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Publius Cornelius Tacitus, The Works of Tacitus, vol. 2 (Annals (Books 4-6, 11-16)) [120]

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Publius Cornelius Tacitus, 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. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/785

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This volume contains the second and final part of The Annals Books 4-6 and Books 11-15.

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THE WORKS OF TACITUS.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
To which are prefixed, Political Discourses Upon That AUTHOR.
VOL II. The Second Edition, corrected.
LONDON:
Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele; And Sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball, in Pater-noster Row.
m.dcc.xxxvii.
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THE ANNALS OF TACITUS.

BOOK IV.

Vol. II.

The SUMMARY.

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. Edition: current; Page: [250]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 Edition: current; Page: [251]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, Edition: current; Page: [252]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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [254]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 Edition: current; Page: [255]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 Edition: current; Page: [256]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 Edition: current; Page: [257]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 Edition: current; Page: [258]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 Edition: current; Page: [259]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 Edition: current; Page: [260]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, Edition: current; Page: [261]“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 Edition: current; Page: [262]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 Edition: current; Page: [263]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 Edition: current; Page: [264]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.

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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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [267]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 Edition: current; Page: [268]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?” Edition: current; Page: [269]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; Edition: current; Page: [270]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 Edition: current; Page: [271]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. Edition: current; Page: [272]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 Edition: current; Page: [273]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 Edition: current; Page: [274]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 Edition: current; Page: [275]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 Edition: current; Page: [276]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 Edition: current; Page: [277]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 Edition: current; Page: [278]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 Edition: current; Page: [279]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 Edition: current; Page: [280]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, Edition: current; Page: [281]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 Edition: current; Page: [282]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 Edition: current; Page: [283]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 Edition: current; Page: [284]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 Edition: current; Page: [285]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 Edition: current; Page: [286]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 Edition: current; Page: [287]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 Edition: current; Page: [288]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 Edition: current; Page: [289]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 Edition: current; Page: [290]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, Edition: current; Page: [291]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 Edition: current; Page: [292]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 Edition: current; Page: [293]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 Edition: current; Page: [294]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 Edition: current; Page: [295]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, Edition: current; Page: [296]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 Edition: current; Page: [297]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, Edition: current; Page: [298]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 Edition: current; Page: [299]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, Edition: current; Page: [300]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, Edition: current; Page: [301]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 Edition: current; Page: [302]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 Edition: current; Page: [303]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 Edition: current; Page: [304]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, Edition: current; Page: [305]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 Edition: current; Page: [306]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 Edition: current; Page: [307]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 Edition: current; Page: [308]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 Edition: current; Page: [309]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 Edition: current; Page: [310]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, Edition: current; Page: [311]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 Edition: current; Page: [312]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 Edition: current; Page: [313]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.”

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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 Edition: current; Page: [315]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 Edition: current; Page: [316]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, Edition: current; Page: [317]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. Edition: current; Page: [318]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 Edition: current; Page: [319]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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [321]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 Edition: current; Page: [322]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 Edition: current; Page: [323]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 Edition: current; Page: [324]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 Edition: current; Page: [325]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 Edition: current; Page: [326]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 Edition: current; Page: [327]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 Edition: current; Page: [328]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 Edition: current; Page: [329]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 Edition: current; Page: [330]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.

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BOOK V.

The SUMMARY.

THE death and character of the Empress Livia. Thence fresh power to Sejanus, and tyranny of the Government. Agrippina and her son Nero openly accused to the Senate by a letter from the Emperor. The ardent zeal of the people for them. This incenses Sejanus, who thence alarms Tiberius. Part of a Speech of one condemned, with his manner of dying. More accusations. A counterfeit Drusus in the Cyclades. The diligence and address of Poppæus Sabinus upon that occasion. Heats between the two Consuls.

IN the Consulship of Rubellius and Fusius, each sirnamed Geminus, died Julia Augusta, in the extremity of age. She was descended from the Claudian house, adopted through her father into the Livian family, into the Julian by Augustus; and both by adoption and descent, signally noble. Edition: current; Page: [332]Her first marriage was with Tiberius Nero, and by him she had children. Her husband, after the surrender of Perusia, in the Civil War, became a fugitive; but, upon peace made between Sextus Pompeius and the Triumvirate, returned to Rome. Afterwards, Octavius Cæsar, smitten with her beauty, snatched her from her husband, whether with or against her own inclinations, is uncertain, but with such precipitation, that, without staying for her delivery, he married her yet big with child by Tiberius. Henceforward she had no issue; but, by the marriage of Germanicus and Agrippina, her blood came to be mixed with that of Augustus in their great grandchildren. In her domestic deportment she conformed to the venerable model of antiquity, but with more complaisance than was allowed by the Ladies of old; an easy cousteous wife, an ambitious mother, well comporting with the nice arts of her husband, and the dissimulation of her son. Her funeral was moderate, and her last will lay long unfulfilled. Her encomium was pronounced in public by Caligula, her grandson, afterwards Emperor.

Tiberius by a Letter excused himself to the Senate for not having paid his last offices to his Mother; and, though he rioted in private luxury without abatement, pleaded “the multitude of public affairs.” He likewise abridged the honours decreed to her memory, and, of a large number, admitted but very Edition: current; Page: [333]few. For this restriction he pretended modesty, and added, “that no religious worship should be appointed to her, for that the contrary was her own choice.” Nay, in a part of the same Letter, he censured feminine friendships, obliquely upbraiding the Consul Fusius, a man highly distinguished by the favour of Augusta, and dexterous to engage and cajole the affections of women, a gay talker, one accustomed to play upon Tiberius with biting sarcasms, the impressions of which never die in the hearts of Princes.

From this moment, the domination waxed completely outrageous and devouring; for while she lived, some refuge still remained, as the observance of Tiberius towards his Mother was ever inviolate; nor durst Sejanus arrogate precedence of the authority of a parent; but now, as let loose from all restraints, they broke out with unbridled fury. So that Letters were dispatched avowedly against Agrippina and Nero; and as they were read in the Senate soon after the death of Augusta, the people believed them to have been sent before, and by her suppressed. The expressions were elaborately bitter; and yet by them no hostile purpose of taking arms, no endeavour to change the State, was objected to the youth, but only “the love of boys, and other impure pleasures.” Against Agrippina he durst not even feign so much, and therefore arraigned “her haughty looks, her impetuous and stubborn spirit.” The Senate were struck with Edition: current; Page: [334]deep silence and affright; but as particular men will always be drawing personal favour from public miseries, there were some who, having no hopes founded upon uprightness, demanded that “they should proceed upon the Letters.” Amongst these the foremost in zeal was Cotta Messalinus, with a terrible motion; but, the other leading men, and chiefly the Magistrates, were embarassed by fear; for Tiberius, though he had sent them a flaming invective, left all the rest a riddle.

In the Senate was one Junius Rusticus, appointed by the Emperor to keep a Journal of their proceedings, and therefore thought well acquainted with his purposes. This man, by some fatal impulse (for he had never before shewn any instance of magnanimity) or blinded by deceitful policy, while forgetful of present and impending dangers, he dreaded future possibilities, joined the party that hesitated, and even warned the Consuls, “not to begin the debate:” he argued, “that in a short moment the highest affairs might take a new turn, and an interval ought to be allowed to the old man to change his passion into remorse.” At the same time, the people, carrying with them the Images of Agrippina and Nero, gathered about the Senate, and proclaiming their good wishes for the prosperity of the Emperor, cried earnestly, “that the Letters were counterfeit, and against the consent of the Prince the doom of his family was pursued.” So that nothing tragical Edition: current; Page: [335]was that day transacted. There were also dispersed amongst them several speeches, said to have been uttered in Senate by the Consulars, as their motions and advices against Sejanus; but all framed, and with the more petulance as the several authors exercised their satirical wit in the dark. Hence Sejanus boiled with greater rage, and hence had a handle for branding the Senate, “that by them the anguish and resentments of the Prince were despised, the people were revolted; popular and disaffected harangues were publicly read and listened to; new and arbitrary acts of Senate were passed and published. What more remained, but to arm the populace, and place at their head, as leaders and Imperial Commanders, those whose Images they had already chosen for standards?”

Tiberius having therefore repeated his reproaches against his grand-son and daughter-in-law, having chastised the people by an edict, and complained to the Senate, “that by the fraud of a single Senator the Imperial dignity should be baffled and insulted, required that the whole affair should be left to himself, intire and untouched.” The Senate hesitated no longer, but instantly proceeded, not now in truth to decree penalties, and capital vengeance; for that was forbid them; but to testify “how ready they were to inflict just punishments, and that they were only interrupted by the power and pleasure of the Prince.”*******

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[Here begins a lamentable chasm in this Annal for almost three years; and by it we have lost the detail of the most remarkable incidents in this reign, the exile of Agrippina into the isle of Pandataria; of Nero into that of Pontia; and the murder of both there, by the orders of Tiberius; the conspiracy and execution of Sejanus, with that of all his friends and dependents; the further wickedness of Livia, and her death.]

*** Upon this subject four and forty speeches were made, some few upright, but cramped by fear; many suited to the servile genius of the time ******* “I judged that either upon myself it would bring infamy, or upon Sejanus hatred *** his fortune has now suffered a mighty turn; and he who even chose him for his son-in-law, chose him for his collegue, forgives himself. For others, as they flattered his living pride with the vileness and prostitution of slaves, they now pursue him dead, with the fury of base enemies *** Which is the more wretched fate, I can hardly decide, that of accusing a friend, or of being accused for shewing him friendship *** I shall risque no man’s cruelty, I shall court no man’s mercy, but, free as I am, and approved to my own conscience, will master danger by preventing it. As to all you present; I adjure you that you do not preserve Edition: current; Page: [337]my memory in sorrow, but rejoice over it, and add me too to the number of those who by a noble end have escaped the sad view of public miseries.”

He then spent part of the day in conversation with those that came to see him, received one, took leave of another, talked to all indifferently, as they stood about him, with perfect calmness and presence of spirit. A throng of company yet remained, and, while they all beheld his countenance still easy and void of perturbation, and thence believed that he meant to live some longer space, he fell upon a sword which under his robe he had concealed. Nor did Tiberius, after his death, persecute his memory with any reproach, or blacken him with any crime; whereas he had loaded Blæsus with many and hideous imputations.

Next were tried Publius Vitellius, and Pomponius Secundus. The former was charged by the informers, “that as he presided over the exchequer, he had offered the public treasure, and the whole military chest, towards compassing a revolution.” To the other, his accuser Considius, lately Prætor, objected “the friendship of Ælius Gallus, who, after the execution of Sejanus, had fled to the gardens of Pomponius, as to a most faithful shelter.” Against the impending peril there remained to neither of the accused any aid but from the magnanimity of their brothers, who frankly became their sureties. However, in some time, Vitellius, after Edition: current; Page: [338]many delays, alike distracted with the slipperiness of hope, and the agonies of fear, called for a pen-knife, under pretence of writing, and with it pricked his veins, but timorously and without effect; so that at last he died broken-hearted. Pomponius, a man of great elegance of manners, and noble wit, bore with equanimity his adverse fortune, and outlived Tiberius.

Now, though the rage of the populace was expiring, and though most men were mollified by former executions, it was determined to condemn the other children of Sejanus. They were therefore carried both to prison, the boy sensible of his impending doom, but the girl so ignorant, that she frequently asked, “for what offence? and whither did they drag her? she would do so no more, and they might take the rod and whip her.” The Writers of that time relate, “that as it was a thing unheard, for a virgin to suffer capital punishment, she was deflowered by the executioner just before he tied the rope; and that being both strangled, the tender bodies of these children were cast into the place where the carcasses of malefactors are exposed, before they are flung into the Tiber.”******

About the same time Greece and Asia were dismayed, by a rumour rather vehement than lasting, “that Drusus the son of Germanicus had been seen in the Cyclades, and anon upon the Continent.” It was indeed a-youth near of the same age, accompanied by some Edition: current; Page: [339]of the Emperor’s freedmen, who, while they owned him for Drusus, meant to ensnare him. His followers were multiplied by the splendor of the name, a lure which excited such as were ignorant about him; as the Greeks are ever passionate for all things new and wonderful.

They therefore imagined, and believing their own imaginations, they at the same time published, “that he had escaped from custody, and was proceeding to the armies of his father, with them to subdue Syria or Ægypt.” Already he was strengthened by the confluence of the young men, already courted with public honours, and elated in himself with the present success, and fostering airy hopes, when the story reached Poppæus Sabinus. He was at that juncture engaged in Macedon, though likewise Governor of Greece. To obviate therefore the consequences of the rumour, true or false, he hastily passed the bay of Toronis, and that of Thermes, next Eubœa, an island of the Ægean Sea, and Piræum the port of Athens, then the coast of Corinth, and the Streights of the Isthmus; and, by another sea, he entered Nicopolis a Roman colony. There at last he learnt, that this counterfeit Drusus, being artfully questioned, had declared himself the son of Marcus Silanus; and that many of his followers having fallen off, he had embarked, as if he meant to sail to Italy. Sabinus sent this account to Tiberius, and further than Edition: current; Page: [340]this we have found nothing of the origin or issue of that affair.

Towards the conclusion of the year, the animosity of the Consuls, which had been long heightening, broke out into a flame; for Trio, ever forward to create himself enimies, and an exercised pleader, had obliquely censured Regulus, “as slothful in crushing the instruments of Sejanus.Regulus, a man moderate and inoffensive, unless provoked, not only repulsed the charge of his collegue, but arraigned him as confederate with that traitor, and even summoned him to his trial. Many Senators interposed, and besought them, that each would drop his hate, tending to the overthrow of both; but they persisted threatning and incensed to the expiration of their Magistracy.

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BOOK VI.

The SUMMARY.

THE strange and libidinous revellings of the ancient Emperor in his solitary retreat at Capreæ. Many accusations; that of Marcus Terentius, and his singular defence. L. Piso, his death and fine character. The office of Governor of Rome, how it began, and by whom exercised. Debate concerning the Sybilline books, and the restrictions to be observed in admitting them. A sedition at Rome upon a dearth of bread-corn. Two daughters of Germanicus married, one to L. Cassius, another to Marcus Vinicius. Regulations against usury. Fresh accusations upon the law of Majesty. Numbers executed at once as confederates with Sejanus, and their coarses exposed. Caligula married to Claudia; his character and dissimulation. Tiberius presages the sovereignty of Galba. His dealings with the astrologers: A remarkable story of Thrasullus. The miserable and violent end of Drusus the son of Germanicus, as also of Agrippina. The character and voluntary death of Nerva the great lawyer, with the end of other illustrious men. A Phœnix seen in Ægypt, with traditions concerning that miraculous bird. Edition: current; Page: [342]Fresh accusations and deaths. Deputies from Parthia for a King. Tiberius establishes a King there, then another. Lucius Vitellius sent to settle the East; his various character. Wars between the Parthians and Armenians. Artabanus expulsed from his kingdom, seeks refuge in Scythia. Tiridates settled in his room by the conduct and army of Vitellius. More illustrious Romans accused, with their condemnation and ends. The Clitæans, a people of Cappadocia, their revolt and defeat. Tiridates dethroned, and Artabanus recalled. A terrible conflagration at Rome: The liberality of Tiberius at that conjuncture. He deliberates with himself about a successor. His sickness, death and character.

CNeius Domitius and Camillus Scribonianus had begun their Consulship, when the Emperor, having crossed the channel between Capreæ and Surrentum, sailed along the shore of Campania, unresolved whether he should proceed to Rome, or counterfeiting a shew of coming, because he had determined not to come. He often approached to the neighbourhood of the City, even visited the Gardens upon the Tiber; but at last resumed his old retirement, the gloomy rocks and solitude of the sea, ashamed of his cruelties, and abominable lusts, in which he rioted so outrageously, that, after the fashion of Royal Tyrants, the children of ingenuous parentage became the objects of his pollution; nor in them was he struck with a lovely face only, or the graces of their persons; but in some their boyish and blushing innocence, in others their nobility and the glory of their ancestors, became the provocatives of his unnatual passion. Then likewise were devised the filthy Edition: current; Page: [343]names, till then unknown, of the Sellarii and Spintriæ, expressing the odious lewdness of the place, and the manifold methods of prostitution practised in it. He moreover entertained professed procurers, to look out and carry off the willing by the allurements of presents, the backward by terror and threats; and when their parents or kindred with-held their children, they had recourse to force, seisure, treated them like captives, and with all licentious rage.

At Rome, in the beginning of the year, as if the iniquities of Livia had been but just discovered, and not even long since punished, furious orders were passed even against her Statues and memory, as also, “That the effects of Sejanus should be taken from the public treasury, and placed in that of the Emperor:” as if such translation availed the state. Yet such was the motion of the Scipios, the Silani, and the Cassii, who urged it, each almost in the same words, but all with mighty zeal and earnestness; when, on a sudden, Togonius Gallus, while he would be thrusting his own meanness amongst names so greatly illustrious, became the object of derision; for the besought the Prince “to chuse a body of Senators, of whom twenty, drawn by lot and under arms, should wait upon him, and defend his person, as often as he entered the Senate.” He had weakly credited a Letter from the Emperor, requiring “the guard and protection of one of the Consuls, Edition: current; Page: [344]that he might return in safety from Capreæ to Rome.” Tiberius, however, returned thanks to the Senate for such an instance of affection; but, as he was wont to mix pleasantry with things serious, he asked, “How was it to be executed? What Senators were to be chosen? Who to be admitted? Whether always the same, or a continued succession? Whether young Senators, or such as had borne dignities? Whether those who were Magistrates, or those exercising no Magistracy? Moreover, what a becoming figure they would make, grave Senators, men of the gown, under arms at the entrance of the Senate! In truth, he held not his life of such importance, to have it thus protected by arms.” So much in answer to Togonius, without asperity of words; nor did he, farther than this, press them to cancel the motion.

But Junius Gallio escaped not thus. He had proposed, “That the Prætorian soldiers, having accomplished their term of service, should thence acquire the privilege of sitting in the fourteen rows of the Theatre allotted to the Roman Knights.” Upon him Tiberius fell with violent wrath, and, as if present, demanded, “What business had he with the soldiers? men whose duty bound them to observe only the orders of the Emperor, and from the Emperor alone to receive their rewards. Gallio had, forsooth, discovered a recompence which had escaped the sagacity Edition: current; Page: [345]of the deified Augustus! Or, was it not rather a project started by a mercenary of Sejanus, to raise sedition and discord, to debauch the rude minds of the soldiers with the shew and bait of new honour, to corrupt their discipline, and set them loose from military restrictions?” This reward had the studied flattery of Gallio, who was instantly expelled the Senate, and then Italy: Nay, it became a charge upon him, that his exile would be too easy, having for the place of it chosen Lesbos, an Island noble and delightful; he was therefore haled back to Rome, and confined in the house of a Magistrate. Tiberius, in the same Letter, demanded the doom of Sextus Paconianus, formerly Prætor, to the extreme joy of the Senate, as he was a man bold and mischievous, one armed with snares, and continually diving into the purposes and secrer transactions of all men, and one chosen by Sejanus, for plotting the overthrow of Caligula. When this was now laid open, the general hate and animosities long since conceived against him, broke violently out, and had he not offered to make a discovery, he had been instantly condemned to death.

As the person he arraigned, proved to be Latinius Latiaris, the accuser and the accused, two men equally detested, administered a most grateful scene. Latiaris, as I have recounted, had been the chief in betraying Titius Sabinus, and was now the first that suffered. During these transactions, Haterius Edition: current; Page: [346]Agrippa encountered the Consuls of the preceding year; “How came they to be silent now, they who had impeached each other of treason then? In truth, common dread, and consciences equally guilty, ought to be reckoned the bonds and articles of their present cessation. But the fathers must not pass unobserved what from themselves they had heard.” It was answered by Regulus, “That there still remained time to procure punishment, and he would do it effectually when the Prince should be present.” Trio pleaded “the usual emulation between collegues, and that what they two had uttered in the heat of dissension, were better blotted out of remembrance.” Agrippa still persisting, Sanquinius Maximus, one of the Consulars, besought the Senate, “That they would not thus heighten the anxieties of the Emperor, by wantonly hunting after matter of fresh asperity; and that, where remedies were wanting, he alone was abundantly sufficient to apply them.” Thus was safety procured to Regulus, and to Trio a delay of his doom. For Haterius; he became the more detested, since, emaciated with debauches and lubricity, and protected by his voluptuous sloth against all peril from the Prince’s cruelty, he meditated, in the midst of cups and harlots, the destruction of illustrious men.

The next impeached was Cotta Messalinus, the author of every the most bloody counsel, and thence long and intensely hated. Edition: current; Page: [347]The first opportunity was therefore snatched to fall upon him with a combination of crimes, as that he had called Caius Caligula by the feminine name of Caia Caligula, and branded him with constuprations of both kinds; that when he celebated among the priests the birthday of Augusta, he had stiled the entertainment a funeral supper; and that complaining of the great sway of Marcus Lepidus, and of Lucius Arruntius, with whom he had a suit about money, he had added, “They, indeed, will be supported by the Senate, but I by my little Tiberius.” Of all this he stood exposed to conviction by men of the first rank in Rome, who being earnest to attack him, he appealed to Cæsar, from whom soon after a Letter was brought in behalf of Cotta; in it he recounted “the beginning of their friendship,” repeated “his many good services to himself,” and desired “that words perversly construed, and humorous tales told at an entertainment, might not be wrested into crimes.”

Most remarkable was the beginning of that Letter; for in these words he introduced it; “What to write you, Conscript Fathers, or in what manner to write, or what at all not to write at this instant, if I can determine, may all the Deities, Gods and Goddesses, doom me still to more cruel agonies than those under which I feel myself perishing daily.” So closely did the bloody horror of his cruelties and infamy haunt this Edition: current; Page: [348]man of blood, and became his torturers! Nor was it at random what the wisest of all men was wont to affirm, that if the hearts of Tyrants were displayed, they would be seen full of deadly wounds and gorings, since what the severity of stripes is to the body, the same to the soul is the bitter anguish of cruelty, lust, and execrable pursuits. To Tiberius not his Imperial fortune, not his gloomy and inaccessible solitudes, could ensure tranquillity, nor exempt him from feeling, and even avowing, the rack in his breast, and the avenging furies that pursued him.

After this it was left to the discretion of the Senate to proceed as they listed against Cæcilianus the Senator, “who had produced against Cotta a charge of many heavy articles;” and it was resolved, “to subject him to the same penalties inflicted upon Aruseius and Sanquinius, the accusers of Lucius Arruntius.” A more signal instance of honour than this had never befallen Cotta, who, noble in truth, but through luxury indigent, and, for the baseness of his crimes, detestable, was, by the dignity of this amends, equalled in character to the most venerable reputation and virtues of Arruntius. Thereafter were arraigned Quintus Servæus, and Minutius Thermus; Servæus formerly Prætor, and once the follower of Germanicus; Minutius, of the Equestrian rank, and though distinguished, yet never elated, with the friendship of Sejanus: hence the Edition: current; Page: [349]greater commiseration upon both. Tiberius, on the contrary, charged them “as the leaders and principals in treason,” and directed Caius Cestius the elder “to declare to the Senate what he had written to him.” Thus Sestius undertook the accusation. This was the most pestilent calamity of those times, when the illustrious chiefs of the Senate degraded themselves to the vile office of the meanest informers, some in the face of the sun, many in the treacherous ways of secrecy, and both without regard to the ties of blood or friendship; no distinction of kinsmen from strangers, none of the familiar from the unacquainted; no means left to discover, whether for recent imputations, or for facts covered in a course of years with oblivion. For words spoken in the Forum, spoken at entertainments, upon what subject soever spoken, the speakers were accused; every one striving to get the start of another, and to arraign his man; some for their own protection, but most, as it were, smitten with the disease of informing, and captivated with a common contagion. Minutius and Servæus were condemned, but to save themselves became evidence; and thus there were drawn into the same mishap Julius Africanus, and Seius Quadratus, the former from Saintes a City of Gaul; from whence was the other I have not discovered. Neither am I unaware that by most Writers the doom and sufferings of many of the accused, are wholly omitted; either that they were weary Edition: current; Page: [350]of the excessive multiplicity, or apprehensive that the tedious recital, which to themselves proved surfeiting and melancholy, would with equal irksomness affect their readers. But to me, many peculiar passages have occurred deserving to be known, however not published by others.

