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BOOK IV. - Publius Cornelius Tacitus, The Works of Tacitus, vol. 2 - Annals (Books 4-6, 11-16) [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. 2.
Part of: The Works of Tacitus, 4 vols.
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THE rise and character of Sejanus, captain of the Prætorian guards. His arts and wicked courses to gain the Empire. His court to the Soldiery and Senate; he debauches the younger Livia, wife to Drusus the Emperor’s son, and prompts her to poison her husband. The administration changes for the worse, chiefly by his means. Its lenity and plausibleness hitherto. Tiberius, upon the death of Drusus, recommends to the Senate the two sons of Germanicus. Sejanus, in pursuit of his designs, lays snares for Agrippina and her children. Tiberius hears the deputies of divers cities and provinces. The Players and Pantomimes, for their insolent behaviour, banished from Italy. A new priest of Jupiter, with new regulations about his office. The zeal of the Pontifs and other Magistrates towards the sons of Germanicus, resented by Tiberius, and of fatal tendency to the young Princes. C. Silius his accusation and condemnation. A capital charge against Cn. Piso, C. Cassius, and Plautius Silvanus. The war raised by Tacfarinas in Africa, ended by the conduct of P. Dolabella; Tacfarinas himself slain. A servile war ready to break out in Italy, but presently suppressed. Q. Vibius Serenus accused of treason by his own son. P. Suilius and others condemned, particularly Cremutius Cordus the Historian, for praising Brutus and Cassius—his fine defence and voluntary death. His book ordered to be burnt, yet continued to be read. The City of Cysicus bereft of its liberties. Tiberius rejects the offer of a temple and divine honours from the people of Spain. Sejanus, as a step to empire, desires the widow of Drusus in marriage. The artful answer and refusal of Tiberius.—Sejanus, alarmed by this, devises the removal of the Emperor from Rome. Deputies from Greece heard concerning their right to certain sanctuaries. L. Piso commanding as Prætor in Spain, murdered by a Peasant. The Thracians of the higher country revolt, and are subdued by Poppæus Sabinus, who is thence honoured with the triumphal ornaments. Claudia Pulchra accused of adultery and condemned. Agrippina desires leave of the Emperor to marry, but is refused. A contest between eleven Asiatic cities about erecting a Temple to Tiberius: Smyrna is preferred to all the rest. Tiberius retires from Rome. His great peril in a certain cave: Sejanus, to save the Emperor, exposes himself: Hence the fresh increase of his power. He suborns instruments to procure the destruction of Nero, the eldest son of Germanicus, with a further purpose to overthrow his whole house. The tragical accident at Fidenæ from the fall of the Theatre there, whence many thousands perished. A great fire at Rome. The Emperor shuts himself up in the island Capreæ. Titus Sabinus, a faithful friend to Germanicus and his family, wickedly ensnared and betrayed. His tragical doom, and its effects upon the minds of men. The death of Julia, grand-daughter of Augustus. The Frisians revolt; the unsuccessful attempts of Lucius Apronius to subdue them. Agrippina the younger given in marriage to Cn. Domitius.
When Caius Asinius and Caius Antistius were Consuls, Tiberius was in his ninth year, the state composed, and his family flourishing (for the death of Germanicus he reckoned amongst the incidents of his prosperity) when suddenly fortune began to grow boisterous, and he himself to tyrannize, or to furnish others with the weapons of tyranny. The beginning and cause of this turn arose from Ælius Sejanus, Captain of the Prætorian Cohorts. Of his power I have above made mention; I shall now explain his original, his manners, and by what black deeds he strove to snatch the Sovereignty. He was born at Vulsinii, son to Sejus Strabo, a Roman Knight; in his early youth he was a follower of Caius Cæsar (grand-son of Augustus) and lay then under the contumely of having for hire exposed himself to the constupration of Apicius, a debauchee wealthy and profuse. Next by various artifices he so enchanted Tiberius, that he who to all others was dark and unsearchable, became to Sejanus alone destitute of all restraint and caution; neither did he so much accomplish this by any superior efforts of policy (for at his own stratagems he was vanquished by others) as by the rage of the Gods against the Roman State, to which he proved alike destructive when he flourished and when he fell. His person was hardy and equal to fatigues, his spirit daring, sedulously disguising his own counsels, prone to blacken others, alike fawning and imperious, his deportment exactly modest, his heart fostering all the lust of domination, and, with this view, engaged sometimes in profusion and luxury, often in notable application and vigilance, qualities no less pernicious, when personated by ambition for the acquiring of Empire.
The authority of his Command over the Guards, which was but moderate before his time, he extended, by gathering into one Camp all the Prætorian Cohorts then dispersed over the City, that, thus united, they might all at once receive his orders, and, by continually beholding their own numbers and strength, conceive confidence in themselves and prove a terror to all other men. He pretended, “that the soldiers, while scattered, were loose and debauched; there could, in any hasty emergency, be more reliance upon their succour when together; and, when encamped remote from the allurements of the town, their discipline would be more exact and severe.” When the encampment was finished, he gradually engaged the affections of the soldiers, by affability and familiar usage; it was he too who chose the Centurions, he who chose the Tribunes. Neither did the Senate escape his court, whilst he daily distinguished his followers in it with offices and provinces; for Tiberius was intirely complying, nay, so passionate for him, that not in conversation only, but in his speeches to the Senate and people, he extolled him, as the sharer of his burdens, and even allowed his Effigies to be publicly adored, in the several Theatres, in all places of popular convention, nay at the head of the Legions.
But the Imperial house was yet full of Cæsars, the Emperor’s son a grown man, and his grand-sons of age; and because the cutting them off all at once, was dangerous, the treason which he meditated, required pauses and a gradation of murders. He, however, chose the darkest method, and to begin with Drusus; against whom he was transported with a fresh motive of rage. For, Drusus, impatient of a rival, and in his temper inflammable, had, upon some occasional contest, shaken his fist at Sejanus, and, as he prepared to resist, given him a blow on the face. As he therefore cast about for every expedient of revenge, the readiest seemed to apply to Livia his wife; she was the sister of Germanicus, and from an uncomely person in her childhood, became afterwards exceeding lovely. As he personated a vehement passion for this Lady, he tempted her to adultery, and having accomplished the first iniquity (nor will a woman, who has sacrificed her chastity, stick at any other) he prompted her to higher views, those of marriage, of a partnership in the Empire, nay, the murder of her husband. Thus she, the niece of Augustus, the daughter-in-law of Tiberius, the mother of children by Drusus, defiled herself, her ancestors, and her posterity, with an adulterer from one of the Municipal Towns, and all to exchange an honourable condition possessed, for pursuits altogether flagitious and uncertain. Into a fellowship in the guilt was assumed Eudemus, Physician to Livia, and, under colour of his profession, frequently with her in private. Sejanus too, to avoid the jealousy of the adulteress, discharged from his bed Apicata his wife, by whom he had three children. But still the mightiness of the iniquity terrified them, and thence created delays, and frequently opposite counsels.
During this, in the beginning of the year, Drusus, one of the sons of Germanicus, put on the manly Robe, and upon him the Senate conferred the same honours decreed before to his brother Nero. A speech was added by Tiberius, with a large Encomium upon his son, “That with the tenderness of a father he used the children of his brother.” For, Drusus, however rare it be for power and unanimity to subsist together, was esteemed benevolent, certainly not ill-disposed, towards these youths. Now again was revived by Tiberius the proposal of a progress into the Provinces, a stale proposal, but often feigned. He pretended for cause, “The multitude of Veterans discharged, and thence the necessity of recruiting the armies; that Volunteers were wanting, or if already such there were, they were chiefly the necessitous and vagabonds, and destitute of the like courage and obedience.” He likewise cursorily recounted the number of the Legions, and what Countries they defended, a detail which, I think, it behoves me also to repeat, that thence may appear what was then the complement of the Roman forces, what Kings their confederates, and how much more narrow than now the limits of the Empire.
Italy was on each side guarded by two fleets, one at Misenum, one at Ravenna; and the coast joining to Gaul, by the Gallies taken by Augustus at the Battle of Actium, and sent powerfully manned to Forojulium. But the chief strength lay upon the Rhine, even eight Legions, as a common guard upon the Germans and the Gauls. The reduction of Spain, lately completed, was maintained by three. Mauritania was possessed by King Juba, a Realm which he held as a gift from the Roman people; the rest of Africa by two Legions, and Ægypt by the like number. Four Legions kept in subjection all the mighty range of country, extending from Syria as far as the Euphrates, and bordering upon the Iberians, Albanians, and other Principalities, who by our might are protected against foreign Powers. Thrace was held by Rhemetalces, and the sons of Cotys; and both banks of the Danube by four Legions, two in Pannonia, two in Mœsia. In Dalmatia likewise were placed two, who, by the situation of the country, were at hand to support the former, and had not far to march into Italy, were any sudden succours required there; though Rome too had her peculiar soldiery, three City-Cohorts, and nine Prætorian, listed chiefly out of Etruria and Umbria, or from the ancient Latium and the old Roman Colonies. In the several Provinces, besides, were disposed, according to their situation and necessity, the fleets of the several confederates, with their squadrons of horse and battalions of foot; a number of forces not much different from all the rest; but the particular detail would be uncertain, since, according to the exigency of times, they often shifted stations, with numbers sometimes enlarged, sometimes reduced.
It will, I believe, fall in properly here to review also the other parts of the Administration, and by what measures it was hitherto conducted, till with the beginning of this year the Government of Tiberius began to change terribly for the worse. First then, all public, and every private business of moment, was determined by the Senate; to the great men he allowed liberty of debate, those who in their debates lapsed into flattery, he checked; in conferring preferments, he considered ancient nobility, renown in war abroad, and civil accomplishments at home; insomuch that it was manifest, his choice could not have been better. There remained to the Consuls, there remained to the Prætors, the usual marks of their dignities, to inferior Magistrates the independent exercise of their charges; and the Laws, where the power of the Prince was not concerned, were in proper force. The tributes, duties, and all public receipts, were directed by companies of Roman Knights; the management of his own revenue he committed to those well known to himself for their qualifications, and to such whom he knew by reputation alone; and when once taken, they were continued, without all restriction of term, since most grew old in the same employments. The populace were indeed aggrieved by the dearth of provisions, but without any fault of the Prince, nay, he spared no possible expence nor pains to remedy the effects of barrenness in the earth, and of wrecks at sea. He provided that the Provinces should not be oppressed with new impositions, and that no extortion, or violence should be committed by the Magistrates in raising the old; no infamous corporal punishments were inflicted there, no confiscations of goods.
The Emperor’s possessions through Italy were thin, the behaviour of his slaves modest, the freedmen who managed his house, few; and in his disputes with particulars, the Courts were open and the Law equal. All which restraints he observed, not, in truth, in the popular ways of complaisance, but always stern, and for the most part dreaded, yet still he retained them, till by the death of Drusus they were quite abandoned; for, as long as he lived they continued; because Sejanus, while he was but laying the foundations of his power, studied to recommend himself by good counsels, and had then an avenger to fear, one who disguised not his enmity, but was frequent in his complaints, “That when the son was in his prime, another was called, as Coadjutor, to the Government; nay, how little was wanting to his being declared Collegue in the Empire? The first advances to Sovereignty are steep and perillous, but, when once you are entered, parties and instruments are ready to espouse you. Already a Camp for the Guards was formed, by the pleasure and authority of the Captain; into his hands the soldiers were delivered; in the Theatre of Pompey his Statue was beheld; in his grandchildren would be mixed the blood of the Drusi with that of Sejanus. After all this, what remained but to supplicate his modesty to rest contented here.” Nor was it rarely that he uttered these disgusts, nor to a few; besides, his wife being debauched, all his secrets were betrayed.
