Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK II. - The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 - Gordon's Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3)
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BOOK II. - 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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Commotions in the East. Venones King of the Parthians, his expulsion by Artabanus, and flight to Armenia, where he is chosen King, but dethroned by Silanus at the motion of Artabanus. Tiberius designs to send Germanicus to the East, under feigned pretences. The exploits of the latter in Germany; he builds a fleet, defeats and ravages many nations there; and routs Arminius in a great battle. The misfortune of his fleet in a tempest. The remarkable accusation, trial, and violent death of Libo Drusus, charged with designs against the state. The poverty of M. Hortalus, grandson of the famous orator Hortensius; he applies for relief to the Senate; Tiberius opposes him, but complies with the inclination of the Fathers to assist him. A counterfeit Agrippa Postumus raises great alarms, but is detected to have been one of his slaves, and put to death. The triumph of Germanicus over several nations in Germany. The story and death of King Archelaus: His Kingdom reduced into a Roman Province. The contumacious behaviour of Cneius Piso and his wife Plancina to Germanicus in the East, supposed to be encouraged by Tiberius and his mother. Drusus, the Emperor’s son, sent into Illyricum, and why. A great battle between Arminius and Maroboduus, two German Chiefs: The former conquers. Twelve noble cities in Asia destroyed by an earthquake. Tacfarinas, first a common soldier, then a robber, raises a war in Africa. The success of Camillus, the Proconsul, against him. Germanicus enters Armenia, and establishes Zeno King there. Drusus encourages dissensions amongst the German nations. Maroboduus, exterminated by Catualda, flies into Italy, and continues there. Catualda suffers the like fate. War between two Kings of Thrace composed by seizing the aggressor. Germanicus visits Egypt, and views the antiquities there; returns to Asia, is insulted by Piso, sickens and dies: His amiable character: Suspicions about the cause of his death. Piso tries to gain the supreme command; is successfully opposed by the friends of Germanicus, and retires. Numerous honours decreed at Rome to Germanicus. Laws to restrain the lubricity of women. A new Vestal Virgin chosen in the place of Occia deceased. Arminius fraudulently slain in Germany. His eminent character.
DURING the consulship of Sisenna Statilius Taurus, and Lucius Libo, the Kingdoms and Roman provinces of the east, were involved in war, begun by the Parthians, who having sought and accepted a King from Rome, did afterwards, though he was of the race of the Arsacides, contemn him as a foreigner. This was Venones, who had been given as an hostage to Augustus by Phrahates. For Phrahates, though he had defeated the Roman captains and armies, yet had courted Augustus with all the reverence of a dependent, and sent him, to bind their friendship, part of his offspring; not so much through fear of the Romans, as distrusting the ill faith of the Parthians.
After the death of Phrahates, and the succeeding Kings, ambassadors from the chief men of Parthia arrived at Rome, to call home Venones his eldest son, in order to end their intestine slaughters. Tiberius found his own grandeur and glory in this embassy, and dismissed him with great pomp and presents. The Barbarians too received him with rapture and exultation; a spirit which commonly animates the people, where their governors are yet new and untried. But shame soon succeeded; shame “for the degeneracy of the Parthians, to have thus sent to another world for a King, one debauched with the manners and maxims of their enemies. The imperial throne of the Arsacides, they said, was now deemed and given as a Roman province. Where was the glory of those brave Parthians who slew Crassus, of those who exterminated Marc Anthony; if they were reduced so low as to receive for the Lord of Parthia a slave of Cæsar’s, inured so many years to foreign bondage?” His own behaviour inflamed their disdain: he abandoned the customs of his ancestors; was seldom in the chace; took small delight in horses, travelled luxuriously through their towns in a litter, and despised the Parthians feasts. They ridiculed his Greek attendants, and the mean care of sealing up his domestic moveables with his signet. But his easiness of access, his flowing courtesy (virtues unknown to the Parthians) were to them so many new vices; and every part of his manners, the laudable and the bad, were subject to equal hatred, because foreign from their own.
They therefore sent for Artabanus, of the blood of the Arsacides, bred amongst the Dahans. In the first engagement he was routed, but repaired his forces and gained the Kingdom. The vanquished Venones found a retreat in Armenia, a vacant throne, and a people wavering between the neighbouring powers of Parthia and of Rome: from us they were alienated by the fraud and iniquity of Marc Anthony, who having by shews and professions of friendship, ensnared into his power Artavasdes, King of the Armenians, loaded him with chains, and at last put him to death. Artaxias, his son, for his father’s sake, hating us, defended himself and his Kingdom by the protection and forces of the Arsacides. Artaxias being slain by a conspiracy of his kindred, Tigranes was by Augustus set over the Armenians, and by Tiberius Nero put in possession of the Kingdom. But neither was the reign of Tigranes lasting, nor that of his children, however associated together, according to the mode and politics of the East, by the double ties of marriage and government. Artavasdes was next established, by the appointment of Augustus, and then expelled; but at great expence of Roman blood.
Caius Cæsar was then chosen to settle Armenia. By him Ariobarzanes, by descent a Mede, was, for his graceful person and eminent endowments, placed over the Armenians, with their own consent. Ariobarzanes being killed by an accident, they would not bear the rule of his children, but tried the government of a woman, (her name Erato) and quickly expulsed her. After this, unsettled and wavering, rather exempt from tyranny, than possessed of liberty, they received the fugitive Venones for their King: but anon, when he saw himself threatened by Artabanus, small reliance on the Armenians, and no protection from the Romans without a war with the Parthians, he accepted the offer of Creticus Silanus, Governor of Syria, who invited him thither; but when he came, set a guard upon him; leaving him still the name and luxury of royalty. What attempts Venones made to escape from this mock-majesty, we will relate in its place.
The commotions in the East happened not ungratefully to Tiberius, since thence he had a colour for separating Germanicus from his old and faithful Legions, for setting him over strange provinces, and exposing him at once to casual perils and the efforts of fraud. But he, the more ardent he found the affections of the soldiers, and the greater the hatred of his uncle, so much the more intent upon a decisive victory, weighed with himself all the methods of that war, with all the disasters and successes which had befallen him in it to this his third year. He remembered, “that the Germans were ever routed in a fair battle, and upon equal ground; that woods and boggs, short summers, and early winters, were their chief resources; that his own men suffered not so much from their wounds, as from tedious marches, and the loss of their arms. The Gauls were weary of furnishing horses; long and cumbersom was his train of baggage, easily surprized, and with difficulty defended. But, if he entered the country by sea, the invasion would be easy, and the enemy unapprized: besides, the war would be earlier begun; the Legions and provisions would be carried together, and the cavalry brought with safety, through the mouths and channels of the rivers, into the heart of Germany.”
On that method therefore he fixed. Whilst Publius Vitellius and Publius Cantius were sent to collect the tribute of the Gauls; Silius, Anteius, and Cæcina, had the direction of building the fleet. A thousand vessels were thought sufficient, and with dispatch finished: some were short, sharp at both ends, and wide in the middle, the easier to endure the agitations of the waves; some had flat bottoms, that without damage they might bear to run aground: several had helms at each end, that by suddenly turning the oars only, they might work either way. Many were arched over, for carrying the engines of war. They were fitted for holding horses and provisions, to fly with sails, to run with oars; and the spirit and alacrity of the soldiers heightened the shew and terror of the fleet. They were to meet at the Isle of Batavia, which was chosen for its easy landing, for its convenience to receive the forces, and thence to transport them to the war. For the Rhine flowing in one continual channel, or only broken by small islands, is, at the extremity of Batavia, divided, as it were, into two rivers; one running still through Germany, and retaining the same name and violent current, till it mixes with the ocean; the other washing the Gallic shore, with a broader and more gentle stream, is by the inhabitants called by another name, the Wahal, which it soon after changes for that of the Meuse, by whose immense mouth it is discharged into the same ocean.
While the fleet sailed, Germanicus commanded Silius his Lieutenant, with a flying band to invade the Cattians; and he himself, upon hearing that the fort upon the river Luppia was besieged, led six Legions thither. But the sudden rains prevented Silius from doing more than taking some small plunder, with the wife and daughter of Arpus, Prince of the Cattians; nor did the besiegers stay to fight Germanicus, but upon the report of his approach, stole off, and dispersed. As they had, however, thrown down the common tomb lately raised over the Varian Legions, and the old altar erected to Drusus; he restored the altar, and performed in person with the Legions, the funeral ceremony of running courses to the honour of his father. To replace the tomb was not thought fit; but, all the space between fort Aliso and the Rhine, he fortified with a new barrier.
The fleet was now arrived; the provisions were sent forward; ships were assigned to the Legions and the allies; and he entered the canal cut by Drusus, and called by his name. Here he invoked his father, “to be propitious to his son attempting the same enterprizes; to inspire him with the same counsels, and animate him by his example.” Hence he sailed successfully through the lakes and the ocean to the river Amisia. At the town of Amisia the fleet was left, upon the left shore, and it was a fault that it sailed no higher; for he landed the army on the right shore; so that in making bridges many days were consumed. The horse and the Legions passed over without danger, as it was yet ebb; but the returning tide disordered the rear, especially the Batavians, while they played with the waves, and shewed their dexterity in swimming; and some were drowned. Whilst Germanicus was incamping, he was told of the revolt of the Angrivarians behind him; and thither he dispatched a body of horse and light foot, under Stertinius, who with fire and slaughter took vengeance on the perfidious revolters.
Between the Romans and the Cheruscans flowed the river Visurgis, and on the banks of it stood Arminius, with the other chiefs. He inquired whether Germanicus was come; and being answered that he was there, he prayed leave to speak with his brother. This brother of his was in the army, his name Flavius, one remarkable for his lasting faith towards the Romans, and for the loss of an eye in the war under Tiberius. This request was granted. Flavius stepped forward, and was saluted by Arminius, who having removed his own attendants, desired that our archers, ranged upon the opposite banks, might retire. When they were withdrawn, “How came you (says he to his brother) by that deformity in your face?” The brother having informed him where, and in what fight, was next asked, “what reward he had received?” Flavius answered, “Increase of pay, the chain, the crown, and other military gifts;” all which Arminius treated with derision, as the vile wages of servitude.
Here began a warm contest. Flavius pleaded “the grandeur of the Roman Empire, the power of the Emperor, the Roman clemency to submitting nations; the heavy yoke of the vanquished; and that neither the wife, nor son of Arminius, was used like a captive.” Arminius to all this opposed “the natural rights of their country, their ancient liberty; the domestic Gods of Germany; he urged the prayers of their common mother joined to his own, that he would not prefer the character of a deserter, that of a betrayer of his family, his countrymen and kindred, to the glory of being their commander.” By degrees they fell into reproaches; nor would the interposition of the river have restrained them from blows, had not Stertinius hasted to lay hold on Flavius, full of rage, and calling for his arms and his horse. On the opposite side was seen Arminius, swelling with ferocity and threats, and denouncing battle. For, of what he said, much was said in Latin; since, as the General of his countrymen, he had served in the Roman armies.
Next day, the German army stood embatteled beyond the Visurgis. Germanicus, who thought it became not a General to endanger the Legions, till, for their passage and security, he had placed bridges and guards, made the horse ford over. They were led by Stertinius, and by Æmilius Lieutenant-Colonel of a Legion: and these two officers crossed the river in distant places, to divide the foe. Cariovalda, Captain of the Batavians, passed it where most rapid, and was by the Cheruscans, who feigned flight, drawn into a plain surrounded with woods, whence they rushed out upon him and assaulted him on every side; overthrew those who resisted, and pressed vehemently upon those who gave way. The distressed Batavians formed themselves into a ring, but were again broken, partly by a close assault, partly by distant showers of darts. Cariovalda, having long sustained the fury of the enemy, exhorted his men to draw up in platoons, and break through the prevailing host; he himself forced his way into their center, and fell with his horse under a shower of darts, and many of the principal Batavians round him: the rest were saved by their own bravery, or rescued by the cavalry under Stertinius and Æmilius.
