Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK III. - The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 - Gordon's Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3)
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BOOK III. - 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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Agrippina returns to Italy with the ashes and children of Germanicus. The passionate Zeal of the people towards her, and them, and his memory. His funeral; with the behaviour of Tiberius and Livia, on that occasion. Drusus returns to Illyricum, as does Piso to Rome, and is tried as the poisoner of Germanicus, despairs of acquittal, and kills himself. Tacfarinas renews the war in Africa, and is repressed by Apronius the Proconsul there. The trial and condemnation of Lepida Æmylia, for adultery and poisoning. The law Papia Poppæa, long abused, now restrained. Fresh commotions in Africa, by Tacfarinas. Junius Blæsus sent to oppose him. Certain Roman Knights condemned upon the Law of Majesty violated. Revolts in both Gauls, conducted by Julius Sacrovir, and Julius Florus; the issue tragical to the revolters, and their chiefs. C. Lutorius, a Roman Knight, condemned upon the Law of Majesty, and executed in prison. The cure of luxury attempted, and dropped. Drusus made partner with his father in the power Tribunitial. The Priest of Jupiter, not allowed to ballot for a Province. The Greek Sanctuaries, their claims, examined and reformed. C. Silanus condemned for bribery and treason. Junius Blæsus routs Tacfarinas, and takes his brother prisoner. Junia, the illustrious sister of the famous Marcus Brutus, and widow of Cassius, her death and funeral.
Agrippina, not withstanding the roughness of winter, pursuing without intermission her boisterous voyage, put in at the Island Corcyra, situated over-against the coasts of Calabria. Here, to settle her spirit, she spent a few days, violent in her grief, and a stranger to patience. Her arrival being the while divulged, all the particular friends to her family, mostly men of the sword, many who had served under Germanicus, and even many strangers from the neighbouring towns, some in officiousness towards the Emperor, more for company, crowded to the City of Brundusium, the readiest port in her way, and the safest landing. As soon as the fleet appeared in the deep, instantly were filled, not the port alone and adjacent shores, but the walls and roofs, and as far as the eye would go; filled with the sorrowing multitude. They were consulting one from one, how they should receive her, landing, “whether with universal silence, or with some note of acclamation.” Nor was it manifest which they would do, when the fleet sailed slowly in, not, as usual, with joyful sailors and chearful oars, but all things impressed with the face of sadness. After she descended from the ship, accompanied with her two Infants, carrying in her bosom the melancholy Urn, with her eyes cast steddily down; equal and universal were the groans of the beholders: nor could you distinguish relations from strangers, nor the wailings of men from those of women, unless that the new-comers, who were recent in their sallics of grief, exceeded Agrippina’s attendants, wearied out with long lamentations.
Tiberius had dispatched two Prætorian Cohorts, with directions, that the Magistrates of Calabria, Apulia and Campania, should pay their last offices to the memory of his son. Upon the shoulders therefore of the Tribunes and Centurions his ashes were borne; before went the Ensigns, rough and unadorned, with the Fasces reversed. As they passed through the Colonies, the populace were in black, the Knights in purple; and each place, according to its wealth, burnt precious rayment, perfumes, and whatever else is used in funeral solemnities. Even they whose cities lay remote, attended. To the Gods of the dead, they slew victims, they erected altars, and with tears and united lamentations, testified their common sorrow. Drusus came as far as Terracina, with Claudius the brother of Germanicus, and those of his children who had been left at Rome. The Consuls Marcus Valerius and Marcus Aurelius (just then entered upon their office) the Senate, and great part of the people, filled the road; a scattered procession, each walking and weeping his own way. In this mourning, flattery had no share; for all knew how real was the joy, how hollow the grief of Tiberius for the death of Germanicus.
Tiberius and Livia avoided appearing abroad. Public lamentation they thought below their grandeur; or, perhaps, they apprehended that their countenances, examined by all eyes, might shew deceitful hearts. That Antonia, mother to the deceased, bore any part in the Funeral, I do not find either in the Historians or in the City Journals, though besides Agrippina, and Drusus, and Claudius, his other relations are likewise there recorded by name; whether by sickness she was prevented; or, whether her soul, vanquished by sorrow, could not bear the representation of such a mighty calamity. I would rather believe her to have been constrained by Tiberius and Livia, who left not the palace; and, affecting equal affliction with her, would have it seem, that, by the example of the mother, the grandmother too and uncle were detained.
The day when his remains were reposited in the Tomb of Augustus, various were the symptoms of public grief; now an awful silence, then an uproar of lamentation, the city in every quarter full of processions, the field of Mars in a blaze of torches. Here the soldiers under arms, the Magistrates without the Insignia, the people by their tribes, all cried in concert, that “the Commonwealth was fallen, and henceforth there was no remain of hope;” so openly and boldly, that you would have believed they had forgot who bore sway. But nothing pierced Tiberius more than the ardent affections of the people towards Agrippina, while they gave her such titles as “the ornament of her country, the only blood of Augustus, the single instance of ancient virtue;” and, while applying to Heaven, they implored “the continuance of her Issue, that they might survive the persecuting and malignant.”
There were those who missed the Pomp of a public Funeral, and compared with this the superior honours and magnificence bestowed by Augustus on that of Drusus the father of Germanicus; “that he himself had travelled, in the sharpness of winter, as far as Pavia, and thence, continuing by the corps, had with it entered the city; round his head were placed the Images of the Claudii and Julii; he was mourned in the Forum; his Encomium pronounced in the Rostra’s; all sorts of honours, such as were the inventions of our ancestors, or the improvements of their posterity, were heaped upon him. But to Germanicus were denied the ordinary Solemnities, and such as were due to every distinguished Roman. In a foreign country indeed, his corps, because of the long journey, was burnt without pomp; but afterwards, it was but just to have supplied the scantiness of the first ceremony by the solemnity of the last. His brother met him but one day’s journey, his uncle not even at the gate. Where were those generous observances of the ancients, the Effigies of the dead borne on a bed, Hymns composed in memory of their virtue, with the Oblations of praises and tears? Where, at least, were the ceremonies, and even outside of sorrow?”
All this was known to Tiberius; and, to suppress the discourses of the populace, he published an Edict, “that many illustrious Romans had died for the Commonwealth, but none so vehemently lamented; this, however, was to the glory of himself and of all men, if a measure were observed. The same things which became private families and small states, became not Princes and an Imperial people. Fresh grief, indeed, required vent and ease by lamentation; but, it was now time to recover and fortify their minds. Thus the deified Julius, upon the loss of an only daughter; thus the deified Augustus, upon the hasty death of his grandsons, had both vanquished their sorrow. More ancient examples were unnecessary, how often the Roman people sustained with constancy the slaughter of their Armies, the death of their Generals, and intire destruction of their noblest families. Princes were mortal, the Commonwealth was eternal. They should therefore resume their several vocations.” And, because the Megalensian Games were at hand, he added, “that they should even apply to the usual festivities.”
The vacation ended, public affairs were resumed; Drusus departed for the Army in Illyricum, and the minds of all men were bent upon seeing vengeance done upon Piso. They repeated their resentments, that while he wandered over the delightful countries of Asia and Greece, he was stifling, by contumacious and deceitful delays, the evidences of his crimes; for it was bruited abroad, that Martina, she who was famous for poysonings, and sent, as I have above related, by Cneius Sentius towards Rome, was suddenly dead at Brundusium; that poyson lay concealed in a knot of her hair, but upon her body were found no symptoms of self-murder.
Piso, sending forward his son to Rome, with instructions how to soften the Emperor, proceeded himself to Drusus. Him he hoped to find less rigid for the death of a brother, than favourable for the removal of a rival. Tiberius, to make shew of a spirit perfectly unbiassed, received the young man graciously, and honoured him with the presents usually bestowed on young Noblemen. The answer of Drusus to Piso was, “that if the current rumours were true, he stood in the first place of grief and revenge; but he hoped they were false and chimerical, and that the death of Germanicus would be pernicious to none.” This he declared in public, and avoided all privacy. Nor was it doubted but the answer was dictated by Tiberius, when a youth, otherwise easy and unwary, practised thus the wiles and cunning of age.
Piso having crossed the sea of Dalmatia, and left his ships at Ancona, took first the road of Picenum, and then the Flaminian way, following the Legion which was going from Pannonia to Rome, and thence to garrison in Africa. This too became the subject of popular censure, that he officiously mixed with the soldiers, and courted them in their march and quarters. He therefore, to avoid suspicion, or, because when men are in dread, their conduct wavers, did at Narni embark upon the Nar, and thence sailed into the Tiber. By landing at the burying place of the Cæsars, he heightened the wrath of the populace. Besides, he and Plancina came ashore in open day, in the face of the city, who were crowding the banks, and proceeded with gay countenances, he attended by a long band of Clients, she by a train of Ladies. There were yet other provocations to hatred, the situation of his house, proudly overlooking the Forum, and adorned and illuminated as for a festival, the banquet and rejoicings held in it, all as public as the place.
The next day Fulcinius Trio arraigned Piso before the Consuls, but was opposed by Vitellius, Veranius, and others, who had accompanied Germanicus. They said, “that in this prosecution Trio had no part; nor did they themselves act as accusers, but only gathered materials, and, as witnesses, produced the last injunctions of Germanicus.” Trio dropped that accusation, but got leave to call in question his former life. And now the Emperor was desired to undertake the Trial; a request which the accused did not at all oppose, dreading the inclinations of the People and Senate. “He knew Tiberius, on the contrary, resolute in despising popular rumours, and in guilt confederate with his mother; besides that truth and misrepresentations were easiest distinguished by a single judge, but in assemblies odium and envy often prevailed.” Tiberius was aware of the weight of the Trial, and with what reproaches he was assaulted. Admitting therefore a few confidents, he heard the charge of the accusers, as also the apology of the accused, and left the cause intire to the Senate.
Drusus returned the while from Illyricum; and, though the Senate had for the reduction of Maroboduus, and other his exploits the summer before, decreed him the Triumph of Ovation, he postponed the honour, and privately entered the city. Piso, for his advocates, desired Titus Arruntius, Fulcinius, Asinius Gallus, Eserninus Marcellus, and Sextus Pompeius. But they all framed different excuses; and he had, in their room, Marcus Lepidus, Lucius Piso, and Liveneius Regulus. Now earnest were the expectations of all men, “how great would prove the fidelity of the friends of Germanicus; what the assurance of the criminal, what the behaviour of Tiberius, whether he would sufficiently smother, or betray his sentiments.” He never had a more anxious part; neither did the people ever indulge themselves in such secret murmurs against their Emperor, nor harbour in silence severer suspicions.