Sejanus therefore judging it time to dispatch, chose such a poison as by operating gradually, might preserve the appearances of a casual disease. This was administered to Drusus by Lygdus the Eunuch, as, eight years after, was learnt. Now, during all the days of his illness, Tiberius disclosed no symptoms of anguish (perhaps from oftentation of a firmness of spirit) nay, when he had expired, and while he was yet unburied, he entered the Senate, and finding the Consuls placed upon a common seat, as a testimony of their grief, he admonished them of their dignity and station; and, as the Senators burst into tears, he smothered his rising sighs, and animated them by a Speech uttered without hesitation. “He, in truth, was not ignorant that he might be censured, for having thus in the first throbs of sorrow, beheld the face of the Senate, when most of those who mourn can scarce endure the soothings of their kindred, scarce behold the day; neither were such to be condemned of weakness: but for himself, he had more powerful consolations, such as arose from cherishing and guarding the Commonwealth.” He then lamented “the extreme age of his mother, the tender years of his grand-sons, his own days in declension,” and desired that, “as the only alleviation of the present evils, the Children of Germanicus might be introduced.” The Consuls therefore went for them, and having with kind words fortified their young minds, presented them to the Emperor. He took them by the hand, and said, “Conscript fathers, these infants, bereft of their father, I committed to their uncle, and besought him that, though he had issue of his own, he would rear and nourish them no otherwise than as the immediate offspring of his blood, that he would appropriate them as stays to himself and posterity. Drusus being snatched from us, to you I address the same prayers, and in the presence of the Gods, in the face of your country, I adjure you, receive into your protection, take under your tuition the great grand-children of Augustus, children, descended from ancestors the most glorious in the State. Towards them fulfil your own, fulfil my duty. To you, Nero, and to you, Drusus, these Senators are in the stead of a father, and such is the situation of your birth, that on the Commonwealth must light all the good and evil which befalls you.”
All this was heard with much weeping, and followed with propitious prayers and vows; and had he only gone thus far, and in his speech observed a medium, he had left the souls of his hearers full of sympathy and applause. But, by renewing an old project, always chimerical and so often ridiculed, about “restoring the Republic, reinstating it again in the Consuls, or whoever else would undertake the administration,” he forfeited his faith even in assertions which were commendable and sincere. To the memory of Drusus were decreed the same solemnities as to that of Germanicus, with many superadded, agreeably to the genius of flattery, which delights in surpassing and additions. Most signal was the lustre of the Funeral in a pompous procession of Images, when at it appeared, in a long train of ancestors, Æneas, father of the Julian race, all the Kings of Alba, Romulus founder of Rome, then the Sabine Nobility, Attus Clausus, and his descendents of the Claudian family.
In relating the death of Drusus, I have followed the greatest part of our Historians, and the most faithful. I would not, however, omit a rumour which in those times was so prevailing that it is not extinguished in ours, “That Sejanus having by adultery gained Livia to the murder, had likewise engaged by constupration the affections and concurrence of Lygdus the Eunuch, because Lygdus was, for his youth and loveliness, dear to his master, and one of his chief attendants; that when the time and place of poisoning were by the conspirators concerted, the Eunuch carried his boldness so high, as to charge upon Drusus a design of poisoning Tiberius, and secretly warning the Emperor of this, advised him to shun the first draught offered him in the next entertainment at his son’s; that the old man listening to this imposture, after he had sate down to table, having received the cup delivered it to Drusus, who ignorantly and gaily drank it off, and this heightened the jealousy of Tiberius, as if through fear and shame his son had swallowed the same deadly draught which he had prepared for his father.”
These rumours current amongst the populace, besides that they are supported by no certain Author, may be easily refuted. For, who of common prudence (much less Tiberius, so long practised in great affairs) would present to his own son, without hearing him, the mortal bane, with his own hands too, and cutting off for ever all possibility of retraction? Why would he not rather have tortured the minister of the poison? Why not inquired into the contriver? Why not observed towards his only son, a son hitherto convicted of no iniquity, that inherent slowness and hesitation, which he practised even in his proceedings towards strangers? But as Sejanus was reckoned the framer of every wickedness, therefore, from the excessive fondness of Tiberius towards him, and from the hatred of others towards both, things the most fabulous and direful were believed of them; besides that common fame is ever most fraught with tales of horrour upon the departure of Princes. In truth, the plan and process of the murder were first discovered by Apicata, wife of Sejanus, and laid open upon the rack by Eudemus and Lygdus. Nor has any Writer appeared so outrageous to charge it upon Tiberius, though in other instances they have sedulously collected and inflamed every action of his. My own purpose in recounting and censuring this rumour, was to blast, by so glaring an example, the credit of groundless tales, and to request of those into whose hands our present undertaking shall come, that they would not prefer hear-says, void of credibility and rashly swallowed, to the narrations of truth not adulterated with romance.
Now, whilst Tiberius was pronouncing in public the Panegyric of his son, the Senate and people assumed the port and accent of mourners, rather in appearance than cordially; and in their hearts exulted to see the house of Germanicus begin to revive. But this dawn of fortune, and the conduct of Agrippina, ill disguising her hopes, quickened the overthrow of that house. For Sejanus, when he saw the death of Drusus pass unrevenged upon his murderers, and no public lamentation following it, undaunted now in villainy, since his first efforts had succeeded, devised with himself, how to destroy the sons of Germanicus, whose succession to the Empire was now unquestionable. There were three of them, and, from the distinguished fidelity of their Governours, and incorruptible chastity of Agrippina, could not be all circumvented by poyson. He therefore chose to arraign her for the haughtiness of her spirit, to rouse the old hatred of Livia the elder, and the guilty heart of his late accomplice, Livia the younger; that they might charge her to the Emperor, “as elated with pride for her numerous issue; and that, confiding in the zeal of the populace, she was panting after the sovereignty.” The young Livia acted in this engagement by crafty calumniators, amongst whom she had particularly chosen Julius Posthumus, a man every way qualified for her purposes, as he was the adulterer of Mutilia Prisca, and thence a confident of her grand-mother’s; (for, over the mind of the Empress, Prisca had powerful influence) and by their means the old woman, in her own nature tender and jealous of her power, was rendered utterly irreconcileable to the widow of her grand-son. Such too as were nearest the person of Agrippina, were prompted to be continually enraging her tempestuous heart by perverse representations.
Tiberius the while, no ways relaxing the cares of Government, but applying for consolation to affairs, attended the administration of justice at Rome, and dispatched the petitions from the Provinces. By a Decree of Senate, at his motion, the City of Cibyra in Asia, and that of Ægyra in Achaia, both overthrown by an earthquake, were eased of tribute for three years. Vibius Serenus too, Proconsul of the furthermost Spain, was condemned for arbitrary administration, and for the savageness of his conduct banished into the isle of Amorgos. Carsius Sacerdos, charged with supplying corn to the enemy Tacfarinas, was acquitted, as was Caius Gracchus of the same crime. This Caius was in his childhood carried by his father Sempronius into the island Cercina, as a companion in his exile, he grew up there amongst fugitives, and men destitute of liberal education, and afterwards sustained himself by sordid traffic between Africa and Sicily. Nor thus low did he escape the perils that wait on elevated fortune; but, had not Ælius Lamia and Lucius Apronius, successively Proconsuls in Africa, protected him, he must have fallen an innocent victim to the obnoxious splendor of his illustrious unhappy race, and to the calamitous fate of his father.
This year also brought deputations from the Grecian cities, one from the people of Samos, one from those of Coos, the former to request that the ancient right of Sanctuary in the Temple of Juno might be confirmed; the latter to solicit the same confirmation for that of Æsculapius. The Samians claimed upon a Decree of the Council of Amphictions, the supreme Judicature of Greece, at the time when the Greeks by their cities founded in Asia, possessed the maritime coasts. Nor had they of Coos a weaker title to Antiquity; to which likewise accrued the pretensions of the place to the friendship of Rome; for they had secured in the Temple of Æsculapius all the Roman citizens there, when by the order of King Mithridates, such were universally butchered throughout all the cities of Asia and the Isles. And now, after many complaints from the Prætors, for the most part ineffectual, the Emperor at last made a representation to the Senate, concerning the licentiousness of the Players, “that in many instances they raised seditious tumults, and violated the public peace; and, in many, promoted debauchery in private families; that the Oscan Farce, formerly only the contemptible delight of the vulgar, was risen to such a prevailing pitch of credit and enormity, that it required the authority of the Senate to check it.” The Players therefore were driven out of Italy.
The same year carried off one of the twins of Drusus, and thence afflicted the Emperor with fresh woe; nor with less for the death of a particular friend. It was Lucillius Longus, the inseparable companion of all the traverses of his fortune, smiling or sad, and, of all the Senators, the only one who accompanied him in his retirement at Rhodes. For this reason, though but a new man, the Senate decreed him a public funeral, and a statue to be placed, at the expence of the Treasury, in the square of Augustus. For by the Senate even yet all affairs were transacted, insomuch that Lucillius Capito, the Emperor’s Comptroller in Asia, was, at the accusation of the Province, brought upon his defence before them; the Emperor too, upon this occasion, protested, with great earnestness, “that from him Lucillius had no authority but over his slaves, and in collecting his domestic rents; that if he had usurped the jurisdiction of Prætor, and employed military force, he had so far violated his orders; they should therefore hear the allegations of the Province.” Thus the accused was upon trial condemned. For the just vengeance, and that inflicted the year before on Caius Silanus, the cities of Asia decreed a Temple to Tiberius, and his Mother, and the Senate, and obtained leave to build it. For this concession Nero made a speech of thanks to the Senators and his grandfather, a speech which charmed the affections of his hearers, who, as they were full of the memory of Germanicus, fancied it was him they heard, and him they saw. There was also in the youth himself an engaging modesty, and a gracefulness becoming a princely person; ornaments, which, by the known hatred that threatened him from Sejanus, became still more dear and revered.
About the same time the Emperor made a discourse “about the choice of a new Priest of Jupiter, in the room of Servius Maluginensis deceased; for that it was the ancient custom to name three, born of parents who had in their nuptials observed the form of Confarreation; but now that the business of Confarreation was quite omitted, or by few observed, there remained not then, as formerly, the same scope for choice. There were several causes of that omission, the principal, a want of zeal both in men and women for that rite, together with the difficulties attending it, whence they were prompted to avoid it; besides that the paternal authority was for ever lost over any son who acquired that priesthood, and over any daughter who married him. The Senate therefore ought by some expedient to remove these discouragements, after the example of Augustus, who had softened some rigid usages of antiquity, and adapted them to the genius of the times.” The Senate therefore, having discussed the grounds and qualifications of that priesthood, agreed “to make no change from the first institution.” Only a Law passed, “that the Priestess of Jupiter, should, in the administration of things sacred, be under the dominion of her husband, but be subject, in other things, to the common treatment of other women.” To conclude, Maluginensis the son succeeded his father. And, to raise the reputation of the Priesthood, and warm the affections of the Priests themselves towards sacred solemnities, a present of two thousand great sesterces* was decreed to Cornelia, chosen Superior of the Vestal virgins in the place of Scantia; and to Augusta a privilege granted, that as often as she went to the Theatre, she should sit amongst them.