Germanicus, having passed the Visurgis, learnt from a deserter, that Arminius had marked out the place of battle; that more nations had also joined him; that they rendevoused in a wood sacred to Hercules, and would attempt to storm our camp by night. The deserter was believed; the enemy’s fires were discerned; and the scouts having advanced towards them, reported that they had heard the neighing of horses, and the hollow murmur of a mighty and tumultuous host. In this important conjuncture, upon the approach of a decisive battle, Germanicus thought it behoved him to learn the inclinations and spirit of the soldiers, and deliberated with himself how to be informed without fraud: “for the reports of the Tribunes and Centurions used to be oftener pleasing than true; his freedmen had still slavish souls, incapable of free speech; friends were apt to flatter; there was the same uncertainty in an assembly, where the counsel proposed by a few, was wont to be echoed by all. The minds of the soldiery were then best known when they were least watched; when free and over their meals, they frankly disclosed their hopes and fears.”
In the beginning of night, he went out at the augural gate, with a single attendant; himself disguised with the skin of a wild beast hanging over his shoulders; and chusing secret ways, he escaped the notice of the watch, entered the lanes of the camp, listened from tent to tent, and enjoyed the pleasing display of his own popularity and fame; as one was magnifying the imperial birth of his General; another his graceful person; all, his patience, condescension, and the equality of his soul in every temper, pleasant or grave. They confessed the gratitude due to so much merit, and that in battle they ought to express it, and to sacrifice at the same time to glory and revenge, these perfidious Germans, who for ever violated stipulations and peace. In the mean time, one of the enemy who understood Latin, rode up to the palisades, and, with a loud voice, offered in the name of Arminius, to every deserter a wife and land, and, as long as the war lasted, an hundred sesterces a day. This contumely kindled the wrath of the Legions: “Let day come, they cried, let battle be given. The soldiers would seize and not accept the lands of the Germans; take and not receive German wives; they, however, received the offer as an omen of victory, and considered the money and women as their destined prey.” Near the third watch of the night, they approached, and insulted the camp, but without striking a blow, when they found the ramparts covered thick with cohorts, and no advantage given.
Germanicus had the same night a joyful dream: he thought he sacrificed, and, in place of his own robe besmeared with the sacred blood, received one fairer from the hands of his grandmother Augusta; so that elevated by the omen, and by equal encouragement from the auspices, he called an assembly, where he opened his deliberations concerning the approaching battle, with all the advantages contributing to victory; “That to the Roman soldiers, not only plains and dales, but, with due circumspection, even woods and forests were commodious places for an engagement. The huge targets, the enormous spears of the Barbarians, could never be weilded amongst thickets and trunks of trees, like Roman swords and javelins, and armour adjusted to the shape and size of their bodies; so that with these tractable arms they might thicken their blows, and strike with certainty at the naked faces of the enemy; since the Germans were neither furnished with headpiece nor coat of mail; nor were their bucklers bound with leather, or fortified with iron, but all bare basket-work, or painted boards; and though their first ranks were armed with pikes, the rest had only stakes burnt at the end, or short and contemptible darts. For their persons, as they were terrible to sight, and violent in the onset, so they were utterly impatient of wounds, unaffected with their own disgrace, unconcerned for the honour of their General, whom they ever deserted, and fled; in distress cowards, in prosperity despisers of all divine, of all human laws. To conclude, if the army, after their fatigues at sea, and their tedious marches by land, longed for an utter end of their labour; by this battle they might gain it. The Elb was now nearer than the Rhine; and if they would make him a conqueror in those countries where his father and his uncle had conquered, the war was concluded.” The ardour of the soldiers followed the speech of the General, and the signal for the onset was given.
Neither did Arminius, or the other Chiefs, neglect to declare to their several bands, that “these Romans were the cowardly fugitives of the Varian army, who, because they could not endure to fight, had afterwards chosen to rebel: that some with backs deformed by wounds; some with limbs maimed by tempests; forsaken of hope, and the Gods against them, were once more presenting their lives to their vengeful foes. Hitherto a fleet, and unfrequented seas, had been the resources of their cowardice against an assaulting or a pursuing enemy; but now that they were to engage hand to hand, vain would be their relief from wind and oars after a defeat. The Germans needed only remember their rapine, cruelty, and pride; and that to themselves nothing remained, but either to maintain their native liberty, or by death to prevent bondage.”
The enemy thus inflamed, and calling for battle, were led into a plain called Idistavisus: it lies between the Visurgis and the hills, and winds unequally along, as it is streightened by the swellings of the mountains, or enlarged by the circuits of the river. Behind rose a forest of high trees, thick of branches above, but clear of bushes below. The army of Barbarians kept the plain, and the entrances of the forest; only the Cheruscans sat down upon the mountain, in order to pour down from thence upon the Romans, as soon as they became engaged in the fight. Our army marched thus; the auxiliary Gauls and Germans in front, after them the foot archers, next four Legions, then Germanicus with two prætorian Cohorts, and the choice of the cavalry; then four Legions more, and the light foot with archers on horse-back, and the other troops of the allies; the men all careful to march in order of battle, and ready to engage as they marched.
As the impatient bands of Cheruscans were now perceived descending fiercely from the hills, Germanicus commanded a body of the best horse to charge them in the flank, and Stertinius with the rest to wheel round to attack them in the rear, and promised to be ready to assist them in person. During this a joyful omen appeared; eight eagles were seen to fly toward the wood, and to enter it; a presage of victory to the General! “Advance, he cried, follow the Roman birds; follow the tutelar Deities of the Legions.” Instantly the foot charged the enemies front, and instantly the detached cavalry attacked their flank and rear. This double assault had a strange event; the two divisions of their army fled opposite ways; that in the woods ran to the plain; that in the plain rushed into the woods. The Cheruscans between both, were driven from the hills, amongst them Arminius, remarkably brave, who with his hand, his voice, and distinguished wounds, was still sustaining the fight. He had assaulted the archers, and would have broken through them; but the cohorts of the Retians, the Vindelicians, and the Gauls, marched to their relief: however, by his own spirit, and the vigour of his horse, he escaped; his face besmeared with his own blood to avoid being known. Some have related, that the Chaucians, who were amongst the Roman auxiliaries, knew him, and let him go. The same bravery, or deceit, procured Inguiomerus his escape: the rest were every where slain; and great numbers attempting to swim the Visurgis, were destroyed in it, either pursued with darts, or swallowed by the current, or overwhelmed with the weight of the crowd, or buried under the falling banks. Some seeking a base refuge on the tops of trees, and concealment amongst the branches, were shot in sport by the archers, or squashed as the trees were felled. This was a mighty victory, and to us far from bloody!
This slaughter of the foe, from the fifth hour of the day till night, filled the country for ten miles with carcasses and arms. Amongst the spoils, chains were found, which, sure of conquering, they had brought to bind the Roman captives. The soldiers proclaimed TiberiusImperator upon the field of battle, and, raising a mount, placed upon it as Trophies, the German arms, with the names of all the vanquished nations, inscribed below.
This sight filled the Germans with more anguish and rage, than all their wounds, past afflictions, and slaughters. They, who were just prepared to abandon their dwellings, and flit beyond the Elb, meditate war and grasp their arms. People, nobles, youth, aged, from all quarters, rush suddenly upon the Roman army in its march, and disorder it. They next chose their camp, a streight and moist plain, shut in between a river and a forest; the forest too surrounded with a deep marsh, except on one side, which was closed with a barrier raised by the Angrivarians, between them and the Cheruscans. Here stood their foot: their horse were distributed and concealed amongst the neighbouring groves, thence, by surprize, to beset the Legions in the rear, as soon as they had entered the wood.
Nothing of all this was a secret to Germanicus: he knew their counsels, their stations; what steps they pursued, what measures they concealed; and to the destruction of the enemy turned their own subtilty and devices. To Seius Tubero, his Lieutenant, he committed the horse and the field; the infantry he so disposed, that part might pass the level approaches into the wood; and the rest force the rampart. This was the most arduous task, and to himself he reserved it: the rest he left to his Lieutenants. Those who had the even ground to traverse, broke easily in; but they who were to assail the rampart, were as grievously battered from above, as if they had been storming a wall. The General perceived the inequality of this close attack, and drawing off the Legions a small distance, ordered the slingers to throw, and the engineers to play, to beat off the enemy. Immediately showers of darts were poured from the engines, and the defenders of the barrier, the more bold and exposed they were, with the more wounds they were beaten down. Germanicus, having taken the rampart, first forced his way, at the head of the Prætorian Cohorts, into the woods, and there it was fought foot to foot. Behind, the enemy were begirt with the morass; the Romans with the mountains, or the river; no room for either to retreat, no hope but in valour; no safety but in victory.
The Germans had not inferior courage, but they were exceeded in the fashion of arms and art of fighting. Their mighty multitude, hampered in narrow places, could not push nor recover their long spears; nor practise in a close combat, their usual boundings and velocity of limbs. On the contrary, our soldiers, with handy swords, and their breasts closely guarded with a buckler, delved the large bodies and naked faces of the Barbarians, and opened themselves a way with a havock of the enemy. Besides, the activity of Arminius now failed him; either spent through his continual efforts, or slackened by a wound just received. Inguiomerus, was every-where upon the spur, animating the battle; but fortune, rather than courage, deserted him. Germanicus, to be the easier known, pulled off his helmet, and exhorted his men, “to prosecute the slaughter; they wanted no captives, he said; only the cutting off that people root and branch, would put an end to the war.” It was now late in the day, and he drew off a Legion to make a camp; the rest glutted themselves till night with the blood of the foe. The horse fought with doubtful success.
Germanicus, in a speech from the tribunal, praised his victorious army, and raised a monument of arms, with a proud Inscription, That the army of Tiberius Cæsar, having vanquished intirely the nations between the Rhine and the Elb, had consecrated that monument to Mars, to Jupiter, and to Augustus. Of himself he made no mention, either fearful of provoking envy, or that he thought it sufficient praise to have deserved it. He had next commanded Stertinius, to carry the war amongst the Angrivarians; but they instantly submitted; and these supplicants, by yielding without articles, obtained pardon without reserve.
The summer now declining, some of the Legions were sent back into winter-quarters, by land; more were embarked with Germanicus, upon the river Amisia, to go from thence by the ocean. The sea, at first, was serene, no sound or agitation, except from the oars or sails of a thousand ships; but, suddenly a black host of clouds poured a storm of hail; furious winds roared on every side, and the tempest darkened the deep, so that all prospect was lost; and it was impossible to steer. The soldiers too, unaccustomed to the terrors of the sea, in the hurry of fear disordered the mariners, or interrupted the skilful by unskilful help. At last, the south-wind mastering all the rest, drove the ocean and the sky. The tempest derived new force from the windy mountains and swelling rivers of Germany, as well as from an immense train of clouds; and contracting withal fresh vigour from the boisterous neighbourhood of the north, it hurled the ships, and tossed them into the open ocean, or against islands shored with sharp rocks, or dangerously beset with covered shoals. The ships, by degrees, with great labour, and the change of the tide, were relieved from the rocks and sands, but remained at the mercy of the winds; their anchors could not hold them; they were full of water, nor could all their pumps discharge it; hence, to lighten and raise the vessels swallowing at their decks the invading waves, the horses, beasts, baggage, and even the arms, were cast into the deep.