For, at a juncture when all men else affected to renounce the character of friends to Sejanus, a Roman Knight, his name Marcus Terentius, and then upon his trial on this very account, dared to avow it before the Senate in a speech on this wise: “In my present circumstances, to deny the charge were, perhaps, more expedient than to acknowledge it; but, whatever be the result, I will own, that I was the friend of Sejanus, that I even sought to be his friend, and gloried when I had gained his friendship. I saw him collegue with his father Strabo in the command of the Prætorian Cohorts, and next governing the state and the soldiery at once as a Minister and a General. His kinsmen and friends were covered with public honours, and prevalent with the Prince was every man’s credit in proportion to his intimacy with Sejanus. Those, on the contrary, under his displeasure, were the despairing objects of persecution and wretchedness. Names and instances I bring none; but with myself I will vindicate, and at my own single peril, all those friends of his, who, like myself, were guiltless of his last Edition: current; Page: [351]designs. Sejanus the Vulsinian was not the man whom we courted; no; for the object of our adorations we chose Sejanus a part of the Claudian, a part of the Julian house, into which, by alliance, he was ingrafted; Sejanus thy son-in-law, O Cæsar, thy collegue in the Consulship, and that Sejanus who, under thee, administered the Empire. To us it belongs not to judge who is he whom above all others thou dost exalt, nor for what causes thou hast exalted him. Upon thee the Gods have devolved the supreme disposal of things, and to us remains the glory of obedience. Facts and things obvious we all behold; we perceive who it is upon whom thou dost accumulate wealth and honours, who they are that hold and distribute the supreme terrors and blessings of power; and that all these were the characteristics of Sejanus, no man will deny. But to pry into the profound thoughts of the Prince, and the counsels which he industriously hides, is forbidden and hazardous, nor even with hazard can it be effected. Recal not to mind, Conscript Fathers, the last day of Sejanus; remember him for the space of sixteen years, a time when we adored even such of his retainers as Satrius and Pomponius; and to be then acquainted with his porters and franchized slaves, was esteemed a grand honour. What therefore is the result? Is this defence universal, and does it serve indifferently all the friends of Edition: current; Page: [352]Sejanus? Far from it; let just limits bound it. Let the conspiracy against the State, let the bloody designs upon the Prince, be punished. As to the offices of friendship, as to the instances of benevolence towards Sejanus, the same measure of justice will acquit thee, Cæsar, and us.”

The magnanimity of the speech, added to the joy, that one was at last found, who reasoned aloud as in their hearts they did all, produced such powerful effect, that his accusers were for this, and other delinquencies, sentenced to banishment or death. Thereafter followed Letters from Tiberius against Sextus Vestilius, formerly Prætor; one whom he had long since, as a man exceeding dear to his brother Drusus, adopted into the class of his friends. The displeasure conceived against him arose from his either having composed an invective against the impurities of Caligula, or from his having been calumniated to have done it, which being believed, he was forbid the Prince’s table, and thence purposed to die. Having with an aged hand tried the steel, and feebly pierced his veins, he bound them up, and, by a Memorial, besought Tiberius; but receiving a merciless answer, opened them again for ever. Next were charged with treason, all in a band, Annius Pollio, Appius Silanus, Mamercus Scaurus, Calvisius Sabinus, and Vinicianus added to his father Pollio; a band of illustrious men, all noble in descent, some distinguished with the first Edition: current; Page: [353]dignities. Horror seized the Fathers; for what Senator was exempt from friendship or alliance with so many men of such signal quality? But one of the evidence, his name Celsus, Tribune of a City-Cohort, acquitted Appius and Calvisius. The trial of Pollio, Vinicianus, and Scaurus, was, by the Emperor postponed, till he could himself attend it in Senate. Upon Scaurus, however, he bestowed some tragical and boding notes of vengeance.

Nor could even women escape the rage of accusations. With designs to usurp the government, they could not be charged; their tears are therefore made treason, and Vitia, mother to Fusius Geminus, once Consul, was sentenced to execution in her old age, for bewailing the blood of her son. These were the proceedings in Senate; nor was the Emperor employed elsewhere in different strains of cruelty. By him Vescularius Atticus and Julius Marinus, were doomed to death, two of his oldest friends, men who had followed him to Rhodes, and never forsook him at Capreæ. Vesgularius was his secret inter-agent in the plot against Libo; and by the co-operation of Marinus had Sejanus effected the ruin of Curtius Atticus. Hence the more joy followed their fall, to see them overtaken by precedents of their own traiterous contriving. About the same time died Lucius Piso, the Pontiff; and, by a felicity, then rare in so much splendour and elevation, died by the course of nature. The author he Edition: current; Page: [354]never himself was of any servile motion, and ever wise in moderating such motions from others where necessity enforced his assent. That his father had sustained the sublime office of Censor, I have before remembered. He himself lived to fourscore years, and, for his warlike feats in Thrace, had obtained the glory of Triumph. But from hence arose his most distinguished glory, that being created Governor of Rome, a jurisdiction newly instituted, and the more difficult, as not yet settled into public reverence, he tempered it wonderfully, and possessed it long.

For, of old, to supply the absence of the Kings, and afterwards of the Consuls, that the City might not remain without a ruler, a temporary Magistrate was appointed to administer justice, and watch over exigencies; and it is said that by Romulus was deputed Denter Romulius, Numa Marcius by Tullus Hostilius, and by Tarquin the Proud Spurius Lucretius. The same delegation was made by the Consuls; and there remains still a shadow of the old institution, when, during the Latin Festival, one is authorized to discharge the Consular function. Moreover, Augustus, during the Civil Wars, committed to Cilnius Mæcenas, of the Equestrian Order, the Government of Rome and of all Italy. Afterwards, when sole master of the Empire, and moved by the immense multitude of people, and the slowness of relief from the Laws, he chose a Consular to bridle the licentiousness Edition: current; Page: [355]of the slaves, and to awe such turbulent citizens as are only quiet from the dread of chastisement. Messala Corvinus was the first invested with this authority, and in a few days dismissed, as a man insufficient to discharge it. It was then filled by Taurus Statilius, who, though very ancient, sustained it with signal honour. After him Piso held it for twenty years, with a credit so high and uninterrupted, that he was distinguished with a public funeral, by decree of Senate.

A motion was thereafter made in Senate by Quinctilianus, Tribune of the people, concerning a Book of the Sybll, which Caninius Gallus, one of the College of fifteen, had prayed “might be received by a decree amongst the rest of that Prophetess.” The Decree passed without opposition, but was followed by Letters from Tiberius. In them, having gently chid the Tribune, “as young, and therefore unskilled in the ancient usages,” he upbraided Gallus, “that he, who was so long practised in the science of sacred ceremonies, should, without taking the opinion of his own College, without the usual reading and deliberation with the other Priests, deal, by surprize, with a thin Senate, to admit a prophetic Book of an uncertain author.” He also advertised them “of the conduct of Augustus, who, to suppress the multitude of fictitious predictions every-where published under the solemn name of the Sybil, had ordained, that within a precise day, they Edition: current; Page: [356]should be carried to the City-Prætor, and made it unlawful to keep them in private hands.” The same had likewise been decreed by our ancestors, when, after the burning of the Capitol in the Social War, the Rhymes of the Sybil (whether there were but one, or more) were every-where sought, in Samos, Ilium, and Erythræ, through Africa too and Sicily, and all the Roman Colonies, with injunctions to the Priests, that, as far as human wit could enable them, they would separate the genuine. Therefore, upon this occasion also, the Book was subjected to the inspection of the Quindecemvirate.

Under the same Consuls, the dearth of corn had nigh raised a sedition. The populace for many days urged their wants and demands in the public Theatre, with a licentiousness towards the Emperor higher than usual. He was alarmed with this bold spirit, and censured the Magistrates and Senate, “that they had not by the public authority quelled the people.” He recounted “the continued supplies of grain which he had caused to be imported, from what provinces, and in how much greater abundance than those procured by Augustus.” So that for correcting the populace, a decree passed, framed in the strain of ancient severity; nor less vigorous was the edict published by the Consuls. His own silence, which he hoped would be taken by the people as an instance of moderation, was by them imputed to his pride.

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In the end of the year Geminius, Pompeius, and Celsus, all Roman Knights, were for a conspiracy sentenced to the pains of treason. Of these, Geminius had by prodigal expence, and voluptuous living, gained the friendship of Sejanus, but never any participation in his counsels. Julius Celsus the Tribune, as he lay in fetters, stretched his chain over his head, and, by vehement straining against it, broke his neck. But over Rubrius Fabatus a guard was set, as to him it was objected, that, despairing of the Roman State, he meant to fly for refuge to the Parthians. He was, in truth, apprehended in the Streights of Sicily, and when by a Centurion haled back to Rome, he assigned no satisfactory motives for so long a voyage. He remained however unhurt, through oblivion rather than mercy.

In the Consulship of Servius Galba and Lucius Sylla, Tiberius disposed of his grand-daughters. He had long deliberated upon whom to bestow them; and now the young Ladies were of age, he chose for their husbands Lucius Cassius and Marcus Vinicius. The last was originally from Cagli a Roman colony in Campania, and of an Equestrian family; but his father and grand-father had been Consuls; himself of a gentle temper and polite eloquence. Cassius sprung from a Plebeian stock, but ancient and honourable, was brought up under the strict tuition of his father, and more admired for the easiness than vigour of his spirit. To him the Emperor Edition: current; Page: [358]married Drusilla, and to Vinicius Julia, both daughters of Germanicus, and upon this subject wrote to the Senate, with a brief commendation of the young men. Then accounting for his absence by causes extremely foreign, he proceeded to considerations more weighty, what animosities and hate upon himself he had drawn by his zeal for the Republic; and desired, “that Macro, Captain of his Guards, with some few Tribunes and Centurions, might always accompany him into the Senate.” To this purpose an ordinance passed, copious, and without limitation as to number or condition. Yet so far was Tiberius from coming near the public deliberations there, that he never entered the walls of Rome; even in the feint approaches which he made, he chose chiefly crooked and solitary ways, hesitating, guilty, and flying his country.

In the mean while, the whole band of accusers broke loose upon those who augmented their wealth by Usury, in contradiction to a Law of Cæsar the Dictator, “for ascertaining the terms of lending money, and holding mortgages in Italy;” a Law become long since obsolete, through the selfish passions of men, sacrificing public good to private gain. Usury was, in truth, an inveterate evil in Rome, and the eternal cause of civil discord and seditions, and therefore restrained, even in ancient times, while the public manners were not yet greatly corrupted. For, first it was ordained by a Law of the twelve Tables, “that no man Edition: current; Page: [359]should take higher Interest than twelve in the hundred;” when before it was exacted at the pleasure of the rich. Afterwards by a regulation of the Tribunes it was reduced to six, and at last was quite abolished. By the people too repeated Statutes were made, for obviating all elusions, which, by whatever frequent expedients repressed, were yet through wonderful devices still springing up afresh. Gracchus the Prætor was therefore now appointed to inquire into the complaints and allegations of the accusers; but, appalled with the multitude of those threatened by the accusation, he had recourse to the Senate. The Fathers also were dismayed, (for of this fault not a soul was guiltless) and sought and obtained impunity from the Prince; and a year and six months were granted for balancing all accounts between debtors and creditors, agreeably to the direction of the Law.

Hence a great scarcity of money; for, besides that all debts were at once called in, so many delinquents were condemned, that by the sale of their effects, the current coin was swallowed up in the public treasury, or in that of the Emperor. Against this stagnation, the Senate had provided, “that two thirds of the debts should by every creditor be laid out upon lands in Italy.” But the creditors warned in the whole; nor could the debtors without breach of faith divide the payment. So that at first, meetings and intreaties were tried; and at last it was contested before the Edition: current; Page: [360]Prætor. And the project applied as a remedy; namely, that the debtor should sell, and the creditor buy, had a contrary operation: for the usurers hoarded up all their treasure for purchasing of lands, and the plenty of estates to be sold miserably sinking the price, the more men were indebted, the more difficult they found it to sell. Many were utterly stript of their fortunes; and the ruin of their private patrimony drew headlong with it that of their reputation, and all public preferment. The destruction was going on, when the Emperor administered relief, by lending a hundred thousand great sesterces* for three years, without interest, provided each borrower pawned to the people double the value in inheritance. Thus was credit restored, and by degrees private lenders too were found; so that the order of Senate injoining the purchase of lands, was no longer observed; like most other reformations, keen in the beginning, and slighted at last.

Rome was next re-visited with her former terrors, and Considius Proculus suddenly questioned for treason. While he celebrated his birth-day, void of every apprehension, he was hurried to the Senate, and underwent, in the same instant, the sentence and the pains of death. Sancia too, his sister, was interdicted fire and water, at the accusation of Quintus Pomponius, a man of turbulent Edition: current; Page: [361]temper, who pretended, “that he followed these and the like practices, to ingratiate himself with Tiberius, and thence to obviate the fate which threatened his brother Pomponius Secundus.Pompeia Macrina was also sentenced to exile; she whose husband Argolicus and his father Laco, two of the prime nobility of Greece, had already fallen by the cruelty of Tiberius. Her father, an illustrious Roman Knight, and her brother formerly Prætor, when they saw their own hastening doom, slew themselves. The crime imputed to them was, “that their great grandfather, Theophanes of Mytelene, had been one of the confidents of Pompey the Great, and that to Theophanes, when dead, the flattering Greeks had paid divine honours.”

These were followed by Sextus Marius, the most wealthy man of Spain. He was accused of incest with his daughter, and thrown head-long from the Tarpeian rock; but, as an indisputable proof that his abundant riches procured his bane, his mines of gold, though forfeited to the public, were by Tiberius appropriated to himself. His cruelty, at last, being but inflamed by incessant executions and blood, all those kept in prison under accusation of any attachment to Sejanus, were by his command put to the slaughter. Exposed to the sun lay the sad monuments of the mighty butchery, those of every sex and age, the illustrious and the mean; their carcasses Edition: current; Page: [362]ignominiously thrown, apart or on heaps; neither was it permitted to their surviving friends or kindred, to approach them, to bewail them, nor even any longer to behold them. But, round the dead, Guards were placed, who watched faces, and marked the signs of sorrow; and, as the bodies putrified, saw them dragged to the Tyber, where they floated in the stream, or were driven upon the banks, no man daring to burn them, none to touch them. The force of fear had cut off the intercourses of humanity; and in proportion to the growth of tyranny, every symptom of commiseration was banished.

About the same time, Claudia, daughter to Marcus Silanus, was given in marriage to Caligula, who had accompanied his grand-father to Capreæ, having always hid under a subdolous guise of modesty, his savage and inhuman spirit; even upon the condemnation of his mother, even for the exile of his brothers, not a word escaped him, not a sigh, nor groan. He was so blindly observant of Tiberius, that he studied the bent of his temper, and seemed to possess it, practised his looks, imitated the change and fashion of his dress, and affected his words and manner of expression. Hence the observation of Passienus, the Orator, grew afterwards famous, “that there never lived a better slave, nor a worse master.” Neither would I omit the presage of Tiberius concerning Galba, then Consul. Having sent for him, and sifted him Edition: current; Page: [363]upon several subjects, he at last told him, in Greek, “and thou, Galba, shalt hereafter taste of Empire;” signifying his late and short sovereignty. This he uttered from his skill in Astrology, which at Rhodes he had leisure to learn, and had Thrasullus for his teacher, whose capacity he proved by this following trial.

As often as he consulted this way concerning any affair, he retired to the roof of the house, attended by one freedman trusted with the secret. This man, strong of body, but destitute of letters, guided along the Astrologer, whose art Tiberius meant to try, over solitary precipices (for upon a rock the house stood) and, as he returned, if any suspicion arose that his predictions were vain, or that the author designed fraud, cast him headlong into the sea, to prevent his making discoveries. Thrasullus being therefore led over the same rocks, and minutely consulted, his answers were full, and struck Tiberius, as approaching Empire and many future revolutions were specifically foretold him. The artist was then questioned, “whether he had calculated his own nativity, and thence presaged what was to befall him that same year, nay, that very day?” Thrasullus surveying the positions of the stars, and calculating their aspects, began at first to hesitate, then to quake, and the more he meditated, being more and more dismayed with wonder and dread, he at last cried out, “that over him just then hung a boding danger Edition: current; Page: [364]and well-nigh fatal.” Forthwith Tiberius embraced him, congratulated “him upon his foresight of perils, and his security from them;” and esteeming his predictions as so many oracles, held him thenceforward in the rank of his most intimate friends.

For myself, while I listen to these and the like relations, my judgment wavers, whether things human are in their course and rotation determined by Fate and immutable necessity, or left to roll at random. For upon this subject the wisest of the ancients and those addicted to their Sects, are of opposite sentiments. Many are of opinion, “that to the Gods neither the generation of us men, nor our death, and, in truth, neither men nor the actions of men, are of any importance or concernment; and thence such numberless calamities afflict the upright, while pleasure and prosperity surround the wicked.” Others hold the contrary position, and believe “a Fate to preside over events; a Fate however not resulting from wandring stars, but coeval with the first principles of things, and operating by the continued connection of natural causes. Yet their Philosophy leaves out course of life in our own free option; but that, after the choice is made, the chain of consequences is inevitable: neither is that good or evil which passes for such in the estimation of the vulgar; many who seem wounded with adversity are yet happy, numbers that wallow in wealth, are yet most Edition: current; Page: [365]wretched: since the first often bear with magnanimity the blows of fortune, and the latter abuse her bounty in baneful pursuits.” For the rest, it is common to multitudes of men, “to have each their whole future fortunes determined from the moment of their birth; or if some events thwart the prediction, it is through the mistakes of such as pronounce at random, and thence debase the credit of an art, which, both in ages past and our own, hath given signal instances of its certainty.” For, to avoid lengthening this digression, I shall remember in its order, how by the son of this same Thrasullus the Empire was predicted to Nero.

During the same Consulship was divulged the death of Asinius Gallus: that he perished through famine, was undoubted; but whether of his own accord, or by constraint, was held uncertain. The pleasure of the Emperor being consulted, “whether he would suffer him to be buried,” he was not ashamed to grant such a piece of mock mercy, nor even to blame the anticipations of casualty, which had withdrawn the criminal, before he was publicly convicted; as if during three intermediate years between his accusation and his death, there wanted time for the trial of an ancient Consular, and the father of so many Consulars. Next perished Drusus, condemned by his grand-father to be starved; but by gnawing the weeds upon which he lay, he by that miserable nourishment protracted life the space Edition: current; Page: [366]of nine days. Some Authors relate, that, in case Sejanus had resisted and taken arms, Macro had instructions to draw the young man out of confinement (for he was kept in the palace) and set him at the head of the people. Afterwards, because a report ran, “that the Emperor was about to be reconciled to his daughter-in-law and grand-son,” he chose rather to gratify himself by cruelty, than the public by relenting.

Tiberius, not satiated with the death of Drusus, even after death pursued him with cruel invectives, and, in a Letter to the Senate, charged him with “a body foul with prostitution, with a spirit breathing destruction to his own family, and rage against the Republic;” and ordered to be recited “the Minutes of his words and actions, which had been long and daily registered.” A proceeding more black with horror could not be devised! That for so many years there should be those expresly appointed who were to note down his looks, his groans, his secret and extorted murmurs; that his grand-father should delight to hear the treacherous detail, to read it, and to the public expose it, would appear a series of fraud, meanness and amazement, beyond all measure of faith, were it not for the Letters of Actius the Centurion, and Didymus the freedman; who in them declare, particularly, the names of the slaves set purposely to abuse and provoke Drusus, with the several parts they acted; how one Edition: current; Page: [367]struck him going out of his chamber, and how another filled him with terrors and dismay. The Centurion too repeated, as matter of glory, his own language to Drusus, full of outrage and barbarity, with the words uttered by him under the agonies of famine; that, at first, feigning disorder of spirit, he ventured, in the stile of a madman, dismal denunciations against Tiberius; but, after all hopes of life had forsaken him, then, in steady and deliberate imprecations, he invoked the direful vengeance of the Gods, “that, as he had slaughtered his son’s wife, slaughtered the son of his brother, and his son’s sons, and with slaughters had filled his whole house; so they would, in justice to the ancestors of the slain, in justice to their posterity, doom him to the dreadful penalties of so many murders.” The Senators, in truth, upon this, raised a mighty dinn, under colour of detesting these imprecations; but it was dread which possessed them, and amazement, that he who had been once so dark in the practice of wickedness, and so subtle in the concealment of his bloody spirit, was arrived at such an utter insensibility of shame, that he could thus remove, as it were, the covert of the walls, and represent his own grandson under the ignominious chastisement of a Centurion, torn by the barbarous stripes of slaves, and imploring in vain the last sustenance of life.

Before the impressions of this grief were worne away, the death of Agrippina was Edition: current; Page: [368]published. I suppose she had lived thus long upon the hopes which from the execution of Sejanus she had conceived; but, feeling afterwards no relaxation of cruelty, death grew her choice: Unless perhaps she were bereaved of nourishment, and her decease feigned to have been of her own seeking. For, Tiberius raged against her with abominable imputations, reproaching her “with lewdness, as the adulteress of Asinius Gallus, and that upon his death she became weary of life.” But these were none of her crimes. Agrippina, impatient of an equal lot, and eager for rule, had thence sacrificed to masculine ambition all the passions and vices of women. The Emperor added, “that she departed the same day on which Sejanus had suffered as a traitor two years before, and that the same ought to be perpetuated by a public memorial.” Nay, he boasted of his clemency, in “that she had not been strangled, and her body cast into the charnel of malefactors.” For this, as for an instance of mercy, the Senate solemnly thanked him, and decreed, “that on the seventeenth of October, the day of both their deaths, a yearly offering should be consecrated to Jupiter for ever.”

Not long after, Cocceius Nerva, in full prosperity of fortune, in perfect vigour of body, formed a purpose of dying. As he was the incessant companion of the Prince, and accomplished in the knowledge of all Laws, divine and human, Tiberius having learned his Edition: current; Page: [369]design, was earnest to dissuade him, examined his motives, joined entreaties, and even declared, “how grievous to his own spirit it would prove, how grievous to his reputation, if the nearest of his friends should relinquish life, without any cause for dying.” Nerva rejected his reasoning, and compleated his purpose by abstinence. It was alledged by such as knew his thoughts, that the more he saw into the dreadful source and increase of public miseries, the more, transported with indignation and fear, he resolved to make an honest end, in the bloom of his integrity, before his life and credit were assaulted. Moreover, the fall of Agrippina, by a reverse hardly credible, procured that of Plancina. She was formerly married to Cneius Piso; and, though she exulted publicly for the death of Germanicus, yet, when Piso fell, she was protected by the sollicitations of Augusta, nor less by the known animosity of Agrippina. But, as favour and hate were now withdrawn, justice prevailed; and, being questioned for crimes long since sufficiently manifest, she executed, with her own hand, that vengeance which was rather too slow than too severe.