In the Consulship of Cornelius Cethegus and Visellius Varro, the Pontifs, and by their example the other Priests, while they were offering vows for the prosperity of the Emperor, recommended likewise Nero and Drusus to the care of the same Gods, not so much from any tenderness towards these youths, as from flattery, a practice which, when the public manners are corrupt, it is dangerous to exceed in, and alike dangerous to forbear. For, Tiberius, never benevolent to the house of Germanicus, was now provoked beyond all patience, that “no difference was made between their youth and his years,” and, sending for the Pontifs, examined them, “whether to the entreaties, or menaces of Agrippina, they had paid that compliment?” And though they denied both, he reproved them, but reproved them gently, for most of them were his own kinsmen, or men of the first distinction in Rome. But in the Senate he made a set speech, warning all of them for the time to come, “not to intoxicate the giddy spirit of the youths with the pride of over-early and precipitate honours.” He was in truth instigated continually by Sejanus, who urged, “that Rome was rent into contending parties, rent as in a Civil war; already there were those who boldly called themselves the Partizans of Agrippina; and if no stop were put, the faction would increase. Nor was there any other remedy for the prevailing spirit of faction, than the cutting off one or two of the most formidable.”
With this view he fell upon Caius Silius and Titius Sabinus. The friendship of Germanicus was fatal to both; but to Silius there were other exceptions: he had for seven years commanded a powerful army; he had for his exploits in Germany been distinguished with the ensigns of Triumph; he had subdued the revolting Gauls under Sacrovir; so that from the noise and eclat of his fall, proportionable terror would seize others. It was believed by many, that by his own intemperate speeches he had heightened the displeasure conceived against him, while he boasted without measure, “that his soldiers persisted in obedience, when others lapsed into sedition; nor had the Empire remained to Tiberius, if in his Legions too there had been a thirst of change.” By these pretensions of his, the Emperor thought his own fortune degraded, and too low to recompence such mighty services. For benefits are only so far acceptable, as it seems possible to discharge them; when they have exceeded all retaliation, hatred is returned for gratitude.
Sosia Galla was wife to Silius, and, for her dearness to Agrippina, hated by Tiberius. It was agreed to arraign him and her, and to postpone for some time the trial of Sabinus. Against them was engaged, as an accuser, Varro the Consul, who, under colour of “revenging his father’s quarrel,” gratified, by his own infamy, the vengeance of Sejanus. The request of the accused for a short respit, till Varro ceased to be Consul, was opposed by the Emperor, “for that it was customary for other Magistrates to bring particulars upon trial; nor ought the prerogative of a Consul in the like instance to be infringed, since upon his vigilance it depended that no damage accrued to the Commonweal.” It was a policy peculiar to Tiberius, to shelter under venerable old names the methods of violence lately invented. The Senate is therefore summoned with great parade, as if Silius were to be dealt with by the Laws, or as if Varro had been in truth acting as Consul, and protecting the public, or as if the present domination had been the ancient Republic. Silius made no defence, or only enough to shew by whose fury he was oppressed. To him were objected, “his confederacy with Sacrovir, and thence the revolt so long concealed, his detestable avarice after victory, and the behaviour of his wife. Without doubt, neither could be acquitted of public rapine; but the whole charge was brought under the article of Treason, and Silius prevented by a voluntary death the impending condemnation.
His estate however escaped not the cruelty of the sentence, not that out of it might be repaid the money extorted from the Gauls; for none of the Gauls reclaimed it; but the precedent of Augustus* , being now rejected, an exact calculation and payment was made of all the effects of Silius claimed by the Exchequer. This was the first time Tiberius manifested any passion for another man’s wealth. Sosia was sentenced to banishment at the motion of Asinius Gallus, who proposed, “that half her effects should be forfeited, half left to her children.” Marcus Lepidus, on the contrary, proposed “the fourth part to the accusers, as the Law required, all the rest to the children.” This Lepidus I find to have been, for those times, a wise and upright man; for, by him the excessive flattery, and cruel counsels of others were often mitigated. Neither did he in these his interpositions neglect a temperament, since he still maintained at an equal heigth his character with the public, and the favour of Tiberius. Hence I am driven to doubt, whether the good liking of Princes to some, and their antipathy to others, be, like other things, owing to blind fate and the lot of nativity, or whether the difference be determined by the wisdom and conduct of men; and whether it be possible to proceed in a safe path, at an equal distance from abrupt contumacy, and slavish submission, neither courting power, nor threatened by it. Cott Messalinus, a man descended from ancestors no less illustrious than Lepidus, but of a different spirit, proposed to provide by a Decree of Senate, “that the Magistrates of the several Provinces, however innocent themselves, and even unacquainted with the mismanagement of others, should yet be equally punished for the crimes of their wives, as for their own.”
The next proceeding was against Calpurnius Piso, a man of noble descent, and an undaunted heart. For, it was he who, as I have related, loudly protested in the Senate, “that he would abandon Rome, to escape the implacable bands of the accusers;” it was he who had, in defiance of the power of Augusta, dared to prosecute her favourite Urgulania, and to demand her out of the palace of the Emperor. All which Tiberius passed over for the present courteously; but in a soul like his, brooding over vengeance, though the transports of resentment had abated, the deep impressions remained. Quintus Granius charged Piso with treasonable words privately uttered against the Majesty of the Emperor; and added, “that he kept poison in his house, and came into the Senate armed with a dagger;” an article too heinous to be true, and therefore dropped. Yet for other crimes, which were accumulated manifold, he was put upon his trial, but, through the intervention of a seasonable death, never condemned. Then too came before them the business of Cassius Severus, the exile, a man sordid in his birth, in his life mischievous, but a powerful speaker, who, in consequence of the enemies he had made, powerful and many without measure, had drawn upon himself an order of Senate, passed with the solemnity of swearing, for his banishment into Crete; where, by following continually his wonted practices, he excited a combination of old enmities and new: So that he was now bereft of his estate, interdicted from fire and water, and grew old in exile upon the rocks of Seriphos.
About the same time Plautius Silvanus the Prætor, for what cause is uncertain, killed Apronia his wife, by throwing her headlong. When he was carried by Apronius his father-in-law, before the Emperor, he answered, in confusion of spirit, “as if, while he was sound asleep, and unapprized, his wife had wilfully dispatched herself.” Tiberius instantly hasted to visit the chamber, where were still apparent the marks of his violence and her struggling. This he reported to the Senate, and Judges being appointed, Urgulania the grand-mother of Plautius sent him a dagger, which it was believed she did by the advice of Tiberius, in regard of the friendship of Augusta for her. The criminal having in vain essayed to use the steel, caused his veins to be opened. Presently after Numantina, his former wife, was accused of having by charms and potions disordered the understanding of her husband, but declared innocent.
This year, at last, relieved the Romans from a long war with Tacfarinas the Numidian. For, the former Generals, as soon as they believed their exploits had intitled them to the ornaments of triumph, always abandoned the enemy. Insomuch that there were already in Rome three Statues adorned with victorious laurel, and still Tacfarinas ravaged Africa. He was strengthened by auxiliaries from the Moors, who, governed by Royal freedmen under the thoughtless reign of the youth their King, (Ptolemy son of Juba) had exchanged even for war the domestic domination of slaves. For the harbourer of his plunder, and partner in depredations, he had the King of the Garamantes; not that this King marched at the head of an army, but only detached out light parties, which were magnified by great distance and report. From the province itself too flowed in all that were indigent in their fortune, all that were disorderly in their lives, the more readily, because the Emperor, after the feats performed by Blæsus, as if there had no longer remained any enemy in Africa, had ordered the ninth Legion to be brought back; nor durst Publius Dolabella, that year Proconsul there, retain it, as he dreaded more the orders of the Prince, than the casualties of the war.
Tacfarinas therefore dispersed a rumour, “that several other nations too were tearing piecemeal the Roman state; hence their forces were by degrees drawing off from Africa; and the remainder might be wholly destroyed, if all, to whom liberty was dearer than bondage, would, with all their might, engage them.” By this rumour his forces were augmented, and he begirt the city of Thubuscum. But Dolabella, drawing together what soldiers there were, at his first approach raised the siege, by the terror of the Roman name, and as the Numidians can never stand the attack of our foot. He likewise fortified the proper places, and at the same time executed the chiefs of the Musulanians, just ready to revolt. Now, because by many expeditions against Tacfarinas, it was manifest that, not by a heavy army and a single onset, such a rambling foe was to be effectually pushed; the Proconsul having therefore called to his aid King Ptolemy, with a body of his subjects the Moors, formed four bands. These he committed to the Commanders of the Legions and Tribunes; certain parties appointed to scour and pillage the country, were conducted by some chosen Moors; he himself moved from quarter to quarter, to direct the whole.
Not long after tydings came, “that the Numidians had pitched their huts about a ruinous castle, burnt down formerly by themselves, its name Auzea, trusting now to its situation, because it was shut in on every side by vast forests.” Forthwith were dispatched the horse and foot, a rapid march, themselves not knowing whither; and just at dawn of day, with trumpets sounding, and dreadful shouts, they were upon the Barbarians still half asleep, their horses fettered, or stragling loosly at grass. The Romans were come prepared, their foot in close array, their troops marshalled, all things disposed for battle; the enemy, on the contrary, intirely unapprized, without arms, or order, or counsel, were, with the passiveness of sheep, caught, slaughtered, and dragged away captive. The soldiers, embittered by the remembrance of all their labours, and against a foe which had so long cluded the fight so often courted, had each his fill of vengeance and blood. Through all the ranks the word ran, “that they must particularly make sure of Tacfarinas, known to them all by so many conflicts; nothing besides killing the leader could extinguish the war.” His Guards were already fallen round him, his son was already in bonds, and the Romans on every side pouring upon him; he therefore desperately rushed amongst the darts, and, by a death accompanied with many of ours, escaped captivity. And thus was an end put to the war.
Dolabella desired the ensigns of triumph, but was refused by Tiberius, in compliment to Sejanus, that the late glory of his uncle Blæsus might not thence be obliterated. But this derived no new lustre upon Blæsus, while to Dolabella more glory accrued from honour denied, since with a smaller army he had slain the General, led many distinguished captives, and bore the renown of having wholly concluded the war. He was also attended with Embassadors from the Garamantes, a rare sight in Rome! That nation, struck with the death of Tacfarinas, and conscious of guilt, had sent them to appease the resentment of the Roman people. And now that the zeal of Ptolemy, during that war was known, in his favour was revived a custom of remote antiquity, and one of the Senators sent to deliver him the ivory staff and painted robe; (the usual presents of the ancient Roman Senate) and to salute him King, Friend, and Confederate.
The same summer, the seeds of a servile war spreading through Italy, were by chance suppressed. The author of the stir was Titus Curtisius, formerly a soldier of the Prætorian Guards. His first essays were at clandestine meetings in Brundusium, and the neighbouring towns; afterwards by declarations publicly hung up, he was inciting to liberty the Agrarian slaves, who, from living in wild and remote forests, were themselves wild and fierce; when, as it were, by the benignity of the Gods, three galleys belonging to the merchants landed on that coast. Curtius Lupus too, the Quæstor, was then in these parts, as to him had fallen for his jurisdiction, according to ancient establishment, the restraining of robberies in the woods and roads of the forests. Lupus marshalled the seamen, and by them defeated the conspiracy, just breaking out; so that Staius the Tribune dispatched thither by the Emperor, with a stout band, dragged the leader himself and his most resolute partizans to Rome, which was already in a terror, on account of the multitude of domestic slaves, that were still augmenting immensly, while the genuine commonalty daily dwindled.
During the same Consuls, were brought into the Senate a father arraigned, and his son the accuser, both named Vibius Serenus; a sad example of horror and calamity of the times! the father already an exile, now haled back to a fresh trial, covered with rags and nastiness, then too bound in chains, heard himself impleaded by his son. The young man, dressed with mighty elegance, with a countenance chearful and elate, alledged “a plot framed against the Emperor, and that some of the conspirators were sent into Gaul, to instigate a rebellion there.” Thus he became against his father a witness as well as an informer. He likewise “charged Cæcilius Cornutus, formerly Prætor, with having furnished money.” Cornutus had, in truth, with his own hands dispatched himself, only from the pain of anxiety, and because he held accusation for a certain signal of destruction. The accused, on the other side, with a spirit nothing dejected, turning full upon his son, and shaking his chains, invoked “the avenging Gods, that to himself they would first restore his place of exile, where, far from such direful doings he might pass his days; and that just vengeance might one day overtake his son.” He insisted too, “that Cornutus was innocent, and only terrified with forged erimes, as might be easily learnt, if other accomplices were produced; for it was not probable that, with one confederate only, he should have meditated the murder of the Prince, and a change of the State.”
