Front Page Titles (by Subject) DISCOURSE VII.: Of the Accusations, and Accusers under the Emperors. - The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 - Gordon's Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3)
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DISCOURSE VII.: Of the Accusations, and Accusers under the Emperors. - Publius Cornelius Tacitus, The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 - Gordon’s Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3) [120 AD]
The Works of Tacitus. In Four Volumes. To which are prefixed, Political Discourses upon that Author by Thomas Gordon. The Second Edition, corrected. (London: T. Woodward and J. Peele, 1737). Vol. 1.
Part of: The Works of Tacitus, 4 vols.
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Of the Accusations, and Accusers under the Emperors.
The pestilent Employment of these Men, their Treachery and Encouragement.
FROM Law thus perverted there arose encouragement more than enough for Informers and Accusers, and a plentiful harvest: a sort of men, says Tacitus, born for the destruction of mankind, and by no terrors or penalties ever sufficiently restrained; yet by the Emperor such sons of perdition were sought out and invited by great rewards. Tiberius had the front to tell the Senate, that these insects, enemies to Law and Liberty, were the Guardians and Defenders of the Laws. They were his Defenders, if he pleased; the Champions of Imperial Violence and Lust; but the Pests of the Public; dogs of Prey thirsting after the blood and fortunes of every worthy and every wealthy man. That Prince who does not punish Informers, encourages them, said Domitian; but this he said in the beginning of his Reign while he yet retained the appearances of benevolence and humanity; afterwards when the disguise was taken off, and he followed the bent of his brutal nature, it was enough to ruin, any man, if he were but charged to have done some deed, or spoke some word, no matter what, against the Majesty of the Prince. Men were then capitally arraigned, and the estates were seized of both the living and the dead, for any fault whatsoever, upon the credit of any Accuser whatsoever; and inheritances, to which he could have no possible title or pretence upon earth, were usurped by him, if there was but one Person, one Informer, who could say, that he heard the deceased declare Cæsar to be his heir. The same pretence served Caligula; nay, when people had out of fear named him amongst their heirs, he wondered at their impudence to keep him out of his share by living afterwards, and for that offence poisoned many such. In short the chief and most frequent incidents in the Reigns of almost all the Cæsars, were but the bloody efforts and success of the Accusers; and the groundwork and support of all accusations, was the perverted Law of violated Majesty, which came to signify every thing which the Accusers averred and the Emperors disliked.
In the beginning of Tiberius’s Reign, L. Piso, one of the boldest men then surviving, owned himself so much intimidated by the merciless pursuits of the Impleaders, who breathed nothing but terror and accusations, that he threatned in open Senate to relinquish Rome and retire into some distant corner of the earth. He had reason for his complaint and fears, he was afterwards marked out as a victim and prey by one of the tribe, and arraigned for certain words secretly dropped against the Majesty of the Prince. These accusations were no other or better than the cruel Proscription continued; by the latter, Senators and Knights, Patriots obnoxious to the Usurpers, were butchered in the lump; afterwards, under the process of the Accusers, they perished piece-meal, but were incessantly perishing a , often a great many at a time. Every Law of the old free State, and every man who loved his Country and her Laws, were repugnant to the reigning Tyranny; hence as the Republic was swallowed up in the Sovereignty of the Cæsars, all her laws were made to center in that of Majesty, and all men who adhered or were suspected to adhere to the ancient Constitution, were either destroyed by this new Law (rather an old Law turned into a new snare) or at the mercy of its Guardians and Accusers. And all this new violence was committed under old names and constitutions b ; so that the Commonwealth was made to cut her own throat; just as cruel and ambitious men justify Persecution and Oppression by the authority of the Gospel, which abhors it. The Church of Rome calls every thing that displeases her, Heresy and Blasphemy; this is the Lex Majestatis of some Churchmen, and by cruelties committed under that name they have more than vied with the Nero’s and Domitian’s. Thus, after a solemn murder committed by the Senate, to gratify Tiberius, he sent them a Letter of thanks, for punishing a person who was an enemy to the Commonwealth; as if the Republic had been then subsisting and vindicating her own wrongs.
The Accusers were the agents and tools of Tyranny, and by the Tyrants upheld and animated with open countenance and high rewards; their business was to hunt down and destroy every man signal for blood, or wealth, or dignity, or virtue; because all such men were obnoxious to imperial Jealousy and Displeasure. Had a noble Roman sustained public Offices? he was a dangerous man; had another refused to bear them? he was equally dangerous; and for public Offices either exercised or declined, he was sure to be attacked as a criminal of State; and if he were conspicuous for any notable ability or virtue, his doom was inevitable c . Valerius Asiaticus perished because he had delightful Gardens, which tempted the avidity of Messalina; as did Statilius Taurus, for the same reason, by the avarice and subornation of Agrippina; so did Sextus Marius for his immense Wealth and gold Mines, under Tiberius. This gives one an idea of the terrible spirit of the Emperors as well as of the Accusers; how much the former feared and hated, and how fast they destroyed every thing that was noble, good, or amiable amongst men; and what a pestilent employment was that of an Accuser! Was it any wonder that to carry on so detestable a trade, they were to be tempted with lucrative earnings? In truth, their recompences were so public and ample, that they were detested not more for their Iniquities than for the Wages of their Iniquities.
These Pests of Rome were, for being so, frequently raised to the highest Offices in the Roman State; and that Imperial City, the Mistress of the Earth, saw her public Dignities, those of the Pontificate, and of the Consulship, bestowed as spoils upon Parricides for spilling her best blood, and tearing her vitals. With the Prince their credit was high, as their merit was infamous; some were preferred to be Governors of the Provinces, others taken to be his chief Confidents and Counsellors in the Palace. And thus, vested with credit and sway, exerting all their terrors, and pursuing their hate, they controuled and confounded all things d . After the tragical Death of Libo Drusus, procured by execrable Artifices, Falshoods, Horrors and wrested Laws, all the substance of that noble Patrician was divided amongst his Accusers; and such of them as were Senators were created Prætors, even without the regular method of election. The four Senators who ensnared Titius Sabinus, by trapanning, lurkking, feigned friendship, and by a series of treachery the most infamous and cruel that could be practised amongst men, and afterwards accused him, engaged in all this meritorious villainy purely to gain the Consulship, to which there was no possible access but through Sejanus, nor without villainy was the favour of Sejanus to be sought or purchased.
