarded; and we have no more to do with his speculations or mistakes in other matters, than with his person or complection.
Pliny and Aristotle are reckoned Atheists; but what is this to their fine parts and learning? With small spirits and bigots every thing that is noble and free, is Atheism and Blasphemy. The littleness and sourness Edition: Nerva, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius were Heathen Princes; but they had virtue and benevolence, and their administration was righteous: Justinian, Constantius, John Basilowitz, John Galeas, and Lewis the eleventh were Christian Princes, and men pretending to high Devotion; some of them great contenders for Orthodoxy, and great builders of Churches; but all barbarous and consuming Tyrants.
What were the people or themselves the better for their Religion, without good nature and probity? Nay, they made Religion one of the principal machines for Tyranny; as Religion in a Tyrant or Impostor is little else but an impious bargain and composition with God for abusing men. Such in truth is the situation of things below, such the frame and foible of men, that it depends in a great measure upon Civil Government, whether Religion shall in this world do good or harm. Is a country filled with oppression, the happier for being filled too with Churches and Priests, as were Greece and Italy by Justinian?
Let us praise all who have true Religion, full of mercy, and void of bigotry; but let us not condemn such as, for want of the same lights and revelation which we have been blessed with, are, without any forms of Religion, virtuous and wise.
Certainly worse, much worse than none, is that Religion which inspires pride, bigotry, and fierceness, and hath not charity for all men. A penny given by an Atheist to a beggar, is better alms than a half-penny given by a Believer; and the good sense of an Atheist is preferable to the mistakes of a good Christian. In short, whatever reputed Atheists do well, or speak truly, is more to be imitated and credited, than what the greatest Believers do wickedly, or say falsely.
Even in the business of bearing testimony, or making a report, in which cases the credit or reputation of the witness gives some weight, or none, to what he says; more regard is to be had to the word of an Unbeliever, who has no interest on either side, than to the word of a Believer, who has; neither are the good or bad actions of an Atheist worse, with respect to the world at least, for his being one; though the sin of a Saint is more sinful than that of a Pagan.
THE censure passed upon Tacitus by Boccalini and some of the other Commentators, as if he maliciously taught lessons of Tyranny; is so senseless and absurd, that it merits no notice, much less consutation. As well may they say that Luther and father Paul display the encroachments and frauds of the Church of Rome, on purpose to teach that or other Churches how to oppress and deceive; or that Livy, as great a Republican as ever lived, exposed the usurpations and Tyranny of Tarquin, in order to instruct Edition: Tacitus represents Tyrants as odious to all men, and even to themselves.
But what answer could one give to a man who should advance that Grotius wrote his Book of the Truth of Christianity, with a view to promote and confirm Paganism? IT were almost endless to mention all who have written upon Tacitus, and their success; numbers have done it, many as Critics, some politically; and several of the former with sufficiency and applause, such as Lipsius, Freinshemius, old Gronovius, and Ryckius.
From the edition published by this last I have made my Translation; the text is very correct, and his notes are judicious and good. Of all those who have commented upon his Politics, I can commend but very few; I mean such as I have seen; many of them are worse than indifferent; tedious compilations of common places, or heavy paraphrases upon the original, where its vigour is lost in superfluous explications; and the lively thoughts of Tacitus converted into lifeless maxims; frequently wrong converted; frequently trifling and affected; often such discoveries as are obvious to every peasant or child; or puffy declamations, tedious, laboured and uninstructive.
Amelot De La Houssaye has made a large collection of political observations upon Tacitus, as far as the thirteenth Annal inclusive; some of them pertinent and useful; but many Edition: All this is trite, void of force and instruction.
The Spanish Translation by Don Alamos De Barrientos, is accompanied with numerous Annotations, by him stiled Aforismos, which are as indifferent and impotent as the Translation it self is good and strong. OF small value are such reflections, and small thought they cost to produce them; the less is the wonder that Don Alamos has vented such a myriad. Canini, an Italian, has however translated them into his own language, with high encomiums, and published them with the Italian Translation of Politi, a Translation which reads well, but hampers the thoughts of Tacitus, and from an affectation to be as concise as the original, loses much of its weight and spirit.