While the City yet bewailed so many tragical deaths, it was an accession to the public affliction, that Julia the daughter of Drusus, and lately the wife of Nero, was espoused to Rubellius Blandus, whose grandfather was remembered by many to have been only a Roman Knight from Tibur. At the issue of the Edition: current; Page: [370]year, happened the death of Ælius Lamia, and was celebrated with a public funeral. For his last employment, he was Governor of Rome; having been at length discharged from the mock administration of Syria, which he was never suffered to visit. In his descent he was noble, enjoyed a lively old age, and upon his character was derived fresh glory from the with-holding of his Province from him. As Pomponius Flaccus, Proprætor of Syria, died some time after, there arrived Letters from Tiberius. In them he complained, “That all the Senators of distinguished name, and qualified to command Armies, refused that office; hence he was reduced to the necessity of entreaties, to engage some of the Consulars to undertake the rule of provinces.” He thought fit to forget Arruntius, Governor of Spain, already for ten years detained at Rome. The same year also died Marcus Lepidus, of whose wisdom and moderation I have in the former Books inserted abundant instances. Nor does it require more room here to display his nobility, since his race was that of the Æmilii, a race fertile in good citizens; and even those of the same family who lapsed into corruption, continued still to be distinguished by their illustrious dignities and fortune.

In the Consulship of Paulus Fabius and Lucius Vitellius, after a long vicissitude of ages, the Phœnix arrived in Ægypt, and furnished the most learned of the natives and Edition: current; Page: [371]Greeks, with matter of large and various observations concerning that miraculous bird. The circumstances in which they agree, with many others, that, however disputed, deserve to be known, claim a recital here. That it is a creature sacred to the Sun, and, in the fashion of its head, and diversity of feathers, distinct from other birds, all, who have described its figure, are agreed; about the length of its life, relations vary. It is by the vulgar tradition fixed at five hundred years: but there are those who extend it to one thousand four hundred and sixty one, and assert that the three former Phœnixes appeared in reigns greatly distant, the first under Sesostris, the next under Amasis; and that one was seen under Ptolemy the third King of Ægypt of the Macedonian race, and flew to the City of Heliopolis, accompanied by a vast host of other birds gazing upon the wonderful stranger. But these are, in truth, the obscure accounts of antiquity: between Ptolemy and Tiberius the interval was shorter, not two hundred and fifty years; hence some have believed that the present was a spurious Phœnix, and derived not its origin from the territories of Arabia, since it observed nothing of the instinct which ancient tradition attributes to the genuine; for that the latter, having compleated his course of years, just before his death builds a nest in his native land, and upon it sheds a generative power, from whence arises a young one, whose first care, when he is grown, is to Edition: current; Page: [372]bury his father; neither does he undertake it unadvisedly, but by collecting and fetching loads of myrrh, tries his strength in great journies; and as soon as he finds himself equal to the burden, and fit for the long flight, he rears upon his back his father’s body, carries it quite to the altar of the Sun, and then flies away. These are uncertain tales, and their uncertainty heightened by fables; but that this bird has been sometimes seen in Ægypt, is not questioned.

At Rome, as the course of slaughter continued unrelenting, Pomponius Labeo, whom I have remembered to have been Governor of Mœsia, chose, by opening his veins, to let out his own blood; as, by his example, did his wife Paxea hers. Such efficacy had the terror of falling by the executioner, that, to escape him, deaths of this sort were readily undergone. Besides, that they who staid to be sentenced, forfeited their estates with their lives, and were debarred the rites of burial; of such, on the contrary, as anticipated condemnation, the bodies were interred, and their wills remained in force. The motive this, and price of dispatch! Tiberius, however, in a Letter to the Senate, argued, “That it was the usage of our ancestors, when they would renounce friendship, to forbid the person obnoxious their house, and by it shut up all intercourse; a usage repeated by himself towards Labeo. Whereas Labeo, who was charged with male-administration, and other Edition: current; Page: [373]crimes, had now, by leaving upon the Prince the odium of his death, sought a veil to his own guilt, and thence falsly terrified his wife, to whom, however criminal, no punishment was meant.” Mamercus Scaurus was thereafter questioned afresh, a man of signal quality, a noble orator, but profligate liver. In his overthrow, the friendship of Sejanus had no share, but an engine no less potent to destroy, the enmity of Macro, who pursued, but with more subtlety, the same depraved politics. He was furnished with a handle from a Tragedy composed by Scaurus, in which were some lines capable of being pointed against Tiberius. But by the accusers, Servilius and Cornelius, the crimes objected were those of “adultery with Livia, and the mysteries of magic.” Scaurus, as became the magnanimity of the ancient Æmilii, prevented condemnation by the persuasion of Sextia his wife, who animated him to die, and died with him.

And yet the accusers, when opportunity occurred, were surrendered to vengeance, as were this same Servilius and Cornelius, men become famous by the doom of Scaurus; but for accepting from Varius Ligur a bribe to drop prosecution, they were interdicted fire and water, and exiled into different islands. Abudius Rufo too, once Ædile, whilst he brought a charge against Lentulus Getulicus, under whom he had led a Legion, “That he had espoused his daughter to Edition: current; Page: [374]a son of Sejanus,” was himself condemned and banished Rome. Getulicus was at this time Commander of the Legions in upper Germany, and by them wonderfully beloved, for his unbounded clemency, and discipline void of rigour. Neither was he unacceptable to the neighbouring army, through his interest in Lucius Apronius his father-in-law. Hence he was universally believed to have, by a Letter, represented to the Emperor, “That by no choice of his own had he joined affinity with Sejanus, but in compliance with the counsel of Tiberius, and was as liable as Tiberius to be deceived; nor ought one and the same error to pass unblamed in the Prince only, and upon all others draw down deadly vengeance. For his own faith; it was pure and inviolate, and, if against him no plots were framed, would continue unshaken. A successor he would receive as no other than the herald of death. It remained therefore, that between them two they should, as it were, establish a league, by which the Prince should still enjoy all the rest of the Empire, and he himself always retain his province.” This proceeding, however amazing, derived credit from hence, that he only of all that were allied to Sejanus, remained in safety, and even in high favour. Tiberius, indeed, considered himself under the pressure of public hatred, under the weight of extreme age; and that more by reputation than force his authority was upheld.

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In the Consulship of Caius Sestius and Marcus Servilius, there came to Rome some noble Parthians, unknown to Artabanus their King. He had formerly, through dread of Germanicus, reigned with humanity towards his own people, and kept his faith with the Romans; but, afterwards treated us with arrogance, and his subjects with cruelty. His confidence grew from the successful wars which he had waged against the circumjacent nations, from his contempt of Tiberius, as enfeebled through age and unwarlike, and from a greedy passion to possess Armenia, over which Kingdom, upon the death of Artaxias, he established Arsaces his eldest son. This usurpation was followed by an insult, having sent to reclaim “the treasure left by Vonones in Syria and Cilicia,” as also “the re-establishment of the ancient boundaries between the Persians and Macedonians.” He even threatened, in the fulness of vainglory, “That he would invade all the countries possessed by Cyrus, and since by Alexander.” Of this secret embassy from the Parthians, the most powerful promoter was Sinnaces, of a noble family, and correspondent wealth, and, next to him in authority, Abdus the Eunuch, a character no wise despised amongst the Barbarians, but even entrusted with power. These two, in concert with other Grandees, whom they had engaged in the combination, sent to Rome for Phrahates, son of King Phrahates; because, of Edition: current; Page: [376]all the race of the Arsacides, many being murdered by Artabanus, and the rest too young, none else remained to whom they could commit the State. The deputics represented, “That there needed no more than a name and a leader, no more than a descendent of Arsaces espoused by Cæsar, and beheld upon the banks of the Euphrates.”

It was what Tiberius wished. He invested Phrahates in the pomp of Royalty, and dispatched him with military state to recover his father’s Monarchy; retaining however his old maxims, still to transact foreign affairs by artifice and counsels only, and warily avoid engaging in war. Artabanus the while haveing learnt the combination, was perplexed between different passions; now fear alarmed and retarded him, then thirst of revenge fired and excited him. By the Barbarians too, dissimulation and delay are reckoned servile measures; but instantly to satiate present passion, was the spirit and part of Royalty. Interest, however, prevailed: thus he invited Abdus to a banquet, and secured him by a lingering poison; Sinnaces he managed by presents and dissimulation, and engaged him in the entanglements of business. Now Phrahates arriving in Syria, and there disusing the Roman dress and œconomy, to which for so many years he had been inured, to resume the customs of the Parthians, proved unequal to the precipitate change, which brought a malady upon him that carried him off. But Tiberius Edition: current; Page: [377]forsook not the enterprize; to Artabanus he substituted Tiridates, a fresh competitor, one of the same blood. For the recovery of Armenia, he chose Mithridates, and reconciled him to his brother Pharasmanes, who inherited the sovereignty of Iberia; and over the East, for executing all his schemes there, he placed Lucius Vitellius. I am not unaware, that in Rome this man bore an evil estimation, and that many instances of depravity are related of him; yet in governing of Provinces he acted with primitive uprightness and virtue. It was after his return from thence, that his dread of Caligula, and then his intimacy with Claudius, transformed him into such an odious slave, that he is reckoned to posterity as a pattern of the vile abasement and shocking deformities of flattery: his last character has swallowed up his first, and the excellencies of his younger years are obliterated by an old age black with flagitious crimes.

Of the petty Kings, Mithridates was the first in motion, and incited Pharasmanes to promote, both by arms and snares, his efforts against Arsaces; so that instruments of subornation were found, who, with store of gold, urged his servants to murder him. At the same time, the Iberians broke into Armenia with numerous forces, and gained the chief City Artaxata. Upon the first tidings of these disasters, Artabanus dispatched, as the champion of his vengeance, his son Orodes, at Edition: current; Page: [378]the head of the Parthian army, and sent abroad to hire auxiliaries. Pharasmanes, on the other hand, joined the Albanian forces to his own, with additional aids from the Sarmatæans, whose Princes engaged themselves on both sides, according to the manner of the nation, to embark for pay in opposite quarrels. But the Iberians were masters of the passes, and thence poured the Sarmatæans over the Caspian Mountains into Armenia: whereas those that advanced to join the Parthians, were with ease debarred entrance, the enemy having shut up every approach, except one between the sea and the uttermost mountains of Albania; and that one was stopped by the tide, which, by the force of the Etesian winds, is during the summer driven over the fords; but in the winter the south wind rolls back the flood, and exhibits a naked strand.

While Orodes was thus bereft of his Allies, Pharasmanes, strengthened with succours, provoked him to battle, and, as he declined it, insulted him, rode up to his entrenchments, harassed his forragers, and often begirt, as it were with a siege, the quarters of his camp. This enraged the Parthians, who, scorning the unwonted reproach, surrounded the Prince in crowds, and demanded the combat. Their only forces were in horse; but Pharasmanes was likewise powerful in foot: for, the Iberians and Albanians, as they inhabit the rough forests, are thence more inured to hardness and patience. They say, “that Edition: current; Page: [379]they are sprung from Thessaly, by the means of Jason, who having carried away Medea, and had children by her, returned again to Colchos, upon the death of Æeta, and filled the vacant throne.” And many are the traditions which they retain concerning him and the Oracle of Phryxus, in reverence to which none of them will sacrifice a ram, as upon this animal they believe Phryxus to have been carried thither; whether the same were a ram, or only the sign of a ship. Now both armies being embattled, Orodes animated his men with “the grandeur of the Parthian Empire, the Empire of the East, the lasting glory of the Arsacides; and, on the other side, the ignoble name of the Iberians and their hireling soldiery.” Pharasmanes represented to his, that “they had ever defended themselves from the usurpation of the Parthians, and now sought more than defence, even a Kingdom; hence the higher their aims, the more renown to the victors; but if they fled, the greater reproach, and the same peril.” He bade them to view and compare their own horrid and threatening arms with the bands of Medes blazing with gold, and behold here the bravery of men, there that of plunder.

With the Sarmatæans, however, the speech of their General is not the only exhortation; it is their way to animate one another. It was now their united cry, “That they must not begin their fight by a discharge of arrows, Edition: current; Page: [380]but break in at once upon the foe, and surprize them by a close engagement.” They did so; and hence began a scene of battle strangely diversified: the Parthians, accustomed with equal dexterity to pursue or fly, scattered their troops, thence seeking scope for their arrows: the Sarmatæans intirely renounced the bow, a weapon which they weild with less vigour and perseverance, and rushed in with their swords and pikes. Sometimes, as in an encounter of horse, were beheld the vicissitudes of charging and flying; again, as in condensed battles of foot, with the shocks of their bodies breast to breast, and with the efforts of their arms, they overthrew and were overthrown. Now the Albanians and Iberians grappled the enemy, dragged them from their horses, and confounded the attacks of the Parthians; who, besides the assaults from the horse, were still more closely galled by the foot. Whilst, during this conflict, the two Generals scoured from place to place, to countenance the brave, or to support the wavering, themselves conspicuous to all, and therefore known to each other, they encountered fiercely, horse to horse, with terrible cries and lances darted, but Pharasmanes with most violence, for he wounded Orodes through the helmet, but, hurried away by the velocity of his horse, could not repeat his blow, and the wounded Prince was rescued by the most resolute of his guards. Fame, however, falsly reported him for slain, and terrifying the Parthians, they yielded the victory.

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Again Artabanus prepared for revenge, and, to make it sure, marched with the whole strength of Parthia; but was again beaten by the Iberians, through their superiour knowledge of the country. Nor even thus would he have retreated, but that Vitellius, by drawing together his Legions, and thence exciting a rumour, as if he were just upon invading Mesopotamia, alarmed him with the terror of war from the Romans. Armenia was therefore abandoned, and the affairs of Artabnus finally ruined; for Vitellius the while, prompted the Parthians “to renounce a King cruel to his subjects in peace, and destructive to their state by his fatal wars.” Sinnaces therefore, whom I have mentioned as already incensed, consults his father Abdageses and others, who had hitherto disguised their disaffection, and finding them now emboldened by so many continued overthrows, draws them to an open revolt. To them flowed in, by little and little, all those who had been rather retained in obedience through fear, than secured by affection; and, having thus found leaders, assumed courage to follow them. So that to Artabanus none now adhered, except some few foreigners, the guards of his person, out-laws and fugitives from their several homes, destitute of all sentiments of honour, and of every worthy affection, equally untouched with public or private disgrace, hirelings by profession, and the retained instruments of villainy and blood. Taking these for Edition: current; Page: [382]his attendants, he hastily fled to regions far remote, and bordering upon Scythia, from thence hoping for succours; for with the Hyrcanians and Carmanians he was joined in alliance. He expected too that the Parthians, a people always favourable to their Princes after expulsion, ever fickle and uneasy under those in possession, might lapse into remorse.

Artabanus being fled, and the minds of the Parthians inclined to a new King, Vitellius exhorted Tiridates “to lay hold on a Kingdom prepared to receive him;” and, with the bulk of the Legions and auxiliaries, marched to the banks of Euphrates. Whilst they sacrificed to the river, the one after the rites of the Romans, a swine, a ram, and a bull; the other a horse; the inhabitants informed them, “That the Euphrates, without any accession of rain, swelled miraculously, and that the white froth upon the surface wound itself into circles in the fashion of a diadem, as a propitious type of success after passing.” Some explained it with more subtlety, “That the first attempts would be attended with immediate prosperity, but such as was fleeting and transient; for that only upon events portended by signs from the earth and the heavens, was there any sure reliance: rivers were, in their nature, fleeting and unstable; and what omens they suddenly shewed, they, with the same rapidity snatched away.” Over a bridge of boats the army crossed; and the first who Edition: current; Page: [383]arrived in the camp was Ornospades with many thousand horse. He was formerly an exile, and had then, with no contemptible forces, aided Tiberius to finish the war in Dalmatia; a merit which procured him the right of a Roman Citizen: being afterwards recalled, he recovered the friendship of the King, and continued high in his favour; so that he was placed over all those territories which being washed on every side with the celebrated rivers of Euphrates and Tigris, are thence named Mesopotamia. Soon after came Sinnaces with more forces, as also Abdageses, the pillar of the party, with the King’s treasure, and all the decorations of Royalty. Vitellius thought it enough to have countenanced them with a display of the Roman arms, and now admonished Tiridates and the chiefs, him “to remember, that he had for his grand-father Phrahates, and was himself reared by Cæsar; signal honours, and equal incitements to glory:” upon them he pressed “obedience to their King, and reverence towards us; that they would all consult their own reputations, and preserve their plighted faith.” Thence he repassed with his Legions into Syria.

These transactions, though the work of two campaigns, I have laid together, to relieve my soul from the sad recital of domestic evils. For, Tiberius, though now three years since the execution of Sejanus, was so far from being asswaged by time, supplications, and Edition: current; Page: [384]satiety of blood, means which are wont to soften all other men, that with rage and punishment he still pursued even stale and dubious imputations, as the most heinous and recent crimes. Under this dread Fulcinius Trio, unable to bear the prevailing persecution of his accusers, composed his last will, and in it compiled a long charge of iniquities and dreadful invectives against Macro and the Emperor’s principal freedmen: the Emperor himself he upbraided with “a spirit sunk through age, and his continued absence, as a state of exile.” These invectives, which the heirs of Trio had smothered, were, by Tiberius, ordered to be recited; whether in ostentation that he could bear such liberties, and despised a public rehearsal of his own infamy; or whether from having been long ignorant of the black enormities of Sejanus, he came afterwards to prefer the divulging of whatever was said, however said, concerning himself and his administration; and since truth is ever disguised by flattery, he meant at least to learn it from the mouth of reproach. During the same Consuls, Granius Martianus the Senator, charged with treason by Caius Gracchus, laid violent hands upon himself; and Tatius Gratianus, who had been Prætor, under the same charge, was sentenced to capital banishment.

The like ends had Trebellienus Rufus and Sextius Paconianus. For, Trebellienus fell by his own hand; and Paconianus Edition: current; Page: [385]for Verses made in prison against the Emperor was there strangled. With these executions Tiberius was acquainted, not now separated from Italy by the sea, nor by messengers dispatched from afar, but in the neighbourhood of Rome; so near to it that he received and answered the Letters from the Consuls the the same day, or only after the interval of a night; as if he were from thence beholding the houses floating in blood, or the busy hands of the executioners opening its sources. In the end of the year expired Poppæus Sabinus, of ordinary descent, but by the friendship of the Emperors he had acquired the Consulship and triumphal honours. He was also entrusted for four and twenty years with the Government of great provinces, for no signal ability of his, but that he had talents equal to business, and not above it.

The following Consuls were Quintus Plautius and Sextus Papinius. It was marked as no matter of horror or surprize, that Lucius Aruseius and *** underwent this year the pains of death; so familiar were civil miseries grown. But terrifying proved the tragedy of Vibulenus Agrippa, a Roman Knight, who, after his accusers had finished their pleadings, pulling out poison, which under his gown he had concealed, swallowed it in open Senate, and as he fell expiring, was by the Lictors hastily dragged to the dungeon, where, though already dead, his neck was fastened and strained in a rope. Not even Edition: current; Page: [386]Tigranes, who had some time reigned in Armenia, but was now accused, could by the name of a King, escape suffering, in common with citizens, the punishment of death. But Caius Galba a Consular, and the two Blæsi, fell by their own hands, Galba, upon receiving a dismal Letter from Cæsar, which forbid him to meddle with drawing his lot for a Province; the Blæsi, because the Priesthoods which in the prosperity of their family he had assigned them, and again in its calamity withheld, he now bestowed, as vacant dignities, upon others. This they understood as a signal of death, and obeyed it. Æmilia Lepida too, who, as I have related, was married to the young Drusus, she who had pursued her husband’s life, by urging against him incessant crimes, and during the days of her father Lepidus, remained unpunished, though detestable, was after his death attacked by the accusers, for adultery with a slave: nor of this her infamous defilement was any doubt made; renouncing therefore all defence, she put an end to her own life.

About the same time the Cliteans, a people subject to Archelaus the Cappadocian, aggrieved to be after the Roman manner brought under a rate, and compelled to pay tribute, betook themselves to the ridges of Mount Taurus, and by the nature of the situation defended themselves against the unwarlike forces of the King; till Vitellius, President of Syria, dispatched to their relief his Lieutenant Edition: current; Page: [387]Marcus Trebellius, with four thousand Legionary soldiers and some chosen auxiliaries. Trebellius begirt with entrenchments the two hills upon which the Barbarians were encamped, the lesser named Cadra, the other Davara, and forced them all to surrender: some who attempted to sally, he subdued by the sword; the rest he overcame by thirst. Tiridates, with the approbation of the Parthians, took possession of Nicephorium, Anthemusias, and other cities founded by the Macedonians, and thence called by Greek names, as likewise of Halus and Artemita, Parthian cities; the inhabitants of each contending in joy for the change, as they all detested Artabanus, bred amongst the barbarous Scythians, and himself barbarously cruel, but from Tiridates hoped a humane spirit, civilized by a Roman education.

Particularly excessive was the flattery practised on this occasion by the citizens of Seleucia; a powerful city surrounded with walls, and not corrupted into the barbarous usages of the Parthians, but still retaining the institutions of Seleucus, its Greek founder. Three hundred citizens, chosen for wealth or wisdom, compose, as it were, a Senate; to the populace too remains their share of power; and when all act with unanimity, they despise the Parthians; but when discord reigns, while each side calls in foreign aid against their competitors, he who is invited prevails against the whole: A consequence which had befallen Edition: current; Page: [388]them in the reign of Artabanus, who delivered the commonalty to the dominion of the Nobles, in pure subservience to the maxims and interest of his own power. For the sovereignty of the People is an establishment of Liberty; but the domination of a few comes nearer to the unchecked lust of simple Monarchy. Upon the coming of Tiridates, they heaped on him all the honours paid to the ancient Kings, with all such as the present age has improved or invented, and to the praises of the new Prince added contumelies against Artabanus, “that only by his father he was akin to the Arsacides, and in every other instance an apostate from their race.” Tiridates committed to the People the government of Seleucia. As he was next consulting about settling a day for solemnizing his inauguration, he received letters from Phrahates and Hiero, who presided over potent Provinces, entreating a short respit; so that he agreed to wait the arrival of men so signally powerful, and proceeded the while to Ctesiphon the seat of the Empire. But as from day to day they delayed coming, the Surena in a great presence, and with their applauses, put the Royal Diadem, according to the ceremony of the country, upon his head.

And had he strait advanced into the center of the Kingdom and the further Provinces, he had over-awed the suspence of such as halted, and found submission from all Parthia. But, by besieging a fortress, whither Edition: current; Page: [389]Artabanus had conveyed his money and mistresses, he furnished the fickle Parthians with leisure to violate their late association. For, Phrahates and Hiero, with such others as had not joined with the rest in celebrating his coronation, returned to their old allegiance, part through fear, some from envy to Abdageses, who then governed the new King and his whole court. They found Artabanus in Hyrcania, covered with nastiness and misery, and with his bow labouring for food. At first he was terrified, and apprehended treachery. When they assured him of their faith, and that to restore him to sovereignty they were come, he asked, “whence the sudden change?” Hiero, in answer, reproached “Tiridates as a boy, and that the Empire was no longer administered by one of the brave Arsacides; but a lad softened by foreign effeminacy, possessed the empty title, whilst in the family of Abdageses the whole power remained.”