The accuser then named Cneius Lentulus, and Seius Tubero, to the great confusion of Tiberius, when men of the first figure in Rome, his own intimate friends, Lentulus extremely old, Tubero broken with infirmities, were charged with devising hostile insurrections against the State. But they were both passed over without a pause. Against the father his slaves were examined upon the rack; and their examination went against the accuser, who, distracted with guilt, and frightened besides with the threatnings of the populace, dooming him to the dungeon, the rack, and the pains of parricide, fled out of Rome. He was dragged back from Ravenna, and compelled to prosecute his accusation; Tiberius, no wise concealing his old hatred to the exile Serenus, for that, after the condemnation of Libo, he had by letters upbraided the Emperor, that his signal zeal in that trial remained without reward; he had likewise inserted some expressions more contumacious than safe in the tender ears of a Prince naturally proud and prone to resentment. His words were eight years after rehearsed by Tiberius, who also charged him with many misdemeanours during that interval, though through the obstinacy of his slaves nothing, he said, could be discovered by torture.
The votes being taken, and Serenus sentenced “to death, according to the rigour of antiquity,” Tiberius, to soften the public odium, opposed it. Then Asinius Gallus proposed, “to shut him up in the isle of Gyarus or Donusa;” a motion which Tiberius also rejected, arguing, “that both these isles were destitute of water, and that to whom they granted life, the conveniencies of life ought likewise to be granted.” Thus Serenus was carried back to Amorgos. And now that Cornutus had died by his own hands, it was moved, “to abrogate the rewards of the accusers, as often as any person, charged with treason, should, before judgment passed, put an end to his own life.” And this motion had been followed, but that Tiberius complained, with sternness, and now, contrary to his wonted reserves, an open advocate for the accusers, “that by it the laws would be defeated, and the Commonwealth overthrown; let them rather, he said, dissolve the laws, than dismiss their guardians.” Thus the accusers, a sort of men formed for the destruction of human kind, and indeed, by no pains or terrors, ever sufficiently curbed, were now allured and prompted by wages.
In such a continued series of doleful proceedings, a small instance of joy intervened; Caius Cominius a Roman Knight, convicted of a scurrilous Poem against the Emperor, was pardoned by him at the supplication of his brother, who was a Senator. Hence it was reckoned the more astonishing, that he who knew better things, and what public renown attended clemency, should yet rather chuse the ways of tyranny and horror. For neither did he transgress through want of discernment; nor is it ever too intricate to be distinguished, whether the doings of Princes be applauded with sincerity, or whether only with the false guise of joy. Nay, Tiberius himself, who, upon other occasions, studied his words, and whose speech seemed to labour, yet, whenever he spoke as an advocate, spoke with readiness and volubility. At this time, Publius Suilius, formerly Quæstor to Germanicus, now convicted of having taken money in an affair where he was to decree as a Judge, was, for his punishment, to be expelled Italy; a sentence too mild for the Emperor, who adjudged him to banishment into an Island, with such impetuosity, that, with the tye and solemnity of an oath, he declared it “for the interest of the Commonwealth;” a behaviour which at that time was sharply censured, but turned afterwards to his praise, when Suilius was again returned to Rome, a following reign saw that exile a powerful minion, and an abandoned mercenary, one who long possessed the confidence of Claudius powerfully, but never honestly. Catus Firmius the Senator, was adjudged to the same punishment, “for having forged treasonable crimes against his own sister.” Catus, as I have before declared, had lured Libo into his pernicious snares, and then, by informing against him, procured his overthrow. Tiberius, mindful of this service, but pretending other motives, besought a reversal of the sentence of banishment, but to his expulsion from the Senate, made no opposition.
I am aware, that most of the transactions which I have already related, or shall hereafter relate, may, perhaps, appear minute, and too trivial to be remembered. But, none must compare these my Annals with the writeings of those who compiled the Story of the ancient Roman people. They had for their subjects mighty wars, potent cities sacked, great Kings routed and taken captive; or, if they sometimes reviewed the domestic affairs of Rome, they there found the mutual strife and animosities of the Consuls and Tribunes, the Agrarian and Frumentary laws, pushed and opposed, and the struggles between the Nobles and Populace; noble topics, and recounted by the old Historians with free scope. To me remains a streightened task, and void of glory, steady peace, or short intervals of war, the proceedings at Rome sad and tragical, and a Prince careless of extending the Empire. Nor yet will it be without its profit to look minutely into such transactions, as, however small at first view, give often rise and motion to great events.
For, all nations and cities are governed either by the populace, by the nobility, or by single rulers. The frame of a state chosen and compacted out of all these three, is easier applauded than accomplished, or if accomplished, cannot be of long duration. So that, as dureing the Republic, either when the power of the people prevailed, or when the Senate bore the chief sway; it was necessary to know the genius of the commonalty, and by what measures they were to be humoured and restrained; and such too who were throughly acquainted with the spirit of the Senate and leading men, came to be esteemed skilful in the times, and men of prowess: so now, when that establishment is changed, and the present situation such, that one rules all; it is of advantage to collect and record these later incidents, as matters of public example and instruction; since few can, by their own wisdom, distinguish between things crooked and upright, few between counsels pernicious and profitable, and since most men are taught by the fate and example of others. But the present detail, however instructive, yet brings scanty delight. It is by the descriptions and accounts of nations, by the variety of battles, by the memorable fall of illustrious Captains, that the soul of the reader is engaged and refreshed. For myself, I can only give a sad display of cruel orders, incessant accusations, faithless friendships, the destruction of innocents, and endless trials, all attended with the same issue, death and condemnation; an obvious round of repetition and satiety! Besides that the old Historians are rarely censured; nor is any man now concerned whether they chiefly magnify the Roman or Carthaginian armies. But, of many who under Tiberius suffered punishment, or were marked with infamy, the posterity are still subsisting; or if the families themselves are extinct, there are others found, who from a similitude of manners, think that, in reciting the evil doings of others, they themselves are charged: nay, even virtue and a glorious name create foes, as they expose in a light too obvious the opposite characters. But I return to my undertaking.
Whilst Cornelius Cossus and Asinius Agrippa were Consuls, Cremutius Cordus was arraigned, for that, “having published Annals, and in them praised Brutus, he had stiled Cassius the last of the Romans;” a new crime, then first created. Satrius Secundus and Pinarius Natta were his accusers, creatures of Sejanus; a mortal omen this to the accused; besides that Tiberius received his defence with an implacable countenance. He began it on this wise, casting away all hopes of life:
“As to facts, I am so guiltless, Conscript Fathers, that my words only are accused; but neither are any words of mine pointed against the Emperor, or his Mother, the only persons comprehended in the Law concerning violated Majesty. It is alledged, that I have praised Brutus and Cassius, men whose lives and actions have been compiled by a cloud of writers, and their memory treated by none but with honour. Titus Livius, an historian eminently famous for eloquence and veracity, celebrated Pompey with such abundant encomiums, that he was thence by Augustus named Pompeianus; nor did this prejudice their common friendship. Neither Scipio, nor Afranius, nor even this same Cassius, nor this same Brutus, are any where mentioned by him as traitors and parricides, the common nicknames now bestowed on them, but often as great and memorable men. The writings of Asinius Pollio have conveyed down the memory of the same men under honourable characters. Corvinus Messala gloried to have had Cassius for his General: Yet both Pollio and Corvinus became signally powerful in wealth and honours under Augustus. That Book of Cicero’s, in which he exalted Cato to the skies, what other animadversion did it draw from Cæsar the Dictator, than a written reply, in the same stile and equality as if before his Judges he had made it? The letters of Marc Anthony, the speeches of Brutus, are full of reproaches, and recriminations against Augustus, false in truth, but urged with signal asperity. The Poems of Bibaculus and those of Catullus, stuffed with virulent satires against the Cæsars, are still read. But even the deified Julius, even the deified Augustus, bore all these invectives, and left them unsuppressed, whether with greater moderation or wisdom, I cannot easily say. For, if they are despised, they fade away; if you wax wroth, you seem to avow them for true.
“Instances from the Greeks I bring none; with them not the freedom only, but even the licentiousness of speech, is unpunished; or if any correction be returned, it is only by revenging words with words. It has been ever allowed, without restriction or rebuke, to pass our judgment upon those whom death has withdrawn from the influence of affection and hate. Are Cassius and Brutus now in arms? Do they at present fill with troops the fields of Philippi? Or do I fire the Roman people, by inflammatory harangues, with the spirit of civil rage? Brutus and Cassius, now above seventy years slain, are still known in their Statues, which even the conqueror did not abolish; and what do the Historians, but preserve their characters? Impartial posterity to every man repays his proper praise; nor will there be wanting such as, if my death is determined, will not only revive the story of Cassius and Brutus, but even my story.” Having thus said, he withdrew from the Senate, and ended his life by abstinence. The Fathers condemned the Books to be burned by the Ædiles; but they still continued to be secretly dispersed. Hence we may justly mock the stupidity of those, who imagine that they can, by present power, extinguish the lights and memory of succeeding times; for, quite otherwise, the punishment of writers exalts the credit of the writings; nor did ever foreign Kings, or any else, who exercised the like cruelty, reap other fruit from it, than infamy to themselves, and glory to the sufferers.
Now for this whole year the course of accusations was so constant, that even during the solemnity of the Latin festival, when Drusus for his inauguration, as Governor of Rome, had ascended the Tribunal, he was accosted by Calpurnius Salvianus with a charge against Sextus Marius; a proceeding openly resented by the Emperor, and thence Salvianus was banished. The city of Cyzicus was accused, “of not observing the worship of the deified Augustus;” with additional crimes, “of violences committed upon some Roman citizens.” Thus that city lost her liberties, which by her behaviour during the Mithridatic war, she had purchased, having in it sustained a siege, and as much by her own bravery, as by the aid of Lucullus, repulsed the King. But Fonteius Capito, who had as Proconsul governed Asia, was acquitted, upon proof that the crimes brought against him by Vibius Serenus were forged. Yet the forgery drew no penalty upon Serenus; nay, the public hate rendered him the more secure; for, every accuser, the more eager and incessant he was, the more sacred and inviolable he became. Only the sorry and impotent were surrendered to chastisement.
About the same time, the furthermost Spain besought the Senate by their embassadors, “that, after the example of Asia, they might erect a Temple to Tiberius and his Mother.” Upon this occasion, the Emperor, always resolute in contemning honours, and now judging it proper to confute those, who exposed him to the popular censure, of having deviated into ambition, spoke in this manner. “I know, Conscript Fathers, that it is ascribed to a defect of firmness in me, that when the cities of Asia petitioned for this very thing, I withstood them not. I shall therefore now unfold at once the motives of my silence then, and the rules which for the future I am determined to observe. Since the deified Augustus had not opposed the founding at Pergamus a Temple to himself and the city of Rome, I, with whom all his actions and sayings have the force of laws, followed an example already approved, because to the worship bestowed upon me, that of the Senate was annexed. But as the indulging of this, in one instance, will find pardon; so a general latitude of being adored through every province, under the sacred representations of the Deities, would denote a vain spirit, a heart swelled with ambition. The glory too of Augustus will evanish, if by the promiscuous courtship of flattery it comes to be prostituted.