By how much the German ocean is more outrageous than the rest of the sea, and the German climate excels in rigour, by so much this ruin was reckoned to exceed in greatness and novelty. They were engaged in a tempestuous sea, believed deep without bottom, vast without bounds, or no shores near but hostile shores. Part of the fleet were swallowed up; many were driven upon remote islands, void of human culture, where the men perished through famine, or were kept alive by the carcasses of horses, cast in by the flood. Only the galley of Germanicus landed upon the coast of the Chaucians, where, wandring sadly, day and night, upon the rocks and prominent shore, and incessantly accusing himself as the author of such mighty destruction, he was hardly restrained by his friends, from casting himself desperately into the same hostile floods. At last, with the returning tide, and an assisting gale, the ships began to return, all maimed, almost destitute of oars, or with coats spread for sails; and, some utterly disabled, were dragged by those that were less. He repaired them hastily, and dispatched them to search the islands; and by this care many men were gleaned up, many were by the Angrivarians, our new subjects, redeemed from their maritime neighbours, and restored; and some, driven into Great Britain, were sent back by the little British Kings. Those who had come from afar, recounted wonders at their return, “the impetuosity of whirlwinds; wonderful birds; sea-monsters of ambiguous forms between man and beast;” strange fights; or the effects of imagination and fear.
The noise of this wreck, as it animated the Germans with hopes of renewing the war, awakened Germanicus also to restrain them. He commanded Caius Silius, with thirty thousand foot, and three thousand horse, to march against the Cattians; he himself, with a greater force, invaded the Marsians, where he learnt from Malovendus, their General, lately taken into our subjection, that the Eagle of one of Varus’s Legions, was hid under ground in a neighbouring grove, and kept by a slender guard. Instantly two parties were dispatched; one, to face the enemy, and provoke them from their post; the other to beset their rear, and dig up the Eagle; and success attended both. Hence Germanicus advanced with greater alacrity, laid waste the country, and smote the foe, either not daring to engage, or, where-ever they engaged, suddenly defeated; nor, as we learnt from the prisoners, were they ever seized with greater dismay. “The Romans, they cried, are invincible; no calamities can subdue them. They have wrecked their fleet; their arms are lost, our shores are covered with the bodies of their horses and men: Yet they attack us with their usual ferocity, with the same firmness, and with numbers, as it were, increased.
The army was from thence led back into winter-quarters, full of joy to have balanced, by this prosperous expedition, their late misfortune at sea; and by the bounty of Germanicus, their joy was heightened, since to each sufferer he caused to be paid as much as each declared he had lost; neither was it doubted but the enemy were humbled, and concerting measures for obtaining peace, and that the next summer would terminate the war. But Tiberius, by frequent letters urged him “to come home, there to celebrate the triumph already decreed him; he had already tried enough of events, and tempted abundant hazards. He had indeed fought great and successful battles; but he must likewise remember his losses and calamities, which, however owing to wind and waves, and no fault of the General, were yet great and grievous. He himself had been sent nine times into Germany by Augustus, and effected much more by policy than arms: it was thus he had brought the Sigambrians into subjection, thus drawn the Suevians, and King Maroboduus, under the bonds of peace. The Cheruscans too, and the other hostile nations, now the Roman vengeance was satiated, might be left to pursue their own national feuds.” Germanicus besought one year to accomplish his conquest; but Tiberius assailed his modesty with a new bait, and fresh importunity, by offering him another Consulship, for the administration of which he was to attend in person at Rome: he added, “that if the war was still to be prosecuted, Germanicus should leave a field of glory to his brother Drusus, to whom there now remained no other; since the Empire had no-where a war to maintain but in Germany, and thence only Drusus could acquire the title of Imperator, and merit the triumphal laurel.” Germanicus persisted no longer, though he knew that this was all feigned and hollow, and saw himself invidiously torn away from a harvest of ripe glory.
About this time, Libo Drusus, of the Scribonian family, was arraigned for meditating attempts against the State. And, because then first were devised those pestilent arts and impeachments, which for so many years devoured the Commonwealth, I will lay open with the more exactness the beginning, progress and issue of this affair. Firmius Catus the Senator, a close confident of Libo, traiterously misled that youth, unwary as he was, and easy to be ensnared, with specious delusions; engaged him to try the predictions of the Chaldeans, the superstitious rites of Magicians, and the interpreters of dreams; and to flatter his hopes and ambition, was incessantly magnifying the nobility of his race; for that Pompey was “his great grand-father, Scribonia, once the wife of Augustus, his aunt, the Cæsars his kinsmen; and his house full of images;” tempted him to luxury and borrowing; was associated with him in his debauches, surety for his debts, and all to accumulate more matter for crimes and evidence.
When he found himself furnished with store of witnesses, and amongst them some of Libo’s slaves, who were also privy to the obnoxious conduct of their master, he sought admittance to the Emperor; having first by Flaccus Vescularius, a Roman Knight, intimate with Tiberius, represented to him Libo as a criminal, as also a detail of his crimes. Tiberius slighted not his information, but denied him access, “for that the communication, he said, might be still managed by the same Flaccus.” In the mean time, he preferred Libo to the Prætorship, entertained him at his table, shewed no strangeness in his countenance, no resentment in his words (so deeply had he smothered his vengeance); and, when he might have restrained all the dangerous speeches and practices of Libo, he chose rather to permit them, in order to know and punish them: nor were they checked or made public, till one Junius, who was dealt with to call up by charms the infernal shades, discovered this to Fulcinius Trio, a distinguished accuser, one greedy of renown in wickedness. Instantly Trio marked out the doom of the accused, hastened to the Consuls, and of them demanded that the Senate might meet and adjudge him. Thus the fathers were forthwith summoned, and even apprized, that “upon an affair of mighty moment and horrible tendency to the State, they were to deliberate.”
Libo, the while, having changed his dress, went covered with mourning, from house to house, accompanied by Ladies of the noblest rank, and implored the mediation of his kindred, that they would protect him against impending ruin, and speak in his behalf. But every one of them declined his suit, each upon a different pretence; yet, in reality, all from the same fear. The day the Senate sat for his trial, vanquished with dread, and sinking under sickness; or, as some relate, feigning it, he was borne in a litter to the court, and, leaning upon his brother, with supplicant hands and words, he accosted and strove to soften Tiberius, who received him with a countenance perfectly unmoved. It was the Emperor who next recited the charge against him, and the authors of the charge; but with such wary moderation, that he might seem neither to soften nor sharpen his crimes.
To Trio and Catus, two other accusers, Fonteius Agrippa and Caius Vibius, joined themselves, and strove who should have the right to implead the accused. At last, when neither would yield, and Libo was come unprovided with a pleader, Vibius undertook to maintain distinctly the several heads of the charge, and produced articles so extravagant, that amongst the rest it was one, how Libo had consulted the fortune-tellers, “whether he should ever be master of opulence sufficient to cover the great Appian road with money as far as Brundusium.” There were others of the same kind, foolish, chimerical, or (taken in tenderer sense) deserving pity. But there was one article formed upon a paper, containing the names of the Cæsars as well as those of some Senators, with mysterious characters, and malignant notes joined to them. This the accuset urged against Libo, as written in his own hand. Libo denied it, and hence it was proposed to examine by torture his conscious slaves. But, seeing it was forbid by an ancient law of the Senate, to put servants to the question, in a trial touching the life of their master, the crafty Tiberius invented a new law, to elude the old, and ordered these slaves to be sold to the public steward, that, by this expedient, evidence against Libo might be racked from his servants, without violating the law. In this state of despondency, Libo requested respite till the next day; and then returning to his own house, transmitted, by his kinsman Publius Quirinus, his last prayers to the Emperor, who replied, that “he must make his request to the Senate.”
His house was in the mean time encompassed with a band of soldiers, who with studied noise and terror were filling all the court, on purpose to create certain attention and alarm, just when Libo sat down to the banquet, which, as the ultimate pleasure of his life, he had prepared. But, then feeling agonies instead of pleasure, he called for a minister of death, successively grasped the hands of his slaves, and into them, by turns, strove to squeeze a sword. But they, as they trembled and shunned the sad task, through the hurry of fear and flight overturning the lamp that illuminated the table; in this ominous and tragical darkness, he gave himself two deadly stabs in the bowels. As he groaned and fell, his freedmen sprang in, and the soldiers, seeing the slaughter perpetrated, retired. The charge against him was however pushed in the Senate, with the same unrelenting eagerness. Yet Tiberius vowed, “that he would have interceded for his life, notwithstanding his treason, if he had not thus hastily died by his own hands.”
His estate was divided amongst his accusers; and those of them who bore the rank of Senators, were, without the regular way of election, preferred to Prætorships. Then Cotta Messalinus proposed, that “the image of Libo might not accompany the funerals of his posterity;” Cneius Lentulus, that “none of the Scribonii should henceforth assume the sirname of Drusus;” and at the motion of Pomponius Flaccus, days of thanksgiving were appointed. That “gifts should be presented to Jupiter, to Mars, and to the Goddess Concord; and that the thirteenth of September, the day on which Libo slew himself, should be an established festival,” were the votes of Lucius Publius, of Asinius Gallus, of Papius Mutilius, and of Lucius Apronius. I have related the votes and sycophancy of these men, to shew that adulation is an inveterate evil in the state. Decrees of the Senate were likewise made for driving Astrologers and Magicians out of Italy; and one of the herd, Lucius Pituanius, was precipitated from the Tarpeian Rock. Publius Marcius, another, was by judgment of the Consuls, at the sound of trumpet, executed without the Esquiline Gate, according to the ancient form.
Next time the Senate sat, long discourses against the luxury of the city were made by Quintus Haterius, a Consular, and by Octavius Fronto, formerly Prætor, and a law was passed “against using table-plate of solid gold; and against men’s debasing themselves with gorgeous and effeminate silks.” Fronto went farther, and desired that “the quantities of silver-plate, the expence of furniture, and the number of domestics, might be limited.” For it was yet common for Senators to depart from the present debate, and offer, as their advice, whatever they judged conducing to the interest of the Commonweal. Against him it was argued by Asinius Gallus, “that with the growth of the Empire, private riches were likewise grown, and it was no new thing for citizens to live according to their conditions, but, indeed, agreeable to the most primitive usage. The ancient Fabricii, and the latter Scipios, having different wealth, lived differently; but all suitably to the several stages of the Commonwealth. Public poverty was accompanied with domestic; but, when the State rose to such a height of magnificence, the magnificence of particulars rose too. As to plate, and train, and expence, there was no standard of excess or frugality, but from the fortunes of men. The law, indeed, had made a distinction between the fortunes of Senators and of Knights; not for any natural difference between them; but that they who excelled in place, rank, and civil pre-eminence, might excel too in other particulars, such as conduced to the health of the body, or to the peace and solacement of the soul; unless it were expected, that the most illustrious citizens should sustain the sharpest cares, and undergo the heaviest fatigues and dangers, but continue destitute of every alleviation of fatigue, and danger, and care.” Gallus easily prevailed, whilst, under worthy names, he avowed and supported popular vices in an assembly engaged in them. Tiberius too had said, “that it was not a season for reformation; or, if there were any corruption of manners, there would not be wanting one to correct them.”
During these transactions, Lucius Piso, after he had declaimed bitterly, in the Senate, against “the cabals and intrigues of the Forum, the corruption of the tribunals, and the inhumanity of the pleaders breathing continual terror and impeachments,” declared, “he would intirely relinquish Rome, and retire into a quiet corner of the country, far distant and obscure.” With these words he left the Senate. Tiberius was provoked; and yet not only soothed him with gentle words, but likewise obliged Piso’s relations, by their authority or entreaties to retain him. The same Piso gave soon after an equal instance of the indignation of a free spirit, by prosecuteing a suit against Urgulania; a Lady whom the partial friendship of Livia had set at defiance with the laws. Urgulania being carried, for protection, to the palace, despised the efforts of Piso; so that neither did she submit, nor would he desist, notwithstanding the complaints and resentments of Livia, that, in the prosecution, “violence and indignity were done to her own person.” Tiberius promised to attend the trial, and assist Urgulania; but only promised in civility to his mother, for so far he thought it became him; and thus left the palace, ordering his guards to follow at a distance. People, the while, crowded about him, and he walked with a slow and composed air. As he lingered, and prolonged the time and way with various discourse, the trial went on; Piso would not be mollified by the importunity of his friends; and hence at last the Empress ordered the payment of the money claimed by him. This was the issue of the affair. By it Piso lost no renown; and it signally increased the credit of Tiberius. The power however of Urgulania was so exorbitant to the State, that she disdained to appear a witness in a certain cause before the Senate; and, when it had been always usual, even for the Vestal virgins to attend the Forum, and Courts of Justice, as oft as their evidence was required; a Prætor was sent to examine Urgulania at her own house.