He discerned, politic as he was, and old in reigning, that, however false in their affections, their hate was unfeigned. Neither tarried he longer than to get together some Scythian succours, and then marched with dispatch, to frustrate the measures of his enemies, and to obviate the defection of his friends. Nor changed he yet his noisome dress, as by it he meant to draw the commiseration of the populace. In his march he lest untried no expedient, no prayers nor wiles, to engage in his Edition: current; Page: [390]interest such as wavered, to confirm such as adhered, and he was already in the neighbourhood of Seleucia, before Tiridates, dismayed at once with the tidings of Artabanus, and with Artabanus in person, could determine whether to make head against him, or protract the war. His counsels were distracted. They who preferred a battle and speedy issue, argued, “that the enemy’s forces were still in disarray and spent with long journeys: nor in truth were they in their hearts sincerely reconciled to obedience; they, who were lately the betrayers and open enemies of that same Prince whom thus, after expulsion, they espoused.” But Abdageses advised “a retreat into Mesopotamia, that there, defended by the interposition of the river, they might have time to arm the Armenians and Elymæans, with other adjacent nations; and, being thus strengthened by confederate troops, and such as the Roman General should send, might try with these advantages the fortune of war.” This advice prevailed, as Abdageses held the highest authority, and Tiridates was fearful of dangers. But their departure had all the appearance and consequences of a rout: for the Arabs beginning the desertion, the rest followed, and retired to their several homes, or to the camp of Artabanus; so that Tiridates with a few crossed over to Syria, where he discharged them all, as well from his service, Edition: current; Page: [391]as from the infamy of being betrayed by them.

The same year the City suffered the grievous calamity of fire, which burnt down that part of the Circus contiguous to mount Aventine, and the Mount itself; a loss which turned to the glory of the Prince, as he paid in money the value of the houses destroyed. A hundred thousand great sesterces he expended in this bounty, which proved the more grateful to the people, as he was ever sparing in private buildings. In truth, his public works never exceeded two, the Temple of Augustus and the Scene of Pompey’s Theatre; nor, when he had finished both, did he dedicate either, whether obstructed by old age, or despising popularity. For ascertaining the damage of particulars, the four sons-in-law of Tiberius were appointed, Cneius Domitius, Cassius Longinus, Marcus Vinicius, and Rubellius Blandus, assisted by Publius Petronius, nominated by the Consuls. To the Emperor likewise were decreed several honours, variously devised, according to the different drift and genius of such as proposed them. Which of these he meant to accept, or which to reject, the approaching issue of his days has buried in uncertainty. For not long after, Cneius Acerronius and Caius Pontius commenced Consuls, the last Consuls under Tiberius. The power of Macro was already excessive, who, as he had at no time neglected the favour of Caligula, Edition: current; Page: [392]courted it now more and more earnestly every day. After the death of Claudia, whom I have mentioned to have been espoused to the young Prince, he constrained Ennia his own wife to stimulate the affections of Caligula, and to secure him by a promise of marriage. The truth is, Caligula was one that denied nothing that opened his way to sovereignty; for although of a tempestuous genius, he had yet in the school of his grand-father, well acquired all the hollow guises of dissimulation.

His spirit was known to the Emperor; hence the Emperor was puzzled about bequeathing the Empire: and first as to his grand-sons; the son of Drusus was nearer in blood, and dearer in point of affection, but as yet a child; the son of Germanicus had arrived at the vigour of youth, and the zeal of the people followed him; a motive to his grand-father, only to hate him. He had even debates with himself concerning Claudius, because of solid age, and naturally inclined to honest pursuits; but the defect of his faculties withstood the choice. In case he sought a successor apart from his own family, he dreaded lest the memory of Augustus, lest the name of the Cæsars should come to be scorned and insulted. For, it was not so much any study of his, to gratify the present generation, and secure the Roman State, as to perpetuate to posterity the grandeur of his race. So that his mind still wavering, and his strength decaying, to the decision of fortune he permitted Edition: current; Page: [393]a counsel to which he was now unequal. Yet he dropped certain words whence might be gathered, that he foresaw the events and revolutions which were to come to pass after him; for, he upbraided Macro, by no dark riddle, “that he forsook the setting sun, and courted the rising;” and of Caligula, who upon some occasional discourse ridiculed Sylla, he foretold, “that he would have all Sylla’s vices, and not one of his virtues.” Moreover, as he was, with many tears, embracing the younger of his grandsons, and perceived the countenance of Caligula implacable and provoked; “Thou, said he, wilt slay him, and another shall slay thee.” But, however his illness prevailed, he relinquished nothing of his vile voluptuousness, forcing patience, and feigning health. He was wont too to ridicule the prescriptions of Physicians, and all men who, after the age of thirty, needed to be informed by any one else, what helped or hurted their constitutions.

At Rome, the while, were sown the sanguinary seeds of executions, to be perpetrated even after Tiberius. Lælius Balbus had charged Acutia, (the wife formerly of Publius Vitellius) with high treason; and, as the Senate were, after her condemnation, decreeing a reward to the accuser, the same was obstructed by the interposition of Junius Otho, Tribune of the people: Hence their mutual hate, which ended in the exile of Otho. Thereafter Albucilla, who had Edition: current; Page: [394]been married to Satrius Secundus, him that revealed the conspiracy of Sejanus, and herself famous for many amours, was impeached of impious rites devised against the Prince. In the charge were involved, as her associates and adulterers, Cneius Domitius, Vibius Marsus, and Lucius Arruntius. The noble descent of Domitius I have above declared: Marsus too was distinguished by the ancient dignities in his house, and himself illustrious for learning. The Minutes, however, transmitted to the Senate, imported, “that in the examination of the witnesses, and torture of the slaves, Macro had presided;” neither came these Minutes accompanied with any letter from the Emperor against the accused. Hence it was suspected, that, while he was ill, and perhaps without his privity, the accusations were in great measure forged by Macro, in consequence of his notorious enmity to Arruntius.

Domitius therefore, by preparing for his defence, and Marsus, by seeming determined to famish, both protracted their lives. Arruntius chose to die; and to the importunity of his friends, urging him to try delays and evasions, he answered, “that the same measures were not alike honourable to all men; his own life was abundantly long; nor had he wherewithal to reproach himself, save that he had submitted to bear thus far an old age loaded with anxieties, exposed to daily dangers, and the cruel sport of power; long Edition: current; Page: [395]hated as he was by Sejanus, now by Macro, always by some reigning Minister; hated through no fault of his own, but as one irreconcilable to baseness and the iniquities of power. He might, in truth, out-live and avoid the few and last days of Tiberius; but how escape the youth of his heir? If upon Tiberius at such an age, and after such consummate experience, the violent spirit of unbridled dominion had wrought with such efficacy, as intirely to transport and change him; was it likely that Caligula, he who had scarce outgrown his childhood, a youth ignorant of all things, or nurst and principled in the worst, would follow a course more righteous under the guidance of Macro; the same Macro, who, for destroying Sejanus, was employed as the more wicked of the two, and had since by more mischiefs and cruelties torn and afflicted the Commonweal? For himself; he foresaw a servitude yet more vehement, and therefore withdrew at once from the agonies of past and of impending tyranny.” Uttering these words, with the spirit of a prophet, he opened his veins. How wisely Arruntius anticipated death, the following times will terribly demonstrate. For Albucilla; she aimed at her own life, but the blow being impotent, she was by order of Senate dragged to execution in the prison. Against the ministers of her lusts it was decreed, “that Grasidius Sacerdos, formerly Edition: current; Page: [396]Prætor, should be exiled into an island, Pontius Fregellanus be degraded from the Senate; and that upon Lælius Balbus the same penalty should be inflicted:” his punishment particularly proved matter of joy, as he was accounted a man of pestilent eloquence, and prompt to attack the innocent.

About the same time, Sextus Papinius, of a Consular family, chose on a sudden a frightful end, by a desperate and precipitate fall. The cause was ascribed to his mother, who, after many repulses, had, by various allurements and the stimulations of sensuality, urged him to practices and embarassments from whence only by dying he could devise an issue. She was therefore accused in the Senate; and, though in a prostrate posture she embraced the knees of the Fathers, and pleaded “the tenderness and grief of a mother, with the imbecillity of a woman’s spirit under such an affecting calamity;” with other motives of pity in the same doleful strain, she was banished Rome for ten years, till her younger son were past the age of lubricity.

As to Tiberius; already his body, already his spirits failed him; but his dissimulation failed him not. He exerted the same vigour of mind, the same energy in his looks and discourse, and even sometimes studied to be gay, by it to hide his declension, however notorious. So that, after much shifting of places, he settled at the Promontory of Misenum, in a villa of which Lucullus was once lord. Edition: current; Page: [397]There it was discovered that his end was at hand, by this device. In his train was a Physician, his name Charicles, signal in his profession, one, in truth, not employed to direct the Prince’s health, but wont however to afford his counsel and skill. Charicles, as if he were departing to attend his own affairs, under the appearance of paying duty and kissing his hands, touched his pulse. But the artifice beguiled not Tiberius, for he instantly ordered the entertainment to be served up, whether incensed, and thence the more smothering his wrath, is uncertain. But, at table he continued beyond his wont, as if he meant that honour only for a farewell to his friend. But for all this, Charicles satisfied Macro, “that the flame of life was expiring, and could not outlast two days.” Hence the whole court was filled with close consultations, and expresses were dispatched to the Generals and Armies. On the sixteenth of March, so deep a swoon seized him, that he was believed to have paid the last debt of mortality; insomuch that Caligula, in the midst of a great throng, paying their congratulations, was already appearing abroad, to assume the first offices of Sovereignty, when sudden notice came, “that Tiberius had recovered his sight and voice, and, to strengthen his fainting spirits, had called for some refreshment.” Hence dread seized all, and the whole concourse about Caligula dispersed, every man assuming false sorrow, or feigning ignorance. He himself Edition: current; Page: [398]was struck speechless, and thus fallen from the highest hopes, waited for present death. Macro continued undismayed, and, ordering the apartment to be cleared, caused the feeble old man to be smothered with a weight of coverings. Thus expired Tiberius in the seventy-eighth year of his age.

He was the son of Nero, and on both sides a branch of the Claudian house, though his mother had been ingrafted by adoptions into the Livian, and next into the Julian stock. From his first infancy, his life was checquered by various turns and perils. For, then he followed, like an exile, his proscribed father; and when taken in quality of a step-son into the family of Augustus, he long struggled there with many potent rivals, during the lives of Marcellus and Agrippa, next of the young Cæsars, Caius and Lucius. His brother Drusus too eclipsed him, and possessed more eminently the hearts of the Roman people. But above all, his marriage with Julia most egregiously threatened and distressed him, whether he bore the prostitutions of his wife, or relinquished the daughter of Augustus. Upon his return thereafter from Rhodes, he occupied for twelve years the Prince’s family, now bereft of heirs, and nigh three and twenty ruled the Roman State. His manners also varied with the several junctures of his fortune: he was well esteemed while yet a private man, and, in discharging public dignities under Augustus, of signal reputation; covert and Edition: current; Page: [399]subdolous in feigning virtue so long as Germanicus and Drusus survived; a mixed character of good and evil during the days of his mother; detestably cruel, but secret in his lewdness, while he loved or feared Sejanus. At last he abandoned himself, at once, to the rage of tyranny and the sway of his lusts: for, he had then conquered all the checks of shame and fear, and thenceforth followed only the bent of his own abominable spirit.

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BOOK XI.

The SUMMARY.

THE condemnation and death of Valerius Asiaticus, by the procurement of Messalina. The iniquity and venality of the public Pleaders. Their fees ascertained. Civil combustions in Parthia. Secular Plays exhibited at Rome. Claudius adds three letters to the Alphabet. A short Dissertation concerning the origin of Letters. Italus established King over the Cheruscans. Corbulo made Commander in lower Germany, his severe and excellent discipline. Curtius Rufus distinguished with the Triumphal Ornaments. The rise and story of that Roman. Of the institution of the office of Quæstor, and its variations. The Nobility of Gaul admitted to all the rights of Roman Citizens. The number of Patricians augmented. Messalina the Empress, her wild lewdness. She openly marries C. Silius: is accused to the Emperor, and her adulterers punished. Her execution how procured and effected.

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****FOR, Messalina, implacable towards Valerius Asiaticus, one twice Consul, whom she believed to have been Poppæa’s adulterer, and equally panting after his fine gardens, begun by Lucullus, but by him beautified with signal magnificence, suborned Suilius to accuse both him and her. In the plot was joined Sosibius, Tutor to Britannicus, who, under the mask of zeal, was to warn Claudius, “that mighty wealth in private hands, was ever mischievous and threatening to Princes. In the assassination of Caligula, Asiaticus had been the principal director, nor feared to avow it in a public congregation of the people, nor even to claim the glory of the parricide: hence his popularity and renown in Rome; insomuch that his purpose of withdrawing and putting himself at the head of the Armies, was already a prevailing rumour through all the Provinces; for that being born at Vienne, and supported there by numerous and powerful families, all his own relations, it depended upon his pleasure to excite an insurrection of his countrymen the Gauls.” This sufficed Claudius, who, in order to seize him, instantly dispatched away Crispinus, Captain of the Prætorian guards, with a body of soldiers, as if a war had been to be crushed. He was found at Baiæ, and hurried to Rome in chains.

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Neither was it indulged him to be heard by the Senate; he was privately tried in a chamber in the presence of Messalina. Suilius charged him “with corrupting the soldiery, as having by money and abominable pleasures engaged them in his interest, and prepared them for every the most flagrant iniquity; with his adulterous amours with Poppæa, and with surrendering his person to unnatural defilements.” This last article overcame his patience, and breaking in upon the accusation, “Ask thy own sons, Suilius, said he; thy sons will satisfy thee that I am a man.” As he proceeded in his defence, he forced tears even from Messalina, and in Claudius raised agitations still more powerful. But the Empress leaving the room to dry her eyes, warned Vitellius, “not to suffer the accused to escape.” She herself hastened to accomplish the doom of Poppæa, by suborning persons who urged her, through the terrors of imprisonment, to a voluntary end; a catastrophe of which the Emperor was so utterly unapprized, that a few days after, as her husband Scipio was at table with him, he continued asking why he sat down without his wife? till Scipio answered, that she was no more.

Now as Claudius was deliberating about clearing Asiaticus, the hollow Vitellius wept, and recounting their ancient friendship, with the dutiful observance which they had equally paid to Antonia, the Prince’s mother; Edition: current; Page: [403]then displaying the good services of Asiaticus to the Commonwealth, particularly his late exploits in Great-Britain, with other arguments which seemed proper to excite mercy; he at last proposed to grant him the free choice of his own death; a sort of clemency of which Claudius declared his approbation. There were some who exhorted him to die gently, by abstinence only; an indulgence which he rejected, but persisting in his wonted exercises, he bathed, and even supped chearfully. He said, he should with more credit have been sacrificed to the dark artifices of Tiberius, or to the fury of Caligula, than thus perish by the devices of a woman, and the prostitute lips of Vitellius; then opened his veins, but first viewed his funeral pile, and directed its removal into another place, lest the smoke should scorch the heads of the trees, and lessen their cool shade. Such was his firmness, even in the arms of death.

The Senate was thereafter summoned, and Suilius proceeded also to accuse the illustrious Roman Knights, sirnamed Petræ. The real cause of their bane was, that for a place of assignation, they had accommodated Valerius and Poppæa with the use of their house; but to one of them a dream was objected, as if he had beheld Claudius crowned with a chaplet of the ears of corn, their beards downwards, and thence foretold a public famine. Others have related, that the chaplet he beheld was of vine-branches with white leaves, which Edition: current; Page: [404]he construed to portend the death of the Prince at the close of autumn. Whatever he dreamt, this is undoubted, that for a dream both he and his brother were sacrificed. To Crispinus was decreed the Prætorship, and a reward of thirty-seven thousand five hundred crowns, and to Sosibius five and twenty thousand, at the motion of Vitellius, who recommended him as one that assisted Britannicus with good instructions, and Claudius with wholesome counsels. Scipio, who was also asked his opinion, said; “Seeing I entertain of Poppæa’s misdeeds the same thoughts with all others, believe me to vote as all others vote;” a delicate temperament between the affections of a husband, and the danger of provoking by his dissent her powerful enemies.

Suilius continued thenceforward an incessant and merciless accuser; and many laboured to emulate his abandoned occupation. For, the Emperors, by usurping all the authority of the Magistrates, and the arbitrary dispensation of all the Laws, had opened a field for endless cruelties and depredations; nor of all the commodities of price was aught so saleable, as the faithless spirit of the pleaders; insomuch that Samius, an illustrious Roman Knight, having given Suilius a fee of ten thousand crowns, and finding himself betrayed in the cause, fell upon his sword in the house of his traiterous advocate. A complaint of this grievance being therefore begun by Caius Edition: current; Page: [405]Silius Consul elect, whose power and overthrow I shall in its place remember, the whole Senate concurred, and demanded, that the Cincian Law might be restored to force; an old Law, which enjoined “that no man should, for pleading a cause, accept of gift or payment.”

Hence they, over whom the infamy was impending, raising a clamour against the motion; Silius, who entertained an animosity against Suilius, persisted with the more asperity, and quoted “the examples of the ancient Orators, who had esteemed present applause and the praises of posterity, the most illustrious recompence of their eloquence. Otherwise, an accomplishment the most dignified of all others, were debased into sordid prostitution. Nor, in truth, was the faith of pleaders to be trusted, where the greatness of gain was their end. Besides, if no man found his merchandize in defending suits, there would be fewer suits to defend; whereas, upon the present foot, enmities, accusations, mutual hate and mutual oppressions were promoted and inflamed to such a degree, that as an inundation of diseases was the market of Physicians, so the contagion of the Bar proved the revenue of the Pleaders. They might remember Caius Asinius and Marcus Messalla, and more lately Arruntius and Eserninus; men who arrived to the supreme dignities of the state by a life unblemished, and an eloquence Edition: current; Page: [406]never exposed to price.” This reasoning from the Consul elect found the concurrence of the Senate, and a decree was about to pass, to subject them to the penalties of the Law against extortion, when Suilius, Cossutianus, and the rest, who apprehended not a regulation only, but even their own punishment (for their guilt was manifest) gathered round the Prince, beseeching remission for what was passed; and after he had, by a motion of his head, signified his assent, they thus proceeded:

Who was the man of such unbounded vanity as to presume upon an eternity of fame? The practice of pleading was intended only for the present purposes of society, a common refuge for all men, especially that none might for want of pleaders be crushed by the powerful: neither was eloquence itself acquired, or exerted without pains and expence; since they who professed it forsook their own domestic cares, to apply themselves to the business of others. Many followed the profession of war, many that of husbandry, and by both professions a livelihood was gained; and nothing was pursued by any man, but with a view to the advantages it produced. Easily might Asinius and Messalla, enriched by the event of the war between Anthony and Augustus; easily might the Esernini and Arruntii, heirs of wealthy houses, all possess a spirit above the price of pleading. But equally obvious were the examples of Edition: current; Page: [407]Publius Clodius and Caius Curio, for what immense rewards they were wont to plead. For themselves; they were mean Senators, and, as the Commonwealth enjoyed a perfect calm, only aimed at subsisting by the emoluments of peace. Nay, there were those of the commonalty, who strove to shine by the Gown and the Bar; but were the price and encouragement of studying withdrawn, the Studies themselves must perish.” Considerations these far from honourable; but to Claudius they appeared of no small force. He therefore settled the utmost measure of fees at two hundred and fifty crowns, and such as exceeded were subjected to the penalties of extortion.

During the same time Mithridates, whom I have mentioned to have reigned in Armenia, and to have been brought in bonds to the tribunal of Cæsar, returned by the direction of Claudius into his Kingdom, confiding in the power and assistance of his brother Pharasmanes King of the Iberians, who had sent him advice, “that dissentions prevailed amongst the Parthians, and that, while the fate of their own crown was in suspence, foreign conquests, as things of less moment, must be neglected.” For, the many cruelties of Gotarzes, particularly the sudden murder of his brother Artabanus, with that of his wife and son, and thence the dread of his tyranny to the rest of the nobility, prompted them to call Bardanes to the Edition: current; Page: [408]throne, a Prince of great activity and enterprize, so much that in two days he travelled three thousand furlongs, then instantly invaded, utterly terrified and surprized, and even exterminated Gotarzes. With the same expedition he seized the neighbouring provinces, all but Seleucia, which alone disowned his sway: so that, more transported with wrath against the Seleucians, as a people who had likewise revolted from his father, than consulting his present interest, he entangled himself in the siege of a city encompassed with strong walls, replenished with stores, and a river one of its bulwarks. For, Gotarzes the while, strengthened by forces from the Dahans and Hyrcanians, renewed the war; so that Bardanes being necessitated to relinquish the siege, retired to the plains of Bactria, and there encamped.

In this combustion and disunion of the powers in the East, and uncertainty how the same would terminate, an occasion of possessing Armenia was administered to Mithridates, assisted by the Roman soldiers, who demolished the strong holds, and by the Iberians, who over-ran and wasted the country. For, the Armenians made no longer resistance, after the fate of Demonax their Governor, who had ventured a battle, and was defeated; only some of the Nobles countenanced Cotys, King of Armenia the less, who thence became a short obstacle, but by letters from the Emperor was awed into acquiescence. Hence the Edition: current; Page: [409]whole devolved upon Mithridates, who fell however into measures more violent than befitted a Prince newly established. As to the Parthian competitors; in the heat of their preparations for a battle, they all on a sudden struck a league, alarmed as they were by a conspiracy of the Parthians against both, but first discovered to Gotarzes, and by him to his brother Bardanes. In the beginning of their interview, they were shy and diffident, at last ventured to join hands, then swore upon the altar of the Gods, to revenge the treason of their mutual enemies, and even to resign to each other. But, as Bardanes was held more worthy to retain the Monarchy; Gotarzes, in order to remove with himself all ground of jealousy, retired far into Hyrcania. To Bardanes, upon his return, Seleucia was surrendered in the seventh year of its siege; so long had that single city sustained its independency, and baffled the power of Parthia, to the signal disgrace of the Parthian Monarchy.

He next took possession of the most potent provinces, and had recovered Armenia, but that Vibius Marsus, Lieutenant of Syria, restrained him, by threatening him with war. In the mean time, Gotarzes, regretting his concession of the Kingdom, and again recalled by the nobility, whose bondage is ever most rigorous during peace, formed an army, and was met as far as the river Charinda by Bardanes, who, after an obstinate fight in disputeing the passage, remained conqueror, and Edition: current; Page: [410]thence, by a continued course of victories, subdued all the nations lying between that river and the Gyndes, which parts the Dahans from the Arians. There the torrent of his conquests was obstructed; for, the Parthians however victorious, refused prosecuting a war so remote from home. Structures being therefore raised, as monuments of his grandeur and conquests, and to signify, that none of the Arsacides before him had from these nations exacted tribute, he returned, mighty, in truth, in glory, but thence the more imperious and insupportable to his subjects, who therefore, by guile before concerted, slew him, while, destitute of guards or apprehensions, he was only intent upon the chace, in the flower of his youth, but possessed of such high renown as few of the oldest Kings could have claimed, had he equally studied the love of his people, as he did to awe his enemies. The assassination of Bardanes begot fresh struggles amongst the Parthians, divided as they were about filling the throne. Many adhered to Gotarzes; some proposed Meherdates, the grand-son of Phrahates, and by him given in hostage to the Romans. Gotarzes prevailed, but was no sooner established, but by an abandoned course of cruelties and luxury, he forced the Parthinas upon secret recourse to the Roman Emperor, solliciting for Meherdates to occupy the dominions of his ancestors.

Under the same Consuls were celebrated the Secular Games, eight hundred years after Edition: current; Page: [411]the founding of Rome, sixty-four since they had been exhibited by Augustus. The several purposes of these Princes in these Games I pass over here, as already largely recounted by me in my History of the Emperor Domitian; for he too presented Secular Games, at which I assisted in person, and the more assiduously, as I was invested with the Quindecemviral Priesthood, and at that time Prætor; a circumstance which from no vain-glory I insert, but because formerly the College of fifteen presided in that festival, and the Magistrates chiefly discharged the offices of the solemnity. Whilst Claudius was beholding the Games in the Circus, and the boys of quality represented on horseback the siege of Troy, amongst them particularly Britannicus the Emperor’s son, with Lucius Domitius, who was afterwards adopted into the Claudian family by the name of Nero, and succeeded to the Empire; the affections of the populace appeared more passionate for Domitius; a thing which passed then for a propitious omen, and thence furnished a common tradition, “That in his infancy two dragons, posted like guards, were seen about him;” a fable framed in imitation of the miraculous tales current in foreign nations. For, Nero himself, a Prince who never abridged his own fame, was wont to declare, that in his chamber was never beheld but one snake only.