“For myself, Conscript Fathers, I am a mortal man; I am confined to the functions of human nature; and if I well supply the principal place amongst you, it suffices me. This I acknowledge to you, and this acknowledgment I would have posterity to remember. They will do abundant right to my memory, if they believe me to have been worthy of my ancestors, watchful of the Roman state, unmoved in perils, and in maintaining the public interest, fearless of private enmities. These are the Temples which in your breasts I would raise, these the fairest pourtraitures, and such as will endure. As to Temples and Statues of stone, if the Idol adored in them come to be hated by posterity, they are despised as his sepulchres. I here therefore invoke the Gods, that to the end of my life they would grant me a spirit undisturbed, and discerning in duties human and divine: hence too I here implore our Citizens and Allies, that whenever my dissolution comes, they would with approbation and benevolent testimonies of remembrance, celebrate my actions and retain the odour of my name.” And thenceforward he persevered in slighting, upon all occasions, and even in private conversation, this divine worship of himself. A conduct by some ascribed to modesty, by many to a conscious diffidence, by others to degeneracy of spirit; “since the most sublime amongst men naturally covet the most exalted honours: thus Hercules and Bacchus amongst the Greeks, and with us Romulus, were added to the society of the Gods. Augustus too had chosen the nobler part, and hoped for deification. All the other gratifications of Princes were instantly procured; one only was to be pursued insatiably, the praise and perpetuity of their name. For by contemning fame, the virtues that procure it, are contemned.”
Now Sejanus, intoxicated with excess of fortune, and moreover stimulated by the importunity of Livia, who, with the restless passion of a woman, craved the promised marriage, composed a Memorial to the Emperor. For, it was then the custom to apply to him in writing, though he were present. This of Sejanus was thus conceived; “That such had been towards him the benevolence of Augustus, such and so numerous, since, the instances of affection from Tiberius, that he was thence accustomed, without applying to the Gods, to carry his hopes and prayers directly to the Emperors. Yet of them he had never sought a blaze of honours; watching and toils like those of common soldiers, for the safe-guard of the Prince, had been his choice and ambition. However, what was most glorious for him he had attained, to be thought worthy of alliance with the Emperor; hence the source of his present hopes, and, since he had heard that Augustus, in the disposal of his daughter, had not been without thoughts even of some of the Roman Knights; he begged, that if a husband were sought for Livia, Tiberius would remember his friend, one whose ambition aimed no higher than the pure and disinterested glory of the affinity. For he would never abandon the burden of his present trust, but hold it sufficient to be enabled to support his house against the injurious wrath of Agrippina; and in this he only consulted the security of his children. For himself; his own life would be abundantly long, whenever finally spent in the ministry of such a Prince.”
For a present answer, Tiberius praised the loyalty of Sejanus, civilly recounted the instances of his own favours towards him, and required time, as it were for a thorough deliberation. At last he made this reply; “That all other men were, in their pursuits, guided by the notions of conveniency; far different was the lot and situation of Princes, who were in their actions to consider chiefly the applause and good liking of the public. He therefore did not delude Sejanus with an obvious and plausible answer; that Livia could herself determine whether, after Drusus, she ought again to marry, or still persist his widow, and that she had a mother and grand-mother, nearer relations and more interested, to advise. He would deal more candidly with him; and first as to the enmity of Agrippina, it would flame out with fresh fury, if, by the marriage of Livia, the family of the Cæsars were rent, as it were, into two contending parties; even as things stood, the emulation of these Ladies broke into frequent sallies, and, by their animosities, his grand-sons were instigated different ways. What would be the consequence, if, by such a marriage, the strife were inflamed; For you are deceived, Sejanus, if you think to continue then in the same rank as now; or that Livia, she who was first the wife of the young Caius Cæsar, and afterwards of Drusus, will be of a temper to grow old with a husband no higher than a Roman Knight. Nay, allowing that I suffered you afterwards to remain what you are; do you believe that they who saw her father, they who saw her brother, and the ancestors of our house, covered with the supreme dignities, will ever suffer it? You, in truth, propose, to stand still in the same station; but the great Magistrates and Grandees of the state, those very Magistrates and Grandees who, in spight of yourself, break in upon you, and in all affairs court you as their Oracle, make no secret of maintaining that you have long since exceeded the bounds of the Equestrian Order, and far outgone in power all the confidents of my father; and from their hatred to you, they also censure me. But, it seems, Augustus deliberated about giving his daughter to a Roman Knight. Where is the wonder, if, perplexed with a crowd of distracting cares, and apprized to what an unbounded height above others he raised whomsoever he dignified with such a match, he talked of Proculeius, and some like him, remarkable for the retiredness of their life, and no wise engaged in the affairs of state? But if we are influenced by the hesitation of Augustus, how much more powerful is his decision, since he bestowed his daughter on Agrippa, and then on me? These are considerations which in friendship I have not with-held; however, neither your own inclinations, nor those of Livia, shall be ever thwarted by me. The secret and constant purposes of my own heart towards you, and with what further ties of affinity, I am contriving to bind you still faster to me, I at present forbear to recount. Thus much only I will declare, that there is nothing so high, but those abilities, and your singular zeal and fidelity towards me, may justly claim, as, when opportunity presents, either in Senate, or in a popular assembly, I shall not fail to testify.”
In answer to this, Sejanus, no longer solliciting the marriage, but filled with higher apprehensions, besought him “to resist the dark suggestions of suspicion, to despise the pratings of the vulgar, nor to admit the malignant breath of envy.” And as he was puzzled about the crouds which incessantly haunted his house, lest by keeping them off he might impair his power, or by encouraging them, furnish a handle for criminal imputations, he came to this result, that he would urge the Emperor out of Rome, to spend his life remote from thence in delightful retirements. From this counsel he foresaw many advantages; upon himself would depend all access to the Emperor; a llletters and expresses would, as the soldiers were the carriers, be in great measure under his direction; in a little time the Prince, now in declining age, and then softened by recess, would more easily transfer upon him the whole charge of the Empire; he should be removed from the multitude of such as to make their court, attended him at Rome, and thence one source of envy would be stopt. So that by discharging the empty phantoms of power, he should augment the essentials. He therefore began by little and little to rail at the hurry of business at Rome, the throng of people, the flock of suitors; he applauded “retirement and quiet, where, while they were separate from irksome fatigues, nor exposed to the discontents and resentments of particulars, all affairs of moment were best dispatched.”
Opportunely for Sejanus, there happened about that time the trial of Votienus Montanus, a man of celebrated wit; a trial which determined Tiberius to shun all assemblies of the fathers, and thence escape hearing the true and painful reflections which to his face were there uttered. For, as Votienus was charged with contumelious speeches against Cæsar; Æmilius the witness, a man of the sword, from a zeal to make good his evidence, rehearsed every tittle he had heard, and, notwithstanding the clamour raised to stop his mouth, he persisted in the detail with notable obstinacy. By this means Tiberius heard the bitter reproaches by which he was secretly goaded, and was so stricken, that he waxed vehement, and cried, “he would instantly clear himself in their presence, or before an assembly of the people;” nor scarce could the prayers of his particular friends, and flatteries of all, calm him. Votienus suffered the pains of treason. For Tiberius having learnt that he was upbraided with cruelty towards the accused, and growing thence more obstinately cruel, punished Aquila with exile, for adultery with Varius Ligur, though she were already sentenced by Lentulus Getulicus, Consul elect, to the penalties of the Julian law. He also razed Apidius Merula from the list of Senators, “because he had not sworn upon the Acts of the deified Augustus.”
Next were heard embassadors from the Lacedemonians and Messenians, about the right that each people claimed to the Temple of Diana Limenetis, which the Lacedemonians asserted to be theirs, “founded in their territory, and dedicated by their ancestors,” and offered as proofs the ancient authority of their Annals, and the Hymns of the old Poets; “It had been in truth taken from them by the superior force of Philip of Macedon, when at war with him, but afterwards restored by the judicial decision of Julius Cæsar and Marc Anthony.” The Messenians, on the contrary, pleaded “the ancient partition of Peloponnesus amongst the descendants of Hercules, whence the territory where the Temple stood, had fallen to their King, and the monuments of that allotment still remained, engraven in stone and old tables of brass; but, if the testimony of Histories and Poets were appealed to, they themselves had the most and the fullest. Nor had Philip, in his decision, acted by power, but from equity; the same afterwards was the adjudgment of King Antigonus, the same that of the Roman Commander Mummius. Thus too the Milesians had awarded, they who were by both sides chosen arbitrators; and thus lastly it had been determined by Atidius Geminus, Prætor of Achaia.” The Messenians therefore gained the suit. The citizens also of Segestum applied on behalf of the Temple of Venus on Mount Eryx, “which, having fallen through age, they desired might be restored.” They represented the story of its Origin and Antiquity, a well pleasing flattery to Tiberius, who frankly took upon himself the charge, as kinsman to the Goddess. Then was discussed the petition from the citizens of Marseilles, and what they claimed according to the precedent of Publius Rutilius, was approved; for Rutilius, though by a law expelled from Rome, had been by those of Smyrna adopted a citizen; and as Volcatius Moschus, another exile, had found at Marseilles the same privilege and reception, he had to their Republic, as to his country, bequeathed his estate.
There died this year those noble Romans, Cneius Lentulus and Lucius Domitius. Lentulus to his public honours, those of the Consulship, and the ensigns of triumph over the Getulæans, had added that of private poverty honourably borne, and afterwards the splendor of mighty wealth, virtuously acquired and modestly enjoyed. Upon Domitius devolved the lustre of his father, who in the Civil War held the dominion of the sea, till he espoused first the interest of Marc Anthony, and anon that of Augustus. His grand-father had fallen for the cause of the Patriots and Senate, in the battle of Pharsalia. He himself was chosen for the husband of the younger Antonia, daughter of Octavia. He afterwards led an army over the Elb, and advanced farther into Germany than any Roman before him. These things procured him the ensigns of triumph. There also died Lucius Antonius, of a race greatly illustrious, but unhappy; for, Julius Antonius his father having suffered death for adultery with Julia, Augustus removed this Lucius, then a child, and the grand-son of his sister, to the city of Marseilles, where, under the guise of his studies, the name of his exile might be hid. To his death, however, public honour was paid, and by a decree of Senate his bones were reposited in the tomb of the Octavii.
During the same Consuls, a bloody assassination was perpetrated in the nethermost Spain, by a boor in the territory of Termes. By him Lucius Piso, Governor of the Province, as he travelled careless and unattended, relying on the established peace, was dispatched at one deadly blow. The assassin, however, escaped to a forest, by the fleetness of his horse, and there dismissed him; from thence travelling over rocks and pathless places, he baffled his pursuers; but his lurking lasted not long; for his horse being taken and shewn through the neighbouring villages, it was thence learned who was the owner; so that he too was found: but when put to the rack to declare his accomplices, he proclaimed with a mighty and assured voice, in the language of his country, “that in vain they questioned him; his associates might stand safely by and witness his constancy, for that no force of torture could be so exquisite as from him to extort a discovery.” Next day as he was dragged back to the rack, he burst with a vehement effort from his guard, and dashed his head so desperately against a stone, that he instantly expired. Piso is believed to have been assaslinated by a plot of the Termestinians, as, in exacting the repayment of some money, seized from the public, he acted with more asperity, than a rough people could bear.