The procrastination which happened this year in the public affairs, I should not mention, but that the different opinions of Cneius Piso and Asinius Gallus about it, are worth knowing. Their dispute was occasioned by a declaration of Tiberius; “that he was about to be absent.” And it was the motion of Piso, “that for that very reason, the prosecution of public business was the rather to be continued; since, as in the Prince’s absence, the Senate and Equestrian order might administer their several parts, the same would become the dignity of the Commonwealth.” This was a declaration for liberty, and in it Piso had prevented Gallus, who now, in opposition, said, “that nothing sufficiently illustrious, nor suiting the dignity of the Roman people, could be transacted but under the immediate eye of the Emperor, and therefore the conflux of suitors, and the affairs from Italy, and the provinces, must by all means be reserved for his presence.” Tiberius heard, and was silent, while the debate was managed on both sides with mighty vehemence; but the adjournment was carried.
A debate too arose between Gallus and the Emperor; for, Gallus moved, “that the Magistrates should be henceforth elected but once every five years; that the legates of the Legions, who had never exercised the Prætorships, should be appointed Prætors; and that the Prince should nominate twelve candidates every year.” It was not doubted but this motion had a deeper aim, and that by it the secret springs and reserves of imperial power were invaded. But Tiberius, as if he rather apprehended the augmentation of his authority, argued, “that it was a heavy task upon his moderation, to chuse so many Magistrates, and to postpone so many candidates; that disgusts from disappointments were hardly avoided in yearly elections; though, for their solacement, fresh hopes remained of approaching success in the next; now how great must be the hatred, how lasting the resentment of such whose pretensions were to be rejected beyond five years? and whence could it be foreseen, that, in so long a tract of time, the same men would continue to have the same dispositions, the same alliances and fortunes? even an annual designation to power, made men imperious; how imperious would it make them, if they bore the honour for five years! besides, it would multiply every single Magistrate into five, and utterly subvert the laws which had prescribed a proper space for exercising the diligence of the candidates, and for solliciting as well as enjoying preferments.”
By this speech, in appearance popular, he still retained the spirit and force of the sovereignty. He likewise sustained by gratuities the dignity of some necessitous Senators. Hence it was the more wondered, that he received with haughtiness and repulse the petition of Marcus Hortalus, a young man of signal quality, and manifestly poor. He was the grandson of Hortensius the Orator; and had been encouraged by the deified Augustus with a bounty of a thousand great sesterces a , to marry for posterity, purely to prevent the extinction of a family so eminently illustrious. The Senate were sitting in the palace, and Hortalus having set his four children before the door, fixed his eyes, now upon the statue of Hortensius, placed amongst the Orators; then upon that of Augustus; and, instead of speaking to the question then debated, began on this wise: “Conscript fathers, you see there the number and infancy of my children; not mine by my own choice, but in compliance with the advice of the Prince. Such too was the splendor of my ancestors, that it merited to be perpetuated in their race. But, for my own particular, who, marred by the revolution of the times, could not raise wealth, nor engage popular favour, nor cultivate the hereditary fortune of our house, the fortune of Eloquence; I deemed it sufficient, if, in my narrow circumstances, I lived no disgrace to myself, no burden to others. Commanded by the Emperor, I took a wife: behold the offspring of so many Consuls; behold the descendants of so many Dictators! nor is this remembrance invidiously made, but made to move mercy. In the progress of your reign, Cæsar, these children may arrive at the honours in your gift. Defend them in the mean time from want: they are the great grandsons of Hortensius; they are the foster sons of Augustus.”
The inclination of the Senate was favourable, an incitement to Tiberius the more eagerly to thwart Hortalus. These were in effect his words: “If all that are poor recur hither for a provision of money to their children, the public will certainly fail, yet particulars never be satiated. Our ancestors, when they permitted a departure from the question, to propose somewhat more important to the state, did not therefore permit it, that we might here transact domestic matters, and augment our private rents; an employment invidious both in the Senate and the Prince; since, whether they grant or deny the petitioned bounties, either the people or the petitioners will ever be offended. But these, in truth, are not petitions; they are demands made against order, and made by surprize. While you are assembled upon other affairs, he stands up, and urges your pity, by the number and infancy of his children; with the same violence, he changes the attack to me, and, as it were, bursts open the exchequer. But, if by popular bounties we exhaust it, by rapine and oppression we must supply it. The deified Augustus gave you money, Hortalus; but without sollicitation he gave it, and on no condition that it should always be given: otherwise diligence will languish; sloth will prevail; and men having no hopes in resources of their own; no anxiety for themselves, but all securely relying on foreign relief, will become private sluggards and public burdens.” These and the like reasonings of Tiberius were differently received; with approbation by those whose way it is to extol, without distinction, all the doings of Princes, worthy and unworthy; by most, however, with silence, or low and discontented murmurs. Tiberius perceived it, and having paused a little, said, “his answer was particularly to Hortalus; but, if the Senate thought fit, he would give his sons two hundred great sesterces b each.” For this all the Senators presented their thanks; only Hortalus said nothing; perhaps through present awe, or perhaps possessed, even in poverty, with the grandeur of his ancient nobility. Nor did Tiberius ever shew farther pity, though the house of Hortensius was fallen into shameful distress.
The same year, the boldness of a single bondman had, but for early prevention, torn the state with great combustions and civil arms. A slave of Posthumus Agrippa, his name Clemens, having learnt the death of Augustus, conceived a design to sail to Planasia, and there releasing Agrippa by art or force, to carry him to the armies in Germany. No slavish design! but, the slowness of the laden vessel defeated his bold purpose; for Agrippa was already murdered. Hence he conceived views still higher and more daring. He stole the funeral ashes, and sailing to Cosa, a promontory of Etruria, hid himself in desart places, till his hair and beard were grown long; for, in age and person, he was not unlike his master. Then, a report spread by trusty emissaries and the associates of the plot, “that Agrippa lived,” began to thicken. It first crept abroad in dark whispers, as usual in matters of dangerous tendency; but becoming soon a prevailing rumour, it filled the greedy ears of the credulous, or was encouraged by turbulent minds, such as are ever fond of public agitations and changes. He himself, when he entered the neighbouring towns, did it in the gloom of the day; never to be seen publicly, nor long in the same place. But, as truth is strengthened by observation and time; lies by haste and uncertainty, he out-ran fame. Here he staid not to be known; there he arrived before his name arrived.
It flew through Italy, in the mean time, “that, by the bounty of the Gods, Agrippa was preserved.” It was even believed at Rome. His supposed arrival at Ostia, was celebrated by great multitudes abroad; and in the city by clandestine cabals; whilst divided cares distracted Tiberius, whether he should suppress his slave by the power of the sword, or suffer the empty credulity of the public to vanish with time. Now he thought that nothing was to be slighted; now that every thing was not to be dreaded, wavering between shame and fear. At last he committed the affair to Sallustius Crispus. Crispus chose two of his creatures, (some say two soldiers) and directed them to go directly to him, to feign themselves his adherents, men who were conscious that he was the genuine Agrippa, to present him with money, and to promise him, without reserve, their faith and fortunes. They instantly executed these orders, and afterwards spying him one night without guards, and being themselves furnished with a proper band of men, they carried him to the palace, gagged and bound. To Tiberius, when he asked him, “how he was become Agrippa?” he is said to have answered, “Just as you became Cæsar.” But, to discover his accomplices, he could never be constrained. Neither dared Tiberius venture to execute him publicly, but ordered him to be dispatched in a secret part of the palace, and his body to be carried privately away; and, though many of the Prince’s houshold, many Knights and Senators, were said to have supported him with money, and assisted him with their Counsels; no enquiry followed.
At the end of the year, a triumphal arch was raised near the Temple of Saturn, as a monument for the recovery of the Varian Eagles, under the conduct of Germanicus, and the auspices of Tiberius. A Temple was dedicated to happy Fortune near the Tiber, in the Gardens bequeathed to the Roman people by Cæsar the Dictator. A Chapel was consecrated to the Julian family, and statues to the deified Augustus, in the suburbs called Bovillæ. In the Consulship of Caius Celius and Lucius Pomponius, the six and twentieth of May, Germanicus Cæsar triumphed over the Cheruscans, the Cattians, the Angrivarians, and the other nations as far as the Elb. In the triumph were carried all the spoils and captives, with the representations of mountains, of rivers, and of battles; so that his conquests, because he was restrained from compleating them, were taken for compleat. His own graceful person, and his chariot filled with his five children, heightened the shew and the delight of the beholders. Yet they were checked with secret fears; as they remembered, “that popular favour had proved malignant to his father Drusus; that his uncle Marcellus was snatched, in his youth, from the burning affections of the populace, and, that ever short-lived and unfortunate were the favourites of the Roman people.”
Tiberius distributed to the people in the name of Germanicus, three hundred sesterces c a man, and named himself his Collegue in the Consulship. Nor even thus did he gain the opinion of tenderness and sincerity. In effect, on pretence of investing the young Prince with fresh preferment and honours, he resolved to alienate him from Rome; and, to accomplish it, craftily framed an occasion, or snatched such a one as chance presented. Archelaus had enjoyed the Kingdom of Cappadocia now fifty years, a Prince under the deep displeasure of Tiberius, because in his retirement at Rhodes, the King had paid him no sort of court nor distinction; an omission which proceeded from no disdain, but from the warnings given him by the confidents of Augustus; for that the young Caius Cæsar, the presumptive heir to the Sovereignty, then lived, and was sent to compose and administer the affairs of the East; hence the friendship of Tiberius was reckoned then dangerous. But when, by the utter fall of the family of the Cæsars, he had gained the Empire, he enticed Archelaus to Rome, by means of letters from his mother, who, without dissembling her son’s resentment, offered the King his mercy, provided he came and in person implored it. He, who was either ignorant of the snare, or dreaded violence if he had appeared to perceive it, hastened to the City; where he was received by Tiberius with great sternness and wrath, and soon after accused as a criminal in the Senate. The crimes alledged against him were mere fictions; yet, as equal treatment is unusual to Kings, and, to be treated like malefactors, intolerable; Archelaus, who was broken with grief as well as age, by choice or fate ended his life. His Kingdom was reduced into a province, and by its revenues Tiberius declared, the tax of the hundredth penny would be abated, and reduced it for the future to the two hundredth. At the same time died Antiochus, King of Comagena, as also Philopater, King of Cilicia; and great combustions shook these nations; whilst many of the people desired the Roman Government, and many were addicted to domestic Monarchy. The provinces too of Syria and Judea, as they were oppressed with impositions, prayed an abatement of tribute.
