Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK I. - The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 - Gordon's Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3)
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BOOK I. - 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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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.
[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.