In the Consulship of Lentulus Getulicus and Caius Calvisius, the triumphal ensigns were decreed to Poppæus Sabinus, for having routed some clans of Thracians, who, living wildly on the high mountains, acted thence with more daring outrage and contumacy. The ground of their late commotion, not to mention the savage genius of the people, was their scorn and impatience, to see recruits raised amongst them, and all their stoutest men listed in our armies, accustomed as they were not even to obey their native Kings further than their own humour, nor to aid them with forces but under Captains of their own chusing, nor to fight against any enemy but their own borderers. Their discontents too were inflamed by a rumour then current amongst them, that they were to be dispersed into different regions, exterminated from their own, and to be mixed with other nations. But before they began hostilities, they sent Embassadors to Sabinus, to represent “their past friendship and submission, and that the same should continue, if they were provoked by no fresh impositions; but if, like a people subdued by war, they were doomed to bondage, they had able men and steel, and souls determined upon liberty or death.” The Embassadors, at the same time, pointed to their strong holds founded upon precipices, boasted that they had thither conveyed their wives and parents, and indeed threatened a war intricate, hazardous, and bloody.
Sabinus amused them with gentle answers, till he could draw together his army, while Pomponius Labeo was advancing with a Legion from Mœsia, and King Rhemetalces with a body of Thracians who had not renounced their allegiance. With these, and what forces he had of his own, he marched towards the foe, now settled in the passes of the forest; some, more bold, presented themselves upon the hills. Against the last, the Roman General first bent his forces in battle, and without difficulty drove them thence, but with small slaughter of the Barbarians, because of their immediate refuge. Here he streight raised an encampment, and with a stout band took possession of a hill, which extended with an even narrow ridge to the next fortress, which was garrisoned by a great host of armed men and rabble; and as the most resolute were, in the way of the nation, rioting without the fortification in dances and songs, he forthwith dispatched against them his select archers. These, while they only poured in volleys of arrows at a distance, did thick and extensive execution; but, approaching too near, were by a sudden sally put in disorder. They were however supported by a Cohort of the Sigambrians, purposely posted by Sabinus in readiness against an exigency, a people equally terrible in the boisterous and mixed uproar of their voices and arms.
He afterwards pitched his camp nearer to the enemy, having in his former entrenchments left the Thracians, whom I have mentioned to have joined us. To them too was permitted “to lay waste, burn, and plunder, on condition that their ravages were confined to the day, and that, at nights, they kept within the camp, secure under guard.” This restriction was at first observed; but anon, falling into riot, as they grew opulent in plunder, they neglected their guards, and resigned themselves to gaiety and banquetting, to the intoxication and sloth of wine and sleep. The enemy therefore, apprized of their negligence, formed themselves into two bands, one to set upon the plunderers, the other to assault the Roman camp, with no hopes of taking it, but only that the soldiers, alarmed with shouts and darts, and all intent upon their own defence, might not hear the dinn of the other battle; moreover, to heighten the terror, it was to be done by night. Those who assailed the lines of the legions, were easily repulsed; but the auxiliary Thracians were terrified with the sudden encounter, as they were utterly unprepared. Part of them lay along the entrenchments, many were roaming abroad; and both were slain with the keener vengeance, as they were upbraided “for fugitives and traitors, who bore arms to establish servitude over their country and themselves.”
Next day Sabinus drew up his army in view of the enemy, on ground equal to both, to try, if, elated with their success by night, they would venture a battle; and, when they still kept within the fortress, or on the cluster of hills, he began to begird them with a siege, and strengthening his old lines, and adding new, enclosed a circuit of four miles. Then, to deprive them of water and forage, he streightened his entrenchment by degrees, and hemmed them in still closer. A bulwark was also raised, whence the enemy, now within throw, were annoyed with discharges of stones, darts, and fire. But nothing aggrieved them so vehemently as thirst, whilst only a single fountain remained amongst a huge multitude of armed men and families; their horses too and cattle, penned up with the people, after the barbarous manner of the country, perished for want of provender. Amongst the carcasses of beasts lay those of men, some dead of thirst, some of their wounds, on all hands a horrible scene of putrefaction, stench, and loathsomness. To these distresses also accrued the last and most consummate of all calamities, that of discord; some were disposed to surrender, others proposed present death, and to fall upon one another. There were some too who advised a sally, and to die avenging their deaths. Nor were these last mean men, though dissenting from the rest.
But one of their leaders, his name Dinis, a man stricken in years, by long experience acquainted with the power and clemency of the Romans, argued, “that they must lay down their arms, the same being the sole cure for their pressing calamities,” and was the first who submitted, with his wife and children to the conqueror. There followed him all that were weak through sex or age, and such as had a greater passion for life than glory. The young men were parted between Tarsa and Turesis, both determined to fall with liberty, but Tarsa declared earnestly “for instant death, since by it all hopes and fears were at once to be extinguished,” and, setting an example, buried his sword in his breast. Nor were there wanting some who dispatched themselves the same way. Turesis and his band staid for night; of which our General was aware. The Guards were therefore strengthened with extraordinary reinforcements; and now with the night darkness prevailed, its horror heightened by outrageous rain; the enemy too with tumultuous shouts, and by turns with profound silence, alarmed and puzzled the besiegers. Sabinus therefore going round the camp, warned the soldiers, “that they should not be misguided by the deceitful voice of uproar, nor trust to a feigned calm, and thence open an advantage to the enemy, who by these wiles sought it; but keep immoveably to their several posts, nor throw their darts at random.”
Just then came the Barbarians, pouring in droves; here, with stones, with wooden javelins hardened in the fire, and with the broken limbs of trees, they battered the palisade; there with hurdles, faggots, and dead bodies, they filled the trench. By others, bridges and ladders, both before framed, were planted against the battlements, which they violently grappled and tore, and struggled hand to hand with those who opposed them. The Romans, on the other side, beat them back with their bucklers, drove them down with darts, and hurled upon them great mural stakes and heaps of stones. On both sides were powerful stimulations; on ours, the hopes of victory almost gained, if we persisted, and thence the more glaring infamy, if we recoiled; on theirs, the last struggle for their life, most of them too inspired with the affecting presence of their mothers and wives, and made desperate by their dolorous wailings. The night was an advantage to the cowardly and the brave. Blows were dealt, the striker knew not upon whom, and wounds received, the wounded knew not whence: such was the utter indistinction of friend and foe. Moreover, the eccho from the cavities of the mountain represented to the Romans the shouts of the enemy as behind them, and created such general disorder and alarm, that in some places they deserted their lines, as believing them already broken and entered; yet such of the enemy as broke through were very few. All the rest, their most resolute champions being wounded or slain, were at the returning light driven back to their fort; where they were at length forced to surrender; as did the places circumjacent of their own accord. The remainder could then be neither forced nor famished; as they were protected by a furious winter, always sudden about Mount Hæmus.
At Rome discord shook the Prince’s family; and, to begin the series of destruction which was to end in Agrippina, Claudia Pulchra her cousin was accused, Domitius Afer the accuser. This man, just out of the Prætorship, in estimation small, but hasty to signalize himself by some notable exploit, however heinous, alledged against her the “crimes of prostitution, of adultery with Furnius, of magical execrations, and poison prepared against the life of the Emperor.” Agrippina, ever vehement, and then in a flame for the peril of her kinswoman, flew to Tiberius, and by chance found him sacrificing to the Emperor his father. Having got this handle for upbraiding him, she told him, “that it ill became the same man to slay victims to the deified Augustus, and to persecute his children; his divine spirit was not transfused into dumb Statues; the genuine images of Augustus were the living descendents from his celestial blood; she herself was one, one sensible of impending danger, and now in the mournful state of a supplicant. In vain were foreign crimes pretended against Pulchra, when the only cause of her concerted overthrow was her affection for Agrippina, foolishly carried even to adoration; forgetful as she was of the fate of Sosia, a condemned sufferer for the same fault.” All these bitter words drew small answer from the dark breast of Tiberius; he rebuked her, by quoting a Greek verse, “that she was therefore aggrieved, because she did not reign.” Pulchra and Furnius were condemned. Afer, having thus displayed his genius, and gained a declaration from Tiberius, pronouncing him eloquent in his own independent right, was ranked with the most celebrated Orators. Afterwards, in prosecuting accusations, or in protecting the accused, he flourished more in the fame of eloquence than in that of uprightness. Old age, however, eminently sunk the credit and vigour of his eloquence, whilst, with parts decayed, he still retained a passion for haranguing.
Agrippina still fostering her wrath, and seized too with a bodily disorder, received the Emperor, come purposely to see her, with many tears and long silence. At last she accosted him with invidious expostulations and prayers, “that he would relieve her solitude, and give her a husband. She was still endowed with proper youth; to virtuous women there was no consolation but that of marriage, and Rome afforded illustrious men, who would readily assent to entertain the wife of Germanicus, and his children.” Tiberius was not ignorant to what mighty power in the State that demand tended; but, that he might betray no tokens of resentment or fear, he left her, though instant with him, without an answer. This passage, not related by the Authors of our Annals, I found in the Commentaries of her daughter Agrippina, her who was the mother of the Emperor Nero, and has published her own life, with the fortunes of her family.
As to Agrippina, still grieving and void of foresight, she was yet more sensibly dismayed by an artifice of Sejanus, who employed such as under colour of friendship warned her, “that poison was prepared for her, and that she must shun eating at her father-in-law’s table.” She was a stranger to all dissimulation; so that as she sat near him at table, she continued stately and unmoved; not a word, not a look escaped her, and she touched no part of the meat. Tiberius observed her, whether accidentally, or that he was before apprized, and, to be convinced by a more powerful experiment, praising the apples that stood before him, presented some with his own hand to his daughter-in-law. This only increased the suspicion of Agrippina, and, without ever putting them to her mouth, she delivered them to the waiters. For all this, the reserved Tiberius let not a word drop from him openly, but, turning to his mother, “It was no wonder, he said, if he had really taken harsh measures with her who thus charged him as a poisoner.” Hence a rumour spread, “that her doom was contrived, and that the Emperor, not daring to pursue it publicly, chose to have her dispatched in secret.”
Tiberius, as a means to divert upon other matters the popular talk, attended assiduously the deliberations of the Senate, and there heard for many days the several Embassadors from Asia, mutually contending, “in what city should be built the Temple lately decreed.” For this honour eleven cities strove, with equal ambition, though different in power; nor did the pleas urged by all, greatly vary, namely, “the antiquity of their original, and their distinguished zeal for the Roman people, during their several wars with Perseus, Aristonicus, and other Kings.” But, the Trallians, the Laodiceans, the Magnesians, and those of the Hypæpis, were at once dismissed, as insufficient for the charge. Nor, in truth, had they of Ilium, who represented, “that Troy was the mother of Rome,” any superior advantage, besides the glory of antiquity. The plea of the Halicarnassians took some short consideration; they asserted, “that for tweive hundred years, no earthquake had shaken their town, and that they would fix in a solid rock the foundations of the Temple.” The same considerations were urged by the inhabitants of Pergamus, where already was erected a Temple to Augustus; a distinction which was judged sufficient for them. The cities too of Ephesus and Miletus seemed fully employed in the ceremonies of their own distinct Deities, the former in those of Diana, the other in those of Apollo. Thus the dispute was confined to Sardes and Smyrna. The first recited a decree of the Etrurians, which owned them for kinsmen; “for that Tyrrhenus and Lydus, sons of King Atys, having between them divided their people, because of their multitude, Lydus resettled in his native country, and it became the lot of Tyrrhenus to find out a fresh residence; and by the names of these chiefs the parted people came afterwards to be called, Lydians in Asia, Tyrrhenians in Italy. That the opulence of the Lydians spread yet farther, by their Colonies sent under Pelops into Greece, which from him afterwards took its name.” They likewise urged “the letters of our Generals, their mutual leagues with us during the war of Macedon, their plenty of rivers, temperate climate, and the fertility of the circumjacent country.”
