Front Page Titles (by Subject) Sect. VI.: The Folly of conquering further urged and exemplified. - The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 - Gordon's Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3)
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Sect. VI.: The Folly of conquering further urged and exemplified. - 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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The Folly of conquering further urged and exemplified.
THE Turks, like other Conquerors, know not when to leave off. They sacrifice the people to gain more territories; and the more they conquer, the greater is their loss. They lavish men and treasure, to gain waste ground. What is the use of earth and water, where there are no Inhabitants for these elements to support? The strength of a Government consists in numerous subjects industrious and happy; not in extent of territory desolate or ill peopled, or peopled with inhabitants poor and idle. It is incredible what a profusion of wealth and lives their attempts upon Persia have cost them, always with fatal success, even under their wisest and most warlike Princes; and at a time when their Empire flourished most. Yet these attempts are continued, at a season when their Affairs are at the lowest; their Provinces exhausted, their people and revenue decayed, their soldiery disorderly, and all things conspiring to the final dissolution of their Empire.
Those who will be continually exerting their whole strength, whether they be societies or particular men, will at last have none to exert. The Turks have been for ages wasting their vitals to widen their extremities, and to extend their limbs; which, by being unnaturally stretched, are quite disjointed and benumbed for want of nourishment from the seat of life; and must therefore, like mortified members, soon drop off; they have been long spinning out their own vitals. Now if they had conquered Persia, what benefit would the conquest have derived to the Persians? None at all; but on the contrary, fresh oppression, and probably persecution; since the Turks deem them Heretics for the colour of their caps, and for their obstinate refusal to change one name for another in the list of Mahomet’s Successors.
Thus these Barbarians destroy themselves to destroy others; and Christian Princes imitate these Barbarians. The Spaniard, to secure to himself the possession of America, destroyed more lives than he had subjects in Europe; and his mighty Empire there, with his mountains of treasure, bears indeed an awful sound; yet it is allowed that he has lost much more than he got, besides the crying guilt of murdering a large part of the globe. His conquests there, together with his expulsion of the Moors at home, have dispeopled Spain; and the inhabitants who remain trusting to their American wealth, are too proud and lazy to be industrious; so that most of their gold goes to other nations for the manufactures wanted in the Spanish West-Indies. Hence multitudes and diligence (and diligence often creates multitudes, as by multitudes diligence is created) are better than mountains of gold, and will certainly attract such mountains; though others have the name and first property. Had he kept the industrious Moors, and expelled the barbarous Inquisitors; encouraged Liberty and Trade, and consequently Liberty of Conscience, Spain would have been a more powerful nation, and he consequently a greater King, than all his wide and guilty conquests have made him. Sir Walter Raleigh says, that the Low Countries alone did, for revenue, equal his West-Indies. Notwithstanding his many Kingdoms, his Empire in both Hemispheres, and that the sun never sets upon all his dominions at once, the small Republic of Holland, small in compass of territory, has been an overmatch for him.
A late neighbouring Prince was a busy Conqueror. But did his People and Country gain by his conquests? He drained them of men and money by millions, only to add to their poverty servitude and wretchedness, and from their chains and misery derived his own Glory. Nor do I know any reason why a Prince, who reduces his People, his Nobles, and all degrees of men in his Dominions, to poverty and littleness, should have the title of Great, unless for the greatness of the evils which he brought upon his own Kingdom and all Europe. Let the late and present condition of that Monarchy declare, what advantages that noble Country owes to his Glory and Victories. Had it not been for his wanton Wars and oppressive Taxes, there is no pitch of felicity which the goodness of their soil and climate, the number and industry of the natives, their many manufactures, and the advantage of their situation, might not have raised them to. But all was sacrificed to the Ambition and Bigotry of one. How many resources that Kingdom has within itself; and to what happiness it is capable of rising under a just and gentle Administration, is manifest from the suddenness with which it recovered itself under the good Government of Henry the fourth; how many millions it paid, how many put into the Exchequer; and what a flourishing condition it was arrived to, after so fierce, so long, and so consuming a Civil War, and after two such profuse and profligate Reigns, as that of Charles the Ninth, and that of Henry the Third. But what avails all this, when one short Edict, and the maggot of a minute, can dissipate all its wealth and all its happiness?
I might here display what ridiculous causes do often pique and awaken the vanity and ambition of Princes, and prompt them to lavish lives and treasure, and utterly undo those whom they should tenderly protect. For a beast of burden, or even for the tooth of a beast; for a mistress, for a river, for a senseless word hastily spoken, for words that had a foolish meaning, or no meaning at all; for an empty sepulchre or an empty title; to dry the tears of a coquette, to comply with the whims of a pedant, or to execute the curses of a bigot; important Wars have sometimes been waged, and nations animated to destroy one another; nor is there any security against such destructive follies, where the sense of every man must acquiesce in the wild passion of one; and where the interest and peace, and preservation of a State, are found too light to ballance his rage or caprice. Hence the policy of the Romans to tame a people not easy to be subdued; they committed such to the domination of Tyrants. Thus they did in Armenia, and thus in Britain e . And these instruments did not only enslave their subjects, but by continual fighting with one another, consume them.
Necessary Wars are accompanied with evils more than enough; and who can bear or forgive calamities courted and sought? The Roman State owed her greatness in a good measure to a misfortune; it was founded in War, and nourished by it. The same may be said of the Turkish Monarchy. But States formed for peace, though they do not arrive to such immensity and grandeur, are more lasting and secure; witness Sparta and Venice. The former lasted eight hundred years, and the other has lasted twelve hundred, without any Revolution; what errors they both committed, were owing to their attempts to conquer, for which they were not formed; though the Spartans were exceeding brave and victorious; but they wanted the Plebs ingenua, which formed the strength of the Roman Armies; as the Janizaries, a militia formerly excellently trained and disciplined, formed those of the Turk. With the latter, fighting and extending their dominions, is an article of their Religion, as false and barbarous in this as in many of its other principles, and as little calculated for the good of men.
THE ANNALS OF TACITUS.
ENumeration of the several changes in the Government of Rome. The State of Rome under Augustus; his politicks, death and character; with the arts and dissimulation of Tiberius. Revolt of the Legions in Pannonia, and in Germany; the Conduct of Germanicus upon that occasion, and also against the common enemy, with his success and victories. The death and character of Julia, daughter of Augustus: Plays instituted in his honour. Germanicus makes another expedition against the German nations, and subdues them; frees Segestes from the violence of Arminius, and is for his exploits saluted Imperator; continues the war in Germany, recovers and buries the remains of Varus’s Legions. The difficulties which befel Cæcina in his march, with his bravery and success in overcoming them. The Law of violated Majesty, greatly extended and severely executed. An Inundation from the Tiber. Licentiousness of the Theatres, and the insolence of Players, checked by a Decree of Senate. Measures proposed for restraining the overflowing of the Tiber, but opposed by several Communities of Italy. Tiberius seldom changes the Governors of Provinces, and why. His dark and crafty conduct upon the Election of Magistrates at Rome.
KINGS were the original Magistrates of Rome. Lucius Brutus founded Liberty and the Consulship. Dictators were chosen only in pressing exigencies. Little more than two years prevailed the supreme power of the Decemvirate; and the consular jurisdiction of the military Tribunes, not very many. The domination of Cinna was but short; that of Sylla not long. The authority of Pompey and Crassus was quickly swallowed up in Cæsar; that of Lepidus and Anthony in Augustus. The Common-wealth, then long distressed and exhausted by civil dissensions, fell easily into his hands, and over her he assumed sovereign dominion, softened with the popular title of Prince of the Senate. But the several revolutions in the ancient free state of Rome, and all her happy or disastrous events, are already recorded by Writers of signal renown. Nor, even in the reign of Augustus, were there wanting Authors of distinction and genius to have composed his story, till by the prevailing spirit of flattery and abasement, they were checked. As to the succeeding Princes, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero; the dread of their tyranny, whilst they yet reigned, falsified their history; and after their fall, the fresh detestation of their cruelties inflamed their Historians. Hence my own design of recounting briefly certain incidents in the reign of Augustus, chiefly towards his latter end, and of entering afterwards more fully into that of Tiberius and the other three, unbiassed by any resentment, or any affection, the influences of such personal passions being far from me.
When after the fall of Brutus and Cassius there remained none to fight for the Common-wealth, and her arms were no longer in her own hands; when Sextus Pompeius was utterly defeated in Sicily, Lepidus bereft of his command, Marc Anthony slain; and of all the chiefs of the late Dictator’s party, only Octavius his nephew was left; he put off the invidious name of Triumvir, and stiling himself Consul, pretended that the jurisdiction attached to the Tribuneship was his highest aim, as in it the protection of the populace was his only view. But when once he had secured the Soldiery by liberality and donations, gained the People by store of provisions, and charmed all by the blessings and sweetness of publick peace, he began by politick gradations to exalt himself, and with his own power to consolidate the authority of the Senate, jurisdiction of the Magistrate, and weight and force of the Laws; usurpations, in which he was thwarted by no man; all the most determined Republicans had fallen in battle, or by the late sanguinary Proscriptions; and for the surviving Nobility, they were covered with wealth, and distinguished with publick honours, according to the measure of their debasement, and promptness to bondage. Add, that all who in the loss of publick freedom had gained private fortunes, preferred a servile condition, safe and possessed, to the revival of ancient Liberty with personal peril. Neither were the Provinces averse to the present Revolution; since, under the Government of the People and Senate, they had lived in constant fear and mistrust, from the raging competition amongst our Grandces, as well as from the rapine and exactions of our Magistrates. In vain too had been their appeal to the Laws, which were utterly enfeebled and borne down by violence, by parties; nay, even by subornation and money.
Moreover, Augustus, to fortify his domination with collateral bulwarks, raised his sister’s son Claudius Marcellus, a perfect youth, to the dignity of Pontiff and that of Edile; preferred Marcus Agrippa to two successive Consulships, a man in truth meanly born, but an accomplished soldier, and the companion of his victories; and (Marcellus, the husband of Julia, soon after dying) chose him for his son-in-law. Even the sons of his wife, Tiberius Nero and Claudius Drusus, he dignified with high military titles and commands; though his house was yet supported by descendants of his own blood. For into the Julian family and name of the Cæsars he had already adopted Lucius and Caius, the sons of Agrippa; and though they were but children, neither of them seventeen years old, vehement had been his ambition to see them declared Princes of the Roman Youth, and even designed to the Consulship; while openly he was protesting against admitting these early honours. Presently upon the decease of Agrippa, were these his children snatched away, either by their own natural, but hasty fate, or by the deadly fraud of their step-mother Livia; Lucius on his journey to command the armies in Spain, Caius in his return from Armenia, ill of a wound. And as Drusus, one of her own sons, had been long since dead, Tiberius remained sole candidate for the succession. Upon this object centered all princely honours; he was by Augustus adopted for his son, assumed Collegue in the Empire, partner in the jurisdiction tribunitial, and presented under all these dignities to the several armies; instances of grandeur which were no longer derived from the secret schemes of his mother, as in times past, while her husband had unexceptionable heirs of his own, but thenceforth bestowed at her open suit. For as Augustus was now very aged, she had obtained over him such absolute sway, that for her pleasure he banished into the Isle of Planasia his only surviving grandson Agrippa Postumus, destitute, in truth, of laudable accomplishments, in his temper untractable, and stupidly conceited of his mighty strength, but branded with no misdemeanour or transgression. The Emperor had withal set Germanicus, the son of Drusus, over eight legions quartered upon the Rhine, and obliged Tiberius to adopt him, though Tiberius had then a son of his own, one of competent years. But it was the study of Augustus, to secure himself and the succession by variety of stays and engraftments. War at that time there was none, except that in Germany, kept on foot rather to abolish the disgrace sustained by Quintilius Varus, there slain with his army, than from any ambition to enlarge the Empire, or for any other valuable advantage. In profound tranquillity were affairs at Rome. To the Magistrates remained their wonted names; of the Romans the younger sort had been born since the battle of Actium, and even most of the old during the civil wars: How few were then living who had seen the ancient free state!
The frame and œconomy of Rome being thus totally overturned, amongst the Romans were no longer found any traces of their primitive spirit, or attachment to the virtuous institutions of antiquity. But as the equality of the whole was extinguished by the sovereignty of one, all men regarded the orders of the Prince as the only rule of conduct and obedience; nor felt they any anxiety, while Augustus yet retained vigour of life, and upheld the credit of his administration with publick peace, and the imperial fortune of his house. But when he became broken with age and infirmities; when his end was at hand, and thence a new source of hopes and views was presented, some few there were who began to reason idly about the blessings and recovery of Liberty; many dreaded a civil war, others longed for one; while far the greater part were uttering their several apprehensions of their future masters; “that naturally stern and savage was the temper of Agrippa, and by his publick contumely enraged into fury; and neither in age nor experience was he equal to the weight of Empire. Tiberius indeed had arrived at fulness of years, and was a distinguished captain, but possessed the inveterate pride entailed upon the Claudian race; and many indications of a cruel nature escaped him, in spite of all his arts to disguise it; besides that from his early infancy he was trained up in a reigning house, and even in his youth inured to an accumulation of power and honours, consulships and triumphs. Nor during the several years of his abode at Rhodes, where, under the plausible name of retirement, a real banishment was covered, did he exercise other occupation than that of meditating future vengeance, studying the arts of treachery, and practising secret and abominable sensualities. Add to these considerations, that of his mother, a woman inspired with all the tyranny of her sex; that the Romans must be under bondage to a woman, and moreover enthralled by two youths, who would first combine to oppress the State, then falling into dissension, rend it piece-meal.”
While the Public was engaged in these and the like debates, the illness of Augustus daily increased, and some strongly suspected the pestilent practices of his wife. For there had been, some months before, a rumour abroad, That Augustus, having singled out a few of his most faithful servants, and taken Fabius Maximus for his only companion, had sailed secretly over to the Island of Planasia, there to visit his Grandson Agrippa; that many tears were shed on both sides, many tokens of mutual tenderness shewn, and hopes from thence conceived, that the unhappy youth would be restored to his own place in his Grandfather’s family: That Maximus had disclosed it to Martia, she to Livia; and thence the Emperor knew that the secret was betrayed: That Maximus being soon after dead (dead, as it was doubted, through fear, by his own hands) Martia was observed, in her lamentations and groans at his funeral, to accuse herself as the sad cause of her husband’s destruction. Whatever truth was in all this, Tiberius was scarce entered Illyricum but he was hastily recalled by his mother’s letters. Nor is it fully known whether, at his return to Nola, he found Augustus yet breathing, or already breathless. For Livia had carefully beset the palace, and all the avenues to it, with detachments of the guards; and good news of his recovery were from time to time given out. When she had taken all measures necessary in so great a conjuncture, in one and the same moment was published the departure of Augustus, and the accession of Tiberius.
The first feat of this new reign was the murder of young Agrippa. The assassin, a bold and determined Centurion, found him destitute of arms, and little apprehending such a destiny, yet was scarce able to dispatch him. Of this transaction Tiberius avoided any mention in the Senate. He would have it pass for done by the commands of Augustus; as if he had transmitted written orders to the Tribune who guarded Agrippa, “to slay him the instant he heard of his Grandfather’s decease.” It is very true, that Augustus had made many and vehement complaints of the young man’s obstinate and unruly demeanour, and even solicited from the Senate a Decree to authorize his banishment; but he had never hardened himself against the sentiments of nature, nor in any instance dipt his hands in his own blood; neither is it credible that he would sacrifice the life of his grandson for the security and establishment of his step-son. More probable it is, that this hasty murder was purely the work of Tiberius and Livia; that the young Prince, hated and dreaded by both, fell thus untimely, to rid the one of his apprehensions and a rival, and to satiate in the other the rancorous spirit of a step-mother. When the Centurion, according to the custom of the army, acquainted Tiberius, “that his commands were executed”; he answered, “he had commanded no such execution, and the Centurion must appear before the Senate, and for it be answerable to them.” This alarmed Sallustius Crispus, who shared in all his secret counsels, and had sent the Centurion the warrant; he dreaded that he should be arraigned for the assassination, and knew it equally perilous either to confess the truth, and charge the Emperor; or falsly to clear the Emperor, and accuse himself. Hence he had recourse to Livia, and warned her, “never to divulge the secrets of the palace, never to expose to publick examination the ministers who advised, nor the soldiers who executed. Tiberius should beware of relaxing the Authority of the Prince, by referring all things to that of the Senate; since it was the indispensable Prerogative of Sovereignty, for all men to be accountable to one.”
Now at Rome, Consuls, Senators, and Roman Knights, were all rushing with emulation into bondage; the higher the quality of each, the more false and forward the men; all careful so to frame their faces, as to reconcile false joy for the accession of Tiberius, with feigned sadness for the loss of Augustus. Hence they intermingled tears with gladness, wailings with gratulations, and all with servile flattery. Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Apuleius, at that time Consuls, took first the oath of fidelity to Tiberius, then administered it to Seius Strabo and Caius Turranius, the former Captain of the Pretorian Guards, the other Intendant of the public stores. The oath was next given to the Senate, to the People, and to the Soldiery, all by the same Consuls. For Tiberius affected to derive all publick transactions from the legal ministry of the Consuls; as if the ancient Republick still subsisted, and he were yet unresolved about embracing the sovereign rule. He even owned in his Edict for summoning the Senate, that he issued it by virtue of the Tribunitial power, granted him under Augustus. The Edict too was short, and unexceptionably modest. It imported, that “they were to consider of the funeral honours proper to be paid his deceased Father; for himself he would not depart from the corps; and further than this edict implied, he claimed no share in the public administration.” Yet from the moment Augustus was dead, he usurped all the prerogatives of imperial State, gave the word to the Pretorian Cohorts, had soldiers about the palace, guards about his person, went guarded in the Street, guarded to the Senate, and bore all the marks of Majesty. Nay, he writ Letters to the several Armies in the undisguised style of one already their Prince; nor did he ever hesitate or speak with ambiguity about it, but when he spoke to the Senate. The chief cause of his reserve and obscurity there proceeded from his fear of Germanicus. He dreaded that he, who was master of so many Legions of numberless Auxiliaries, and of all the Allies of Rome; he, who was the darling of the people, might wish rather to possess the Empire, than to wait for it. He likewise aimed at false glory, and would rather seem by the Commonwealth chosen and called to the Empire, than to have crept darkly into it by the intrigues of a woman, or by adoption from a superannuated Prince. It was also afterwards found, that, by this abstruseness and counterfeit irresolution, he meant to penetrate into the designs and inclinations of the great men; for his jealous spirit construed all their words, all their looks, into crimes, and stored them up in his heart against a day of vengeance.
When he first met the Senate, he would bear no other business to be transacted but that about the Funerals of Augustus. His last will was brought in by the Vestal Virgins; in it Tiberius and Livia were appointed his heirs, Livia adopted into the Julian Family, and dignified with the name of Augusta. Into the next and second degree of heirship he adopted his grandchildren and their children; and in the third degree he named the great men of Rome, most of them hated by him; but out of vain-glory he named them, and for future renown. His legacies were not beyond the usual bounds; only he left to the Roman people four hundred thousand great Sesterces a ; to the Populace or common sort, thirty-five thousand b ; to every common Soldier of the Pretorian Guards a thousand small Sesterces c , and to every Soldier of the Roman Legions three hundred d . The funeral Honours were next considered. The chief presented were these; Asinius Gallus proposed, that “the Funeral should pass through the Triumphal gate;” Lucius Arruntius, “that the Titles of all the Laws which he had made, and the names of all the Nations which he had conquered, should be carried before the corps;” Valerius Messala added, “that the Oath of Allegiance to Tiberius should be renewed every Year”; and being asked by Tiberius, “whether at his instigation he had made that motion? I spoke it as my opinion, says Messala; nor will I ever be determined by any but my own, in things which concern the Commonweal; let who will be provoked by my freedom.” Only this new turn was wanting to compleat the prevailing flattery of the time. The Senators then concurred in a loud cry, “that upon their own shoulders they must bear the body to the pile.” But Tiberius declined the offer from an arrogant shew of moderation. Moreover he cautioned the people by an Edict, “not to disturb the funeral functions with a zeal over-passionate, as they had those of Julius Cæsar; nor to insist that the Corps of Augustus should be burnt rather in the Forum, than in the field of Mars, which was the place appointed.” On the funeral day the Soldiers under arms kept guard; a mighty mockery to those who had either seen, or heard their fathers describe, the day when Cæsar the Dictator was slain. Servitude was then new, its sorrows yet fresh and bitter; and liberty unsuccessfully retrieved by a deed, which, while it seemed impious to some, was thought altogether glorious by others, and hence tore Rome into tumults, and the violence of parties. They ridiculed the Grimace of “calling an aid of soldiers to secure a peaceable burial to a Prince, who had grown old in peace and power, and even provided against a relapse into liberty, by a long train of successors.”
Hence much and various matter of observation concerning Augustus. The superstitious multitude admired the fortuitous events of his fortune; “that the last day of his life, and the first of his reign, was the same; that he died at Nola, in the same village, in the same house, and in the same chamber, where his father Octavius died. They observed to his glory, his many Consulships, equal in number to those of Valerius Corvinus and of Caius Marius, joined together: that he had exercised the power of the Tribuneship seven and thirty years without interruption: that he was one and twenty times proclaimed Imperator; with many other numerous honours repeated to him, or created for him”. Men of deeper discernment entered further into his Life, but differed about it. His admirers said, that “his filial piety to his father Cæsar, and the distractions of the Republic, where the laws no longer governed, had driven him into a civil war; which, whatever be the first cause, can never be begun or carried on by just and gentle means. Indeed, to be revenged on the murderers of his father, he had made many great sacrifices to Anthony; many to Lepidus. But when Lepidus was become sunk and superannuated in sloth; when Anthony was lost headlong in sensuality, there was then no other remedy for the distracted State, rent piece-meal by its chiefs, but the Sovereignty of one. Augustus, however, never had assumed to rule over his Country as King, or Dictator; but settled the Government under the legal name of Prince of the Senate. He had extended the Empire, and set for its bounds the distant Ocean, and rivers far remote; the several parts and forces of the State, the Legions, the Provinces, the Navy, were all properly balanced and connected; the Citizens lived dutifully under the protection of the law, the Allies in terms of respect, and Rome itself was adorned with magnificent structures. Indeed in a few instances, he had exerted the arbitrary violence of power; and in but a few, only to secure the peace of the whole.”
In answer to all this, it was urged, that “his filial piety, and the unhappy situation of the Republic, were pure pretences; but the ardent lust of reigning, his true and only motive; with this spirit he had solicited into his service, by bribery, a body of veteran soldiers; and, though a private youth, levied an Army. With this spirit he had debauched, and bought the Roman Legions under the Consuls, while he was falsly feigning a coalition with Pompey’s republican party; that soon after, when he had procured from the Senate, or rather usurped the honours and authority of the Pretorship; and when Hirtius and Pansa, the two Consuls, were slain, he seized both their Armies; that it was doubted whether the Consuls fell by the enemy, or whether Pansa was not killed by pouring poison into his wounds, and Hirtius slain by his own soldiers; and whether the young Cæsar was not the contriver of this bloody treason; that by terror he had extorted the Consulship in spite of the Senate; and turned against the Commonwealth the very arms with which the Commonwealth had trusted him for her defence against Anthony. Add to all this his cruel Proscriptions, and the Massacre of so many citizens; his seizing from the public, and distributing to his own creatures, so many lands and possessions; a violation of property not justified even by those who gained by it. But, allowing him to dedicate to the Manes of the Dictator the Lives of Brutus and Cassius (though more to his honour, had it been to have postponed his own personal hate to publick good), did he not betray the young Pompey by an insidious peace, betray Lepidus by a deceitful shew of friendship? Did he not next ensnare Mark Anthony, first by Treaties those of Tarentum and Brundusium; then by a Marriage, that of his sister Octavia? And did not Anthony, at last, pay with his life the penalty of that subdolous alliance? After this, no doubt there was Peace, but a bloody Peace; bloody in the tragical defeat of Lollius, and that of Varus, in Germany; and at Rome, the Varrones, the Egnatii, the Julii, (illustrious names!) were put to death.” Nor was his domestic life spared upon this occasion. “He had arbitrarily robbed Nero of his wife big with child by her husband; and mocked the Gods by consulting the Priests, whether Religion permitted him to marry her before her delivery, or obliged him to stay till after. His minions, Tedius, and Vedius Pollio, had lived in scandalous and excessive luxury; his Wife Livia, who wholly controuled him, had proved a cruel governess to the Commonwealth, and to the Julian house a more cruel step-mother. He had even invaded the incommunicable honours of the Gods, and, setting up for himself Temples like theirs, would, like them, be adored in the image of a Deity, with all the sacred solemnity of Priests and Sacrifices. Nor had he adopted Tiberius for his successor, either out of affection for him, or from concern for the public welfare; but having discovered in him a spirit proud and cruel, he sought future glory from the blackest opposition and comparison.” For, Augustus, when, a few years before, he solicited the Senate to grant to Tiberius another term of the authority of the Tribuneship, though he mentioned him with honour, yet taking notice of his odd humour, behaviour, and manners, dropt some expressions, which, while they seemed to excuse him, exposed and upbraided him.
As soon as the funeral of Augustus was over, a Temple and divine worship were forthwith decreed him. The Senate then turned their supplications to Tiberius, to fill his vacant place; but received an abstruse answer, touching the greatness of the Empire, and his own distrust of himself. He said, that “nothing but the divine genius of Augustus was equal to the mighty task; for himself, who had been called by him into a participation of his cares, he had learnt by feeling them, what a daring, what a difficult toil was that of Government, and how perpetually subject to the caprices of fortune; that in a State supported by so many illustrious Patriots, they ought not to cast the whole administration upon one; and more easy to be administered were the several offices of the Government by the united pains and sufficiency of many.” A Speech much more specious and sounding than cordial and sincere. Tiberius, even upon subjects which needed no disguises, used words dark and cautious; perhaps from his diffident nature, perhaps from a habit of dissembling. At this juncture indeed, as he laboured wholly to hide his heart, his language was the more carefully wrapt up in equivoques and obscurity. But the Senators, who dreaded nothing so much as to seem to understand him, burst into tears, plaints and vows. With extended arms they supplicated the Gods, invoked the image of Augustus, and embraced the knees of Tiberius. He then commanded the imperial Register to be produced and recited. It contained a summary of the strength and income of the Empire, the number of Romans and auxiliaries in pay, the condition of the navy, of the several Kingdoms paying tribute, and of the various provinces and their revenues, with the state of the public expence, the issues of the exchequer, and all the demands upon the public. This Register was all written by the hand of Augustus; and in it he had subjoined his counsel to posterity, that the present boundaries of the Empire should stand fixed without further enlargement. Whether this counsel was dictated by fear for the public, or by envy towards his successors, is uncertain.
Now when the Senate was stooping to the vilest importunity and prostrations, Tiberius happened to say, that, “as he was unequal to the weight of the whole government, so if they entrusted him with any particular part, whatever it were, he would undertake it.” Here Asinius Gallus interposed. “I beg to know, Cæsar, says he, what part of the government you desire for your share?” He was astonied with the unexpected question, and, for a short space, mute; but recovering himself, answered, that “it ill became his modesty to chuse or reject any particular branch of the administration, when he desired rather to be excused from the whole.” Gallus, who from his looks inferred deep displeasure, again accosted him, and said, “By this question I did not mean that you should share that power which cannot be separated; but to reason you into a confession, that the Commonwealth is but one body, and can be governed only by one soul.” He added an encomium upon Augustus, and reminded Tiberius himself of his many victories, of the many civil employments which he had long and nobly sustained. Nor even thus could he mollify the wrath of Tiberius, who had long hated him, for that Gallus had married Vipsania, daughter of Marcus Agrippa, formerly wife to Tiberius, who thence suspected that he meant to soar above the rank of a subject, and possessed too the bold and haughty spirit of Asinius Pollio his father.
Lucius Arruntius incurred his displeasure next, by a speech not much unlike that of Gallus. It is true, that towards him Tiberius bore no old rancour; but Arruntius had mighty opulence, prompt parts, noble accomplishments, with equal popularity and renown; and hence was marked by him with a fell eye of suspicion. For, as Augustus, shortly before his decease, was mentioning those among the great men, who were capable of the supreme power, but would not accept it; or unequal to it, yet wished for it; or such as had both ambition and sufficiency; he had said, that “Marcus Lepidus was qualified, but would reject it; Asinius would be aspiring, but had inferior talents; and that Lucius Arruntius wanted no sufficiency, and, upon a proper occasion, would attempt it.” That he spoke thus of Lepidus and Asinius, is agreed; but, instead of Arruntius, some writers have transmitted the name of Cneius Piso: and every one of these great men, except Lepidus, were afterwards cut off, under the imputation of various crimes, all darkly framed by Tiberius. Quintus Haterius, and Mamercus Scaurus did also incense his distrustful spirit; the first by asking him, “How long, Cæsar, wilt thou suffer the Commonwealth to remain destitute of a head?” Scaurus, because he had said, There was room to hope that the prayers of the Senate would not prove abortive, since he had not interposed the Tribunitial power, and thence obstructed the motion of the Consuls in his behalf.” With Haterius he fell into instant rage. Towards Scaurus his resentment was more deep and implacable, and in profound silence he hid it. Wearied at last with public importunity and clamour, and with particular expostulations, he began to unbend a little; not that he would own his undertaking the Empire, but only avoid the uneasiness of perpetual solicitations and refusals. It is certain, that Haterius, when he went next day to the Palace to implore pardon, and throwing himself at the feet of Tiberius embraced his knees, narrowly escaped being slain by the soldiers; because Tiberius, who was walking, tumbled down, whether by chance, or whether his legs were entangled in the arms of Haterius. Neither was he a jot mollified by the danger which threatened so great a man, who was at length forced to supplicate Augusta for protection; nor could even she obtain it, but after the most laboured entreaties.
Towards Livia likewise exorbitant was the flattering court of the Senate. Some were for decreeing her the general title of Mother; others the more particular one of Mother of her Country; and almost all proposed, that to the name of Tiberius should be added, The Son of JULIA.Tiberius urged in answer, that “public honours to women ought to be adjudged with a sparing hand; and that with the same measure of moderation he would receive such as were presented to himself.” In truth, from envy and solicitude, lest his own grandeur should sink as that of his mother rose, he would not suffer so much as a Lictor to be decreed her, and even forbad the raising her an Altar upon her late adoption, or paying her any such solemnities. Yet, for Germanicus he asked the Proconsular power; and, to carry him that dignity, honourable deputies were sent, as also to mollify his sorrow for the death of Augustus. If for Drusus he demanded not the same honour, it was because Drusus was present, and already Consul designed. He then named twelve candidates for the Prætorship, the same number settled by Augustus; and, though the Senate requested him to increase it, he bound himself by an oath never to exceed.
The privilege of creating Magistrates was now first translated from the assemblies of the people to the Senate. For though the Emperor had before conducted all affairs of moment at his pleasure; yet till that day, some were still transacted by the Tribes, and carried by their bent and suffrages. Neither did the regret of the people for the seizure of these their ancient rights, rise higher than some impotent grumbling. The Senate too liked the change, as by it they were released from the charge of buying votes, and from the shame of begging them. And so moderate was Tiberius, that, of the twelve Candidates, he only reserved to himself the recommendation of four, to be accepted without opposition or caballing. At the same time, the Tribunes of the people asked leave to celebrate, at their own expence, certain plays in honour of Augustus, such as were to be called after his name, and inserted in the calendar. But it was decreed, that out of the Exchequer the charge should be defrayed, and the Tribunes should in the Circus wear the triumphal robe; but to be carried in chariots was denied them. The annual celebration of these plays was, for the future, transferred to one of the Prætors, him in particular to whom should fall the jurisdiction of deciding suits between citizens and strangers.
Thus stood affairs at Rome when a sedition seized the Legions in Pannonia; without any fresh grounds, save that from a change of Princes they meant to assume a warrant for licentiousness and tumult, and from a civil war hoped great earnings and acquisitions. They were three Legions encamped together, all commanded by Junius Blesus, who upon notice of the death of Augustus, and the accession of Tiberius, had granted the soldiers a recess from their wonted duties for some days, as a time either of public mourning or festivity. From being idle they waxed wanton, quarrelsom, and turbulent; greedily listened to mutinous discourses; the most profligate amongst them had most credit with them, and at last they became passionate sor a life of lise and riot, utterly averse to all military discipline and every fatigue of the camp. In the camp was one Percennius; formerly a busy leader in the embroilments of the theatre, and now a common soldier; a fellow of a petulant declaiming tongue, and, by inflaming parties in the playhouse, well qualified to excite and infatuate a crowd. This incendiary practised upon the ignorant and unwary, such as were solicitous what might prove their future usage, now Augustus was dead. He engaged them in nightly confabulations, and, by little and little, incited them to violence and disorders; and, towards the evening, when the soberest and best affected were withdrawn, he assembled the worst and most turbulent. When he had thus ripened them for sedition, and other ready incendiaries were combined with him, he personated the character of a lawful Commander, and thus questioned and harangued them:
“Why did they obey, like slaves, a few Centurions, and a fewer Tribunes? When would they be bold enough to demand redress of their heavy grievances, unless they snatched the present occasion, while the Emperor was yet new, and his authority wavering, to prevail with him by petition, or by arms to force him? They had already, by the misery of many years, paid dear for their patient sloth, and stupid silence, since, decrepid with age, and maimed with wounds, aster a course of service for thirty or forty years, they were still doomed to carry arms. Nor, even to those who were discharged, was there any end of the misery of warfare; they were still kept tied to the colours, and, under the creditable title of Veterans, endured the same hardships, and underwent the same labours. But suppose any of them escaped so many dangers, and survived so many calamities, where was their reward at last? A long and weary march remained yet to be taken into countries far remote and strange, where, under the name of lands given them to cultivate, they had inhospitable boggs to drain, and the wild wastes of mountains to manure. Severe and ungainful of itself was the occupation of war; ten As’s a day the poor price of their persons and lives; out of this they must buy cloaths, and tents, and arms; out of this bribe the cruel Centurions, for a forbearance of blows, and occasional exemption from hard duty. But stripes from their officers, and wounds from their enemies, hard winters and laborious summers, bloody wars and barren peace, were miseries without end; nor remained there other cure or relief than to refuse to list but upon conditions certain, and fixed by themselves; particularly, that their pay be a Denarius or sixteen As’s a day, sixteen years be the utmost term of serving; when discharged, to be no longer obliged to follow the colours, but to have their reward, in ready money, paid them in the camp where they earned it. Did the Prætorian guards, they who had double pay, they who, after sixteen years service, were paid off and sent home, bear severer difficulties, undergo superior dangers? He did not mean to detract from the merit of their brethren the City guards; their own harder lot however was, to be placed amongst horrid and barbarous nations, nor could they look from their tents, but they saw the foe.”
The whole crowd received this harangue with shouts of applause; but from various instigations. Some displayed upon their bodies the impressions of stripes, others their hoary heads, many their vestments ragged and curtailed, with backs utterly bare; as did all, their various griefs in the bitterness of reproach. At length to such excessive fury they grew, that they proposed to incorporate the three Legions into one; nor by ought but emulation was the project defeated: for, to his own Legion, every man claimed the prerogative of swallowing and denominating the other two. They took another method, and placed the three Eagles of the Legions, with the Standards of the several Cohorts, all together, without rank or priority; then forthwith digged turf, and were rearing a Tribunal, one high enough to be seen at a distance. In this hurry arrived Blesus, who, falling into sore rebukes, and by force interrupting particulars, called with vehemence to all; “Dip your hands rather in my blood. To murder your General, will be a crime less shameful and heinous, than to revolt from your Prince: for, determined I am, either to preserve the Legions in their faith and obedience, if you kill me not for my intended good office; or my death, if I fall by your hands, shall hasten your remorse.”