When the Senate met, Tiberius made a speech, full of laboured moderation, “that Piso had been his father’s Lieutenant and friend, and lately appointed by himself, at the direction of the Senate, Coadjutor to Germanicus, in administering the affairs of the East. Whether he had there by contumacy and opposition exasperated the young Prince, and exulted over his death, or wickedly procured it, they were then to judge with minds unprejudiced. For, if he who was the Licutenant of my son, violated the limits of his commission, cast off obedience to his General, and even rejoiced at his decease, and at my affliction; I will detest the man, I will banish him from my house, and, for domestic injuries exert domestic revenge, not the revenge of an Emperor. But for you; if his guilt of any man’s death whatsoever, be discovered, shew your just vengeance, and by it satisfy yourselves, satisfy the children of Germanicus, and us his father, and grand-mother. Consider too especially whether he viciated the discipline, and promoted sedition in the Army, whether he sought to debauch the affections of the soldiers, and to recover the province by arms; or whether these allegations are not published falsly and with aggravations by the accusers, with whose over-passionate zeal I am justly offended. For, whither tended the stripping the corps, and exposing it to the eyes and examination of the populace; with what view was it proclaimed, even to foreign nations, that his death was the effect of poison, if all this was still doubtful, and remains yet to be tried? It is true, I bewail my son, and shall ever bewail him. But neither do I hinder the accused to do what in him lies to manifest his innocence, even at the expence of Germanicus, if ought blameable was in him. From you I intreat the same impartiality; let not the connexion of my sorrow with this cause, mislead you to take crimes for proved, because they are imputed. For Piso; if the tenderness of kinsmen, if the faith of friends, has furnished him with patrons, let them aid him in his peril, shew their utmost cloquence, and exert their best diligence. To the same pains, to the same firmness I exhort the accusers. Thus much, out of the common course, we will grant to the memory of Germanicus, that the inquest concerning his death, be held rather here than in the Forum, in the Senate than in the common Tribunals. In all the rest, we will descend to the ordinary methods. Let no man in this cause consider Drusus’s tears; let none regard my sorrow, no more than the probable fictions of calumny against us.”
Two days were then appointed for maintaining the charge, six for preparing the defence, and three for making it. Fulcinius began with things stale and impertinent, about the ambition and rapine of Piso in his administration of Spain; things which, though proved, brought him under no penalty, if acquitted of the present charge; nor, though he had been cleared of former faults, could he escape the load of greater enormities. After him Serveus, Veranius and Vitellius, all with equal zeal, but Vitellius, with great Eloquence, urged, “That Piso, in hatred to Germanicus, and passionate for innovations, had, by tolerating general licenciousness, and the oppression of the Allies, corrupted the common soldiers to that degree, that by the most profligate he was stiled Father of the Legions. He had, on the contrary, been outrageous to the best men, above all to the friends and companions of Germanicus, and, at last, by witchcraft and poyson destroyed Germanicus himself; hence the infernal charms and immolations practised by him and Plancina. He had then attacked the Commonwealth with open arms; and, before he could be brought to be tried, they were forced to fight and defeat him.”
In every article but one his defence was faltering. For, neither his dangerous intrigues in debauching the soldiery, nor his abandoning the province to the most profligate and rapacious, nor even his insults to Germanicus, were to be denied. He seemed only to wipe off the charge of poyson; a charge which in truth was not sufficiently corroborated by the accusers, since they had only to alledge, “that at an entertainment of Germanicus, Piso, while he sat above him, with his hands poysoned the meat.” It appeared absurd, that, amongst so many attending slaves besides his own, in so great a presence, and under the eye of Germanicus, he would attempt it. He himself required that the waiters might be racked, and offered to the rack his own domestics. But the Judges were implacable, from different motives, Tiberius for the war raised in the province; and the Senate could never be convinced that the death of Germanicus was not the effect of fraud. Some moved for the Letters written to Piso from Rome, a motion opposed by Tiberius no less than by Piso. From without, at the same time, were heard the cries of the people, “that if he escaped the judgment of the Senate, they would with their own hands destroy him.” They had already dragged his Statues to the place from whence Malefactors were precipitated, and there had broken them; but by the orders of Tiberius they were rescued and replaced. Piso was put into a litter and carried back by a Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort; an attendance variously understood, whether that officer was intended as a guard for his safety, or a minister of death.
Plancina was under equal public hatred, but had more secret favour; hence it was doubted how far Tiberius durst proceed against her. For herself; while her husband’s hopes were yet plausible, she professed that “she would accompany his fortune whatever it were, and, if he fell, fall with him.” But when, by the secret sollicitations of Livia, she had secured her own pardon, she began by degrees to drop her husband, and to make a separate defence. After this fatal warning, he doubted whether he should make any further efforts; but, by the advice of his sons, fortifying his mind, he again entered the Senate. There he found the prosecution renewed, suffered the declared indignation of the fathers, and saw all things cross and terrible; but nothing so much daunted him as to behold Tiberius, without mercy, without wrath, close, dark, unmoveable, and bent against every access of tenderness. When he was brought home, as if he were preparing for his further defence the next day, he wrote somewhat, which he sealed and delivered to his Freedman. He then washed and anointed, and took the usual care of his person. Late in the night, his wife leaving the chamber, he ordered the door to be shut, and was found, at break of day, with his throat cut, his sword lying by him.
I remember to have heard from ancient men, that in the hands of Piso was frequently seen a bundle of writings, which he did not expose, but which, as his friends constantly averred, “contained the Letters of Tiberius, and his cruel orders towards Germanicus; that he resolved to lay them before the Fathers, and to charge the Emperor, but was deluded by the hollow promises of Sejanus; and that neither did Piso die by his own hands, but by those of an express and private executioner.” I dare affirm neither; nor yet ought I to conceal the relations of such as still lived when I was a youth. Tiberius, with an assumed air of sadness, complained in the Senate, that Piso, by that sort of death, had aimed to load him with obloquy, and asked many questions, how he had passed his last day, how his last night? The Freedman answered to most with prudence, to some in confusion. The Emperor then recited the Letter sent him by Piso. It was conceived almost in these words; “Oppressed by a combination of my enemies, and the imputation of false crimes, since no place is left here to truth and my innocence; to the immortal Gods I appeal, that towards you, Cæsar, I have lived with sincere faith, nor towards your mother with less reverence. For my sons, I implore her protection and yours; my son Cneius had no share in my late management, whatever it were, since, all the while, he abode at Rome. My son Marcus dissuaded me from returning to Syria. Oh that, old as I am, I had yielded to him, rather than he, young as he is, to me! Hence, more passionately, I pray, that, innocent as he is, he suffer not in the punishment of my guilt. By a series of services for five and forty years, I entreat you, by our former fellowship in the Consulship, by the memory of the deified Augustus, your father, by his friendship to me, by mine to you, I entreat you for the life and fortune of my unhappy son. It is the last request which I shall ever make you.” Of Plancina he said nothing.
Tiberius, upon this, cleared the young man of any crime as to the Civil War; he alledged “the orders of his father, which a son could not disobey.” He likewise bewailed “that noble house, and even the grievous lot of Piso himself, however deserved.” For Plancina he pleaded with shame and guilt, alledgeing the importunity of his mother, against whom more particularly the secret murmurs of the best people waxed bitter and poignant. “Was it then the tender part of a grand-mother to admit to her sight the murderess of her grandson, to be intimate with her, and to snatch her from the vengeance of the Senate? To Germanicus alone was denied what by the Laws was granted to every Citizen. By Vitellius and Veranius, the cause of that Prince was mourned and pleaded; by the Emperor and his mother, Plancina was defended and protected. Henceforth she might pursue her infernal arts, so successfully tried, repeat her poisonings, and by her arts and poisons assail Agrippina and her children, and, with the blood of that most miserable house, satiate the worthy grand-mother and uncle.” In this Mock-Trial two days were wasted; Tiberius, all the while, animating the sons of Piso to defend their mother. When the pleaders and witnesses had vigorously pushed the charge, and no reply was made, commiseration prevailed over hatred. The Consul Aurelius Cotta was first asked his opinion; for, when the Emperor collected the voices, the Magistrates likewise voted. Cotta’s sentence was, “That the name of Piso should be razed from the Annals, part of his estate forfeited, part granted to his son Cneius, upon changing that name; his son Marcus should be divested of his dignity, and, content with fifty thousand great sesterces, be banished for ten years; and to Plancina, at the request of Livia, indemnity should be granted.”
Much of this sentence was abated by the Emperor, particularly that of striking Piso’s name out of the Annals, when “that of Marc Anthony, who made war upon his country, that of Julus Antonius, who had by adultery violated the house of Augustus, continued still there.” He also exempted Marcus Piso from the ignominy of degradation, and left him his whole paternal inheritance; for, as I have already often observed, he was incorruptible by any temptations of money, and from the shame of having acquitted Plancina, rendered then more than usually mild. He likewise withstood the motion of Valerius Messalinus, “for erecting a golden Statue in the Temple of Mars the Avenger,” and that of Cæcina Severus, “for founding an Altar to Revenge.” Such Monuments “as these, he argued, were only fit to be raised upon foreign victories; domestic evils were to be buried in sadness.” Messalinus had added, “That to Tiberius, Livia, Antonia, Agrippina and Drusus, public thanks were to be rendered for haveing revenged the death of Germanicus;” but had omitted to mention Claudius. Messalinus was asked by Lucius Asprenas, in the presence of the Senate, “whether by design he had omitted him?” and then at last the name of Claudius was subjoined. To me, the more I revolve the events of late or of old, the more of mockery and slipperiness appears in all human wisdom, and the transactions of men; for, in popular fame, in the hopes, wishes and veneration of the public, all men were rather destined to the Empire, than he for whom fortune then reserved the sovereignty in the dark.