But besides rewarding of the Accusers out of the fortune of the Accused, (for where they had not all, they still went shares with his children) they had frequently excessive sums out of the public Treasury; Capito Cossutianus had near a hundred and thirty thousand Crowns, for accusing Thrasea Petus; Eprius Marcellus had as much, for the same good service; for Nero, after he had long wallowed in the blood of eminent men, and butchered them without number, was in hopes by the murder of Thrasea and Soranus, to extirpate Virtue, name and essence, from the face of the earth. Ostorius Sabinus, the Accuser of Soranus, had indeed a less reward in money, that of thirty thousand Crowns; but the reward was enhanced by the ornaments of the Quæstorship presented with it. “These Incendiaries were animated, and such crying calamities to the public were excited by the Minions of the Court, who, as it were, sounded the Trumpet to Arraignments and Confiscations; on purpose, that out of the fortunes of the condemned they might raise or increase their own;” says Am. Marcellinus. Aquilius Regulus, an upstart and a mischievous Accuser under Nero, was distinguished with two Consulships, and the dignity of Pontiff; and had premiums in money to the value of more than two hundred thousand Crowns; as if he had been burying the Commonwealth, and for this merit had afterwards gathered her spoils, says Tacitus.
The traiterous Methods taken to circumvent and convict Innocence. The spirit of accusing how common, the dread of it how universal; and the misery of the Times.
AS upon these bloody occasions, it was necessary to find or feign some crime; so any crime served the turn, as I have largely shewn; witnesses also must be had; but any witnesses were good witnesses; and where they did not offer themselves, they were bought with money, or frightened with the torture. Slaves were suborned against the life of their Lords; clients and freedmen against their Patrons; and he who had no enemy, was betrayed and undone by his friends e . Now, because, by the old Roman laws, slaves could not be witnesses against their masters, the crafty Tiberius found a trick to evade that law without seeming to violate it; he contrived to have the slaves upon such occasion sold; and then they might be evidence against their late Lord. This perfidious subtilty was begun by Augustus, as is largely shewn by Dion Cassius. Nay, when a man had no other to accuse him, he was accused by his own son. Dreadful times! even, all rewards and incitements apart, fear for themselves made men treacherous to others; falshood and cruelty reigned uncontrouled. If you would please the Prince, you must gratify his bloody spirit; to do that, you must offer victims and exercise the trade of accusing; if you were ill with him, no man, no innocence could protect you; and to be well with him, you must make all other men detest you. To make your own fortune you must ruin that of others, and shed blood to get money.
To this vile employment men of the highest Quality descended, and those of the first note for Eloquence and Civil Accomplishments; such was Cotta Messalinus, a man nobly born, but the foremost in every sanguinary motion; such was Publius Dolabella, who sprung from Ancestors the most illustrious, yet debased his Nobility, and engaged in the occupation of an Accuser, even against those of his own blood. When men of such Quality set such example, what wonder if numbers followed it? Many pursued it for money; others because they would not become obnoxious by appearing slack. The question was not about right or wrong, Law or Magistracy; but how to please and humour, to satiate the Emperor, and to escape his suspicion and fury. It was the plea of the Accusers afterward, when they were brought to answer for their crimes, that they were obliged by the Emperors, or their wives, to undertake and prosecute accusations: this Suilius pleaded, and urged the imperious orders of Messalina. Nay, men of figure were sometimes called upon by the Emperor in person to undertake Accusations. This, says Tacitus, was one of the most baneful and deadly evils of those times, that the first Lords of the Senate degraded themselves to the office of the vilest Informers; some impudently in the face of the sun; others in the dark ways of treachery; no distinction of kindred from strangers, of friends from such as were unknown; none between things lately transacted, and such as were covered by a course of years in oblivion; for words spoken in the Forum, spoken at an entertainment, and about what subject soever spoken, the speaker was accused; every one hastening to be foremost in the accusation, and to prevent his fellows; some for their own safety, many, as it were, struck with the contagion, and smitten with the disease of accusing.
This universal treachery begot apprehension in all men equally universal. When villainy was thus rewarded, or thus necessary, and thus every-where practised by high and low, every man was fearful of finding every man a villain. Hence the mournful anguish and terror which seized the City; people were afraid to converse, nay, afraid to meet; they distrusted all alike, their acquaintance as well as the unknown; even things mute and inanimate were dreaded; and roofs and walls created terror and circumspection; nay, they were apprehensive that guilt might be found in these their apprehensions, and thence came to dread this very thing, that they had shewn dread f .
Plots feigned or true, an ample field for Accusations and Cruelty; and upon what miserable Evidence Executions were decreed.
BUT the best market for Accusations, and the best opportunity for the Emperor to exert Tyranny, and consume men, was the detection of any Conspiracy forged or real. How prodigious and merciless was the slaughter committed by Constantius after the death of Magnentius, and by his bloody instrument Paulus, sirnamed Catena from his dexterity in calumny and accusations! Thus too, upon the detection of the designs of Sejanus against Tiberius, who at one time, for a course of years, had destroyed every man that was obnoxious to this execrable Favourite of his, and afterwards destroyed every man who had been well with his Favourite; thus when those of Piso against Nero came to be discovered, the whole business of the State was that of accusing, imprisoning and executing. Rome was dyed, deformed, and filled with blood, and death, and funerals; and as many as were hated, or disliked, or worth destroying upon any account, were sure to have been Conspirators, and to be doomed to the pains annexed to Conspiracy. Tiberius caused a general slaughter to be made of all that were in prison, under accusation of intelligence with Sejanus. Any thing upon earth, the lightest, the most fortuitous and foolish thing, served for proof of such intelligence. Pomponius Secundus was arraigned of Treason, for that there were some signs (but not shewn by him neither) of friendship between him and Aetius Gallus, who was a friend to Sejanus, who was a Traytor. Gallus, upon the execution of Sejanus, had retired into the Gardens of Pomponius: this was all; yet this was the doughty argument used by his Accuser, for proving this worthy and accomplished man a Traytor, one who had violated Majesty. Yet his Accuser Considius was a man considerable enough to have been Prætor: it was thus, I suppose, he shewed how well he deserved Imperial Favour, and one of the highest Dignities in the State.
The Emperor Constantius was as cruel and as credulous: with him it was death to be accused, and every Accusation, however doubtful, or false, or even whispered, was convincing proof of guilt; nay, the least rumour, however groundless, the smallest hint, however spiteful, created Treason and death without redemption; and by no better proof men of the first quality and merit were doomed to confiscation, or banishment, or execution. The bare saying that such a one was in the Conspiracy, or a friend to the Conspirators, was conviction in abundance for taking away Estates and Lives. Nero, whose chief and only purpose was to afflict and destroy, created guilt wheresoever he found distaste. His own hatred or fear was crime enough, and reason sufficient to destroy the object. Some were sacrificed without being once accused, or named; some punished ere they knew they were accused; and the least defamation was full conviction. Nothing was more common than to charge any great man, doomed beforehand to destruction, with designs against the State. This was the charge upon Libo Drusus. All the guilt that could be proved upon him, though to prove it, and indeed to create it, the most villainous arts were used, was, that he had consulted the Fortune-tellers, and dealt in Charms. This was conspiring against the State, it was Treason; and because the Romans were much addicted to such sort of Superstition, this became a very convenient Treason, and very fertile; yet Tiberius himself was, as much as any, addicted to Astrology. In the accusations particularly against great Ladies, who for blood, or wealth, or beauty, merited Imperial Wrath, it was a constant article, that they had dealt with the Chaldeans, or practised the rites of Magic: and for this many great Ladies were doomed to death g .