These affairs, and such as I have above related concerning Armenia, Tiberius represented to the Fathers, and, “that the commotions of the East could only be settled by the wisdom and abilities of Germanicus. For himself; his age now declined, and that of Drusus was not yet sufficiently ripe.” The provinces beyond the sea were thence decreed to Germanicus, with authority superior to all those who obtained provinces by lot, or the nomination of the Prince. But, Tiberius had already taken care to remove from the government of Syria Creticus Silanus, one united to Germanicus in domestic alliance, by having betrothed his daughter to Nero, the eldest son of Germanicus. In his room he had preferred Cneius Piso, a man of violent temper, incapable of subjection, and heir to all the ferocity and haughtiness of his father Piso; the same who, in the civil war, assisted the reviving party against Cæsar in Africa, with vehement efforts, then followed Brutus and Cassius, but had at last leave to come home; yet disdained to sue for any public offices; nay, was even courted by Augustus to accept the Consulship. His son, besides his hereditary pride and impetuosity, was elevated with the nobility and wealth of Plancina his wife. Scarce yielded he to Tiberius, and, as men far beneath him, despised the sons of Tiberius. Neither did he doubt but he was set over Syria on purpose to defeat all the views of Germanicus. Some even believed, that he had to this purpose secret orders from Tiberius; as it was certain, that Livia directed Plancina to exert the spirit of the sex, and by constant emulation and indignities, to persecute Agrippina. For, the whole court was rent, and their affections secretly divided between Drusus and Germanicus. Tiberius was partial to Drusus, as his own son by generation; others loved Germanicus; the more for the aversion of his uncle, and for being by his mother, of more illustrious descent; as Marc Anthony was his grandfather, and Augustus his great uncle. On the other side, Pomponius Atticus, a Roman Knight, by being the great grandfather of Drusus, seemed thence to have derived a stain upon the images of the Claudian house. Besides, Agrippina, the wife of Germanicus, did in the fruitfulness of her body, and the reputation of her virtue, far excel Livia the wife of Drusus. Yet the two brothers lived in amiable dearness and concord, no wife shaken or estranged by the reigning contention amongst their separate friends and adherents.
Drusus was soon after sent into Illyricum in order to inure him to war, and gain him the affections of the army. Besides, Tiberius thought that the youth, who lived wantoning in the luxuries of Rome, would be reformed in the camp, and that his own security would be enlarged when both his sons were at the head of the Legions. But, the pretence for sending him was the protection of the Suevians, who were then imploring assistance against the power of the Cheruscans. For, these nations, who since the departure of the Romans, saw themselves no longer threatened with terrors from abroad, and were then particularly engaged in a national competition for glory, had relapsed, as usual, into their old intestine feuds, and turned their arms upon each other. The two people were equally powerful, their two leaders equally brave, but differently esteemed, as the title of King, had drawn upon Maroboduus the hate and aversion of his countrymen; whilst Arminius, as a champion warring for the defence of liberty, was the universal object of popular affection.
Hence not only the Cheruscans and their confederates, they who had been the ancient soldiery of Arminius, took arms; but to him too revolted the Semnones and Langobards, both Suevian nations, and even subjects of Maroboduus; and by their accession he would have exceeded in puissance, but Inguiomerus with his band of followers deserted to Maroboduus; for no other cause than disdain, that an old man and an uncle like himself, should obey Arminius a young man his nephew. Both armies were drawn out, with equal hopes; nor disjointed, like the old German battles, into scattered parties for loose and random attacks; for, by long war with us, they had learnt to follow their ensigns, to strengthen their main body with parties of reserve, and to observe the orders of their Generals. Arminius was now on horseback viewing all the ranks: as he rode through them he magnified their passed feats; “their liberty recovered, the slaughtered Legions; the spoils of arms wrested from the Romans; monuments of victory still retained in some of their hands.” Upon Maroboduus he fell with contumelious names, as “a fugitive, one of no abilities in war; a coward, who had sought defence from the gloomy coverts of the Hercynian wood, and then by gifts and sollicitations, courted the alliance of Rome; a betrayer of his country, a lifeguard-man of Cæsar’s, worthy to be exterminated with no less hostile vengeance than in the slaughter of Quinctilius Varus they had shewn. Let them only remember so many battles bravely fought; the events of which, particularly the utter expulsion of the Romans, were sufficient proofs with whom remained the glory of the war.”
Neither did Maroboduus fail to boast himself, and depreciate the foe. “In the person of Inguiomerus, he said, (holding him by the hand) rested the whole renown of the Cheruscans; and from his counsels began all their exploits that ended in success. Arminius, a man of a frantic spirit, and a novice in affairs, assumed to himself the glory of another, for having by treachery surprized three Legions, which expected no foe, and their leader, who feared no fraud; a base surprize, revenged since on Germany with heavy slaughters, and on Arminius himself with domestic infamy, while his wife and his son still bore the bonds of captivity. For himself; when attacked formerly by Tiberius at the head of twelve Legions, he had preserved unstained the glory of Germany, and on equal terms ended the war. Nor did he repent of the treaty, since it was still in their hands to wage, anew, equal war with the Romans, or save blood and maintain peace.” The armies, besides the incitements from these speeches, were animated by national stimulations of their own. The Cheruscans fought for their ancient renown, the Langobards for their recent liberty; and the Suevians and their King, on the contrary, were struggling for the augmentation of their monarchy. Never did armies make a fiercer onset, never had onset a more ambiguous event; for, both the right wings were routed, and hence a fresh encounter was certainly expected, until Maroboduus drew off his army and encamped upon the hills; a manifest sign that he was humbled; frequent desertions too leaving him at last naked of forces, he retired to the Marcomannians, and thence sent Embassadors to Tiberius, to implore succours. They were answered, “That he had no right to invoke aid of the Roman arms against the Cheruscans; since to the Romans, while they were warring with the same foe, he had never administered any assistance.” Drusus was however sent away, as I have said, with the character of a negociator of peace.
The same year, twelve noble cities of Asia were overturned by an earthquake. The ruine happened in the night, and the more dreadful as its warnings were unobserved. Neither availed the usual sanctuary against such calamities; namely, a flight to the fields; since those who fled, the gaping earth devoured. It is reported, “That mighty mountains subsided, plains were heaved into high hills; and that with flashes and eruptions of fire, the mighty devastation was every where accompanied.” The Sardians felt most heavily the rage of the concussion, and therefore most compassion; Tiberius promised them a hundred thousand great sesterces d , and remitted their taxes for five years. The inhabitants of Magnesia under Mount Sipylus, were held the next in sufferings, and had proportionable relief. The Temnians, Philadelphians, the Egeatæans, Apollonians, with those called the Mostenians or Macedonians of Hyrcania, the cities too of Hierocæsarea, Myrina, Cyme and Tmolus; were all for the same term eased of tribute. It was likewise resolved to send one of the Senate to view the desolations, and administer proper remedies. Marcus Aletus was therefore chosen, one of Prætorian rank; because a Consular Senator then governing Asia, had another of the like quality been sent, an emulation between equals was apprehended, and consequently opposition and delays.
The credit of this noble bounty to the public, he increased by private liberalities, which proved equally popular; the estate of the wealthy Emilla Musa, claimed by the exchequer, as she died intestate, he surrendered to Emilius Lepidus, to whose family she seemed to belong; as also to Marcus Servilius, the inheritance of Patuleius, a rich Roman Knight, though part of it had been bequeathed to himself; but he found Servilius named sole heir in a former and well-attested will. He said, such was “the nobility of both, that they deserved to be supported.” Nor did he ever accept to himself any man’s inheritance, but where former friendship gave him a title. The wills of such as were strangers to him, and of such as, from hate and prejudice to others, had appointed the Prince their heir, he utterly rejected. But, as he relieved the honest poverty of the virtuous, so he degraded from the Senate, (or suffered to quit it of their own accord) Vibidius Varro, Marius Nepos, Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sylla, and Quintus Vitellius, all prodigals, and only through debauchery indigent.
About this time, Tiberius finished and consecrated what Augustus began, the Temples of the Gods consumed by age or fire; that near the great Circus, vowed by Aulus Posthumius the Dictator, to Bacchus, Proserpina and Ceres; in the same place the Temple of Flora, founded by Lucius Publicius and Marcus Publicius, while they were Ædiles; the Temple of Janus, built in the Herb-Market by Caius Duillius, who first signalized the Roman power at sea, and merited a naval triumph over the Carthaginians. That of Hope was dedicated by Germanicus. This Temple Atilius had vowed in the same war.
The Law of violated Majesty, in the mean time, waxed intense, and by it an accuser impleaded Apuleia Varilia, grand-niece to Augustus by his sister; for that with opprobrious words she had reviled the deified Augustus, Tiberius and his mother; and being nearly allied to the Emperor, had stained by adultery the Cæsarean blood. Concerning the adultery, sufficient provision was thought already made by the Julian Law; and the crimes of state, Tiberius desired, might be separated: “If she had uttered impious speeches of Augustus, she must be condemned; but, for invectives against himself, he would not have her called to any account.” The Consul asked him, “What would be his sentiments, if she were convicted of defaming his mother?” To this he made no answer; but next sitting of the Senate, he prayed too in her name, “That no words spoken against her, might to any one be imputed for crimes;” and acquitted Apuleia of the treason; of her punishment too for adultery, he begged a mitigation, and prevailed, that, “by the example of our ancestors, she should be removed by her kindred two hundred miles from Rome.” Manlius her adulterer was interdicted Italy and Africa.
A debate at this time arose about substitueing a Prætor in the room of Vipsanius Gallus, removed by death. Germanicus and Drusus (for they were yet at Rome) espoused Haterius Agrippa, kinsman to Germanicus. Many, on the contrary, insisted, that the number of children should decide it, and the candidate who had most be preferred; for this was the voice of the law. Tiberius rejoiced to see the Senate engaged in a contention between his sons and the laws. The law, without doubt, was vanquished, yet not instantly, and by a small majority; but with the same struggle that laws were vanquished when laws were in force.
This year a war began in Africa, conducted by Tacfarinas. He was a native of Numidia, and had served amongst the auxiliaries in the Roman armies, but deserting the service, gathered together, by the allurements of booty and rapine, at first a herd of vagabonds and men inured to robberies; then formed them, like an army, into regular companies of foot, and troops of horse, under distinct standards and colours. At length he was no longer esteemed the leader of a disorderly gang, but considered as General of the Musulanians. This powerful people, borderers upon the desarts of Africa, still wild, and without towns, took arms, and drew into the war the neighbouring Moors. These too had a General of their own, his name Mazippa; and between the two leaders the army was divided, that, whilst Tacfarinas encamped with the best men, armed after the fashion of Romans, and accustomed them to discipline and command, Mazippa, with a flying band, might make excursions on every side, with fire, slaughter, and alarms. They had likewise forced the Cinithians into their measures, a nation no wise despicable; when Furius Camillus, Proconsul of Africa, marched against the enemy with one Legion, and what troops of the Allies were under his command; a handful of men at most, when compared to the multitude of Numidians and Moors! But it was his first care not to intimidate them with numbers, and thence tempt them to elude fighting, and prolong the war. Indeed, he gave them hopes of victory, only to enable himself to vanquish them. The Legion was placed in the center, the light cohorts, and two wings of horse on the right and left. Nor did Tacfarinas decline the combat. The Numidians were routed; and, after a long series of years, military renown recovered to the name of Furius. For since Camillus the restorer of Rome and his son, the glory of command and victories continued in other families. Even he whom I have mentioned, passed for a man destitute of military abilities and experience in war. Hence Tiberius magnified with the more unfeigned alacrity his exploits to the Senate, and to him the fathers decreed the ensigns of triumph. Yet to Camillus all this merit and distinction proved to snare, protected as he was by a life singularly modest and retired.
The Consuls for the following year were, Tiberius the third time, Germanicus the second. This dignity overtook Germanicus at Nicopolis, a city of Achaia, whither he arrived, by the coast of Illyricum, from visiting his brother Drusus, then abiding in Dalmatia, and had suffered a tempestuous passage, both in the Adriatic and Ionian sea. He therefore spent a few days to repair his fleet, and viewed the while the Bay of Actium, renowned for the naval victory there, as also the spoils consecrated by Augustus, and the Camp of Anthony, with an affecting remembrance of these his ancestors; for Anthony, as I have said, was his great uncle, Augustus his grandfather. Hence this scene proved to Germanicus a mighty source of images pleasing and sad. Next he proceeded to Athens, where, in concession to that ancient city, allied to Rome, he would use but one Lictor. The Greeks received him with the most elaborate honours, and, to dignify their personal flattery, carried before him tablatures of the signal deeds and sayings of his ancestors.