For all this, turfs were accumulated, and the work was already breast-high, when, at last, overcome by his spirit and perseverance, they forbore. Blesus was an able speaker; he told them, “that sedition and mutiny were not the methods of conveying to the Emperor the pretensions of the soldiers; their demands too were new and singular; such as neither the soldiers of old had ever made to the ancient Generals, nor they themselves to the deified Augustus: besides, their claims were ill-timed, when the Prince, just upon his accession, was already embarrassed with the weight and variety of other cares. If however they meant to try to gain in full peace those concessions, which, even after a civil war, the conquerors never claimed; yet why trample upon duty and obedience, why reject the laws of the army, and rules of discipline? And if they meant to petition, why meditate violence? They might at least appoint deputies; and in his presence trust them with their pretensions.” Here they all cried out, “that the son of Blesus, one of their Tribunes, should execute that deputation; and demand, in their name, that, after sixteen years service, they should be discharged. They said, they would give him new orders, when he had succeeded in these.” After the departure of the young officer, a moderate recess ensued. The soldiers however exulted to have carried such a point: the sending the son of their General, as the public advocate for their cause, was to them full proof, that they had gained, by force and terror, that which, by modesty and gentle means, they would never have gained.
In the mean time those companies, which, before the sedition began, were sent to Nauportum, to mend roads and bridges, and upon other duties, no sooner heard of the uproar in the camp, but they cast off all obedience, tore away the ensigns, and plundered the neighbouring villages. Even Nauportum itself, which for greatness resembled a municipal City, was plundered. The endeavours of the Centurions to restrain this violence, were first returned with mockery and contempt, then with invectives and contumelies, at last with outrage and blows. Their vengeance was chiefly bent against the Camp-Marshal, Aufidienus Rufus: him they dragged from his chariot, and loading him with baggage, drove him before the first ranks. They then insulted him, and asked in scorn, “whether he would gladly bear such enormous burdens; whether endure such immense marches?” Rufus had been long a common soldier, then became a Centurion, and afterwards Camp-Marshal; a severe restorer of primitive strictness and discipline; an indefatigable observer of every military duty, which he exacted from others with the more rigour, as he had himself undergone them with all patience.
By the arrival of this tumultuous band, the sedition was again awakened to its former outrage, and the Seditious roving abroad without controul, ravaged the county on every side. Blesus, for an example of terror to the rest, commanded those who were most laden with plunder, to be punished with stripes, and cast into prison. For the General was still dutifully obeyed by the Centurions, and by all the soldiers of any merit. But the criminals refused to submit, and even struggled with the guard who were carrying them off: They clasped the knees of the by-standers, implored help from their fellows; now calling upon every individual, and conjuring them by their particular names; then appealed to them in a body, and supplicated the Company, the Cohort, the Legion, to which they belonged; warning and proclaiming, that the same ignominy and chastisement hung over them all. With the same breath they heaped invectives without measure upon their General, and called upon heaven and all the Gods to be their witnesses and avengers; nor left they ought unattempted to raise effectual hatred, compassion, terror, and every species of fury. Hence the whole body rushed to their relief, burst open the prison, unbound and rescued the prisoners. Thus they owned for their brethren, and incorporated with themselves, infamous revolters, and traitors convict and condemned.
Hence the violence became more raging, and hence more sedition from more leaders. There was particularly one Vibulenus a common soldier, who, exalted on the shoulders of his comrades, before the tribunal of Blesus, thus declaimed in the ears of a multitude already outrageous, and eager to hear what he had to say. “To these innocents, says he, to these miserable sufferers, our fellow soldiers, you have indeed restored breath and liberty; but, who will restore life to my poor brother; who my poor brother to me? He was sent hither by the German armies, with propositions for our common good; and for this, was last night butchered by the same Blesus, who in the murder employed his gladiators, bloody men, whom he purposely entertains and arms for our common execution: where, oh Blesus, hast thou thrown his mangled corps? Even open enemies do not inhumanly deny burial to the slain. When I have satiated my sorrow with a thousand kisses, and a flood of tears, command me also to be murdered, that these our brethren may together bury my poor brother and me, slaughtered both as victims, yet both guiltless of any crime, but that of studying the common interest of the Legions.”
He inflamed those his complaints and expostulations, with affecting sighs and lamentations, beat his breast, and tore his face. Then, those who carried him, giving way, he throwed himself headlong at the feet of his companions; and thus prostrate and supplicating, in them raised such a spirit of commiseration, and such a storm of vengeance, that one party of them seized and bound the General’s gladiators; another, the rest of his family; while many ran and dispersed themselves to search for the corps: and, had it not been quickly manifest that there was no corps to be found, that the slaves of Blesus had upon the rack cleared themselves, and that Vibulenus never had any brother; they had gone nigh to have sacrificed the General. As it was, they expulsed the Camp-Marshal and Tribunes, and, as they fled, plundered their baggage. They likewise put to death Lucilius the Centurion, whom they had sarcastically named Cede alteram, because when upon the back of a soldier he had broken one wand, he was wont to call for another, then a third. The other Centurions lurked in concealment, all but Julius Clemens, who, for his prompt capacity, was saved in order to manage the negociations of the Soldiers. Even two of the Legions, the eighth and the fifteenth, were ready to turn their swords upon each other; and had, but for the ninth. One Sirpicus, a Centurion, was the subject of the quarrel: him the eighth required to be put to death; the fifteenth protected him; but the ninth interposed with entreaties to both, and with threats to those who would not listen to prayers.
Tiberius, however close and impenetrable, and ever labouring to smother all melancholy tidings, was yet driven by those from Pannonia, to dispatch his son Drusus thither, accompanied by the principal nobility, and guarded by two Prætorian cohorts; but charged with no precise instructions, only to adapt his measures to the present exigency. The cohorts were strengthened with an extraordinary addition of chosen men, with the greatest part of the Prætorian horse, and main body of the German, then the Emperor’s guards. Ælius Sejanus, lately joined with his father Strabo in the command of the Prætorian bands, was also sent, not only as governor to the young Prince, but, as his credit with the Emperor was known to be mighty, to deal with the revolters by promises and terrors. When Drusus approached, the Legions, for shew of respect, marched out to meet him, not with the usual symptoms and shouts of joy, nor with gay ensigns and arms glittering, but in a dress and accountrements hideous and squalid. In their countenances too, though composed to sadness, were seen greater marks of sullenness and contumacy.
As soon as he was within the camp, they secured the entrances with guards, and in several quarters of it placed parties upon duty. The rest crouded about the Tribunal of Drusus, who stood beckoning with his hand for silence. Here, as often as they surveyed their own numbers, and met one another’s resentful looks, they uttered their rage in horrible cries: Again, when they beheld Cæsar upon the Tribunal, awe and trembling seized them. Now, there prevailed an hollow and inarticulate murmur; next, a furious clamour; then, suddenly, a dead silence. So that, by a hasty succession of opposite passions, they were at once dismayed and dreadful. When, at last, the uproar was staid, he read his father’s letters, who in them declared, “that he would take an affectionate care of the brave and invincible legions, by whom he had sustained successfully so many wars; and, as soon as his grief was a little abated, deal with the Senate about their demands; in the mean time he had sent them his son, on purpose to make them forthwith all the concessions, which could instantly be made them: the rest were to be reserved for the Senate, the proper distributors of rewards and punishments by a right altogether unalienable.”
The assembly answered, that to Julius Clemens they had intrusted what to speak in their name: he began with their demands, “to be discharged after sixteen years service, to have the reward which, for past services upon that discharge, they claimed; their pay to be increased to a Roman Denarius; the veterans to be no longer detained under their ensigns.” When Drusus urged, that wholly in the judgment of the Senate and his father these matters rested; he was interrupted by their clamours: “To what purpose came he; since he could neither augment their pay, nor alleviate their grievances? and while every officer was allowed to inflict upon them blows and death, the son of their Emperor wanted power to relieve them by one beneficent action. This was the policy of the late reign, when Tiberius frustrated every request of the soldiers, by referring all to Augustus; now Drusus was come, with the same artifices to delude them. Were they never to have a higher visit than from the children of their Prince? It was, indeed, unaccountable, that to the Senate the Emperor should leave no part in the direction of the army, only the rewarding of the soldiery. Ought not the same Senate to be consulted as often as a battle was to be fought, or a private man to be punished? or, were their recompences to be adjudged by many masters, but their punishments to remain without any restraint or moderator whatsoever?”
At last, they abandoned the Tribunal, and with menaces and insults fell upon all they met, belonging to Drusus either as guards or friends; meditating thus to provoke a quarrel, and an introduction to blood. Chiefly enraged they were against Cneius Lentulus, as one, for years and warlike renown, superior to any about the person of Drusus, and thence suspected to have hardened the Prince, and been himself the foremost to despise these outrages in the soldiery. Nor was it long after, that, as he was leaving Drusus, and, from the foresight of danger, returning to the winter quarters, they surrounded him, and demanded, “whither he went? to the Emperor or Senate? there also to exercise his enmity to the legions, and oppose their interest?” and instantly assaulted him with stones. He was already covered with wounds and blood, and awaiting certain assassination, when the troops attending Drusus flew to his assistance, and saved him.
The following night had a formidable aspect, and threatened the speedy eruption of some tragical vengeance, when a phenomenon intervened and asswaged all. The Moon, in the midst of a clear sky, seemed to the soldiers suddenly to sicken; and they who were ignorant of the natural cause, took this for an omen foreboding the issue of their present adventures. To their own labours they compared the eclipse of the planet, and prophesied, “that, if to the distressed Goddess should be restored her wonted brightness and vigour, equally successful would be the issue of these their struggles.” Hence they strove to charm and revive her with sounds, and, by ringing upon brasen metal, and an uproar of trumpets and cornets, made a vehement bellowing. As she appeared brighter or darker, they exulted or lamented: but when gathering clouds had utterly bereft them of her sight, and they believed her now buried in everlasting darkness; then, as minds once throughly dismayed are pliant to superstition, they bewailed “their own eternal sufferings thus portended, and that against their misdeeds the angry deities were contending.” Drusus, who thought it behoved him to improve this disposition of theirs, and to reap the fruits of wisdom from the operations of chance; ordered certain persons to go round, and apply to them from tent to tent. For this purpose, he called and employed the Centurion Julius Clemens, and whoever else were by honest methods acceptable to the multitude. These insinuated themselves every-where, with those who kept watch, or were upon patrol, or guarded the gates, soothing all with hopes, and by terrors rousing them: “How long, said they, shall we hold the son of our Emperor thus besieged? Where will our broils and wild contentions end? Shall we swear allegiance to Percennius and Vibulenus? Will Vibulenus and Percennius support us with pay during our service, and reward us with lands when dismissed? In short, shall two common men dispossess the Neros and the Drusi, and to themselves assume the Empire of the Roman people? Let us be wiser; and as we were the last to revolt, be the first to relent. Such demands as comprize terms for all, are ever slowly accorded: but particulars may, when they please, merit instant favour, and instantly receive it.” These reasonings alarmed them, and filled them with mutual jealousies. Presently the fresh soldiers forsook the Veterans, one Legion separated from another; then by degrees returned the love of duty and obedience. They relinquished the guard of the gates; and the Eagles and other ensigns, which in the beginning of the tumult they had thrown together, were now restored each to its distinct station.
Drusus, as soon as it was day, summoned an assembly, and though unskilled in speaking, yet with a haughtiness inherent in his blood, rebuked their past, and commended their present behaviour: “With threats and terrors, he said, it was impossible to subdue him; but if he saw them reclaimed to submission, if from them he heard the language of supplicants, he would send to his father to accept with a reconciled spirit the petitions of the Legions.” Hence, at their entreaty, for their deputy to Tiberius, the same Blesus was again dispatched, and with him Lucius Apronius, a Roman Knight, and intimate companion of Drusus, and Justus Catonius, a Centurion of the first order. There followed great debates in the council of Drusus, while some advised “to suspend all proceeding till the return of the deputies, and by a course of courtesy the while to sooth the soldiers; others maintained, that remedies more potent must needs be applied: in a multitude was to be found nothing on this side extremes; always imperious where they are not awed, and to be despised without danger when frightened. To their present terror from superstition was to be added the dread of their General, by his dooming to death the authors of the sedition.” Rather prompt to rigorous counsels was the genius of Drusus. Vibulenus and Percennius were produced, and by his command executed. It is by many recounted, that in his own tent they were secretly dispatched and buried; by others, that their bodies were ignominiously thrown over the entrenchments, for a public spectacle of terror.
Search was then made for other remarkable incendiaries. Some were caught skulking without the camp, and there by the Centurions or Prætorian soldiers slain. Others were by their several companies delivered up, as a proof of their own fidelity. The consternation of the soldiers was heightened by the precipitate accession of winter, with rains incessant, and so violent, that they were unable to stir from their tents, or maintain common intercourse, nay scarce to preserve their standards, assaulted continually by tempestuous winds and raging floods. Dread besides of the angry Gods still possessed them; “nor was it at random, they thought, that such profane traitors were thus visited with black eclipses, and roaring tempests; neither against these their calamities was there other relief than the relinquishing of a camp by impiety contaminated and accursed, and, after expiation of their guilt, returning to their several garisons.” The eighth legion departed first; then the fifteenth: the ninth, with earnest clamours, pressed for continuing there till the letters from Tiberius arrived; but when deserted by the other two, their courage failed, and by following of their own accord, they prevented the shame of being forced. Drusus seeing order and tranquillity thus restored, without staying for the return of the Deputies, returned himself to Rome.
Almost at the same time, and from the same causes, the legions in Germany raised an insurrection, with greater numbers, and thence with more fury. Passionate too were their hopes that Germanicus would never brook the rule of another, but yield to the spirit of the legions, who had force sufficient to bring the whole Empire under his sway. Upon the Rhine were two armies; that called the higher, commanded by Caius Silius, Lieutenant-General; the lower, by Aulus Cæcina. The command in chief rested in Germanicus, then busy collecting the tribute in Gaul. The forces however under Silius, with cautious ambiguity, watched the success of the revolt which others began: for the soldiers of the lower army had broken out into open outrages, which began from the fifth legion, and the one and twentieth, who drew after them the first and the twentieth. These were altogether upon the frontiers of the Ubians, passing the campaign in utter idleness, or light duty: so that upon the news that Augustus was dead, the whole swarm of new soldiers lately levied in the city, men accustomed to the effeminacies of Rome, and impatient of every military hardship, began to possess the ignorant minds of the rest with many turbulent expectations, “that now was presented the lucky juncture for Veterans to demand intire dismission; the fresh soldiers, larger pay; and all, some mitigation of their miseries; as also to return due vengeance for the cruelties of the Centurions.” These were not the harangues of a single incendiary, like Percennius amongst the Pannonian legions; nor uttered, as there, in the ears of men, who, while they saw before their eyes armies greater than their own, mutinied with awe and trembling: But here was a sedition of many mouths, filled with many boasts, “that in their hands lay the power and fate of Rome; by their victories the Empire was inlarged, and from them the Cæsars took, as a compliment, the surname of Germanicus.”
Neither did Cæcina strive to restrain them. A madness so extensive had berest him of all his bravery and firmness. In this precipitate frenzy they rushed at once, with swords drawn, upon the Centurions, the eternal objects of their resentment, and always the first victims to their vengeance. Them they dragged to the earth, and upon each bestowed a terrible portion of sixty blows; a number proportioned to that of Centurions in a legion. Then bruised, mangled, and half expiring, as they were, they cast them all out of the camp, some into the stream of the Rhine. Septimius, who had for refuge fled to the tribunal of Cæcina, and lay clasping his feet, was demanded with such imperious vehemence, that he was forced to be surrendered to destruction. Cassius Cherea (afterwards famous to posterity for killing Caligula) then a young man of undaunted spirit, and one of the Centurions, boldly opened himself a passage with his sword through a crowd of armed foes striving to seize him. After this no further authority remained to the Tribunes, none to the Camp-Marshals. The seditious soldiers were their own officers; set the watch, appointed the guard, and gave all orders proper in the present exigency. Hence those who dived deepest into the spirit of the soldiery, gathered a special indication how powerful and obdurate the present insurrection was like to prove; for in their conduct were no marks of a rabble, where every man’s will guides him, or the instigation of a few controuls the whole. Here, all at once they raged, and all at once kept silence; with so much concert and steadiness, that you would have believed them under the sovereign direction of one.
To Germanicus the while, then receiving, as I have said, the tribute in Gaul, news were brought of the decease of Augustus, whose grand-daughter Agrippina he had to wife, and by her many children. He was himself the grandson of Livia, by her son Drusus the brother of Tiberius; but ever under heavy anxiety from the secret hate which his uncle and grandmother bore him; hate the more virulent, as its grounds were altogether unrighteous. For, dear and adored was the memory of his father Drusus amongst the Roman people, and from him was firmly expected, that had he succeeded to the Empire, he would have restored public liberty. Hence their zeal for Germanicus, and of him the same hopes conceived; as from his youth he possessed a popular spirit, and marvellous affability, utterly remote from the comportment and address of Tiberius, ever haughty and mysterious. The animosities too between the ladies administered fresh fuel, while, towards Agrippina, Livia was actuated by the despight natural to step-mothers: and over-tempestuous was the indignation of Agrippina; only that her known chastity, and love for her husband, always gave her mind, however vehement, a virtuous turn.
But Germanicus, the nearer he stood to supreme rule, the more vigour he exerted to secure it to Tiberius; to whom he obliged the Sequanians, a neighbouring people, as also the several Belgic cities, to swear present allegiance; and the moment he learnt the uproar of the legions, posted thither. He found them advanced without the camp to receive him, with eyes cast down, in feigned token of remorse. After he entered the entrenchments, instantly his ears were filled with plaints and grievances, uttered in hideous and mixt clamours. Nay, some catching his hand, as if they meant to kiss it, thrust his fingers into their mouths, to feel their gums destitute of teeth; others shewed their limbs enfeebled, and bodies stooping under old age. As he saw the assembly mixt at random, he commanded them “to range themselves into companies, thence more distinctly to hear his answers; as also to place before them their several Ensigns; that the cohorts at least might be distinguished.” With slowness and reluctance they obeyed him. Then beginning with an encomium upon the “venerable memory of Augustus,” he proceeded to the “many victories and many triumphs of Tiberius, and with peculiar praises celebrated the glorious and immortal deeds, which with these very legions he had accomplished in Germany;” he next boasted the quiet state of things, the consent of all Italy, the loyal faith of both the Gauls; and every quarter of the Roman state exempt from disaffection and disorders.
Thus far they listened with silence, at least with moderate murmuring; but the moment he touched their sedition, and questioned, “where now was the wonted modesty of soldiers? where the glory of ancient discipline? whither had they chased their Tribunes, whither their Centurions?” to a man, they stripped themselves to the skin, and there exposed the seams of their wounds, and bruises of their chastisements, in the rage of reproach. Then in the undistinguished voice of uproar, they urged, “the exactions for occasional exemptions; their scanty pay; and their rigorous labours;” which they represented in a long detail; “ramparts to be reared; entrenchments digged, trees felled and drawn; forage cut and carried; fuel prepared and fetched;” with every other article of toil required by the exigencies of war, or to prevent idleness in the soldiery. Above all, from the Veterans arose a cry most vehement and furious: they enumerated thirty years or upwards undergone in the service, “and besought, that, to men utterly spent, he would administer respite, nor suffer them to be beholden to death for the last relief from their toils; but discharge them from a warfare so lasting and severe, and grant them the means of a comfortable recess.” Nay, some there were who required of him the money bequeathed them by Augustus; and towards Germanicus uttering zealous vows, with omens of happy fortune, declared their cordial attachment to his cause, if he would himself assume the Empire. Here, as if already stained with their treason, he leaped headlong from the Tribunal; but with swords drawn they opposed his departure, and threatened his life, if he refused to return: yet, with passionate protestations, that “he would rather die than be a traitor,” he snatched his sword from his side, and aiming full at his breast, would have buried it there, had not those who were next him seized his hand, and by force restrained him. A cluster of soldiers in the extremity of the assembly, exhorted him, nay, what is incredible to hear, some particulars advancing nearer, exhorted him, to strike home. In truth, one Calusidius, a common soldier, presented him his naked sword, and added, “it is sharper than your own;” a behaviour which to the rest, outrageous as they were, seemed savage, and of horrid example. Hence, the friends of Germanicus had time to snatch him away to his tent.
It was here consulted what remedy to apply; for it was advised, that “ministers of sedition were preparing to be dispatched to the other army, to draw them too into a confederacy in the revolt; that the capital of the Ubians was destined to be sacked; and if their hands were once inured to plunder, they would break in, and ravage all Gaul.” This dread was augmented by another: the enemy knew of the sedition in the Roman army, and were ready to invade the Empire, if its barrier the Rhine were left unguarded. Now, to arm the allies and the auxiliaries of Rome, and lead them against the departing Legions, was to rouse a civil war: severity was dangerous; the way of largesses infamous; and alike threatning it was to the State, to grant the turbulent soldiers nothing, or yield them every thing. After revolving every reason and objection, the result was, to feign letters and directions from Tiberius, “that those who had served twenty years should be finally discharged; such as had served sixteen be under the ensign and privilege of Veterans, released from every duty, but that of repulsing the enemy; and the legacy which they demanded, should be paid and doubled.”
The soldiers, who perceived, that, purely to evade present difficulty, the concessions were forged, insisted to have them forthwith executed; and instantly the Tribunes dispatched the discharge of the Veterans. That of the money was adjourned to their several winter-quarters: but the fifth Legion, and the one and twentieth, refused to stir, till in that very camp they were paid; so that out of the money reserved by himself and his friends for travelling expences, Germanicus was obliged to raise the sum. Cæcina, Lieutenant-General, led the first Legion and twentieth, back to the capital of the Ubians; an infamous march, when the plunder of their General’s coffers was carried amidst the Ensigns and Roman Eagles. Germanicus, the while, proceeding to the army in higher Germany, brought the second, thirteenth and sixteenth Legions to swear allegiance without hesitation: to the fourteenth, who manifested some short suspense, he made, unasked, a tender of their money, and a present discharge.
But a party of Veterans which belonged to the disorderly Legions, and then in garison among the Chaucians, as they began a sedition there, were somewhat quelled by the instant execution of two of their body; an execution commanded by Mennius, Camp-Marshal, and rather of good example, than done by competent authority. The tumult however swelling again with fresh rage, he fled, but was discovered; so that, finding no safety in lurking, from his own bravery he drew his defence, and declared, “that to himself, who was only their Camp-Marshal, these their outrages were not done, but done to the authority of Germanicus their General, to the Majesty of Tiberius their Emperor.” At the same time, braving and dismaying all that would have stopped him, he fiercely snatched the colours, faced about towards the Rhine, and, pronouncing the doom of traitors and deserters to every man who forsook his ranks, brought them back to their winter-quarters, mutinous, in truth, but not daring to mutiny.
In the mean time the deputies from the Senate met Germanicus at the altar of the Ubians, whither in his return he was arrived. Two Legions wintered there, the first, and twentieth, with the soldiers lately placed under the standard of Veterans; men already under the distractions of guilt and fear: and now a new terror possessed them, that these Senators were come armed with injunctions to cancel every concession which they had by sedition extorted; and, as it is the custom of the crowd to be ever charging some body with the crimes suggested by their own false alarms, the guilt of this imaginary decree they laid upon Minutius Plancus, a Senator of consular dignity, and at the head of this deputation. In the dead of night, they began to clamour aloud for the purple standard placed in the quarters of Germanicus; and rushing tumultuously to his gate, burst the doors, dragged the Prince out of his bed, and with menaces of present death, compelled him to deliver the standard. Then, as they roved about the camp, they met the Deputies; who having learnt the outrage, were hastening to Germanicus: upon them they poured a deluge of contumelies, and were devoting them to present slaughter; Plancus chiefly, whom the dignity of his character had restrained from flight; nor in this mortal danger had he other refuge than the quarters of the first Legion, where, embracing the Eagle, and other ensigns, he sought sanctuary from the religious veneration ever paid them. But, in spite of religion, had not Calpurnius the Eagle-bearer by force defeated the violent assault, in the Roman camp had been slain an Ambassador of the Roman people, and with his blood the inviolable altars of the Gods had been stained; a barbarity rare even in the camp of an enemy. At last, day returning, when the General, and the soldiers, and their actions could be distinguished, Germanicus entered the camp; and commanding Plancus to be brought, seated him by himself upon the tribunal: he then inveighed against the late “pernicious frenzy, which in it, he said, had fatality, and was rekindled by no despite in the soldiers, but by that of the angry Gods.” He explained the genuine purposes of that Embassy, and lamented with affecting eloquence “the outrage committed upon Plancus, altogether brutal and unprovoked; the foul violence done to the sacred person of an Ambassador, and the mighty disgrace from thence derived upon the Legion.” Yet as the assembly shewed more stupefaction than calmness, he dismissed the Deputies under a guard of auxiliary horse.
During this affright, Germanicus was by all men censured, “that he retired not to the higher army, whence he had been sure of ready obedience, and even of succour against the revolters. Already he had taken wrong measures more than enough, by discharging some, rewarding all, and other tender counsels. If he despised his own safety; yet why expose his infant-son, why his wife big with child, to the fury of outrageous traitors, wantonly violating all the most sacred rights amongst men? It became him at least to restore his wife and son safe to Tiberius, and to the state.” He was long unresolved; besides Agrippina was averse to leave him, and urged that “she was the grand-daughter of Augustus, and it was below her spirit to shrink in a time of danger.” But, embracing her and their little son, with great tenderness and many tears, he prevailed with her to depart. Thus there marched miserably along a band of helpless women; the wife of a great commander fled like a fugitive, and upon her bosom bore her infant-son; about her a troop of other ladies, dragged from their husbands, and drowned in tears, uttering their heavy lamentations. Nor weaker than theirs was the grief felt by all who remained.
These groans and tears, and this spectacle of woe, the appearances rather of a city stormed and sacked, than of a Roman camp, that of Germanicus Cæsar, victorious and flourishing, awakened attention and inquiry in the soldiers: leaving their tents, they cried, “Whence these doleful wailings? what so lamentable! so many ladies of illustrious quality, travelling thus forlorn; not a Centurion to attend them; not a soldier to guard them; their General’s wife amongst them, undistinguished by any mark of her princely dignity; destitute of her ordinary train; frightened from the Roman Legions, and repairing, like an exile, for shelter to Treves, there to commit herself to the faith of foreigners.” Hence shame and commiseration seized them, and the remembrance of her illustrious family, with that of her own virtues; the brave Agrippa her father; the mighty Augustus her grandfather; the amiable Drusus her father-in-law, her self celebrated for a fruitful bed, and of signal chastity: add the consideration of her little son, born in the camp, nursed in the arms of the Legions, and by themselves named Caligula, a military name from the boots which of the same fashion with their own, in compliment to them, and to win their affections, he frequently wore. But nothing so effectually subdued them as their own envy towards the inhabitants of Treves. Hence they all besought, all adjured, that she would return to themselves, and with themselves remain. Thus some stopped Agrippina; but the main body returned with their intreaties to Germanicus; who, as he was yet in the transports of grief and anger, addressed himself on this wise to the surrounding crowd:
“To me neither is my wife or son dearer than my father and the commonwealth. But him doubtless his proper majesty will defend; and the other armies will defend the Roman State. As to my wife and children, whom, for your glory, I could freely sacrifice; I now remove them from your rage, that by my blood alone may be expiated whatever further mischief your fury meditates; and that the murder of the great grandson of Augustus, the murder of the daughter-in-law of Tiberius, may not be added to mine, nor to the blackness of your past guilt. For, during these days of phrensy, what has been too horrid for you to commit? What so sacred that you have not violated? To this audience what name shall I give? Can I call you Soldiers? you who have beset with arms the son of your Emperor, confined him in your trenches, and held him in a siege? Roman citizens can I call you? you who have trampled upon the supreme authority of the Roman Senate? Laws religiously observed by common enemies, you have profaned; violated the sacred privileges and persons of Ambassadors; broken the laws of nations. The deified Julius Cæsar quelled a sedition in his army by a single word; by calling all who refused to follow him, Townsmen. The deified Augustus, when, after the battle of Actium, the Legions lapsed into mutiny, terrified them into submission by the dignity of his presence, and an awful look. These, it is true, are mighty characters, whom I dare not emulate: but, as I inherit their blood, should the armies in Syria and Spain contemn my authority, I should think their behaviour strange and base. Yet you are the first and the twentieth Legions, the former enrolled by Tiberius himself, the other his constant companions in so many battels, his partners in so many victories, and by him enriched with so many bounties! Is this the worthy return you make your Emperor, and late commander? And shall I be the author of such tidings to him, in the midst of congratulations and happy accounts from every province in the Empire, that his own new levies, as well as his own Veterans who long fought under him, these, not appeased by their discharge, and neither of them satiated with the money given them, are both still combined in a furious mutiny? that here, and only here, the Centurions are butchered, the Tribunes driven away, the Ambassadors imprisoned; that with blood the camp is stained; that the rivers flow with blood; and that for me, his son, I hold a precarious life amongst men thus raging and implacable?
“Why did you the other day, oh unseasonable friends! snatch away my sword, when I would have plunged it into my breast? He who offered me his own sword, acted better, and was more my friend. I would then have fallen happy, as my death would have hid from mine eyes so many horrible crimes, since committed by my own army. You too would have chosen another General, who, though he would have left my death unpunished, yet would have sought vengeance for that of Varus, and the three Legions. For the Gods are too just to permit that the Belgians, however generously they offer their service, shall reap the credit and renown of retrieving the glory of the Roman name, and of reducing in behalf of Rome the German nations her foes. I therefore here invoke thy spirit now with the Gods, oh deified Augustus; and thy image interwoven in the ensigns, and thy memory, oh deceased father, to vindicate these Legions from this foul infamy. They already feel the remorses of shame, and a sense of honour. Let them turn the tide of their civil rage to the destruction of their common enemy. And for you, my fellow soldiers, in whom I now behold other countenances, and minds happily changed; if you mean to restore to the Senate its Ambassadors, to your Emperor your sworn obedience, to me my wife and son; fly the company of incendiaries, separate the sober from the seditious. This will be a faithful sign of remorse, this a firm pledge of fidelity.”
These words softened them into supplicants: they confessed that all his reproaches were true; they besought him to punish the guilty and malicious, to pardon the weak and misled, and to lead them against the enemy; to recal his wife, to bring back his son, nor to suffer the fosterling of the Legions to be given in hostage to the Gauls. Against the recalling of Agrippina he alledged the advance of winter, and her approaching delivery; but said, that his son should return, and that to themselves he left to execute what remained further to be executed. Instantly, with changed resentments, they ran, and, seizing the most seditious, dragged them in bonds to Caius Cetronius, commander of the first Legion, who judged and punished them in this manner. The Legions, with their swords drawn, surrounded the Tribunal; from thence the prisoner was by a Tribune exposed to their view, and if they proclaimed him guilty, cast headlong down, and executed even by his fellow-soldiers, who rejoiced in the execution, because by it they thought their own guilt to be expiated: nor did Germanicus restrain them, since on themselves remained the cruelty and reproach of the slaughter committed without any order of his. The Veterans followed the same example of vengeance, and were soon after ordered into Rhetia, in appearance to defend that province against the invading Suevians; in reality, to remove them from a camp, still horrible to their sight, as well in the remedy and punishment, as from the memory of their crime. Germanicus next passed a scrutiny upon the conduct and characters of the Centurions: before him they were cited singly; and each gave account of his name, his company, country, the length of his service, exploits in war, and military presents, if he had been distinguished with any. If the Tribunes, or his Legion, bore testimony of his diligence and integrity, he kept his post; upon concurring complaint of his avarice or cruelty, he was degraded.
Thus were the present commotions appeased; but others as great still subsisted, from the rage and obstinacy of the fifth and twenty-first Legions. They were in winter-quarters sixty miles off, in a place called the Old Camp, and had first began the sedition: nor was there any wickedness so horrid that they had not perpetrated; nay, at this time, neither terrified by the punishment, nor reclaimed by the reformation of their fellow soldiers, they persevered in their fury. Germanicus therefore determined to give them battle, if they persisted in their revolt, and prepared vessels, arms, and troops, to be sent down the Rhine.
Before the issue of the sedition in Illyricum was known at Rome, tidings of the uproar in the German Legions arrived. Hence the city was filled with much terror, and hence against Tiberius many complaints, “that while with feigned consultations and delays he mocked the Senate and People, once the great bodies of the estate, but now bereft of power and armies, the soldiery were in open rebellion, one too mighty and stubborn to be quelled by two Princes so young in years and authority. He ought at first to have gone himself, and awed them with the majesty of imperial power; as doubtless they would have returned to duty, upon the sight of their Emperor, a Prince of consummate experience, the sovereign disposer of rewards and severity. Did Augustus, even under the pressures of old age and infirmities, take so many journies into Germany? and should Tiberius, in the vigour of his life, when the same, or greater occasions called him thither, sit lazily in the Senate, to watch Senators, and cavil at words? He had fully provided for the domestic servitude of Rome; he ought next to cure the licentiousness of the soldiers, to restrain their turbulent spirits, and reconcile them to a life of peace.”
But all these reasonings and reproaches moved not Tiberius. He was determined not to depart from the Capital, the centre of power and affairs, nor expose to chance or peril his person and empire. In truth, many and contrary difficulties pressed and perplexed him: “the German army was the stronger; that of Pannonia nearer; the power of both the Gauls supported the former; the latter was at the gates of Italy. Now, to which should he repair first? and would not the last visited be enraged, by being postponed? But by sending one of his sons to each, the equal treatment of both was maintained; as also the majesty of the supreme power, which from distance ever derived most reverence. Besides, the young Princes would be excused, if to their father they referred such demands as were improper for them to grant; and if they disobeyed Germanicus and Drusus, his own authority remained to appease or punish them. But if once they had contemned their Emperor himself, what other resource was behind?” However, as if he had been upon the point of marching, he chose his attendants, provided his equipage, and prepared a fleet: but by various delays and pretences, sometimes that of the winter, sometimes business, he deceived for a time even the wisest men, much longer the common people, and the provinces for a great while.
Germanicus had already drawn together his army, and was prepared to take vengeance on the seditious: but judging it proper to allow space for trial whether they would follow the lare example, and, consulting their own safety, do justice upon one another; he sent letters to Cæcina, “that he himself approached, with a powerful force; and, if they prevented him not, by executing the guilty, he would put all indifferently to the slaughter.” These letters Cæcina privately read to the principal Officers, and such of the camp as the sedition had not tainted; besought them, “to redeem themselves from death, and all from infamy; urged that in peace alone reason was heard, and merit distinguished; but in the rage of war, the blind steel spared the innocent no more than the guilty.” The Officers having tried those whom they believed for their purpose, and found the majority still to persevere in their duty, settled, in concurrence with the General, the time for falling with the sword upon the most notoriously guilty and turbulent. Upon a particular signal given, they rushed into their tents, and butchered them; void as they were of all apprehension; nor did any but the Centurions and executioners know whence the massacre began, or where it would end.