A few days after, Vitellius, Veranius and Serveus, were by the Senate preferred to the honours of the Priesthood, at the motion of Tiberius. To Fulcinius he promised his interest and suffrage towards preferment, but advised him “not to embarass his Eloquence by impetuosity.” This was the end of revenging the Death of Germanicus, an affair ambiguously related, not by those only who then lived and interested themselves in it, but likewise in following times; so dark and intricate are all the highest transactions, while some hold for certain facts, the most precarious hearsays, others turn facts into falshood, and both are swallowed and improved by the credulity of posterity. Drusus went now without the City, there to renew the ceremony of the Auspices, and presently re-entred in the Triumph of Ovation. A few days after died Vipsania his mother, of all the children of Agrippa, the only one who made a pacific end; the rest manifestly perished, or are believed to have perished, by the sword, poison, and famine.
The same year, Tacfarinas, whom I have mentioned to have been the former summer defeated by Camillus, renewed the war in Africa, first by roving devastations, so sudden that they escaped unchastised; next he sacked towns, and bore away mighty plunder; at last he begirt a Roman Cohort, a small distance from the river Pagida. It was a fort commanded by Decrius, a brave soldier, exercised in war, and now touched with the ignominy of such a siege. Encouraging therefore his men to offer open battle, he drew them up without the walls. At the first shock the Cohort was repulsed; but the resolute Decrius braved the enemy’s darts, opposed the runaways, and upbraided the standard-bearers, “that, upon vagabonds, and undisciplined robbers, the Roman soldiers turned their backs.” He had already received several wounds, and his eye was beat out, but still faced the foe, nor ceased fighting, till, wholly deserted by his men, he at last was slain.
Lucius Apronius had succeeded Camillus. As soon as he learnt this defeat, piqued rather by the infamy of his own men, than the glory of the enemy, he practised an exemplary severity, at this time rare, but agreeable to ancient discipline, by executing with a club every tenth man of that ignominious Cohort, drawn by lot. Such too was the effect of this rigour, that those very forces of Tacfarinas, as they besieged the fortress of Thala, were routed by a squadron of five hundred Veterans. In this battle Rufus Helvius, a common soldier, acquired the glory of saving a Citizen, and was by Apronius presented with the Spear and Collar. Tiberius added the Civic Crown, complaining, rather than resenting, that Apronius had not, in right of Proconsul, granted that also. Tacfarinas, now his Numidians were dismayed, and bent against sieges, made a desultory war, flying when attacked, and, upon a retreat, assaulting the rear. As long as the African observed this method, he, with impunity to himself, mocked and harassed the Romans; but after he drew down to the maritime places, the allurements and quantities of plunder confined him to his Camp. Hither Apronius Cesianus was, by his father, dispatched with the cavalry and auxiliary Cohorts, to which was added a detachment of the best Legionary foot; and, having successfully fought the Numidians, drove them back to the desarts.
At Rome the while, Emilia Lepida, who, besides the nobleness of the Emilian family, was great grand-daughter to Pompey and Sylla, was charged with imposing a false birth upon Publius Quirinius her husband, a man rich and childless. The charge was swelled with “adulterics, poisonings, and treasonable dealings with the Chaldeans about the fate and continuance of the Imperial house.” Her brother Manius Lepidus defended her; and, guilty and infamous as she was, the persecution from her husband (continued after their divorce) drew compassion upon her. In this Trial, it was no easy matter to discover the heart of Tiberius, with such subtlety he mixed and shifted the symptoms of indignation and clemency. At first, he besought the Senate, “not to meddle with the articles of treason;” and presently engaged Marcus Servilius, once Consul, and the other witnesses, to produce the very evidences of treason which he would have appeared desirous to suppress. Yet he took the slaves of Lepida from the guard of soldiers, and surrendered them to the Consuls; nor would he suffer them to be examined by torture, as to her practises against himself; he even excused Drusus from voting first, as Consul elect. This some understood as an instance of complaisance, “that the rest might not be obliged to follow the example of Drusus.” Some ascribe it to cruelty, “for that only with design to have her condemned, that concession was made.”
The public Games interrupted the Trial, and in the recess, Lepida, accompanied with other Ladies of great quality, entered the Theatre. There, with doleful lamentations, invoking her illustrious ancestors, especially the great Pompey, whose statues stood round in view, the Theatre itself a monument of his raising, she excited such universal commiseration, that the Spectators burst into tears; and uttering cruel and direful imprecations against Quirinius, declared their indignation, “That to his childless old age, and mean blood, should be given a Lady once designed for the wife of Lucius Cæsar, and for the daughter-in-law of the deified Augustus.” At last, by racking her slaves, her crimes were made manifest, and the judgment of Rubellius Blandus prevailed, for interdicting her from fire and water. To this judgment Drusus assented, though others had proposed a milder. That her estate should not be forfeited, was granted to Scaurus, who by her had had a daughter. And now, after condemnation, Tiberius advertised the Senate, that “from the slaves too of Quirinius he had learnt her attempts to poison him.”
As a consolation to the illustrious Families of Rome, for their late calamities (for the Calpurnian house had suffered the loss of Piso, and, just after, the Emilian house that of Lepida) Decius Silanus was now restored to the Junian family. I will briefly recite his disgrace. As against the Republic, the fortune of Augustus was prevalent, so, in his family, it was unhappy, by the lewdness of his daughter and grand-daughter, whom he turned out of Rome, and with death or exile punished their adulterers. For, to a fault common between men and women, he gave the heinous name of sacrilege and treason; and thence had a colour for departing from the tenderness of our ancestors, and for violating his own laws. But I shall hereafter relate the fate of others from this his severity, as also the other transactions of that time, if, having finished my present undertaking, life remains for other studies. Silanus, who had viciated the granddaughter of Augustus, though he felt no higher indignation than to be excluded from the friendship and presence of the Emperor, yet understood this as a denunciation of banishment; nor durst he, till the reign of Tiberius, supplicate the Prince and Senate for leave to return; and then only trusted to the prevailing credit of his brother Marcus Silanus, distinguished by his illustrious quality, and eminent for his great Eloquence. Marcus having returned thanks to Tiberius, had this answer before the Senate; “That he himself also rejoiced that his brother was returned from travels so long and remote; that his return home was perfectly unexceptionable, since neither by decree of Senate, nor by any sentence of law had he been driven thence; that to himself however still remained intire the resentments of his father towards him; nor by the return of Silanus were the purposes of Augustus violated.” Thenceforward he remained in Rome, but distinguished by no preferment in the State.
The qualifying of the Law Papia Poppea was afterwards proposed; a Law, which, to enforce those of Julius Cæsar, Augustus had made when he was old, for punishing Celibacy, and enriching the Exchequer. Nor even by this means had marriages and children multiplied, while a passion to live single and childless still prevailed: But, in the mean time, the numbers threatened and in danger by it, increased daily, while by the glosses and chicane of the impleaders every family was undone. So that, as before the city laboured under the weight of crimes, so now under the pest of laws. From this thought I am led backwards to the first rise of Laws, and to open the steps and causes by which we are arrived to the present number and excess, a number infinite and perplexed.
The first race of men, free as yet from every depraved passion, lived without guile and crimes, and therefore without chastisements and restraints; nor was there occasion for rewards, when of their own accord they pursued righteousness; and as they courted nothing contrary to justice, they were debarred from nothing by terrors. But, after they had abandoned their original equality, and from modesty and shame to do evil, proceeded to ambition and violence, Lordly dominion was introduced, and arbitrary rule, and in many nations grew perpetual. Some, either from the beginning, or after they were surfeited with Kings, preferred the sovereignty of Laws, which, agreeably to the artless minds of men, were at first short and simple. The laws in most renown were those framed for the Cretans by Minos, for the Spartans by Lycurgus; and afterwards such as Solon delivered to the Athenians, now greater in number, and more exquisirely composed. To the Romans justice was administered by Romulus according to his pleasure. After him, Numa managed the people by religious devices, and laws divine. Some institutions were made by Tullus Hostilius, some by Ancus Martius; but above all our laws were those founded by Servius Tullius, such laws as even our Kings were bound to obey.
Upon the expulsion of Tarquin, the people, for the security of their freedom against the encroachment and factions of the Senate, and for binding the public concord, prepared many ordinances. Hence were created the Decemviri, and by them were composed the twelve Tables, out of a collection of the most excellent institutions found abroad. This was the period of all upright and impartial Laws. What laws followed, though sometimes made against crimes and offenders, were yet chiefly made by violence, through the animosity of the two Estates, and for seizing unjustly withholden offices, or for banishing illustrious Patriots, and to other wicked ends. Hence the Gracchi and Saturnini, inflamers of the people; and hence Livius Drusus vying, on behalf of the Senate, in popular concessions with these inflamers, whence our Italian Allies were first corrupted and animated with fair promises, then by the opposition of other Demagogues disappointed and deceived. Neither during the War of Italy, nor during the Civil War, was the making of regulations discontinued; many and contradictory were even then made. At last Sylla the Dictator, changing or abolishing the past, added many of his own, and procured some respite in this matter, but not long; for presently followed the turbulent pursuits and proposals of Lepidus, and soon after were the Tribunes restored to their licentious authority of throwing the people into combustions at pleasure. And now Laws were not made for the public only, but, for particular men, particular laws; and, corruption abounding in the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth abounded in laws.
Pompey was now, in his third Consulship, chosen to correct the public enormities, and his remedies proved to the State more grievous than its distempers. He made Laws, such as suited his ambition, and broke them when they thwarted his will, and lost by arms the regulations which by arms he had procured. Henceforward for twenty years civil discord raged, and there was neither law nor settlement; the most wicked found impunity in the excess of their wickedness, and many virtuous men in their uprightness met destruction. At length, Augustus Cæsar, in his sixth Consulship, then confirmed in power without a rival, abolished the orders which during the Triumvirate he had established, and gave us laws proper for peace and a single ruler. These laws had sanctions severer than any heretofore known; as their guardians, Informers were appointed, who by the Law Papia Poppea were encouraged with rewards, to watch such as neglected the privileges annexed to marriage and fatherhood, and consequently could claim no legacy or inheritance, the same, as vacant, belonging to the Roman people, who were the public parent. But these Informers struck much deeper; by them the whole City, all Italy, and the Roman Citizens in every part of the Empire, were infested and persecuted; numbers were stripped of their intire fortunes, and terror had seized all, when Tiberius, for a check to this evil, chose twenty Noblemen, five who were formerly Consuls, five, who were formerly Prætors, with ten other Senators, to review that law. By them many of its intricacies were explained, its strictness qualified; and hence some present alleviation was yielded.