Hence he sailed to Eubœa, thence to Lesbos, where Agrippina was delivered of Julia, who proved her last child. Then he kept the coast of Asia, and visited Perinthus and Byzantium, cities of Thrace, and entered the streights of Propontis, and the mouth of the Euxine, fond of beholding ancient places long celebrated by fame. He relieved, at the same time, the provinces where-ever distracted with intestine factions, or aggrieved with the oppressions of their Magistrates. In his return he strove to see the religious rites of the Samothracians, but, by the violence of the north wind was repulsed from the shore As he passed, he saw Troy and her remains, venerable for the vicissitude of her fate, and for the birth of Rome. Regaining the coast of Asia, he put in at Colophon, to consult there the Oracle of the Clarian Apollo. It is no Pythoness that represents the God here, as at Delphos, but a priest, one chosen from certain families, chiefly of Miletus; neither requires he more than just to hear the names and numbers of the querists, and then descends into the oracular cave; where, after a draught of water from a secret spring, though ignorant for the most part of Letters and Poetry, he yet utters his answers in Verse, which has for its subject the conceptions and wishes of cach consultant. He was even said to have sung to Germanicus his hastening fate, but, as Oracles are wont, in terms dark and doubtful.
Now Cneius Piso, hurrying to the execution of his purposes, terrified the city of Athens by a tempestuous entry, and reproached them in a severe speech, with oblique censure of Germanicus, “that, debasing the dignity of the Roman name, he had paid excessive court, not to the Athenians, by so many slaughters long since extinct, but to the then mixed scum of nations there; for that these were they who had leagued with Mithridates against Sylla, and with Anthony against Augustus.” He even charged them with the errors and misfortunes of ancient Athens; her impotent attempts against the Macedonians; her violence and ingratitude to her own citizens. He was also an enemy to their city from personal anger; because they would not pardon, at his request, one Theophilus, condemned by the Areopagus for forgery. From thence, sailing hastily through the Cyclades, and taking the shortest course, he overtook Germanicus at Rhodes, but was there driven by a sudden tempest upon the rocks; and Germanicus, who was not ignorant with what malignity and invectives he was pursued, yet acted with so much humanity, that, when he might have left him to perish, and have referred to casualty the destruction of his enemy, he dispatched galleys, to rescue him from the wreck. This generous kindness, however, asswaged not the animosity of Piso; scarce could he brook a day’s delay with Germanicus, but left him in haste to arrive in Syria before him. Nor was he sooner there, and found himself amongst the Legions, than he began to court the common men by bounties and caresses, to assist them with his countenance and credit, to form factions, to remove all the ancient Centurions, and every Tribune of remarkable discipline and severity, and, in their places, to put dependents of his own, or men recommended only by their crimes. He permitted sloth in the camp, licentiousness in the towns, a rambling and disorderly soldiery, and carried the corruption so high, that in the discourses of the herd, he was stiled Father of the Legions. Nor did Plancina restrain herself to a conduct seemly in her sex, but frequented the exercises of the cavalry, and attended the decursions of the Cohorts, every where in weighing against Agrippina, every where against Germanicus; and some, even of the most deserving soldiers, became prompt to base obedience, from a rumour whispered abroad, “that all this was not unacceptable to Tiberius.”
These doings were all known to Germanicus; but his more instant care was, to visit Armenia, an inconstant and restless nation from the beginning, from the genius of the people, as well as from the situation of their country, which, bordering with a large frontier on our provinces, and stretching thence quite to Media, is inclosed between the two great Empires, and often at variance with them; with the Romans through antipathy and hatred, with the Parthians through competition and envy. At this time, and ever since the removal of Vonones, they had no King; but the affections of the nations leaned to Zeno, son of Polemon King of Pontus, because by an attachment, from his infancy, to the fashions and customs of the Armenians, by hunting, feasting, and other usages practised and renowned amongst the Barbarians, he had equally won the nobles and people. Upon his head, therefore, at the city of Artaxata, with the approbation of the nobles, in a great assembly, Germanicus put the regal Diadem; and the Armenians doing homage to their King, saluted him, Artaxias, a name which from that of their city, they gave him. The Cappadocians, at this time reduced into the form of a province, received for their Governor, Quintus Veranius; and, to raise their hopes of the gentler dominion of Rome, several of the royal taxes were lessened. Quintus Serveus was set over the Comagenians, then first subjected to the jurisdiction of a Prætor.
From the affairs of the Allies, thus all successfully settled, Germanicus reaped no pleasure, through the perverseness and pride of Piso, who was ordered to lead, by himself or his son, part of the Legions into Armenia, but contemptuously neglected to do either. They, at last, met at Cyrrum, the winter quarters of the tenth Legion, whither each came with a prepared countenance; Piso to betray no fear, and Germanicus would not be thought to threaten. He was indeed, as I have observed, of a humane and reconcileable spirit: but, officious friends, expert at inflaming animosities, aggravated real offences, added fictitious, and with manifold imputations charged Piso, Plancina, and their sons. To this interview Germanicus admitted a few intimates, and began his complaints in such words as dissembled resentment usually dictates. Piso replied with disdainful submissions, and they parted in open enmity. Piso, hereafter, came rarely to the Tribunal of Germanicus; or, if he did, sate sternly there, and in manifest opposition. He likewise published his spite at a feast of the Nabathean King’s, where golden Crowns of great weight were presented to Germanicus and Agrippina; but to Piso and the rest, such as were light. “This banquet, he said, was made for the son of a Roman Prince, not of a Parthian Monarch.” With these words, he cast away his crown, and uttered many invectives against luxury. Sharp insults upon Germanicus! yet he bore them.
At this time arrived Ambassadors from Artabanus King of the Parthians. He sent them “to represent the state of the mutual league and friendship between the two Empires, how desirous he was to renew it; that, in honour to Germanicus, he would come to receive him as far as the banks of the Euphrates; and requested, in the mean time, that Vonones might not be continued in Syria, lest, taking the advantage of so near a neighbourhood, he should, by corresponding with the Grandees of Parthia, ingage them in civil dissention and rebellion.” The answer given by Germanicus, as far as related to the alliance of the Romans and Parthians, was conceived in terms of dignity and grandeur; but, of the coming of the King, and the court and veneration intended to himself, he spoke with becoming complaisance and modesty. Vonones was removed to Pompeiopolis, a maritime city of Cilicia, a concession made, not to the request of Artabanus only, but in contumely to Piso, with whom Vonones was high in favour, for the assiduous court and many presents by which he had won Plancina.
In the Consulship of Marcus Silanus and Lucius Norbanus, Germanicus travelled to Ægypt, to view the famous Antiquities of the country; though for the motives of the journey, the care and inspection of the province were publicly alledged: and, indeed, by opening the granaries, he mitigated the price of corn, and practised many things grateful to the people; walking without guards, his feet bare, and his habit the same with that of the Greeks; after the example of Publius Scipio, who, we are told, was constant in the same practices in Sicily, even during the rage of the Punic War there. For these his assumed manners and foreign habit, Tiberius blamed him in a gentle stile, but censured him with great asperity for violating an establishment of Augustus, and entring Alexandria without consent of the Prince. For Augustus, amongst other secrets of power, had set apart and appropriated Ægypt, and restrained the Senators and dignified Roman Knights from going thither without licence; as he apprehended that Italy might be distressed with famine, by any who seized that province, the key to the Empire by sea and land, and defensible by a light band of men against potent armies.
Germanicus, not yet informed that his journey was censured, sailed up the Nile, beginning at Canopus, one of its mouths, built by the Spartans, as a monument to Canopus, a Pilot buried there, at the time when Menelaus, returning to Greece, was driven to different seas and the Libyan continent. Hence he visited the next mouth of the river sacred to Hercules. Him the natives averr to have been born amongst them; that he was the most ancient of the name, and that all the rest, who, with equal virtues, followed his example, were, in honour, called after him. Next he visited the mighty antiquities of ancient Thebes, where, upon huge Obelisks yet remained Ægyptian Characters, describing its former opulency. One of the oldest Priests was ordered to interpret them; he said they related “that it once contained seven hundred thousand fighting men; that with that army King Rhamses had conquered Libya, Ethiopia, the Medes and Persians, the Bactrians and Scythians; and to his Empire had added the territories of the Syrians, Armenians, and their neighbours the Cappadocians; a tract of countries reaching from the sea of Bithynia to that of Lycia.” Here also was read the assessment of Tribute laid on the several nations; what weight of silver and gold; what number of horses and arms; what ivory and perfumes, as gifts to the Temples; what measures of grain; what quantities of all necessaries, were by each people paid; revenues equally grand with those exacted by the domination of the Parthians, or by the Power of the Romans.
Germanicus was intent upon seeing other wonders. The chief were, the effigies of Memnon, a Colossus of stone, yielding, when struck by the solar rays, a vocal found; the Pyramids rising, like mountains, amongst rolling and almost impassable waves of sand, proud monuments of the emulation and opulency of Ægyptian Kings; the artificial Lake, a receptacle of the overflowing Nile; and elsewhere abysses of such immense depth, that those who tried, could never fathom. Thence he proceeded to Elphantina and Syene, two Islands, formerly frontiers of the Roman Empire, which is now widened to the Red-Sea.
Whilst Germanicus spent this summer in several provinces, Drusus was sowing feuds amongst the Germans, and thence reaped no light renown; and, as the power of Maroboduus was already broken, he engaged them to persist and complete his ruin. Amongst the Gotones was a young man of quality, his name Catualda, a fugitive long since from the violence of Maroboduus, but now, in his distress, resolved on revenge. Hence, with a stout band, he entered the borders of the Marcomannians, and, corrupting their chiefs into his alliance, stormed the regal palace, and the castle situate near it. In the pillage were found the ancient stores of prey accumulated by the Suevians, as also many victuallers and traders from our provinces; men who were drawn hither from their several homes, first by privilege of traffic, then retained by a passion to multiply gain, and at last, through utter oblivion of their own country, fixed, like natives, in a hostile soil.
To Maroboduus, on every side forsaken, no other refuge remained but the mercy of Cæsar. He therefore passed the Danube where it washes the province of Norica, and wrote to Tiberius, not however in the language of a fugitive or supplicant, but with a spirit suitable to his late grandeur; “that many nations invited him to them, as a King once so glorious; but he preferred to all the friendship or Rome.” The Emperor answered, “that in Italy he should have a safe and honourable retreat, and, when his affairs required his presence, the same security to return.” But to the Senate he declared, “that never had Philip of Macedon been so terrible to the Athenians; nor Pyrrhus, nor Antiochus to the Roman people.” The speech is extant: in it he magnifies “the greatness of the man, the fierceness and bravery of the nations his subjects; the alarming nearness of such an enemy to Italy, and his own artful measures to destroy him.” Maroboduus was kept at Ravenna, for a check and terror to the Suevians; as if, when at any time they grew turbulent, he were there in readiness to recover their subjection. Yet in eighteen years he left not Italy, but grew old in exile there; his renown too became eminently diminished. Such was the price which he paid for an overpassionate love of life. The same sate had Catualda, and no other sanctuary; he was soon after expulsed by the forces of the Hermundurians, led by Vibilius, and being received under the Roman protection, was conveyed to Forum Julium, a Colony in Narbon Gaul. The Barbarians, their followers, lest, had they been mixed with the provinces, they might have disturbed their present quiet, were placed beyond the Danube, between the rivers Marus and Cusus, and for their King had assigned them Vannius, by nation a Quadian.