This had a different face from all the civil slaughters that ever happened: it was a slaughter not of enemies upon enemies, nor from different and opposite camps, nor in a day of battle; but of comrades upon comrades, in the same tents where they eat together by day, where they slept together by night. From this state of intimacy, they fly into mortal enmity; friends launched their darts at friends: wounds, outcries, and blood were open to view; but the cause remained hid: wild chance governed the rest, and several innocents were slain. For the criminals, when they found against whom all this fury was bent, had also betaken themselves to their arms. Neither did Cæcina, nor any of the Tribunes, intervene to stay the rage: so that the soldiers had full permission of vengeance, with a licentiousness and satiety of killing. Germanicus soon after entered the camp now full of blood and carcasses, and, lamenting with many tears, that “this was not a remedy, but cruelty and desolation,” commanded the bodies to be burnt. The minds of the rest, still tempestuous and bloody, were transported with sudden eagerness to attack the foe; as the best expiation of their tragical fury: nor otherwise, they thought, could the ghosts of their butchered brethren be appeased, than by receiving in their own profane breasts a chastisement of honourable wounds. Germanicus fell in with the ardour of the soldiers, and laying a bridge upon the Rhine, marched over twelve thousand Legionary soldiers, twenty-six cohorts of the allies, and eight regiments of horse; men all untainted in the late sedition.
The Germans rejoiced, not far off, at this vacation of war, occasioned first by the death of Augustus, and afterwards by intestine tumults in the camp. But the Romans by a hasty march passed through the Cæsian woods, and levelling the barrier formerly begun by Tiberius, pitched their camp upon it. In the front and rear they were defended by a palisade, on each side by a barricade of the trunks of trees felled. From thence, beginning to traverse gloomy forests, they stopped to consult which of two ways they should chuse, the short and frequented, or the longest and least known, and therefore unsuspected by the foe. The longest way was chosen; but in every thing else dispatch was observed: for, by the scouts, intelligence was brought, that the Germans did, that night, celebrate a festival, with great mirth and revelling. Hence Cæcina was commanded to advance with the cohorts without their baggage, and to clear a passage through the forest: at a moderate distance followed the Legions: the clearness of the night facilitated the march; and they arrived at the villages of the Marsians, which they presently invested with guards. The Germans were even yet under the effects of their debauch, scattered here and there, some in bed, some lying by their tables; no watch placed, no apprehension of an enemy. So utterly had their false security banished all order and care; and they were under no dread of war, without enjoying peace, other than the deceitful and lethargic peace of drunkards.
The Legions were eager for revenge; and Germanicus, to extend their ravage, divided them into four battalions. The country was wasted by fire and sword fifty miles round; nor sex nor age found mercy; places sacred and prophane had the equal lot of destruction, all razed to the ground, and with them the temple of Tanfana, of all others the most celebrated amongst these nations. Nor did all this execution cost the soldiers a wound, while they only slew men half asleep, disarmed, or dispersed. This slaughter roused the Bructerans, the Tubantes, and the Usipetes; and they beset the passes of the forest, through which the army was to return; an event known to Germanicus, and he marched in order of battle: the auxiliary cohorts and part of the horse led the van, followed close by the first Legion; the baggage was in the middle; the twenty-first Legion closed the left wing, and the fifth the right; the twentieth defended the rear; and after them marched the rest of the allies. But the enemy stirred not, till the body of the army was entered the wood: they then began lightly to insult the front and wings; and, at last, with their whole force fell upon the rear. The light cohorts were already disordered by the close German bands, when Germanicus riding up to the twentieth Legion, and exalting his voice; “this was the season, he cried, to obliterate the scandal of sedition: hence they should fall resolutely on, and convert into sudden praise their late shame and offence.” These words inflamed them: at one charge they broke the enemy, drove them out of the wood, and slaughtered them in the plain. In the mean while, the front passed the forest, and fortified the camp. The rest of the march was uninterrupted, and the soldiers, trusting to the merit of their late exploits, and forgetting at once past faults and terrors, were placed in winter-quarters.
The tydings of these exploits affected Tiberius with gladness and anguish. He rejoiced that the sedition was suppressed; but, that Germanicus had, by discharging the Veterans, by shortening the term of service to the rest, and by largesses to all, gained the hearts of the army, as well as earned high glory in war; proved to the Emperor matter of torture. To the Senate, however, he reported the detail of his feats, and upon his valour bestowed copious praises, but in words too pompous and ornamental to be thought dictated by his heart. It was with more brevity that he commended Drusus, and his address in quelling the sedition of Illyricum, but more cordially withal, and in language altogether sincere; and even to the Pannonian Legions he extended all the concessions made by Germanicus to his own.
The same year died Julia, for her lewdness long since banished by her father Augustus into the isle of Pandateria, and afterwards to the city of Rhegium upon the streights of Sicily. Whilst Caius and Lucius, her sons by Agrippa, yet lived, she was given in marriage to Tiberius; and despised him, as a man beneath her. Nor any motive so cogent as this had Tiberius for his retirement to Rhodes. When he came to the empire, she was already under the pressures of infamy and exile, and since the death of Agrippa Posthumus, destitute of all hope and support. Yet such multiplied distresses softened not the Emperor, who, by a long train of miseries, and continued want, caused her finally to perish; as he supposed that in the distance of her banishment her tragical death would remain concealed. From the same root was derived his cruelty to Sempronius Gracchus, the descendent of a family eminently noble, himself of a lively wit and prevailing eloquence, but viciously applied. He, while Julia was yet Agrippa’s wife, had debauched her: neither with Agrippa ended their vicious league; but after she was given to Tiberius, he still persisted her adulterer, and towards her husband inspired her with notable aversion and contumacy: The letters too by her written to her father, full of asperity against Tiberius, and labouring his ruin, were thought to have been composed by Gracchus. He was therefore banished to Cercina, and island in the African sea, where, for fourteen years, he suffered exile. The soldiers dispatched to the assassination found him upon a rising by the shore, to himself presaging nothing joyful from their arrival. Of them he only desired a short respite to send his last will in a letter to Alliaria his wife, and then extended his neck to the sword of the assassins; a constancy in death not unworthy the Sempronian name: in his life he had degenerated. Some authors have related, that these soldiers were not sent directly from Rome, but by Lucius Asprenas, Proconsul of Africa, by the policy and command of Tiberius, who in vain hoped to have cast upon Asprenas the imputation of the murder.
There was likewise this year an admission of new rites, by the establishment of another College of Priests, one sacred to the deity of Augustus; as formerly Titus Tatius, to preserve the religious rites of the Sabines, had founded the fraternity of Titian Priests. To fill the society, one and twenty the most considerable Romans were drawn by lot, and to them were added Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius, and Germanicus. The games in honour of Augustus, began then first to be embroiled by emulation among the players, and by the strife of parties in their behalf. Augustus had countenanced these players, and their art, in complaisance to Mæcenas, who was mad in love with Bathyllus the comedian; nor to such favourite amusements of the populace had he any aversion himself; he rather judged it an acceptable courtesy to mingle with the multitude in these their popular pleasures. Different was the temper of Tiberius, different his politics: to severer manners, however, he durst not yet reduce the people, so many years indulged in licentious gaieties.
In the consulship of Drusus Cæsar and Caius Norbanus, a triumph was decreed to Germanicus, while the war still subsisted. He was preparing with all diligence to prosecute it the following summer; but began much sooner by a sudden irruption early in the spring into the territories of the Cattians; an anticipation of the campaign, which proceeded from the hopes given him of dissension amongst the enemy, caused by the opposite parties of Arminius and Segestes; two men signally known to the Romans upon different accounts; the last for his firm faith, the first for faith violated. Arminius was the incendiary of Germany; but by Segestes had been given repeated warnings of an intended revolt, particularly during the scstival immediately preceding the insurrection. He had even advised Varus, “to secure him and Arminius, and all the other chiefs; for that the multitude, thus bereft of their leaders, would dare to attempt nothing; and Varus have time to distinguish crimes and such as committed none.” But by his own fate, and the sudden violence of Arminius, Varus fell. Segestes, though by the weight and unanimity of his nation, he was forced into the war, yet remained at constant variance with Arminius: a domestic quarrel too heightened their hate; as Arminius had carried away the daughter of Segestes, already betrothed to another; and the same relations which amongst friends prove bonds of tenderness, were fresh stimulations of wrath to an obnoxious son, and an offended father.
Upon these encouragements, Germanicus committed to the command of Cæcina four Legions, five thousand auxiliaries, and some bands of Germans, dwellers on this side the Rhine, drawn suddenly together; he led himself as many Legions, with double the number of allies, and erecting a fort in mount Taunus, upon the old foundations of one raised by his father, rushed full march against the Cattians; having behind him left Lucius Apronius, to secure the ways from the fury of inundations. For, as the roads were then dry, and the rivers low, events in that climate exceedingly rare, he had without check expedited his march, but against his return apprehended the violence of rains and floods. Upon the Cattians he fell with such surprize, that all the weak, through sex or age, were instantly taken or slaughtered. Their youth, by swimming over the Adrana, escaped, and attempted to force the Romans from building a bridge to follow them, but by dint of arrows and engines were repulsed; then having in vain tried to gain terms of peace, some submitted to Germanicus; the rest abandoned their villages and dwellings, and dispersed themselves in the woods. Mattium, the Capital of the nation he burnt, ravaged all the open country, and bent his march to the Rhine: nor durst the enemy harass his rear; an usual practice of theirs, when sometimes they fly more through craft than affright. The Cheruscans indeed were addicted to assist the Cattians, but terrified from attempting it by Cæcina, who moved about with his forces from place to place; and, by routing the Marsians who had dared to engage him, restrained all their efforts.
Soon after arrived deputies from Segestes, praying relief against the combination and violence of his countrymen, by whom he was held besieged; as more powerful amongst them than his was the credit of Arminius, since it was he who had advised the war. This is the genius of Barbarians, to judge that men are to be trusted in proportion as they are fierce, and in public commotions ever to prefer the most resolute. To the other deputies Segestes had added Segimundus his son; but the young man faultered a while, as his own heart accused him; for that, the year when Germany revolted, he who had been by the Romans created Priest of the Altar of the Ubians, rent the sacerdotal Tiara, and fled to the revolters: yet, encouraged by the Roman clemency, he undertook the execution of his father’s orders, was himself graciously received, and then conducted with a guard to the frontiers of Gaul. Germanicus led back his army to the relief of Segestes, and was rewarded with success. He fought the besiegers, and rescued him with a great train of his relations and followers; amongst them too were ladies of illustrious rank, particularly the wife of Arminius, she who was the daughter of Segestes; a lady more of the spirit of her husband than that of her father; a spirit so unsubdued, that from her eyes captivity forced not a tear, nor from her lips a breath in the stile of a supplicant. Not a motion of her hands, nor a look escaped her; but, fast across her breast she held her arms, and upon her heavy womb her eyes were immoveably fixed. There were likewise carried Roman spoils taken at the slaughter of Varus and his army, and then divided as prey amongst many of those who were now prisoners. At the same time, appeared Segestes, of superior stature; and, from a confidence in his good understanding with the Romans, undaunted. In this manner he spoke:
“This is not the first day, that to the Roman people I have approved my faith and adherence. From the moment I was by the deified Augustus presented with the freedom of the city, I have continued by your interest to chuse my friends, by your interest to denominate my enemies; from no hate of mine to my native country (for odious are traitors even to the party which they embrace) but, because the same measures were equally conducing to the benefit of the Romans and of the Germans; and I was for peace rather than war. For this reason I applied to Varus, the then General, with an accusation against Arminius, who from me had ravished my daughter, and with you violated the faith of leagues. But growing impatient with the slowness and inactivity of Varus, and well apprized how little security was to be hoped from the laws, I pressed him to seize myself, and Arminius, and his accomplices; witness that fatal night, to me I wish it had been the last! More to be lamented than defended are the sad events which followed. I moreover cast Arminius into irons, and was myself cast into irons by his faction; and as soon as to you, Cæsar, I could apply, you see I prefer old engagements to present violence; tranquillity to combustions; with no view of my own to interest or reward, but to banish from me the imputation of perfidiousness. For the German nation too, I would thus become a mediator, if peradventure they will chuse rather to repent than be destroyed: for my son I intreat you, have mercy upon his youth, pardon his error. That my daughter is your prisoner by force, I own: in your own breast it wholly lies, under which character you will treat her, whether as one who has conceived by Arminius, or as one by me begotten.” The answer of Germanicus was gracious: he promised indemnity to his children and kindred, and to himself a safe retreat in one of the old provinces; then returned with his army, and, by the direction of Tiberius, received the title of Imperator. The wife of Arminius brought forth a male child, and the boy was brought up at Ravenna. His unhappy conflicts afterwards with the contumelious insults of fortune, will be remembered in their place.
The desertion of Segestes being divulged, with his gracious reception from Germanicus, affected his countrymen variously, with hope or anguish, as they were prone or averse to the war. Naturally violent was the spirit of Arminius, and now, by the captivity of his wife, and by the fate of his child doomed to bondage though yet unborn, enraged even to distraction: he flew about amongst the Cheruscans, calling them to arms; to arm against Segestes, to arm against Germanicus: invectives followed his fury: “A blessed father this Segestes, he cried! a mighty General, this Germanicus! invincible warriors these Romans! so many troops have made prisoner of a woman. It is not thus that I conquer: Before me three Legions fell, and three Lieutenant-Generals. Open and honourable is my method of war, nor waged with bigbellied women, but against men and arms; and treason is none of my weapons. Still to be seen are the Roman standards in the German groves, there by me hung up, and devoted to our country Gods. Let Segestes live a slave in a conquered province; let him recover to his Son a foreign Priesthood: With the German nations he can never obliterate his reproach, that through him they have seen, between the Elb and Rhine, rods and axes, and the Roman Toga. To other Nations, who know not the Roman domination, executions and tributes are also unknown; evils which we too have cast off, in spite of that Augustus now dead, and enrolled with the deities, in spite too of Tiberius his chosen successor. Let us not, after this, dread a mutinous army, and a boy without experience, their commander: but, if you love your country, your kindred, your ancient liberty and laws, better than tyrants and new colonies, let Arminius rather lead you to liberty and glory, than the wicked Segestes to the infamy of bondage.”
By these stimulations, not the Cheruscans only were rouzed, but all the neighbouring nations; and into the confederacy was drawn Inguiomerus, paternal uncle to Arminius, a man long since in high credit with the Romans. Hence a new source of fear to Germanicus, who, to avoid the shock of their whole forces, and to divert the enemy, sent Cæcina with forty Roman cohorts to the river Amisia, through the territories of the Bructerians. Pedo the Prefect led the cavalry by the confines of the Frisians. He himself embarked four Legions on the lake: and upon the bank of the said river the whole body met, foot, horse, and the fleet. The Chaucians, upon offering their assistance, were taken into the service; but the Bructerians, setting fire to their effects and dwellings, were routed by Stertinius, by Germanicus dispatched against them with a band lightly armed. As this party were engaged between slaughter and plunder, he found the Eagle of the nineteenth Legion, lost in the overthrow of Varus. The army marched next to the furthest borders of the Bructerians, and the whole country between the rivers Amisia and Luppia, was laid waste. Not far hence lay the forest of Teutoburgium, and in it the bones of Varus and the Legions, by report still unburied. Hence Germanicus became inspired with a tender passion to pay the last offices to the Legions and their leader: The like tenderness also affected the whole army. They were moved with compassion, some for the fate of their friends, others for that of their relations, here tragically slain: They were struck with the doleful casualties of war, and the sad lot of humanity. Cæcina was sent before to examine the gloomy recesses of the forest, to lay bridges over the pools, and, upon the deceitful marshes, causways. The army entered the doleful solitude, hideous to sight, hideous to memory. First they saw the camp of Varus, wide in circumference; and the three distinct spaces allotted to the different Eagles, shewed the number of the Legions. Further they beheld the ruinous entrenchment, and the ditch nigh choaked up; in it the remains of the army were supposed to have made their last effort, and in it to have found their graves. In the open fields lay their bones all bleached and bare, some separate, some on heaps, just as they had happened to fall, flying for their lives, or resisting unto death. Here were scattered the limbs of horses, there pieces of broken javelins; and the trunks of trees bore the skulls of men. In the adjacent groves were the savage altars; where the Barbarians had made a horrible immolation of the Tribunes and principal Centurions. Those who survived the slaughter, having escaped from captivity and the sword, related the sad particulars to the rest: “Here the commanders of the Legions were slain: There we lost the Eagles: Here Varus had his first wound; there he gave himself another, and perished by his own unhappy hand. In that place too stood the tribunal whence Arminius harangued: In this quarter, for the execution of his captives, he erected so many gibbets; in that such a number of funeral trenches were digged; and with these circumstances of pride and despight he insulted the ensigns and Eagles.”
Thus the Roman army buried the bones of the three Legions, six years after the slaughter; nor could any one distinguish, whether he gathered the particular remains of a stranger, or those of a kinsman: But all considered the whole as their friends, the whole as their relations, with heightened resentments against the foe, at once sad and revengeful. In this pious office, so acceptable to the dead, Germanicus was a partner in the woe of the living; and upon the common tomb laid the first sod: a proceeding not liked by Tiberius; whether it were that upon every action of Germanicus he put a perverse meaning, or believed that the affecting spectacle of the unburied slain, would sink the spirit of the army, and heighten their terror of the enemy; as also that “a General vested, as Augur, with the intendency of religious rites, became defiled by assisting at the solemnities of the dead.”
Arminius retiring into desart and pathless places, was pursued by Germanicus; who, as soon as he reached him, commanded the horse to advance, and dislodge the enemy from the post they had possessed. Arminius, having directed his men to keep close together, and draw near to the woods, wheeled suddenly about, and to those whom he had hid in the forest, gave the signal to rush out. The Roman horse, now engaged by a new army, became disordered, and to their relief some cohorts were sent, but likewise broken by the press of those that fled; and great was the consternation so many ways increased. The enemy too were already pushing them into the morass; a place well known to the pursuers, as to the unapprized Romans it had proved pernicious, had not Germanicus drawn out the Legions in order of battle. Hence the enemy became terrified, our men reassured, and both retired with equal loss and advantage. Germanicus presently after returning with the army to the river Amisia, reconducted the Legions, as he had brought them, in the fleet. Part of the horse were ordered to march along the sea-shore to the Rhine. Cæcina, who led his own men, was warned, that though he was to return through known roads, yet he should with all speed pass the causway, called The Long Bridges. It is a narrow track, between vast marshes, and formerly raised by Lucius Domitius. The marshes themselves are of an uncertain soil, here full of mud, there of heavy sticking clay, or traversed with various currents. Round about are woods which rise gently from the plain, and were already filled with soldiers by Arminius, who, by shorter ways, and a running march, had arrived there before our men, who were loaded with arms and baggage. Cæcina, who was perplexed how at once to repair the causway decayed by time, and to repulse the foe, resolved at last to encamp in the place, that whilst some were employed in the work, others might maintain the fight.
The Barbarians strove violently to break our station, and to fall upon the entrenchers; harassed our men, assaulted the works, changed their attacks, and pushed every-where. With the shouts of the assailants the cries of the workmen were confusedly mixed; and all things equally combined to distress the Romans; the place deep with ouze sinking under those who stood, slippery to such as advanced, their armour heavy, the waters deep, nor in them could they launch their javelins. The Cheruscans, on the contrary, were inured to encounters in the bogs; their persons tall, their spears long, such as could wound at a distance. At last the Legions, already yielding, were by night redeemed from an unequal combat; but night interrupted not the activity of the Germans, become by success indefatigable. Without refreshing themselves with sleep, they diverted all the courses of the springs which rise in the neighbouring mountains, and turned them into the plains; thus the Roman camp was flooded, the work, as far as they had carried it, overturned, and the labour of the poor soldiers renewed and doubled. To Cæcina this year proved the fortieth of his sustaining as officer or soldier the functions of arms; a man in all the vicissitudes of war, prosperous or disastrous, well experienced, and thence undaunted. Weighing therefore with himself all probable events and expedients, he could devise no other than that of restraining the enemy to the woods, till he had sent forward the wounded men and baggage; for from the mountains to the marshes there stretched a plain, fit only to hold a little army. To this purpose the Legions were thus appointed; the fifth had the right wing, and the one and twentieth the left; the first led the van; the twentieth defended the rear.
A restless night it was to both armies, but in different ways: the Barbarians feasted and caroused; and with songs of triumph, or with horrid and threatning cries, filled all the plain and echoing woods. Amongst the Romans were feeble fires, sad silence, or broken words; they leaned drooping here and there against the pales, or wandered disconsolately about the tents, like men without sleep, but not quite awake. A frightful dream too terrified the General; he thought he heard and saw Quinctilius Varus, rising out of the marsh, all besmeared with blood, stretching forth his hand, and calling upon him; but that he rejected the call, and pushed him away. At break of day, the Legions, posted on the wings, through contumacy or affright, deserted their stations, and took sudden possession of a field beyond the bogs; neither did Arminius fall straight upon them, however open they lay to his assault: but, when he perceived the baggage set fast in mire and ditches; the soldiers about it disorderly and embarassed; the ranks and ensigns in confusion; and, as usual in a time of distress, every one in haste to save himself, but slow to obey his officer; he then commanded his Germans to break in: “Behold, he vehemently cried, behold again Varus and his Legions, subdued by the same fate!” Thus he cried, and at the same time, with a select body, broke quite through our forces; and chiefly against the horse directed his havock: so that the ground becoming slippery, by their blood and the slime of the marsh, their feet flew from them, and they cast their riders; then galloping and stumbling amongst the ranks, they overthrew all they met, and trod to death all they overthrew. The greatest difficulty was, to maintain the Eagles; a storm of darts made it impossible to advance them, and the rotten ground impossible to fix them. Cæcina, while he sustained the fight, had his horse shot, and having fallen, was nigh taken; but the first Legion saved him. Our relief came from the greediness of the enemy, who ceased slaying, to seize the spoil. Hence the Legions had respite to struggle into the fair field, and firm ground: nor was here an end to their miseries; a palisade was to be raised, an entrenchment digged; their instruments too, for throwing up and carrying earth, and their tools for cutting turf, were almost all lost; no tents for the soldiers; no remedies for the wounded; and their food all defiled with mire or blood; as they shared it in sadness amongst them, they lamented that mournful night, they lamented the approaching day, to so many thousand men the last.
It happened that a horse, which had broke his collar, as he strayed about, became frightened with noise, and ran over some that were in his way: this raised such a consternation in the camp, from a persuasion that the Germans in a body had forced an entrance, that all rushed to the gates, especially to the postern, as the furthest from the foe, and safer for flight. Cæcina, having found the vanity of their dread, but unable to stop them, either by his authority, or by his prayers, or indeed by force, flung himself, at last, cross the gate. This prevailed; their awe and tenderness of their General, restrained them from running over his body; and the Tribunes and Centurions satisfied them the while that it was a false alarm.
Then, calling them together, and desiring them to hear him with silence, he minded them of their difficulties, and how to conquer them: “that for their lives they must be indebted to their arms, but force was to be tempered with art; they must therefore keep close within their camp, till the enemy, in hopes of taking it by storm, advanced; then make a sudden sally on every side; and by this push they should break through the enemy, and reach the Rhine; but, if they fled, more forests remained to be traversed, deeper marshes to be passed, and the cruelty of a pursuing foe to be sustained.” He laid before them the motives and fruits of victory, public rewards and glory, with every tender domestic consideration, as well as those of military exploits and praise. Of their dangers and sufferings he said nothing. He next distributed horses, first his own, then those of the Tribunes and leaders of the Legions, to the bravest soldiers impartially; that thus mounted they might begin the charge, followed by the foot.
Amongst the Germans, there was not less agitation, from hopes of victory, greediness of spoil, and the opposite counsels of their leaders. Arminius proposed, “to let the Romans march off, and to beset them in their march, when engaged in bogs and fastnesses.” The advice of Inguiomerus was fiercer, and thence more applauded by the Barbarians: he declared “for forcing the camp; for that the victory would be quick, there would be more captives, and intire plunder.” As soon therefore as it was light, they rushed out upon the camp, cast hurdles into the ditch, attacked and grappled the palisade: Upon it, few soldiers appeared, and these seemed frozen with fear: but as the enemy in swarms were climbing the ramparts, the signal was given to the cohorts; the cornets and trumpets sounded, and instantly, with shouts and impetuosity, they issued out, and begirt the assailants; “Here are no thickets, they scornfully cried; no bogs; but an equal field, and impartial Gods.” The enemy, who imagined few Romans remaining, fewer arms, and an easy conquest, were struck with the sounding trumpets, with the glittering armour; and every object of terror appeared double to them who expected none. They fell like men who, as they are void of moderation in prosperity, are also destitute of conduct in distress. Arminius forsook the fight unhurt; Inguiomerus grievously wounded: their men were slaughtered as long as day and rage lasted. In the evening the Legions returned, in the same want of provisions, and with more wounds: but in victory they found all things, health, vigour, and abundance.
In the mean time, a report had flown, that the Roman forces were routed, and an army of Germans upon full march, to invade Gaul: so that under the terror of this news there were those, whose cowardice would have emboldened them to have demolished the bridge upon the Rhine, had not Agrippina restrained them from that infamous attempt. In truth, such was the undaunted spirit of the woman, that at this time she performed all the duties of a General, relieved the necessitous soldiers, upon the wounded bestowed medicines, and upon others cloaths. Caius Plinius, the writer of the German Wars, relates, that she stood at the end of the bridge, as the Legions returned, and accosted them with thanks and praises; a behaviour which sunk deep into the spirit of Tiberius; “for that all this officiousness of hers, he thought, could not be upright; nor that it was against foreigners only she engaged the army: to the direction of the Generals nothing was now left, when a woman reviewed the companies, attended the Eagles, and to the men distributed largesses, as if before she had shewn but small tokens of ambitious designs, in carrying her child (the son of the General) in a soldier’s coat about the camp, with the title of Cæsar Caligula. Already in greater credit with the army was Agrippina than the leaders of the Legions, in greater than their Generals, and a woman had suppressed sedition, which the authority of the Emperor was not able to restrain.” These jealousies were inflamed, and more were added by Sejanus; one who was well skilled in the temper of Tiberius, and purposely furnished him with sources of hatred, to lie hid in his heart, and be discharged with increase hereafter.
Germanicus, in order to lighten the ships in which he had embarked his men, and fit their burden to the ebbs and shallows, delivered the second and fourteenth Legions to Publius Vitellius, to lead them by land. Vitellius, at first, had an easy march on dry ground, or ground moderately overflowed by the tide; when suddenly the fury of the north wind swelling the ocean (a constant effect of the equinox) the Legions were surrounded and tossed with the tide, and the land was all on flood; the sea, the shore, the fields, had the same tempestuous face; no distinction of depths from shallows; none of firm from deceitful footing; they were overturned by the billows; swallowed down by the eddies; and horses, baggage, and drowned men encountered each other, and floated together. The several companies were mixed at random by the waves; they waded now breast-high; now up to their chin; and as the ground failed them, they fell, some never more to rise. Their cries and mutual encouragements availed them nothing against the prevailing and inexorable waves; no difference between the coward and the brave, the wise and the foolish; none between circumspection and chance; but all were equally involved in the invincible violence of the flood. Vitellius, at length, struggling into an eminence, drew the Legions thither, where they passed the cold night without fire, and destitute of every convenience; most of them naked, or lamed; not less miserable than men inclosed by an enemy: for even to such remained the consolation of an honourable death; but here was destruction, every way void of glory. The land returned with the day, and they marched to the river Vidrus, whither Germanicus had gone with the fleet. There the two Legions were again embarked, when fame had given them for drowned; nor was their escape believed, till Germanicus and the army were seen to return.
Stertinius, who in the mean while had been sent before to receive Segimerus, the brother of Segestes (a Prince willing to surrender himself) brought him and his son to the city of the Ubians: both were pardoned; the father freely, the son with more difficulty; because he was said to have insulted the corps of Varus. For the rest, Spain, Italy, and both the Gauls strove with emulation to supply the losses of the army; and offered arms, horses, money, according as each abounded. Germanicus applauded their zeal; but accepted only the horses and arms, for the service of the war: with his own money he relieved the necessities of the soldiers; and to soften also by his kindness the memory of the late havock, he visited the wounded, extolled the exploits of particulars, viewed their wounds; with hopes encouraged some; with a sense of glory animated others; and by affability and tenderness confirmed them all in devotion to himself, and to his fortune in war.
The ornaments of triumph were this year decreed to Aulus Cæcina, Lucius Apronius, and Caius Silius, for their services under Germanicus. The title of Father of his Country, so often offered by the People to Tiberius, was rejected by him: nor would he permit swearing upon his acts, though the same was voted by the Senate. Against it he urged “the instability of all mortal things; and that the higher he was raised, the more slippery he stood:” but for all this ostentation of a popular spirit, he acquired not the reputation of possessing it. For he had revived the law concerning violated majesty; a law which, in the days of our ancestors, had indeed the same name, but implied different arraignments and crimes, namely those against the State; as when an army was betrayed abroad, when seditions were raised at home; in short, when the public was faithlesly administered, and the majesty of the Roman people was debased. These were actions, and actions were punished, but words were free. Augustus was the first who brought libels under the penalties of this wrested law, incensed as he was by the insolence of Cassius Severus, who had in his writings wantonly defamed men and ladies of illustrious quality. Tiberius too, afterwards, when Pompeius Macer, the Prætor, consulted him, “whether process should be granted upon this law?” answered, “that the laws must be executed.” He also was exasperated by satirical verses written by unknown authors, and dispersed; exposing his cruelty, his pride, and his mind unnaturally alienated from his mother.
It will be worth while to relate here the pretended crimes charged upon Falanius and Rubrius, two Roman Knights of small fortunes; that hence may be seen from what beginnings, and by how much dark art of Tiberius, this grievous mischief crept in; how it was again restrained a ; how at last it blazed out and consumed all things b . To Falanius was objected by his accusers, that “amongst the adorers of Augustus, who went in fraternities from house to house, he had admitted one Cassius, a mimic and prostitute; and having sold his gardens, had likewise with them sold the statue of Augustus.” The crime imputed to Rubrius was, “that he had sworn falsly by the divinity of Augustus.” When these accusations were known to Tiberius, he wrote to the Consuls, “that Heaven was not therefore decreed to his father, that the worship of him might be a snare to the citizens of Rome; that Cassius the player was wont to assist with others of his profession at the interludes consecrated by his mother to the memory of Augustus: neither did it affect religion, that his effigies, like other images of the Gods, was comprehended in the sale of houses and gardens. As to the false swearing by his name, it was to be deemed the same as if Rubrius had profaned the name of Jupiter; but to the Gods belonged the avenging of injuries done to the Gods.”
Not long after, Granius Marcellus, Prætor of Bithynia, was charged with high treason by his own Quæstor Cepio Crispinus; Romanus Hispo, the pleader, supporting the charge. This Cepio began a course of life, which, through the miseries of the times and the bold wickedness of men, became afterwards famous. At first, needy and obscure, but of busy spirit, he made court to the cruelty of the Prince by occult informations; and presently, as an open accuser, grew terrible to every distinguished Roman. This procured him credit with one, hatred from all, and made a precedent, to be followed by others, who from poverty became rich; from being contemned, dreadful; and in the destruction which they brought upon others, found at last their own. He accused Marcellus of “malignant words concerning Tiberius;” an inevitable crime! when the accuser, collecting all the most detestable parts of the Prince’s character, alledged them as the expressions of the accused: for, because they were true, they were believed to have been spoken. To this Hispo added, “that the statue of Marcellus was by him placed higher than those of the Cæsars; and that, having cut off the head of Augustus, he had in the room of it set the head of Tiberius.” This enraged him so, that breaking silence, he cried, “he would himself, in this cause, give his vote explicitly, and under the tye of an oath.” By this he meant to force the assent of the rest of the Senate. There remained even then some faint traces of expiring liberty. Hence Cneius Piso asked him; “In what place, Cæsar, will you chuse to give your opinion? If first, I shall have your example to follow: if last, I fear I may ignorantly dissent from you.” The words pierced him, but he bore them, the rather as he was ashamed of his unwary transport; and he suffered the accused to be acquitted of high treason. To try him for the public money, was referred to the proper judges.
Nor sufficed it Tiberius to assist in the deliberations of the Senate only: he likewise sate in the seats of justice; but always on one side, because he would not dispossess the Prætor of his chair; and by his presence there, many ordinances were established against the intrigues and solicitations of the grandees. But while private justice was thus promoted, public liberty was likewise overthrown. About this time Pius Aurelius the Senator, whose house, yielding to the pressure of the public road and aqueducts, had fallen, complained to the Senate, and prayed relief; a suit opposed by the Prætors who managed the treasury: but he was relieved by Tiberius, who ordered him the price of his house; for he was fond of being liberal upon honest occasions; a virtue which he long retained, even after he had utterly abandoned all other virtues. Upon Propertius Celer, once Prætor, but now desiring leave to resign the dignity of Senator, as a burden to his poverty, he bestowed a thousand great sesterces * , upon ample information that Celer’s necessities were derived from his father. Others, who attempted the same thing, he ordered to lay their condition before the Senate; and from an affectation of severity, was thus austere, even where he acted with uprightness. Hence the rest preferred poverty and silence to begging and relief.
The same year the Tiber, being swelled with continual rains, overflowed the level parts of the city; and the common destruction of men and houses followed the returning flood. Hence Asinius Gallus moved, “that the Sibylline Books might be consulted.” Tiberius opposed it, equally smothering all inquiries whatsoever, whether into matters human or divine. To Ateius Capito, however, and Lucius Arruntius, was committed the care of restraining the river within its banks. The provinces of Achaia and Macedon, praying relief from their public burdens, were for the present discharged of their proconsular government, and subjected to the Emperor’s Lieutenants. In the entertainment of gladiators at Rome, Drusus presided: it was exhibited in the name of Germanicus, and his own; and at it he manifested too much lust of blood, even of the blood of slaves: a quality terrible to the populace; and hence his father was said to have reproved him. His own absence from these shews, was variously construed; by some ascribed to his impatience of a crowd; by others to his reserved and solitary genius, and his fear of an unequal comparison with Augustus, who was wont to be a chearful spectator there. But, that he thus purposely furnished matter for exposing the cruelty of his son there, and for raising him popular hate, is what I would not believe; though this too was asserted.
The dissensions of the theatre, begun last year, broke out now more violently, with the flaughter of several, not of the people only, but of the soldiers, with that of a Centurion: nay, a Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort was wounded, whilst they were securing the magistrates from insults, and quelling the licentiousness of the rabble. This riot was canvassed in the Senate, and votes were passing for impowering the Prætors to whip the players. Haterius Agrippa, Tribune of the People, opposed it; and was sharply reprimanded by a speech of Asinius Gallus. Tiberius was silent, and to the Senate allowed these empty apparitions of liberty. The opposition, however, prevailed, in reverence to the authority of Augustus, who, upon a certain occasion, had given his judgment, “that players were exempt from stripes:” nor would Tiberius assume to violate any words of his. To limit the wages of players, and restrain the licentiousness of their partizans, many decrees were made: the most remarkable were, “that no Senator should enter the house of a Pantomime; no Roman Knight attend them abroad; they should shew no where but in the theatre; and the Prætors should have power to punish with exile any insolence in the spectators.”
The Spaniards were, upon their petition, permitted to build a temple to Augustus, in the colony of Terragon; an example for all the provinces to follow. In answer to the People, who prayed to be relieved from the Centesima, a tax of one in the hundred, established at the end of the civil wars, upon all vendible commodities; Tiberius by an edict declared, “that upon this tax depended the fund for maintaining the army: Nor even thus was the Commonwealth equal to the expence, if the Veterans were dismissed before their twentieth year.” So that the concessions made them during the late sedition, to discharge them finally at the end of sixteen years, as they were made through necessity, were for the future abolished.