In truth, this partiality of the people accrued from the memory of Germanicus, from Edition: current; Page: [412]whom he was the only descendent of the male kind; and the popular commiseration towards his mother Agrippina, rose in proportion to the cruel vengeance of Messalina, always her inveterate enemy, and now inflamed with fresh rage; insomuch that, if she did not just then forge crimes and suborn accusers to destroy that Lady, it was owing only to a new amour which possessed her with a passion bordering upon fury. She was so vehemently enchanted with the person of Caius Silius, the most beautiful of all the Roman youth, that she obliged him to divorce his wife Junia Silana, a Lady of high quality, in order to possess alone the embraces of the adulterer. Nor was Silius unapprized of his crime, nor of the doom which threatened him; but, it was destruction without resource, if he withstood Messalina, and glorious rewards were to be the fruits of his compliance. There were some hopes too of blinding Claudius; so that he held the pleasantest counsel the safest, to wait future and distant consequences, and to indulge present prosperity. The Empress, far from pursuing her amour by theft and privacy, frequented his house openly, with a numerous train, accompanied him incessantly abroad, loaded him with wealth, covered him with honours; and, in short, as if the fortune of the Empire had been transferred with the Emperor’s wife, at the house of her adulterer were already seen the slaves, freedmen, and equipage of the Prince.

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Claudius was a stranger to the disorders of his wife, and then exerting the authority of Censor. He corrected the people by severe Edicts for some late instances of their licentiousness, as they had, at the representation of a dramatic piece composed by Publius Pomponius, reviled that Consular in the public Theatre, with several Ladies of illustrious quality. He was likewise the author of a Law to restrain the merciless iniquity of the Usurers, in lending money to young men, to be repaid with increase upon the death of their fathers. The springs that rise in the Simbruine Hills were by him brought to Rome; and to the Roman Alphabet he added new Letters, haveing learnt that even those of Greece were not at once devised and compleated.

The Ægyptians first of all others represented their sentiments by the figures of animals; and these Hieroglyphics carved upon stone, the most ancient monuments of human memory, are still to be seen. That nation boast themselves “the original inventors of Types, and that the Phœnicians having thence learnt them, they, who were mighty in commerce and the dominion of the seas, carried the same into Greece, and assumed the glory of an invention which they themselves were taught.” For, the general tradition is, “that Cadmus arriving there in the Phœnician fleet, instructed the Greeks in that art, a people as yet rude and uncultivated.” Some hold, that “Cecrops the Athenian, or Linus Edition: current; Page: [414]of Thebes, and Palamedes the Argive, who lived during the times of Troy, devised sixteen Letters; and that by others afterwards, especially by Simonides, the rest were added.” As to Italy, the Etruscans learned them of Damaratus the Corinthian, the native Latins of Evander the Arcadian; and the fashion of the Latin Types were the same with those of the ancient Greeks. But we too had few at first, till from time to time the rest were supplied; and now Claudius, by the example of others, added three more, which continued in use during his own reign, and were thenceforth abolished, but are to this day seen in the tables of brass on which are published the decrees of the people, and which hang in the Temples and great squares.

He next made a representation to the Senate concerning the College of Soothsayers; “that they would not suffer the most ancient discipline of Italy to be lost through disuse. The Commonwealth was ever wont, dureing her times of calamity, to have recourse to those of that science, in order to retrieve by their counsel the sacred ceremonies from neglect and corruptions, and to cultivate them thereafter with more strict observance. Thus the nobility of Etruria, whether from their own zeal, or by appointment of the Roman Senate, had always preserved those mysteries themselves, and conveyed the same down to their posterity; a laudable usage, but now faintly observed, Edition: current; Page: [415]through an universal indifference for all worthy arts, and more especially through the prevalence of foreign superstitions. It was true, indeed, that the Republic at present prospered, but her prosperity was purely to be referred to the benignity of the Gods; nor during prosperity ought they to abandon those solemn rites, which in seasons of difficulty had been ever zealously cultivated.” Hence the Senate decreed, “That the Pontiffs should enquire what parts in the mystery of Soothsaying ought to be retained and confirmed.”

The same year, the Cheruscan nation had recourse to Rome for a King. The rage of their own domestic wars had swept away their principal chiefs; and of the Royal stock only one remained, who resided in the City, his name Italicus, son to Flavius the brother of Arminius, and by his mother grand-son to Catumerus Prince of the Cattians. He was himself a handsome person, and in horsemanship and the exercise of arms specially trained, as well according to the manner of his own country as that of ours. The Emperor therefore furnished him with expences and guards, and exhorting him, “to assume with magnanimity his hereditary grandeur,” reminded him withal “that being born at Rome, nor held as a hostage there, but living in the full immunity of a native Citizen, he was the first who went in that character to rule over a strange people.” His accession Edition: current; Page: [416]was, indeed, at first, matter of joy to the Germans, and so much the more, for that having had no share in their civil dissensions, he acted with equal courtesy towards them all. Hence his conduct became popular and renowned, as sometimes he studied only affability and moderation, habits that could provoke none; often gave a loose to carrousels and the gratifications of wantonness, such as the Barbarians delight in. So that his name was already famous amongst the adjacent nations, and even amongst nations more remote; when they, who had borne sway in the reign of factions, taking umbrage at his prevailing power, betook themselves to the several neighbouring people, and represented to them, “That the ancient liberty of Germany was extirpated, and over the Germans the Roman yoke established. Could not, indeed, their whole country furnish one native Cheruscan worthy to sustain the Sovereignty; but at the head of their State they must set the offspring of Flavius, the offspring of a traitor and a spy for the Romans? In vain was alledged his kindred to Arminius; since even the son of Arminius were to be dreaded in the same station, if bred in a hostile soil, poisoned with foreign nurture, debased by foreign slavery, inured to foreign manners, and every thing foreign. But, for this son of Flavius, if he inherited the spirit of his father, never had man waged war with fiercer enmity against his native country and his own household Edition: current; Page: [417]Gods, than the father of this Italicus.

By these and the like stimulations, they procured and assembled numerous forces; nor was Italicus followed by fewer, as on his behalf his followers argued, “That he had by no invasion seized the throne, but held it by their own invitation; and since in blood he excelled all others, it became them to try whether in bravery he would shew himself worthy of his grand-father Catumerus. Nor was it any ground of shame to the son, that his father had never violated that faith towards the Romans, which with the approbation of the Germans he had sworn. But shamelesly and falsly was the sound of liberty urged by those, who, degenerate in their own lives, and destructive by their practices to the public weal, placed their only hopes in rending their country by civil discord.” The King had the zeal and acclamations of the people, and in a great battle between these hosts of Barbarians, he acquired the victory. Thenceforward he became transported with his good fortune, grew imperious, and was expelled, but again restored by the forces of the Longobards; and, in these struggles he continued, as well by his successes as misfortunes, to afflict the Cheruscan state.

About the same time the Chaucians, engaged now in no domestic dissentions, and animated by the death of Sanquinius, Governor Edition: current; Page: [418]of lower Germany, made incursions into that Province, before Corbulo arrived to succeed him. For their leader they had Gannascus, of the country of the Caninefates, one who had long served the Romans amongst their auxiliaries, but deserted, and following the practice of pyracy, infested the neighbouring coasts, and above all terribly ravaged the coasts of Gaul, a nation whom he knew to be rich and unwarlike. But when Corbulo entered the province, where, in this his first military command, he laid the foundation of his eminent future glory, he dispatched with great diligence the galleys down the Rhine, and the other vessels along the lakes and canals, according to their different sizes and burden. Thus, having sunk the enemy’s wherries, and put Gannascus to flight, he took order first for settling effectually the state of the Province, and then restored the ancient discipline amongst the Legions, who were now utter strangers to military toils and application, and had been long employed in depredations only. Under Corbulo no man durst stir from his rank, none, without express orders, durst attack the foe. Accoutred with all their arms, they were forced to keep guard and stand centry; and whatever duties they performed, under all their arms they performed them. It is even reported, “That he punished a soldier with death, for digging in the trenches without his sword, and another for being there armed only with his dagger.” Instances, in truth, Edition: current; Page: [419]of severity without measure; but whether forged or aggravated, they still owed their rise to the rigid spirit of that Captain: so that it was manifest how inexorable in flagrant enormities he must be, who was thought capable of such unrelenting asperity for offences so small.

This terror, however, affected the army and the enemy different ways; by it the Romans increased in bravery, and the ferocity of the Barbarians was abated. Hence the Frizians, who after their rebellion, begun with the defeat of Lucius Apronius, had continued in hostility, or in uncertain and faithless allegiance, sent us new hostages, and settled themselves in the territory assigned them by Corbulo. Over them he instituted a Senate, Magistrates, and Laws; and, to ensure their subjection, amongst them planted a garrison. He likewise dispatched proper persons to sollicit the Chaucians to submission, and at the same time, by guile to assail Gannascus. The snare succeeded; neither did the practice of snares towards a deserter, one who had broke his faith, debase the Roman magnanimity. Yet, by his assassination, the minds of the Chaucians were enflamed, and by it Corbulo furnished them with matter of rebellion. Thus, his proceedings, though applauded by many, gave umbrage to others. “Why, they said, would he be wantonly exciting a people to arms? Upon the Commonwealth must light all the disasters of the war; but, if success attended him, then would such a Edition: current; Page: [420]signal Commander prove terrible to the quiet of the State, and, to a dastardly Prince, insupportable.” Hence Claudius became so thoroughly bent against all further irruptions into Germany, that he ordered him to lead back all the Roman forces over the Rhine.

Corbulo was already encamping in the enemy’s country, when these orders were delivered him; and though many different apprehensions at once overwhelmed his spirit, his dread of the Emperor, the scorn of the Barbarians, the derision of the Allies; yet without uttering more than, that “happy were the Roman Captains of old,” he ordered the retreat to be sounded. However, to prevent the soldiers from relapsing into a habit of idleness, he employed them in digging a Canal three and twenty miles long between the Meuse and the Rhine; by it to open a receptacle for the high tides, and prevent inundations. The Emperor nevertheless allowed him the decorations of Triumph, though he had denied him the prosecution of the war. Shortly after, the same honour was conferred on Curtius Rufus, who, in the territory of the Mattiacians had opened some silver mines, a source of small advantage, nor of long continuance; but to the Legions it created eminent labour and damage, as they were forced to cut deep sluices, and toil under the earth at works which even in open air are hard and rigorous. The soldiers therefore, overcome by these hardships, and perceiving that the same drudgeries Edition: current; Page: [421]were exacted from them in several Provinces, wrote secretly to the Emperor, and in the name of the Armies besought him, “that whomsoever he intended for the Command of the Legions, he would first reward them with the triumphal honours.”

Concerning the original of Curtius Rufus, who by some is represented as the son of a Gladiator, I should be sorry to publish a false account, and I am also tender of recounting that which is true. As soon as he was grown to a man, he followed a Roman Quæstor into Africa; and, at the City of Adrumetum, while he walked under the piazza, in the middle of the day, the vision of a woman above human size appeared before him, and accosted him with these words; “Thou, Rufus, art one who shalt hereafter come into this Province with Proconsular authority.” Inspired with hopes from this presage, he returned to Rome, where, by the largesses of his friends, and the vigour of his own spirit, he gained the Quæstorship; and standing afterwards for the office of Prætor against the several candidates of the Nobility, carried it by the interest of Tiberius, who, as a shade to the sordidness of his birth, gave him this encomium; “To me Curtius Rufus seems to be descended from himself.” After this, always a servile flatterer of those above him, arrogant to his inferiors, and perverse to his equals, he lived to a great age, arrived to the Consular power, the honours of Triumph, lastly to the Government Edition: current; Page: [422]of Africa; and, dying there, fulfilled the fatal presage.

About the same time Cneius Novius a Roman Knight, was discovered armed with a dagger in the throng of those who were paying their court to the Prince; but, upon what motives, was no wise apparent then, nor ever afterwards learnt. For though, when rent by the rack, he at last confessed his own design, his accomplices he never disclosed; whether he would not, or had none, is uncertain. Under the same Consuls it was moved by Publius Dolabella, “that a public entertainment of Gladiators should be yearly exhibited at the charge of such as obtained the office of Quæstors.” An office, which in the days of our ancestors was only the price of virtue; and indeed to every Roman, if he confided in his own qualifications, it was free to sue for every Magistracy; nor was want of years held any obstruction, but that some, even in their early youth, might become Consuls and Dictators. As to the Quæstorship, it was as ancient as our Kings, as is manifest from the Law Curiata, revived by Lucius Brutus; and the power of chusing Quæstors continued in the Consuls, till the people would assume the conferring of that honour also. So that Valerius Potitus and Æmilius Mamercus, the first popular Quæstors, were created twenty-three years after the expulsion of the Tarquins, and appointed to attend the armies; upon the multiplication of business, two more Edition: current; Page: [423]were afterwards added, to officiate at Rome. After a long interval, all Italy being now tributary, and large revenues growing from the Provinces, the number was doubled. Sylla next, in order to fill the Senate, upon which he had devolved the authority of adjudging causes, created twenty; and though the Equestrian Order had since recovered the decision of suits, yet the Quæstorship continued still to be, by the rule of merit, gratuitously granted, till by this motion of Dolabella, it was exposed, as it were, to sale by auction.

In the Consulship of Aulus Vitellius and Lucius Vipsanius, counsels were on foot about supplying the vacancies of the Senate; and, as the Nobility of that part of Gaul entitled Comata, had long since acquired the distinction of Confederates and Citizens of Rome, they now sued for a common participation of her offices and honours. Hence many and various were the reasonings of the public upon these their pretensions, and the Prince was beset with opposite parties and struggles. He was told, “that Italy was not fallen so low, but to her own Capital she could furnish a supply of Senators. Of old her natives only, they who were of the same blood with the Romans, sufficed for such recruits to the Roman State. Nor was there any pretence to condemn or amend the institutions of the ancient Republic, a Republic which inspired her Citizens with such noble manners, that the spirit and actions of the old Romans Edition: current; Page: [424]were still urged as venerable patterns of virtue and glory to us their posterity. Was it not sufficient that already the Venetians and Insubrians had invaded the Senate, unless a host of foreigners too be introduced, like an establishment of captivity and conquest? After this, what dignity would remain to the native Nobility? What means of preferment to any poor Senator of Latium? By these opulent Gauls all public honours would be engrossed, men whose fathers and fore-fathers were at the head of hostile nations, slaughtered our Armies, and at Alesia besieged the deified Julius; instances these of later days; but more horrible to recount were the ravages of the antient Gauls, who with impious hands demolished the great Roman Altar, and defaced the Capitol. They might, in truth, enjoy still the title of Roman Citizens; but, let not the glory of the Fathers, let not the lustre of the Magistrates be prostituted, and rendered the purehase and spoil of nations.”

The Emperor was little affected by these and the like allegations, but, having presently answered those who made them, summoned the Senate and spoke thus. “The ancestors of my family, and the oldest of them, Attus Clausus, who, though a Sabine born, was at once adopted a Roman Citizen, and enrolled in the number of Patricians, furnish me with a lesson, that with parallel measures I ought to maintain the Commonwealth, Edition: current; Page: [425]by transferring to ourselves all men of signal merit where-ever found. For, I am not ignorant, that from Alba we had the Julii, from Camerium the Corruncani, and the Porcii from Tusculum. But, to avoid the detail of ancient and single adoptions, were not the Nobles of Etruria, the Nobles of Lucania, nay, those of all Italy, called into the body of the Senate? At last our city and her privileges became bounded only by the Alps; insomuch that, besides the admission of particulars, whole States and Nations became ingrafted into the Roman name. We had then solid peace at home, and our arms and reputation flourished abroad, when the nations on the other side the Po were presented with the rights of Citizens; and when, under the guise of planting, out of the Legions, Colonies all over the earth, and by incorporating with these our Colonies the most powerful of the natives, we thence supported and renewed our own exhausted state. Do we regret that the Balbi were transplanted to us from Spain, or men equally illustrious from the Narbon Gaul; they whose descendents remain yet with us, nor yield to us in their love of this our common country? What proved the bane of the Spartans and Athenians, States so potent in arms and conquests, but that they held for aliens whomsoever they conquered? Much greater was the wisdom of Romulus, our founder, a Prince who saw several people Edition: current; Page: [426]his enemies and his citizens, in one and the same day. Even over us Romans foreigners have been Kings; and, to commit Magistracies to the children of freedmen, is no innovation, as many erroneously suppose, but a primitive practice of the old Roman people. But, it seems, we have had wars with the Gauls. What is the consequence? Have the Volscians, have the Equians never borne arms against us? It is true, our Capital has been taken by the Gauls; but by the Tuscans we have been forced to give hostages, and by the Samnites to pass under a gibbet. However, upon a review of all our wars, none will be found more quickly concluded than those with the Gauls; and ever since has ensued a peace never interrupted, and faithfully observed. They are linked with us in private manners, in civil and military accomplishments, and domestic alliances; and in this conjunction with us let them rather introduce amongst us their gold and abundance, than enjoy them without our participation. All the things, Conscript Fathers, which are now held most ancient in our State, were once new: the Plebeian Magistrates were later than the Patricians; the Latin Magistrates later than the Plebeian; those of other nations in Italy came after the Latin: the present admission of the Gauls will also wax old; and what is this day supported by examples, will itself hereafter become an example.”

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By a Decree of the Fathers, which followed this speech, the Eduans first acquired the right of admission into the Senate; the reward this of their ancient confederacy with Rome, and as they only of all the Gauls are entitled the Brethren of the Roman people. About the same time, all the ancient Senators, with such whose fathers had sustained signal offices in the State, were by Claudius assumed into the class of Patricians. For, of all the families who by Romulus were named the older Nobility, or of those added by Lucius Brutus, and called the younger, there were few remaining. Even such whom Cæsar the Dictator by the Cassian Law, and such whom the Emperor Augustus by the Senian Law, had created Patricians, were now extinct. As these reformations made in the State by Claudius, in quality of Censor, were acceptable to the public, he proceeded in them with great alacrity; yet, how to degrade from the Senate those who were of infamous characters, held him some time in suspence; but, as he determined to apply rather a new and tender expedient, than to pursue the rigorous example of antiquity, he warned them, “to consult their own qualifications, and then ask leave to resign their order; a request easily to be obtained,” and then he promised, “to name them as persons removed by abdication, at the same time that he would pronounce others judicially expelled; that thus the credit of a modest and voluntary resignation, might Edition: current; Page: [428]soften and hide the infamy of expulsion by the judgment of the Censor.” For these regulations, the Consul Vipsanius proposed, “that Claudius should be called the Father of the Senate; for that, the name of Father of his Country was a common title; and his extraordinary benefits to the Commonwealth ought to be distinguished with no ordinary appellations:” but the Emperor thought the flattery extravagant, and checked the Consul. He then numbered the Citizens, who in that survey amounted to six millions, nine hundred thousand. From this time he remained no longer a stranger to his domestic reproach, but was brought to hear and punish the abominations of his wife; whence was to arise a new passion, and an incestuous marriage with his niece.

Messalina now disdaining her daily adulteries, as too easy and common, was abandoning herself to the gratifications of lust never before devised; when Silius too, by a fatal intoxication, or judging that the dangers hanging over him were only to be averted by dangerous remedies, urged to her, “that all disguises must now be cast off, for they were gone too far to venture waiting for the death of the Emperor. To none but the guiltless were unblameable counsels adapted. In glaring guilt determined intrepidity was the only resource. They had accomplices at hand, such as dreaded the same doom; and for himself, he was single, childless, ready to marry her, and to Edition: current; Page: [429]adopt Britannicus: to Messalina should still remain her present power; and certain security would abide both, if they prevented Claudius, one so easily circumvented, but so prone withal to vengeance.” These words were but coolly received by Messalina, from no love to her husband; but she feared that Silius, when he had gained the Sovereignty, would scorn his old adulteress; and the treason, which, to avoid his present peril, he now recommended, would then be considered and repaid according to its genuine value. She, however, coveted the fame of this strange matrimony, purely for the enormous measure of infamy; which to such as are abandoned to debauchery, is the last improvement of voluptuousness. Neither staid she longer than till Claudius went to Ostia, to assist at a sacrifice there, and then celebrated her new Nuptials with all the usual solemnities.

I am well aware how fabulous it will appear, that such blind security should possess any human heart, much more that a Consul elect, should, in a city informed of all things, and concealing nothing, dare to marry the Emperor’s wife, at a stated day, witnesses called to sign the contract, with a declaration inserted that by it children were intended; that the Emperor’s wife should espouse another husband in form, hear the solemn words of the Augurs, sacrifice solemnly to the Gods, celebrate with him in a great company the nuptial Feasts, and in the presence of all exchange kisses and embraces, Edition: current; Page: [430]and pass the night in the consummation of conjugal joys. Yet I frame no fiction, to excite wonder, but only relate what from the living or written testimony of our fathers I have learned.

Horror seized the Prince’s family, especially those who had the chief sway, who dreaded a Revolution; and, uttering no longer their indignation in secret, they stormed aloud, “That while the Emperor’s bed-chamber was polluted by a player, high reproach was in truth incurred, but dissolution no wise threatened the State. At present a young man of the prime Nobility, in the beauty of his person surpassing all men, of a spirit vigorous and capable, and just entering upon the Consulship, was pursuing views much higher; nor was it any riddle, what such a marriage tended to produce.” It is true, when they recollected the stupidity of Claudius, his blind attachment to his wife, and the many lives sacrificed to her fury, their own apprehensions dismayed them. But again, even the passive spirit of the Emperor revived their confidence, that, if they could first possess him with the horrid blackness of her crimes, she might be dispatched without trial; or, if she obtained to be heard, and even confessed her guilt, they might yet stop his ears, and frustrate her defence.

But first it was in agitation, whether still to dissemble her past enormities, and by secret menaces deter her from her league with Silius. Edition: current; Page: [431]This was a project proposed by the principal freedmen, by Callistus, whom in relating the assassination of Caligula, I have already mentioned, by Narcissus, who plotted the sacrifice of Appius, and by Pallas, then the reigning favourite; but a project afterwards dropped, as from alarming Messalina they apprehended their own doom. Pallas was faint-hearted, and Callistus, a courtier in the last reign also, had experienced, that power was supported more securely by wary measures, than by daring counsels. Narcissus persisted in his purpose, with this difference only, that she should be by no words of his pre-acquainted with the accusation or the accuser. Thus, watching all occasions, while the Emperor lingered at Ostia, he prevailed, by gifts and promises, with two courtezans, to undertake the accusation; since, as they were the chief mistresses of Claudius, the freedman urged to them, “That by the fall of his wife, their own authority would become predominant.”

Calpurnia therefore, (for that was her name) upon the first offer of privacy, falling at the Emperor’s feet, cried out, “That Messalina had married Silius,” and at the same time asked Cleopatra, who purposely attended to attest it, “Whether she had not found it to be true?” Claudius, upon a confirmation from Cleopatra, ordered Narcissus to be called. He, when he came, begged pardon, that he had concealed her adulteries Edition: current; Page: [432]with Vectius, and those with Plautius; “nor meant he now, he said, to urge against her any of her adulteries, nor even that the Emperor should reclaim his palace, his slaves, and the other decorations of his Imperial fortune. Let her adulterer still enjoy even these; let him only break the nuptial tables, and restore the Emperor his wife. Knowest thou, Cæsar, that thou art in a state of divorce? it is what all men know, the people, and Senate, and soldiery, and, if thou makest not dispatch, her new husband is Sovereign of Rome.