As soon as it was known at Rome, that Artaxias was by Germanicus given to the Armenians for their King, the fathers decreed to him and Drusus the lesser Triumph. Triumphal arches were likewise erected, on each side the Temple of Marsthe Avenger, supporting the statues of these two Cæsars; and for Tiberius, he was more joyful to have established peace by policy, than if by battles and victories he had ended the war. He therefore also assailed by the ways of craft Rhescuporis a King of Thrace. That whole nation had been subject to Rhemetalces; but, upon his death, one moiety was by Augustus granted to Rhescuporis his brother, and one to Cotys his son. In this partition, the vales, cities, and territories bounding upon Greece, fell to Cotys; to Rhescuporis the wilds, the hills, and the parts exposed to a hostile neighbourhood. The two Kings were likewise dissonant in their genius, the former mild and agreeable; the latter cruel, rapacious, and impatient of equality. Yet, at first they lived in hollow friendship, but, in a while, Rhescuporis began to break bounds, to seize for himself the portions of Cotys, and, where he met resistance, to exercise violence; cautiously, it is true, and by degrees, in the life of Augustus, to whose grant they owed both their Kingdoms and, if his authority had been despised, his vengeance was dreaded. But, upon the change of Emperors, he poured in bands of robbers, demolished forts, and thus sought to provoke war.
Tiberius was about no consideration of state so anxious, as that things once settled should never after be molested. He instantly dispatched a Centurion to the two Kings, to forbid their proceeding to a decision by arms; and Cotys forthwith dismissed the forces he had raised. Rhescuporis feigned submission, and desired an interview, “for that by treaty, he said, they might adjust all their differences:” and, upon the time, the place, and even upon the conditions, they quickly agreed, while one through easiness, one through fraud, yielded and accepted every proposition. Rhescuporis, for a sanction, as he pretended, to the league, added a banquet, and the festivity and drinking was prolonged till midnight, when Cotys, warm with wine and feasting, and void of circumspection, was suddenly loaded with chains, deprecating in vain the brutal treachery, “by the inviolable rights of Kings, by the common Gods of their family, by that very banquet of sacred pledge of concord and hospitality.” Rhescuporis, having now seized all Thrace, wrote to Tiberius, “that bloody snares were contrived for him, but he had anticipated the contriver;” and, pretending a war against the Basternæans and Scythians, fortified himself with new forces, horse and foot.
He had a soft answer, “that if he had practised no guile, he might securely trust to his innocence; but, neither could he himself nor the Senate, without hearing the cause, distinguish between justice and violence: that therefore, delivering up Cotys, he should come, and upon him effectually transfer the odium of the crime.” This letter Latinius Pandus, Proprætor of Mesia, transmitted to Thrace, by the soldiers sent to receive Cotys. Rhescuporis, wavering long between fear and rage, determined at last rather to be guilty of a finished than an imperfect villainy: he caused Cotys to be murdered, and belied his death, as if by his own hands it had been procured Neither yet did Tiberius change his favourite course of dissembling, but, upon the death of Pandus, whom Rhescuporis alledged to have been his enemy, preferred to the Government of Mesia Pomponius Flaccus, an ancient officer, one in close friendship with the King, and by it more qualified to betray him; hence chiefly he was preferred.
Flaccus passed into Thrace, and, though he found him full of hesitation, and revolving with great dismay upon the crying horror of his own wickedness, yet, by mighty promises, prevailed upon him to enter the Roman barrier. Here the King, on pretence of solemnity and honour, was surrounded with a strong party, and a crowd of officers, who pressed him by earnest exhortations, and many arguments, and the further they travelled, the more apparent to him was his confinement; so that at last, convinced of the necessity of going, he was by them haled to Rome. He was accused before the Senate by the wife of Cotys, and condemned to exile far from his Kingdom. Thrace was divided between Rhemetalces his son, who, it was manifest, had opposed all his father’s outrageous measures; and the sons of Cotys. These were minors, and placed with their Kingdom under the administration of Trebellienus Rufus, formerly Prætor, after the example of our Ancestors, who sent Marcus Lepidus into Ægypt, in quality of guardian to the children of Ptolemy. Rhescuporis was transported to Alexandria, and there slain, attempting flight, or falsly charged with it.
At the same time, Vonones, who had been removed, as I have above related, into Cilicia, corrupted his keepers, and endeavoured to escape to Armenia, thence to the Albanians and Heniochians, and then to his kinsman the King of Scythia. Thus pretending to hunt, and avoiding the maritime coasts, he gained the devious recesses of the forests; and then, on a sudden, rode full speed to the River Pyramus. But, the country-men, apprized of the King’s flight, had broken the bridges; neither was the stream to be forded. Upon the banks therefore of the river, he was by Vibius Fronto, General of horse, put in bonds, and presently after, by Remmius, a resumed Veteran, lately his keeper, run through, in affected wrath, with a sword. Hence arose the stronger belief that, from consciousness of fraud, and dread of discovery, Vonones was slain.
Germanicus returning from Ægypt, learned that all his orders left with the Legions, and the Eastern cities, were either intirely abolished, or contrary regulations established; a ground for his severe resentment and reproaches upon Piso. Nor less keen were the efforts and machinations of Piso against Germanicus. Yet Piso afterwards determined to leave Syria, but was detained by the following illness of Germanicus. Again, when he heard of his recovery, and perceived that vows were paid for his restoration, the Lictors, by his command, broke the solemnity, drove away the victims, already at the altars, overturned the apparatus of the sacrifice, and scattered the people of Antioch employed in celebrating the festival. He then departed to Seleucia, waiting the event of the malady, which had again assaulted Germanicus. His own persuasion too, that poyson was given him by Piso, heightened the cruel vehemence of the disease. Indeed, upon the floors and walls were found fragments of human bodies, the spoils of the grave, with charms and incantations, and the name of Germanicus graved on sheets of lead, carcasses half burnt, besmeared with gore, and other witchcrafts, by which souls are thought doomed to the infernal gods. Besides, there were certain persons, charged as creatures of Piso, purposely sent and employed to watch the progress and efforts of the disease.
These things filled Germanicus with apprehensions great as his resentment. “If his doors, he said, were besieged, if under the eyes of his enemies he must render up his spirit, what was to be expected to his unhappy wife, what to his infant children? The progress of poyson was thought too slow. Piso was impatient, and urging with eagerness to command alone the Legions, to possess alone the province: but Germanicus was not sunk to such lowness and impotence, that the price of his murder should remain with the murderer:” and by a Letter to Piso, he renounced his friendship. Some add, that he commanded him to depart the province. Nor did Piso tarry longer, but took ship, yet checked her sailing, in order to return with the more quickness, should the death of Germanicus the while leave the Government of Syria vacant.
Germanicus, after a small revival, drooping again, when his end approached, spoke on this wise to his attending friends. “Were I to yield to the destiny of nature, Just, even then, were my complaints against the Gods, for hurrying me from my parents, my children, and my country, by a hasty death, in the prime of life. Now, shortened in my course by the malignity of Piso, and his wife, to your breasts I commit my last prayers. Tell my father, tell my brother, with what violent persecutions afflicted, with what mortal snares circumvented, I end a most miserable life by death of all others the worst. All they whose hopes in my fortune, all they whose kindred blood, and even they whose envy, possessed them with impressions about me whilst living, shall bewail me dead, that once great in glory, and surviveing so many wars, I fell at last by the dark devices of a woman. To you place will be left to complain in the Senate, place to invoke the aid and vengeance of the Laws. To commemorate the dead with slothful wailings, is not the principal office of friends: They are to remember his dying wishes, to fulfil his last desires. Even strangers will lament Germanicus. You are my friends; if you loved me rather than my fortune, you will vindicate your friendship. Shew the people of Rome my wife, her who is the grand-daughter of Augustus, and enumerate to them our offspring, even six children. Their compassion will surely attend you who accuse; and the accused, if they pretend clandestine warrants of iniquity, will not be believed; if believed, not pardoned.” His friends, as a pledge of their fidelity, touching the hand of the dying Prince, swore that they would forego their lives sooner than their revenge. Then turning to his wife, he besought her, “That in tenderness to his memory, in tenderness to their common children, she would banish her haughty spirit, yield to her hostile fortune; nor, upon her return to Rome, by an impotent competition for ruleing, irritate those who were masters of rule.” So much openly, and more in secret, whence he was believed to have warned her of guile and danger from Tiberius. Soon after he expired, to the heavy sorrow of the province, and of all the neighbouring countries; insomuch that remote nations and foreign Kings were mourners: such had been his complacency to our confederates; such his humanity to his enemies! Alike venerable he was, whether you saw him, or heard him; and without ever departing from the grave port and dignity of his sublime rank, he yet lived destitute of arrogance, and untouched by envy.
The funeral, which was performed without exteriour pomp or a procession of images, drew its solemnity from the loud praises and amiable memory of his virtues. There were those who, from the loveliness of his person, his age, his manner of dying, and even from the proximity of places where both departed, compared him, in the circumstances of his fate, to the Great Alexander; “each of a graceful person, each of illustrious descent; in years neither much exceeding thirty; both victims to the malice and machinations of their own people, in the midst of foreign nations; but Germanicus, gentle towards his friends, his pleasures moderate, confined to one wife, all his children by one bed; nor less a warriour, though not so rash, however hindered from a final reduction of Germany, broken by him in so many victories, and ready for the yoke. So that had he been sole arbiter of things, had he acted with the Sovereignty and title of Royalty, he had easier overtaken him in the glory of conquests, as he surpassed him in clemency, in moderation, and in other virtues.” His body, before its commitment to the pile, was exhibited naked in the Forum of Antioch, the place where the pile was erected. Whether it bore the marks of poyson, remained undecided: for people, as they were divided in their affections, as they pitied Germanicus, and presumed the guilt of Piso, or were partial to him, gave opposite accounts.
It was next debated amongst the legates of the Legions, and the other Senators there, to whom should be committed the administration of Syria: and, after the faint efforts of others, it was long disputed between Vibius Marsus and Cneius Sentius. Marsus at last yielded to Sentius, the older man, and the more vehement competitor. By him one Martina, infamous in that province for practices in poisoning, and a close confident of Plancina, was sent to Rome, at the suit of Vitellius, Veranius, and others, who were preparing criminal articles against Piso and Plancina, as against persons evidently guilty.
Agrippina, though overwhelmed with sorrow, and her body indisposed, yet impatient of all delays to her revenge, imbarked with the ashes of Germanicus, and her children, attended with universal commiseration: “That a Lady, in quality a Princess, wont to be beheld in her late splendid wedlock with applauses and adorations, was now seen bearing in her bosom her husband’s funeral urn, uncertain of vengeance for him, and fearful for herself, unfortunate in her fruitfulness, and from so many children obnoxious to so many blows of fortune.” Piso, the while, was overtaken at the Isle of Cous by a message, “that Germanicus was deceased,” and received it intemperately, slew victims and repaired with thanksgiving to the Temples. Yet, however immoderate and undisguised was his joy, more arrogant and insulting proved that of Plancina, who immediately threw off her mourning, which for the death of a sister she wore, and assumed a dress adapted to gaiety and gladness.
About him flocked the Centurions with officious representations, “That upon him particularly were bent the affections and zeal of the Legions, and he should proceed to resume the province, at first injuriously taken from him, and now destitute of a Governor.” As he therefore consulted what he had best pursue, his son Marcus Piso advised “a speedy journey to Rome. Hitherto, he said, nothing past expiation, was committed; neither were impotent suspicions to be dreaded; nor the idle blazonings of fame. His variance and contention with Germanicus was, perhaps, subject to popular hate and aversion, but to no prosecution or penalty; and, by bereaving him of the province, his enemies were gratified. But if he returned thither, as Sentius would certainly oppose him with arms, a civil war would thence be actually begun. Neither would the Centurions and soldiers persist in his party, men with whom the recent memory of their late Commander, and an inveterate love to the Cæsars in general, were still prevalent.”