It was next proposed to the Senate, by Arruntius and Ateius, whether, in order to restrain the overflowing of the Tiber, the channels of the several rivers and lakes by which it was swelled, must not be diverted? Upon this question the deputies of several cities and colonies were heard. The Florentines besought, “that the bed of the Clanis might not be turned into their river Arnus; for that the same would prove their utter ruin.” The like plea was urged by the Interamnates; “since the most fruitful plains in Italy would be lost, if, according to the project, the Nar, branched out into rivulets, overflowed them.” Nor were the Reatinians less earnest against, stopping the outlets of the lake Velinus into the Nar; “otherwise, they said, it would break over its banks, and stagnate all the adjacent country: the direction of nature was best in all natural things: it was she that had appointed to rivers their courses and discharges, and set them their limits as well as their sources. Regard too was to be paid to the religion of our Latin allies, who, esteeming the rivers of their country sacred, had to them dedicated priests, and altars, and groves. Nay, the Tiber himself, when bereft of his auxiliary streams, would flow with diminished grandeur.” Now, whether it were that the prayers of the colonies, or the difficulty of the work, or the influence of superstition prevailed; it is certain, the opinion of Piso was followed, that nothing should be altered.
To Poppeus Sabinus was continued his province of Mœsia; and to it was added that of Achaia and Macedon. This too was part of the politics of Tiberius, to prolong governments, and maintain the same men in the same armies, or civil employments, for the most part, to the end of their lives; with what view, is not agreed. Some think, “that from an impatience of returning cares, he was for making, whatever he once liked, perpetual.” Others, “that from the malignity of his invidious nature, he regretted the preferring of many.” There are some who believe, “that as he had a crafty penetrating spirit, so he had an understanding ever irresolute and perplexed.” So much is certain, that he never courted any eminent virtue, yet hated vice: from the best men he dreaded danger to himself; and disgrace to the public from the worst. This hesitation mastered him so much at last, that he committed foreign governments to some, whom he meant never to suffer to leave Rome.
Concerning the management of consular elections, either then, or afterwards, under Tiberius, I can affirm scarce any thing: such is the variance about it, not only amongst historians, but even in his own speeches. Sometimes, not naming the candidates, he described them by their family, by their life and manners, and by the number of their campaigns; so as it might be apparent whom he meant. Again, avoiding even to describe them, he exhorted the candidates, not to disturb the election by their intrigues, and promised himself to take care of their interests. But chiefly, he used to declare, “that to him none had signified their pretensions, but such whose names he had delivered to the Consuls; others too were at liberty to offer the like pretensions, if they trusted to the favour of the Senate, or their own merits.” Specious words! but intirely empty, or full of fraud; and, by how much they were covered with the greater guise of liberty, by so much threatning a more hasty and devouring bondage.
Commotions in the East. Venones King of the Parthians, his expulsion by Artabanus, and flight to Armenia, where he is chosen King, but dethroned by Silanus at the motion of Artabanus. Tiberius designs to send Germanicus to the East, under feigned pretences. The exploits of the latter in Germany; he builds a fleet, defeats and ravages many nations there; and routs Arminius in a great battle. The misfortune of his fleet in a tempest. The remarkable accusation, trial, and violent death of Libo Drusus, charged with designs against the state. The poverty of M. Hortalus, grandson of the famous orator Hortensius; he applies for relief to the Senate; Tiberius opposes him, but complies with the inclination of the Fathers to assist him. A counterfeit Agrippa Postumus raises great alarms, but is detected to have been one of his slaves, and put to death. The triumph of Germanicus over several nations in Germany. The story and death of King Archelaus: His Kingdom reduced into a Roman Province. The contumacious behaviour of Cneius Piso and his wife Plancina to Germanicus in the East, supposed to be encouraged by Tiberius and his mother. Drusus, the Emperor’s son, sent into Illyricum, and why. A great battle between Arminius and Maroboduus, two German Chiefs: The former conquers. Twelve noble cities in Asia destroyed by an earthquake. Tacfarinas, first a common soldier, then a robber, raises a war in Africa. The success of Camillus, the Proconsul, against him. Germanicus enters Armenia, and establishes Zeno King there. Drusus encourages dissensions amongst the German nations. Maroboduus, exterminated by Catualda, flies into Italy, and continues there. Catualda suffers the like fate. War between two Kings of Thrace composed by seizing the aggressor. Germanicus visits Egypt, and views the antiquities there; returns to Asia, is insulted by Piso, sickens and dies: His amiable character: Suspicions about the cause of his death. Piso tries to gain the supreme command; is successfully opposed by the friends of Germanicus, and retires. Numerous honours decreed at Rome to Germanicus. Laws to restrain the lubricity of women. A new Vestal Virgin chosen in the place of Occia deceased. Arminius fraudulently slain in Germany. His eminent character.
DURING the consulship of Sisenna Statilius Taurus, and Lucius Libo, the Kingdoms and Roman provinces of the east, were involved in war, begun by the Parthians, who having sought and accepted a King from Rome, did afterwards, though he was of the race of the Arsacides, contemn him as a foreigner. This was Venones, who had been given as an hostage to Augustus by Phrahates. For Phrahates, though he had defeated the Roman captains and armies, yet had courted Augustus with all the reverence of a dependent, and sent him, to bind their friendship, part of his offspring; not so much through fear of the Romans, as distrusting the ill faith of the Parthians.
After the death of Phrahates, and the succeeding Kings, ambassadors from the chief men of Parthia arrived at Rome, to call home Venones his eldest son, in order to end their intestine slaughters. Tiberius found his own grandeur and glory in this embassy, and dismissed him with great pomp and presents. The Barbarians too received him with rapture and exultation; a spirit which commonly animates the people, where their governors are yet new and untried. But shame soon succeeded; shame “for the degeneracy of the Parthians, to have thus sent to another world for a King, one debauched with the manners and maxims of their enemies. The imperial throne of the Arsacides, they said, was now deemed and given as a Roman province. Where was the glory of those brave Parthians who slew Crassus, of those who exterminated Marc Anthony; if they were reduced so low as to receive for the Lord of Parthia a slave of Cæsar’s, inured so many years to foreign bondage?” His own behaviour inflamed their disdain: he abandoned the customs of his ancestors; was seldom in the chace; took small delight in horses, travelled luxuriously through their towns in a litter, and despised the Parthians feasts. They ridiculed his Greek attendants, and the mean care of sealing up his domestic moveables with his signet. But his easiness of access, his flowing courtesy (virtues unknown to the Parthians) were to them so many new vices; and every part of his manners, the laudable and the bad, were subject to equal hatred, because foreign from their own.
They therefore sent for Artabanus, of the blood of the Arsacides, bred amongst the Dahans. In the first engagement he was routed, but repaired his forces and gained the Kingdom. The vanquished Venones found a retreat in Armenia, a vacant throne, and a people wavering between the neighbouring powers of Parthia and of Rome: from us they were alienated by the fraud and iniquity of Marc Anthony, who having by shews and professions of friendship, ensnared into his power Artavasdes, King of the Armenians, loaded him with chains, and at last put him to death. Artaxias, his son, for his father’s sake, hating us, defended himself and his Kingdom by the protection and forces of the Arsacides. Artaxias being slain by a conspiracy of his kindred, Tigranes was by Augustus set over the Armenians, and by Tiberius Nero put in possession of the Kingdom. But neither was the reign of Tigranes lasting, nor that of his children, however associated together, according to the mode and politics of the East, by the double ties of marriage and government. Artavasdes was next established, by the appointment of Augustus, and then expelled; but at great expence of Roman blood.
Caius Cæsar was then chosen to settle Armenia. By him Ariobarzanes, by descent a Mede, was, for his graceful person and eminent endowments, placed over the Armenians, with their own consent. Ariobarzanes being killed by an accident, they would not bear the rule of his children, but tried the government of a woman, (her name Erato) and quickly expulsed her. After this, unsettled and wavering, rather exempt from tyranny, than possessed of liberty, they received the fugitive Venones for their King: but anon, when he saw himself threatened by Artabanus, small reliance on the Armenians, and no protection from the Romans without a war with the Parthians, he accepted the offer of Creticus Silanus, Governor of Syria, who invited him thither; but when he came, set a guard upon him; leaving him still the name and luxury of royalty. What attempts Venones made to escape from this mock-majesty, we will relate in its place.
The commotions in the East happened not ungratefully to Tiberius, since thence he had a colour for separating Germanicus from his old and faithful Legions, for setting him over strange provinces, and exposing him at once to casual perils and the efforts of fraud. But he, the more ardent he found the affections of the soldiers, and the greater the hatred of his uncle, so much the more intent upon a decisive victory, weighed with himself all the methods of that war, with all the disasters and successes which had befallen him in it to this his third year. He remembered, “that the Germans were ever routed in a fair battle, and upon equal ground; that woods and boggs, short summers, and early winters, were their chief resources; that his own men suffered not so much from their wounds, as from tedious marches, and the loss of their arms. The Gauls were weary of furnishing horses; long and cumbersom was his train of baggage, easily surprized, and with difficulty defended. But, if he entered the country by sea, the invasion would be easy, and the enemy unapprized: besides, the war would be earlier begun; the Legions and provisions would be carried together, and the cavalry brought with safety, through the mouths and channels of the rivers, into the heart of Germany.”
On that method therefore he fixed. Whilst Publius Vitellius and Publius Cantius were sent to collect the tribute of the Gauls; Silius, Anteius, and Cæcina, had the direction of building the fleet. A thousand vessels were thought sufficient, and with dispatch finished: some were short, sharp at both ends, and wide in the middle, the easier to endure the agitations of the waves; some had flat bottoms, that without damage they might bear to run aground: several had helms at each end, that by suddenly turning the oars only, they might work either way. Many were arched over, for carrying the engines of war. They were fitted for holding horses and provisions, to fly with sails, to run with oars; and the spirit and alacrity of the soldiers heightened the shew and terror of the fleet. They were to meet at the Isle of Batavia, which was chosen for its easy landing, for its convenience to receive the forces, and thence to transport them to the war. For the Rhine flowing in one continual channel, or only broken by small islands, is, at the extremity of Batavia, divided, as it were, into two rivers; one running still through Germany, and retaining the same name and violent current, till it mixes with the ocean; the other washing the Gallic shore, with a broader and more gentle stream, is by the inhabitants called by another name, the Wahal, which it soon after changes for that of the Meuse, by whose immense mouth it is discharged into the same ocean.
While the fleet sailed, Germanicus commanded Silius his Lieutenant, with a flying band to invade the Cattians; and he himself, upon hearing that the fort upon the river Luppia was besieged, led six Legions thither. But the sudden rains prevented Silius from doing more than taking some small plunder, with the wife and daughter of Arpus, Prince of the Cattians; nor did the besiegers stay to fight Germanicus, but upon the report of his approach, stole off, and dispersed. As they had, however, thrown down the common tomb lately raised over the Varian Legions, and the old altar erected to Drusus; he restored the altar, and performed in person with the Legions, the funeral ceremony of running courses to the honour of his father. To replace the tomb was not thought fit; but, all the space between fort Aliso and the Rhine, he fortified with a new barrier.
The fleet was now arrived; the provisions were sent forward; ships were assigned to the Legions and the allies; and he entered the canal cut by Drusus, and called by his name. Here he invoked his father, “to be propitious to his son attempting the same enterprizes; to inspire him with the same counsels, and animate him by his example.” Hence he sailed successfully through the lakes and the ocean to the river Amisia. At the town of Amisia the fleet was left, upon the left shore, and it was a fault that it sailed no higher; for he landed the army on the right shore; so that in making bridges many days were consumed. The horse and the Legions passed over without danger, as it was yet ebb; but the returning tide disordered the rear, especially the Batavians, while they played with the waves, and shewed their dexterity in swimming; and some were drowned. Whilst Germanicus was incamping, he was told of the revolt of the Angrivarians behind him; and thither he dispatched a body of horse and light foot, under Stertinius, who with fire and slaughter took vengeance on the perfidious revolters.
Between the Romans and the Cheruscans flowed the river Visurgis, and on the banks of it stood Arminius, with the other chiefs. He inquired whether Germanicus was come; and being answered that he was there, he prayed leave to speak with his brother. This brother of his was in the army, his name Flavius, one remarkable for his lasting faith towards the Romans, and for the loss of an eye in the war under Tiberius. This request was granted. Flavius stepped forward, and was saluted by Arminius, who having removed his own attendants, desired that our archers, ranged upon the opposite banks, might retire. When they were withdrawn, “How came you (says he to his brother) by that deformity in your face?” The brother having informed him where, and in what fight, was next asked, “what reward he had received?” Flavius answered, “Increase of pay, the chain, the crown, and other military gifts;” all which Arminius treated with derision, as the vile wages of servitude.
Here began a warm contest. Flavius pleaded “the grandeur of the Roman Empire, the power of the Emperor, the Roman clemency to submitting nations; the heavy yoke of the vanquished; and that neither the wife, nor son of Arminius, was used like a captive.” Arminius to all this opposed “the natural rights of their country, their ancient liberty; the domestic Gods of Germany; he urged the prayers of their common mother joined to his own, that he would not prefer the character of a deserter, that of a betrayer of his family, his countrymen and kindred, to the glory of being their commander.” By degrees they fell into reproaches; nor would the interposition of the river have restrained them from blows, had not Stertinius hasted to lay hold on Flavius, full of rage, and calling for his arms and his horse. On the opposite side was seen Arminius, swelling with ferocity and threats, and denouncing battle. For, of what he said, much was said in Latin; since, as the General of his countrymen, he had served in the Roman armies.
Next day, the German army stood embatteled beyond the Visurgis. Germanicus, who thought it became not a General to endanger the Legions, till, for their passage and security, he had placed bridges and guards, made the horse ford over. They were led by Stertinius, and by Æmilius Lieutenant-Colonel of a Legion: and these two officers crossed the river in distant places, to divide the foe. Cariovalda, Captain of the Batavians, passed it where most rapid, and was by the Cheruscans, who feigned flight, drawn into a plain surrounded with woods, whence they rushed out upon him and assaulted him on every side; overthrew those who resisted, and pressed vehemently upon those who gave way. The distressed Batavians formed themselves into a ring, but were again broken, partly by a close assault, partly by distant showers of darts. Cariovalda, having long sustained the fury of the enemy, exhorted his men to draw up in platoons, and break through the prevailing host; he himself forced his way into their center, and fell with his horse under a shower of darts, and many of the principal Batavians round him: the rest were saved by their own bravery, or rescued by the cavalry under Stertinius and Æmilius.
Germanicus, having passed the Visurgis, learnt from a deserter, that Arminius had marked out the place of battle; that more nations had also joined him; that they rendevoused in a wood sacred to Hercules, and would attempt to storm our camp by night. The deserter was believed; the enemy’s fires were discerned; and the scouts having advanced towards them, reported that they had heard the neighing of horses, and the hollow murmur of a mighty and tumultuous host. In this important conjuncture, upon the approach of a decisive battle, Germanicus thought it behoved him to learn the inclinations and spirit of the soldiers, and deliberated with himself how to be informed without fraud: “for the reports of the Tribunes and Centurions used to be oftener pleasing than true; his freedmen had still slavish souls, incapable of free speech; friends were apt to flatter; there was the same uncertainty in an assembly, where the counsel proposed by a few, was wont to be echoed by all. The minds of the soldiery were then best known when they were least watched; when free and over their meals, they frankly disclosed their hopes and fears.”
In the beginning of night, he went out at the augural gate, with a single attendant; himself disguised with the skin of a wild beast hanging over his shoulders; and chusing secret ways, he escaped the notice of the watch, entered the lanes of the camp, listened from tent to tent, and enjoyed the pleasing display of his own popularity and fame; as one was magnifying the imperial birth of his General; another his graceful person; all, his patience, condescension, and the equality of his soul in every temper, pleasant or grave. They confessed the gratitude due to so much merit, and that in battle they ought to express it, and to sacrifice at the same time to glory and revenge, these perfidious Germans, who for ever violated stipulations and peace. In the mean time, one of the enemy who understood Latin, rode up to the palisades, and, with a loud voice, offered in the name of Arminius, to every deserter a wife and land, and, as long as the war lasted, an hundred sesterces a day. This contumely kindled the wrath of the Legions: “Let day come, they cried, let battle be given. The soldiers would seize and not accept the lands of the Germans; take and not receive German wives; they, however, received the offer as an omen of victory, and considered the money and women as their destined prey.” Near the third watch of the night, they approached, and insulted the camp, but without striking a blow, when they found the ramparts covered thick with cohorts, and no advantage given.
Germanicus had the same night a joyful dream: he thought he sacrificed, and, in place of his own robe besmeared with the sacred blood, received one fairer from the hands of his grandmother Augusta; so that elevated by the omen, and by equal encouragement from the auspices, he called an assembly, where he opened his deliberations concerning the approaching battle, with all the advantages contributing to victory; “That to the Roman soldiers, not only plains and dales, but, with due circumspection, even woods and forests were commodious places for an engagement. The huge targets, the enormous spears of the Barbarians, could never be weilded amongst thickets and trunks of trees, like Roman swords and javelins, and armour adjusted to the shape and size of their bodies; so that with these tractable arms they might thicken their blows, and strike with certainty at the naked faces of the enemy; since the Germans were neither furnished with headpiece nor coat of mail; nor were their bucklers bound with leather, or fortified with iron, but all bare basket-work, or painted boards; and though their first ranks were armed with pikes, the rest had only stakes burnt at the end, or short and contemptible darts. For their persons, as they were terrible to sight, and violent in the onset, so they were utterly impatient of wounds, unaffected with their own disgrace, unconcerned for the honour of their General, whom they ever deserted, and fled; in distress cowards, in prosperity despisers of all divine, of all human laws. To conclude, if the army, after their fatigues at sea, and their tedious marches by land, longed for an utter end of their labour; by this battle they might gain it. The Elb was now nearer than the Rhine; and if they would make him a conqueror in those countries where his father and his uncle had conquered, the war was concluded.” The ardour of the soldiers followed the speech of the General, and the signal for the onset was given.
Neither did Arminius, or the other Chiefs, neglect to declare to their several bands, that “these Romans were the cowardly fugitives of the Varian army, who, because they could not endure to fight, had afterwards chosen to rebel: that some with backs deformed by wounds; some with limbs maimed by tempests; forsaken of hope, and the Gods against them, were once more presenting their lives to their vengeful foes. Hitherto a fleet, and unfrequented seas, had been the resources of their cowardice against an assaulting or a pursuing enemy; but now that they were to engage hand to hand, vain would be their relief from wind and oars after a defeat. The Germans needed only remember their rapine, cruelty, and pride; and that to themselves nothing remained, but either to maintain their native liberty, or by death to prevent bondage.”
The enemy thus inflamed, and calling for battle, were led into a plain called Idistavisus: it lies between the Visurgis and the hills, and winds unequally along, as it is streightened by the swellings of the mountains, or enlarged by the circuits of the river. Behind rose a forest of high trees, thick of branches above, but clear of bushes below. The army of Barbarians kept the plain, and the entrances of the forest; only the Cheruscans sat down upon the mountain, in order to pour down from thence upon the Romans, as soon as they became engaged in the fight. Our army marched thus; the auxiliary Gauls and Germans in front, after them the foot archers, next four Legions, then Germanicus with two prætorian Cohorts, and the choice of the cavalry; then four Legions more, and the light foot with archers on horse-back, and the other troops of the allies; the men all careful to march in order of battle, and ready to engage as they marched.
As the impatient bands of Cheruscans were now perceived descending fiercely from the hills, Germanicus commanded a body of the best horse to charge them in the flank, and Stertinius with the rest to wheel round to attack them in the rear, and promised to be ready to assist them in person. During this a joyful omen appeared; eight eagles were seen to fly toward the wood, and to enter it; a presage of victory to the General! “Advance, he cried, follow the Roman birds; follow the tutelar Deities of the Legions.” Instantly the foot charged the enemies front, and instantly the detached cavalry attacked their flank and rear. This double assault had a strange event; the two divisions of their army fled opposite ways; that in the woods ran to the plain; that in the plain rushed into the woods. The Cheruscans between both, were driven from the hills, amongst them Arminius, remarkably brave, who with his hand, his voice, and distinguished wounds, was still sustaining the fight. He had assaulted the archers, and would have broken through them; but the cohorts of the Retians, the Vindelicians, and the Gauls, marched to their relief: however, by his own spirit, and the vigour of his horse, he escaped; his face besmeared with his own blood to avoid being known. Some have related, that the Chaucians, who were amongst the Roman auxiliaries, knew him, and let him go. The same bravery, or deceit, procured Inguiomerus his escape: the rest were every where slain; and great numbers attempting to swim the Visurgis, were destroyed in it, either pursued with darts, or swallowed by the current, or overwhelmed with the weight of the crowd, or buried under the falling banks. Some seeking a base refuge on the tops of trees, and concealment amongst the branches, were shot in sport by the archers, or squashed as the trees were felled. This was a mighty victory, and to us far from bloody!
This slaughter of the foe, from the fifth hour of the day till night, filled the country for ten miles with carcasses and arms. Amongst the spoils, chains were found, which, sure of conquering, they had brought to bind the Roman captives. The soldiers proclaimed TiberiusImperator upon the field of battle, and, raising a mount, placed upon it as Trophies, the German arms, with the names of all the vanquished nations, inscribed below.
This sight filled the Germans with more anguish and rage, than all their wounds, past afflictions, and slaughters. They, who were just prepared to abandon their dwellings, and flit beyond the Elb, meditate war and grasp their arms. People, nobles, youth, aged, from all quarters, rush suddenly upon the Roman army in its march, and disorder it. They next chose their camp, a streight and moist plain, shut in between a river and a forest; the forest too surrounded with a deep marsh, except on one side, which was closed with a barrier raised by the Angrivarians, between them and the Cheruscans. Here stood their foot: their horse were distributed and concealed amongst the neighbouring groves, thence, by surprize, to beset the Legions in the rear, as soon as they had entered the wood.
Nothing of all this was a secret to Germanicus: he knew their counsels, their stations; what steps they pursued, what measures they concealed; and to the destruction of the enemy turned their own subtilty and devices. To Seius Tubero, his Lieutenant, he committed the horse and the field; the infantry he so disposed, that part might pass the level approaches into the wood; and the rest force the rampart. This was the most arduous task, and to himself he reserved it: the rest he left to his Lieutenants. Those who had the even ground to traverse, broke easily in; but they who were to assail the rampart, were as grievously battered from above, as if they had been storming a wall. The General perceived the inequality of this close attack, and drawing off the Legions a small distance, ordered the slingers to throw, and the engineers to play, to beat off the enemy. Immediately showers of darts were poured from the engines, and the defenders of the barrier, the more bold and exposed they were, with the more wounds they were beaten down. Germanicus, having taken the rampart, first forced his way, at the head of the Prætorian Cohorts, into the woods, and there it was fought foot to foot. Behind, the enemy were begirt with the morass; the Romans with the mountains, or the river; no room for either to retreat, no hope but in valour; no safety but in victory.
The Germans had not inferior courage, but they were exceeded in the fashion of arms and art of fighting. Their mighty multitude, hampered in narrow places, could not push nor recover their long spears; nor practise in a close combat, their usual boundings and velocity of limbs. On the contrary, our soldiers, with handy swords, and their breasts closely guarded with a buckler, delved the large bodies and naked faces of the Barbarians, and opened themselves a way with a havock of the enemy. Besides, the activity of Arminius now failed him; either spent through his continual efforts, or slackened by a wound just received. Inguiomerus, was every-where upon the spur, animating the battle; but fortune, rather than courage, deserted him. Germanicus, to be the easier known, pulled off his helmet, and exhorted his men, “to prosecute the slaughter; they wanted no captives, he said; only the cutting off that people root and branch, would put an end to the war.” It was now late in the day, and he drew off a Legion to make a camp; the rest glutted themselves till night with the blood of the foe. The horse fought with doubtful success.
Germanicus, in a speech from the tribunal, praised his victorious army, and raised a monument of arms, with a proud Inscription, That the army of Tiberius Cæsar, having vanquished intirely the nations between the Rhine and the Elb, had consecrated that monument to Mars, to Jupiter, and to Augustus. Of himself he made no mention, either fearful of provoking envy, or that he thought it sufficient praise to have deserved it. He had next commanded Stertinius, to carry the war amongst the Angrivarians; but they instantly submitted; and these supplicants, by yielding without articles, obtained pardon without reserve.
The summer now declining, some of the Legions were sent back into winter-quarters, by land; more were embarked with Germanicus, upon the river Amisia, to go from thence by the ocean. The sea, at first, was serene, no sound or agitation, except from the oars or sails of a thousand ships; but, suddenly a black host of clouds poured a storm of hail; furious winds roared on every side, and the tempest darkened the deep, so that all prospect was lost; and it was impossible to steer. The soldiers too, unaccustomed to the terrors of the sea, in the hurry of fear disordered the mariners, or interrupted the skilful by unskilful help. At last, the south-wind mastering all the rest, drove the ocean and the sky. The tempest derived new force from the windy mountains and swelling rivers of Germany, as well as from an immense train of clouds; and contracting withal fresh vigour from the boisterous neighbourhood of the north, it hurled the ships, and tossed them into the open ocean, or against islands shored with sharp rocks, or dangerously beset with covered shoals. The ships, by degrees, with great labour, and the change of the tide, were relieved from the rocks and sands, but remained at the mercy of the winds; their anchors could not hold them; they were full of water, nor could all their pumps discharge it; hence, to lighten and raise the vessels swallowing at their decks the invading waves, the horses, beasts, baggage, and even the arms, were cast into the deep.
By how much the German ocean is more outrageous than the rest of the sea, and the German climate excels in rigour, by so much this ruin was reckoned to exceed in greatness and novelty. They were engaged in a tempestuous sea, believed deep without bottom, vast without bounds, or no shores near but hostile shores. Part of the fleet were swallowed up; many were driven upon remote islands, void of human culture, where the men perished through famine, or were kept alive by the carcasses of horses, cast in by the flood. Only the galley of Germanicus landed upon the coast of the Chaucians, where, wandring sadly, day and night, upon the rocks and prominent shore, and incessantly accusing himself as the author of such mighty destruction, he was hardly restrained by his friends, from casting himself desperately into the same hostile floods. At last, with the returning tide, and an assisting gale, the ships began to return, all maimed, almost destitute of oars, or with coats spread for sails; and, some utterly disabled, were dragged by those that were less. He repaired them hastily, and dispatched them to search the islands; and by this care many men were gleaned up, many were by the Angrivarians, our new subjects, redeemed from their maritime neighbours, and restored; and some, driven into Great Britain, were sent back by the little British Kings. Those who had come from afar, recounted wonders at their return, “the impetuosity of whirlwinds; wonderful birds; sea-monsters of ambiguous forms between man and beast;” strange fights; or the effects of imagination and fear.
The noise of this wreck, as it animated the Germans with hopes of renewing the war, awakened Germanicus also to restrain them. He commanded Caius Silius, with thirty thousand foot, and three thousand horse, to march against the Cattians; he himself, with a greater force, invaded the Marsians, where he learnt from Malovendus, their General, lately taken into our subjection, that the Eagle of one of Varus’s Legions, was hid under ground in a neighbouring grove, and kept by a slender guard. Instantly two parties were dispatched; one, to face the enemy, and provoke them from their post; the other to beset their rear, and dig up the Eagle; and success attended both. Hence Germanicus advanced with greater alacrity, laid waste the country, and smote the foe, either not daring to engage, or, where-ever they engaged, suddenly defeated; nor, as we learnt from the prisoners, were they ever seized with greater dismay. “The Romans, they cried, are invincible; no calamities can subdue them. They have wrecked their fleet; their arms are lost, our shores are covered with the bodies of their horses and men: Yet they attack us with their usual ferocity, with the same firmness, and with numbers, as it were, increased.
The army was from thence led back into winter-quarters, full of joy to have balanced, by this prosperous expedition, their late misfortune at sea; and by the bounty of Germanicus, their joy was heightened, since to each sufferer he caused to be paid as much as each declared he had lost; neither was it doubted but the enemy were humbled, and concerting measures for obtaining peace, and that the next summer would terminate the war. But Tiberius, by frequent letters urged him “to come home, there to celebrate the triumph already decreed him; he had already tried enough of events, and tempted abundant hazards. He had indeed fought great and successful battles; but he must likewise remember his losses and calamities, which, however owing to wind and waves, and no fault of the General, were yet great and grievous. He himself had been sent nine times into Germany by Augustus, and effected much more by policy than arms: it was thus he had brought the Sigambrians into subjection, thus drawn the Suevians, and King Maroboduus, under the bonds of peace. The Cheruscans too, and the other hostile nations, now the Roman vengeance was satiated, might be left to pursue their own national feuds.” Germanicus besought one year to accomplish his conquest; but Tiberius assailed his modesty with a new bait, and fresh importunity, by offering him another Consulship, for the administration of which he was to attend in person at Rome: he added, “that if the war was still to be prosecuted, Germanicus should leave a field of glory to his brother Drusus, to whom there now remained no other; since the Empire had no-where a war to maintain but in Germany, and thence only Drusus could acquire the title of Imperator, and merit the triumphal laurel.” Germanicus persisted no longer, though he knew that this was all feigned and hollow, and saw himself invidiously torn away from a harvest of ripe glory.
About this time, Libo Drusus, of the Scribonian family, was arraigned for meditating attempts against the State. And, because then first were devised those pestilent arts and impeachments, which for so many years devoured the Commonwealth, I will lay open with the more exactness the beginning, progress and issue of this affair. Firmius Catus the Senator, a close confident of Libo, traiterously misled that youth, unwary as he was, and easy to be ensnared, with specious delusions; engaged him to try the predictions of the Chaldeans, the superstitious rites of Magicians, and the interpreters of dreams; and to flatter his hopes and ambition, was incessantly magnifying the nobility of his race; for that Pompey was “his great grand-father, Scribonia, once the wife of Augustus, his aunt, the Cæsars his kinsmen; and his house full of images;” tempted him to luxury and borrowing; was associated with him in his debauches, surety for his debts, and all to accumulate more matter for crimes and evidence.
When he found himself furnished with store of witnesses, and amongst them some of Libo’s slaves, who were also privy to the obnoxious conduct of their master, he sought admittance to the Emperor; having first by Flaccus Vescularius, a Roman Knight, intimate with Tiberius, represented to him Libo as a criminal, as also a detail of his crimes. Tiberius slighted not his information, but denied him access, “for that the communication, he said, might be still managed by the same Flaccus.” In the mean time, he preferred Libo to the Prætorship, 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 know and punish them: nor were they checked or made public, till one Junius, who was dealt with to call up by charms the infernal shades, discovered this to Fulcinius Trio, a distinguished accuser, one greedy of renown in wickedness. Instantly Trio marked out the doom of the accused, hastened to the Consuls, and of them demanded that the Senate might meet and adjudge him. Thus the fathers were forthwith summoned, and even apprized, that “upon an affair of mighty moment and horrible tendency to the State, they were to deliberate.”
Libo, the while, having changed his dress, went covered with mourning, from house to house, accompanied by Ladies of the noblest rank, and implored the mediation of his kindred, that they would protect him against impending ruin, and speak in his behalf. But every one of them declined his suit, each upon a different pretence; yet, in reality, all from the same fear. The day the Senate sat for his trial, vanquished with dread, and sinking under sickness; or, as some relate, feigning it, he was borne in a litter to the court, and, leaning upon his brother, with supplicant hands and words, he accosted and strove to soften Tiberius, who received him with a countenance perfectly unmoved. It was the Emperor who next recited the charge against him, and the authors of the charge; but with such wary moderation, that he might seem neither to soften nor sharpen his crimes.
To Trio and Catus, two other accusers, Fonteius Agrippa and Caius Vibius, joined themselves, and strove who should have the right to implead the accused. At last, when neither would yield, and Libo was come unprovided with a pleader, Vibius undertook to maintain distinctly the several heads of the charge, and produced articles so extravagant, that amongst the rest it was one, how Libo had consulted the fortune-tellers, “whether he should ever be master of opulence sufficient to cover the great Appian road with money as far as Brundusium.” There were others of the same kind, foolish, chimerical, or (taken in tenderer sense) deserving pity. But there was one article formed upon a paper, containing the names of the Cæsars as well as those of some Senators, with mysterious characters, and malignant notes joined to them. This the accuset urged against Libo, as written in his own hand. Libo denied it, and hence it was proposed to examine by torture his conscious slaves. But, seeing it was forbid by an ancient law of the Senate, to put servants to the question, in a trial touching the life of their master, the crafty Tiberius invented a new law, to elude the old, and ordered these slaves to be sold to the public steward, that, by this expedient, evidence against Libo might be racked from his servants, without violating the law. In this state of despondency, Libo requested respite till the next day; and then returning to his own house, transmitted, by his kinsman Publius Quirinus, his last prayers to the Emperor, who replied, that “he must make his request to the Senate.”
His house was in the mean time encompassed with a band of soldiers, who with studied noise and terror were filling all the court, on purpose to create certain attention and alarm, just when Libo sat down to the banquet, which, as the ultimate pleasure of his life, he had prepared. But, then feeling agonies instead of pleasure, he called for a minister of death, successively grasped the hands of his slaves, and into them, by turns, strove to squeeze a sword. But they, as they trembled and shunned the sad task, through the hurry of fear and flight overturning the lamp that illuminated the table; in this ominous and tragical darkness, he gave himself two deadly stabs in the bowels. As he groaned and fell, his freedmen sprang in, and the soldiers, seeing the slaughter perpetrated, retired. The charge against him was however pushed in the Senate, with the same unrelenting eagerness. Yet Tiberius vowed, “that he would have interceded for his life, notwithstanding his treason, if he had not thus hastily died by his own hands.”
His estate was divided amongst his accusers; and those of them who bore the rank of Senators, were, without the regular way of election, preferred to Prætorships. Then Cotta Messalinus proposed, that “the image of Libo might not accompany the funerals of his posterity;” Cneius Lentulus, that “none of the Scribonii should henceforth assume the sirname of Drusus;” and at the motion of Pomponius Flaccus, days of thanksgiving were appointed. That “gifts should be presented to Jupiter, to Mars, and to the Goddess Concord; and that the thirteenth of September, the day on which Libo slew himself, should be an established festival,” were the votes of Lucius Publius, of Asinius Gallus, of Papius Mutilius, and of Lucius Apronius. I have related the votes and sycophancy of these men, to shew that adulation is an inveterate evil in the state. Decrees of the Senate were likewise made for driving Astrologers and Magicians out of Italy; and one of the herd, Lucius Pituanius, was precipitated from the Tarpeian Rock. Publius Marcius, another, was by judgment of the Consuls, at the sound of trumpet, executed without the Esquiline Gate, according to the ancient form.