What ridiculous Causes produced capital Guilt. The spirit of the EmperorConstantius;with somewhat of his FatherConstantine.
THIS humour of consulting the Astrologers, still encreasing with Superstition and Tyranny, administered an inexhaustible fund of crimes and accusations: the noise of a Mouse in a wall, or the sight of a Weasel, became matters of omen and consultation, and consequently matters of Treason and Blood: so did the use of an old Woman’s Charm for aches: so did the counting the Vowels upon one’s Fingers, as a remedy against the Colic: so did the wearing of an Amulet for an Ague: so did the casual dropping of any Word or Joke, that bore any analogy to the Empire, or the Emperor’s name, or to any matter of State and Power: so did the frequenting of Sepulchres, and carrying away the bones or habiliments of the dead: so did any Dream dreamt about any such subject, or construed to be so dreamed.
Under Constantius there was one Mercurius, a Persian, who was a favourite of the Emperor, and a spy for Dreams; insomuch that he had the title of Somniorum comes. This blessed instrument, a fellow of a malicious spirit, and fawning behaviour, used to creep into all companies and banquets, to fish out Dreams from particulars; and whatever he there learned of this kind, after he had, with all his invention, dressed it up in ugly and formidable colours, he carried instantly to the Emperor, whose ears were ever open wide to such mischievous infusions; and this Dreaming, thus represented, was a crime to be expiated only by the blood of the Criminal, I should say, Dreamer, and so a terrible process was formed. This terror spread so much, that people, far from telling their Dreams, durst scarce own that they slept: nay, it was lamented by some, that they had not been born upon Mount Atlas, where, according to tradition, people never dream.
To complain too of the badness of the times, was high Treason; for this was arraigning the Government, and punished capitally. But Death itself, however unjust, was not always the most formidable woe. The accused were often not allowed the benefit of Death, till they were first barbarously racked and mangled by torture; and to gratify the inhuman Vengeance of the Prince, their Agonies were continued as long as life could continue under them h . This is testified by Ammianus Marcellinus of Constantius the second Christian Emperor, more cruel than Nero and Caligula; a consideration which confirms what I have said before, that where the Government is bad, even the best Religion can do little good. Constantius was a Christian, and even zealous in Church Matters, and Religious Disputes, and by fostering them did miserably afflict Christianity and the Empire. But he was so far from being improved or bettered by this zeal, that the most cruel Tyrants that went before him, such monsters as Caligula, Domitian, and Commodus, were but babes to him in cruelty i .
I wish much better things could be boasted of his Father, the first Emperor who embraced Christianity, and stiled Constantine the great. All the Princes, even the persecuting Princes who went before him, hurt not Religion so much as he did; by blending it unnaturally with Politics and Power, by laying the foundations of a spiritual Tyranny, and enabling the Bishop of Rome, and other great Prelates, to exert the domineering spirit, which before they had but ill concealed; a spirit which has almost extinguished that of the Gospel. In his Civil Administration, he was rapacious, profuse, and oppressive; and in his Family barbarous and sanguinary; however his partial and flattering Historian, Eusebius, has extolled him, and concealed the iniquities of his Reign. But, in barbarity, and the excesses of Power, his son and Successor Constantius exceeded him. What just reason had Ammianus to say, that under the lying pretence of guarding Imperial Majesty, numerous and horrible were the butcheries then committed k !
The black and general carnage made underConstantius,by his bloody MinisterPaulus Catena,for certain Acts of Superstition and Curiosity.
CONSTANTIUS surrendered at one time a great part of the Roman World to the merciless hands of Accusers, Torturers and Executioners; and certain causes, in themselves frivolous and contemptible, but magnified with the swelling imputation of Majesty violated, produced all the uproar and calamity attending a great Civil War. The trumpets sounded to try and slay l .
An Egyptian Deity, named Besa, was noted for uttering Oracles, and telling fortunes, and thence much frequented, adored and consulted by all the Countries round about. As many consulted him in person, others did it in writing: this occasioned, that several of the billets thus sent, continued in the Temple after the answer was returned. Some of these were maliciously transmitted to the Emperor, a Prince of a poor spirit, suspicious, and bitter. He now waxed fierce and wrathful, and instantly dispatched his execrable instrument, Paulus Catena, into the East, armed with Powers equal to those given to some famous Captain for carrying on a mighty war. Paulus was authorized to hear and determine discretionally, and proceeded to his charge, breathing nothing but rage, and bloody zeal. Universal accusation and calumny being thus licensed and encouraged, numbers of all degrees were dragged from far and near, as it were, out of the several quarters of the world, to this barbarous Tribunal, and exposed to the mercy of a butcher, who only pursued blood and prey. Some came with their joints excoriated with fetters, others crushed and spent in carts made for carrying criminals; no distinction made between the noble and vulgar. The process was long and tragical; in short, confiscations, exiles, tortures worse than death, death under tedious torments, and every evil painful or destructive to human nature, was there exerted and suffered. As for Paulus, the lives, and fortunes, and fate of multitudes depended upon his nod, a man skilled in the Arts of cruelty, aad openly professing them; a savage who made a market of the rack and the wheel; one, fed, as it were, with human carcasses mangled, and enriched by butchery and rapine; a fellow who avowed the trade of accusing and killing, and studied to ensnare and devour innocence, lives, and property. This was the man in high favour and trust under the pious Constantius. It will be a relief to the Reader to know that this monster, bloated with blood and crimes, was burnt alive under Julian, a Prince of very different parts and spirit.
The Ravages of the Accusers continued; their Credit with the Emperors; yet generally meet their Fate. The Falsehood of these Princes. The melancholy State of those Times.
THE Reigns of these following Princes, Constantius, Constans, Gallus, Valentinian, Valens, were spent in a continual war upon their people, under colour of their Majesties being violated.
Crying and tragical were the ravages committed at Rome by that bloody man Maximinus, where, under pretence of Majesty violated, poisonings, and acts of lewdness, some few real, more imputed, were used as a stale for killing, torturing, and destroying. Every man, or woman, that was obnoxious to him or the Accusers, was put to death; and to private malice or rapaciousness a sea of Roman blood was spilt. I think it was this Maximinus, who persuaded certain persons accused to confess and discover others, and in that case promised they should undergo no punishment either by sword or fire. They did so, trusting to his faith, and confessed crimes never committed; he then, for a salvo, doomed them to die under leaden hammers. He was executed himself under Gratian.