The Smyrneans having likewise recounted their ancient establishment, “whether Tantalus, the son of Jupiter, or Theseus, the son also of a God, or one of the old Amazons, were their founder,” proceeded to considerations in which they chiefly trusted, their friendly offices to the Roman people, having aided them with a naval force, not in their foreign wars only, but in those which infested Italy. “It was they who first reared a Temple to the city of Rome, in the Consulship of Marcus Porcius, then, in truth, when the power of the Roman people was already mighty, but however not yet raised to its highest glory; for the city of Carthage still stood, and potent Kings governed Asia. Witness too their generosity to Sylla, when the condition of his army, ready to famish in a cruel winter and a scarcity of cloaths, being related to the Citizens of Smyrna then assembled, all that were present divested themselves of their rayments, and sent them to our Legions.” Thus when the votes of the Senators were gathered, the pretensions of Smyrna were preferred. It was also moved by Vibius Marsus, that Marcus Lepidus, to whom the province of Asia had fallen, should be attended by a Legate extraordinary to supervise the building of the Temple; and as Lepidus himself, through modesty, declined to chuse one, several who had been Prætors were drawn by lot, and the lot fell upon Valerius Naso.
In the mean time, according to a purpose long meditated, and from time to time deferred, Tiberius at last retired to Campania, in profession to dedicate a Temple to Jupiter at Capua, and one at Nola to Augustus; but in truth determined to remove, for ever, from Rome. The cause of his departure I have before referred to the stratagems of Sejanus; but though in it I have followed most of our authors, yet, since after the execution of Sejanus, he persisted for six years in the like dark recess, I am rather influenced by a stronger probability, that the ground of his absence is more justly to be ascribed to his own spirit, while he strove to hide in the shades of solitude, what in deeds he proclaimed, the rage of his cruelty and lust. There were those who believed that, in his old age, he was ashamed of the figure of his person; for he was very lean, long and stooping, his head bald, his face ulcerous, and for the most besmeared with salves; he was moreover wont, during his recess at Rhodes, to avoid the public, and cover his debauches in secrecy. It is also related, that he was driven from Rome by the restless aspiring of his Mother, whom he scorned to admit a partner in the Sovereignty, nor yet could intirely seclude, since as her gift he had received the Sovereignty itself. For, Augustus had deliberated about setting Germanicus at the head of the Roman state, his sister’s grand-son, and one adored by all men; but, subdued by the sollicitations of his wife, he adopted Tiberius, and caused Tiberius to adopt Germanicus. With this grandeur of her own procuring, Livia upbraided her son, and even reclaimed it.
His going was narrowly accompanied by one Senator, Cocceius Nerva, formerly Consul, and accomplished in the knowledge of the Laws, and, besides Sejanus, by one dignified Roman Knight, Curtius Atticus. The rest were men of Letters, chiefly Greeks, whose conversation pleased and amused him. The skilled in Astrology declared, “That he had left Rome in such a conjunction of the Planets, as for ever to exclude his return.” Hence a source of destruction to many, who conjectured his end to be at hand, and published their conjectures; for, it was an event too incredible to be foreseen, that for eleven years he should of choice be withdrawn from his country. The sequel discovered the short bounds between the art and the falshood of the art, and what obscurities perplex even the facts which it happens to foretell. That he should never return to Rome, proved not to be falsly said; as to every thing else about him they were perfectly in the dark, since he still lived, never far distant, sometimes in the adjacent champain, sometimes on the neighbouring shore, often under the very walls of the city, and died at last in the fulness and extremity of age.
There happened to Tiberius, about that time, an accident, which, as it threatened his life, fed the empty Prognostics at Rome; but to himself proved matter of more confidence in the friendship and faith of Sejanus. They were eating in a Cave at a villa, thence called Spelunca, between the Amyclean sea and the mountains of Fundi. It was a native cave, and its mouth fell suddenly in, and buried under it some of the attendants; hence dread seized all, and they who were celebrating the entertainment, fled. As to Sejanus, he covered the Emperor’s body with his own, and stooping upon his knees and hands, exposed himself to the descending ruin. Such was the posture he was found in by the soldiers who came to their relief. He grew mightier from thence; and being now considered by Tiberius as one regardless of himself, all his counsels, however bloody and destructive, were listened to with blind credulity; so that he assumed the office of a Judge against the offspring of Germanicus, and suborned such as were to act the parts of accusers, and especially to pursue and blacken Nero, the next in succession, a young prince modest indeed, but forgetful of that restraint and circumspection which his present situation required. He was misguided by his freedmen and the retainers to his house, who, eager to be masters of power, animated him with intemperate counsels, “That he would shew a spirit resolute and assured; it was what the Roman people wished, what the armies longed for; nor would Sejanus dare then to resist, though he now equally insulted the tameness of an old man, and the sloth of a young one.”
While he listened to these and the like suggestions, there escaped him, no expressions, in truth, of any criminal purpose, but sometimes such as were resentful and unguarded; these were catched up by the spies placed upon him, and charged against him with aggravations; neither was he allowed the privilege of clearing himself. Several threatening appearances moreover dismayed him; some avoided to meet him; others having just paid him the salute, turned instantly away; many, in the midst of conversation, broke off and left him, while the creatures of Sejanus stood still fearlesly by, and sneered upon him. For Tiberius; he always entertained him with a stern face, or a hollow smile; and whether the youth spoke or said nothing, there were crimes in his words, crimes in his silence. Nor was he safe even in the dead of night, since his uneasiness and watchings, nay, his very sighs and dreams were, by his wife, divulged to her mother Livia, and by Livia to Sejanus, who had also drawn his brother Drusus into the combination, by tempting him with the immediate prospect of Empire, if his elder brother, already sinking, were once set effectually aside. The genius of Drusus, naturally furious, instigated besides by a passion for power, and by the usual hate and competition between brothers, was further kindled by the partiality of Agrippina, who was fonder of Nero. However, Sejanus did not so far favour Drusus, but that against him too he was even then ripening the studied measures of future destruction, as he knew him to be violent, and thence more obnoxious to snares.
In the end of the year departed these eminent persons, Asinius Agrippa, of ancestors more illustrious than ancient, and in his own character not unworthy of them; and Quintus Haterius, of a Senatorian family, and himself, while he yet lived, famous for Eloquence; but the monuments of his genius, since published, are not equally esteemed. In truth, he prevailed more by rapidity than accuracy; insomuch that, as the elaborate compositions of others flourish after them, so that enchanting melody of voice in Haterius, with that fluency of words which was personal to him, died with him.
In the Consulship of Marcus Licinius and Lucius Calpurnius, the casualty of an instant, its beginning unforeseen, and ended as soon as begun, equalled in calamity the slaughter and overthrow of mighty armies. One Atilius had undertaken to erect an Amphitheatre at Fidena, there to exhibit a combat of Gladiators; he was of the race of freedmen, and as he began it from no exuberance of wealth, nor to court popularity amongst the inhabitants, but purely for the meanness of gain, he neither established solid foundations, nor raised the timber-work with sufficient compactness. Thither thronged from Rome those of every sex and age, eager for such shews, as during the reign of Tiberius they were debarred from diversions at home; and, the nearer the place, the greater the crouds. Hence the calamity was the more dreadful; for, as the Theatre was surcharged with the multitude, the structure burst, and sinking violently in, while its extremities rushed impetuously out, huge was the press of people, who, intent upon the Gladiators within, or gathered round the walls, were crushed by the deadly ruin, and even buried under it. And verily, they who in the first fury of the havock were smitten with final death, escaped, as far as in such a doleful disaster they could escape, the misery of torture; much more to be lamented were those, who, bereft of joints and pieces of their body, were yet not forsaken of life; those who by day could with their eyes behold their wives and children imprisoned in the same ruins, and by night could distinguish them by their groans, and howlings.
Now others from abroad excited by the sad tidings, found here their several sorrows; one bewailed his brother, one his kinsman, another his parents: even they whose friends or kindred were absent on a different account, were yet terrified; for, as it was not hitherto distinctly known upon whom the destruction had lighted, the dread was widened by uncertainty. When the ruins began to be removed, great was the concourse of the living about the dead, frequent the kisses and embraces of tenderness and sorrow, and even frequent the contention about the propriety of the dead, where the features distorted by death or bruises, or where parity of age or resemblance of person, had confounded the slain, and led into mistakes their several claimers. Fifty thousand people were destroyed or maimed by this sad stroke; it was therefore for the future provided by a decree of Senate, “That no man under the qualification of four hundred thousand sestercesa , should exhibit the spectacle of Gladiators, and no Amphitheatre should be founded but upon ground manifestly solid.” Atilius was punished with exile. Now during the fresh pangs of this calamity, the doors of the Grandees were thrown open, medicines were every where furnished, and by proper hands administered; and at that juncture the City, though sorrowful of aspect, seemed to have recalled the public spirit of the ancient Romans, who, after great battles, constantly relieved the wounded, sustained them by liberality, and restored them with care.
The public agonies from this terrible blow, were not yet deadened, when another supervened, and the City felt the affliction and violence of fire, which with uncommon rage utterly consumed Mount Cælius. “It was a deadly and mournful year, they said, and under boding omens the Prince had formed the design of his absence.” It is the way of the multitude, who to malignant counsels are wont to ascribe events altogether fortuitous. But the Emperor dissipated their murmurs, by bestowing on each sufferer money to the value of his sufferings; hence he had the thanks of men of rank, in the Senate, and was by the populace rewarded with applauses, “for that, without the views of ambition, without the application of friends, he had, of his own accord, even sought out the unknown, and by his bounty relieved them.” It was likewise moved and decreed in Senate, “That Mount Cælius should be for the future stiled Mount Augustus, since there the Statue of Tiberius, standing in the house of Junius the Senator, escaped unhurt in the flames, though devouring all round them.” It was remembered, “that the same rare exemption had formerly happened to Claudia Quinta, that her Statue being twice spared by the fury of fire, had thence been placed and consecrated by our ancestors in the Temple of the Mother of the Gods. Thus sacred were the Claudian race, and dear to the Deities, and therefore the place, where the Gods had testified such mighty honour towards the Prince, ought to be dignified with consecration.”
It will not be impertinent to insert here, that this Mount was of old named Querquetulanus, from a grove of Oak which grew thick upon it. It was afterwards called Mount Cælius, from Cæles Vibenna, who, having led to Rome a body of Tuscan auxiliaries, was presented with that settlement by Tarquinius Priscus, or some other of our Kings, for in this particular writers differ; about other circumstances there remains no dispute, that these forces were very numerous, and extended their dwellings all along the plain below, as far as the Forum. Hence the Tuscan street, so called after these strangers.
But as the universal zeal of the great men, and the bounties of the Prince, had administered public relief against the blind blows of fortune; so the studied fury of the accusers, which grew daily more prevailing and deadly, rioted in destruction without controul or alleviation. Quinctilius Varus, a wealthy man and the Emperor’s cousin, was assailed by Domitius Afer, the same who had procured the condemnation of Claudia Pulchra his mother; nor did any man wonder that he who had long lived needy, and already wasted the reward lately earned, should be prompt to engage in fresh iniquity and spoil. The amazement was, that Publius Dolabella appeared his associate in the accusation, because, as he was nobly descended, he shipwrecked, by such prostitution, the antient glory of his house, and, being the kinsman of Varus, was wilfully spilling his own blood. The Senate, however, stemmed the process, and voted, “That the Emperor’s return was to be awaited;” a temporary refuge, and the only one against these pointed and urging evils.