Next time the Senate sat, long discourses against the luxury of the city were made by Quintus Haterius, a Consular, and by Octavius Fronto, formerly Prætor, and a law was passed “against using table-plate of solid gold; and against men’s debasing themselves with gorgeous and effeminate silks.” Fronto went farther, and desired that “the quantities of silver-plate, the expence of furniture, and the number of domestics, might be limited.” For it was yet common for Senators to depart from the present debate, and offer, as their advice, whatever they judged conducing to the interest of the Commonweal. Against him it was argued by Asinius Gallus, “that with the growth of the Empire, private riches were likewise grown, and it was no new thing for citizens to live according to their conditions, but, indeed, agreeable to the most primitive usage. The ancient Fabricii, and the latter Scipios, having different wealth, lived differently; but all suitably to the several stages of the Commonwealth. Public poverty was accompanied with domestic; but, when the State rose to such a height of magnificence, the magnificence of particulars rose too. As to plate, and train, and expence, there was no standard of excess or frugality, but from the fortunes of men. The law, indeed, had made a distinction between the fortunes of Senators and of Knights; not for any natural difference between them; but that they who excelled in place, rank, and civil pre-eminence, might excel too in other particulars, such as conduced to the health of the body, or to the peace and solacement of the soul; unless it were expected, that the most illustrious citizens should sustain the sharpest cares, and undergo the heaviest fatigues and dangers, but continue destitute of every alleviation of fatigue, and danger, and care.” Gallus easily prevailed, whilst, under worthy names, he avowed and supported popular vices in an assembly engaged in them. Tiberius too had said, “that it was not a season for reformation; or, if there were any corruption of manners, there would not be wanting one to correct them.”
During these transactions, Lucius Piso, after he had declaimed bitterly, in the Senate, against “the cabals and intrigues of the Forum, the corruption of the tribunals, and the inhumanity of the pleaders breathing continual terror and impeachments,” declared, “he would intirely relinquish Rome, and retire into a quiet corner of the country, far distant and obscure.” With these words he left the Senate. Tiberius was provoked; and yet not only soothed him with gentle words, but likewise obliged Piso’s relations, by their authority or entreaties to retain him. The same Piso gave soon after an equal instance of the indignation of a free spirit, by prosecuteing a suit against Urgulania; a Lady whom the partial friendship of Livia had set at defiance with the laws. Urgulania being carried, for protection, to the palace, despised the efforts of Piso; so that neither did she submit, nor would he desist, notwithstanding the complaints and resentments of Livia, that, in the prosecution, “violence and indignity were done to her own person.” Tiberius promised to attend the trial, and assist Urgulania; but only promised in civility to his mother, for so far he thought it became him; and thus left the palace, ordering his guards to follow at a distance. People, the while, crowded about him, and he walked with a slow and composed air. As he lingered, and prolonged the time and way with various discourse, the trial went on; Piso would not be mollified by the importunity of his friends; and hence at last the Empress ordered the payment of the money claimed by him. This was the issue of the affair. By it Piso lost no renown; and it signally increased the credit of Tiberius. The power however of Urgulania was so exorbitant to the State, that she disdained to appear a witness in a certain cause before the Senate; and, when it had been always usual, even for the Vestal virgins to attend the Forum, and Courts of Justice, as oft as their evidence was required; a Prætor was sent to examine Urgulania at her own house.
The procrastination which happened this year in the public affairs, I should not mention, but that the different opinions of Cneius Piso and Asinius Gallus about it, are worth knowing. Their dispute was occasioned by a declaration of Tiberius; “that he was about to be absent.” And it was the motion of Piso, “that for that very reason, the prosecution of public business was the rather to be continued; since, as in the Prince’s absence, the Senate and Equestrian order might administer their several parts, the same would become the dignity of the Commonwealth.” This was a declaration for liberty, and in it Piso had prevented Gallus, who now, in opposition, said, “that nothing sufficiently illustrious, nor suiting the dignity of the Roman people, could be transacted but under the immediate eye of the Emperor, and therefore the conflux of suitors, and the affairs from Italy, and the provinces, must by all means be reserved for his presence.” Tiberius heard, and was silent, while the debate was managed on both sides with mighty vehemence; but the adjournment was carried.
A debate too arose between Gallus and the Emperor; for, Gallus moved, “that the Magistrates should be henceforth elected but once every five years; that the legates of the Legions, who had never exercised the Prætorships, should be appointed Prætors; and that the Prince should nominate twelve candidates every year.” It was not doubted but this motion had a deeper aim, and that by it the secret springs and reserves of imperial power were invaded. But Tiberius, as if he rather apprehended the augmentation of his authority, argued, “that it was a heavy task upon his moderation, to chuse so many Magistrates, and to postpone so many candidates; that disgusts from disappointments were hardly avoided in yearly elections; though, for their solacement, fresh hopes remained of approaching success in the next; now how great must be the hatred, how lasting the resentment of such whose pretensions were to be rejected beyond five years? and whence could it be foreseen, that, in so long a tract of time, the same men would continue to have the same dispositions, the same alliances and fortunes? even an annual designation to power, made men imperious; how imperious would it make them, if they bore the honour for five years! besides, it would multiply every single Magistrate into five, and utterly subvert the laws which had prescribed a proper space for exercising the diligence of the candidates, and for solliciting as well as enjoying preferments.”
By this speech, in appearance popular, he still retained the spirit and force of the sovereignty. He likewise sustained by gratuities the dignity of some necessitous Senators. Hence it was the more wondered, that he received with haughtiness and repulse the petition of Marcus Hortalus, a young man of signal quality, and manifestly poor. He was the grandson of Hortensius the Orator; and had been encouraged by the deified Augustus with a bounty of a thousand great sesterces a , to marry for posterity, purely to prevent the extinction of a family so eminently illustrious. The Senate were sitting in the palace, and Hortalus having set his four children before the door, fixed his eyes, now upon the statue of Hortensius, placed amongst the Orators; then upon that of Augustus; and, instead of speaking to the question then debated, began on this wise: “Conscript fathers, you see there the number and infancy of my children; not mine by my own choice, but in compliance with the advice of the Prince. Such too was the splendor of my ancestors, that it merited to be perpetuated in their race. But, for my own particular, who, marred by the revolution of the times, could not raise wealth, nor engage popular favour, nor cultivate the hereditary fortune of our house, the fortune of Eloquence; I deemed it sufficient, if, in my narrow circumstances, I lived no disgrace to myself, no burden to others. Commanded by the Emperor, I took a wife: behold the offspring of so many Consuls; behold the descendants of so many Dictators! nor is this remembrance invidiously made, but made to move mercy. In the progress of your reign, Cæsar, these children may arrive at the honours in your gift. Defend them in the mean time from want: they are the great grandsons of Hortensius; they are the foster sons of Augustus.”
The inclination of the Senate was favourable, an incitement to Tiberius the more eagerly to thwart Hortalus. These were in effect his words: “If all that are poor recur hither for a provision of money to their children, the public will certainly fail, yet particulars never be satiated. Our ancestors, when they permitted a departure from the question, to propose somewhat more important to the state, did not therefore permit it, that we might here transact domestic matters, and augment our private rents; an employment invidious both in the Senate and the Prince; since, whether they grant or deny the petitioned bounties, either the people or the petitioners will ever be offended. But these, in truth, are not petitions; they are demands made against order, and made by surprize. While you are assembled upon other affairs, he stands up, and urges your pity, by the number and infancy of his children; with the same violence, he changes the attack to me, and, as it were, bursts open the exchequer. But, if by popular bounties we exhaust it, by rapine and oppression we must supply it. The deified Augustus gave you money, Hortalus; but without sollicitation he gave it, and on no condition that it should always be given: otherwise diligence will languish; sloth will prevail; and men having no hopes in resources of their own; no anxiety for themselves, but all securely relying on foreign relief, will become private sluggards and public burdens.” These and the like reasonings of Tiberius were differently received; with approbation by those whose way it is to extol, without distinction, all the doings of Princes, worthy and unworthy; by most, however, with silence, or low and discontented murmurs. Tiberius perceived it, and having paused a little, said, “his answer was particularly to Hortalus; but, if the Senate thought fit, he would give his sons two hundred great sesterces b each.” For this all the Senators presented their thanks; only Hortalus said nothing; perhaps through present awe, or perhaps possessed, even in poverty, with the grandeur of his ancient nobility. Nor did Tiberius ever shew farther pity, though the house of Hortensius was fallen into shameful distress.
The same year, the boldness of a single bondman had, but for early prevention, torn the state with great combustions and civil arms. A slave of Posthumus Agrippa, his name Clemens, having learnt the death of Augustus, conceived a design to sail to Planasia, and there releasing Agrippa by art or force, to carry him to the armies in Germany. No slavish design! but, the slowness of the laden vessel defeated his bold purpose; for Agrippa was already murdered. Hence he conceived views still higher and more daring. He stole the funeral ashes, and sailing to Cosa, a promontory of Etruria, hid himself in desart places, till his hair and beard were grown long; for, in age and person, he was not unlike his master. Then, a report spread by trusty emissaries and the associates of the plot, “that Agrippa lived,” began to thicken. It first crept abroad in dark whispers, as usual in matters of dangerous tendency; but becoming soon a prevailing rumour, it filled the greedy ears of the credulous, or was encouraged by turbulent minds, such as are ever fond of public agitations and changes. He himself, when he entered the neighbouring towns, did it in the gloom of the day; never to be seen publicly, nor long in the same place. But, as truth is strengthened by observation and time; lies by haste and uncertainty, he out-ran fame. Here he staid not to be known; there he arrived before his name arrived.
It flew through Italy, in the mean time, “that, by the bounty of the Gods, Agrippa was preserved.” It was even believed at Rome. His supposed arrival at Ostia, was celebrated by great multitudes abroad; and in the city by clandestine cabals; whilst divided cares distracted Tiberius, whether he should suppress his slave by the power of the sword, or suffer the empty credulity of the public to vanish with time. Now he thought that nothing was to be slighted; now that every thing was not to be dreaded, wavering between shame and fear. At last he committed the affair to Sallustius Crispus. Crispus chose two of his creatures, (some say two soldiers) and directed them to go directly to him, to feign themselves his adherents, men who were conscious that he was the genuine Agrippa, to present him with money, and to promise him, without reserve, their faith and fortunes. They instantly executed these orders, and afterwards spying him one night without guards, and being themselves furnished with a proper band of men, they carried him to the palace, gagged and bound. To Tiberius, when he asked him, “how he was become Agrippa?” he is said to have answered, “Just as you became Cæsar.” But, to discover his accomplices, he could never be constrained. Neither dared Tiberius venture to execute him publicly, but ordered him to be dispatched in a secret part of the palace, and his body to be carried privately away; and, though many of the Prince’s houshold, many Knights and Senators, were said to have supported him with money, and assisted him with their Counsels; no enquiry followed.
At the end of the year, a triumphal arch was raised near the Temple of Saturn, as a monument for the recovery of the Varian Eagles, under the conduct of Germanicus, and the auspices of Tiberius. A Temple was dedicated to happy Fortune near the Tiber, in the Gardens bequeathed to the Roman people by Cæsar the Dictator. A Chapel was consecrated to the Julian family, and statues to the deified Augustus, in the suburbs called Bovillæ. In the Consulship of Caius Celius and Lucius Pomponius, the six and twentieth of May, Germanicus Cæsar triumphed over the Cheruscans, the Cattians, the Angrivarians, and the other nations as far as the Elb. In the triumph were carried all the spoils and captives, with the representations of mountains, of rivers, and of battles; so that his conquests, because he was restrained from compleating them, were taken for compleat. His own graceful person, and his chariot filled with his five children, heightened the shew and the delight of the beholders. Yet they were checked with secret fears; as they remembered, “that popular favour had proved malignant to his father Drusus; that his uncle Marcellus was snatched, in his youth, from the burning affections of the populace, and, that ever short-lived and unfortunate were the favourites of the Roman people.”
Tiberius distributed to the people in the name of Germanicus, three hundred sesterces c a man, and named himself his Collegue in the Consulship. Nor even thus did he gain the opinion of tenderness and sincerity. In effect, on pretence of investing the young Prince with fresh preferment and honours, he resolved to alienate him from Rome; and, to accomplish it, craftily framed an occasion, or snatched such a one as chance presented. Archelaus had enjoyed the Kingdom of Cappadocia now fifty years, a Prince under the deep displeasure of Tiberius, because in his retirement at Rhodes, the King had paid him no sort of court nor distinction; an omission which proceeded from no disdain, but from the warnings given him by the confidents of Augustus; for that the young Caius Cæsar, the presumptive heir to the Sovereignty, then lived, and was sent to compose and administer the affairs of the East; hence the friendship of Tiberius was reckoned then dangerous. But when, by the utter fall of the family of the Cæsars, he had gained the Empire, he enticed Archelaus to Rome, by means of letters from his mother, who, without dissembling her son’s resentment, offered the King his mercy, provided he came and in person implored it. He, who was either ignorant of the snare, or dreaded violence if he had appeared to perceive it, hastened to the City; where he was received by Tiberius with great sternness and wrath, and soon after accused as a criminal in the Senate. The crimes alledged against him were mere fictions; yet, as equal treatment is unusual to Kings, and, to be treated like malefactors, intolerable; Archelaus, who was broken with grief as well as age, by choice or fate ended his life. His Kingdom was reduced into a province, and by its revenues Tiberius declared, the tax of the hundredth penny would be abated, and reduced it for the future to the two hundredth. At the same time died Antiochus, King of Comagena, as also Philopater, King of Cilicia; and great combustions shook these nations; whilst many of the people desired the Roman Government, and many were addicted to domestic Monarchy. The provinces too of Syria and Judea, as they were oppressed with impositions, prayed an abatement of tribute.
These affairs, and such as I have above related concerning Armenia, Tiberius represented to the Fathers, and, “that the commotions of the East could only be settled by the wisdom and abilities of Germanicus. For himself; his age now declined, and that of Drusus was not yet sufficiently ripe.” The provinces beyond the sea were thence decreed to Germanicus, with authority superior to all those who obtained provinces by lot, or the nomination of the Prince. But, Tiberius had already taken care to remove from the government of Syria Creticus Silanus, one united to Germanicus in domestic alliance, by having betrothed his daughter to Nero, the eldest son of Germanicus. In his room he had preferred Cneius Piso, a man of violent temper, incapable of subjection, and heir to all the ferocity and haughtiness of his father Piso; the same who, in the civil war, assisted the reviving party against Cæsar in Africa, with vehement efforts, then followed Brutus and Cassius, but had at last leave to come home; yet disdained to sue for any public offices; nay, was even courted by Augustus to accept the Consulship. His son, besides his hereditary pride and impetuosity, was elevated with the nobility and wealth of Plancina his wife. Scarce yielded he to Tiberius, and, as men far beneath him, despised the sons of Tiberius. Neither did he doubt but he was set over Syria on purpose to defeat all the views of Germanicus. Some even believed, that he had to this purpose secret orders from Tiberius; as it was certain, that Livia directed Plancina to exert the spirit of the sex, and by constant emulation and indignities, to persecute Agrippina. For, the whole court was rent, and their affections secretly divided between Drusus and Germanicus. Tiberius was partial to Drusus, as his own son by generation; others loved Germanicus; the more for the aversion of his uncle, and for being by his mother, of more illustrious descent; as Marc Anthony was his grandfather, and Augustus his great uncle. On the other side, Pomponius Atticus, a Roman Knight, by being the great grandfather of Drusus, seemed thence to have derived a stain upon the images of the Claudian house. Besides, Agrippina, the wife of Germanicus, did in the fruitfulness of her body, and the reputation of her virtue, far excel Livia the wife of Drusus. Yet the two brothers lived in amiable dearness and concord, no wife shaken or estranged by the reigning contention amongst their separate friends and adherents.
Drusus was soon after sent into Illyricum in order to inure him to war, and gain him the affections of the army. Besides, Tiberius thought that the youth, who lived wantoning in the luxuries of Rome, would be reformed in the camp, and that his own security would be enlarged when both his sons were at the head of the Legions. But, the pretence for sending him was the protection of the Suevians, who were then imploring assistance against the power of the Cheruscans. For, these nations, who since the departure of the Romans, saw themselves no longer threatened with terrors from abroad, and were then particularly engaged in a national competition for glory, had relapsed, as usual, into their old intestine feuds, and turned their arms upon each other. The two people were equally powerful, their two leaders equally brave, but differently esteemed, as the title of King, had drawn upon Maroboduus the hate and aversion of his countrymen; whilst Arminius, as a champion warring for the defence of liberty, was the universal object of popular affection.
Hence not only the Cheruscans and their confederates, they who had been the ancient soldiery of Arminius, took arms; but to him too revolted the Semnones and Langobards, both Suevian nations, and even subjects of Maroboduus; and by their accession he would have exceeded in puissance, but Inguiomerus with his band of followers deserted to Maroboduus; for no other cause than disdain, that an old man and an uncle like himself, should obey Arminius a young man his nephew. Both armies were drawn out, with equal hopes; nor disjointed, like the old German battles, into scattered parties for loose and random attacks; for, by long war with us, they had learnt to follow their ensigns, to strengthen their main body with parties of reserve, and to observe the orders of their Generals. Arminius was now on horseback viewing all the ranks: as he rode through them he magnified their passed feats; “their liberty recovered, the slaughtered Legions; the spoils of arms wrested from the Romans; monuments of victory still retained in some of their hands.” Upon Maroboduus he fell with contumelious names, as “a fugitive, one of no abilities in war; a coward, who had sought defence from the gloomy coverts of the Hercynian wood, and then by gifts and sollicitations, courted the alliance of Rome; a betrayer of his country, a lifeguard-man of Cæsar’s, worthy to be exterminated with no less hostile vengeance than in the slaughter of Quinctilius Varus they had shewn. Let them only remember so many battles bravely fought; the events of which, particularly the utter expulsion of the Romans, were sufficient proofs with whom remained the glory of the war.”
Neither did Maroboduus fail to boast himself, and depreciate the foe. “In the person of Inguiomerus, he said, (holding him by the hand) rested the whole renown of the Cheruscans; and from his counsels began all their exploits that ended in success. Arminius, a man of a frantic spirit, and a novice in affairs, assumed to himself the glory of another, for having by treachery surprized three Legions, which expected no foe, and their leader, who feared no fraud; a base surprize, revenged since on Germany with heavy slaughters, and on Arminius himself with domestic infamy, while his wife and his son still bore the bonds of captivity. For himself; when attacked formerly by Tiberius at the head of twelve Legions, he had preserved unstained the glory of Germany, and on equal terms ended the war. Nor did he repent of the treaty, since it was still in their hands to wage, anew, equal war with the Romans, or save blood and maintain peace.” The armies, besides the incitements from these speeches, were animated by national stimulations of their own. The Cheruscans fought for their ancient renown, the Langobards for their recent liberty; and the Suevians and their King, on the contrary, were struggling for the augmentation of their monarchy. Never did armies make a fiercer onset, never had onset a more ambiguous event; for, both the right wings were routed, and hence a fresh encounter was certainly expected, until Maroboduus drew off his army and encamped upon the hills; a manifest sign that he was humbled; frequent desertions too leaving him at last naked of forces, he retired to the Marcomannians, and thence sent Embassadors to Tiberius, to implore succours. They were answered, “That he had no right to invoke aid of the Roman arms against the Cheruscans; since to the Romans, while they were warring with the same foe, he had never administered any assistance.” Drusus was however sent away, as I have said, with the character of a negociator of peace.
The same year, twelve noble cities of Asia were overturned by an earthquake. The ruine happened in the night, and the more dreadful as its warnings were unobserved. Neither availed the usual sanctuary against such calamities; namely, a flight to the fields; since those who fled, the gaping earth devoured. It is reported, “That mighty mountains subsided, plains were heaved into high hills; and that with flashes and eruptions of fire, the mighty devastation was every where accompanied.” The Sardians felt most heavily the rage of the concussion, and therefore most compassion; Tiberius promised them a hundred thousand great sesterces d , and remitted their taxes for five years. The inhabitants of Magnesia under Mount Sipylus, were held the next in sufferings, and had proportionable relief. The Temnians, Philadelphians, the Egeatæans, Apollonians, with those called the Mostenians or Macedonians of Hyrcania, the cities too of Hierocæsarea, Myrina, Cyme and Tmolus; were all for the same term eased of tribute. It was likewise resolved to send one of the Senate to view the desolations, and administer proper remedies. Marcus Aletus was therefore chosen, one of Prætorian rank; because a Consular Senator then governing Asia, had another of the like quality been sent, an emulation between equals was apprehended, and consequently opposition and delays.
The credit of this noble bounty to the public, he increased by private liberalities, which proved equally popular; the estate of the wealthy Emilla Musa, claimed by the exchequer, as she died intestate, he surrendered to Emilius Lepidus, to whose family she seemed to belong; as also to Marcus Servilius, the inheritance of Patuleius, a rich Roman Knight, though part of it had been bequeathed to himself; but he found Servilius named sole heir in a former and well-attested will. He said, such was “the nobility of both, that they deserved to be supported.” Nor did he ever accept to himself any man’s inheritance, but where former friendship gave him a title. The wills of such as were strangers to him, and of such as, from hate and prejudice to others, had appointed the Prince their heir, he utterly rejected. But, as he relieved the honest poverty of the virtuous, so he degraded from the Senate, (or suffered to quit it of their own accord) Vibidius Varro, Marius Nepos, Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sylla, and Quintus Vitellius, all prodigals, and only through debauchery indigent.
About this time, Tiberius finished and consecrated what Augustus began, the Temples of the Gods consumed by age or fire; that near the great Circus, vowed by Aulus Posthumius the Dictator, to Bacchus, Proserpina and Ceres; in the same place the Temple of Flora, founded by Lucius Publicius and Marcus Publicius, while they were Ædiles; the Temple of Janus, built in the Herb-Market by Caius Duillius, who first signalized the Roman power at sea, and merited a naval triumph over the Carthaginians. That of Hope was dedicated by Germanicus. This Temple Atilius had vowed in the same war.
The Law of violated Majesty, in the mean time, waxed intense, and by it an accuser impleaded Apuleia Varilia, grand-niece to Augustus by his sister; for that with opprobrious words she had reviled the deified Augustus, Tiberius and his mother; and being nearly allied to the Emperor, had stained by adultery the Cæsarean blood. Concerning the adultery, sufficient provision was thought already made by the Julian Law; and the crimes of state, Tiberius desired, might be separated: “If she had uttered impious speeches of Augustus, she must be condemned; but, for invectives against himself, he would not have her called to any account.” The Consul asked him, “What would be his sentiments, if she were convicted of defaming his mother?” To this he made no answer; but next sitting of the Senate, he prayed too in her name, “That no words spoken against her, might to any one be imputed for crimes;” and acquitted Apuleia of the treason; of her punishment too for adultery, he begged a mitigation, and prevailed, that, “by the example of our ancestors, she should be removed by her kindred two hundred miles from Rome.” Manlius her adulterer was interdicted Italy and Africa.
A debate at this time arose about substitueing a Prætor in the room of Vipsanius Gallus, removed by death. Germanicus and Drusus (for they were yet at Rome) espoused Haterius Agrippa, kinsman to Germanicus. Many, on the contrary, insisted, that the number of children should decide it, and the candidate who had most be preferred; for this was the voice of the law. Tiberius rejoiced to see the Senate engaged in a contention between his sons and the laws. The law, without doubt, was vanquished, yet not instantly, and by a small majority; but with the same struggle that laws were vanquished when laws were in force.
This year a war began in Africa, conducted by Tacfarinas. He was a native of Numidia, and had served amongst the auxiliaries in the Roman armies, but deserting the service, gathered together, by the allurements of booty and rapine, at first a herd of vagabonds and men inured to robberies; then formed them, like an army, into regular companies of foot, and troops of horse, under distinct standards and colours. At length he was no longer esteemed the leader of a disorderly gang, but considered as General of the Musulanians. This powerful people, borderers upon the desarts of Africa, still wild, and without towns, took arms, and drew into the war the neighbouring Moors. These too had a General of their own, his name Mazippa; and between the two leaders the army was divided, that, whilst Tacfarinas encamped with the best men, armed after the fashion of Romans, and accustomed them to discipline and command, Mazippa, with a flying band, might make excursions on every side, with fire, slaughter, and alarms. They had likewise forced the Cinithians into their measures, a nation no wise despicable; when Furius Camillus, Proconsul of Africa, marched against the enemy with one Legion, and what troops of the Allies were under his command; a handful of men at most, when compared to the multitude of Numidians and Moors! But it was his first care not to intimidate them with numbers, and thence tempt them to elude fighting, and prolong the war. Indeed, he gave them hopes of victory, only to enable himself to vanquish them. The Legion was placed in the center, the light cohorts, and two wings of horse on the right and left. Nor did Tacfarinas decline the combat. The Numidians were routed; and, after a long series of years, military renown recovered to the name of Furius. For since Camillus the restorer of Rome and his son, the glory of command and victories continued in other families. Even he whom I have mentioned, passed for a man destitute of military abilities and experience in war. Hence Tiberius magnified with the more unfeigned alacrity his exploits to the Senate, and to him the fathers decreed the ensigns of triumph. Yet to Camillus all this merit and distinction proved to snare, protected as he was by a life singularly modest and retired.
The Consuls for the following year were, Tiberius the third time, Germanicus the second. This dignity overtook Germanicus at Nicopolis, a city of Achaia, whither he arrived, by the coast of Illyricum, from visiting his brother Drusus, then abiding in Dalmatia, and had suffered a tempestuous passage, both in the Adriatic and Ionian sea. He therefore spent a few days to repair his fleet, and viewed the while the Bay of Actium, renowned for the naval victory there, as also the spoils consecrated by Augustus, and the Camp of Anthony, with an affecting remembrance of these his ancestors; for Anthony, as I have said, was his great uncle, Augustus his grandfather. Hence this scene proved to Germanicus a mighty source of images pleasing and sad. Next he proceeded to Athens, where, in concession to that ancient city, allied to Rome, he would use but one Lictor. The Greeks received him with the most elaborate honours, and, to dignify their personal flattery, carried before him tablatures of the signal deeds and sayings of his ancestors.
Hence he sailed to Eubœa, thence to Lesbos, where Agrippina was delivered of Julia, who proved her last child. Then he kept the coast of Asia, and visited Perinthus and Byzantium, cities of Thrace, and entered the streights of Propontis, and the mouth of the Euxine, fond of beholding ancient places long celebrated by fame. He relieved, at the same time, the provinces where-ever distracted with intestine factions, or aggrieved with the oppressions of their Magistrates. In his return he strove to see the religious rites of the Samothracians, but, by the violence of the north wind was repulsed from the shore As he passed, he saw Troy and her remains, venerable for the vicissitude of her fate, and for the birth of Rome. Regaining the coast of Asia, he put in at Colophon, to consult there the Oracle of the Clarian Apollo. It is no Pythoness that represents the God here, as at Delphos, but a priest, one chosen from certain families, chiefly of Miletus; neither requires he more than just to hear the names and numbers of the querists, and then descends into the oracular cave; where, after a draught of water from a secret spring, though ignorant for the most part of Letters and Poetry, he yet utters his answers in Verse, which has for its subject the conceptions and wishes of cach consultant. He was even said to have sung to Germanicus his hastening fate, but, as Oracles are wont, in terms dark and doubtful.
Now Cneius Piso, hurrying to the execution of his purposes, terrified the city of Athens by a tempestuous entry, and reproached them in a severe speech, with oblique censure of Germanicus, “that, debasing the dignity of the Roman name, he had paid excessive court, not to the Athenians, by so many slaughters long since extinct, but to the then mixed scum of nations there; for that these were they who had leagued with Mithridates against Sylla, and with Anthony against Augustus.” He even charged them with the errors and misfortunes of ancient Athens; her impotent attempts against the Macedonians; her violence and ingratitude to her own citizens. He was also an enemy to their city from personal anger; because they would not pardon, at his request, one Theophilus, condemned by the Areopagus for forgery. From thence, sailing hastily through the Cyclades, and taking the shortest course, he overtook Germanicus at Rhodes, but was there driven by a sudden tempest upon the rocks; and Germanicus, who was not ignorant with what malignity and invectives he was pursued, yet acted with so much humanity, that, when he might have left him to perish, and have referred to casualty the destruction of his enemy, he dispatched galleys, to rescue him from the wreck. This generous kindness, however, asswaged not the animosity of Piso; scarce could he brook a day’s delay with Germanicus, but left him in haste to arrive in Syria before him. Nor was he sooner there, and found himself amongst the Legions, than he began to court the common men by bounties and caresses, to assist them with his countenance and credit, to form factions, to remove all the ancient Centurions, and every Tribune of remarkable discipline and severity, and, in their places, to put dependents of his own, or men recommended only by their crimes. He permitted sloth in the camp, licentiousness in the towns, a rambling and disorderly soldiery, and carried the corruption so high, that in the discourses of the herd, he was stiled Father of the Legions. Nor did Plancina restrain herself to a conduct seemly in her sex, but frequented the exercises of the cavalry, and attended the decursions of the Cohorts, every where in weighing against Agrippina, every where against Germanicus; and some, even of the most deserving soldiers, became prompt to base obedience, from a rumour whispered abroad, “that all this was not unacceptable to Tiberius.”
These doings were all known to Germanicus; but his more instant care was, to visit Armenia, an inconstant and restless nation from the beginning, from the genius of the people, as well as from the situation of their country, which, bordering with a large frontier on our provinces, and stretching thence quite to Media, is inclosed between the two great Empires, and often at variance with them; with the Romans through antipathy and hatred, with the Parthians through competition and envy. At this time, and ever since the removal of Vonones, they had no King; but the affections of the nations leaned to Zeno, son of Polemon King of Pontus, because by an attachment, from his infancy, to the fashions and customs of the Armenians, by hunting, feasting, and other usages practised and renowned amongst the Barbarians, he had equally won the nobles and people. Upon his head, therefore, at the city of Artaxata, with the approbation of the nobles, in a great assembly, Germanicus put the regal Diadem; and the Armenians doing homage to their King, saluted him, Artaxias, a name which from that of their city, they gave him. The Cappadocians, at this time reduced into the form of a province, received for their Governor, Quintus Veranius; and, to raise their hopes of the gentler dominion of Rome, several of the royal taxes were lessened. Quintus Serveus was set over the Comagenians, then first subjected to the jurisdiction of a Prætor.
From the affairs of the Allies, thus all successfully settled, Germanicus reaped no pleasure, through the perverseness and pride of Piso, who was ordered to lead, by himself or his son, part of the Legions into Armenia, but contemptuously neglected to do either. They, at last, met at Cyrrum, the winter quarters of the tenth Legion, whither each came with a prepared countenance; Piso to betray no fear, and Germanicus would not be thought to threaten. He was indeed, as I have observed, of a humane and reconcileable spirit: but, officious friends, expert at inflaming animosities, aggravated real offences, added fictitious, and with manifold imputations charged Piso, Plancina, and their sons. To this interview Germanicus admitted a few intimates, and began his complaints in such words as dissembled resentment usually dictates. Piso replied with disdainful submissions, and they parted in open enmity. Piso, hereafter, came rarely to the Tribunal of Germanicus; or, if he did, sate sternly there, and in manifest opposition. He likewise published his spite at a feast of the Nabathean King’s, where golden Crowns of great weight were presented to Germanicus and Agrippina; but to Piso and the rest, such as were light. “This banquet, he said, was made for the son of a Roman Prince, not of a Parthian Monarch.” With these words, he cast away his crown, and uttered many invectives against luxury. Sharp insults upon Germanicus! yet he bore them.
At this time arrived Ambassadors from Artabanus King of the Parthians. He sent them “to represent the state of the mutual league and friendship between the two Empires, how desirous he was to renew it; that, in honour to Germanicus, he would come to receive him as far as the banks of the Euphrates; and requested, in the mean time, that Vonones might not be continued in Syria, lest, taking the advantage of so near a neighbourhood, he should, by corresponding with the Grandees of Parthia, ingage them in civil dissention and rebellion.” The answer given by Germanicus, as far as related to the alliance of the Romans and Parthians, was conceived in terms of dignity and grandeur; but, of the coming of the King, and the court and veneration intended to himself, he spoke with becoming complaisance and modesty. Vonones was removed to Pompeiopolis, a maritime city of Cilicia, a concession made, not to the request of Artabanus only, but in contumely to Piso, with whom Vonones was high in favour, for the assiduous court and many presents by which he had won Plancina.
In the Consulship of Marcus Silanus and Lucius Norbanus, Germanicus travelled to Ægypt, to view the famous Antiquities of the country; though for the motives of the journey, the care and inspection of the province were publicly alledged: and, indeed, by opening the granaries, he mitigated the price of corn, and practised many things grateful to the people; walking without guards, his feet bare, and his habit the same with that of the Greeks; after the example of Publius Scipio, who, we are told, was constant in the same practices in Sicily, even during the rage of the Punic War there. For these his assumed manners and foreign habit, Tiberius blamed him in a gentle stile, but censured him with great asperity for violating an establishment of Augustus, and entring Alexandria without consent of the Prince. For Augustus, amongst other secrets of power, had set apart and appropriated Ægypt, and restrained the Senators and dignified Roman Knights from going thither without licence; as he apprehended that Italy might be distressed with famine, by any who seized that province, the key to the Empire by sea and land, and defensible by a light band of men against potent armies.
Germanicus, not yet informed that his journey was censured, sailed up the Nile, beginning at Canopus, one of its mouths, built by the Spartans, as a monument to Canopus, a Pilot buried there, at the time when Menelaus, returning to Greece, was driven to different seas and the Libyan continent. Hence he visited the next mouth of the river sacred to Hercules. Him the natives averr to have been born amongst them; that he was the most ancient of the name, and that all the rest, who, with equal virtues, followed his example, were, in honour, called after him. Next he visited the mighty antiquities of ancient Thebes, where, upon huge Obelisks yet remained Ægyptian Characters, describing its former opulency. One of the oldest Priests was ordered to interpret them; he said they related “that it once contained seven hundred thousand fighting men; that with that army King Rhamses had conquered Libya, Ethiopia, the Medes and Persians, the Bactrians and Scythians; and to his Empire had added the territories of the Syrians, Armenians, and their neighbours the Cappadocians; a tract of countries reaching from the sea of Bithynia to that of Lycia.” Here also was read the assessment of Tribute laid on the several nations; what weight of silver and gold; what number of horses and arms; what ivory and perfumes, as gifts to the Temples; what measures of grain; what quantities of all necessaries, were by each people paid; revenues equally grand with those exacted by the domination of the Parthians, or by the Power of the Romans.
Germanicus was intent upon seeing other wonders. The chief were, the effigies of Memnon, a Colossus of stone, yielding, when struck by the solar rays, a vocal found; the Pyramids rising, like mountains, amongst rolling and almost impassable waves of sand, proud monuments of the emulation and opulency of Ægyptian Kings; the artificial Lake, a receptacle of the overflowing Nile; and elsewhere abysses of such immense depth, that those who tried, could never fathom. Thence he proceeded to Elphantina and Syene, two Islands, formerly frontiers of the Roman Empire, which is now widened to the Red-Sea.
Whilst Germanicus spent this summer in several provinces, Drusus was sowing feuds amongst the Germans, and thence reaped no light renown; and, as the power of Maroboduus was already broken, he engaged them to persist and complete his ruin. Amongst the Gotones was a young man of quality, his name Catualda, a fugitive long since from the violence of Maroboduus, but now, in his distress, resolved on revenge. Hence, with a stout band, he entered the borders of the Marcomannians, and, corrupting their chiefs into his alliance, stormed the regal palace, and the castle situate near it. In the pillage were found the ancient stores of prey accumulated by the Suevians, as also many victuallers and traders from our provinces; men who were drawn hither from their several homes, first by privilege of traffic, then retained by a passion to multiply gain, and at last, through utter oblivion of their own country, fixed, like natives, in a hostile soil.