Against the defence of innocence accused, against the most evident truth and justice, and all honest information, the ears of the Emperor were eternally shut; but calumny whispered by any malighant, had equal weight with real crimes proved by authentic witnesses; says Ammianus. Falsehood and flattery, envy and rapaciousness passed for evidence; justice was converted into cruelty, and judgment into rage; the Tribunals erected for justice, and preservation of life and property, were become shambles, and what had the names of pains and penalties, was in truth robbery and assassination.
As there was never any lack of Accusers, there was none of Criminals; and the accused, the more they were destroyed, the faster they multiplied; like witches in former days, daily executed, and daily increasing. They were the food and revenue of the Accusers, who while they could speak and lie, could never want occupation or wages, as long as there were Tyrants and men. Marcellus was charged with having uttered disaffected words concerning Tiberius, and the Accuser collecting every thing which was detestable in the manners of that Prince, alledged the same as the imputations of the accused. A large field for accusations, and well cultivated by the Accusers! you could say nothing of these Emperors that was true, but what was Treason; such bloody monsters were they all! and the worst you could have said being actually true, you were easily believed to have actually said it. What a blessed lot it must have been to have lived in those Reigns, under monsters unchained, and rogues let loose; when virtue and property were proscribed, villains caressed and guarded!
The persons of Accusers came to be considered as sacred and inviolable; the more they were detested by the public, the more they were protected by the Emperor; and in proportion as they merited death and ignominy, had countenance and preferment. Their vilest forgeries, convicted and owned, against the lives and fortunes of the greatest men, drew down no doom or penalty upon them. The crimes charged upon Fonteius, late Proconsul of Asia, by Serenus, were proved to have been by him forged; yet he escaped punishment. Nay, the more the man was abhorred by all men, the more Tiberius considered and protected him. This Serenus was a villain of exalted merit; he had falsly accused his own father of Treason, an old man, and already in exile: but Tiberius owed him a spite, and the son studied to oblige Tiberius, who had been offended with the elder Serenus for once upbraiding him with some wicked service unrewarded; nor had an interval of eight years pacified the Prince. Yet it generally so happened, that their reign was but temporary; first or last most of them found the genuine wages of their fraud and iniquity, and suffered the same doom which they had made others suffer; a doom much more bitter, as it was just, accompanied also with universal hatred of their persons, and with a guilty and upbraiding conscience. This was the fate of Suilius, Cassius Severus, and others.
Now as it was the custom, to find high Treason in harmless words, impertment vanities, and even in ridiculous follies, deserving rather pity than punishment, such as were those charged upon Libo; so it was the purpose and policy of the Emperor never to prevent any guilt of this kind: on the contrary, he was glad of guilt, and when he knew it was begun, let it run on, till it was ripe, and evidence and Accusers were ready. Tiberius knew that Libo dealt with the Astrologers, with every thing done or said by him; yet at no time had he caressed Libo more, than at the time when he was meditating his destruction. He preferred him to the Prætorship; he entertained him at his table; shewed no strangeness in his countenance, no resentment in his words; so deeply had he smothered his vengeance! and when he might have restrained all the dangerous Speeches and Practices of Libo, he chose rather to permit them, in order to punish him for them. The crafty Tyrant did not only lull asleep his destined victim by these excessive civilities; but meant by them to deceive the world, as if Libo’s crimes were a surprize upon him, at a juncture when he would seem to have meant all kindness to Libo. But he was mistaken, and his dissimulation only served to heighten the opinion of his malice; for craft discovered is worse than folly, as folly never creates hatred. Cunning is only then complete, when it cannot be detected, which seldom happens. Nero caressed and flattered Seneca, while he was devising all methods to destroy him. When he meant to murder his mother, never was there such a scene of false fondness as that which he played. He was formed by nature, says Tacitus, and by habit nurtured, to hide his hate under insidious blandishments. Domitian used to treat with the utmost good humour and tenderness such as he intended to murder; nor was there any warning or interval between his caressing you and delivering you to the Executioner; nor a more certain sign that a tragical doom awaited you, than the Prince’s gentle behaviour towards you. Well might Suetonius say, that his cruelty was not only excessive, but sly, and instantaneous.
Now under such a torrent of Accusations, under Laws perverted, Informers busy, employed, protected and rewarded, when all things were crimes, and all men were feared, nay, when fear itself was a crime, (for when Caligula murdered his brother, he gave it for a reason, that the youth was afraid of being murdered) when servants and neighbours, nay, acquaintance and kindred, were all justly to be suspected; we need not admire that all offices of friendship and compassion were suspended amongst men, and compassion itself, as it were, extinguished. When Libo Drusus, so often already mentioned, upon his arraignment for Treason, went in mourning from house to house to sollicit the interposition of his relations (as all the great families in Rome were so) and to pray their aid, when his life and all was at stake; they all declined it to a man, each alledging a reason of his own, but every one in reality from the same cause, namely, their fear of the Emperor m .
People must not only shew no sorrow or sympathy for their murdered relations, but they must testify joy, unless they had a mind to be murdered themselves; as under Nero, many, whose nearest relations had been murdered by him, repaired to the Temples with thanksgiving and offerings, and when the City was filled with corps, so was the Capitol with victims. In that mighty carnage made by Tiberius of the friends and followers of Sejanus at once; when the pavements were covered with single carcasses, or filled with carcasses in piles, those of every sex and age, many that were noble, many that were mean, all cast abroad promiscuously; neither their acquaintance nor kindred were allowed to approach them, or to bewail them, or even at last to behold them. About the coarses spies were placed, to watch countenances, and the signs of sorrow: and when, after they became putrified and noisome, and were thrown into the Tiber, whether they floated in the stream, or were cast upon the banks, none would touch them, none durst bury or burn them. The force of Fear had cut off all the commerce and offices of Humanity; and the more Tyranny raged, the more human compassion was extinguished n . Even the outrageous Caligula had so well learned to hide his heart, that when by the cruelty of Tiberius, his mother and both his brothers were condemned and banished, not a word escaped him; nor a groan; though all arts were used to draw words and resentment from him. Octavia too, the wife of Nero, when her little innocent brother was murdered before her face, by the direction of the Tyrant her husband, had even then learned, young as she was, to smother all symptoms of tenderness and sorrow, and every affection of the soul; nay, Agrippina, with all her courage and high spirit, laboured to hide her surprize and dread, and every other emotion, upon that occasion.
The increase of Tyranny. Innocence and Guilt not measured by the Law, but by the Emperor’s Pleasure and Malice.