He then sent for his most trusty friends, particularly for Turranius, Superintendant of the stores, next for Lusius Geta, Captain of the Prætorian Guards, and proposed the question to them. As they vouched it to be true, all the rest contended in clamour and importunity, that he should forthwith proceed to the Camp, secure the Prætorian Cohorts, and consult his preservation before his revenge. It is certain, that Claudius was confounded with such a degree of dread, that he incessantly asked, “Whether he were yet Emperor? Whether Silius was still a private man?” As to Messalina, she never wallowed in greater voluptuousness; as it was then the middle of Autumn, in her house she exhibited a representation of the vintage. The wine-presses were plied, the wine-vats flowed, and round them danced women begirt with skins, pracrising the frantic agitations of the drunken Edition: current; Page: [433]sacrificers to Bacchus. She herself, with her hair loose and flowing, held a Thyrsus and waved it, accompanied by Silius, who was crowned with ivy, his legs in buskins, and brandishing his head; and about him revelled, in wanton postures, the chanting choir of mock Priests. It is reported, that Vectius Valens, having, in a frolic, vaulted to the top of an exceeding high tree, was asked, what he beheld, and answered, “a storm from Ostia.” Whether he in truth saw a troubled sky, or spoke at random, it proved in effect a true presage.

For, it was no longer a rumour only, but messengers were hourly arriving with tidings, “That Claudius was apprized of all, and approached, bent upon vengeance.” Messalina therefore betook herself to the Gardens of Lucullus; and Silius, to dissemble his fear, resumed the offices of the Forum. As all the rest fled different ways, the Centurions caught and bound them, some abroad, some in private places, as fast as they could discover them. Messalina, however bereft of resources under such weighty calamity, yet formed no dastardly purpose, even that of meeting her husband, and moving him by her presence, an expedient which had often proved her protection. She likewise ordered that Britannicus and Octavia should go forth and embrace their father; and besought Vibidia, the oldest Vestal, to intercede with the chief Pontiff, and implore his mercy. She Edition: current; Page: [434]herself the while wandered on foot all along the City, attended only by three persons (so suddenly had her whole train forsaken her in disgrace) and then, in a cart employed to carry dirt from the Gardens, took the road to Ostia, but found no soul to pity her, as the deformity of her abominations had prevailed over all commiseration.

The Emperor was, notwithstanding, possessed with no less affright; for, he could not intirely rely on the faith of Geta Captain of his guards, a man equally fickle to embark in designs honourable or base. Narcissus therefore, in concert with those who entertained the same fears and mistrust, assured the Emperor, “That there was no other expedient to preserve him, than the transferring the command of his guards upon one of his freedmen, for that day only,” and offered himself to undertake it. And, that Lucius Vitellius, and Publius Largus Cæcina, might not, upon the road to Rome, prevail with Claudius to relent, he desired leave to sit in the same coach, and took it.

There was afterwards a prevailing report, that, though the Emperor was agitated different ways, and wavered in his talk, now taxing the abominations of his wife, then recalling the endearments of their marriage, and the tender age of their children, Vitellius uttered nothing but, “Oh heinous! oh the iniquity!” Narcissus, in truth, laboured to drive him from his equivoques, and bring Edition: current; Page: [435]him to some express declaration, but, with all his labour, gained nothing: Vitellius still answered indirectly, in terms that would admit of any construction, and his example was followed by Largus Cæcina. Besides, Messalina was already in sight, and importunately cried, “that he would hear the mother of Octavia and Britannicus?” To drown her cries, the accuser stormed aloud against Silius, and her late marriage, and delivered at the same time to Claudius a memorial, reciting all her whoredoms, thence to divert him from beholding her. Soon after, as the Emperor was entering Rome, it was attempted to present him his children by her; but Narcissus ordered them to be taken thence; he could not, however, force away Vibidia, who insisted, with much earnestness, “That Cæsar would not surrender his wife to destruction without admitting her defence.” So that Narcissus was obliged to assure her, that the Prince would hear Messalina, who should have full opportunity of clearing herself, and advised the Vestal to retire, and attend the solemnities of her Goddess.

Wonderful, during all this, was the silence of Claudius. Vitellius affected astonishment, and the freedman controuled all things. By his command, the house of the adulterer was opened, and the Emperor carried thither, where first he shewed him, in the porch, the Statue of Silius the father, though the same had been decreed to be demolished by the Edition: current; Page: [436]Senate; and, within, all the sumptuous furniture belonging to the Neros and Drusi, now the price and monuments of his wife’s prostitution, and of his own disgrace. Having thus inflamed him, and worked him up to threats and fury, he led him streight to the camp, where the soldiers being already assembled, Claudius, prompted by Narcissus, made them a short speech; for the eruptions of his displeasure, however just, were restrained by shame. Hence instantly began a general and importunate clamour for the names and doom of the criminals, and Silius was presented before the Imperial Tribunal, where, neither offering any present defence, nor endeavouring to procrastinate, he only besought a dispatch of his doom. The like passion for sudden execution, also stimulated several illustrious Roman Knights. He therefore commanded Titius Proculus, given by Silius as a guard to Messalina, Vectius Valens, who confessed his guilt, and offered to discover others, Pompeius Urbicus and Saufellus Trogus, as accomplices, to be all dragged to execution. On Decius Calpurnianus too, Præfect of the watch, Sulpicius Rufus, Comptroller of the Sports; and Juncus Virgilianus, the Senator, the same pains were inflicted.

Mnester only created some hesitation; he tore off his garments and cried, “That the Emperor might behold upon his body the impressions of the lash; might remember Edition: current; Page: [437]his own commands, obliging him to gratify Messalina without reserve. Others had been tempted to the iniquity by great presents or mighty hopes; but his offence was only owing to compulsion, nor would any man have sooner perished had Silius gained the Sovereignty.” These considerations affected Claudius, and greatly biassed him to mercy; but his freedmen over-ruled him; “for that after so many illustrious sacrifices, he would by no means think of saveing a Player, whose crime was of that enormity, that it availed not whether through choice or force he had committed it.” As small effect had the defence of Traulus Montanus. This was a youth of signal modesty and loveliness, called by the express order of Messalina to her bed, and, after one night, cast off; with such equal wantonness was her passion surfeited and inflamed! To Suilius Cesoninus, and Plautius Lateranus, their lives were granted, to the last on account of the noble exploits of his uncle; the other was protected by his vileness, as one who, in the late abominable revel, had prostituted himself like a woman.

Messalina was the while in the Gardens of Lucullus, still striving to prolong life, and therefore composing supplications to the Prince, in a strain of some hopes, and even with sallies of resentment and wrath. Such were the swellings of her pride, though encompassed with the horrors of her approaching fate. In Edition: current; Page: [438]truth, had not Narcissus hastened her assassination, the doom which he had prepared for her, would have rebounded upon his own head. For Claudius, upon his return home, having well feasted upon the rarities of the season, and becoming jovial, as soon as he became warm with wine, ordered them “to go and acquaint the miserable woman,” (for this was the appellation which he is said to have used) “that to morrow she should attend and plead her cause.” When these words were reported, as his resentment also visibly abated, and his wonted affections were returning; besides, since the impressions of the following night, and of the conjugal chamber, were apprehended as the certain effects of delay, Narcissus ran hastily forth, and directed the Tribune and Centurions then attending upon duty, “to dispatch the execution, for such was the Emperor’s command.” With them he sent Evodus of the freedmen, as a watch upon them, to see his orders strictly fulfilled. Evodus flew in a moment to the Gardens, and found her lying along upon the earth. By her sat her mother Lepida, who, during her prosperity, had lived in no degree of unanimity with her, but, in this her deadly distress, was overcome by compassion for her, and now persuaded her, “to anticipate the executioner; the course of her life was now finally run, and she was now confined to one only pursuit, of dying with renown.” But her soul, utterly corrupted by debauchery, retained no Edition: current; Page: [439]relish of glory. She continued bewailing herself with tears and vain complaints, till the soldiers forced the doors. The Tribune stood before her, without opening his mouth, but the freedman abused her unmeasurably, with all the brutal invectives of a slave.

She was then first convinced of the fate that hung over her, and, laying hold on the steel, aimed first at her throat, then at her breast, but while an irresolute spirit and a quaking hand frustrated her aim, the Tribune ran her through. Her corps was granted to her mother. Claudius was yet pursuing his good cheer, when tidings were carried to him, “That Messalina had suffered her destiny,” but without the addition of particulars, whether by her own, or another hand; neither did he enquire; he even called for a bowl of wine, and proceeded in the usual gayeties of banquetting. Nor did he, in truth, during the following days, manifest any symptom of detestation or joy, of resentment or sadness, nor, in short, of any human affection; unmoved by beholding the accusers of his wife exulting over her death, untouched by the sight of his children bewailing the doom of their mother. The Senate helped him to forget her, by decreeing, “That from all public and private places her Name should be razed, and her Pictures and Statues removed.” To Narcissus were decreed the decorations of the Quæstorship. This, however, was but a small monument of his Edition: current; Page: [440]grandeur, seeing he had now exerted an instance of power superior to that of Pallas and Callistus, an instance just in effect, but from whence, in time, arose most pernicious consequences, as the deserved punishment of Messalina proved the source of flagrant iniquities which escaped unpunished.

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BOOK XII.

The SUMMARY.

Contests amongst the freedmen about the choice of a wife for the Emperor. Agrippina, his own niece, is preferred, and the marriage decreed lawful by the Senate. L. Silanus kills himself, and why. Seneca recalled from banishment. Octavia, the daughter of Claudius, betrothed to Nero, his wife’s son. Deputies from Parthia apply to Rome for Meherdates to be their King. He is vanquished in battle by Gotarzes. Mithridates tries to gain the Kingdom of Pontus, without success. He is carried in chains to Rome. Lollia, a Lady of prime quality, condemned by the artifices of Agrippina. Claudius enlarges the circuit of Rome: Who they were that did so before him. Nero is adopted by Claudius for his Son. A colony settled amongst the Ubians. The Cattians commit great ravages and depredations, but are routed. Vannius King of the Suevians driven from his Kingdom. Pub. Ostorius his exploits in Britain: A victory gained over King Caractacus there. Britannicus the Emperor’s Son, by the arts of Agrippina, slighted and postponed to Nero. All his most faithful Edition: current; Page: [442]domestics removed from him. Prodigies. Dearth of grain at Rome. War between the Armenians and Iberians: The Romans and Parthians take different parts in it. Furius Scribonianus doomed to exile. Punishment decreed against Ladies marrying their slaves. Commotions in Judæa. Claudius causes a naval battle to be represented upon the lake Fucinus. With what power unlimited he invested his Comptrollers in the Provinces. An utter exemption from taxes granted to the Isle of Coos; also to the City of Byzantium, a remission of tribute for five years. Lepida, a lady of high rank, doomed to die. Claudius poisoned by procurement of his wife Agrippina. Nero her Son assumes the sovereignty.

UPON the execution of Messalina, distractions shook the Prince’s family, as amongst the freedmen a strife arose, which of them should chuse a wife for Claudius, one impatient of a single life, and always abandoned to the dominion of his wives. Nor were the Ladies animated by less emulation, whilst they endeavoured preferably to recommend their own quality, wealth, and beauty, and each boasted her just claim to imperial wedlock. The chief competition, however, lay between Lollia Paullina, daughter to Marcus Lollius a Consular, and Julia Agrippina the daughter of Germanicus, the latter supported by the interest of Pallas, the other by that of Callistus. But, Ælia Petina, of the Tuberonian family, had the countenance of Narcissus. For Claudius; as he was now bent upon one, then upon another, and always led by his last adviser, he called together these his jarring counsellors, Edition: current; Page: [443]and ordered them to produce their several proposals, and defend them.

Narcissus alledged “his former marriage with Petina, and their common daughter (for by her he had Antonia) “that such a wife would never exercise the envious spirit of a step-mother towards Britannicus and Octavia, in blood so nearly allied to her own children.” Callistus argued, “that, to recall her, after so long a dislike and divorce, would be the very means to heighten her indignation and pride. Lollia would be a much more eligible match, who haveing no issue of her own, was void of every motive of emulation to his, but would use these her step-children with the tenderness of a real mother.” Pallas chiefly recommended Agrippina from these considerations, That, with her she would bring the grandson of Germanicus, and was herself worthy of imperial fortune, noble in her descent, and a proper band to unite together to posterity the Claudian family; that she was of tried fruitfulness, and in the prime of her age; so that by this match, would be prevented her carrying into another house the blood and splendor of the Cæsars.

The reasonings of Pallas prevailed, enforced, as they were, by the allurements and caresses of Agrippina, who, under shew of consanguinity, was assiduous in her visits to her uncle, and, though hitherto she was only preferred to others, and not yet his wife; she Edition: current; Page: [444]already exercised the power of one. For, as soon as she had secured her own marriage, she was framing higher purposes, and concerting a match between Domitius, her son by Cneius Ænobarbus, and Octavia, the Emperor’s daughter, a design which without iniquity could not be accomplished, because the Emperor had betrothed Octavia to Lucius Silanus, a youth of signal quality, whom Claudius had distinguished with the triumphal ornaments, and, by the popular magnificence of an entertainment of gladiators in his name, recommended to the notice and favour of the people. But nothing appeared insurmountable to the undiscerning spirit of a Prince, who had no judgment, nor choice, nor aversion, but such as were infused and managed by others.

Vitellius therefore, who foresaw into whose hands the sovereignty was hastening, to purchase the favour of Agrippina, became engaged in her counsels, and, under the plausible name of Censor covering his own servile falsities, began to devise crimes against Silanus, whose sister Junia Silana, a young lady gay and beautiful, had not long before been the daughter-in-law of Vitellius. Hence he took the source of the accusation, and wrested to a charge of incest the mutual affection of brother and sister, an affection no wise incestuous, however too free and unguarded. The Emperor listened to the charge, as his fondness for his daughter rendered him the Edition: current; Page: [445]more prone to entertain suspicions against his son-in-law. Silanus, unapprized of any machinations against him, and happening to be Prætor that year, was all on a sudden, by an edict of Vitellius, degraded from the rank of a Senator, notwithstanding that the Senate was reviewed, and the number fixed a good while before. Claudius, at the same time, withdrew his alliance, and Silanus was even compelled to renounce his magistracy; insomuch that his Prætorship, which of course expired next day, was for that day conferred upon Eprius Marcellus.

During the consulship of Caius Pompeius and Quintus Veranius, the contract of marriage between Claudius and Agrippina, was already ascertained by the public voice, and indeed by their own criminal commerce. They durst not however celebrate the nuptials, as there was no instance of an uncle’s taking to wife his brother’s daughter. Besides, it was evidently incestuous, and if that consideration were despised, it was apprehended that some avenging calamity might fall upon the state. These fears and delays continued, till Vitellius undertook to accomplish it, by his own dexterity. He asked the Emperor, “whether he would submit to the express pleasure of the people, and to the authority of the Senate?” Claudius answered, “that he himself was one of the people, and could not withstand the voice and consent of them all.” Vitellius Edition: current; Page: [446]then desired him to continue within the palace, and went himself to the Senate, where, after a solemn declaration, that he had somewhat to communicate of the highest importance to the commonwealth, he demanded leave to be heard before any other; then alledged, “that the exquisite and incessant labours of the Prince, even those of governing the world, called for alleviation and support, such as, relieving him from domestic cares, might leave him at full leisure to attend the interest of the whole. What, in truth, was a more worthy consolation to the spirit of a Censor, than that of a wife, a sharer in his crosses and prosperity, one in whom he could repose his most secret thoughts, and the care of his tender infants? For, as to the ways of sensuality and voluptuous pleasures, he had never followed them, but from his early youth practised strict obedience to the laws.”

After this plausible introduction, which he found received by the Senate with mighty sycophancy and applause, he again proceeded; “that seeing they all with one mouth persuaded the Prince to marry, a Lady must be chosen signal in her descent, of distinguished fruitfulness, and religiously virtuous; nor for these qualifications needed there be long search, since Agrippina, in the illustriousness of her race, excelled all others, had given proofs of her fruitfulness, and was endowed with suitable purity of manners. It was indeed a happy circumstance, that Edition: current; Page: [447]through the providence of the Gods, she proved then a widow, that the Prince might take her to his bed, without violating that of another, he who had ever confined himself to his own wives. They had heard from their fathers, nay, themselves had seen, that Ladies were ravished from their husbands, at the lust and command of the Cæsars; a proceeding far from the moderate spirit of the present government, when the Emperor even established a precedent by what authority Princes ought hereafter to marry. But, amongst us it seemed an innovation to marry our brother’s daughters, which yet is a usage frequent in other nations, nor by any law forbidden to ours. The intermarriage of cousin-germans was a practice long unknown, yet in time waxed frequent. Customs were to be suited to exigencies, and this very novelty was one of those things which would soon be followed and practised.”

There were several Senators who declared with contending zeal, “that if the Emperor lingered longer, they would compel him,” and rushed warmly out of the Senate. The mixed multitude were likewise assembled, and proclaimed with shouts, “that the same was the voice and demand of the Roman people.” Nor did Claudius delay any further, but proceeded to the Forum, there to receive in person their acclamations, and thence entering the Senate, required “a decree to legitimate Edition: current; Page: [448]for ever the marriages between uncles and their brothers daughters.” But, notwithstanding the law, no man was found addicted to this kind of alliance, except Titus Alledius Severus, a Roman Knight, and he only, as many believed, in court to Agrippina. From this moment, the city assumed a different face, and all men tamely obeyed a woman, one who did not, like Messalina, render the Roman State subservient only to her wantonness and amours, but over it established a complete and masculine bondage. Her carriage in public was severe, often haughty; at home she indulged no impurity, unless where the same served the purposes of her sway; and for a guise to her insatiate passion for money, she pretended the support of the sovereignty.

On the day of the nuptials, Silanus slew himself; whether he had thus long entertained hopes of life, or invidiously chose that day to accumulate public hate upon his persecutors. His sister Calvina was banished Italy, and to her sentence Claudius added an injunction to the Pontifs, “that, according to the institution of King Tullus, they should offer expiatory sacrifices at the grove of Diana;” a source of mockery to all men, that penalties and lustrations for incest should be devised at such a conjuncture, when incest was established by law. For Agrippina; that she might not be distinguished and notorious only for the blackness of her deed, she obtained for Annæus Edition: current; Page: [449]Seneca a revocation from exile, and with it the Prætorship, favours which she supposed would prove well pleasing to the public, on account of his signal eloquence and accomplishments; besides her views to the education of her son Domitius under such a master, and to the use of his counsels for acquiring him the Empire. For Seneca, she believed, would continue faithfully attached to her from ties of gratitude, and in secret enmity to Claudius, through resentments of his sufferings.

It was now thought expedient to proceed without further delay, and Memmius Pollio, Consul elect, was gained, by vast promises, to move the Senate, that Claudius might be besought “to betroth Octavia to Domitius,” a match not unsuitable, indeed, to the equality of their ages, but introductory to the highest views. Pollio moved it much in the same words with those lately used by Vitellius; Octavia was betrothed, and Domitius, besides his former consanguinity with the Emperor, becoming also his son-in-law, was raised to a parity with Britannicus, an elevation derived from the efforts of his mother, and from the devices of those who having been the accusers of Messalina, dreaded the vengeance of her son.

I have before related that Embassadors from the Parthians were sent to Rome, to demand Meherdates for their King: they were at this time introduced into the Senate, where they opened their embassy to this effect; “That Edition: current; Page: [450]they came not to seek the violation of treaties, which they were aware subsisted between us and them; nor as revolters from the family of the Arsacides, but to call home the son of Vonones, the grandson of Phrahates, as their deliverer from the tyranny of Gotarzes, equally insupportable to the nobility and people. Already he had utterly butchered his own brothers, and his relations, and already extended the same cruelty to distant nobles and places; to their slaughter he was daily adding that of their wives and tender children, some of them yet unborn. He was a sluggard in peace, and of wretched fortune in war, but would with acts of cruelty disguise his dastardly spirit. With us the Parthians had an ancient friendship, founded upon public leagues; and it behoved us to succour these our allies, in strength great as ourselves, and only in reverence yielding to us. It was true, the sons of their Kings were given as pledges to the Romans; but therefore only given, that when the government of Parthia became grievous, they might have recourse to the Emperor and Senate, for a King improved by the Roman manners, and thence worthier of the throne.”

When they had alledged these and the like arguments, Claudius made a speech concerning the grandeur of the Romans, and the deferences ever paid to the same by the Parthians; and equalling himself with the deified Edition: current; Page: [451]Augustus, represented that from him also they had sought a King. He omitted to mention Tiberius, though he too had sent them Kings. Upon Meherdates (who was present) he bestowed proper admonitions, “not to consider his government as a lawless domination, nor his people as slaves, but to remember himself and them in the tender relation of magistrate and fellow citizens; to cultivate justice and clemency, blessings unknown to Barbarians, and thence the more likely to please them.” Then turning to the embassadors, he enlarged upon the praises of the young Prince, “as one educated in the Roman discipline, himself of distinguished modesty,” yet advised them, “to bear with the humours of their Kings, for in frequent changes, they could never find their interest. For the Roman State, it was arrived to a satiety of glory, insomuch that she studied the repose likewise of foreign Nations.” It was therefore given in commission to Caius Cassius, governor of Syria, to conduct the young King to the banks of the Euphrates.

This Cassius surpassed all those of that time in the knowledge of the laws; for, in a long and general recess from war, the military arts were forgot, and, during a settled peace, no difference appears between the dastardly and the brave. Yet he sedulously exercised the legions, carefully revived the ancient discipline, as far as without war the same could be revived, and acted with the same care and circumspection, Edition: current; Page: [452]as if a formidable enemy had been at hand. Such conduct, he thought, became the renown of his ancestors and the Cassian family, a family celebrated even amongst those nations. He now encamped at Zeugma, a place where the river is most passable, and having called together those by whose advice a King was sought from Rome, as soon as the Parthian chiefs, and with them Agbarus King of the Arabs, were arrived, he represented to Meherdates, “that the Barbarians, in the first sallies of their spirit, were always violent, but cooled by delays, or warped into treachery; so that, it behoved him to accelerate the execution of his enterprise.” This good counsel was frustrated by the fraud of Agbarus, who detained the young King many days at the city of Edessa, yet unexperienced, and believing that the essence of Royal fortune was placed in luxury and riot. So that, though Carrhenes pressed them by messengers, and assured them, that success was certain, if they advanced with speed, yet they neglected entering directly into Mesopotamia, though they were just upon its borders, but chose, by a long circuit, to march to Armenia, an unseasonable march, for winter was already begun.

As they descended into the plains, wearied with the deep snow and steep mountains, Carrhenes joined them with his forces. Thence they passed the Tigris, and crossed the country of the Adiabenians, Izates their King having publicly espoused the interest of Meherdates, Edition: current; Page: [453]though secretly his inclinations were more sincerely attached to Gotarzes. In passing the river, they took the city Ninos, the ancient seat of the Assyrian Empire, as also the castle of Arbela, so renowned in story, for that the last battle between Darius and Alexander was there fought, and by it the Monarchy of Persia dissolved. Gotarzes the while was sacrificing upon mount Sambulos to the Gods of the place Amongst these Hercules is principally adored, who, at stated times, is wont to warn the priests in a dream, “to prepare him horses equipped for hunting, and place them by the temple;” and these horses, as soon as they have fixed upon them certain quivers stuffed with arrows, gallop off and scour the forests, nor return till night, their arrows all spent, and themselves exhausted and blowing. Again, the God, in another vision of the night, describes to the priests the several tracts of the woods where he had ranged, and in them are found scattered up and down, the beasts by him hunted down and slain.