To Maroboduus, on every side forsaken, no other refuge remained but the mercy of Cæsar. He therefore passed the Danube where it washes the province of Norica, and wrote to Tiberius, not however in the language of a fugitive or supplicant, but with a spirit suitable to his late grandeur; “that many nations invited him to them, as a King once so glorious; but he preferred to all the friendship or Rome.” The Emperor answered, “that in Italy he should have a safe and honourable retreat, and, when his affairs required his presence, the same security to return.” But to the Senate he declared, “that never had Philip of Macedon been so terrible to the Athenians; nor Pyrrhus, nor Antiochus to the Roman people.” The speech is extant: in it he magnifies “the greatness of the man, the fierceness and bravery of the nations his subjects; the alarming nearness of such an enemy to Italy, and his own artful measures to destroy him.” Maroboduus was kept at Ravenna, for a check and terror to the Suevians; as if, when at any time they grew turbulent, he were there in readiness to recover their subjection. Yet in eighteen years he left not Italy, but grew old in exile there; his renown too became eminently diminished. Such was the price which he paid for an overpassionate love of life. The same sate had Catualda, and no other sanctuary; he was soon after expulsed by the forces of the Hermundurians, led by Vibilius, and being received under the Roman protection, was conveyed to Forum Julium, a Colony in Narbon Gaul. The Barbarians, their followers, lest, had they been mixed with the provinces, they might have disturbed their present quiet, were placed beyond the Danube, between the rivers Marus and Cusus, and for their King had assigned them Vannius, by nation a Quadian.
As soon as it was known at Rome, that Artaxias was by Germanicus given to the Armenians for their King, the fathers decreed to him and Drusus the lesser Triumph. Triumphal arches were likewise erected, on each side the Temple of Marsthe Avenger, supporting the statues of these two Cæsars; and for Tiberius, he was more joyful to have established peace by policy, than if by battles and victories he had ended the war. He therefore also assailed by the ways of craft Rhescuporis a King of Thrace. That whole nation had been subject to Rhemetalces; but, upon his death, one moiety was by Augustus granted to Rhescuporis his brother, and one to Cotys his son. In this partition, the vales, cities, and territories bounding upon Greece, fell to Cotys; to Rhescuporis the wilds, the hills, and the parts exposed to a hostile neighbourhood. The two Kings were likewise dissonant in their genius, the former mild and agreeable; the latter cruel, rapacious, and impatient of equality. Yet, at first they lived in hollow friendship, but, in a while, Rhescuporis began to break bounds, to seize for himself the portions of Cotys, and, where he met resistance, to exercise violence; cautiously, it is true, and by degrees, in the life of Augustus, to whose grant they owed both their Kingdoms and, if his authority had been despised, his vengeance was dreaded. But, upon the change of Emperors, he poured in bands of robbers, demolished forts, and thus sought to provoke war.
Tiberius was about no consideration of state so anxious, as that things once settled should never after be molested. He instantly dispatched a Centurion to the two Kings, to forbid their proceeding to a decision by arms; and Cotys forthwith dismissed the forces he had raised. Rhescuporis feigned submission, and desired an interview, “for that by treaty, he said, they might adjust all their differences:” and, upon the time, the place, and even upon the conditions, they quickly agreed, while one through easiness, one through fraud, yielded and accepted every proposition. Rhescuporis, for a sanction, as he pretended, to the league, added a banquet, and the festivity and drinking was prolonged till midnight, when Cotys, warm with wine and feasting, and void of circumspection, was suddenly loaded with chains, deprecating in vain the brutal treachery, “by the inviolable rights of Kings, by the common Gods of their family, by that very banquet of sacred pledge of concord and hospitality.” Rhescuporis, having now seized all Thrace, wrote to Tiberius, “that bloody snares were contrived for him, but he had anticipated the contriver;” and, pretending a war against the Basternæans and Scythians, fortified himself with new forces, horse and foot.
He had a soft answer, “that if he had practised no guile, he might securely trust to his innocence; but, neither could he himself nor the Senate, without hearing the cause, distinguish between justice and violence: that therefore, delivering up Cotys, he should come, and upon him effectually transfer the odium of the crime.” This letter Latinius Pandus, Proprætor of Mesia, transmitted to Thrace, by the soldiers sent to receive Cotys. Rhescuporis, wavering long between fear and rage, determined at last rather to be guilty of a finished than an imperfect villainy: he caused Cotys to be murdered, and belied his death, as if by his own hands it had been procured Neither yet did Tiberius change his favourite course of dissembling, but, upon the death of Pandus, whom Rhescuporis alledged to have been his enemy, preferred to the Government of Mesia Pomponius Flaccus, an ancient officer, one in close friendship with the King, and by it more qualified to betray him; hence chiefly he was preferred.
Flaccus passed into Thrace, and, though he found him full of hesitation, and revolving with great dismay upon the crying horror of his own wickedness, yet, by mighty promises, prevailed upon him to enter the Roman barrier. Here the King, on pretence of solemnity and honour, was surrounded with a strong party, and a crowd of officers, who pressed him by earnest exhortations, and many arguments, and the further they travelled, the more apparent to him was his confinement; so that at last, convinced of the necessity of going, he was by them haled to Rome. He was accused before the Senate by the wife of Cotys, and condemned to exile far from his Kingdom. Thrace was divided between Rhemetalces his son, who, it was manifest, had opposed all his father’s outrageous measures; and the sons of Cotys. These were minors, and placed with their Kingdom under the administration of Trebellienus Rufus, formerly Prætor, after the example of our Ancestors, who sent Marcus Lepidus into Ægypt, in quality of guardian to the children of Ptolemy. Rhescuporis was transported to Alexandria, and there slain, attempting flight, or falsly charged with it.
At the same time, Vonones, who had been removed, as I have above related, into Cilicia, corrupted his keepers, and endeavoured to escape to Armenia, thence to the Albanians and Heniochians, and then to his kinsman the King of Scythia. Thus pretending to hunt, and avoiding the maritime coasts, he gained the devious recesses of the forests; and then, on a sudden, rode full speed to the River Pyramus. But, the country-men, apprized of the King’s flight, had broken the bridges; neither was the stream to be forded. Upon the banks therefore of the river, he was by Vibius Fronto, General of horse, put in bonds, and presently after, by Remmius, a resumed Veteran, lately his keeper, run through, in affected wrath, with a sword. Hence arose the stronger belief that, from consciousness of fraud, and dread of discovery, Vonones was slain.
Germanicus returning from Ægypt, learned that all his orders left with the Legions, and the Eastern cities, were either intirely abolished, or contrary regulations established; a ground for his severe resentment and reproaches upon Piso. Nor less keen were the efforts and machinations of Piso against Germanicus. Yet Piso afterwards determined to leave Syria, but was detained by the following illness of Germanicus. Again, when he heard of his recovery, and perceived that vows were paid for his restoration, the Lictors, by his command, broke the solemnity, drove away the victims, already at the altars, overturned the apparatus of the sacrifice, and scattered the people of Antioch employed in celebrating the festival. He then departed to Seleucia, waiting the event of the malady, which had again assaulted Germanicus. His own persuasion too, that poyson was given him by Piso, heightened the cruel vehemence of the disease. Indeed, upon the floors and walls were found fragments of human bodies, the spoils of the grave, with charms and incantations, and the name of Germanicus graved on sheets of lead, carcasses half burnt, besmeared with gore, and other witchcrafts, by which souls are thought doomed to the infernal gods. Besides, there were certain persons, charged as creatures of Piso, purposely sent and employed to watch the progress and efforts of the disease.
These things filled Germanicus with apprehensions great as his resentment. “If his doors, he said, were besieged, if under the eyes of his enemies he must render up his spirit, what was to be expected to his unhappy wife, what to his infant children? The progress of poyson was thought too slow. Piso was impatient, and urging with eagerness to command alone the Legions, to possess alone the province: but Germanicus was not sunk to such lowness and impotence, that the price of his murder should remain with the murderer:” and by a Letter to Piso, he renounced his friendship. Some add, that he commanded him to depart the province. Nor did Piso tarry longer, but took ship, yet checked her sailing, in order to return with the more quickness, should the death of Germanicus the while leave the Government of Syria vacant.
Germanicus, after a small revival, drooping again, when his end approached, spoke on this wise to his attending friends. “Were I to yield to the destiny of nature, Just, even then, were my complaints against the Gods, for hurrying me from my parents, my children, and my country, by a hasty death, in the prime of life. Now, shortened in my course by the malignity of Piso, and his wife, to your breasts I commit my last prayers. Tell my father, tell my brother, with what violent persecutions afflicted, with what mortal snares circumvented, I end a most miserable life by death of all others the worst. All they whose hopes in my fortune, all they whose kindred blood, and even they whose envy, possessed them with impressions about me whilst living, shall bewail me dead, that once great in glory, and surviveing so many wars, I fell at last by the dark devices of a woman. To you place will be left to complain in the Senate, place to invoke the aid and vengeance of the Laws. To commemorate the dead with slothful wailings, is not the principal office of friends: They are to remember his dying wishes, to fulfil his last desires. Even strangers will lament Germanicus. You are my friends; if you loved me rather than my fortune, you will vindicate your friendship. Shew the people of Rome my wife, her who is the grand-daughter of Augustus, and enumerate to them our offspring, even six children. Their compassion will surely attend you who accuse; and the accused, if they pretend clandestine warrants of iniquity, will not be believed; if believed, not pardoned.” His friends, as a pledge of their fidelity, touching the hand of the dying Prince, swore that they would forego their lives sooner than their revenge. Then turning to his wife, he besought her, “That in tenderness to his memory, in tenderness to their common children, she would banish her haughty spirit, yield to her hostile fortune; nor, upon her return to Rome, by an impotent competition for ruleing, irritate those who were masters of rule.” So much openly, and more in secret, whence he was believed to have warned her of guile and danger from Tiberius. Soon after he expired, to the heavy sorrow of the province, and of all the neighbouring countries; insomuch that remote nations and foreign Kings were mourners: such had been his complacency to our confederates; such his humanity to his enemies! Alike venerable he was, whether you saw him, or heard him; and without ever departing from the grave port and dignity of his sublime rank, he yet lived destitute of arrogance, and untouched by envy.
The funeral, which was performed without exteriour pomp or a procession of images, drew its solemnity from the loud praises and amiable memory of his virtues. There were those who, from the loveliness of his person, his age, his manner of dying, and even from the proximity of places where both departed, compared him, in the circumstances of his fate, to the Great Alexander; “each of a graceful person, each of illustrious descent; in years neither much exceeding thirty; both victims to the malice and machinations of their own people, in the midst of foreign nations; but Germanicus, gentle towards his friends, his pleasures moderate, confined to one wife, all his children by one bed; nor less a warriour, though not so rash, however hindered from a final reduction of Germany, broken by him in so many victories, and ready for the yoke. So that had he been sole arbiter of things, had he acted with the Sovereignty and title of Royalty, he had easier overtaken him in the glory of conquests, as he surpassed him in clemency, in moderation, and in other virtues.” His body, before its commitment to the pile, was exhibited naked in the Forum of Antioch, the place where the pile was erected. Whether it bore the marks of poyson, remained undecided: for people, as they were divided in their affections, as they pitied Germanicus, and presumed the guilt of Piso, or were partial to him, gave opposite accounts.
It was next debated amongst the legates of the Legions, and the other Senators there, to whom should be committed the administration of Syria: and, after the faint efforts of others, it was long disputed between Vibius Marsus and Cneius Sentius. Marsus at last yielded to Sentius, the older man, and the more vehement competitor. By him one Martina, infamous in that province for practices in poisoning, and a close confident of Plancina, was sent to Rome, at the suit of Vitellius, Veranius, and others, who were preparing criminal articles against Piso and Plancina, as against persons evidently guilty.
Agrippina, though overwhelmed with sorrow, and her body indisposed, yet impatient of all delays to her revenge, imbarked with the ashes of Germanicus, and her children, attended with universal commiseration: “That a Lady, in quality a Princess, wont to be beheld in her late splendid wedlock with applauses and adorations, was now seen bearing in her bosom her husband’s funeral urn, uncertain of vengeance for him, and fearful for herself, unfortunate in her fruitfulness, and from so many children obnoxious to so many blows of fortune.” Piso, the while, was overtaken at the Isle of Cous by a message, “that Germanicus was deceased,” and received it intemperately, slew victims and repaired with thanksgiving to the Temples. Yet, however immoderate and undisguised was his joy, more arrogant and insulting proved that of Plancina, who immediately threw off her mourning, which for the death of a sister she wore, and assumed a dress adapted to gaiety and gladness.
About him flocked the Centurions with officious representations, “That upon him particularly were bent the affections and zeal of the Legions, and he should proceed to resume the province, at first injuriously taken from him, and now destitute of a Governor.” As he therefore consulted what he had best pursue, his son Marcus Piso advised “a speedy journey to Rome. Hitherto, he said, nothing past expiation, was committed; neither were impotent suspicions to be dreaded; nor the idle blazonings of fame. His variance and contention with Germanicus was, perhaps, subject to popular hate and aversion, but to no prosecution or penalty; and, by bereaving him of the province, his enemies were gratified. But if he returned thither, as Sentius would certainly oppose him with arms, a civil war would thence be actually begun. Neither would the Centurions and soldiers persist in his party, men with whom the recent memory of their late Commander, and an inveterate love to the Cæsars in general, were still prevalent.”
Domitius Celer, one in intimate credit with Piso, argued on the contrary, “That the present event must by all means be improved; it was Piso, and not Sentius, who had commission to govern Syria; upon him were conferred the jurisdiction of Prætor, and the badges of Magistracy, and with him the Legions were intrusted. So that if acts of hostility were by his opponents attempted, with how much better warrant could he avow assuming arms in his own right and defence, who was thus vested with the authority of General, and acted under special orders from the Emperor. Rumours too were to be neglected, and left to perish with time. In truth, to the sallies and violence of recent hate, the innocent were often unequal. But were he once possessed of the Army, and had well augmented his forces, many things, not to be foreseen, would from fortune derive success. Are we then preposterously hastening to arrive at Rome with the ashes of Germanicus, that you may there fall, unheard and undefended, a victim to the wailings of Agrippina, a prey to the passionate populace governed by the first impressions of rumour? Livia, it is true, is your confederate, Tiberius is your friend; but both secretly: and indeed none will more pompously bewail the violent fate of Germanicus, than such as do most sincerely rejoice for it.”
Piso, of himself prompt to violent pursuits, was with no great labour persuaded into this opinion, and, in a Letter transmitted to Tiberius, accused Germanicus “of luxury and pride; that for himself, he had been expulsed, to leave room for dangerous designs against the State, and now resumed, with his former faith and loyalty, the care of the Army.” In the mean time he put Domitius on board a galley, and ordered him to avoid appearing upon the Coasts or amongst the Isles, but, through the main sea, to sail to Syria. The deserters, who from all quarters were flocking to him in crowds, he formed into companies, and armed all the retainers to the Camp; then sailing over to the continent, intercepted a regiment of recruits, upon their march into Syria, and wrote to the small Kings of Cilicia to assist him with present succours. Nor was the younger Piso slow in prosecuting all the measures of war, though to adventure a war had been against his sentiments and advice.
As they coasted Lycia and Pamphylia, they encountered the ships which carried Agrippina, with hostile spirits on each side, and each at first prepared for combat; but as equal dread of one another possessed both, they proceeded not further than mutual contumelies. Vibius Marsus particularly summoned Piso, as a criminal, to Rome, there to make his defence. He answered, with derision, “That when the Prætor, who was to sit upon poysonings, had assigned a day to the accusers and the accused, he would attend.” Domitius, the while, landing at Laodicea, a city of Syria, would have proceeded to the winter-quarters of the sixth Legion, which he believed to be the most prone to engage in novel attempts, but was prevented by Pacuvius, its commander. Sentius represented this by Letter to Piso, and warned him, “at his peril to infect the Camp by ministers of corruption, or to assail the province by war,” and drew into a body such as he knew loved Germanicus, or such as were averse to his foes. Upon them he inculcated with much ardour, that Piso was with open arms attacking the majesty of the Prince, and invading the Roman state; and then marched at the head of a puissant body, equipped for battle, and resolute to engage.
Neither failed Piso, though his enterprizes had thus far miscarried, to apply the securest remedies to his present perplexities, and therefore seized a Castle of Cilicia strongly fortified, its name Celendris. For, to the Auxiliary Cilicians, sent him by the petty Kings, he had joined his body of deserters, as also the recruits lately intercepted, with all his own and Plancina’s slaves; and thus in number and bulk, had of the whole composed a Legion. To them he thus harangued; “I, who am the Lieutenant of Cæsar, am yet violently excluded from the province which to me Cæsar has committed; not excluded by the Legions, (for by their invitation I am arrived) but by Sentius, who thus disguises, under feigned crimes against me, his own animosity, and personal hate. But with confidence you may stand in battle, where the opposite army, upon the sight of Piso, a Commander lately by themselves stiled their Father, will certainly refuse to fight; they know too, that were right to decide it, I am the stronger; and of no mean puissance in a trial at arms.” He then arrayed his men without the fortifications, on a hill steep and craggy, for all the rest was begirt by the sea. Against them stood the Veterans regularly embattled, and supported with a body of reserve; so that here appeared the force of men, there only the terror and stubbornness of situation. On Piso’s side was no spirit, no hope, nor even weapons, save those of rustics, for instant necessity hastily acquired. As soon as they came to blows, the issue was no longer doubtful than while the Roman Cohorts struggled up the steep. The Cilicians then fled, and shut themselves up in the Castle.
Piso having the while attempted in vain to storm the fleet, which rode at a small distance, as soon as he returned, presented himself upon the walls; where, by a succession of passionate complaints and intreaties, now bemoaning in agonies the bitterness of his lot, then calling and cajoling every particular soldier by his name, and by rewards tempting all, he laboured to excite a sedition; and thus much he had already effected, that the Eagle-bearer of the sixth Legion revolted to him with his Eagle. This alarmed Sentius, and instantly he commanded the cornets and trumpets to sound, a mount to be raised, the ladders placed, and the bravest men to mount, and others to pour from the Engines volleys of darts, and stones, and flaming torches. The obstinacy of Piso was at last vanquished; and he desired, “that, upon delivering his arms, he might remain in the Castle till the Emperor’s pleasure, to whom he would commit the Government of Syria, were known;” conditions which were not accepted, nor was ought granted him, save ships, and a passport to Rome.
After the illness of Germanicus became noised abroad there, and all its circumstances, like rumours magnified by distance, were related with many aggravations, sadness seized the people. They burned with indignation, and even poured out in plaints the anguish of their souls: “For this, they said, he had been banished to the extremities of the Empire, for this the province of Syria was committed to Piso, and these the fruits of Livia’s mysterious conferences with Plancina. Truly had our fathers spoken concerning his father Drusus, that the possessors of rule beheld with an evil eye the popular spirit of their sons; nor for aught else were they sacrificed, but for their equal treatment of the Roman people, and studying to restore the popular state.” These lamentations of the populace were, upon the tidings of his death, so inflamed, that, without staying for an Edict from the Magistrates, without a Decree of Senate, they by general consent assumed a vacation; the public Courts were deserted, private houses shut up, prevalent every-where were the symptoms of woe, heavy groans, dismal silence; the whole a scene of real sorrow, and nothing devised for form or shew; and, though they forbore not to bear the exterior marks and habiliments of mourning, in their souls they mourned still deeper. Accidentally some Merchants from Syria, who had left Germanicus still alive, brought more joyful news of his condition. These were instantly believed, and instantly proclaimed: each, as fast as they met, informed others, who forthwith conveyed their light information with improvements, and accumulated joy, to more; all flew with exultation through the city, and, to pay their thanks and vows, burst open the Temple doors. The night too heightened their credulity, and affirmation was bolder in the dark. Nor did Tiberius restrain the course of these fictions, but left them to vanish with time. Hence with more bitterness they afterwards grieved for him, as if anew snatched from them.
Honours were invented and decreed to Germanicus, various as the affections and genius of the particular Senators who proposed them; “that his name should be sung in the Salian Hymns; Curule Chairs placed for him amongst the Priests of Augustus, and over these Chairs Oaken Crowns hung; his Statue in Ivory precede in the Circensian Games; none but one of the Julian race be, in the room of Germanicus, created Flamen or Augur:” Triumphal arches were added, one at Rome, one upon the banks of the Rhine, one upon mount Amanus in Syria, with inscriptions of his exploits, and a testimony subjoined, “that he died for the Commonwealth;” a Sepulchre at Antioch, where his corps was burnt; a tribunal at Epidaphne, the place where he ended his life. The multitude of statues, the many places where divine honours were appointed to be paid him, would not be easily recounted. They would have also decreed him, as to one of the masters of Eloquence, a golden shield, signal in bulk as in metal; but Tiberius offered “to dedicate one himself, such as was usual and of a like size with others; for that Eloquence was not measured by fortune; and it was sufficient glory, if he were ranked with ancient Writers.” The Battalion called after the name of the Junii, was now, by the Equestrian order, entitled the Battalion of Germanicus, and a rule made, that on every fifteenth of July, these troops should follow, as their standard, the effigies of Germanicus. Of these honours many continue, some were instantly omitted, or by time are utterly obliterated.
In the height of this public sorrow, Livia, sister to Germanicus, and married to Drusus, was delivered of male twins; an event even in middling families, rare and acceptable, and to Tiberius such mighty matter of joy, that he could not refrain boasting to the fathers, “that to no Roman of the same eminence, before him, were ever two children born at a birth. For to his own glory he turned all things, even things fortuitous. But to the people, at such a sad conjuncture, it brought fresh anguish, as they feared that the family of Drusus, thus increased, would press heavy upon that of Germanicus.
The same year the lubricity of women was by the Senate restrained with severe laws; and it was provided, “that no woman should become venal, if her father, grandfather or husband, were Roman Knights.” For Vistilia, a Lady born of a Prætorian family, had, before the Ædiles, published herself a prostitute, upon a custom allowed by our ancestors, who thought that prostitutes were, by thus avowing their infamy, sufficiently punished. Titidius Labeo too was questioned, that in the manifest guilt of his wife, he had neglected the punishment prescribed by the law; but he alledged, that the sixty days allowed for consultation, were not elapsed; and it was deemed sufficient to proceed against Vistilia, who was banished to the Isle of Seriphos. Measures were also taken for exterminating the solemnities of the Jews and Ægyptians; and by decree of Senate four thousand descendents of franchised slaves, all tainted with that superstition, but of proper strength and age, were to be transported to Sardinia, to restrain the Sardinian robbers; and if, through the malignity of the climate, they perished, despicable would be the loss. The rest were doomed to depart Italy, unless by a stated day they renounced their profane rites.
After this, Tiberius represented, that, to supply the place of Occia, who had presided seven and fifty years with the highest sanctimony over the Vestals, another Virgin was to be chosen, and thanked Fonteius Agrippa, and Asinius Pollio, that, by offering their daughters, they contended in good offices towards the Commonwealth. Pollio’s daughter was preferred, for nothing else but that her mother had ever continued in the same wedlock; for Agrippa, by a divorce, had impaired the credit of his house. Upon her who was postponed, Tiberius, in consolation, bestowed for her fortune a thousand great sesterces. *
As the people murmured at the severe dearth of corn, he settled grain at a price certain to the buyer, and undertook to pay fourteen pence a measure to the seller. Neither yet would he accept the name of Father of his Country, a title offered him before, and for these bounties, now again; nay, he sharply rebuked such as stiled these provisions of his, divine occupations, and him, Lord. Hence freedom of speech became cramped and insecure under such a Prince, one who dreaded liberty, and abhorred flattery.
I find in the Writers of those times, some of them Senators, that in the Senate were read Letters from Adgandestrius, Prince of the Cattians, undertaking to dispatch Arminius, if in order to it poison were sent him; and an answer returned, “that not by frauds and blows in the dark, but armed, and in the face of the sun, the Roman people took vengeance on their foes.” In this Tiberius gained equal glory with our ancient Captains, who rejected and disclosed a plot to poison King Pyrrhus. Arminius, however, who, upon the departure of the Romans, and expulsion of Maroboduus, aimed at Royalty, became thence engaged in a struggle against the Liberty of his country, and, in defence of their Liberty, his country-men took arms against him: So that, while with various fortune he contended with them, he fell by the treachery of his own kindred. The deliverer of Germany without doubt he was, one who assailed the Roman power, not like other Kings and Leaders, in its first elements, but in its highest pride and elevation; one sometimes beaten in battle, but never conquered in war. Thirty-seven years he lived, twelve he commanded; and, amongst these barbarous nations, his memory is still celebrated in their songs, though his name be unknown in the Annals of the Greeks, who only admire their own national exploits and renown; nor, even amongst the Romans, does this great Captain bear much distinction, while, overlooking instances of modern prowess and glory, we only delight to magnify men and feats of old.
Agrippina returns to Italy with the ashes and children of Germanicus. The passionate Zeal of the people towards her, and them, and his memory. His funeral; with the behaviour of Tiberius and Livia, on that occasion. Drusus returns to Illyricum, as does Piso to Rome, and is tried as the poisoner of Germanicus, despairs of acquittal, and kills himself. Tacfarinas renews the war in Africa, and is repressed by Apronius the Proconsul there. The trial and condemnation of Lepida Æmylia, for adultery and poisoning. The law Papia Poppæa, long abused, now restrained. Fresh commotions in Africa, by Tacfarinas. Junius Blæsus sent to oppose him. Certain Roman Knights condemned upon the Law of Majesty violated. Revolts in both Gauls, conducted by Julius Sacrovir, and Julius Florus; the issue tragical to the revolters, and their chiefs. C. Lutorius, a Roman Knight, condemned upon the Law of Majesty, and executed in prison. The cure of luxury attempted, and dropped. Drusus made partner with his father in the power Tribunitial. The Priest of Jupiter, not allowed to ballot for a Province. The Greek Sanctuaries, their claims, examined and reformed. C. Silanus condemned for bribery and treason. Junius Blæsus routs Tacfarinas, and takes his brother prisoner. Junia, the illustrious sister of the famous Marcus Brutus, and widow of Cassius, her death and funeral.
Agrippina, not withstanding the roughness of winter, pursuing without intermission her boisterous voyage, put in at the Island Corcyra, situated over-against the coasts of Calabria. Here, to settle her spirit, she spent a few days, violent in her grief, and a stranger to patience. Her arrival being the while divulged, all the particular friends to her family, mostly men of the sword, many who had served under Germanicus, and even many strangers from the neighbouring towns, some in officiousness towards the Emperor, more for company, crowded to the City of Brundusium, the readiest port in her way, and the safest landing. As soon as the fleet appeared in the deep, instantly were filled, not the port alone and adjacent shores, but the walls and roofs, and as far as the eye would go; filled with the sorrowing multitude. They were consulting one from one, how they should receive her, landing, “whether with universal silence, or with some note of acclamation.” Nor was it manifest which they would do, when the fleet sailed slowly in, not, as usual, with joyful sailors and chearful oars, but all things impressed with the face of sadness. After she descended from the ship, accompanied with her two Infants, carrying in her bosom the melancholy Urn, with her eyes cast steddily down; equal and universal were the groans of the beholders: nor could you distinguish relations from strangers, nor the wailings of men from those of women, unless that the new-comers, who were recent in their sallics of grief, exceeded Agrippina’s attendants, wearied out with long lamentations.
Tiberius had dispatched two Prætorian Cohorts, with directions, that the Magistrates of Calabria, Apulia and Campania, should pay their last offices to the memory of his son. Upon the shoulders therefore of the Tribunes and Centurions his ashes were borne; before went the Ensigns, rough and unadorned, with the Fasces reversed. As they passed through the Colonies, the populace were in black, the Knights in purple; and each place, according to its wealth, burnt precious rayment, perfumes, and whatever else is used in funeral solemnities. Even they whose cities lay remote, attended. To the Gods of the dead, they slew victims, they erected altars, and with tears and united lamentations, testified their common sorrow. Drusus came as far as Terracina, with Claudius the brother of Germanicus, and those of his children who had been left at Rome. The Consuls Marcus Valerius and Marcus Aurelius (just then entered upon their office) the Senate, and great part of the people, filled the road; a scattered procession, each walking and weeping his own way. In this mourning, flattery had no share; for all knew how real was the joy, how hollow the grief of Tiberius for the death of Germanicus.
Tiberius and Livia avoided appearing abroad. Public lamentation they thought below their grandeur; or, perhaps, they apprehended that their countenances, examined by all eyes, might shew deceitful hearts. That Antonia, mother to the deceased, bore any part in the Funeral, I do not find either in the Historians or in the City Journals, though besides Agrippina, and Drusus, and Claudius, his other relations are likewise there recorded by name; whether by sickness she was prevented; or, whether her soul, vanquished by sorrow, could not bear the representation of such a mighty calamity. I would rather believe her to have been constrained by Tiberius and Livia, who left not the palace; and, affecting equal affliction with her, would have it seem, that, by the example of the mother, the grandmother too and uncle were detained.
The day when his remains were reposited in the Tomb of Augustus, various were the symptoms of public grief; now an awful silence, then an uproar of lamentation, the city in every quarter full of processions, the field of Mars in a blaze of torches. Here the soldiers under arms, the Magistrates without the Insignia, the people by their tribes, all cried in concert, that “the Commonwealth was fallen, and henceforth there was no remain of hope;” so openly and boldly, that you would have believed they had forgot who bore sway. But nothing pierced Tiberius more than the ardent affections of the people towards Agrippina, while they gave her such titles as “the ornament of her country, the only blood of Augustus, the single instance of ancient virtue;” and, while applying to Heaven, they implored “the continuance of her Issue, that they might survive the persecuting and malignant.”
There were those who missed the Pomp of a public Funeral, and compared with this the superior honours and magnificence bestowed by Augustus on that of Drusus the father of Germanicus; “that he himself had travelled, in the sharpness of winter, as far as Pavia, and thence, continuing by the corps, had with it entered the city; round his head were placed the Images of the Claudii and Julii; he was mourned in the Forum; his Encomium pronounced in the Rostra’s; all sorts of honours, such as were the inventions of our ancestors, or the improvements of their posterity, were heaped upon him. But to Germanicus were denied the ordinary Solemnities, and such as were due to every distinguished Roman. In a foreign country indeed, his corps, because of the long journey, was burnt without pomp; but afterwards, it was but just to have supplied the scantiness of the first ceremony by the solemnity of the last. His brother met him but one day’s journey, his uncle not even at the gate. Where were those generous observances of the ancients, the Effigies of the dead borne on a bed, Hymns composed in memory of their virtue, with the Oblations of praises and tears? Where, at least, were the ceremonies, and even outside of sorrow?”
All this was known to Tiberius; and, to suppress the discourses of the populace, he published an Edict, “that many illustrious Romans had died for the Commonwealth, but none so vehemently lamented; this, however, was to the glory of himself and of all men, if a measure were observed. The same things which became private families and small states, became not Princes and an Imperial people. Fresh grief, indeed, required vent and ease by lamentation; but, it was now time to recover and fortify their minds. Thus the deified Julius, upon the loss of an only daughter; thus the deified Augustus, upon the hasty death of his grandsons, had both vanquished their sorrow. More ancient examples were unnecessary, how often the Roman people sustained with constancy the slaughter of their Armies, the death of their Generals, and intire destruction of their noblest families. Princes were mortal, the Commonwealth was eternal. They should therefore resume their several vocations.” And, because the Megalensian Games were at hand, he added, “that they should even apply to the usual festivities.”
The vacation ended, public affairs were resumed; Drusus departed for the Army in Illyricum, and the minds of all men were bent upon seeing vengeance done upon Piso. They repeated their resentments, that while he wandered over the delightful countries of Asia and Greece, he was stifling, by contumacious and deceitful delays, the evidences of his crimes; for it was bruited abroad, that Martina, she who was famous for poysonings, and sent, as I have above related, by Cneius Sentius towards Rome, was suddenly dead at Brundusium; that poyson lay concealed in a knot of her hair, but upon her body were found no symptoms of self-murder.
Piso, sending forward his son to Rome, with instructions how to soften the Emperor, proceeded himself to Drusus. Him he hoped to find less rigid for the death of a brother, than favourable for the removal of a rival. Tiberius, to make shew of a spirit perfectly unbiassed, received the young man graciously, and honoured him with the presents usually bestowed on young Noblemen. The answer of Drusus to Piso was, “that if the current rumours were true, he stood in the first place of grief and revenge; but he hoped they were false and chimerical, and that the death of Germanicus would be pernicious to none.” This he declared in public, and avoided all privacy. Nor was it doubted but the answer was dictated by Tiberius, when a youth, otherwise easy and unwary, practised thus the wiles and cunning of age.
Piso having crossed the sea of Dalmatia, and left his ships at Ancona, took first the road of Picenum, and then the Flaminian way, following the Legion which was going from Pannonia to Rome, and thence to garrison in Africa. This too became the subject of popular censure, that he officiously mixed with the soldiers, and courted them in their march and quarters. He therefore, to avoid suspicion, or, because when men are in dread, their conduct wavers, did at Narni embark upon the Nar, and thence sailed into the Tiber. By landing at the burying place of the Cæsars, he heightened the wrath of the populace. Besides, he and Plancina came ashore in open day, in the face of the city, who were crowding the banks, and proceeded with gay countenances, he attended by a long band of Clients, she by a train of Ladies. There were yet other provocations to hatred, the situation of his house, proudly overlooking the Forum, and adorned and illuminated as for a festival, the banquet and rejoicings held in it, all as public as the place.
The next day Fulcinius Trio arraigned Piso before the Consuls, but was opposed by Vitellius, Veranius, and others, who had accompanied Germanicus. They said, “that in this prosecution Trio had no part; nor did they themselves act as accusers, but only gathered materials, and, as witnesses, produced the last injunctions of Germanicus.” Trio dropped that accusation, but got leave to call in question his former life. And now the Emperor was desired to undertake the Trial; a request which the accused did not at all oppose, dreading the inclinations of the People and Senate. “He knew Tiberius, on the contrary, resolute in despising popular rumours, and in guilt confederate with his mother; besides that truth and misrepresentations were easiest distinguished by a single judge, but in assemblies odium and envy often prevailed.” Tiberius was aware of the weight of the Trial, and with what reproaches he was assaulted. Admitting therefore a few confidents, he heard the charge of the accusers, as also the apology of the accused, and left the cause intire to the Senate.
Drusus returned the while from Illyricum; and, though the Senate had for the reduction of Maroboduus, and other his exploits the summer before, decreed him the Triumph of Ovation, he postponed the honour, and privately entered the city. Piso, for his advocates, desired Titus Arruntius, Fulcinius, Asinius Gallus, Eserninus Marcellus, and Sextus Pompeius. But they all framed different excuses; and he had, in their room, Marcus Lepidus, Lucius Piso, and Liveneius Regulus. Now earnest were the expectations of all men, “how great would prove the fidelity of the friends of Germanicus; what the assurance of the criminal, what the behaviour of Tiberius, whether he would sufficiently smother, or betray his sentiments.” He never had a more anxious part; neither did the people ever indulge themselves in such secret murmurs against their Emperor, nor harbour in silence severer suspicions.