Tiberius, about this time, recommended to the Senate Nero, one of the sons of Germanicus, now seventeen years of age, and desired, “that he might be exempted from executing the office of the Vigintivirate, and have leave to sue for the Quæstorship five years sooner than the laws directed.” A piece of mockery this request to all who heard it; but Tiberius pretended, “that the same concessions had been decreed to himself, and his brother Drusus, at the request of Augustus.” Nor do I doubt but there were then such who secretly ridiculed that sort of petitions from Augustus. Such policy was however natural to that Prince, then laying the foundations of the Imperial power, and while the Republic and its late laws were still fresh in the minds of men. Besides, the relation was lighter between Augustus and his wife’s sons, than between a grandfather and his grandsons. To the grant of the Quæstorship was added a seat in the College of Pontifs; and the first day he entered the Forum in his manly robe, a donative of corn and money was distributed to the populace, who exulted to behold a son of Germanicus now of age. Their joy was soon heightened by his marriage with Julia, the daughter of Drusus. But as these transactions were attended with public applauses, so the intended marriage of the daughter of Sejanus with the son of Claudius, was received with popular indignation. By this alliance the nobility of the Claudian house seemed stained, and by it Sejanus, already suspected of aspiring views, was exalted still higher.
At the end of this year died two great and eminent men, Lucius Volusius, and Sallustius Crispus. The family of Volusius was ancient, but, in the exercise of public office, rose never higher than the Prætorship; it was he who honoured it with the Consulship. He was likewise created Censor, for modelling the classes of the Equestrian Order, and first accumulated the wealth which raised that family beyond all measure. Crispus was born of an Equestrian house, great nephew by a sister to Caius Sallustius, the renowned Roman Historian, and by him adopted. The way to the great offices was open to him; but, in imitation of Mæcenas, he lived without the dignity of Senator, yet outwent in power many who were distinguished with Consulships and triumphs. His manner of living, his dress and daintiness, were different from the ways of antiquity, and, in expence and affluence, he bordered rather upon luxury. He possessed, however, a vigour of spirit, equal to great affairs, and exerted the greater promptness, for that he hid it in a shew of indolence and sloth. He was therefore, in the life-time of Mæcenas, the next in favour, afterwards chief confident in all the secret Counsels of Augustus and Tiberius, and assenting to the order for slaying Agrippa Posthumus. In his old age he preserved with the Prince rather the outside than the vitals of authority. The same had happened to Mæcenas. Such is the lot of power, rarely perpetual, perhaps from satiety on both sides, when Princes have no more to grant, and Ministers no more to crave.
Next followed the Consulship of Tiberius and Drusus, to Tiberius the fourth, to Drusus the second; a Consulship remarkable, for that in it the father and son were Collegues. There was indeed the same fellowship between Tiberius and Germanicus, two years before; but, besides the distastes of jealousy in the uncle, the ties of blood were not so near. In the beginning of the year, Tiberius, on pretence of his health, retired to Campania, either already meditating a long and perpetual retirement, or to leave to Drusus, in his father’s absence, the honour of executing the Consulship alone. And there happened a thing which, small in itself, yet as it produced mighty contestation, furnished the young Consul with matter of popular affection. Domitius Corbulo, formerly Prætor, complained to the Senate of Lucius Sylla, a noble youth, “that in the shew of Gladiators, Sylla would not yield him place.” Age, domestic custom, and the ancient men were for Corbulo. Mamercus Scaurus, Lucius Arruntius, and others, laboured for their kinsman Sylla. Warm speeches were made, and the examples of our ancestors were urged, “who by severe decrees had censured and restrained the irreverence of the youth.” Drusus interposed with arguments proper for calming animosities, and Corbulo had satisfaction made him by Scaurus, who was both father-in-law and uncle to Sylla, and the most copious Orator of that age. The same Corbulo, exclaiming against “the condition of most of the roads through Italy, that through the fraud of the undertakers, and negligence of the civil officers, they were broken and unpassable;” undertook of his own accord the cure of that abuse; an undertaking which he executed, not so much to the advantage of the public, as to the ruin of many private men in their fortunes and reputation, by his violent mulcts, and unjust judgments and forfeitures.
Soon after Tiberius by Letter acquainted the Senate, “That by the incursions of Tacfarinas there were fresh commotions in Africa, and that they must chuse a Proconsul, one of military experience, vigorous, and equal to that war.” Sextus Pompeius, taking this occasion to discharge his hate against Marcus Lepidus, reproached him “as dastardly, indigent, a scandal to his ancestors, and therefore to be divested even of the Government of Asia, his province by lot.” The Senate opposed him; they thought Lepidus a man rather mild than slothful, and that, as in his narrow fortune bequeathed to him, but not impaired by him, he supported his quality without blemish, he merited honour rather than contumely. He was therefore sent to Asia. Concerning Africa, it was decreed, that the appointment of a Governor should be left to the Emperor.
During these transactions, Cæcina Severus proposed, “That no Magistrate should go into any province accompanied by his wife.” He introduced this motion with a long preface, “that he lived with his own in perfect concord, by her he had six children, and what he offered to the public he had practised himself, having during forty years service, left her still behind him, confined to Italy. It was not indeed, without cause, established of old, that women should neither be carried by their husbands into confederate nations, nor into foreign. A train of women introduced luxury in peace, by their fears retarded war, and made a Roman army resemble, in their march, a mixed host of Barbarians. The sex was not tender only and unfit for travel, but, if suffered, cruel, aspiring, and greedy of authority; they even marched amongst the soldiers, and were obeyed by the officers. A woman had lately presided at the exercises of the troops, and at the decursions of the Legions. The Senate themselves might remember, that as often as any of the Magistrates were charged with plundering the provinces, their wives were always charged with much guilt. To the Ladies the most profligate in the province ever applied, by them all affairs were undertaken, by them transacted; at home two distinct courts were kept, and abroad the wife had her distinct train and attendants. The Ladies too issued distinct orders, but more imperious, and better obeyed. Such feminine excesses were formerly restrained by the Oppian and other Laws, but now these restraints were violated, women ruled all things, their families, the Forum and Tribunals, and even the armies.”
This speech was heard by few with approbation, and many proclaimed their dissent, “for that neither was that the point in debate, nor was Cæcina considerable enough to censure so weighty an affair.” He was presently answered by Valerius Messalinus, who was the son of Messala, and inherited a sparkling of his father’s Eloquence: “that many rigorous institutions of the ancients were softened and changed for the better. For neither was Rome now, as of old, beset with wars, nor Italy with hostile provinces; hence a few concessions were made to the conveniences of women, who were so far from burdening the provinces, that to their own husbands there they were no burden. As to honours, attendants, and expence, they enjoyed them in common with their husbands, who could receive no embarassment from their company in time of peace. To war, indeed, we must go equipped and unincumbered; but after the fatigues of war, what was more allowable than the consolations of a wife? But it seemed, the wives of some Magistrates had given a loose to ambition and avarice: And were the Magistrates themselves free from these excesses? Were not most of them governed by many exorbitant appetites? Did we therefore send none into the provinces? It was added, that the husbands were corrupted by their corrupt wives; Were therefore all single men uncorrupt? The Oppian Laws were once thought necessary, because the exigencies of the State required their severity; they were afterwards relaxed and mollified, because that too was expedient for the State. In vain we covered our own sloth with borrowed names; if the wife broke bounds, the husband ought to bear the blame. It was moreover unjustly judged, for the weak and uxorious spirit of one or a few, to bereave all others of the fellowship of their wives, the natural partners of their prosperity and distress. Besides, the sex, weak by nature, would be left defenceless, exposed to the luxurious bent of their native passions, and to the seduction of adulterers. Scarce under the eye and restraint of the husband, was the marriage-bed preserved inviolate; what must be the consequence, when, by an absence of many years, the ties of marriage would be forgot, as it were, in a divorce? It became them therefore, so to cure the evils abroad, as not to forget the enormities at Rome.” To this Drusus added somewhat concerning his own wedlock. “Princes, he said, were frequently obliged to visit the remote parts of the Empire; how often did the deified Augustus travel to the East, how often to the West, still accompanied with Livia? He himself too had taken a progress to Illyricum, and, if it were expedient, was ready to visit other nations; but not always with an easy spirit, if he were to be torn from his dear wife, her by whom he had so many children.” Thus was Cæcina’s motion eluded.
When the Senate met next, they had a Letter from Tiberius. In it he affected indirectly to chide the fathers, “that upon him they cast all public cares,” and named them M. Lepidus and Junius Blesus, to choose either for Proconsul of Africa. They were then both heard as to this nomination, and Lepidus excused himself with earnestness, pleaded “his bodily frailty, the tender age of his children, and a daughter fit for marriage.” There was another reason too, of which he said nothing, but it was easily understood, even that Blesus was uncle to Sejanus, and therefore had the prevailing interest. Blesus too made a shew of refusing, but not with the like positiveness, and moreover, was heard with partiality by the flatterers of power.
Now at last broke out a grievance which had lain hitherto smothered in the uneasy minds of men. The Statues of the Emperor were become sanctuaries to every profligate, who, by laying hold on these Statues, had assumed the insolence of venting with impunity their invectives and hatred against worthy men. Even slaves and freedmen were thence grown terrible to their masters, and wantonly insulted and threatned them. Against this abuse it was argued by Caius Sestius the Senator, “that Princes were indeed the representatives of the Gods, but by the Gods just petitions only were heard, nor did any one betake himself to the Capitol, or the other Temples of Rome, that under their sacred shelter he might exercise villainies. The laws were abolished, and finally overturned, if a criminal convict could, in the public Forum, nay, at the door of the Senate, assault her prosecutor with invectives and menaces; Yet thus had Annia Rufilla assaulted him, she whom he had got judicially condemned for forgery; neither durst he seek relief from the law, for that she protected herself with the Emperor’s Statue. Much the same reasoning was offered by others: some aggravated the offence with greater bitterness, and besought Drusus to shew an exemplary instance of vengeance; so that she was summoned, convicted of the charge, and by his command committed to the common prison.
Considius Equus too, and Celius Cursor, Roman Knights, were at the motion of Drusus, punished by a decree of Senate, for forging a charge of treason against the Prætor Magius Cæcilianus. From this their punishment and that of Rufilla, Drusus reaped popular praise, “that by him, living thus sociably at Rome, and frequenting the public assemblies, the dark spirit and designs of his father were softened.” Neither did the luxury, in which the young Prince lived, give much offence. “Let him, it was said, be rather thus imployed, his days in shews and acts of popularity, his nights in banqueting, than in dismal solitude, withdrawn from public gayety, worried with incessant distrusts, and fostering black designs.”