ONE would think that Tyranny had by this time gone as far as it could go, and that after this, human cruelty and terrors could be strained no higher. But this is a mistake, Flatterers and Accusers were ingenious villains, and Tyranny is a monster never glutted; it is still craving for new butchery and victims; its purveyors therefore are ever studying to humour and pamper it o . Who could have imagined any thing upon earth more intensely cruel than Tiberius? yet his Successors exceeded him and one another in cruelties, for number and quality; and Domitian committed such as had escaped even the preceding monsters. Hence Tacitus says; “As our fore-fathers had seen the ultimate point and last efforts of public Liberty; it was reserved to us of this generation to behold the utmost weight and severity of public Bondage; since by the terrors of State Inquisitors, we were even bereft of the common intercourse of Civil Life, that of discoursing ourselves, and of listening to the discourse of others:” he adds, “we should have also lost the use of memory, as well as the habit of speaking, had it been equally in our power to forget as to be silent.”
The trial of persons for Treason went on generally in the old form, but in effect, was all resolvable into the breast and good pleasure of the Prince. According to hints from him, persons were condemned or acquitted; sometimes by his interposing the Tribunitial Power, they were not admitted to be accused; sometimes Treason was found in one man’s words and actions, which in another were not allowed to be criminal. Thus men were sentenced, or absolved, or not accused, not according to their guilt or innocence, but to their degree of grace or dislike with the Emperor, who had the Prerogative to coin guilt and innocence, and invert one into the other, as he pleased. Thus Tiberius pursued Vestilius to death, his brother’s antient friend and his own, for suspicion of having lampooned his Nephew Caligula; but would not allow Cotta Messalinus to be a criminal for the same offence and for many more. But Cotta had merit, he was always foremost in every bloody Counsel; all his wickedness and crimes were so many services, and so much merit. In those days there was no sure guilt but that of worth and of virtue, and innocence; hence the security of all men egregiously mischievous. The known cruelty of the Prince, was no terror to those who took care to escape it, by the vileness of their lives; especially if they were active to feed his cruelty by noble sacrifices; like Haterius Agrippa, who meditated in the midst of his cups and harlots the destruction of illustrious men. The worst and vilest men in the Empire, became the securest, and often the highest, by destroying the best.
WhatTacitusmeans by Instrumenta regni.
BESIDES the Accusers, who were the Imperial Bloodhounds, to hunt men down for words, conjectures, signs, and appearances, by ridiculous pleas, forced constructions, and wrested Laws; the Emperors had other pestilent tools called by TacitusInstrumenta regni, the Instruments of Imperial Rule. These were the Poisoners and Assassins. When there was no room or pretence to accuse a person signal for worth or opulence, or on any account obnoxious, and thence fit to be destroyed; or when it was unsafe to accuse him; recourse was had to a dose or dagger. Such were P. Celer, and Ælius the Freedman, they who poisoned Julius Silanus, by the appointment of Agrippina: such was Anicetus, who murdered Nero’s Mother, by the direction of her son: such was Locusta, who administred the poison to Claudius, a woman famous for many feats in poisoning, and long retained for this talent, amongst the implements of Court; it was she who prepared this poison as well as that which destroyed young Britannicus: such was Xenophon, Physician to Claudius; one who helped to dispatch his master: such were they who by the procurement of Livia, made away the descendants of Augustus. After the assassination of Caligula, in his apartment was found a chest filled with all sorts of poisons, so rapid, that when they were thrown into the sea, they proved baneful to the fish; and numbers were by the tide cast dead upon the shore. Such also were the Tribunes and Centurions, and even the Captain of the Prætorian Guards; who whenever they were ordered to seize and kill, never failed to obey, without any reason but the word of command. Thus Posthumus Agrippa was dispatched by a Centurion under Tiberius: thus Gerelanus the Tribune, was, at the head of a band of soldiers, by Nero employed to see the execution of Vestinus the Consul, a man charged with no guilt; but Nero, who hated and feared him, having neither crime nor accuser against him, and being therefore unable to assume even the false guise of a Judge, betook himself to the violence of a Tyrant.
In truth, the whole body of Prætorian Guards were kept by these Tyrants as their Assassins, to murder for them, or to secure others who did. The Turk too has his Mutes and Poisoners in the Seraglio, as well as soldiers, to execute his fury secretly, or openly. Lewis the eleventh entertained other secret Ruffians to stab and drown, besides his trusty murderer the Provost Tristan. Queen Katherine and her son Charles the Ninth, kept an Assassin, to dispatch privately such men of rank as they could find no other means to destroy; and as dark as the proceedings in the Bastile are kept, it is known what helps have been administered to the miserable prisoners there, to get rid of life, besides that of nature. Under the Reign of Lewis the fourteenth the trade of poisoning was brought to great perfection; and was suspected, with too much appearance, to have been part of the Politics of some French Ministers, as well as the bane of others.
How much these Emperors hated, and how fast they destroyed all great and worthy Men. Their dread of every Man for any Reason.
THE destruction of every man who was great or good, was so common and almost certain in those tragical Reigns, that Tacitus reckons as a wonder the natural death of L. Piso, chief Pontiff p . Eminent men, and eminent merit, are the dread of Tyrants. That merit and those talents which, during the old Republic, would have certainly recommended a man to public Favour and public Honours, did afterwards expose him as certainly, to Imperial jealousy and persecution, generally to ruin and death; and those pestilent Accusers, Instruments of public Servitude, the sons of rapine and blood, who were now the men of fashion and favour, and cloathed with the spoils of their Country, for afflicting and mangling her, and devouring her vitals, would have been then treated as public Enemies and Beasts of prey, and doomed to the pains of Murder and Treason, with universal consent and abhorrence.
Such a barbarous and unnatural inversion of all Order, Law, and Righteousness, accompanied the Sovereignty of the Cæsars. Augustus, reckoned the best and wisest of them, though he affected to love and countenance men of parts and accomplishments, yet limited his favours to such of them as were devoted to Flattery and the Usurpation. Hence the public Honours conferred by him upon Ateius Capito, a new man, one of signal Abilities, but a notorious Flatterer; nay, the Emperor raised him in opposition to Antistius Labeo, one who excelled in the same acquirements; one who never departed from a laudable freedom of speech and spirit, and thence more applauded than the other, by the public voice: whereas, the suppleness and submission of Capito rendered him more acceptable to those who bore rule. The latter by this merit gained the dignity of Consul; the other, for having too much, was never suffered to rise higher than that of Prætor. How much must the spirit of Imperial Jealousy encrease afterwards?