When the Senate met, Tiberius made a speech, full of laboured moderation, “that Piso had been his father’s Lieutenant and friend, and lately appointed by himself, at the direction of the Senate, Coadjutor to Germanicus, in administering the affairs of the East. Whether he had there by contumacy and opposition exasperated the young Prince, and exulted over his death, or wickedly procured it, they were then to judge with minds unprejudiced. For, if he who was the Licutenant of my son, violated the limits of his commission, cast off obedience to his General, and even rejoiced at his decease, and at my affliction; I will detest the man, I will banish him from my house, and, for domestic injuries exert domestic revenge, not the revenge of an Emperor. But for you; if his guilt of any man’s death whatsoever, be discovered, shew your just vengeance, and by it satisfy yourselves, satisfy the children of Germanicus, and us his father, and grand-mother. Consider too especially whether he viciated the discipline, and promoted sedition in the Army, whether he sought to debauch the affections of the soldiers, and to recover the province by arms; or whether these allegations are not published falsly and with aggravations by the accusers, with whose over-passionate zeal I am justly offended. For, whither tended the stripping the corps, and exposing it to the eyes and examination of the populace; with what view was it proclaimed, even to foreign nations, that his death was the effect of poison, if all this was still doubtful, and remains yet to be tried? It is true, I bewail my son, and shall ever bewail him. But neither do I hinder the accused to do what in him lies to manifest his innocence, even at the expence of Germanicus, if ought blameable was in him. From you I intreat the same impartiality; let not the connexion of my sorrow with this cause, mislead you to take crimes for proved, because they are imputed. For Piso; if the tenderness of kinsmen, if the faith of friends, has furnished him with patrons, let them aid him in his peril, shew their utmost cloquence, and exert their best diligence. To the same pains, to the same firmness I exhort the accusers. Thus much, out of the common course, we will grant to the memory of Germanicus, that the inquest concerning his death, be held rather here than in the Forum, in the Senate than in the common Tribunals. In all the rest, we will descend to the ordinary methods. Let no man in this cause consider Drusus’s tears; let none regard my sorrow, no more than the probable fictions of calumny against us.”
Two days were then appointed for maintaining the charge, six for preparing the defence, and three for making it. Fulcinius began with things stale and impertinent, about the ambition and rapine of Piso in his administration of Spain; things which, though proved, brought him under no penalty, if acquitted of the present charge; nor, though he had been cleared of former faults, could he escape the load of greater enormities. After him Serveus, Veranius and Vitellius, all with equal zeal, but Vitellius, with great Eloquence, urged, “That Piso, in hatred to Germanicus, and passionate for innovations, had, by tolerating general licenciousness, and the oppression of the Allies, corrupted the common soldiers to that degree, that by the most profligate he was stiled Father of the Legions. He had, on the contrary, been outrageous to the best men, above all to the friends and companions of Germanicus, and, at last, by witchcraft and poyson destroyed Germanicus himself; hence the infernal charms and immolations practised by him and Plancina. He had then attacked the Commonwealth with open arms; and, before he could be brought to be tried, they were forced to fight and defeat him.”
In every article but one his defence was faltering. For, neither his dangerous intrigues in debauching the soldiery, nor his abandoning the province to the most profligate and rapacious, nor even his insults to Germanicus, were to be denied. He seemed only to wipe off the charge of poyson; a charge which in truth was not sufficiently corroborated by the accusers, since they had only to alledge, “that at an entertainment of Germanicus, Piso, while he sat above him, with his hands poysoned the meat.” It appeared absurd, that, amongst so many attending slaves besides his own, in so great a presence, and under the eye of Germanicus, he would attempt it. He himself required that the waiters might be racked, and offered to the rack his own domestics. But the Judges were implacable, from different motives, Tiberius for the war raised in the province; and the Senate could never be convinced that the death of Germanicus was not the effect of fraud. Some moved for the Letters written to Piso from Rome, a motion opposed by Tiberius no less than by Piso. From without, at the same time, were heard the cries of the people, “that if he escaped the judgment of the Senate, they would with their own hands destroy him.” They had already dragged his Statues to the place from whence Malefactors were precipitated, and there had broken them; but by the orders of Tiberius they were rescued and replaced. Piso was put into a litter and carried back by a Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort; an attendance variously understood, whether that officer was intended as a guard for his safety, or a minister of death.
Plancina was under equal public hatred, but had more secret favour; hence it was doubted how far Tiberius durst proceed against her. For herself; while her husband’s hopes were yet plausible, she professed that “she would accompany his fortune whatever it were, and, if he fell, fall with him.” But when, by the secret sollicitations of Livia, she had secured her own pardon, she began by degrees to drop her husband, and to make a separate defence. After this fatal warning, he doubted whether he should make any further efforts; but, by the advice of his sons, fortifying his mind, he again entered the Senate. There he found the prosecution renewed, suffered the declared indignation of the fathers, and saw all things cross and terrible; but nothing so much daunted him as to behold Tiberius, without mercy, without wrath, close, dark, unmoveable, and bent against every access of tenderness. When he was brought home, as if he were preparing for his further defence the next day, he wrote somewhat, which he sealed and delivered to his Freedman. He then washed and anointed, and took the usual care of his person. Late in the night, his wife leaving the chamber, he ordered the door to be shut, and was found, at break of day, with his throat cut, his sword lying by him.
I remember to have heard from ancient men, that in the hands of Piso was frequently seen a bundle of writings, which he did not expose, but which, as his friends constantly averred, “contained the Letters of Tiberius, and his cruel orders towards Germanicus; that he resolved to lay them before the Fathers, and to charge the Emperor, but was deluded by the hollow promises of Sejanus; and that neither did Piso die by his own hands, but by those of an express and private executioner.” I dare affirm neither; nor yet ought I to conceal the relations of such as still lived when I was a youth. Tiberius, with an assumed air of sadness, complained in the Senate, that Piso, by that sort of death, had aimed to load him with obloquy, and asked many questions, how he had passed his last day, how his last night? The Freedman answered to most with prudence, to some in confusion. The Emperor then recited the Letter sent him by Piso. It was conceived almost in these words; “Oppressed by a combination of my enemies, and the imputation of false crimes, since no place is left here to truth and my innocence; to the immortal Gods I appeal, that towards you, Cæsar, I have lived with sincere faith, nor towards your mother with less reverence. For my sons, I implore her protection and yours; my son Cneius had no share in my late management, whatever it were, since, all the while, he abode at Rome. My son Marcus dissuaded me from returning to Syria. Oh that, old as I am, I had yielded to him, rather than he, young as he is, to me! Hence, more passionately, I pray, that, innocent as he is, he suffer not in the punishment of my guilt. By a series of services for five and forty years, I entreat you, by our former fellowship in the Consulship, by the memory of the deified Augustus, your father, by his friendship to me, by mine to you, I entreat you for the life and fortune of my unhappy son. It is the last request which I shall ever make you.” Of Plancina he said nothing.
Tiberius, upon this, cleared the young man of any crime as to the Civil War; he alledged “the orders of his father, which a son could not disobey.” He likewise bewailed “that noble house, and even the grievous lot of Piso himself, however deserved.” For Plancina he pleaded with shame and guilt, alledgeing the importunity of his mother, against whom more particularly the secret murmurs of the best people waxed bitter and poignant. “Was it then the tender part of a grand-mother to admit to her sight the murderess of her grandson, to be intimate with her, and to snatch her from the vengeance of the Senate? To Germanicus alone was denied what by the Laws was granted to every Citizen. By Vitellius and Veranius, the cause of that Prince was mourned and pleaded; by the Emperor and his mother, Plancina was defended and protected. Henceforth she might pursue her infernal arts, so successfully tried, repeat her poisonings, and by her arts and poisons assail Agrippina and her children, and, with the blood of that most miserable house, satiate the worthy grand-mother and uncle.” In this Mock-Trial two days were wasted; Tiberius, all the while, animating the sons of Piso to defend their mother. When the pleaders and witnesses had vigorously pushed the charge, and no reply was made, commiseration prevailed over hatred. The Consul Aurelius Cotta was first asked his opinion; for, when the Emperor collected the voices, the Magistrates likewise voted. Cotta’s sentence was, “That the name of Piso should be razed from the Annals, part of his estate forfeited, part granted to his son Cneius, upon changing that name; his son Marcus should be divested of his dignity, and, content with fifty thousand great sesterces, be banished for ten years; and to Plancina, at the request of Livia, indemnity should be granted.”
Much of this sentence was abated by the Emperor, particularly that of striking Piso’s name out of the Annals, when “that of Marc Anthony, who made war upon his country, that of Julus Antonius, who had by adultery violated the house of Augustus, continued still there.” He also exempted Marcus Piso from the ignominy of degradation, and left him his whole paternal inheritance; for, as I have already often observed, he was incorruptible by any temptations of money, and from the shame of having acquitted Plancina, rendered then more than usually mild. He likewise withstood the motion of Valerius Messalinus, “for erecting a golden Statue in the Temple of Mars the Avenger,” and that of Cæcina Severus, “for founding an Altar to Revenge.” Such Monuments “as these, he argued, were only fit to be raised upon foreign victories; domestic evils were to be buried in sadness.” Messalinus had added, “That to Tiberius, Livia, Antonia, Agrippina and Drusus, public thanks were to be rendered for haveing revenged the death of Germanicus;” but had omitted to mention Claudius. Messalinus was asked by Lucius Asprenas, in the presence of the Senate, “whether by design he had omitted him?” and then at last the name of Claudius was subjoined. To me, the more I revolve the events of late or of old, the more of mockery and slipperiness appears in all human wisdom, and the transactions of men; for, in popular fame, in the hopes, wishes and veneration of the public, all men were rather destined to the Empire, than he for whom fortune then reserved the sovereignty in the dark.
A few days after, Vitellius, Veranius and Serveus, were by the Senate preferred to the honours of the Priesthood, at the motion of Tiberius. To Fulcinius he promised his interest and suffrage towards preferment, but advised him “not to embarass his Eloquence by impetuosity.” This was the end of revenging the Death of Germanicus, an affair ambiguously related, not by those only who then lived and interested themselves in it, but likewise in following times; so dark and intricate are all the highest transactions, while some hold for certain facts, the most precarious hearsays, others turn facts into falshood, and both are swallowed and improved by the credulity of posterity. Drusus went now without the City, there to renew the ceremony of the Auspices, and presently re-entred in the Triumph of Ovation. A few days after died Vipsania his mother, of all the children of Agrippa, the only one who made a pacific end; the rest manifestly perished, or are believed to have perished, by the sword, poison, and famine.
The same year, Tacfarinas, whom I have mentioned to have been the former summer defeated by Camillus, renewed the war in Africa, first by roving devastations, so sudden that they escaped unchastised; next he sacked towns, and bore away mighty plunder; at last he begirt a Roman Cohort, a small distance from the river Pagida. It was a fort commanded by Decrius, a brave soldier, exercised in war, and now touched with the ignominy of such a siege. Encouraging therefore his men to offer open battle, he drew them up without the walls. At the first shock the Cohort was repulsed; but the resolute Decrius braved the enemy’s darts, opposed the runaways, and upbraided the standard-bearers, “that, upon vagabonds, and undisciplined robbers, the Roman soldiers turned their backs.” He had already received several wounds, and his eye was beat out, but still faced the foe, nor ceased fighting, till, wholly deserted by his men, he at last was slain.
Lucius Apronius had succeeded Camillus. As soon as he learnt this defeat, piqued rather by the infamy of his own men, than the glory of the enemy, he practised an exemplary severity, at this time rare, but agreeable to ancient discipline, by executing with a club every tenth man of that ignominious Cohort, drawn by lot. Such too was the effect of this rigour, that those very forces of Tacfarinas, as they besieged the fortress of Thala, were routed by a squadron of five hundred Veterans. In this battle Rufus Helvius, a common soldier, acquired the glory of saving a Citizen, and was by Apronius presented with the Spear and Collar. Tiberius added the Civic Crown, complaining, rather than resenting, that Apronius had not, in right of Proconsul, granted that also. Tacfarinas, now his Numidians were dismayed, and bent against sieges, made a desultory war, flying when attacked, and, upon a retreat, assaulting the rear. As long as the African observed this method, he, with impunity to himself, mocked and harassed the Romans; but after he drew down to the maritime places, the allurements and quantities of plunder confined him to his Camp. Hither Apronius Cesianus was, by his father, dispatched with the cavalry and auxiliary Cohorts, to which was added a detachment of the best Legionary foot; and, having successfully fought the Numidians, drove them back to the desarts.
At Rome the while, Emilia Lepida, who, besides the nobleness of the Emilian family, was great grand-daughter to Pompey and Sylla, was charged with imposing a false birth upon Publius Quirinius her husband, a man rich and childless. The charge was swelled with “adulterics, poisonings, and treasonable dealings with the Chaldeans about the fate and continuance of the Imperial house.” Her brother Manius Lepidus defended her; and, guilty and infamous as she was, the persecution from her husband (continued after their divorce) drew compassion upon her. In this Trial, it was no easy matter to discover the heart of Tiberius, with such subtlety he mixed and shifted the symptoms of indignation and clemency. At first, he besought the Senate, “not to meddle with the articles of treason;” and presently engaged Marcus Servilius, once Consul, and the other witnesses, to produce the very evidences of treason which he would have appeared desirous to suppress. Yet he took the slaves of Lepida from the guard of soldiers, and surrendered them to the Consuls; nor would he suffer them to be examined by torture, as to her practises against himself; he even excused Drusus from voting first, as Consul elect. This some understood as an instance of complaisance, “that the rest might not be obliged to follow the example of Drusus.” Some ascribe it to cruelty, “for that only with design to have her condemned, that concession was made.”
The public Games interrupted the Trial, and in the recess, Lepida, accompanied with other Ladies of great quality, entered the Theatre. There, with doleful lamentations, invoking her illustrious ancestors, especially the great Pompey, whose statues stood round in view, the Theatre itself a monument of his raising, she excited such universal commiseration, that the Spectators burst into tears; and uttering cruel and direful imprecations against Quirinius, declared their indignation, “That to his childless old age, and mean blood, should be given a Lady once designed for the wife of Lucius Cæsar, and for the daughter-in-law of the deified Augustus.” At last, by racking her slaves, her crimes were made manifest, and the judgment of Rubellius Blandus prevailed, for interdicting her from fire and water. To this judgment Drusus assented, though others had proposed a milder. That her estate should not be forfeited, was granted to Scaurus, who by her had had a daughter. And now, after condemnation, Tiberius advertised the Senate, that “from the slaves too of Quirinius he had learnt her attempts to poison him.”
As a consolation to the illustrious Families of Rome, for their late calamities (for the Calpurnian house had suffered the loss of Piso, and, just after, the Emilian house that of Lepida) Decius Silanus was now restored to the Junian family. I will briefly recite his disgrace. As against the Republic, the fortune of Augustus was prevalent, so, in his family, it was unhappy, by the lewdness of his daughter and grand-daughter, whom he turned out of Rome, and with death or exile punished their adulterers. For, to a fault common between men and women, he gave the heinous name of sacrilege and treason; and thence had a colour for departing from the tenderness of our ancestors, and for violating his own laws. But I shall hereafter relate the fate of others from this his severity, as also the other transactions of that time, if, having finished my present undertaking, life remains for other studies. Silanus, who had viciated the granddaughter of Augustus, though he felt no higher indignation than to be excluded from the friendship and presence of the Emperor, yet understood this as a denunciation of banishment; nor durst he, till the reign of Tiberius, supplicate the Prince and Senate for leave to return; and then only trusted to the prevailing credit of his brother Marcus Silanus, distinguished by his illustrious quality, and eminent for his great Eloquence. Marcus having returned thanks to Tiberius, had this answer before the Senate; “That he himself also rejoiced that his brother was returned from travels so long and remote; that his return home was perfectly unexceptionable, since neither by decree of Senate, nor by any sentence of law had he been driven thence; that to himself however still remained intire the resentments of his father towards him; nor by the return of Silanus were the purposes of Augustus violated.” Thenceforward he remained in Rome, but distinguished by no preferment in the State.
The qualifying of the Law Papia Poppea was afterwards proposed; a Law, which, to enforce those of Julius Cæsar, Augustus had made when he was old, for punishing Celibacy, and enriching the Exchequer. Nor even by this means had marriages and children multiplied, while a passion to live single and childless still prevailed: But, in the mean time, the numbers threatened and in danger by it, increased daily, while by the glosses and chicane of the impleaders every family was undone. So that, as before the city laboured under the weight of crimes, so now under the pest of laws. From this thought I am led backwards to the first rise of Laws, and to open the steps and causes by which we are arrived to the present number and excess, a number infinite and perplexed.
The first race of men, free as yet from every depraved passion, lived without guile and crimes, and therefore without chastisements and restraints; nor was there occasion for rewards, when of their own accord they pursued righteousness; and as they courted nothing contrary to justice, they were debarred from nothing by terrors. But, after they had abandoned their original equality, and from modesty and shame to do evil, proceeded to ambition and violence, Lordly dominion was introduced, and arbitrary rule, and in many nations grew perpetual. Some, either from the beginning, or after they were surfeited with Kings, preferred the sovereignty of Laws, which, agreeably to the artless minds of men, were at first short and simple. The laws in most renown were those framed for the Cretans by Minos, for the Spartans by Lycurgus; and afterwards such as Solon delivered to the Athenians, now greater in number, and more exquisirely composed. To the Romans justice was administered by Romulus according to his pleasure. After him, Numa managed the people by religious devices, and laws divine. Some institutions were made by Tullus Hostilius, some by Ancus Martius; but above all our laws were those founded by Servius Tullius, such laws as even our Kings were bound to obey.
Upon the expulsion of Tarquin, the people, for the security of their freedom against the encroachment and factions of the Senate, and for binding the public concord, prepared many ordinances. Hence were created the Decemviri, and by them were composed the twelve Tables, out of a collection of the most excellent institutions found abroad. This was the period of all upright and impartial Laws. What laws followed, though sometimes made against crimes and offenders, were yet chiefly made by violence, through the animosity of the two Estates, and for seizing unjustly withholden offices, or for banishing illustrious Patriots, and to other wicked ends. Hence the Gracchi and Saturnini, inflamers of the people; and hence Livius Drusus vying, on behalf of the Senate, in popular concessions with these inflamers, whence our Italian Allies were first corrupted and animated with fair promises, then by the opposition of other Demagogues disappointed and deceived. Neither during the War of Italy, nor during the Civil War, was the making of regulations discontinued; many and contradictory were even then made. At last Sylla the Dictator, changing or abolishing the past, added many of his own, and procured some respite in this matter, but not long; for presently followed the turbulent pursuits and proposals of Lepidus, and soon after were the Tribunes restored to their licentious authority of throwing the people into combustions at pleasure. And now Laws were not made for the public only, but, for particular men, particular laws; and, corruption abounding in the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth abounded in laws.
Pompey was now, in his third Consulship, chosen to correct the public enormities, and his remedies proved to the State more grievous than its distempers. He made Laws, such as suited his ambition, and broke them when they thwarted his will, and lost by arms the regulations which by arms he had procured. Henceforward for twenty years civil discord raged, and there was neither law nor settlement; the most wicked found impunity in the excess of their wickedness, and many virtuous men in their uprightness met destruction. At length, Augustus Cæsar, in his sixth Consulship, then confirmed in power without a rival, abolished the orders which during the Triumvirate he had established, and gave us laws proper for peace and a single ruler. These laws had sanctions severer than any heretofore known; as their guardians, Informers were appointed, who by the Law Papia Poppea were encouraged with rewards, to watch such as neglected the privileges annexed to marriage and fatherhood, and consequently could claim no legacy or inheritance, the same, as vacant, belonging to the Roman people, who were the public parent. But these Informers struck much deeper; by them the whole City, all Italy, and the Roman Citizens in every part of the Empire, were infested and persecuted; numbers were stripped of their intire fortunes, and terror had seized all, when Tiberius, for a check to this evil, chose twenty Noblemen, five who were formerly Consuls, five, who were formerly Prætors, with ten other Senators, to review that law. By them many of its intricacies were explained, its strictness qualified; and hence some present alleviation was yielded.
Tiberius, about this time, recommended to the Senate Nero, one of the sons of Germanicus, now seventeen years of age, and desired, “that he might be exempted from executing the office of the Vigintivirate, and have leave to sue for the Quæstorship five years sooner than the laws directed.” A piece of mockery this request to all who heard it; but Tiberius pretended, “that the same concessions had been decreed to himself, and his brother Drusus, at the request of Augustus.” Nor do I doubt but there were then such who secretly ridiculed that sort of petitions from Augustus. Such policy was however natural to that Prince, then laying the foundations of the Imperial power, and while the Republic and its late laws were still fresh in the minds of men. Besides, the relation was lighter between Augustus and his wife’s sons, than between a grandfather and his grandsons. To the grant of the Quæstorship was added a seat in the College of Pontifs; and the first day he entered the Forum in his manly robe, a donative of corn and money was distributed to the populace, who exulted to behold a son of Germanicus now of age. Their joy was soon heightened by his marriage with Julia, the daughter of Drusus. But as these transactions were attended with public applauses, so the intended marriage of the daughter of Sejanus with the son of Claudius, was received with popular indignation. By this alliance the nobility of the Claudian house seemed stained, and by it Sejanus, already suspected of aspiring views, was exalted still higher.
At the end of this year died two great and eminent men, Lucius Volusius, and Sallustius Crispus. The family of Volusius was ancient, but, in the exercise of public office, rose never higher than the Prætorship; it was he who honoured it with the Consulship. He was likewise created Censor, for modelling the classes of the Equestrian Order, and first accumulated the wealth which raised that family beyond all measure. Crispus was born of an Equestrian house, great nephew by a sister to Caius Sallustius, the renowned Roman Historian, and by him adopted. The way to the great offices was open to him; but, in imitation of Mæcenas, he lived without the dignity of Senator, yet outwent in power many who were distinguished with Consulships and triumphs. His manner of living, his dress and daintiness, were different from the ways of antiquity, and, in expence and affluence, he bordered rather upon luxury. He possessed, however, a vigour of spirit, equal to great affairs, and exerted the greater promptness, for that he hid it in a shew of indolence and sloth. He was therefore, in the life-time of Mæcenas, the next in favour, afterwards chief confident in all the secret Counsels of Augustus and Tiberius, and assenting to the order for slaying Agrippa Posthumus. In his old age he preserved with the Prince rather the outside than the vitals of authority. The same had happened to Mæcenas. Such is the lot of power, rarely perpetual, perhaps from satiety on both sides, when Princes have no more to grant, and Ministers no more to crave.
Next followed the Consulship of Tiberius and Drusus, to Tiberius the fourth, to Drusus the second; a Consulship remarkable, for that in it the father and son were Collegues. There was indeed the same fellowship between Tiberius and Germanicus, two years before; but, besides the distastes of jealousy in the uncle, the ties of blood were not so near. In the beginning of the year, Tiberius, on pretence of his health, retired to Campania, either already meditating a long and perpetual retirement, or to leave to Drusus, in his father’s absence, the honour of executing the Consulship alone. And there happened a thing which, small in itself, yet as it produced mighty contestation, furnished the young Consul with matter of popular affection. Domitius Corbulo, formerly Prætor, complained to the Senate of Lucius Sylla, a noble youth, “that in the shew of Gladiators, Sylla would not yield him place.” Age, domestic custom, and the ancient men were for Corbulo. Mamercus Scaurus, Lucius Arruntius, and others, laboured for their kinsman Sylla. Warm speeches were made, and the examples of our ancestors were urged, “who by severe decrees had censured and restrained the irreverence of the youth.” Drusus interposed with arguments proper for calming animosities, and Corbulo had satisfaction made him by Scaurus, who was both father-in-law and uncle to Sylla, and the most copious Orator of that age. The same Corbulo, exclaiming against “the condition of most of the roads through Italy, that through the fraud of the undertakers, and negligence of the civil officers, they were broken and unpassable;” undertook of his own accord the cure of that abuse; an undertaking which he executed, not so much to the advantage of the public, as to the ruin of many private men in their fortunes and reputation, by his violent mulcts, and unjust judgments and forfeitures.
Soon after Tiberius by Letter acquainted the Senate, “That by the incursions of Tacfarinas there were fresh commotions in Africa, and that they must chuse a Proconsul, one of military experience, vigorous, and equal to that war.” Sextus Pompeius, taking this occasion to discharge his hate against Marcus Lepidus, reproached him “as dastardly, indigent, a scandal to his ancestors, and therefore to be divested even of the Government of Asia, his province by lot.” The Senate opposed him; they thought Lepidus a man rather mild than slothful, and that, as in his narrow fortune bequeathed to him, but not impaired by him, he supported his quality without blemish, he merited honour rather than contumely. He was therefore sent to Asia. Concerning Africa, it was decreed, that the appointment of a Governor should be left to the Emperor.
During these transactions, Cæcina Severus proposed, “That no Magistrate should go into any province accompanied by his wife.” He introduced this motion with a long preface, “that he lived with his own in perfect concord, by her he had six children, and what he offered to the public he had practised himself, having during forty years service, left her still behind him, confined to Italy. It was not indeed, without cause, established of old, that women should neither be carried by their husbands into confederate nations, nor into foreign. A train of women introduced luxury in peace, by their fears retarded war, and made a Roman army resemble, in their march, a mixed host of Barbarians. The sex was not tender only and unfit for travel, but, if suffered, cruel, aspiring, and greedy of authority; they even marched amongst the soldiers, and were obeyed by the officers. A woman had lately presided at the exercises of the troops, and at the decursions of the Legions. The Senate themselves might remember, that as often as any of the Magistrates were charged with plundering the provinces, their wives were always charged with much guilt. To the Ladies the most profligate in the province ever applied, by them all affairs were undertaken, by them transacted; at home two distinct courts were kept, and abroad the wife had her distinct train and attendants. The Ladies too issued distinct orders, but more imperious, and better obeyed. Such feminine excesses were formerly restrained by the Oppian and other Laws, but now these restraints were violated, women ruled all things, their families, the Forum and Tribunals, and even the armies.”
This speech was heard by few with approbation, and many proclaimed their dissent, “for that neither was that the point in debate, nor was Cæcina considerable enough to censure so weighty an affair.” He was presently answered by Valerius Messalinus, who was the son of Messala, and inherited a sparkling of his father’s Eloquence: “that many rigorous institutions of the ancients were softened and changed for the better. For neither was Rome now, as of old, beset with wars, nor Italy with hostile provinces; hence a few concessions were made to the conveniences of women, who were so far from burdening the provinces, that to their own husbands there they were no burden. As to honours, attendants, and expence, they enjoyed them in common with their husbands, who could receive no embarassment from their company in time of peace. To war, indeed, we must go equipped and unincumbered; but after the fatigues of war, what was more allowable than the consolations of a wife? But it seemed, the wives of some Magistrates had given a loose to ambition and avarice: And were the Magistrates themselves free from these excesses? Were not most of them governed by many exorbitant appetites? Did we therefore send none into the provinces? It was added, that the husbands were corrupted by their corrupt wives; Were therefore all single men uncorrupt? The Oppian Laws were once thought necessary, because the exigencies of the State required their severity; they were afterwards relaxed and mollified, because that too was expedient for the State. In vain we covered our own sloth with borrowed names; if the wife broke bounds, the husband ought to bear the blame. It was moreover unjustly judged, for the weak and uxorious spirit of one or a few, to bereave all others of the fellowship of their wives, the natural partners of their prosperity and distress. Besides, the sex, weak by nature, would be left defenceless, exposed to the luxurious bent of their native passions, and to the seduction of adulterers. Scarce under the eye and restraint of the husband, was the marriage-bed preserved inviolate; what must be the consequence, when, by an absence of many years, the ties of marriage would be forgot, as it were, in a divorce? It became them therefore, so to cure the evils abroad, as not to forget the enormities at Rome.” To this Drusus added somewhat concerning his own wedlock. “Princes, he said, were frequently obliged to visit the remote parts of the Empire; how often did the deified Augustus travel to the East, how often to the West, still accompanied with Livia? He himself too had taken a progress to Illyricum, and, if it were expedient, was ready to visit other nations; but not always with an easy spirit, if he were to be torn from his dear wife, her by whom he had so many children.” Thus was Cæcina’s motion eluded.
When the Senate met next, they had a Letter from Tiberius. In it he affected indirectly to chide the fathers, “that upon him they cast all public cares,” and named them M. Lepidus and Junius Blesus, to choose either for Proconsul of Africa. They were then both heard as to this nomination, and Lepidus excused himself with earnestness, pleaded “his bodily frailty, the tender age of his children, and a daughter fit for marriage.” There was another reason too, of which he said nothing, but it was easily understood, even that Blesus was uncle to Sejanus, and therefore had the prevailing interest. Blesus too made a shew of refusing, but not with the like positiveness, and moreover, was heard with partiality by the flatterers of power.
Now at last broke out a grievance which had lain hitherto smothered in the uneasy minds of men. The Statues of the Emperor were become sanctuaries to every profligate, who, by laying hold on these Statues, had assumed the insolence of venting with impunity their invectives and hatred against worthy men. Even slaves and freedmen were thence grown terrible to their masters, and wantonly insulted and threatned them. Against this abuse it was argued by Caius Sestius the Senator, “that Princes were indeed the representatives of the Gods, but by the Gods just petitions only were heard, nor did any one betake himself to the Capitol, or the other Temples of Rome, that under their sacred shelter he might exercise villainies. The laws were abolished, and finally overturned, if a criminal convict could, in the public Forum, nay, at the door of the Senate, assault her prosecutor with invectives and menaces; Yet thus had Annia Rufilla assaulted him, she whom he had got judicially condemned for forgery; neither durst he seek relief from the law, for that she protected herself with the Emperor’s Statue. Much the same reasoning was offered by others: some aggravated the offence with greater bitterness, and besought Drusus to shew an exemplary instance of vengeance; so that she was summoned, convicted of the charge, and by his command committed to the common prison.
Considius Equus too, and Celius Cursor, Roman Knights, were at the motion of Drusus, punished by a decree of Senate, for forging a charge of treason against the Prætor Magius Cæcilianus. From this their punishment and that of Rufilla, Drusus reaped popular praise, “that by him, living thus sociably at Rome, and frequenting the public assemblies, the dark spirit and designs of his father were softened.” Neither did the luxury, in which the young Prince lived, give much offence. “Let him, it was said, be rather thus imployed, his days in shews and acts of popularity, his nights in banqueting, than in dismal solitude, withdrawn from public gayety, worried with incessant distrusts, and fostering black designs.”
For neither was Tiberius nor the impleaders yet tired with accusations. Ancharius Priscus had accused Cæsius Cordus, Proconsul of Crete, of robbing the public, with an additional charge of high treason, a charge which at that time was the main bulwark of all accusations. Antistius Vetus, a Nobleman of the first rank in Macedonia, had been tried for adultery, and absolved. This offended Tiberius, who reproached the Judges, and recalled him to be tried for treason, as a disturber of the public, and confederate with the late King Rhescuporis, when having slain his brother Cotys, he meditated war against us. So that Vetus was condemned, and interdicted from fire and water. To this sentence it was added, “that he should be confined to an island, neither in the neighbourhood of Macedon nor of Thrace.” For, upon the division of that Kingdom between Rhemetalces and the sons of Cotys, who being children, had for their guardian Trebellienus Rufus, the Thracians, not used to our Government, waxed discontented and tumultuous; nor did they less censure Rhemetalces than Trebellienus, for leaving unpunished the violences done them. The Cœletæans, Odrysœans, and other very powerful nations, took arms, under distinct Captains, but all equal in meanness and incapacity. For this reason, their armies were not united, nor the war terrible. Some committed ravages at home, others traversed Mount Haemus, to engage in the insurrection the distant provinces. The greatest part, and best appointed, besieged Philippopolis, (a City founded by Philip of Macedon) and in it King Rhemetalces.
Publius Velleius, who commanded the army in the neighbouring province, when he heard of these commotions, dispatched parties of horse and light foot, some against those who roamed about for plunder, some against such as rambled from place to place to sollicit succours; he himself led the body of the Infantry to raise the siege. These several enterprizes were at once successfully executed, the rovers were cut off; divisions arose amongst the besiegers, and the King fortunately sallied, just as the Roman forces arrived. This gang of Thracians deserve not the name of an army, nor this rout to be called a battle, where vagabonds half-armed were slaughtered, without blood on our side.
The same year the Cities of Gaul, stimulated by their excessive debts, began a Rebellion. The most vehement incendiaries were Julius Florus, and Julius Sacrovir, the first amongst those of Treves, the second amongst the Eduans. They were both of distinguished nobility, both descended from ancestors, who had done signal services to the Roman State, and thence acquired of old the right of Roman Citizens, a privilege rare in those days, and only the prize of virtue. When by secret meetings they had gained those who were most prompt to rebel, with such as were desperate through indigence, or, from guilt of past crimes, forced to commit more, they agreed that Florus should begin the insurrection in Belgia, Sacrovir amongst the neighbouring Gauls. They therefore had many consultations and cabals, where they spared no topic of sedition, “their tribute without end, their devouring usury, the pride and cruelty of their Governors, the discord that had seized the Roman soldiery since the report of the murder of Germanicus; a glorious conjuncture for redeeming their Liberty, if they would only consider their own happiness and strength, while Italy was poor and exhausted, the Roman populace weak and unwarlike, the Roman armies destitute of all vigour, but that derived from foreigners.”
Scarce one City remained untainted with the seeds of this Rebellion, but it first broke out at Angiers and Tours. The former were reduced by Acilius Aviola, a Legate, with the assistance of a Cohort drawn from the garrison at Lions. Those of Tours were suppressed by the same Aviola, assisted with a detachment sent from the Legions, by Visellius Varro, Lieutenant-Governor of lower Germany. Some of the Chiefs of the Gauls had likewise joined him with succours, the better to disguise their defection, and to push it with more effect hereafter. Even Sacrovir was beheld engaged in fight for the Romans, with his head bare, a demonstration, he pretended, of his bravery; but, the prisoners averred, “that he did it to be known to his country-men, and to escape their darts.”
An account of all this was laid before Tiberius, who slighted it, and by hesitation fostered the war. Florus the while pushed his designs, and tried to persuade a Regiment of horse, levied at Treves, and kept under our pay and discipline, to begin the war, by putting to the sword the Roman Merchants; and some few were corrupted by him, but the body remained in their allegiance. A rabble however of his followers and desperate debtors, took arms, and were making to the Forest of Arden, when the Legions, sent from both armies by Visellius and Caius Silius, through different routs to intercept them, marred their march. Julius Indus too, one of the same country with Florus, at enmity with him, and therefore more eager to engage him, was dispatched forward with a chosen band, and broke the ill-appointed multitude. Florus, by lurking from place to place, frustrated the search of the conquerors; at last, when he saw all the passes beset with soldiers, he fell by his own hands. This was the issue of the insurrection at Treves.
Amongst the Eduans the revolt was as much stronger, as the state was more opulent, and the forces to suppress it were to be brought from afar. Augustodunum, the capital of the nation, was seized by Sacrovir, and in it all the noble youth of Gaul, who were there instructed in the Liberal Arts. By securing these pledges, he aimed to bind in his interest their parents and relations, and at the same time distributed to the young men the arms which he had caused to be secretly made. He had forty thousand men, the fifth part armed like our Legions, the rest with poles, hangers, and other weapons used by hunters. To the number were added such of the slaves as had been appointed to be Gladiators, covered, after the fashion of the country, with a continued armour of iron, and stiled Crupellarii, a sort of militia, unweildly at exercising their own weapons, and impenetrable by those of others. These forces were still increased by voluntiers from the neighbouring cities, where, though the public body did not hitherto avow the revolt, yet the zeal of particulars was manifest. They had likewise leisure to increase from the contention of the two Roman Generals; a contention for some time undecided, while each demanded the command in that war. At length Varro, old and infirm, yielded to the superior vigour of Silius.