For neither was Tiberius nor the impleaders yet tired with accusations. Ancharius Priscus had accused Cæsius Cordus, Proconsul of Crete, of robbing the public, with an additional charge of high treason, a charge which at that time was the main bulwark of all accusations. Antistius Vetus, a Nobleman of the first rank in Macedonia, had been tried for adultery, and absolved. This offended Tiberius, who reproached the Judges, and recalled him to be tried for treason, as a disturber of the public, and confederate with the late King Rhescuporis, when having slain his brother Cotys, he meditated war against us. So that Vetus was condemned, and interdicted from fire and water. To this sentence it was added, “that he should be confined to an island, neither in the neighbourhood of Macedon nor of Thrace.” For, upon the division of that Kingdom between Rhemetalces and the sons of Cotys, who being children, had for their guardian Trebellienus Rufus, the Thracians, not used to our Government, waxed discontented and tumultuous; nor did they less censure Rhemetalces than Trebellienus, for leaving unpunished the violences done them. The Cœletæans, Odrysœans, and other very powerful nations, took arms, under distinct Captains, but all equal in meanness and incapacity. For this reason, their armies were not united, nor the war terrible. Some committed ravages at home, others traversed Mount Haemus, to engage in the insurrection the distant provinces. The greatest part, and best appointed, besieged Philippopolis, (a City founded by Philip of Macedon) and in it King Rhemetalces.
Publius Velleius, who commanded the army in the neighbouring province, when he heard of these commotions, dispatched parties of horse and light foot, some against those who roamed about for plunder, some against such as rambled from place to place to sollicit succours; he himself led the body of the Infantry to raise the siege. These several enterprizes were at once successfully executed, the rovers were cut off; divisions arose amongst the besiegers, and the King fortunately sallied, just as the Roman forces arrived. This gang of Thracians deserve not the name of an army, nor this rout to be called a battle, where vagabonds half-armed were slaughtered, without blood on our side.
The same year the Cities of Gaul, stimulated by their excessive debts, began a Rebellion. The most vehement incendiaries were Julius Florus, and Julius Sacrovir, the first amongst those of Treves, the second amongst the Eduans. They were both of distinguished nobility, both descended from ancestors, who had done signal services to the Roman State, and thence acquired of old the right of Roman Citizens, a privilege rare in those days, and only the prize of virtue. When by secret meetings they had gained those who were most prompt to rebel, with such as were desperate through indigence, or, from guilt of past crimes, forced to commit more, they agreed that Florus should begin the insurrection in Belgia, Sacrovir amongst the neighbouring Gauls. They therefore had many consultations and cabals, where they spared no topic of sedition, “their tribute without end, their devouring usury, the pride and cruelty of their Governors, the discord that had seized the Roman soldiery since the report of the murder of Germanicus; a glorious conjuncture for redeeming their Liberty, if they would only consider their own happiness and strength, while Italy was poor and exhausted, the Roman populace weak and unwarlike, the Roman armies destitute of all vigour, but that derived from foreigners.”
Scarce one City remained untainted with the seeds of this Rebellion, but it first broke out at Angiers and Tours. The former were reduced by Acilius Aviola, a Legate, with the assistance of a Cohort drawn from the garrison at Lions. Those of Tours were suppressed by the same Aviola, assisted with a detachment sent from the Legions, by Visellius Varro, Lieutenant-Governor of lower Germany. Some of the Chiefs of the Gauls had likewise joined him with succours, the better to disguise their defection, and to push it with more effect hereafter. Even Sacrovir was beheld engaged in fight for the Romans, with his head bare, a demonstration, he pretended, of his bravery; but, the prisoners averred, “that he did it to be known to his country-men, and to escape their darts.”
An account of all this was laid before Tiberius, who slighted it, and by hesitation fostered the war. Florus the while pushed his designs, and tried to persuade a Regiment of horse, levied at Treves, and kept under our pay and discipline, to begin the war, by putting to the sword the Roman Merchants; and some few were corrupted by him, but the body remained in their allegiance. A rabble however of his followers and desperate debtors, took arms, and were making to the Forest of Arden, when the Legions, sent from both armies by Visellius and Caius Silius, through different routs to intercept them, marred their march. Julius Indus too, one of the same country with Florus, at enmity with him, and therefore more eager to engage him, was dispatched forward with a chosen band, and broke the ill-appointed multitude. Florus, by lurking from place to place, frustrated the search of the conquerors; at last, when he saw all the passes beset with soldiers, he fell by his own hands. This was the issue of the insurrection at Treves.
Amongst the Eduans the revolt was as much stronger, as the state was more opulent, and the forces to suppress it were to be brought from afar. Augustodunum, the capital of the nation, was seized by Sacrovir, and in it all the noble youth of Gaul, who were there instructed in the Liberal Arts. By securing these pledges, he aimed to bind in his interest their parents and relations, and at the same time distributed to the young men the arms which he had caused to be secretly made. He had forty thousand men, the fifth part armed like our Legions, the rest with poles, hangers, and other weapons used by hunters. To the number were added such of the slaves as had been appointed to be Gladiators, covered, after the fashion of the country, with a continued armour of iron, and stiled Crupellarii, a sort of militia, unweildly at exercising their own weapons, and impenetrable by those of others. These forces were still increased by voluntiers from the neighbouring cities, where, though the public body did not hitherto avow the revolt, yet the zeal of particulars was manifest. They had likewise leisure to increase from the contention of the two Roman Generals; a contention for some time undecided, while each demanded the command in that war. At length Varro, old and infirm, yielded to the superior vigour of Silius.
Now, at Rome, “not only the insurrection of Treves and of the Eduans, but likewise, that threescore and four cities of Gaul had revolted, that the Germans had joined in the revolt, and that Spain fluctuated,” were reports, all believed with the usual aggravations of fame. The best men grieved in sympathy for their country; many, from hatred of the present government, and thirst of change, rejoiced in their own perils. They inveighed against Tiberius, “that, in such a mighty uproar of rebellion, he was only employed in perusing the informations of the State-Accusers.” They asked, “Did he mean to surrender Julius Sacrovir to the Senate, to try him for treason?” They exulted, “that there were at last found men, who would with arms restrain his bloody Letters (to the Senate) continually demanding condemnations and executions;” and declared, “that even war was a happy change for a most wretched and calamitous peace.” So much the more for this, Tiberius affected to appear wrapt up in security and unconcern; he neither changed place nor countenance, but behaved himself at that time as at other times, whether from elevation of mind, or whether he had learnt that the state of things was not alarming, and only heightened by vulgar representation.
Silius the while sending forward a band of Auxiliaries, marched with two Legions, and ravaged the villages of the Sequanians, next neighbours to the Eduans, and their associates in arms. He then advanced towards Augustodunum, a hasty march, the Standard-bearers mutually vying in expedition, and the common men breathing ardour and eagerness, “that no time might be wasted even in the usual refreshments, none of their nights in sleep; let them only see and confront the foe; they wanted no more to be victorious.” Twelve miles from Augustodunum Sacrovir appeared with his forces upon the plains; in the front he had placed the iron troop, his Cohorts in the wings, the half-armed in the rear; he himself, upon a fine horse, attended by the other chiefs, addressing himself to them from rank to rank; reminded them “of the glorious atchievements of the ancient Gauls; of the victorious mischiefs they had brought upon the Romans; of the liberty and renown attending victory; of their redoubled and intolerable servitude, if once more vanquished.”
A short speech, and disheartened audience! For, the embattled Legions approached, and the crowd of townsmen, ill-appointed and novices in war, stood astonished, bereft of the present use of eyes and hearing. On the other side, Silius, though he presumed the victory, and thence might have spared exhortations, yet called to his men, “That they might be with reason ashamed, that they, the Conquerors of Germany, should be thus led against a rabble of Gauls as against an equal enemy; one Cohort had newly defcated the rebels of Tours, one Regiment of horse those of Treves; a handful of this very army had routed the Sequanians. The present Eduans, the more they abound in wealth, the more they wallow in voluptuousness, are so much the more soft and unwarlike: this is what you are now to prove, and your task to prevent their escape.” His words were returned with a mighty cry. Instantly the horse surrounded the foe, the foot attacked their front, and the wings were presently routed. The iron-band gave some short obstruction, as the bars of their coats withstood the stroaks of sword and pike; but the soldiers had recourse to their hatchets and pick-axes, and, as if they had battered a wall, hewed their bodies and armour; others with clubs, and some with forks, beat down the helpless lumps, who, as they lay stretched along, without one struggle to rise, were left for dead. Sacrovir fled first to Augustodunum, thence, fearful of being surrendered, to a neighbouring town, accompanied by his most faithful adherents; there he slew himself, and the rest one another, having first set the town on fire, by which they were all consumed.
Now at last Tiberius wrote to the Senate about this war, and, at once, acquainted them with its rise and conclusion, neither aggravateing facts nor lessening them; but added, “That it was conducted by the fidelity and bravery of his Lieutenants, guided by his counsels.” He likewise assigned the reasons why neither he, nor Drusus, went to that war; “That the Empire was an immense body, and it became not the dignity of a Prince, upon the revolt of one or two communities, to desert the capital, whence motion was derived to the whole. But now, since he could not be thought conducted by any dread of those nations, he would take a progress to visit and settle them.” The Senate decreed vows and supplications for his return, with other customary honours. Only Cornelius Dolabella, while he strove to outdo others, fell into ridiculous sycophancy, by proposing, “That returning from Campania he should enter Rome in the Triumph of Ovation.” This occasioned a Letter from Tiberius, in which he declared, “That he was not so destitute of glory, that after having in his youth subdued the fiercest nations, and enjoyed or slighted so many Triumphs, he should now in his old age seek empty honours from a short progress about the suburbs of Rome.”