Every thing gave these Tyrants fear and offence. Was a man nobly born and popular? He withdrew the affections of the People, rivalled the Prince, and threatened a Civil War q . Was he akin to Augustus? He had his eye upon the Sovereignty r . Had he a reputation for Arms? He was a living terror to the Prince s . Was a great man afraid of popularity, and lived retired? He gained fame by shunning it, and still was an eyesore t ; and his best fate was to leave his Country u ; but where the exile was a considerable man, the executioner generally followed. Was he virtuous, and his life and morals exact? He was another Brutus, and by the purity of his manners, upbraided the vitious behaviour of the Emperor w . Was a man sad? It was because the administration prospered x . Did he indulge himself in gayety and feasting? It was because the Emperor was ill, and his end thought to be near y . Was he rich? He was too wealthy for a subject, and great wealth in private hands boded ill to Princes z . Was he poor? He was thence the more enterprizing and desperate a . Was he a dull man, and unactive; He only put on the guise of stupidity and sloth, till he found room for some bloody purpose b . Or had he a different character, and was a lively and active man? Then it was plain he did not so much as feign a desire of private life and recess, but avowed a bustling Republican Spirit, and to be meddling with the State c . Did he live in pomp and magnificence? He studied to overshadow the Emperor in seats and grandeur d . Was he accomplished in science, a Philosopher, or master of Eloquence, and thence esteemed? The lustre of his Fame gave umbrage to the Prince e .
In short, no man could possess any advantage or quality that rendered him acceptable to God or man, a blessing to his Country, to his friends, or to himself, but such quality and advantage was sure to awaken the jealousy and vengeance of these Tyrants, and procure his doom f .
Reflections upon the Spirit of a Tyrant. With what Wantonness the Roman Emperors shed the blood of the Roman People. The blindness of such as assisted the Usurpation ofCæsarandAugustus.
HOW miserable must be the reflections of a Tyrant, if he has any reflections, that numbers must be wretched (for what wretchedness is not produced by Tyranny?) that he may make a hideous figure, unsafe and detested? Every step he takes for his grandeur and security, renders him more contemptible or abhorred, and therefore more insecure; and the bloody end of most, abundantly shews, that numerous Guards and Armies are so far from secureing him, that from them his greatest dread accrues. What a curse it is upon a thinking Being, to consider himself as an obstacle to every thing lovely and desirable amongst men: to the Virtue, Liberty and Happiness of all men, to his own peace and stability, to his own innocence and true glory: that for every chain he puts upon his People, he multiplies terrors and contempt upon his own head; and having forfeited their affections, and living in distrust of those whom he ought chiefly to confide in, relies for his life upon hirelings, the sons of vice and idleness, or forced from their honest labour to be made so, and often picked out of streets and gaols? He dreads every man who is great and brave; and one who fights for him, conquers for him, and saves him, does but expose himself to jealousy, indignity and martyrdom. His own slaves, spiritless and cowardly, cannot serve him, and a man truly valiant is undone by serving him. The people are apt to admire and magnify military virtue, and thence the Tyrant hates and dreads such as have it. Charles the fifth held it a greater honour, to be Count of Catalonia, than King of the Romans: he had reason; the Catalans were free men and valiant; the Romans poor monk-ridden slaves.
But I shall find another place in the course of these Observations to discourse more sully of Armies and Conquests: I shall here only observe with what wantonness these Tyrants shed the blood of Roman Citizens; Citizens whose lives were once so valuable, fenced and secured by Laws so numerous, so sacred, and strong; lives so precious that nothing against the life and fortune of the meanest Roman could be determined, but by the Romans in general, assembled in Centuries. These Romans who, while free, became the masters of mankind, were, by losing their Liberty, become daily victims to their own domestic Traitors, and miserable Traitors they were; to a Claudius, a Caligula, a Nero. By the ancient Constitution and Laws of Rome, these Usurpers were the only persons liable to be put to death, without process, or form, or penalty. See the Lex Valeria in Livy, and CiceroPro domo sua.
Had such as were Champions for the exaltation of Cæsar and Augustus, foreseen what their race and descendants were to suffer under the Successors of these Usurpers, would it not have quenched their zeal, would it not have struck them with horror? Had they foreseen their offspring stooping and groaning under a beastly bondage, not to the Emperor only, but to his slaves and strumpets; living a precarious life at the mercy of sycophants; under continual terrors of the Accusers, or themselves exercising the execrable occupation of such; some endangered by the lustre of their name; some by that of their virtue and capacity, others from that of their wealth; many become Pimps, Pathics, and Parasites to the Prince; several, upon his authority, prostituting their persons and quality upon the public Stage; numbers doomed to exile upon desolate rocks and islands; numbers slain outright, their carcases exposed and denied the privilege of burial, their fortunes seized from their families; and all of them liable to the like tragical fate; their wives withal daily exposed to the lust of the Tyrant, and afterwards made the subject of his Imperial Sport and Drollery, even before their injured and blushing husbands, nay, prostituted in the Palace as in the public Stews, and such as passed by invited in to lie with these illustrious Ladies, as with common harlots, for money.
Had the Partizans of Usurpation foreseen these woful consequences to their families from it, would it not have changed their hearts and their conduct? Yet what was easier to be foreseen than the fury and ravages of a madman or fool unlimited, where chance, and not law, directed the blind Succession; as did blind will, and not reason, the Administration? But with the heat of party and present impulse, cool reflection and foresight are incompatible: it scarce ever happens, that, for future considerations, however wise, the instant passion, however foolish, is smothered. The Adherents of Cæsar and Augustus had an immediate view of greatness, and would not disturb so pleasing an imagination by anxious care or fear for things future. All the world goes well with those that are well; and before men can be brought to believe prophecies of misery, they must begin to feel it. What a child is Man! what a name is Reason! The most frequent use we make of it, is to reason ourselves out of it, and from it to borrow arms against itself: just as we have seen Laws quoted to vindicate the subversion of Law, and the Holy Gospel of Peace and Love urged in defence of Persecution and Enmity.
Why under such Tyrants, the Senate continued to subsist.
IT may be inquired why Tyrants so jealous and precipitate, did not abolish the Senate; and it was once the purpose of Caligula, as it was afterwards that of Nero, to have murdered all the Senators: but in truth it would have been an enterprize of infinite difficulty and danger, to have attempted the suppression of that body. It is incredible what stubbornness and force there is in established Names, Customs and Forms, which often are harder to destroy than realities and substances; and signs and titles frequently remain, when the things signified and denominated by them are gone. Thus Popery has extirpated Christianity, and is called Christianity; and Evangelical Humility and Forbearance are preached and extolled in the midst of Pride and Flames.
As the Popes pretend to derive all power from the Gospel, which they pervert and suppress, so did the other Roman Tyrants theirs from the Senate; as if the ancient free State had still subsisted, and to have destroyed the Senate, would have been to have abrogated their own title to Sovereignty. They must likewise have destroyed the Consulship, which was still reckoned summum Imperium, the supreme Magistracy: with the Office of Prætor, and every Office, great and small, in the State, with the title and stile of every Law of Rome, and every Tribunal of Justice there: for, every Law and every Office depended upon the Senate, or upon the Senate and People. They must have abolished Learning, History, Records, all Process and Memory; nay, the very Military Titles, and Laws of War and Negotiation; those about the Colonies and Provinces, Customs and Trade; and have introduced absolute Oblivion, a new Language, and a new Creation.