Now, at Rome, “not only the insurrection of Treves and of the Eduans, but likewise, that threescore and four cities of Gaul had revolted, that the Germans had joined in the revolt, and that Spain fluctuated,” were reports, all believed with the usual aggravations of fame. The best men grieved in sympathy for their country; many, from hatred of the present government, and thirst of change, rejoiced in their own perils. They inveighed against Tiberius, “that, in such a mighty uproar of rebellion, he was only employed in perusing the informations of the State-Accusers.” They asked, “Did he mean to surrender Julius Sacrovir to the Senate, to try him for treason?” They exulted, “that there were at last found men, who would with arms restrain his bloody Letters (to the Senate) continually demanding condemnations and executions;” and declared, “that even war was a happy change for a most wretched and calamitous peace.” So much the more for this, Tiberius affected to appear wrapt up in security and unconcern; he neither changed place nor countenance, but behaved himself at that time as at other times, whether from elevation of mind, or whether he had learnt that the state of things was not alarming, and only heightened by vulgar representation.
Silius the while sending forward a band of Auxiliaries, marched with two Legions, and ravaged the villages of the Sequanians, next neighbours to the Eduans, and their associates in arms. He then advanced towards Augustodunum, a hasty march, the Standard-bearers mutually vying in expedition, and the common men breathing ardour and eagerness, “that no time might be wasted even in the usual refreshments, none of their nights in sleep; let them only see and confront the foe; they wanted no more to be victorious.” Twelve miles from Augustodunum Sacrovir appeared with his forces upon the plains; in the front he had placed the iron troop, his Cohorts in the wings, the half-armed in the rear; he himself, upon a fine horse, attended by the other chiefs, addressing himself to them from rank to rank; reminded them “of the glorious atchievements of the ancient Gauls; of the victorious mischiefs they had brought upon the Romans; of the liberty and renown attending victory; of their redoubled and intolerable servitude, if once more vanquished.”
A short speech, and disheartened audience! For, the embattled Legions approached, and the crowd of townsmen, ill-appointed and novices in war, stood astonished, bereft of the present use of eyes and hearing. On the other side, Silius, though he presumed the victory, and thence might have spared exhortations, yet called to his men, “That they might be with reason ashamed, that they, the Conquerors of Germany, should be thus led against a rabble of Gauls as against an equal enemy; one Cohort had newly defcated the rebels of Tours, one Regiment of horse those of Treves; a handful of this very army had routed the Sequanians. The present Eduans, the more they abound in wealth, the more they wallow in voluptuousness, are so much the more soft and unwarlike: this is what you are now to prove, and your task to prevent their escape.” His words were returned with a mighty cry. Instantly the horse surrounded the foe, the foot attacked their front, and the wings were presently routed. The iron-band gave some short obstruction, as the bars of their coats withstood the stroaks of sword and pike; but the soldiers had recourse to their hatchets and pick-axes, and, as if they had battered a wall, hewed their bodies and armour; others with clubs, and some with forks, beat down the helpless lumps, who, as they lay stretched along, without one struggle to rise, were left for dead. Sacrovir fled first to Augustodunum, thence, fearful of being surrendered, to a neighbouring town, accompanied by his most faithful adherents; there he slew himself, and the rest one another, having first set the town on fire, by which they were all consumed.
Now at last Tiberius wrote to the Senate about this war, and, at once, acquainted them with its rise and conclusion, neither aggravateing facts nor lessening them; but added, “That it was conducted by the fidelity and bravery of his Lieutenants, guided by his counsels.” He likewise assigned the reasons why neither he, nor Drusus, went to that war; “That the Empire was an immense body, and it became not the dignity of a Prince, upon the revolt of one or two communities, to desert the capital, whence motion was derived to the whole. But now, since he could not be thought conducted by any dread of those nations, he would take a progress to visit and settle them.” The Senate decreed vows and supplications for his return, with other customary honours. Only Cornelius Dolabella, while he strove to outdo others, fell into ridiculous sycophancy, by proposing, “That returning from Campania he should enter Rome in the Triumph of Ovation.” This occasioned a Letter from Tiberius, in which he declared, “That he was not so destitute of glory, that after having in his youth subdued the fiercest nations, and enjoyed or slighted so many Triumphs, he should now in his old age seek empty honours from a short progress about the suburbs of Rome.”
About the same time he desired of the Senate, that “the corps of Sulpitius Quirinus might be distinguished with a public Funeral.” Quirinus was born at Lanuvium, a Municipal town, and no wise related to the ancient Patrician family of the Sulpitii, but being a brave soldier, was, for his vigorous military services to Augustus, rewarded with the Consulship, and soon after with a Triumph, for driving the Homonades out of their strong holds in Cilicia. Next, when the young Caius Cæsar was sent to settle the affairs of Armenia, Quirinus was appointed his Governor, and at the same time paid all court to Tiberius, then in his retirement at Rhodes. This the Emperor represented now to the Senate, extolled the kind offices of Quirinus, and branded Marcus Lollius as the author of the perverse behaviour of Caius Cæsar to himself, and of all the jarring between them. In other instances the memory of Quirinus was not acceptable to the Senate, for his deadly persecution against Lepida, above recited, and for his prevailing power and avarice in his old age.
At the end of the year, Caius Lutorius Priscus, a Roman Knight, who had composed a celebrated Poem, bewailing the death of Germanicus, and received a reward from Tiberius, was attacked by an informer. His charge was, “That during an illness of Drusus, he had composed another, which, if the distemper proved mortal, he hoped to publish with a reward still greater.” This Poem Lutorius had, in the fulness of vanity and ostentation, rehearsed at the house of Publius Petronius, in the presence of Vitellia, mother-in-law to Petronius, and of other Ladies of quality, who were all summoned by the impleader, and all, except Vitellia, were terrified into a confession; she alone persisted that she had heard nothing. But the evidence tending to destroy him had most credit, and it was the sentence of Haterius Agrippa, Consul elect, that death should be his punishment.
This was opposed by M. Lepidus, who spoke on this wise. “Conscript fathers, if we only regard, with what abominable effusions Lutorius Priscus has defiled his own soul, and the ears of men, neither dungeon, nor rope, nor indeed the punishments peculiar to slaves, are sufficient for him. But though wickedness and enormities abound without measure, yet since in coercions and penalties, we must observe the limits set by the moderation of the Prince, set by precedents made by our ancestors and yourselves; and since we must distinguish the vanity of the head from the malignity of the heart, and words from evil doings; there is room left for a middle judgment, by which neither his offence need escape unpunished, nor we repent of our tenderness or severity. I have often heard our Prince complain, when any criminal had, by a desperate death, prevented his mercy. The life of Lutorius is still untouched; to save it, will no wise endanger the State, nor will the taking it away have any influence upon others. His studies, as they are full of wildness, are likewise empty and perishing; neither is aught important or terrible to be apprehended from one who thus betrays his own follies, and makes his court not to the minds of men, but the imaginations of women. Let him, however, be expelled Rome, interdicted from fire and water, and his estate be forfeited; which judgment of mine is the same as if he were charged with high treason.”
Of all the Consulars, only Rubellius Blandus assented to this opinion of Lepidus; the rest voted with Agrippa. Priscus was led to the dungcon, and instantly put to death. Tiberius, in a Letter to the Senate, discanted upon this proceeding, with his usual doubles and ambiguities, magnified “their tenderness and zeal in avenging thus with severity even such slight injuries done to the Prince;” entreated them, “not to be sudden in punishing for words;” he praised Lepidus, and censured not Agrippa. Hence an order was made, “that the decrees of Senate should not in less than ten days be carried to the Exchequer, and to the condemned so much time should be granted.” But to the Senate remained no liberty of revisal or annulling; nor was Tiberius ever softened by time.
Caius Sulpitius and Decimus Haterius were the following Consuls. Their year was exempt from disturbances abroad, but at home some severe blow was apprehended against luxury, which prevailed monstrously in all things that create a profusion of money. But as the more pernicious articles of expence were covered by concealing their prices, therefore from the excesses of the table, which were become the common subject of daily animadversion, apprehensions were raised of some rigid correction from a Prince who observed himself the ancient parcimony. For, Caius Bibulus having begun the complaint, the other Ædiles took it up, and argued, “That the sumptuary Laws were despised, the pomp and expence of plate and entertainments, in spite of restraints, increased daily, and by moderate penalties were not to be stopped.” This grievance thus represented to the Senate, was by them referred intire to the Emperor. Tiberius having long weighed with himself whether such an abandoned propensity to prodigality could be stemmed, whether the stemming it would not bring heavier evils upon the public, how dishonourable it would be to attempt what could not be effected, or at least effected by the disgrace of the nobility, and by the subjecting illustrious men to infamous punishments, wrote at last to the Senate in this manner:
“In other matters, Conscript Fathers, perhaps it might be more expedient for you to consult me in the Senate, and for me to declare there what I judge for the public weal; but in the debate of this affair, it was best that my eyes were withdrawn, lest, while you marked the countenances and terror of particulars charged with scandalous luxury, I too should have observed them, and, as it were, caught them in it. Had the vigilant Ædiles first asked counsel of me, I know not whether I should not have advised them rather to have passed by potent and inveterate corruptions, than only make it manifest, what enormities are an over-match for us. But they, in truth, have done their duty, as I would have all other Magistrates fulfil theirs. But, for myself, it is neither commendable to be silent, nor does it belong to my station to speak out; since I neither bear the character of an Ædile, nor of a Prætor, nor of a Consul. Something still greater and higher is required of a Prince. Every one is ready to assume to himself the credit of whatever is well done, while upon the Prince alone are thrown the miscarriages of all. But what is it that I am first to prohibit, what excess retrench to the ancient standard? Am I to begin with that of our country seats, spacious without bounds; and with the number of domestics, a number distributed into nations in private families? or with the quantity of plate, silver, and gold? or with pictures, and the works, and statues of brass, the wonders of art? or with the gorgeous vestments, promiscuously worn by men and women? or with what is peculiar to the women, those precious stones, for the purchase of which our coin is carried into foreign and hostile nations? I am not ignorant that at entertainments and in conversation, these excesses are censured, and a regulation is required. Yet if an equal Law were made, if equal penalties were prescribed, these very censurers would loudly complain, That the State was utterly overturned, that snares and destruction were prepared for every illustrious house, that no man could be guiltless, and all men would be the prey of informers. And yet bodily diseases grown inveterate and strengthened by time, cannot be checked but by medicines rigid and violent; it is the same with the soul, the sick and raging soul, itself corrupted and scattering its corruption, is not to be qualified but by remedies equally strong with its own flaming lusts. So many Laws made by our ancestors, so many added by the deified Augustus, the former being lost in oblivion, and (which is more heinous) the latter in contempt, have only served to render luxury more secure. When we covet a thing yet unforbidden, we are apt to fear that it may be forbidden; but when once we can with impunity and defiance over-leap prohibited bounds, there remain afterwards nor fear nor shame. How therefore did Parcimony prevail of old? It was because every one was a Law to himself, it was because we were then only masters of one City; nor afterwards, while our dominion was confined only to Italy, had we found the same instigations to voluptuousness. By foreign Conquests we learned to waste the property of others, and in the Civil Wars to consume our own. What a mighty matter is it that the Ædiles remonstrate! how little to be weighed in the balance with others? It is wonderful that no body represents, That Italy is in constant want of foreign supplies, that the lives of the Roman people are daily at the mercy of uncertain seas and of tempests: were it not for our supports from the provinces, supports, by which the masters, and their slaves, and their estates, are maintained, would our own Groves and Villas maintain us? This care therefore, Conscript Fathers, is the business of the Prince, and by the neglect of this care, the foundations of the state would be dissolved. The cure of other defects depends upon our own private spirits; some of us shame will reclaim, necessity will mend the poor, satiety the rich. Or if any of the Magistrates, from a confidence of his own firmness and perseverance, will undertake to stemm the progress of so great an evil, he has both my praises, and my acknowledgement that he discharges me of part of my fatigues. But if such will only impeach corruptions, and when they have gained the glory, would leave upon me the indignation, (indignation of their own raising;) believe me, Conscript Fathers, I am not fond of bearing resentments. I already suffer many for the Commonwealth, many that are grievous, and almost all unjust; and therefore, with reason, I intreat that I may not be loaded with such as are wantonly and vainly raised, and promise no advantage to you nor to me.”
The Senate, upon reading the Emperor’s Letter, released the Ædiles from this pursuit; and the luxury of the table which, from the battle of Actium till the revolution made by Galba, flowed, for the space of an hundred years, in all profusion, at last gradually declined. The causes of this change are worth knowing. Formerly the great families, signal for nobility or for riches, were carried away with a passion for magnificence; for in those days it was allowed to court the good graces of the Roman people, with the favour of Kings, and confederate Nations, and to be courted by them; so that each was distinguished by the lustre of popularity and dependences, in proportion to his affluence, the splendour of his house, and the figure which he made. But after Imperial fury had for some time raged in the slaughter of the Grandees, and great reputation brought sure destruction, the rest grew wiser. Besides, new men frequently chosen Senators from the Municipal towns, from the Colonies, and even from the Provinces, brought with them their own domestic parcimony; and though, by fortune or industry, many of them grew wealthy as they grew old, yet their former frugal spirit continued. But above all, Vespasian proved the promoter of moderation and frugality, being himself the pattern of ancient Oeconomy in his person and table; hence the compliance of the public with the manners of the Prince, and an emulation to practise them, an incitement more prevalent than the terrors of Laws and all their penalties. Or, perhaps, all human things go a certain round, and, as there are revolutions of time, there are also vicissitudes in manners. Nor, indeed, have our ancestors excelled us in all things; our own age has produced many excellencies worthy of praise and the imitation of posterity. Let us still preserve this strife in virtue with our forefathers.
Tiberius having gained the fame of moderation, because, by rejecting the project for reforming luxury, he had disarmed the growing hopes of the accusers, wrote to the Senate, to desire the Tribunitial Power for Drusus. Augustus had devised this title as best suiting the supreme power, while avoiding the odious name of King or Dictator, he yet wanted some particular appellation, under it to controul all other powers in the State. He afterwards assumed Marcus Agrippa into a fellowship in it, and, upon his death, Tiberius, that none might doubt who was to be his successor. By this means, he conceived, he should defeat the aspiring views of others; besides, he confided in the moderation of Tiberius, and in the mightiness of his own authority. By his example, Tiberius now advanced Drusus to a participation of the supreme Magistracy, whereas, while Germanicus yet lived, he acted without distinction towards both. In the beginning of his Letter, he besought the Gods, “That by his counsels the Republic might prosper,” then added a modest testimony concerning the qualities and behaviour of the young Prince, without aggravation or false embellishments, “That he had a wife and three children, and was of the same age with himself when called by the deified Augustus to that office; that Drusus was not now by him adopted a partner in the toils of Government, precipitately, but after eight years experience made of his qualifications, after seditions suppressed, wars concluded, the honour of Triumph, and two Consulships.”
The Senators had foreseen this address; hence they received it with the more elaborate adulation. However, they could devise nothing to decree, but “Statues to the two Princes, altars to the Gods, triumphal arches,” and other usual honours, only that Marcus Silanus strove to honour the Princes by the disgrace of the Consulship; he proposed “That all records, public and private, should, for their date, be inscribed no more with the names of the Consuls, but of those who excrcised the Tribunitial power.” But Haterius Agrippa, by moving to have “the Decrees of that day engraved in Letters of gold, and hung up in the Senate,” became an object of derision, for that, as he was an ancient man, he could reap from his most abominable flattery no other fruit but that of infamy.
In the mean time, as the Province of Africa was continued to Junius Blæsus, Servius Maluginensis Priest of Jupiter, demanded that of Asia. He insisted, “That it was vainly alledged, that such Priests were not allowed to leave Italy; that he was under no other restriction than those of Mars and Romulus; and if they were admitted to the lots of Provinces, why were those of Jupiter debarred? The same was neither adjudged by the authority of the people, nor in the books which ascertained the sacred rites. Frequently, when the Priests of Jupiter were detained by sickness, or engaged in the public, their function was supplied by the Pontifs. The function itself lay unfilled for two and seventy years together, after the death of Cornelius Merula, and yet the exercise of Religion never ceased. Now if in such a series of years, Religion could subsist unhurt without the creation of any such Priest at all, how much easier might his absence be borne in the exercise of the Proconsular power, for one year? It was to satiate private piques, if formerly the Priests of Jupiter were by the chief Pontifs debarred from the Government of Provinces. But now, by the goodness of the Gods, the chief Pontif was also the chief of men, a Pontif to whom emulation, hatred, and other personal prepossessions, had no access.”
To these his reasonings several answers were made by Lentulus the Augur, and others, but all disagreeing, so that the result was “to wait for the decision of the supreme Pontif.” Tiberius in his answer to the Senate, postponing his notice of the pretensions of the Priest of Jupiter, qualified the honours decreed to Drusus with the Tribunitial power, and especially censured the “extravagance of the proposition for golden letters, as contrary to the example and usage of Rome.” Letters from Drusus were likewise read, and, though modest in expression, were construed to be full of haughtiness; “Were all things in the Roman state so miserably reversed, that even a youth, one just distinguished with such supreme honour, deigned not to visit the Gods of Rome, nor appear in Senate, nor begin in his native City the auspices of his dignity? No war detained him; he had no journey to make from remote countries, while he was only diverting himself upon the lakes and shores of Campania, and pleasure his chief avocation. With such tuition was he prepared the future ruler of human kind! this the lesson he had learnt from the maxims of his father! In truth, the Emperor himself, an ancient man, might find uneasiness in living under the eye of the public, and plead a life already fatigued with age and occupations; but what besides pride and stateliness could obstruct Drusus?”
Tiberius, while he fortified the vitals of his own domination, afforded the Senate a shadow of their ancient Jurisdiction, by referring to their examination petitions and claims from the Provinces. For there had now prevailed amongst the Greek Cities a latitude of instituting Sanctuaries at pleasure. Hence the Temples were filled with the most profligate fugitive slaves; here debtors found protection against their creditors, and hither were admitted such as were pursued for capital crimes. Nor was any authority found sufficient to bridle the seditious zeal of the people, thus defending the villainies of men, as if the same were the sacred institutions of the Deities. It was therefore ordered, that these cities should send deputies to represent their claims. Some voluntarily relinquished the privileges which they had arbitrarily assumed; many confided in their right, from the antiquity of their superstitions, or their services to the Roman people. Glorious to the Senate was the appearance of that day, when the grants from our ancestors, the engagements of our confederates, the ordinances of Kings, such Kings who had reigned as yet independent of the Roman power, and when even the institutions, sacred to the Gods, were now all subjected to their inspection, and their judgment free, as of old, to ratify or abolish with absolute power.
First of all the Ephesians applied, and alledged, that “Diana and Apollo were not born at Delos, according to the opinion of the vulgar. In their territory flowed the river Cenchris, where also stood the Ortygian Grove; there the big-bellied Latona, leaning upon an Olive-tree, which even then remained, was delivered of these Deities, and thence, by their appointment, the Grove became sacred. Thither Apollo himself, after his slaughter of the Cyclops, retired for a sanctuary from the wrath of Jupiter. Soon after, the victorious Bacchus pardoned the suppliant Amazons, who sought refuge at the Altar of Diana. By the concession of Hercules, when he reigned in Lydia, her Temple was dignified with an augmentation of immunities, nor during the Persian Monarchy were they abridged; they were next maintained by the Macedonians, and then by us.”
The Magnesians next asserted their claim, founded on an establishment of Lucius Scipio, confirmed by another of Sylla; the former after the defeat of Antiochus, the latter after that of Mithridates, having, as a testimony of the faith and bravery of the Magnesians, dignified their Temple of the Leucophrynean Diana with the privileges of an inviolable Sanctuary. After them, the Aphrodisians and Stratoniceans produced a grant from Cæsar the Dictator, for their early services to his party, and another lately from Augustus, with a commendation inserted, “that with zeal unshaken towards the Roman people, they had borne the irruption of the Parthians.” But these two people adored different Deities; Aphrodisium was a city devoted to Venus, that of Stratonicea maintained the worship of Jupiter and of Diana Trivia. Those of Hierocæsarea exhibited claims of higher antiquity, “that they possessed the Persian Diana, and her Temple consecrated by King Cyrus.” They likewise pleaded the authorities of Perpenna, Isauricus, and of many more Roman Captains, who had allowed the same sacred immunity, not to the temple only, but to a precinct two miles round it. Those of Cyprus pleaded right of sanctuary to three of their Temples, the most ancient founded by Aerias to the Paphian Venus, another by his son Amathus to the Amathusian Venus, the third to the Salaminian Jupiter by Teucer, the son of Telamon, when he fled from the fury of his father.
The deputies too of other cities were heard. But the Senate, tired with so many, and because there was a contention begun amongst particular parties for particular cities, gave power to the Consuls, “to search into the validity of their several pretensions, and whether in them no fraud was interwoven, with orders to lay the whole matter once more before the Senate.” The Consuls reported, that, besides the cities already mentioned, “they had found the Temple of Æsculapius at Pergamos to be a genuine Sanctuary. The rest claimed upon originals, from the darkness of antiquity, altogether obscure. Smyrna particularly pleaded an oracle of Apollo, in obedience to which they had dedicated a Temple to Venus Stratonices; as did the Isle of Tenos an oracular order from the same God, to erect to Neptune a Statue and Temple. Sardis urged a later authority, namely, a grant from the Great Alexander; and Miletus insisted on one from King Darius: as to the Deities of these two cities, one worshiped Diana, the other, Apollo, and Crete too demanded the privilege of Sanctuary to a Statue of the deified Augustus.” Hence divers orders of Senate were made, by which, though great reverence was expressed towards the Deities, yet the extent of the Sanctuaries was limited, and the several people were injoined “to hang up in each Temple the present Decree, engraven in brass, as a sacred Memorial, and a restraint against their lapsing, under the colour of Religion, into claims of superstition and preeminence.”
At the same time, a vehement distemper having seized Livia, obliged the Emperor to hasten his return to Rome; seeing the mother and son lived hitherto in apparent unanimity, or perhaps mutually disguised their hate; for, not long before, Livia, having dedicated a Statue to the deified Augustus, near the Theatre of Marcellus, had the name of Tiberius inscribed after her own. This he was believed to have resented heinously, as a degrading the dignity of the Prince, but to have smothered his resentment under dark dissimulation. Upon this occasion therefore, the Senate decreed “supplications to the Gods, with the celebration of the greater Roman Games, under the direction of the Pontiss, the Augurs, the College of fifteen, assisted by the College of seven, and the fraternity of Augustal Priests.” Lucius Apronius had moved, that “with the rest might preside the company of Heralds.” Tiberius opposed it, and distinguished between the jurisdiction of the Priests and theirs, “for that at no time had the Heralds arrived to so much pre-eminence; but for the Augustal fraternity, they were therefore added, because they exercised a Priesthood peculiar to that family for which the present vows and solemnities were made.”
It is no part of my purpose to trace all the votes of particular men, unless they are memorable for integrity, or for notorious infamy. This I conceive to be the principal duty of an Historian, that he suppress no instance of virtue, and that by the dread of future infamy and the censures of posterity, men may be deterred from detestable actions and prostitute speeches. In short, such was the abomination of those times, so prevailing the contagion of flattery, that not only the first Nobles, whose obnoxious splendour found protection in obsequiousness, but all who had been Consuls, a great part of such as had been Prætors, and even many of the unregistered Senators, strove for priority in the vileness and excess of their votes. There is a tradition, that Tiberius, as often as he went out of the Senate, was wont to cry out in Greek, Oh men prepared for bondage! Even he who could not bear public liberty, nauseated this prostitute tameness of slaves.
Hence by degrees they proceeded from acts of abasement to those of vengeance. Caius Silanus, Proconsul of Asia, accused by these our Allies of robbing the public, was impleaded by Mamercus Scaurus once Consul, Junius Otho Prætor, and Brutidius Niger Ædile. They charged him with “violating the Divinity of Augustus, and with despising the Majesty of Tiberius.” Mamercus boasted, that he imitated the great examples of old, “that Lucius Cotta was accused by Scipio, Servius Galba by Cato the Censor, Publius Rutilius by Marcus Scaurus.” As if such crimes as these had been ever avenged by Scipio and Cato, or by that very Scaurus, whom this Mamercus his great grandson, and the reproach of his progenitors, was now disgracing by the vile occupation of an informer! The old employment of Junius Otho, was that of a schoolmaster. Thence being by the power of Sejanus created a Senator, he laboured by notorious attempts to triumph over the baseness of his original. Brutidius abounded in worthy accomplishments, and, had he proceeded in the upright road, was in the ready way to every the most distinguished honour; but eagerness hurried him, while he pushed to surpass first his equals, afterwards his superiors, and at last his own very hopes; a course which has overwhelmed even many virtuous men, who, scorning acquirements that came slow, but attended with security, grasped at such as were sudden, though linked to destruction.
Gellius Poplicola, and Marcus Paconius, increased the number of the accusers, the former Quæstor to Silanus, the other his Lieutenant. Neither was it doubted but the accused was guilty of cruelty and extortion. But he was beset with a series of hardships, dangerous even to the innocent, when, besides so many Senators, his foes, he was to reply single to the most eloquent pleaders of all Asia, chosen purposely to accuse him, ignorant himself of pleading, and beset with capital terrors, a circumstance which disables the most practised Eloquence. Neither did Tiberius spare him, but, with an angry voice and countenance, daunted and interrupted him with incessant questions; nor was he allowed to refute or evade them, nay, was often forced to confess, lest the Emperor should have asked in vain. The slaves too of Silanus, in order to be examined by torture, were delivered in sale to the City-steward; and that none of his relations might engage to assist him, when his life was thus at stake, crimes of treason were subjoined, a sure bar to all help, and a seal upon their lips. Having therefore requested an interval of a few days, he dropped all defence, and tried the Emperor by a Memorial, in which he menaced him with the public odium, and blended expostulations with prayers.
Tiberius, the better to palliate by precedent his purposes against Silanus, caused to be recited a Representation from Augustus, concerning Volesus Messala, Proconsul of the same province, and the Decree of Senate made against him. He then asked Lucius Piso his opinion. Piso, after a long preface of the Emperor’s clemency, proposed “to interdict Silanus from fire and water, and to banish him into the island Gyarus.” The rest voted the same thing, only that Cneius Lentulus moved, “that the estate descending from his mother Cornelia, should be distinguished from his own, and restored to his son.” Tiberius assented. But, Cornelius Dolabella, pursuing his old strain of adulation, and having first exposed the morals of Silanus, added, “that no man of profligate manners, and marked with infamy, should be admitted to the lot of Provinces; and of this their character the Prince was to judge. Transgressions, he said, were punished by the Laws; but how much more merciful would it be to prevent transgressors! more merciful to the men themselves, more to the Provinces.”
Against this Tiberius reasoned, “that in truth he was not ignorant of the prevailing rumours concerning the conduct of Silanus; but establishments must not be built upon rumours. In the administration of Provinces, many had disappointed our hopes, and many our fears. Some were, by the great weight of affairs, roused into vigilance and amendment, others degenerated and sunk under them. The Prince could not within his own view comprize all things, nor was it at all expedient for him to make himself answerable for the characters of other men engaged in pursuits of ambition. Laws were therefore appointed against facts committed, because all things future are hid in uncertainty. Such were the institutions of our ancestors, that if crimes preceded, punishments were to follow. Nor should they change establishments wisely contrived and always approved. The Prince had already sufficiency of burdens, and even sufficiency of power; the authority of the Laws decreased when that of the Prince advanced, nor was Sovereignty to be exercised where the Laws would serve.” A popular speech, and the more joyfully heard, as acts of popularity were rare with Tiberius. To it he added, prudent as he was in mitigating excesses, where his own proper resentments did not controul him, “that Gyarus was an unhospitable island, and devoid of human culture; that, in favour to the Junian family, and to a Patrician lately of their own order, they should allow him for his place of exile the isle of Cythera; that this too was the request of Torquata, the sister of Silanus, a Vestal virgin of primitive sanctity.” This motion prevailed.
The Cyrenians were afterwards heard, and Cesius Cordus, charged by them, and impleaded by Ancharius Priscus, for plundering the Province, was condemned. Lucius Ennius, a Roman Knight, was impeached of Treason, “for that he had converted an effigies of the Prince into common uses of silver;” but Tiberius withstood admitting him as a criminal. Against this acquittal Ateius Capito openly declared his protest from an affected spirit of liberty; “for that the Emperor ought not to snatch from the fathers the power of penalties, nor ought such a mighty iniquity to pass unpunished; he, indeed, might be passive under his own grievances; but let him not give up the indignation of the Senate, and the injuries done the Commonwealth.” Tiberius considered rather the drift of these words than the expression, and persisted in his interposition. The infamy of Capito was the more signal, because, learned as he was in Laws human and divine, he thus debased the dignity of the State, and his own personal accomplishments.
The next was a religious debate, in what Temple to place the gift vowed by the Roman Knights to Fortune stiled the Equestrian, for the recovery of Livia; for, though in the city were many Temples to this Goddess, yet none had that title. At last it was discovered that at Antium was one thus named; and as all the religious Institutions in the cities of Italy, all the Temples and Statues of the Deities, were included in the jurisdiction and sovereignty of Rome, the gift was ordered to be presented there. While matters of Religion were on foot, the answer lately deferred, concerning Servius Maluginensis, Priest of Jupiter, was now produced by Tiberius, who recited a Statute of the Pontifs, “that when the Priest of Jupiter was taken ill, he might, with the consent of the chief Pontif, be absent two nights, except on days of public sacrifice, and never more than twice in the same year.” This regulation, made under Augustus, sufficiently shewed, that a year’s absence, and the administration of Provinces, were not allowed to the Priests of Jupiter. He likewise quoted the example of Lucius Metellus, Chief Pontif, who restrained to Rome Aulus Postumius, who was under that character. So the lot of Asia was conferred on that Consular who was next in seniority to Maluginensis.
During this time, Lepidus asked leave of the Senate, to strengthen and beautify at his expence the Basilic of Paulus, a peculiar Monument of the Æmilian family. For even then it was usual with private men to be magnificent in public structures. Nor had Augustus blamed Taurus, Philippus, or Balbus, for applying their overflowing wealth, or the spoils of the enemy, towards the decoration of the City, and the perpetuation of their own fame. By their example Lepidus, though but moderately rich, revived the venerable glory of his Ancestors. But, as the Theatre of Pompey was consumed by accidental fire, Tiberius undertook to rebuild it, because none of the family were equal to the charge, and promised that it should, however, be still called by the name of Pompey. At the same time, he celebrated the praises of Sejanus, and to his vigilance and efforts ascribed it, that a flame so violent was stopped at one building only. Hence the Fathers decreed a Statue to Sejanus, to be placed upon the Theatre of Pompey. Nor was it long after that the Emperor, when he dignified Junius Blesus with the ensigns of Triumph, declared, “that in honour to Sejanus he did it,” for, to Sejanus, Blesus was uncle.
And yet the actions of Blesus were entitled to so much distinction. For, Tacfarinas, though often repulsed, yet still repairing his forces in the heart of Africa, had arrived to such a pitch of arrogance, that he sent Embassadors to Tiberius, with demands “for a settlement to himself, and his army,” otherwise he threatened “everlasting war.” They say that upon no occasion did ever Tiberius, for any insult offered himself, and the Roman name, manifest a more sensible indignation; “that a deserter and a robber should presume to offer terms, like an equal foe; when even to Spartacus no concession was made of being received and treated under the sanction of the public faith, while, after the slaughter of so many Consular armies, he still carried, with impunity, fire and desolation through Italy; though the Commonwealth was then gasping under two mighty wars, with Sertorius and Mithridates. Much less was Tacfarinas, a free-booter, to be bought off by terms of peace, and concession of lands, whilst the Roman people enjoyed the highest pitch of glory and power.” Hence he commissioned Blesus, “to engage by the hopes of indemnity all his followers, to lay down their arms; but to get into his hands the leader himself, by whatever means.”
So that by this pardon many were brought over, and the war was forthwith prosecuted against him by stratagems, not unlike his own. For as he, who in strength of men was unequal, but in arts of stealth and pillaging superior, made his incursions in separate bands, and thence could at once elude any attack of ours, and harass us by ambushes of his; so on our side, three distinct routes were resolved, and three several bodies formed. Scipio, the Proconsul’s Lieutenant, commanded on that quarter whence Tacfarinas made his depredations upon the Leptitanians, and then his retreat amongst the Garamantes. In another quarter Blesus the son led a band of his own, to protect the territory of the Cirtensians from ravages; between both marched the Proconsul himself, with the flower of the army, erecting forts, and casting up entrenchments in convenient places. By these dispositions he sorely cramped the foe, and rendered all their movements dangerous; for, which ever way they turned, still some party of the Roman forces was upon them, in front, in flank, and often at their heels; and by this means many were slain, or made prisoners. This triple army was again split by Blesus into bands still smaller, and over each a Centurion of tried bravery placed. Neither did he, as usual at the end of the season, draw off his forces from the field, or dispose them into winter-quarters in the old Province; but, as in the first heat of war, having raised more forts, he dispatched light parties, acquainted with the wilderness, who drove Tacfarinas before them, continually shifting his huts; till, having taken his brother, he retreated, too suddenly however for the good of the province, as there were still left behind instruments to rekindle the war. But Tiberius took it for concluded, and likewise granted to Blesus that he should be by the Legions saluted Imperator, an ancient honour, usually done to the old Roman Captains, who, upon their successful exploits for their country, were in the shouts and vehemence of victory, thus complimented by their armies; and there have been at once several Imperators, without any pre-eminence of one over the rest. It was a title vouchsafed to some, even by Augustus, and now, for the last time, by Tiberius to Blesus.
This year died two illustrious Romans, Asinius Saloninus, splendid in his relations and descent; as Marcus Agrippa and Asinius Pollio were his grandfathers, Drusus his half brother, and himself betrothed to the Emperor’s grand-daughter; and Ateius Capito, already mentioned, in civil acquirements the principal man in Rome; as to descent, his grand-father was only a Centurion under Sylla, but his father arrived to the Prætorship. Augustus had pushed him early into the Consulship, that, by the grandeur of that office, he might be set above Antistius Labeo, who excelled in equal accomplishments; for that age produced together these two ornaments of peace. But Labeo preserved unstained a spirit of liberty, and thence was more the object of popular renown; while Capito gained by obsequiousness greater credit with those who bore rule. The former, as he was never suffered to rise beyond the Prætorship, met with matter of praise from a source of injury; to the other, with the glory of the Consulate, accrued likewise the envy, and with envy hatred.
Junia too, now sixty-four years after the battle of Philippi, finished her course; the niece of Cato, sister of Brutus, and wife of Cassius. Her Will made much noise amongst the populace; for that being immensely rich, and having honourably distinguished with legacies almost all the great men of Rome, she omitted Tiberius; an omission which he took civilly, nor hindered her Panegyric from being pronounced in public, nor her Funeral from being celebrated with other customary solemnities. Before it were borne the Images of twenty the most noble families, the Manlii, the Quinctii, and other names of equal lustre; but superior to all shone Cassius and Brutus, on this very account, that their Images were not with the rest seen now.
END ofVol. I.
[e ]Quædam civitates regi Cogiduno donatæ; vetere ac jampridem recepta populi Romani consuetudine, ut haberet instrumenta servitutis & reges.
[a ]About a Million of Crowns.
[b ]About eighty-seven thousand five hundred Crowns.
[c ]About twenty-five Crowns.
[d ]About seven Crowns and a half.
[a ]Under that excellent Prince Titus.
[b ]Under that terrible tyrant Domitian.
[* ]About five and twenty thousand Crowns.
[a ]About twenty-five thousand Crowns.
[b ]About five thousand Crowns.
[c ]Seven Crowns and a half.
[d ]Two hundred and fifty thousand Crowns.
[* ]Twenty-five thousand Crowns.