About the same time he desired of the Senate, that “the corps of Sulpitius Quirinus might be distinguished with a public Funeral.” Quirinus was born at Lanuvium, a Municipal town, and no wise related to the ancient Patrician family of the Sulpitii, but being a brave soldier, was, for his vigorous military services to Augustus, rewarded with the Consulship, and soon after with a Triumph, for driving the Homonades out of their strong holds in Cilicia. Next, when the young Caius Cæsar was sent to settle the affairs of Armenia, Quirinus was appointed his Governor, and at the same time paid all court to Tiberius, then in his retirement at Rhodes. This the Emperor represented now to the Senate, extolled the kind offices of Quirinus, and branded Marcus Lollius as the author of the perverse behaviour of Caius Cæsar to himself, and of all the jarring between them. In other instances the memory of Quirinus was not acceptable to the Senate, for his deadly persecution against Lepida, above recited, and for his prevailing power and avarice in his old age.
At the end of the year, Caius Lutorius Priscus, a Roman Knight, who had composed a celebrated Poem, bewailing the death of Germanicus, and received a reward from Tiberius, was attacked by an informer. His charge was, “That during an illness of Drusus, he had composed another, which, if the distemper proved mortal, he hoped to publish with a reward still greater.” This Poem Lutorius had, in the fulness of vanity and ostentation, rehearsed at the house of Publius Petronius, in the presence of Vitellia, mother-in-law to Petronius, and of other Ladies of quality, who were all summoned by the impleader, and all, except Vitellia, were terrified into a confession; she alone persisted that she had heard nothing. But the evidence tending to destroy him had most credit, and it was the sentence of Haterius Agrippa, Consul elect, that death should be his punishment.
This was opposed by M. Lepidus, who spoke on this wise. “Conscript fathers, if we only regard, with what abominable effusions Lutorius Priscus has defiled his own soul, and the ears of men, neither dungeon, nor rope, nor indeed the punishments peculiar to slaves, are sufficient for him. But though wickedness and enormities abound without measure, yet since in coercions and penalties, we must observe the limits set by the moderation of the Prince, set by precedents made by our ancestors and yourselves; and since we must distinguish the vanity of the head from the malignity of the heart, and words from evil doings; there is room left for a middle judgment, by which neither his offence need escape unpunished, nor we repent of our tenderness or severity. I have often heard our Prince complain, when any criminal had, by a desperate death, prevented his mercy. The life of Lutorius is still untouched; to save it, will no wise endanger the State, nor will the taking it away have any influence upon others. His studies, as they are full of wildness, are likewise empty and perishing; neither is aught important or terrible to be apprehended from one who thus betrays his own follies, and makes his court not to the minds of men, but the imaginations of women. Let him, however, be expelled Rome, interdicted from fire and water, and his estate be forfeited; which judgment of mine is the same as if he were charged with high treason.”
Of all the Consulars, only Rubellius Blandus assented to this opinion of Lepidus; the rest voted with Agrippa. Priscus was led to the dungcon, and instantly put to death. Tiberius, in a Letter to the Senate, discanted upon this proceeding, with his usual doubles and ambiguities, magnified “their tenderness and zeal in avenging thus with severity even such slight injuries done to the Prince;” entreated them, “not to be sudden in punishing for words;” he praised Lepidus, and censured not Agrippa. Hence an order was made, “that the decrees of Senate should not in less than ten days be carried to the Exchequer, and to the condemned so much time should be granted.” But to the Senate remained no liberty of revisal or annulling; nor was Tiberius ever softened by time.
Caius Sulpitius and Decimus Haterius were the following Consuls. Their year was exempt from disturbances abroad, but at home some severe blow was apprehended against luxury, which prevailed monstrously in all things that create a profusion of money. But as the more pernicious articles of expence were covered by concealing their prices, therefore from the excesses of the table, which were become the common subject of daily animadversion, apprehensions were raised of some rigid correction from a Prince who observed himself the ancient parcimony. For, Caius Bibulus having begun the complaint, the other Ædiles took it up, and argued, “That the sumptuary Laws were despised, the pomp and expence of plate and entertainments, in spite of restraints, increased daily, and by moderate penalties were not to be stopped.” This grievance thus represented to the Senate, was by them referred intire to the Emperor. Tiberius having long weighed with himself whether such an abandoned propensity to prodigality could be stemmed, whether the stemming it would not bring heavier evils upon the public, how dishonourable it would be to attempt what could not be effected, or at least effected by the disgrace of the nobility, and by the subjecting illustrious men to infamous punishments, wrote at last to the Senate in this manner:
“In other matters, Conscript Fathers, perhaps it might be more expedient for you to consult me in the Senate, and for me to declare there what I judge for the public weal; but in the debate of this affair, it was best that my eyes were withdrawn, lest, while you marked the countenances and terror of particulars charged with scandalous luxury, I too should have observed them, and, as it were, caught them in it. Had the vigilant Ædiles first asked counsel of me, I know not whether I should not have advised them rather to have passed by potent and inveterate corruptions, than only make it manifest, what enormities are an over-match for us. But they, in truth, have done their duty, as I would have all other Magistrates fulfil theirs. But, for myself, it is neither commendable to be silent, nor does it belong to my station to speak out; since I neither bear the character of an Ædile, nor of a Prætor, nor of a Consul. Something still greater and higher is required of a Prince. Every one is ready to assume to himself the credit of whatever is well done, while upon the Prince alone are thrown the miscarriages of all. But what is it that I am first to prohibit, what excess retrench to the ancient standard? Am I to begin with that of our country seats, spacious without bounds; and with the number of domestics, a number distributed into nations in private families? or with the quantity of plate, silver, and gold? or with pictures, and the works, and statues of brass, the wonders of art? or with the gorgeous vestments, promiscuously worn by men and women? or with what is peculiar to the women, those precious stones, for the purchase of which our coin is carried into foreign and hostile nations? I am not ignorant that at entertainments and in conversation, these excesses are censured, and a regulation is required. Yet if an equal Law were made, if equal penalties were prescribed, these very censurers would loudly complain, That the State was utterly overturned, that snares and destruction were prepared for every illustrious house, that no man could be guiltless, and all men would be the prey of informers. And yet bodily diseases grown inveterate and strengthened by time, cannot be checked but by medicines rigid and violent; it is the same with the soul, the sick and raging soul, itself corrupted and scattering its corruption, is not to be qualified but by remedies equally strong with its own flaming lusts. So many Laws made by our ancestors, so many added by the deified Augustus, the former being lost in oblivion, and (which is more heinous) the latter in contempt, have only served to render luxury more secure. When we covet a thing yet unforbidden, we are apt to fear that it may be forbidden; but when once we can with impunity and defiance over-leap prohibited bounds, there remain afterwards nor fear nor shame. How therefore did Parcimony prevail of old? It was because every one was a Law to himself, it was because we were then only masters of one City; nor afterwards, while our dominion was confined only to Italy, had we found the same instigations to voluptuousness. By foreign Conquests we learned to waste the property of others, and in the Civil Wars to consume our own. What a mighty matter is it that the Ædiles remonstrate! how little to be weighed in the balance with others? It is wonderful that no body represents, That Italy is in constant want of foreign supplies, that the lives of the Roman people are daily at the mercy of uncertain seas and of tempests: were it not for our supports from the provinces, supports, by which the masters, and their slaves, and their estates, are maintained, would our own Groves and Villas maintain us? This care therefore, Conscript Fathers, is the business of the Prince, and by the neglect of this care, the foundations of the state would be dissolved. The cure of other defects depends upon our own private spirits; some of us shame will reclaim, necessity will mend the poor, satiety the rich. Or if any of the Magistrates, from a confidence of his own firmness and perseverance, will undertake to stemm the progress of so great an evil, he has both my praises, and my acknowledgement that he discharges me of part of my fatigues. But if such will only impeach corruptions, and when they have gained the glory, would leave upon me the indignation, (indignation of their own raising;) believe me, Conscript Fathers, I am not fond of bearing resentments. I already suffer many for the Commonwealth, many that are grievous, and almost all unjust; and therefore, with reason, I intreat that I may not be loaded with such as are wantonly and vainly raised, and promise no advantage to you nor to me.”
The Senate, upon reading the Emperor’s Letter, released the Ædiles from this pursuit; and the luxury of the table which, from the battle of Actium till the revolution made by Galba, flowed, for the space of an hundred years, in all profusion, at last gradually declined. The causes of this change are worth knowing. Formerly the great families, signal for nobility or for riches, were carried away with a passion for magnificence; for in those days it was allowed to court the good graces of the Roman people, with the favour of Kings, and confederate Nations, and to be courted by them; so that each was distinguished by the lustre of popularity and dependences, in proportion to his affluence, the splendour of his house, and the figure which he made. But after Imperial fury had for some time raged in the slaughter of the Grandees, and great reputation brought sure destruction, the rest grew wiser. Besides, new men frequently chosen Senators from the Municipal towns, from the Colonies, and even from the Provinces, brought with them their own domestic parcimony; and though, by fortune or industry, many of them grew wealthy as they grew old, yet their former frugal spirit continued. But above all, Vespasian proved the promoter of moderation and frugality, being himself the pattern of ancient Oeconomy in his person and table; hence the compliance of the public with the manners of the Prince, and an emulation to practise them, an incitement more prevalent than the terrors of Laws and all their penalties. Or, perhaps, all human things go a certain round, and, as there are revolutions of time, there are also vicissitudes in manners. Nor, indeed, have our ancestors excelled us in all things; our own age has produced many excellencies worthy of praise and the imitation of posterity. Let us still preserve this strife in virtue with our forefathers.
Tiberius having gained the fame of moderation, because, by rejecting the project for reforming luxury, he had disarmed the growing hopes of the accusers, wrote to the Senate, to desire the Tribunitial Power for Drusus. Augustus had devised this title as best suiting the supreme power, while avoiding the odious name of King or Dictator, he yet wanted some particular appellation, under it to controul all other powers in the State. He afterwards assumed Marcus Agrippa into a fellowship in it, and, upon his death, Tiberius, that none might doubt who was to be his successor. By this means, he conceived, he should defeat the aspiring views of others; besides, he confided in the moderation of Tiberius, and in the mightiness of his own authority. By his example, Tiberius now advanced Drusus to a participation of the supreme Magistracy, whereas, while Germanicus yet lived, he acted without distinction towards both. In the beginning of his Letter, he besought the Gods, “That by his counsels the Republic might prosper,” then added a modest testimony concerning the qualities and behaviour of the young Prince, without aggravation or false embellishments, “That he had a wife and three children, and was of the same age with himself when called by the deified Augustus to that office; that Drusus was not now by him adopted a partner in the toils of Government, precipitately, but after eight years experience made of his qualifications, after seditions suppressed, wars concluded, the honour of Triumph, and two Consulships.”