As the forces of Gotarzes were not yet sufficiently strengthened, he used the river Corma for a rampart, and though daily by insults and heralds challenged to battel, he still procrastinated, shifted stations, and employed emissaries the while to bribe the enemy, and wean them from their plighted faith; insomuch that first Izates, leader of the Adiabenians, presently after Agbarus King of the Arabs, Edition: current; Page: [454]went off with both their armies; a desertion agreeable to the native fickleness of those barbarous people, and even to their usual policy. We have learned too by several trials, that they would rather ask a King from Rome, than be governed by him. Meherdates, thus bereft of these powerful allies, and apprehending treasonable purposes in those who continued, determined, as his only remaining resource, to commit the issue to chance, and risque a battle; nor did Gotarzes refuse it, who was grown resolute as his enemy was become weak. The conflict was great and bloody, and the event long in suspence, till Carrhenes, having overthrown all that opposed him, pursuing his victory too far, was surrounded in the rear by a body of reserve. This blow utterly blasted all the hopes of Meherdates, who therefore trusting to the faith and promises of Parrhaces, a dependant of his father’s, was by the traitor delivered in bonds to the conqueror. Gotarzes disowning him “for a kinsman, or one of the family of the Arsacides,” but reviling him, as “a foreigner and a Roman,” ordered him to live with his ears cut off, as a vain instance of his own clemency, and towards us a monument of scorn. A disease soon after carried off Gotarzes; and Vonones, then governor of Media, was called to the throne, a Prince distinguished by nothing memorable, fortunate or disastrous; his reign was short and inconsiderable, Edition: current; Page: [455]and the state of Parthia devolved upon his son Vologeses.

During this, Mithridates of Bosphorus, since the loss of his territories, wandered from place to place; but, having learnt that Didius, the Roman commander, was thence withdrawn with the strength of his army, and that Cotys, a young Prince void of experience, was left in his new kingdom with only a few cohorts under Julius Aquila, a Roman Knight; he slighted both, animated the neighbouring people to arms, drew over deserters, and having thus assembled an army, exterminated the King of the Dandarides, and seized his dominions. Upon these tidings, and an apprehension, that he would instantly invade Bosphorus, Aquila and Cotys distrusting the power of their own forces, and being diverted too by Zorsines King of the Siracians, who had again taken up hostile arms, had recourse themselves to foreign aid, and dispatched embassadors to Eunones Prince of the Adorsians. Nor was it hard to accomplish this alliance, when they who sought it, represented the imperial power of the Romans, in competition with Mithridates a vagabond and revolter. It was therefore accorded, “that Eunones should make head with the cavalry, and the Romans besiege the towns.”

The army was then formed, and marched in this order; the Adorsians composed the front and rear, the cohorts occupied the center, with those of Bosphorus, armed like Romans. Edition: current; Page: [456]Thus they discomfited the enemy, and arrived at Soza, a city of the Dandarides, now deserted by Mithridates, but in it a garrison was judged proper to be placed, as a bridle upon the doubtful affections of the people. Thence they proceeded against the Siracians, and crossing the river Panda begirt the city of Uspes, situated upon a hill and well fortified with walls and moats, only as the walls were not built with stone, but raised of rows of hurdles with earth between, they were unable to bear an assault; moreover, against them towers were raised high enough to overlook them, and from thence the besieged were infested with flights of darts and flaming torches, and, had not night parted the combat, the city had been attempted and stormed within the limits of a day.

Next day the besieged sent deputies to sollicit, that to the free inhabitants their lives might be spared, and offering, as an atonement, ten thousand slaves: conditions rejected by the conquerors, since the massacring of such as were surrendered to mercy would have been inhuman; and to secure such an host of prisoners, extremely difficult. It was therefore deemed the sounder counsel to exercise the right of war, and put all promiscuously to the sword; hence to the soldiers, who already mounted the walls, the signal of slaughter was given. The overthrow of Uspes, and the doom of its inhabitants, terrified their neighbours, who now believed that nothing could Edition: current; Page: [457]be secure or impregnable against the Romans, since arms and bulwarks, heights and fastnesses, deep rivers and fortified towns, were with equal bravery vanquished by them. Hence Zorsines, after long deliberation, whether still to adhere to the desperate fortune of Mithridates, or consult the security of his own paternal crown, at last preferred the interest of his state, and having delivered hostages, came and prostrated himself before the image of Claudius, to the signal glory of the Roman army, who had advanced, in a course of victory without blood, within three days journey of the river Tanais. In their return, the same fortune did not attend them; for, certain vessels, as they sailed back, were cast by a storm upon the coasts of the Taurians, and by these barbarians surprized, who slew the leader of a cohort and most of the centurions.

Mithridates the while, now destitute of all resource from arms, was devising to what quarter he should have recourse for mercy. His brother Cotys he dreaded, as one who had formerly betrayed him, and became afterwards his open enemy. Amongst the Romans in those parts there was none whose authority and engagements could much avail him. To Eunones therefore he determined to apply, as one who bore him no personal hatred, and, by virtue of his late alliance with us, a Prince of prevailing credit. Thus, in a countenance and equipage suitable to his present desolate plight, he entered the palace, and Edition: current; Page: [458]throwing himself at the feet of Eunones, “I am Mithridates, says he, the same who have been chased and persecuted by the Romans for so many years through sea and land; behold me before you, of my own choice. Use according to your pleasure a descendant of the great Achæmenes; it is the only advantage of which my enemies have not bereaved me.”

Eunones was affected with the illustrious quality of the man, with the sad recollection of his fortune, and his magnanimous manner of supplication. He raised him up, and praising him for having thrown himself upon the friendship of the Adorsians, and chosen him as a mediator for pardon, dispatched embassadors to Claudius with letters to this purpose. “The alliances of the Roman Emperors with the Kings of other mighty nations, were first founded upon a similitude of their fortunes; his own with Claudius was also confirmed by a joint victory. But, all wars were then concluded with most glory, when they ended in pardoning the vanquished. In this manner was Zorsines lately treated, beaten, but deprived of nothing. Mithridates, it was true, had offended more grievously: Hence for Mithridates he neither besought new power or his former kingdom, but only an exemption from capital punishment, and from the ignominy of being led in triumph.”

Claudius, though always benevolent to illustrious foreigners, was yet at a loss whether Edition: current; Page: [459]it were more adviseable to receive the captive on terms of mercy, or to have him by force of arms. For this last there pleaded the sense of injuries, and the gratification of revenge. But against it was alledged, “That the war was to be undertaken in countries wild and trackless, upon a sea boisterous and destitute of havens, against fierce and warlike Kings, against rambling and vagabond nations; where the soil was indigent and barren, where hasty measures would be dangerous, procrastination vexatious and wearisom; small would be the glory in victory, much infamy in a defeat. The Emperor ought therefore readily to embrace the overture, and agree to spare his life; he was indigent, and an exile, and the longer he enjoyed his desolate life, so much the severer would be his sufferings.” These considerations convinced Claudius, and he writ to Eunones, “That, in truth, Mithridates had merited the punishment of death, nor wanted he power to inflict it; but he chose to follow the rule of our ancestors, who, as they pursued obstinate enemies with unrelenting rigour, treated the supplicant with equal benevolence. As to triumphs, they were only to be acquired by the conquest of entire kingdoms and nations.”

Mithridates was thence delivered to Junius Cilo, the Imperial Procurator in Pontus, and by him carried to Rome, where, in the presence of the Emperor, he is said to have Edition: current; Page: [460]spoke with more haughtiness than suited with the abjectness of his fortune; for, as the same was reported abroad, he thus expressed himself. “I am not brought back to thee, Cæsar, but of my own choice have returned; or, if thou dost not believe me, dismiss me again, then try to recover me.” Moreover, when he was exposed at the Rostrum, to the view of the people, and encompassed with guards, his countenance continued perfectly undaunted. To Cilo were decreed the Consular ornaments, and to Aquila those of the Prætorship.

During the same Consuls, Agrippina, ever implacable in her hate, and enraged at Lollia, for having disputed with her a right to the Emperor’s bed, framed crimes against her, and suborned an accuser, who charged her, “with dealings with the Magicians and Chaldæans, and even consulting the Oracle of the Clarian Apollo, concerning that match.” Claudius, without hearing her in her own defence, after a long preface to the Senate, concerning the signal splendor of her birth, “that by her mother she was niece to Lucius Volusius, Cotta Messalinus her great uncle, herself formerly married to Memmius Regulus,” (for of her marriage with Caligula he purposely said nothing) added, “that she pursued pernicious devices against the Commonwealth, and must be divested of the means, and opportunities of iniquity and treason, her estate Edition: current; Page: [461]be confiscated, and herself banished Italy.” Thus, of all her immense wealth, only thirty thousand pounds were allotted her. Calpurnia too, another illustrious Lady, was doomed to ruin, because the Prince had praised her beauty, though from no passion for her person, but only in occasional discourse; a consideration, which so much abated the fury of Agrippina, that her punishment was on this side death. To Lollia, a Tribune was dispatched, with orders, to compel her to die. Cadius Rufus was likewise condemned for extortion, at the suit of the Bithynians.

To the province of Narbon Gaul it was now granted, in regard of the distinguished reverence ever by them paid to the Senate, that to Senators of that province should be allowed the same privilege with those of Sicily, of visiting their estates there, without leave asked of the Prince; and the countries of Ituria and Judæa, were, upon the death of their Kings Sohemus and Agrippa, annexed to the government of Syria. The augury too of divine protection, which for five and twenty years had been disused, was judged fit to be revived, and thereafter regularly observed; and the Emperor widened the circumference of Rome, by virtue of an ancient institution, which empowered such as had extended the limits of the empire, to enlarge also the bounds of the city; a right which yet was never assumed by any of the Roman captains, though they had Edition: current; Page: [462]subdued mighty nations, before Sylla the Dictator, and the deified Augustus.

What was the ambition and practice of our Kings in this matter, or from what instances of renown, the diversity of tradition has rendered utterly uncertain. But I cannot think it impertinent to shew where the first foundations began, and what was the circuit fixt by Romulus. Now, from the Ox-market, where still is seen the brazen statue of a bull, because by that animal the plough is drawn, a furrow was cut to describe the boundaries of the town, and extended so as to include the great Altar of Hercules. From thence certain spaces were left marked at proper distances, with stones, and the line continued along the foot of Mount Palatine to the Altar of Consus, next to the Curiæ veteres, thence to the small Temple of the Lares, and lastly to the great Roman Forum, which, as well as the Capitol, it is believed, was added to the city, not by Romulus, but by Tatius. With the increase of her empire the City afterwards continued to increase; and what were the boundaries now established by Claudius, is easily learnt, as they are inserted in the public records.

In the Consulship of Caius Antistius and Marcus Suilius, the adoption of Domitius was dispatched by the prevalent counsel of Pallas, who, as he had procured the match for Agrippina, and afterwards became engaged Edition: current; Page: [463]to her in a league of adultery, and thence wholly addicted to her interest, continually sollicited Claudius, “to provide for the exigency of the Commonwealth, and support the infancy of Britannicus with a collateral stay. Such had been the policy of the deified Augustus, who, though, for the support of his house, he had grand-children of his own, yet had distinguished with power the sons of his wife. Thus too Tiberius, notwithstanding he had issue of his own, adopted Germanicus; and thus he also should fortify himself with the aid of a young Prince, fit to bear in time a part of his public cares.” To these considerations Claudius yielded, and adopted Domitius for his eldest son, though only three years older than his son, declaring the adoption to the Senate in a speech of the very same strain with that of his freedman to him. It was noted by men of observation, that never was any adoption made before this into the Patrician family of the Claudii, which from Attus Clausus their first ancestor, had ever subsisted upon its own successive stock.

The thanks of the Senate were presented to the Prince, but conceived in strains of flattery still more exquisite towards Domitius; and a law passed decreeing his assumption into the Claudian family, and to him the name of Nero. Agrippina was also dignified with the title of Augusta. When these measures were thus accomplished, no mortal was found so void of Edition: current; Page: [464]compassion, as not to be affected with the sorrowful lot of Britannicus. By little and little he was even bereft of the attendance of his slaves, through the hollow officiousousness of his step-mother, who would keep him unseasonably in a nursery; a treatment of great derision, which himself perceived, as he was capable of discerning deceit. For, he is said to have wanted no quickness of understanding: whether the same were his real character, or whether his sad fortune was the only source of his praise, without living to give further proof, he still retained it.

Now Agrippina, that she might even to distant nations, our allies, signalize her power at Rome, procured a Colony of Veterans to be sent to the capital of the Ubians; a town in which she was born, and which she called by her own name. It had also been the lot of her grandfather Agrippa, when that people came over the Rhine, to receive them under the protection of the Romans. At that same time, terror filled the higher Germany, from the approach of the Cattians, exercising as they went rapine and depredations. Hence Lucius Pomponius, the Roman General, ordered the auxiliary Vangiones and Nemetæans, strengthened with some wings of horse, “to advance against those bands of robbers, or, if they found them straggling, to pour in upon them and beset them by surprize.” The vigour of the soldiers was answerable to the scheme of the commander; separating themselves into Edition: current; Page: [465]to two bands, that which marched to the left, enclosed them just returned from the spoil, under the effects of a debauch, and sunk in sleep. To compleat their joy, they now released from bondage some who had continued in it ever since the massacre of Varus and the Legions, forty years before. The body that turned to the right, had made a shorter march, and as the enemy ventured to fight, a greater slaughter. So that, laden with booty, and covered with glory, they returned to mount Taunus, where Pomponius waited with his Legions, prepared for battle, if the Cattians, from a passion for revenge, had ministered occasion. But, as they dreaded being assaulted on every side, here, by the Romans, there, by the Cheruscans, with whom they have incessant enmity, they dispatched deputies and hostages to Rome. To Pomponius was decreed the honour of triumph, from which, however, he derives but a slender share of his surviving fame, since to posterity he is peculiarly known in the surpassing excellence of his Poems.

It was at this time too that Vannius, formerly created King of the Suevians by Drusus Cæsar, was driven from his kingdom. In the beginning of his reign, he lived in signal reputation, and in popularity with his people, but, intoxicated with long possession of power, grew afterwards imperious; so that he became at once exposed to the hate and hostility of his neighbours, and to a combination of his own Edition: current; Page: [466]subjects. It was conducted by his own sister’s sons, Vangio and Sido, and by Vibillius their confederate, King of the Hermundurians. Nor would Claudius, though often entreated, engage in the quarrel of the Barbarians; he only answered the suit of Vannius, by a promise of a safe refuge, in case of expulsion, and writ to Publius Palpelius Hister, governor of Pannonia, “to cover the banks of the Danube with the Legion, and with a body of auxiliaries raised in the same province; in order to shelter the vanquished, and to awe the conquerors; lest, elated by success, they might venture also to disturb the quiet of the Empire.” For the Ligians and other nations were daily arriving in swarms, allured by the fame of the wealth of that kingdom, which for thirty years Vannius had been enriching by constant depredations and exactions. His own army of natives were foot, and his horse the Jazigians of Sarmatia, a force unequal to the great host of his enemies. Hence he determined to confine himself to his strong holds, and protract the war. But the Jazigians, who could not reconcile themselves to the restraints of a siege, roamed round the adjacent country, and being powerfully assailed by the Ligians and Hermundurians, brought him under a necessity of fighting. So that, issuing from his fortresses, to relieve them, he was overthrown in battle, but with this praise, notwithstanding his defeat, that with his own hand he had bravely fought, and was honourably Edition: current; Page: [467]wounded with his face to the foe. He then fled to his fleet, which staid for him in the Danube, and was soon followed by his adherents, who were settled in Pannonia, and portions of land assigned them. Vangio and Sido parted his kingdom between them, and towards us continued in signal fidelity, passionately beloved too by their subjects, while they were yet acquiring royalty, and, after it was acquired, more vehemently hated, perhaps from the fickle temper of the people, perhaps from the genius of servitude.

Now Publius Ostorius, Proprætor of Britain, found great uproar and combustion there; for the enemy had in predatory bands broke into the territories of our allies, with the more violence, as they supposed that a new General would not, with an army which he had never proved, and in the depth of winter, dare to make head against them. But as he was convinced that by the first events of war, considence or consternation was raised in an enemy, he led forth his troops against them with great suddenness, put to the sword all who resisted, and closely pursued such as were broken, so as to prevent their rejoining. And, since a peace made by constraint, and thence never sincere, could ensure no repose to the General nor his troops, he determined to deprive of their arms all such as he suspected, and, by the means of forts, to confine them between the rivers Nen and Severn; a determination thwarted first by the Icenians, a powerful Edition: current; Page: [468]people, who having of their own accord become our confederates, were weakened by no invasion nor assaults of war; they were now joined by the bordering nations, an army was formed, and the place of battle chosen, a place defended by a ditch, and the approach to it so narrow as not to be passable by the horse. The Roman General, though, without the support of the Legions, he only led some social troops, yet drew up to storm these rustic fortifications, and ranging his Cohorts in order, dismounted the horse and assigned them the duty of foot. Upon the signal given, they forced the ditch and broke the enemy, who were also hampered and entangled with their own enclosures. But they who, from the guilt of rebellion, were animated with despair, cooped in on all sides, and no way left for escape, performed many and memorable feats of bravery. In this battle Marcus Ostorius, the son of the General, having saved the life of a Roman citizen, acquired the Civic Crown.

For the rest, the overthrow of the Icenians calmed all those unsettled spirits, who before were wavering in their purposes between peace and war; and the army was led against the Cangians, wasted their territories, and committed general spoil. Nor durst the foe encounter them openly, and were always beaten in their secret assaults. We had now approached near the sea which washes the coast of Ireland, when commotions, begun amongst the Brigantes, Edition: current; Page: [469]obliged the General to return thither; as he had determined to prosecute no new enterprize till his former were completed and secure. The Brigantes, in truth, became soon composed, by executing a few who raised the revolt, and pardoning all the rest; but, no rigour nor mercy could reclaim the Silures, who were bent upon war, and only to be reduced by the force of the Legions. To facilitate this design, a Colony, powerful in the number of Veterans, was conveyed to Camalodunum situate in the conquered lands, as a bulwark against the rebels, and for inuring our allies to the laws and jurisdiction of the Romans.

Thence we marched against the Silures, a people resolute and fierce by nature, and moreover confiding in the assistance and valour of Caractacus, one renowned for many victories, and many disasters, so that in credit he surpassed all the other British commanders. In the advantage and situation of the country he was more subtile and expert than the Romans, but weaker in men, and therefore translated the seat of the war into the territory of the Ordovicans; and being joined by all such as feared an unequal peace with the Romans, ventured to try the decision of the sword. In order to it, he chose a place against which it was difficult to advance, and from which it was as difficult to retreat, every way incommodious to our army, every way favourable to his own. It was upon the ridges of mountains Edition: current; Page: [470]exceeding steep, and, where their sides were inclining and approachable, he reared walls of stone for a rampart. At the foot of the mountains flowed a river, dangerous to be forded, and a host of men guarded his entrenchments.

Add to this, that the leaders of the several confederate nations, were busy from quarter to quarter, exhorting and animating their followers, with representations proper to dissipate fear, to kindle their hopes, and to rouse in them all the fiercest incitements to war. Caractacus, particularly, flew through the whole army, and proclaimed, “That from this day and this battle they must date their liberty completely rescued, or their servitude eternally established.” He called upon “those of their ancestors who had exterminated Cæsar the Dictator, men by whose valour they yet lived free from tribute and Roman axes, yet preserved free from prostitution the persons of their children and wives.” As he thus harangued, he was answered by the acclamations of the multitude, and every particular bound himself by the oath most sacred to each different nation, “Never to yield to arms, nor wounds, nor aught save death.”

This loud alacrity of theirs amazed the Roman General. Besides, the river to be passed, the rampart to be forced, the declivities of the high mountains to be climbed, and all defended by hosts of men, were terrible difficulties. Edition: current; Page: [471]But, the soldiers urged for the attack; All things, they cried, were conquerable by courage, and the Tribunes and other officers expressing the same spirit, heightened the ardour of the army. Ostorius, therefore, haveing carefully surveyed the situation, where inaccessible, and where to be passed, led them on thus animated; and, without much difficulty, gained the opposite banks. In approaching the bulwark, while the encounter was yet managed by flights of darts, there were more of our men wounded, and many began to fall; but, after they had formed themselves into the military shell, demolished the huge and shapeless structure of stones, and encountered hand to hand upon ground equal to both, the Barbarians betook themselves to the ridges of the mountains, and thither also mounted our soldiers after them, both the light and heavy armed. Here also was begun an unequal fight, by ours in close order against the Britons, who only fought by discharges of arrows, and, as they cover themselves with no armour, were thence strait broken in their ranks; where they resisted the auxiliaries, they were slaughtered by the swords and javelins of the soldiers of the Legions, and by the great sabres and pikes of the auxiliaries, where they faced those of the Legions. Signal was this victory; the wife and daughter of Caractacus were taken prisoners, and his brothers surrendered to mercy.

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He himself had recourse to the faith and protection of Cartismandua, Queen of the Brigantes; but, as almost all things conspire against the unfortunate, was by her delivered in bonds to the conquerors, now in the ninth year after the commencement of the war in Great-Britain. So long had he sustained it; hence his renown had reached all the isles, spread over the neighbouring provinces, and became celebrated even in Italy, where all longed to behold the man, who, for so many years, had defied the Roman arms. Nor, in truth, at Rome was the name of Caractacus without lustre and applause; and the Emperor, by exalting his own glory in the conquest, accumulated fresh glory upon the conquered. For, the people were assembled to see him, as a rare and important spectacle; and the Prætorian bands stood under arms in the field before their camp. There proceeded first the servants and followers of the British King, with the military harness, golden chains, and the spoils by him taken in the wars with his neighbours; next his brothers, his wife and daughter, and lastly himself exposed to view. All but he were dejected, and descended through fear to supplications unworthy of their quality. Caractacus, without either betraying a supplicant look, or uttering a word that implored mercy, as soon as he was placed before the imperial tribunal, spoke thus:

If, to the height of my quality and fortune, I had joined an equal height of moderation Edition: current; Page: [473]in my prosperity and success, I should have arrived in this city under another character, that of a friend, and not of a captive, nor would you then have disdained to have received a Prince born of illustrious ancestors, and governing so many nations, into terms of alliance. But, different is my present lot, which derives upon you as eminent renown, as upon me disgrace and abasement. I was lately master of men and arms, horses and opulence. Where is the wonder if against my inclination I was bereft of them? If you Romans aim at extending your dominion over all mankind; it does not thence follow that all men will embrace voluntary servitude from Rome. Had I forthwith submitted to captivity, neither had my fall nor your glory been thus signal; and even now, if I am to suffer death, the same of my story and of your conquest will die with my punishment; but if you preserve my life, I shall be a deathless example of your clemency.” Claudius upon this pardoned him, his wife, and his brothers. Being discharged of their chains, and having paid their duty and acknowledgment to the Prince, they also accosted Agrippina, exalted upon another tribunal hard by, in the same strain of gratitude and veneration: A sight remarkably new, to our ancestors utterly unknown, for a woman to preside amongst the Roman Ensigns! she, in truth, assumed to call Edition: current; Page: [474]herself a partner in the Empire which her ancestors had acquired.