Don Alamos, on the contrary, opens the sentiments of Tacitus fully, often over-fully, by supplemental parentheses, that are sometimes perfectly needless, and always mar and embarrass the reading. There are two more of the former, by Sueyro and Coloma, both well esteemed; and as many more Italian by Dati and Davanzati, not at all commended. Of French Translations there are five or six, all, except two, good for little, some of them good for nothing.
These two are by Mr. Amelot De La Houssaye, who has only gone as far as the thirteenth Annal. The former is vigorous and just, like that of a man of sense and observation; nor has the latter any advantage over him, save that his French is more Edition: Ablancourt is likewise one of the French Translators of Tacitus, a man of name and of a flowing stile; but if he has abused other Authors as he has abused and transformed Tacitus, it is fit they were all done over again.
There is some life in him, and harmony, but no justness nor strength. All the force and fine ideas of Tacitus are lost in Ablancourt. OF the French Tongue itself I may venture to say, after better judges than my self, that from a laxness and effeminacy essential to it, it cannot naturalize the strong expressions of the Ancients, without spreading and weakening them considerably. It has a number of relatives, particles and monosyllables that return incessantly, and flatten the sense, and tire the ear.
The English Language has indeed many words more harsh than the French; but it has likewise many more spirituous and sounding; and though it be also loaded with relatives, particles and words of one syllable, yet I think not to the same degree, nor do those we have return so often; and we can frequently drop the particles, and leave them to be understood, as well as the relatives.
In this respect the Latins had an advantage over the Greeks; as those two Languages have over every other that is now in the world, or perhaps ever was. We are infinitely behind them in significancy and sound, and, with all our adventitious words and refinements, are still crude and gothick to them.
Nearest in Language to the Ancients come the Spaniards and Italians, though still far behind; yet they stand over the heads of the English Edition: The Spanish is the more sonorous and lofty; the Italian the more sweet and gliding; and both excel in harmony, numerosity, and the pomp of words.
The Italians seem to have spoiled their Tongue, by wild hyperboles, and phrases of mere sound and compliment; whether it be from the turn of the nation to Love and Music; whether it be from the Legends of their Saints, and their extravagant Panegyrics upon them, or from their Slavery to Churchmen, or the Severity of their Government, or from what other cause, I do not pretend to determine.
The French profess to have greatly refined their Tongue; and it is indeed brought to be exceeding glib and perspicuous; but whether the refiners have not pared away its strength to make it more shapely and regular, has been doubted.
Some refinements we also have made in ours, perhaps by imitating the French; though I hope we have better preserved its force. Easy writing has been studied to affectation; a sort of writing, which, where the thoughts are not close, the sense strong, and the phrase genteel, is of all others the most contemptible. His sentences, besides their grossness, are lively nothings, which can never be translated a sure way to try language and will hardly bear repetition. Between hawk and buzzard: Yet this man was reckoned a Master, nay a Reformer of the English Edition: Sir Roger is one amongst the several hands who attempted Tacitus, and the third Book of the History is said to be done by him.
He knew not a word of it but what he has taken from Sir Henry Savill, and him he has wretchedly perverted and mangled.
Out of the wise and grave mouth of Tacitus he brings such quaint stuff as this; to cast the point upon that issue: Savill; for I dare say he neither saw nor knew the original, agmine spadonum ]: Such jargon is hardly good enough for a Puppet-shew. Sir Roger had a genius for buffoonry and a rabble, and higher he never went; his stile and his thoughts are too vulgar for a sensible artificer. The taste and stile of the Court is always the standard of the public.
At the Restoration, a time of great festivity and joy, the formal and forbidding gravity of the preceding times, became a fashionable topic of ridicule; a manner different and opposite was introduced; jest and waggery were encouraged; and the King himself delighted in drollery, and low humour. Hence the Language became replete with ludicrous phrases; archness and cant grew diverting; the writings of witlings passed for wit; and if they were severe upon the Sectaries, as the fashion was, they pleased the Court.
It is very true that there appeared at the same time men of just wit, and polite stile; but it cannot be denied but that the other manner was prevalent; the greatest wits sometimes fell into it. Many of the productions then, and particularly the Royal productions, are wretched beyond measure; I wish the honour and politics of those days had been better nor could so considerable a man as Sir Francis Bacon escape the infection.
The next Prince affected a high and rigid gravity, and a pomp and solemnity of stile became Edition: 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. 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.
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. 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: 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: 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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 peace. 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 force.
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 flattery.
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. 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. 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.
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: 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. 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.