The Senators had foreseen this address; hence they received it with the more elaborate adulation. However, they could devise nothing to decree, but “Statues to the two Princes, altars to the Gods, triumphal arches,” and other usual honours, only that Marcus Silanus strove to honour the Princes by the disgrace of the Consulship; he proposed “That all records, public and private, should, for their date, be inscribed no more with the names of the Consuls, but of those who excrcised the Tribunitial power.” But Haterius Agrippa, by moving to have “the Decrees of that day engraved in Letters of gold, and hung up in the Senate,” became an object of derision, for that, as he was an ancient man, he could reap from his most abominable flattery no other fruit but that of infamy.
In the mean time, as the Province of Africa was continued to Junius Blæsus, Servius Maluginensis Priest of Jupiter, demanded that of Asia. He insisted, “That it was vainly alledged, that such Priests were not allowed to leave Italy; that he was under no other restriction than those of Mars and Romulus; and if they were admitted to the lots of Provinces, why were those of Jupiter debarred? The same was neither adjudged by the authority of the people, nor in the books which ascertained the sacred rites. Frequently, when the Priests of Jupiter were detained by sickness, or engaged in the public, their function was supplied by the Pontifs. The function itself lay unfilled for two and seventy years together, after the death of Cornelius Merula, and yet the exercise of Religion never ceased. Now if in such a series of years, Religion could subsist unhurt without the creation of any such Priest at all, how much easier might his absence be borne in the exercise of the Proconsular power, for one year? It was to satiate private piques, if formerly the Priests of Jupiter were by the chief Pontifs debarred from the Government of Provinces. But now, by the goodness of the Gods, the chief Pontif was also the chief of men, a Pontif to whom emulation, hatred, and other personal prepossessions, had no access.”
To these his reasonings several answers were made by Lentulus the Augur, and others, but all disagreeing, so that the result was “to wait for the decision of the supreme Pontif.” Tiberius in his answer to the Senate, postponing his notice of the pretensions of the Priest of Jupiter, qualified the honours decreed to Drusus with the Tribunitial power, and especially censured the “extravagance of the proposition for golden letters, as contrary to the example and usage of Rome.” Letters from Drusus were likewise read, and, though modest in expression, were construed to be full of haughtiness; “Were all things in the Roman state so miserably reversed, that even a youth, one just distinguished with such supreme honour, deigned not to visit the Gods of Rome, nor appear in Senate, nor begin in his native City the auspices of his dignity? No war detained him; he had no journey to make from remote countries, while he was only diverting himself upon the lakes and shores of Campania, and pleasure his chief avocation. With such tuition was he prepared the future ruler of human kind! this the lesson he had learnt from the maxims of his father! In truth, the Emperor himself, an ancient man, might find uneasiness in living under the eye of the public, and plead a life already fatigued with age and occupations; but what besides pride and stateliness could obstruct Drusus?”
Tiberius, while he fortified the vitals of his own domination, afforded the Senate a shadow of their ancient Jurisdiction, by referring to their examination petitions and claims from the Provinces. For there had now prevailed amongst the Greek Cities a latitude of instituting Sanctuaries at pleasure. Hence the Temples were filled with the most profligate fugitive slaves; here debtors found protection against their creditors, and hither were admitted such as were pursued for capital crimes. Nor was any authority found sufficient to bridle the seditious zeal of the people, thus defending the villainies of men, as if the same were the sacred institutions of the Deities. It was therefore ordered, that these cities should send deputies to represent their claims. Some voluntarily relinquished the privileges which they had arbitrarily assumed; many confided in their right, from the antiquity of their superstitions, or their services to the Roman people. Glorious to the Senate was the appearance of that day, when the grants from our ancestors, the engagements of our confederates, the ordinances of Kings, such Kings who had reigned as yet independent of the Roman power, and when even the institutions, sacred to the Gods, were now all subjected to their inspection, and their judgment free, as of old, to ratify or abolish with absolute power.
First of all the Ephesians applied, and alledged, that “Diana and Apollo were not born at Delos, according to the opinion of the vulgar. In their territory flowed the river Cenchris, where also stood the Ortygian Grove; there the big-bellied Latona, leaning upon an Olive-tree, which even then remained, was delivered of these Deities, and thence, by their appointment, the Grove became sacred. Thither Apollo himself, after his slaughter of the Cyclops, retired for a sanctuary from the wrath of Jupiter. Soon after, the victorious Bacchus pardoned the suppliant Amazons, who sought refuge at the Altar of Diana. By the concession of Hercules, when he reigned in Lydia, her Temple was dignified with an augmentation of immunities, nor during the Persian Monarchy were they abridged; they were next maintained by the Macedonians, and then by us.”
The Magnesians next asserted their claim, founded on an establishment of Lucius Scipio, confirmed by another of Sylla; the former after the defeat of Antiochus, the latter after that of Mithridates, having, as a testimony of the faith and bravery of the Magnesians, dignified their Temple of the Leucophrynean Diana with the privileges of an inviolable Sanctuary. After them, the Aphrodisians and Stratoniceans produced a grant from Cæsar the Dictator, for their early services to his party, and another lately from Augustus, with a commendation inserted, “that with zeal unshaken towards the Roman people, they had borne the irruption of the Parthians.” But these two people adored different Deities; Aphrodisium was a city devoted to Venus, that of Stratonicea maintained the worship of Jupiter and of Diana Trivia. Those of Hierocæsarea exhibited claims of higher antiquity, “that they possessed the Persian Diana, and her Temple consecrated by King Cyrus.” They likewise pleaded the authorities of Perpenna, Isauricus, and of many more Roman Captains, who had allowed the same sacred immunity, not to the temple only, but to a precinct two miles round it. Those of Cyprus pleaded right of sanctuary to three of their Temples, the most ancient founded by Aerias to the Paphian Venus, another by his son Amathus to the Amathusian Venus, the third to the Salaminian Jupiter by Teucer, the son of Telamon, when he fled from the fury of his father.
The deputies too of other cities were heard. But the Senate, tired with so many, and because there was a contention begun amongst particular parties for particular cities, gave power to the Consuls, “to search into the validity of their several pretensions, and whether in them no fraud was interwoven, with orders to lay the whole matter once more before the Senate.” The Consuls reported, that, besides the cities already mentioned, “they had found the Temple of Æsculapius at Pergamos to be a genuine Sanctuary. The rest claimed upon originals, from the darkness of antiquity, altogether obscure. Smyrna particularly pleaded an oracle of Apollo, in obedience to which they had dedicated a Temple to Venus Stratonices; as did the Isle of Tenos an oracular order from the same God, to erect to Neptune a Statue and Temple. Sardis urged a later authority, namely, a grant from the Great Alexander; and Miletus insisted on one from King Darius: as to the Deities of these two cities, one worshiped Diana, the other, Apollo, and Crete too demanded the privilege of Sanctuary to a Statue of the deified Augustus.” Hence divers orders of Senate were made, by which, though great reverence was expressed towards the Deities, yet the extent of the Sanctuaries was limited, and the several people were injoined “to hang up in each Temple the present Decree, engraven in brass, as a sacred Memorial, and a restraint against their lapsing, under the colour of Religion, into claims of superstition and preeminence.”
At the same time, a vehement distemper having seized Livia, obliged the Emperor to hasten his return to Rome; seeing the mother and son lived hitherto in apparent unanimity, or perhaps mutually disguised their hate; for, not long before, Livia, having dedicated a Statue to the deified Augustus, near the Theatre of Marcellus, had the name of Tiberius inscribed after her own. This he was believed to have resented heinously, as a degrading the dignity of the Prince, but to have smothered his resentment under dark dissimulation. Upon this occasion therefore, the Senate decreed “supplications to the Gods, with the celebration of the greater Roman Games, under the direction of the Pontiss, the Augurs, the College of fifteen, assisted by the College of seven, and the fraternity of Augustal Priests.” Lucius Apronius had moved, that “with the rest might preside the company of Heralds.” Tiberius opposed it, and distinguished between the jurisdiction of the Priests and theirs, “for that at no time had the Heralds arrived to so much pre-eminence; but for the Augustal fraternity, they were therefore added, because they exercised a Priesthood peculiar to that family for which the present vows and solemnities were made.”
It is no part of my purpose to trace all the votes of particular men, unless they are memorable for integrity, or for notorious infamy. This I conceive to be the principal duty of an Historian, that he suppress no instance of virtue, and that by the dread of future infamy and the censures of posterity, men may be deterred from detestable actions and prostitute speeches. In short, such was the abomination of those times, so prevailing the contagion of flattery, that not only the first Nobles, whose obnoxious splendour found protection in obsequiousness, but all who had been Consuls, a great part of such as had been Prætors, and even many of the unregistered Senators, strove for priority in the vileness and excess of their votes. There is a tradition, that Tiberius, as often as he went out of the Senate, was wont to cry out in Greek, Oh men prepared for bondage! Even he who could not bear public liberty, nauseated this prostitute tameness of slaves.
Hence by degrees they proceeded from acts of abasement to those of vengeance. Caius Silanus, Proconsul of Asia, accused by these our Allies of robbing the public, was impleaded by Mamercus Scaurus once Consul, Junius Otho Prætor, and Brutidius Niger Ædile. They charged him with “violating the Divinity of Augustus, and with despising the Majesty of Tiberius.” Mamercus boasted, that he imitated the great examples of old, “that Lucius Cotta was accused by Scipio, Servius Galba by Cato the Censor, Publius Rutilius by Marcus Scaurus.” As if such crimes as these had been ever avenged by Scipio and Cato, or by that very Scaurus, whom this Mamercus his great grandson, and the reproach of his progenitors, was now disgracing by the vile occupation of an informer! The old employment of Junius Otho, was that of a schoolmaster. Thence being by the power of Sejanus created a Senator, he laboured by notorious attempts to triumph over the baseness of his original. Brutidius abounded in worthy accomplishments, and, had he proceeded in the upright road, was in the ready way to every the most distinguished honour; but eagerness hurried him, while he pushed to surpass first his equals, afterwards his superiors, and at last his own very hopes; a course which has overwhelmed even many virtuous men, who, scorning acquirements that came slow, but attended with security, grasped at such as were sudden, though linked to destruction.