Now what Power, what Genius upon earth, was equal to such a prodigious design, that of vacating at once regulations and usages so infinitely numerous, so long established, become a great part of the public Language, grown, as it were, to the minds and memories of men, and essential to Speech and Conversation, as well as to business and protection; and then to supply such an immense void, with Ordinances, Offices, Terms and manner of Process, so as to answer all the ends of Society in so vast an Empire? This was not to be done, nor was it needful: they found their account sufficiently in breaking the Power and Spirit of the Senate, in reducing it to a skeleton and a name, and in exercising under that name all their own violences and exorbitances. The Senate and the People had a venerable sound, and served as a cloak for power when they themselves had none, and the Emperor had all g . The registering of Edicts by the Parliament of Paris is become a matter of form; but without that form, the Court, as uncontrouled as it is, does not care to execute an Edict. The Romans still preserved a veneration for their Senate and Magistrates, and the same was often found in the Armies; insomuch that as late as the Reign of Commodus, the soldiers were so enraged at the insolence of Perennis, his Favourite and Minister, for discharging from their military commands such as were Patricians and Senators, and for placing in their room others of Equestrian Rank, that they cut him in pieces.
Time, however, with the continuance of Tyranny, and Barbarity its inseparable companion, cancelled by degrees the old names and forms, after the essence had been long cancelled; and introduced a cloud of offices and words, of rumbling sounds, and swelling titles, suitable to the genius of absolute Rule, and as different from the purity of the old Republican Language, as are Liberty and Politeness from grossness and bondage.
How the unrelenting Cruelty of the Emperors hastened the Dissolution of the Empire. The bad Reigns ofConstantineandConstantius.The good Reign ofJulian.The indiscreet behaviour of the Christians. Continued Tyranny; and end of the Empire.
TO resume once more the subject of Accusations and the abused Law of Majesty; They were cankers in the heart of the Empire, which at last hastened its Dissolution. The Emperors, to gratify their own cruelty, were continually wasting the public Strength by sacrifices noble and many; and, to satiate their avarice or that of their creatures, encouraged endless seizures and confiscations. This crying Oppression was by the Emperor Constantine, before mentioned, carried higher than any of the Pagan Emperors had ever carried it. Besides his own rapine, which was merciless and excessive, he glutted his Favourites and Grandees with the spoil and fortunes of others; as Marcellinus witnesses h . His son Constantius followed his example, and was a more consuming Tyrant than the Father. I have already said something of his Character and Reign, which was chiefly conducted by inhuman villains, whose heads and hands were eternally engaged in the plunder and blood of his People. Such were his Counsellors, such his Governors of Provinces, which were sucked and devoured to the bone, and might say with truth, what a noble Dalmatian once told Tiberius; “Instead of sending us Shepherds to protect our flocks, you send us Wolves to devour them.” How many Governors in all Countries have deserved to be hanged, before they reached their Governments, because they went with design to rob and oppress?
These depredations were restrained during the Reign of Julian, who had as much capacity, as many virtues and accomplishments, as could well adorn private life, or a crown: he was brave, generous, wise, and humane; a Hero, a Philosopher, a Politician, a Friend and Father to mankind. It is pity such an amiable Character should have any blots; his had two; he was superstitious even to weakness, and had conceived an aversion to the Christians altogether unsuitable to his remarkable candor and equity; an aversion which they themselves improved too much, by a behaviour unworthy of so great a Prince, much more unworthy of so meek a Religion. They indeed treated him with eminent spite and outrage, traduced him, libelled him, and even mobbed him. Nothing could be a sharper Satire upon them, for such brutish conduct, than the singular meekness with which he bore it. The truth is, the Christians were then strangely degenerated from the primitive peaceableness and purity, become licentious and turbulent to the last degree, and perpetually instigated by the arrogance and ambition of the Bishops, who were come to contend with arms as well as curses, for the possession of opulent Churches. It was not uncommon with these ambitious men, to affront and revile the Emperors to their faces, to publish Invectives against them, to break the public Peace and to raise frequent Tumults and Seditions. As they were the most complaisant Courtiers when pleased; so they were the most implacable Incendiaries when disgusted. All this was enough to alarm any Prince, and to awaken resentment in the most flegmatic. Moreover a great part of the wealth and revenue, which used to go towards the public Charge, particularly to defend the Frontiers against the Barbarians, was diverted and appropriated to maintain the grandeur and pomp of the great Prelates; sacerdotes specie religionis fortunas omnes effundebant, as Tacitus says, upon another occasion.
As some parts of the behaviour of that great Prince, one wise and good in most things, but mistaken and even unjust in others, chiefly towards the Christians, ought to be censured and condemned; the behaviour of the Christians towards him can never be justified. They insulted him intolerably, with all the excesses of bitterness and ill-breeding, while he lived, and slandered and blackened him shamefully when dead; as much as some of them basely flattered and extolled other Emperors, who, though complaisant and liberal to the Ecclesiastics, were consuming Tyrants.
It is the business of Truth and of true Religion, to give even enemies their due, and friends no more than their due. To give Julian his; if we lay aside his Religion, I doubt whether we can find upon record one Prince that excelled him, or three that equalled him. He is indeed a pattern to princes, in spite of the anger and obloquy of Writers who were apparently animated by a spirit then too common, a spirit altogether narrow, monkish, and vindictive; such a one as the charitable Religion of Jesus disclaims, and wants not. To his benevolent Gospel and Precepts I sincerely wish all men to conform; but fewer signs of such conformity, or rather greater signs of the want of it, have I no where seen, than in the Conduct, Discourses, and Writiengs of such as have railed at others for their religious sentiments, real or imputed. I wish too that a temper so barbarous and Antichristian had been entirely confined to the Days of that Emperor, whose Administration will for ever recommend him to all calm and impartial men, as an astonishing example of virtue and parts.
The Reign of Jovian, whose intention seems to have been honest and good, was but short, and followed by those of Valentinian and Valens; Princes exceeding furious, suspicious and sanguinary. Under them the old Accusations, Confiscations and Carnage were revived without mercy, and continued thenceforward, with few intervals, till the Roman Empire was quite overthrown. The people in every part of it being quite harrassed and consumed, finding no relaxation from Oppressors and Accusations, no protection from Law, no refuge in the Clemency of the Emperors, grew desperate, and revolted to the Goths, Huns, Vandals, and other Invaders.
The Excellency of a limited Monarchy, especially of our own.