Tiberius, having dedicated the Temples in Campania, though he had by an Edict warned the public, “that none should interrupt his quiet,” and though soldiers were posted to keep off all confluence from the neighbouring towns; nevertheless, hating the towns themselves, and the colonies, and every part in the continent, imprisoned himself in Capreæ, an Island disjoined from the point of the Cape of Surrentum by a channel of three miles. I should chiefly believe that he was taken with its solitude, as the sea about it is void of havens, as the stations for the smallest vessels are few and difficult, and as none could put in unperceived by the Guards. The genius of the climate is mild in winter, from the shelter of a mountain which intercepts the rigour of the winds; its summers are refreshed by gales from the West, and the sea open all round it, makes a delightful view. From thence too was beheld a most lovely landskip, before the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius had changed the face of the prospect. It is the tradition of fame, that the Greeks occupied the opposite region, and that Capreæ was particularly inhabited by the Teleboi. However it were, Tiberius then confined his retirement to twelve Villas, their names famous of old and their structure sumptuous. And the more intent he had formerly been upon public cares, he became now so much the more buried in dark debauches, and resigned over to mischievous privacy, for, there remained still in him his old bent to suspicions, and rash faith in informers, qualities which even at Rome Sejanus had always fostered, and here inflamed more vigorously; his devices against Agrippina and Nero being no longer a secret. About them Guards were placed, by whom every petty circumstance, the messages they sent or received, their visits and company, their open behaviour, their private conversation, were all, as it were, minuted into journals. There were others too instructed to warn them to fly to the armies in Germany, or that, embracing the Statue of the deified Augustus in the great Forum, they would there implore the aid and protection of the Senate and people of Rome. And these counsels, though rejected by them, were fathered and charged upon them, as just ripe for execution.
Junius Silanus and Silius Nerva being Consuls, the year began tragically, as Titius Sabinus, an illustrious Roman Knight, was hurried to prison, his crime a constant friendship for Germanicus, whose wife and children, he only of all his followers, never ceased to reverence, never ceased to frequent them at home, never to attend them in public; a constancy applauded by the good, and grievous to their persecutors. There combined against him Latinius Latiaris, Porcius Cato, Petilius Rufus, and Marcus Opsius, who haveing been all Prætors, were now all passionate for the Consulship, to which there was no access but by Sejanus, and the kindness of Sejanus to be purchased only by iniquity. It was settled amongst them, that Latiaris, who had a small acquaintance with Sabinus, should manage the guile, the rest be witnesses, and then all together begin the accusation. Latiaris therefore accosted him at first with occasional discourse, and then proceeded to praise his constancy, “that he had not, like others, been only a friend to that family in its glory, and deserted it in affliction.” He at the same time spoke noble things of Germanicus, and bewailed Agrippina. This affected Sabinus; and, as the human soul is softened by calamity and sorrow, he burst into tears and complaints, and, being heated, inveighed daringly against Sejanus, his cruelty, his pride, his traiterous designs; nor, in truth, did Tiberius escape his invectives. And now, as if they had mutually trusted each other with matters secret and forbidden, this their conversation created a shew of close friendship; so that Sabinus henceforward sought out Latiaris, frequented his house, and carried to him, as to a most faithful confident, all his griefs and discontents.
The next consultation was, how to have these complaints and invectives uttered in the hearing of all four; for, the place in which they met to over-hear, must retain a solemn look of secrecy; and if they stood behind the door, there was danger of being spied, or their own noise might discover them, or perhaps some sudden apprehension might tempt Sabinus to inspect. They therefore chose the void over head, between the roof of the house and the covering of the room. Into this lurking-hole thrust themselves three Roman Senators, a concealment as vile, as the treachery for which they did it, was execrable, and there basely listened, with their ears laid to the chasms and crannies. Latiaris the while found out Sabinus abroad, and, as if full of some late discoveries which he meant to recount, drew him home, and into the subdolous chamber; there he displayed the past and instant cruelties (for of both there was abundant store) with an accumulation too of fresh and impending terrors. Sabinus then took up his former detail and resentments, and even with greater prolixity, as the discharges of grief once broached, are with difficulty restrained. This was enough; the accusation was forthwith dispatched, and, in a written Memorial to Tiberius, these Senators opened the order and dexterity of the fraud, and made him a narrative of their own detestable infamy. At no time was the city ever seized with deeper anxiety and dread; one relation feared another; men were afraid to meet, afraid to discourse; silence and distrust extended to strangers and acquaintance, and both were equally avoided; even things dumb and inanimate, roofs and walls, raised terror and circumspection.
The Emperor sent presently a Letter to the Senate, and, after the usual compliment and wish at the entrance of the new year, fell upon Sabinus. He charged him with “haveing corrupted some of his servants, and aimed at his own life;” and, in words no wise obscure, required vengeance. The condemnation passed without delay, and the condemned was dragged away to instant death. His head was muffled in his robe, and his throat girt with a rope; but, as far as he could exert his voice, he cried, “That with these solemnities the year began, and such were the victims slain to Sejanus.” Which ever way he cast his eyes, whither soever he directed his words, nought appeared but the effects of universal terror, even flight and solitude. All along, as he passed, the people disappeared, the streets were empty, the public places deserted. There were some who haveing fled, returned, and again shewed themselves; dreading this very thing, that they had discovered dread. “What day, they cried, will be free from executions? when even in the midst of public assemblies, in the midst of vows and sacrifices, a time when custom has established a forbearance even from profane words, fetters and halters are yet exercised? It is not at random that Tiberius has thus done an action so publicly odious; it is a studied artifice. He would not be thought to debar the new Magistrates from their ancient privilege of opening the prisons as well as the temples. Sabinus is therefore, during the Festival, executed without imprisonment.” There followed his Letter of thanks to the Senate, “for having punished an enemy to the Commonwealth.” He added, “that he lived a life of fear and sollicitude, in constant apprehensions of the snares of his enemies,” but named none. It was, however, no wise doubted that Agrippina and Nero were designed.
Were it not my purpose to refer the several incidents to their proper year, my spirit longs to postpone the immediate events, and instantly to relate the just doom of Latiaris, Opsius, and the other contrivers of this perfidious wickedness, not only after Caligula came to the Empire, but even while Tiberius yet reigned, who, though he would not suffer the ministers of his cruelties to be crushed by others, yet, as he generally became surfeited with their infamy, and as fresh ones daily offered for the same vile services, was himself wont to hew down the old and over odious. But, we shall in its order remember the severe fate of these and other sons of blood. Now Asinius Gallus, to whose children Agrippina was aunt, moved “that the Prince should be desired to explain his fears, and suffer the Senate to remove the causes.” Tiberius was fonder of his dissimulation than of all his other virtues; for such he conceived it. He therefore took it the more heinously to find thus laid open what he anxiously smothered. But Sejanus mollified him; not from any love to Gallus, but to wait the lingering gradations of the Prince’s vengeance; for, he knew him slow in ripening his wrath, but that after the first eruption, he would be sure to link tragical executions to sad denunciations. About the same time died Julia, grand-daughter to Augustus, by him condemned for adultery, and banished to the island Trimetus, not far from the coast of Apulia. She there suffered exile twenty years, sustained by relief from Augusta, who having by dark devices dispatched, in the midst of their hopes and glory, the brothers of Julia, made a public shew of compassion towards others of the family, when under the pressures of adversity.
The same year the Frisians, a people beyond the Rhine, rebelled, rather enraged by our avarice, than impatient of allegiance. The tribute laid on them by Drusus, was easy, and suited to their poor substance; namely, “to furnish certain hides for the uses of the soldiers.” Nor did any one think or insist on the particular size or thickness, till Olennius, an officer sent to govern them, having procured the large hides of some wild bulls, demanded that according to that measure the tribute should be paid; a hard task even upon any nation, and to the Germans the more intolerable, as their forests abound in beasts of mighty bulk, and their domestic cattle are very small. Yet they bore a series of oppressions, first parted with the herds themselves, next resigned their lands, last of all surrendered their wives and children to bondage. Hence much bitterness and anguish, and sad complaints. But as these brought no relaxation, grown at last desperate, they sought relief from war. At once they rushed upon the soldiers appointed over the tribute, and hanged them on gibbets. Olennius by flight prevented their vengeance, and found sanctuary in a neighbouring castle, its name Flevum, situated on the sea coast, and garrisoned by a stout band of soldiers, Romans and Auxiliaries.
Lucius Apronius, Governor of the lower Germany, as soon as he was apprized of the insurrection, called down, from the upper province, some companies of the Legions, with the choice auxiliary foot and horse; and, carrying his army down the Rhine, made a descent on the Frisians; the revolters having now abandoned the siege of the castle, and marched back to cover their own country. He therefore, by bridges and causeways laid over the neighbouring fenns, rendered them passable to the body of his forces; and in the mean while, having discovered certain fordable places, he commanded the cavalry of the Caninefates and all the German foot in our pay, to surround the rear of the enemy, who, being already drawn up in battle, repulsed the social troops, and even some legionary horse, sent to support them. So that a fresh aid was ordered of three Cohorts, then two more, and, after some space, the whole cavalry of the Legions; forces sufficient, had they fallen on in a body; but as they advanced by intervals, they not only inspired no fresh courage into those who were already disordered, but were themselves carried away by the fright of such as fled. To Cethegus Labeo, therefore, Legate of the fifth Legion, he committed all the rest of the auxiliary troops. But he too, being hardly beset, and his men in danger of giving way, dispatched messages to implore the intire force of the Legions. Those of the fifth ran before the rest to his relief, and, in a sharp encounter, repulsing the foe, protected our Cohorts and Cavalry, much enfeebled with wounds. The Roman General neither pursued his vengeance, nor even buried the dead, though many Tribunes, many horse officers, and many Centurions of the first rank, were slain. It was afterwards learnt from deserters, that nine hundred Romans, having the whole night long defended themselves in the wood called Baduhenna, were every man cut off; and that another band of four hundred, having possessed themselves of a seat of one Cruptorix, once our tributary, and coming to fear being delivered into the hands of the enemy, had fallen by the hands of one another.
Hence the name of the Frisians became renowned amongst the Germans, whilst Tiberius dissembled the public loss, that he might trust no man with the conduct of the war. For the Senate, it was no part of their anxiety, what disgraces were received on the extremities of the Empire: domestic terror had possessed their souls, a distemper for which they sought a cure from flattery; insomuch, that though they met upon far different deliberations, yet they decreed “an Altar to Clemency, an Altar to Friendship, and round them the Statues of Tiberius and Sejanus;” and, with repeated supplications importuned both, “that they would please to afford their presence to the public.” But, with all these intreaties, they neither visited Rome, nor the neighbourhood of Rome. To them it seemed condescension sufficient, just to leave the island, and suffer themselves to be seen on the shore of Campania. Thither crouded the Senators, the Knights, and great part of the people, all solicitous for admission to Sejanus, who was harder of access than the Emperor; nor was it at all to be obtained but by being confederate with him in his counsels and pursuits, or by courting those that were. It was abundantly apparent that his natural arrogance was exalted, from surveying that filthy host of slaves, spread all abroad, and crouching before him. For at Rome the throng of sycophants were not so distinctly perceived; the greatness of the City, the ordinary hurry of men, and variety of affairs, rendered it uncertain whither they went, or whence they came. But here they appeared in a body, the noble and mean, lying along on the fields and shores, days and nights, no distinction of ranks, the business of all the same, and bore with equal patience the favour and insults of his porters, till they were finally forbid to apply even to these. So that all, whom he condescended not to see, others whom he deigned not to speak to, returned to the City struck and trembling, some exulting with deceitful joy, as over them hung the dreadful issue of his tragical friendship.
For the rest; Tiberius having here betrothed to Cneius Domitius the younger Agrippina, his grand-daughter by Germanicus, ordered the nuptials to be celebrated at Rome. In Domitius he preferred, besides the antiquity of his family, his near kindred to the Cæsars; for Octavia being his grand-mother, Augustus was his great uncle.
[* ]About fifty thousand Crowns.
[* ]Augustus was wont to bestow the fortunes of persons condemned upon their children.
[a ]About ten thousand Crowns.