Gellius Poplicola, and Marcus Paconius, increased the number of the accusers, the former Quæstor to Silanus, the other his Lieutenant. Neither was it doubted but the accused was guilty of cruelty and extortion. But he was beset with a series of hardships, dangerous even to the innocent, when, besides so many Senators, his foes, he was to reply single to the most eloquent pleaders of all Asia, chosen purposely to accuse him, ignorant himself of pleading, and beset with capital terrors, a circumstance which disables the most practised Eloquence. Neither did Tiberius spare him, but, with an angry voice and countenance, daunted and interrupted him with incessant questions; nor was he allowed to refute or evade them, nay, was often forced to confess, lest the Emperor should have asked in vain. The slaves too of Silanus, in order to be examined by torture, were delivered in sale to the City-steward; and that none of his relations might engage to assist him, when his life was thus at stake, crimes of treason were subjoined, a sure bar to all help, and a seal upon their lips. Having therefore requested an interval of a few days, he dropped all defence, and tried the Emperor by a Memorial, in which he menaced him with the public odium, and blended expostulations with prayers.
Tiberius, the better to palliate by precedent his purposes against Silanus, caused to be recited a Representation from Augustus, concerning Volesus Messala, Proconsul of the same province, and the Decree of Senate made against him. He then asked Lucius Piso his opinion. Piso, after a long preface of the Emperor’s clemency, proposed “to interdict Silanus from fire and water, and to banish him into the island Gyarus.” The rest voted the same thing, only that Cneius Lentulus moved, “that the estate descending from his mother Cornelia, should be distinguished from his own, and restored to his son.” Tiberius assented. But, Cornelius Dolabella, pursuing his old strain of adulation, and having first exposed the morals of Silanus, added, “that no man of profligate manners, and marked with infamy, should be admitted to the lot of Provinces; and of this their character the Prince was to judge. Transgressions, he said, were punished by the Laws; but how much more merciful would it be to prevent transgressors! more merciful to the men themselves, more to the Provinces.”
Against this Tiberius reasoned, “that in truth he was not ignorant of the prevailing rumours concerning the conduct of Silanus; but establishments must not be built upon rumours. In the administration of Provinces, many had disappointed our hopes, and many our fears. Some were, by the great weight of affairs, roused into vigilance and amendment, others degenerated and sunk under them. The Prince could not within his own view comprize all things, nor was it at all expedient for him to make himself answerable for the characters of other men engaged in pursuits of ambition. Laws were therefore appointed against facts committed, because all things future are hid in uncertainty. Such were the institutions of our ancestors, that if crimes preceded, punishments were to follow. Nor should they change establishments wisely contrived and always approved. The Prince had already sufficiency of burdens, and even sufficiency of power; the authority of the Laws decreased when that of the Prince advanced, nor was Sovereignty to be exercised where the Laws would serve.” A popular speech, and the more joyfully heard, as acts of popularity were rare with Tiberius. To it he added, prudent as he was in mitigating excesses, where his own proper resentments did not controul him, “that Gyarus was an unhospitable island, and devoid of human culture; that, in favour to the Junian family, and to a Patrician lately of their own order, they should allow him for his place of exile the isle of Cythera; that this too was the request of Torquata, the sister of Silanus, a Vestal virgin of primitive sanctity.” This motion prevailed.
The Cyrenians were afterwards heard, and Cesius Cordus, charged by them, and impleaded by Ancharius Priscus, for plundering the Province, was condemned. Lucius Ennius, a Roman Knight, was impeached of Treason, “for that he had converted an effigies of the Prince into common uses of silver;” but Tiberius withstood admitting him as a criminal. Against this acquittal Ateius Capito openly declared his protest from an affected spirit of liberty; “for that the Emperor ought not to snatch from the fathers the power of penalties, nor ought such a mighty iniquity to pass unpunished; he, indeed, might be passive under his own grievances; but let him not give up the indignation of the Senate, and the injuries done the Commonwealth.” Tiberius considered rather the drift of these words than the expression, and persisted in his interposition. The infamy of Capito was the more signal, because, learned as he was in Laws human and divine, he thus debased the dignity of the State, and his own personal accomplishments.
The next was a religious debate, in what Temple to place the gift vowed by the Roman Knights to Fortune stiled the Equestrian, for the recovery of Livia; for, though in the city were many Temples to this Goddess, yet none had that title. At last it was discovered that at Antium was one thus named; and as all the religious Institutions in the cities of Italy, all the Temples and Statues of the Deities, were included in the jurisdiction and sovereignty of Rome, the gift was ordered to be presented there. While matters of Religion were on foot, the answer lately deferred, concerning Servius Maluginensis, Priest of Jupiter, was now produced by Tiberius, who recited a Statute of the Pontifs, “that when the Priest of Jupiter was taken ill, he might, with the consent of the chief Pontif, be absent two nights, except on days of public sacrifice, and never more than twice in the same year.” This regulation, made under Augustus, sufficiently shewed, that a year’s absence, and the administration of Provinces, were not allowed to the Priests of Jupiter. He likewise quoted the example of Lucius Metellus, Chief Pontif, who restrained to Rome Aulus Postumius, who was under that character. So the lot of Asia was conferred on that Consular who was next in seniority to Maluginensis.
During this time, Lepidus asked leave of the Senate, to strengthen and beautify at his expence the Basilic of Paulus, a peculiar Monument of the Æmilian family. For even then it was usual with private men to be magnificent in public structures. Nor had Augustus blamed Taurus, Philippus, or Balbus, for applying their overflowing wealth, or the spoils of the enemy, towards the decoration of the City, and the perpetuation of their own fame. By their example Lepidus, though but moderately rich, revived the venerable glory of his Ancestors. But, as the Theatre of Pompey was consumed by accidental fire, Tiberius undertook to rebuild it, because none of the family were equal to the charge, and promised that it should, however, be still called by the name of Pompey. At the same time, he celebrated the praises of Sejanus, and to his vigilance and efforts ascribed it, that a flame so violent was stopped at one building only. Hence the Fathers decreed a Statue to Sejanus, to be placed upon the Theatre of Pompey. Nor was it long after that the Emperor, when he dignified Junius Blesus with the ensigns of Triumph, declared, “that in honour to Sejanus he did it,” for, to Sejanus, Blesus was uncle.
And yet the actions of Blesus were entitled to so much distinction. For, Tacfarinas, though often repulsed, yet still repairing his forces in the heart of Africa, had arrived to such a pitch of arrogance, that he sent Embassadors to Tiberius, with demands “for a settlement to himself, and his army,” otherwise he threatened “everlasting war.” They say that upon no occasion did ever Tiberius, for any insult offered himself, and the Roman name, manifest a more sensible indignation; “that a deserter and a robber should presume to offer terms, like an equal foe; when even to Spartacus no concession was made of being received and treated under the sanction of the public faith, while, after the slaughter of so many Consular armies, he still carried, with impunity, fire and desolation through Italy; though the Commonwealth was then gasping under two mighty wars, with Sertorius and Mithridates. Much less was Tacfarinas, a free-booter, to be bought off by terms of peace, and concession of lands, whilst the Roman people enjoyed the highest pitch of glory and power.” Hence he commissioned Blesus, “to engage by the hopes of indemnity all his followers, to lay down their arms; but to get into his hands the leader himself, by whatever means.”
So that by this pardon many were brought over, and the war was forthwith prosecuted against him by stratagems, not unlike his own. For as he, who in strength of men was unequal, but in arts of stealth and pillaging superior, made his incursions in separate bands, and thence could at once elude any attack of ours, and harass us by ambushes of his; so on our side, three distinct routes were resolved, and three several bodies formed. Scipio, the Proconsul’s Lieutenant, commanded on that quarter whence Tacfarinas made his depredations upon the Leptitanians, and then his retreat amongst the Garamantes. In another quarter Blesus the son led a band of his own, to protect the territory of the Cirtensians from ravages; between both marched the Proconsul himself, with the flower of the army, erecting forts, and casting up entrenchments in convenient places. By these dispositions he sorely cramped the foe, and rendered all their movements dangerous; for, which ever way they turned, still some party of the Roman forces was upon them, in front, in flank, and often at their heels; and by this means many were slain, or made prisoners. This triple army was again split by Blesus into bands still smaller, and over each a Centurion of tried bravery placed. Neither did he, as usual at the end of the season, draw off his forces from the field, or dispose them into winter-quarters in the old Province; but, as in the first heat of war, having raised more forts, he dispatched light parties, acquainted with the wilderness, who drove Tacfarinas before them, continually shifting his huts; till, having taken his brother, he retreated, too suddenly however for the good of the province, as there were still left behind instruments to rekindle the war. But Tiberius took it for concluded, and likewise granted to Blesus that he should be by the Legions saluted Imperator, an ancient honour, usually done to the old Roman Captains, who, upon their successful exploits for their country, were in the shouts and vehemence of victory, thus complimented by their armies; and there have been at once several Imperators, without any pre-eminence of one over the rest. It was a title vouchsafed to some, even by Augustus, and now, for the last time, by Tiberius to Blesus.
This year died two illustrious Romans, Asinius Saloninus, splendid in his relations and descent; as Marcus Agrippa and Asinius Pollio were his grandfathers, Drusus his half brother, and himself betrothed to the Emperor’s grand-daughter; and Ateius Capito, already mentioned, in civil acquirements the principal man in Rome; as to descent, his grand-father was only a Centurion under Sylla, but his father arrived to the Prætorship. Augustus had pushed him early into the Consulship, that, by the grandeur of that office, he might be set above Antistius Labeo, who excelled in equal accomplishments; for that age produced together these two ornaments of peace. But Labeo preserved unstained a spirit of liberty, and thence was more the object of popular renown; while Capito gained by obsequiousness greater credit with those who bore rule. The former, as he was never suffered to rise beyond the Prætorship, met with matter of praise from a source of injury; to the other, with the glory of the Consulate, accrued likewise the envy, and with envy hatred.
Junia too, now sixty-four years after the battle of Philippi, finished her course; the niece of Cato, sister of Brutus, and wife of Cassius. Her Will made much noise amongst the populace; for that being immensely rich, and having honourably distinguished with legacies almost all the great men of Rome, she omitted Tiberius; an omission which he took civilly, nor hindered her Panegyric from being pronounced in public, nor her Funeral from being celebrated with other customary solemnities. Before it were borne the Images of twenty the most noble families, the Manlii, the Quinctii, and other names of equal lustre; but superior to all shone Cassius and Brutus, on this very account, that their Images were not with the rest seen now.
END ofVol. I.