I Think it is Machiavel who observes, that two or three weak and bad Princes succeeding each other, are sufficient to ruin a State, where they govern by mere Will; but it may survive a long succession of foolish Princes limited by good Laws. Vespasian found three hundred millions (of our money) wanting to restore the Empire to a condition of subsisting. Monarchy, according to Plato, is the best Government, or the worst: to which opinion I subscribe; as I do to that of Philip De Comines, that England is the place in the world, where the Public is most equally administered, and where the people suffer the least violence. We are blessed with that form of Government which Tacitus mentions as the most perfect, and thinks the hardest to be framed; that happy ballance and mixture of interests which comprehends every interest i .
An English Monarch has one advantage which sets him above any arbitrary Monarch upon earth; he obliges his subjects by being obliged to them. As he protects them by defending their Property and Laws; so they, by supporting him, enable him to do it: while they give by choice, and not by force, they give chearfully. Princes who take all themselves, and leave nothing to their people to give, can never be beloved by their people. If it be true that we hate those whom we have hurt, it is equally true, that we are apt to love those whom we have obliged. Hence God is said, not only to love doing good, but to love the good that he does.
Arbitrary Princes would doubtless chuse to have the love and affections of their people, were the same to be acquired by furious and unaccountable Rule; but this is impossible. Hence dread of their power is all the share they can expect in the hearts of their subjects; and this is a compliment which their subjects pay to things the most hideous and vile; to Serpents; to mad and wild Beasts; to Plagues and Satan; to Pain and Poverty. But even this miserable compliment is not always paid to such princes: they are not always dreaded. When their terrors are become habitual, they cease, in a good measure, to be terrors; the people grow hardened and desperate; they themselves become scorned; and contempt, the most abject lot in life, becomes the portion of those who possess the highest. When Nero asked Subrius Flavius, one of the Conspirators against his life, from what motives he had renounced his Allegiance; “It was because I abhorred thee,” said he. The Consul Vestinius too was known to Nero, to despise his vile and unmanly spirit; and in the whole detection of that Conspiracy, and the punishment of the conspirators, nothing was so signal as the series of contempt poured upon that brutal Tyrant, in the heighth of his Power, and amidst the terrors of his Tyranny. Nothing, says Tacitus, mortified him so much. But when the Monster was deposed, he incurred such sovereign scorn, that he was doomed to be stripped naked, and scourged to death like a slave, with his head fastened in a pillory; his carcass to be cast afterwards from the Tarpeian Rock, and with a hook in his nose to be dragged to the Tiber.
Nor could the great reputation of Julius Cæsar, or that of Augustus, and all their Power, secure them from popular insults and despight. The mœchum calvum, and videsne ut cinædus orbem digito temperet; were contumelies which even their greatness could not escape. Mithridates King of Armenia, when despoiled of his Kingdom, experienced by the behaviour of his People, how much they reverenced him; they even assaulted him with reproaches and blows k . When the Emperor Vitellius was led along to the slaughter, with his hands bound behind him, his habit all torn, and himself a filthy spectacle; he found much the like usage. Numbers wounded him with reproaches; but none was found to bewail him; and the populace railed at him when dead, with the same baseness of heart, with which they had flattered him living l .
[a ]Quem diem vacuum pœna ubi inter sacra & vota, vincla & laqueus inducantur.
[b ]Proprium id Tiberio fuit, scelera nuper reperta priscis verbis obtegere.
[c ]Nobilitas, opes, omissi gestique honores, pro crimine; & ob virtutes certissimum exitium.
[d ]Agerent, verterent cuncta, odio & terrore.
[e ]Corrupti in dominos servi, in patronos liberti, & quibus deerat inimicus, per amicos oppressi.
[f ]Id ipsum paventes, quod timuissent.
[g ]Ob hæc mors indicta.
[h ]Mortemque longius in puniendis quibusdam, si natura permitteret, conabatur extendi.
[i ]Caligulæ, & Domitiani, & Commodi immanitatem facile superabta, says the same Ammianus.
[k ]Per simulationem tuendæ Majestatis imperatoriæ multa & nefanda perpetrabantur.
[l ]Ad vicem bellorum civilium inflabant litui quædam coloratæ læsæ Majestatis crimina—materiam autem in infinitum quæstionibus extendendis dedit occasio vilis & parva.
[m ]Abnuentibus cunctis, cum diversa prœtenderent, eadem, formidine.
[n ]Interciderat sortis humanæ commercium vi metus; quantumque sævitia glisceret, miseratio arcebatur.
[o ]Metus principis rimantur, & sævitiæ adrepunt.
[p ]Per idem tempus L. Piso Pontifex, rarum in tanta claritudine, fato obiit.
[q ]Studia civium in se verteret; secessionem jam & partes, & si multi idem audeant, bellum esse.
[r ]Nobilem, & quod tunc spectaretur, è Cæsarum posteris.
[s ]Ostorius multa militari fama—metum Neroni fecerat, ne invaderet pavidum semper — missus Centurio qui cædem ejus maturaret.
[t ]Quanto metu occultior, tanto plus famæ adeptus.
[u ]Consuleret quieti urbis; esse illi per Asiam avitos agros.
[w ]Gliscere ac vigere Brutorum æmulos — rigidi & tristis, quo tibi lascivium exprobrent.
[x ]Hominem bonis publicis mœstum.
[y ]Reddendam pro intempestiva lætitia mœstam & funebrem noctem, qua sentiat vivere Vitellium & imperare.
[z ]Plautum magnis opibus — auri vim atque opes principibus infensas.
[a ]Syllam inopem, unde præcipuam audaciam.
[b ]Simulatorem segnitiæ, dum temeritati locum reperiret.
[c ]Plautum ne fingere quidem cupidinem otii, sed veterum Romanorum incitamenta præferre; assumpta etiam Stoicorum arrongantia sectaque, quæ turbidos & negotiorum appetentes faciat.
[d ]Hortorum amœnitate & villarum magnificentia quasi principem supergrederetur.
[e ]Verginium & Rufum claritudo nominis expulit; name Verginius studia juvenum eloquentia, Musonius præceptis sapientiæ fovebat.
[f ]Omni bonâ arte in exsilium actâ, ne quid usquam honestum occurreret.
[g ]Cuncta Legum & Magistratuum in se trahens Princeps.
[h ]Proximorum fauces aperuit primus Constantinus.
[i ]Cunctas nationes & urbes populus, aut primores, aut singuli regunt. Delecta ex his & constituta Reipub. forma laudari facilius quam evenire, vel, fi evenit, haud diuturna esse potest.
[k ]Vulgus duro imperio habitum, probra ac verbera intentabat.
[l ]Vulgus eadem pravitate insectabatur interfectum, qua foverat viventem.