Domitius Celer, one in intimate credit with Piso, argued on the contrary, “That the present event must by all means be improved; it was Piso, and not Sentius, who had commission to govern Syria; upon him were conferred the jurisdiction of Prætor, and the badges of Magistracy, and with him the Legions were intrusted. So that if acts of hostility were by his opponents attempted, with how much better warrant could he avow assuming arms in his own right and defence, who was thus vested with the authority of General, and acted under special orders from the Emperor. Rumours too were to be neglected, and left to perish with time. In truth, to the sallies and violence of recent hate, the innocent were often unequal. But were he once possessed of the Army, and had well augmented his forces, many things, not to be foreseen, would from fortune derive success. Are we then preposterously hastening to arrive at Rome with the ashes of Germanicus, that you may there fall, unheard and undefended, a victim to the wailings of Agrippina, a prey to the passionate populace governed by the first impressions of rumour? Livia, it is true, is your confederate, Tiberius is your friend; but both secretly: and indeed none will more pompously bewail the violent fate of Germanicus, than such as do most sincerely rejoice for it.”
Piso, of himself prompt to violent pursuits, was with no great labour persuaded into this opinion, and, in a Letter transmitted to Tiberius, accused Germanicus “of luxury and pride; that for himself, he had been expulsed, to leave room for dangerous designs against the State, and now resumed, with his former faith and loyalty, the care of the Army.” In the mean time he put Domitius on board a galley, and ordered him to avoid appearing upon the Coasts or amongst the Isles, but, through the main sea, to sail to Syria. The deserters, who from all quarters were flocking to him in crowds, he formed into companies, and armed all the retainers to the Camp; then sailing over to the continent, intercepted a regiment of recruits, upon their march into Syria, and wrote to the small Kings of Cilicia to assist him with present succours. Nor was the younger Piso slow in prosecuting all the measures of war, though to adventure a war had been against his sentiments and advice.
As they coasted Lycia and Pamphylia, they encountered the ships which carried Agrippina, with hostile spirits on each side, and each at first prepared for combat; but as equal dread of one another possessed both, they proceeded not further than mutual contumelies. Vibius Marsus particularly summoned Piso, as a criminal, to Rome, there to make his defence. He answered, with derision, “That when the Prætor, who was to sit upon poysonings, had assigned a day to the accusers and the accused, he would attend.” Domitius, the while, landing at Laodicea, a city of Syria, would have proceeded to the winter-quarters of the sixth Legion, which he believed to be the most prone to engage in novel attempts, but was prevented by Pacuvius, its commander. Sentius represented this by Letter to Piso, and warned him, “at his peril to infect the Camp by ministers of corruption, or to assail the province by war,” and drew into a body such as he knew loved Germanicus, or such as were averse to his foes. Upon them he inculcated with much ardour, that Piso was with open arms attacking the majesty of the Prince, and invading the Roman state; and then marched at the head of a puissant body, equipped for battle, and resolute to engage.
Neither failed Piso, though his enterprizes had thus far miscarried, to apply the securest remedies to his present perplexities, and therefore seized a Castle of Cilicia strongly fortified, its name Celendris. For, to the Auxiliary Cilicians, sent him by the petty Kings, he had joined his body of deserters, as also the recruits lately intercepted, with all his own and Plancina’s slaves; and thus in number and bulk, had of the whole composed a Legion. To them he thus harangued; “I, who am the Lieutenant of Cæsar, am yet violently excluded from the province which to me Cæsar has committed; not excluded by the Legions, (for by their invitation I am arrived) but by Sentius, who thus disguises, under feigned crimes against me, his own animosity, and personal hate. But with confidence you may stand in battle, where the opposite army, upon the sight of Piso, a Commander lately by themselves stiled their Father, will certainly refuse to fight; they know too, that were right to decide it, I am the stronger; and of no mean puissance in a trial at arms.” He then arrayed his men without the fortifications, on a hill steep and craggy, for all the rest was begirt by the sea. Against them stood the Veterans regularly embattled, and supported with a body of reserve; so that here appeared the force of men, there only the terror and stubbornness of situation. On Piso’s side was no spirit, no hope, nor even weapons, save those of rustics, for instant necessity hastily acquired. As soon as they came to blows, the issue was no longer doubtful than while the Roman Cohorts struggled up the steep. The Cilicians then fled, and shut themselves up in the Castle.
Piso having the while attempted in vain to storm the fleet, which rode at a small distance, as soon as he returned, presented himself upon the walls; where, by a succession of passionate complaints and intreaties, now bemoaning in agonies the bitterness of his lot, then calling and cajoling every particular soldier by his name, and by rewards tempting all, he laboured to excite a sedition; and thus much he had already effected, that the Eagle-bearer of the sixth Legion revolted to him with his Eagle. This alarmed Sentius, and instantly he commanded the cornets and trumpets to sound, a mount to be raised, the ladders placed, and the bravest men to mount, and others to pour from the Engines volleys of darts, and stones, and flaming torches. The obstinacy of Piso was at last vanquished; and he desired, “that, upon delivering his arms, he might remain in the Castle till the Emperor’s pleasure, to whom he would commit the Government of Syria, were known;” conditions which were not accepted, nor was ought granted him, save ships, and a passport to Rome.
After the illness of Germanicus became noised abroad there, and all its circumstances, like rumours magnified by distance, were related with many aggravations, sadness seized the people. They burned with indignation, and even poured out in plaints the anguish of their souls: “For this, they said, he had been banished to the extremities of the Empire, for this the province of Syria was committed to Piso, and these the fruits of Livia’s mysterious conferences with Plancina. Truly had our fathers spoken concerning his father Drusus, that the possessors of rule beheld with an evil eye the popular spirit of their sons; nor for aught else were they sacrificed, but for their equal treatment of the Roman people, and studying to restore the popular state.” These lamentations of the populace were, upon the tidings of his death, so inflamed, that, without staying for an Edict from the Magistrates, without a Decree of Senate, they by general consent assumed a vacation; the public Courts were deserted, private houses shut up, prevalent every-where were the symptoms of woe, heavy groans, dismal silence; the whole a scene of real sorrow, and nothing devised for form or shew; and, though they forbore not to bear the exterior marks and habiliments of mourning, in their souls they mourned still deeper. Accidentally some Merchants from Syria, who had left Germanicus still alive, brought more joyful news of his condition. These were instantly believed, and instantly proclaimed: each, as fast as they met, informed others, who forthwith conveyed their light information with improvements, and accumulated joy, to more; all flew with exultation through the city, and, to pay their thanks and vows, burst open the Temple doors. The night too heightened their credulity, and affirmation was bolder in the dark. Nor did Tiberius restrain the course of these fictions, but left them to vanish with time. Hence with more bitterness they afterwards grieved for him, as if anew snatched from them.
Honours were invented and decreed to Germanicus, various as the affections and genius of the particular Senators who proposed them; “that his name should be sung in the Salian Hymns; Curule Chairs placed for him amongst the Priests of Augustus, and over these Chairs Oaken Crowns hung; his Statue in Ivory precede in the Circensian Games; none but one of the Julian race be, in the room of Germanicus, created Flamen or Augur:” Triumphal arches were added, one at Rome, one upon the banks of the Rhine, one upon mount Amanus in Syria, with inscriptions of his exploits, and a testimony subjoined, “that he died for the Commonwealth;” a Sepulchre at Antioch, where his corps was burnt; a tribunal at Epidaphne, the place where he ended his life. The multitude of statues, the many places where divine honours were appointed to be paid him, would not be easily recounted. They would have also decreed him, as to one of the masters of Eloquence, a golden shield, signal in bulk as in metal; but Tiberius offered “to dedicate one himself, such as was usual and of a like size with others; for that Eloquence was not measured by fortune; and it was sufficient glory, if he were ranked with ancient Writers.” The Battalion called after the name of the Junii, was now, by the Equestrian order, entitled the Battalion of Germanicus, and a rule made, that on every fifteenth of July, these troops should follow, as their standard, the effigies of Germanicus. Of these honours many continue, some were instantly omitted, or by time are utterly obliterated.
In the height of this public sorrow, Livia, sister to Germanicus, and married to Drusus, was delivered of male twins; an event even in middling families, rare and acceptable, and to Tiberius such mighty matter of joy, that he could not refrain boasting to the fathers, “that to no Roman of the same eminence, before him, were ever two children born at a birth. For to his own glory he turned all things, even things fortuitous. But to the people, at such a sad conjuncture, it brought fresh anguish, as they feared that the family of Drusus, thus increased, would press heavy upon that of Germanicus.
The same year the lubricity of women was by the Senate restrained with severe laws; and it was provided, “that no woman should become venal, if her father, grandfather or husband, were Roman Knights.” For Vistilia, a Lady born of a Prætorian family, had, before the Ædiles, published herself a prostitute, upon a custom allowed by our ancestors, who thought that prostitutes were, by thus avowing their infamy, sufficiently punished. Titidius Labeo too was questioned, that in the manifest guilt of his wife, he had neglected the punishment prescribed by the law; but he alledged, that the sixty days allowed for consultation, were not elapsed; and it was deemed sufficient to proceed against Vistilia, who was banished to the Isle of Seriphos. Measures were also taken for exterminating the solemnities of the Jews and Ægyptians; and by decree of Senate four thousand descendents of franchised slaves, all tainted with that superstition, but of proper strength and age, were to be transported to Sardinia, to restrain the Sardinian robbers; and if, through the malignity of the climate, they perished, despicable would be the loss. The rest were doomed to depart Italy, unless by a stated day they renounced their profane rites.
After this, Tiberius represented, that, to supply the place of Occia, who had presided seven and fifty years with the highest sanctimony over the Vestals, another Virgin was to be chosen, and thanked Fonteius Agrippa, and Asinius Pollio, that, by offering their daughters, they contended in good offices towards the Commonwealth. Pollio’s daughter was preferred, for nothing else but that her mother had ever continued in the same wedlock; for Agrippa, by a divorce, had impaired the credit of his house. Upon her who was postponed, Tiberius, in consolation, bestowed for her fortune a thousand great sesterces. *
As the people murmured at the severe dearth of corn, he settled grain at a price certain to the buyer, and undertook to pay fourteen pence a measure to the seller. Neither yet would he accept the name of Father of his Country, a title offered him before, and for these bounties, now again; nay, he sharply rebuked such as stiled these provisions of his, divine occupations, and him, Lord. Hence freedom of speech became cramped and insecure under such a Prince, one who dreaded liberty, and abhorred flattery.
I find in the Writers of those times, some of them Senators, that in the Senate were read Letters from Adgandestrius, Prince of the Cattians, undertaking to dispatch Arminius, if in order to it poison were sent him; and an answer returned, “that not by frauds and blows in the dark, but armed, and in the face of the sun, the Roman people took vengeance on their foes.” In this Tiberius gained equal glory with our ancient Captains, who rejected and disclosed a plot to poison King Pyrrhus. Arminius, however, who, upon the departure of the Romans, and expulsion of Maroboduus, aimed at Royalty, became thence engaged in a struggle against the Liberty of his country, and, in defence of their Liberty, his country-men took arms against him: So that, while with various fortune he contended with them, he fell by the treachery of his own kindred. The deliverer of Germany without doubt he was, one who assailed the Roman power, not like other Kings and Leaders, in its first elements, but in its highest pride and elevation; one sometimes beaten in battle, but never conquered in war. Thirty-seven years he lived, twelve he commanded; and, amongst these barbarous nations, his memory is still celebrated in their songs, though his name be unknown in the Annals of the Greeks, who only admire their own national exploits and renown; nor, even amongst the Romans, does this great Captain bear much distinction, while, overlooking instances of modern prowess and glory, we only delight to magnify men and feats of old.
[a ]About twenty-five thousand Crowns.
[b ]About five thousand Crowns.
[c ]Seven Crowns and a half.
[d ]Two hundred and fifty thousand Crowns.
[* ]Twenty-five thousand Crowns.