The Senate was thereafter assembled, where many and pompous encomiums were pronounced upon the taking of Caractacus, as an event “no less illustrious than those of old, when Siphax was by Publius Scipio, Perses by Lucius Paulus, or any other conquered Kings were by any of our great Captains, presented in chains to the Roman people.” To Ostorius the triumphal ornaments were decreed; and thus far his administration had been successful, but was afterwards chequered with misfortunes. Whether it was, that, upon the captivity of Caractacus, the war was thought concluded, and thence our vigilance and discipline abated; or that the enemy, in compassion for so great a King, burned more vehemently for revenge. They assailed by surprize the camp-marshal and legionary cohorts, left to rear forts amongst the Silures, and, but for sudden succours from the circumjacent garrisons, our troops had been cut in pieces; as it was, the Marshal himself and eight Centurions were there slain, with the most resolute soldiers. Soon after they entirely routed our forragers, and even the troops sent to guard them.

Ostorius, it is true, dispatched to their relief some cohorts lightly armed, who yet were not able to stay the flight, so that the Legions were drawn out to restore the battle, Edition: current; Page: [475]which by their strength instantly became equal, and then favourable to us. The enemy fled, but, as night approached, with slight loss. There continued thenceforward frequent encounters, many of them resembling the parties and surprizes of robbers, sometimes in the woods, sometimes in morasses, conducted by chance or boldness, and with answerable success, here at a venture, there in concert, now from resentment, anon for booty, at times by command of their officers, and often without their knowledge. Of all others the Siiures were the most implacable; they were incensed by a saying of the Roman General current amongst them, “that their name must be utterly extinguished, as was that of the Sugambrians, who had been partly cut off, and the rest transplanted into Gaul.” Thus animated, they surprized and carried off two auxiliary cohorts, who were, without due circumspection, plundering the country to satiate the avarice of their officers; and by distributing the spoil and captives amongst the neighbouring nations, they were drawing them also into the revolt, when Ostorius, sinking under the weight of his anxieties, expired, to the great joy of the enemy, that a captain so considerable, though he had not fallen in battle, had yet perished in the war.

The Emperor, apprized of the death of his Lieutenant, that the province might not be without a governor, substituted in his room Aulus Didius; but he, notwithstanding his Edition: current; Page: [476]expeditious arrival, found not things in their entire state; for, the Legion commanded by Manlius Valens, had the while been engaged, and suffered a defeat, a disaster magnified by the enemy, to terrify the new general, and even aggravated by him, thence to gain the greater glory, if he quelled the rebellion, or the juster excuse if it lasted. The late loss too we suffered from the Silures, who were daily making large incursions on all hands, till Didius now set upon them and repulsed them. Their ablest man of war, since the taking of Caractacus, was Venusius, of the city of the Jugantes, as I have above remembered, one long faithful to the Romans, and protected by their arms, during his marriage with the Queen Cartismandua; but being afterwards divorced from her, and then instantly at war with her, he likewise began hostilities against us. Their arms at first were only employed against each other; but the Queen having by subtil stratagems, possessed herself of the brother and other kindred of Venusius, the enemy became exasperated, and, scorning the infamy of falling under the dominion of a woman, assembled all their ablest and most warlike youth, and invaded her territories; an event foreseen by us; so that we had sent some cohorts to her aid, and a fierce battle ensued, where the first onset was doubtful, but the end successful. With the like issue fought the Legion commanded by Cesius Nasica. For, Didius himself unwieldly Edition: current; Page: [477]through age, and already satiated with a long train of honours, thought it sufficient to act by his Lieutenants, and only restrain the foe. All these transactions, though the work of several years, under two Proprætors Ostorius and Didius, I have thus connected, lest the detail, if interrupted, might not have been so easily recovered. I now return to the order of time.

During the fifth Consulship of Claudius and that of Servius Cornelius Orfitus, to qualify Nero for entering into the administration of the State, the manly Robe was presented him, while yet under age, and the Emperor concurred chearfully with the flattering decrees of the Senate, “that in his twentieth year, he should exercise the Consulship; that the while, as Consul designed, he should be invested with proconsular authority out of Rome, and be stiled Prince of the Roman Youth.” Claudius moreover, in Nero’s name, bestowed a largess upon the soldiers, and another upon the people: and, at the Circensian games, which were then solemnized, to draw upon him the eyes and affections of the populace, whilst Britannicus was carried along in the Prætexta (the usual habit of boys) Nero appeared in the triumphal robe, the mark and ornament of imperial state. So that the people, beholding them thus differently attired, could thence conclude the difference of their future fortunes. At the same time, such of the Centurions and Tribunes Edition: current; Page: [478]as manifested any compassion for the partial lot of Britannicus, were, some under colour of more honourable functions, all upon framed pretences, removed from the palace; even amongst the freedmen, those whose faith and constancy were found incorruptible, were discarded upon the following occasion. The two young Princes happening to meet, Nero saluted Britannicus by that name, and Britannicus him by his old name of Domitius. This was by Agrippina represented to Claudius with grievous expostulations, as the first step to dissention, since by it “the adoption of Nero was set at nought and condemned, the sanctions of the Senate, with the authority of the people, were abolished within the walls of his own palace; and if the pravity of those who inspired into Britannicus such pernicious sentiments, were not repressed, it would break out into war and public ruine.” Claudius, alarmed and exasperated by these suggestions of his wife, as if the same had been crimes really committed by the tutors of his son, punished all the best of them with exile or death, and entrusted him to the government of others, chosen by his step-mother.

Agrippina however durst not yet proceed to the accomplishment of her great design, till from the command of the Prætorian cohorts were removed Lusius Geta and Rufius Crispinus, as men whom she believed grateful to the memory of Messalina, and zealously Edition: current; Page: [479]devoted to her children. When she had therefore alledged to the Emperor, “that by the competition and cabals of two commanders, the guards were rent into factions, whereas, were they under the authority of one, they would be more easily subjected to the laws of discipline and obedience;” Claudius submitted to the reasoning of his wife, and the charge of these bands was transferred to Burrhus Afranius, an officer, in truth, of signal renown, but one however well apprized to whose credit he owed his advancement. Agrippina likewise began to signalize her grandeur still more, and even to enter the Capitol in a chariot, a distinction which of old was allowed to none but the priests and things sacred, and, being now assumed by her, heightened the reverence of the people towards a Lady who was the daughter of a Cæsar, and the mother of one, sister to the last Emperor, and wife of the present; an instance of imperial fortune and nobility till then unparalleled. But in the mean time her chief champion Vitellius, in the height of favour, and extremity of age (upon such treacherous foundations great men stand!) was involved in an accusation, and, by Junius Lupus the Senator, charged with treason, and even with aspiring to the Empire. Claudius too would have listened to the charge, had not Agrippina prevailed by menaces rather than prayers, and turned his resentment upon the accuser, who was thence interdicted from fire and water. Edition: current; Page: [480]Further punishment than this Vitellius desired not.

Many were the prodigies that happened this year: upon the Capitol were seen birds of evil omen, frequent concussions of the earth were felt, and by them many houses overthrown. But, as the dread was still more extensive than the calamity, in the throng of the flying multitude, all the weak and decrepit were trodden to death. For a prodigy also was reckoned the barrenness of the season, and the effect of it, famine. Nor were the complaints of the populace confined to houses and corners; they even gathered in tumultuous crowds round the Prince, then engaged in the public administration of justice, and with turbulent clamours drove him to the extremity of the Forum; so that, to escape their violence, he was forced with his guards to break through the incensed multitude. It is certain, there was then in Rome but just provision for fifteen days, and by the signal bounty of the Gods and the mildness of the winter it was that the public was relieved in that its urgent distress. It was, in truth, otherwise with Italy in former days, when from her fruitful fields foreign provinces too were furnished with supplies; nor, at this time, is the sterility of soil any part of our misfortune; but we now rather chuse to cultivate Africa and Egypt, and the lives of the Roman people are entrusted to ships and the casualties of the deep.

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The same year, the war which arose between the Armenians and Hiberians, begot also mighty broils between the Parthians and Romans. Over the Parthians reigned Vologeses, who, though the son of a Greek concubine, had, by the concession of his brothers, obtained the diadem. The Kingdom of Hiberia had been long held by Pharasmanes, and his brother Mithridates was, by our aid and procurement, possessed of Armenia. Pharasmanes had a son graceful and tall, of signal strength of body, trained up in all the politics of his father, and in high renown with the bordering nations. His name was Rhadamistus, a young Prince who, impatient that the small kingdom of Hiberia should be so long detained from him by the great age of his father, declared this his discontent with so much frequency and passion, that his ambition could not be concealed. Pharasmanes therefore, in regard of his own declining age, and fearing the spirit of his son, eager of himself to reign, and supported besides with the affections of his subjects, chose to divert his thoughts upon another pursuit, and tempted him with the prospect of Armenia; “a kingdom which, having expulsed the Parthians, he said, he had given to Mithridates; but, in gaining it now, all methods of violence were to be postponed; and those of guile first to be tried, in order to oppress him unawares.” Thus Rhadamistus, feigning to quarrel with his father, and to fly Edition: current; Page: [482]the persecutions of his step-mother, withdrew to his uncle, and, while he was by him cherished like a child, with transcendent complacency, drew the nobility of Armenia into the conspiracy; Mithridates being so ignorant of his conduct, that upon him he was still multiplying honours.

Then, under shew of being reconciled to his father, he returned, and informed him, “that what fraud could effect, was accomplished, the rest arms must execute.” Hence Pharasmanes set himself to devise colours for the war, and declared, “that whilst he was at war with the King of the Albanians, he had applied to the Romans for aid, but his brother opposed its coming; and this injury he was now about to revenge with his utter destruction.” At the same time, he committed a numerous army to the conduct of his son, who, by a sudden invasion, utterly dismayed Mithridates, and forced him out of the field into the fortress of Gorneas, a place strong in the situation, and defended by a garrison of our soldiers, under the command of Cælius Pollio Governor, and Casperius a Centurion. The Barbarians are strangers to nothing more than the use of machines, and the dexterity of assaulting places, a part of military skill which to us is throughly familiar. Rhadamistus therefore, having without effect, or with loss to himself, attempted the fortifications, changed his efforts into a siege, and when all his attacks were despised, purchased Edition: current; Page: [483]with a price the avaritious Governor, notwithstanding the adjurations of Casperius, “that he would not sell a confederate King, not sell Armenia, the gift of the Roman people, and convert his own trust into perfidiousness and money.” But at last, since Pollio persisted to plead the multitude of the enemy, and Rhadamistus the orders of his father; the Centurion procuring a truce, departed, in order either to deter Pharasmanes from pursuing the war, or otherwise to proceed to Numidius Quadratus Governor of Syria, and lay before him the condition of Armenia.

By the departure of the Centurion, Pollio being, as it were, discharged from the restraint of a keeper, exhorted Mithridates to an accommodation. He alledged “the natural ties between brothers, the seniority of Pharasmanes, and their other mutual bonds of affinity; that he was himself espoused to his brother’s daughter, and to Rhadamistus had espoused his own; that the Hiberians, however then superior in forces, refused not peace; and the perfidiousness of the Armenians was sufficiently known; neither had he any other sanctuary but that castle, destitute of stores. He therefore ought not to scruple to prefer terms gained without blood, to the casualties and violence of war.” But, as Mithridates still procrastinated, suspecting the counsels of the Governor, as one who had debauched a concubine of his, and was reckoned Edition: current; Page: [484]of a vile spirit, purchaseable by money into every baseness, Casperius the while reached Pharasmanes, and urged him “to recall his Hiberians from the siege.” That Prince returned him openly equivocal answers, sometimes such as were more gentle and plausible, and, during these amusements, warned Rhadamistus by secret messengers, “to dispatch by whatever means the taking of the place.” Hence the price of the treason was augmented to Pollio, who also privately corrupted the soldiers, and prompted them to demand peace, or otherwise to threaten that they would relinquish the garrison. Mithridates, pressed by this extremity, agreed to the time and place of capitulation, and went forth from the castle to meet Rhadamistus, who instantly flew to embrace him, feigned all the marks of duty and obedience, and called him his father: he even swore that he intended him no violence either by poison or the sword, and drew him at the same time into a neighbouring grove, where a sacrifice, he said, was by his orders prepared, that by the solemn presence of the Gods their league of peace might be confirmed.

It is a custom amongst the Kings of these countries, whenever they strike alliances, to tie together with a hard bandage the thumbs of their right hands, till the blood, starting to the extremities, is by a slight cut discharged. This they mutually suck, and a league thus executed is esteemed most awful, as mysteriously solemnized Edition: current; Page: [485]with the blood of the parties. But upon this occasion, he who was applying the bandage pretending to fall, seized Mithridates by the legs, and overthrew him, and instantly he was oppressed by many, then bound, and haled away dragging his chain, a circumstance of consummate contumely amongst the Barbarians! The people too, over whom he had exercised rigorous tyranny, assaulted him with bitter reproaches, and even threatened him with blows. Yet there were some of a different temper, who uttered their commiseration for such a mighty change of his fortune; besides, his wife following him with her little infants, was by her doleful lamentations every where heard. They were thrust apart into covered carriages, till the commands of Pharasmanes were known. With him the passion for a kingdom was more prevalent than his regard for a brother or daughter, and he possessed naturally a spirit prone to every cruelty. He however considered the indecency of the spectacle, and ordered them to be put to death, but not in his sight. Rhadamistus too, as if from an exact observance of his oath, employed neither sword nor poison against his sister and uncle, but caused them to be thrown upon the ground, and stifled with a vast weight of coverings. The children also of Mithridates, for bewailing the murder of their parents, were butchered themselves.

Quadratus, as soon as he knew the treason, with the doom suffered by Mithridates, Edition: current; Page: [486]and that they who took his life held his kingdom, assembled his council, and representing these events, sought their advice whether vengeance ought to be pursued. Few had at heart the public honour, and most of them reasoned from considerations of security; “that all the injuries and cruelties committed by foreign nations upon each other, ought to the Romans to be matter of joy; nay, the seeds of dissension were industriously to be sown amongst them; a policy frequently practised by the Roman Emperors, who, under colour of bestowing from time to time that same kingdom of Armenia upon Princes Barbarians, designed thence to furnish them with matter of reciprocal feuds, and hostilities. Rhadamistus might therefore enjoy a crown wickedly acquired, since with it he enjoyed public derestation and infamy, circumstances which better served the purposes of Rome, than if by methods of glory he had obtained it.” With this advice they all concurred; but that they might not seem to have assented to a wickedness so flagrant, and lest contrary orders should arrive from the Emperor, they dispatched a message to Pharasmanes, “to retire from the frontiers of Armenia, and recall his son.”

Over Cappadocia then ruled Julius Pelignus, with the title of Procurator, one equally despicable for his dastardly spirit and the deformity of his person, but in great intimacy with Claudius, who, while yet a private Edition: current; Page: [487]man, was wont to spend his idle life in listening to the drollery of such buffoons. This Pelignus drew together a body of auxiliary forces from the adjacent provinces, and declared he would reconquer Armenia; but, as he committed greater spoil upon our allies than upon the enemy, he was by his own men abandoned, harrassed by the incessant incursions of the Barbarians, and, thus bereft of all defence, betook himself to Rradamistus, by whose liberalities he was so intirely subdued, that of his own accord he exhorted him to assume the royal diadem, and even assisted in person at that solemnity, as the author of the advice, and his vassal at arms. When this vile transaction came to be divulged, that the character of the other Roman Commanders might not be judged by that of Pelignus, Helvidius Priscus was dispatched at the head of a Legion, with general orders to apply such remedies to the present combustions, as their circumstances would bear. He therefore, haveing with much celerity crossed mount Taurus, had already made many pacifications, rather by mildness than force, when an order overtook him, “for his return into Syria, by it to avoid ministering to the Parthians any ground of war.”

For, Vologeses believing that an occasion now offered for invading Armenia, a Kingdom inherited by his ancestors, but now treasonably occupied by a foreign usurper, drew together an army, and prepared to instate his Edition: current; Page: [488]brother Tiridates in the throne; that none of his house might be destitute of dominion. The march of the Parthians terrified the Hiberians; they were expelled without fighting a battle, and the Armenian cities of Artaxata, and Tigranocerta, without a struggle received the invaders. But, a tempestuous winter or want of provisions, and the pestilence arising from both, constrained Vologeses to relinquish his conquests. So that the throne of Armenia being once more vacant, was again invaded by Rhadamistus, now more outragious and bloody than ever, as incensed against a people that had already abandoned him, and were still ready, on the first occasion, to revolt. They too, though inured to servitutde, lost all patience, betook themselves to arms, and begirt the palace; nor had Rhadamistus any resource save in the fleetness of his horses, and by them he escaped with his wife.

She was great with child, yet, from dread of the foe, and tenderness to her husband, bore at first, as well as she could, the fatigue of the flight; but when, by continued hurrying, her heavy womb was sorely agitated, and all her bowels bruised, she besought him, “to save her by an honest death from the reproach and misery of captivity.” At first, he embraced her, comforted and encouraged her, now admiring her heroic spirit, then struck with fear, lest, if he left her, some other might possess her; at last, in the rage of love, and well trained in acts of blood, he drew his Edition: current; Page: [489]scymitar, and wounding her deeply, haled her to the banks of the Araxes, committing her body to the flood, that even of her corps none might ever be master. He himself pursued his flight full speed, till he reached Hiberia the kingdom of his father. Zenobia the while (for that was her name) was descried by the shepherds, floating gently on the surface with manifest appearances of life; and, as they gathered from the beautiful dignity of her aspect that she was of no mean rank, they bound up her wound, and to it administered their rustic medicines. Having then learnt her name and disaster, they carried her to Artaxata, from whence, at the charge and care of the city, she was conducted to Tiridates, by him courteously received, and entertained with all the marks of Royalty.

In the Consulship of Faustus Sylla and Salvius Otho, Furius Scribonianus suffered exile, upon a charge of having “consulted the Chaldæans about the term of the Prince’s life.” In his crime was involved his mother Junia, “as having borne with impatience her own lot;” for she too had been banished. Camillus the father of Scridonianus, had levied war in Dalmatia; hence Claudius vaunted his own clemency, that to a hostile race he persisted to grant their lives. That, however, of the present exile, remained not long; whether he died naturally or by poison, was differently reported as each differently Edition: current; Page: [490]believed. For expelling the Astrologers from Italy, a decree of Senate was made full of rigour, but never executed. The Emperor thereafter uttered a discourse in praise of those Senators, who, from the narrowness of their fortunes, of their own accord renounced their dignity; and such as by adhering to their order, added confidence to their poverty, were degraded.

During these transactions, in the Senate was proposed a penalty to be inflicted upon Ladies who married slaves, and ordained, “That she who thus debased herself, unknown to the master of the slave, should be adjudged herself in a state of slavery; but, where he consented, she should be held for a slave manumitted.” To Pallas who was by Claudius declared to be the deviser of this scheme, the ornaments of the Prætorship, and three hundred seventy five thousand crowns, were adjudged by Bareas Soranus, Consul designed. Cornelius Scipio added, “that the public thanks ought likewise to be paid him; for that, being descended from the old Kings of Arcadia, he postponed the regard of his most ancient nobility to the service of the state, and deigned to be numbered amongst the ministers of the Prince.” Claudius avowed, “that Pallas was content with the honour only, and resolved to live still in his former poverty.” Thus a decree of Senate was published engraven in brass, in Edition: current; Page: [491]which a franchized slave possessing an estate of more than seven millions, was extolled for observing the parcimony of the ancients.

His brother sirnamed Felix, he who for some time had governed Judæa, acted not with the same restraint, but as one who, relying upon such potent protection, supposed he might perpetrate with impunity every kind of villainy. The Jews, in truth, by their sedition, in the time of Caligula, had ministered some appearances of an insurrection; and, after they were apprized of his assassination, scarce returned to obedience. Their dread remained, lest some of the succeeding Emperors might subject them to the like odious injunctions. Felix too, the while, by applying unseasonable remedies, inflamed their offence and disaffection; a conduct imitated by Ventilius Cumanus, who held under his jurisdiction part of the Province, and emulated Felix in all his worst courses; for such was the division, that Galilæa was subject to Cumanus, and Samaria to Felix, two nations long at variance, and now, from contempt of their rulers, less than ever restraining their mutual hate. Hence depredations on both sides were committed, bands of robbers employed, ambushes formed, and sometimes battles fought, and all the spoil and booty presented to these their Governors, who, at first, rejoyced over it; but when, after the mischief grew outrageous, they interposed their armed troops, their men were slain, and, but for the aid of Quadratus ruler Edition: current; Page: [492]of Syria, the whole Province had been in a blaze of war. Nor, as to the Jews, who had carried their violence so far as to kill our soldiers, did any obstacle arise against punishing them with death. The affair of Cumanus and Felix created some delay; for Claudius, upon a hearing of the causes of the revolt, had also granted a power to try and sentence the Governors; but Quadratus, taking Felix up to the Tribunal, and shewing him amongst the Judges, awed the accusers, and stopped one part of the prosecution: So that, for the guilt and evil-doings common to both, Cumanus alone was doomed to punishment. Thus the repose of the Province was restored.

Shortly after this, the boors of Cilicia, they who are sirnamed Clitæans, and had before raised many insurrections, betook themselves now, under the leading of Throsobor, to their steep and inaccessible mountains and there encamped. From thence in prædatory bands they made excursions as far as the shore, and round the adjoining cities, boldly committing ravages upon the villagers and husbandmen, and daily spoiling the merchants and seamen. They even besieged the city of Anemurium, and repulsed a body of horse sent from Syria to its relief, under the command of Curtius Severus; for, the rocky situation of the place proved a defence to an army of foot, and scarcely admitted the attacks of the horse. But afterwards, Antiochus King Edition: current; Page: [493]of that territory, having by many courtesies gained the multitude, and by stratagem secured their leader, effectually disjoined the forces of the Barbarians; and putting to death Throsobor and a few more of the chiefs, pacified the rest by methods of clemency.

About the same time, a naval fight was prepared upon the lake Fucinus, and, to accommodate the greater numbers with the advantage of beholding the mighty magnificence of the work, a mountain between the lake and the river Liris was levelled; in imitation of Augustus, who once exhibited the like spectacle upon an artificial pool on this side the Tiber, but with light ships, and fewer men. Claudius armed large gallies, some of three, some of four banks of oars, and manned them with nineteen hundred combatants. The circle assigned for the combat was surrounded with an enclosure of great rafts of wood, to obstruct all means of flight or escape: space sufficient was however allowed for the velocity of rowing, for the stratagems of the pilots, the mutual encounters of the ships, and for all the usual feats in naval battles. Upon the rafts stood the Emperors guards, foot and horse, with platforms before them, for weilding and discharging the engines of battery: all the rest of the lake was possessed by the combatants upon covered vessels. The shore, the adjacent hills, and the tops of the mountains, were crowded with a mighty multitude, many from the neighbouring towns, others from Rome Edition: current; Page: [494]itself; some from a passion to behold the spectacle, some in compliment to the Prince; and the whole represented a vast theatre. The Emperor presided in a splendid coat of mail, and with him Agrippina in a mantle woven of pure gold. The battle, though between malefactors, was fought with a spirit becoming brave soldiers; so that, after many wounds and much blood, they were redeemed from utter slaughter.

When the spectacle was concluded, and the water discharged, the negligence of the workmen became manifest, and the insufficiency of the work, which was not sunk sufficiently low about the center of the lake. Its bed therefore some time after was hollowed deeper; and, to draw the multitude once more together, a shew of Gladiators was exhibited upon bridges laid over it, in order to display a foot fight. But, as a banquet was prepared just at the fall from the lake, the same proved the occasion of great affright; for, the weight of the water breaking out with violence, bore down with it whatever was near it, shook what was more distant, and by its impetuosity and roaring dismayed all that were present. Agrippina laying instant hold of the Emperor’s fright, charged Narcissus, the director of the work, with avarice and rapaciousness: nor did Narcissus spare Agrippina, but attacked and upbraided, “the domineering spirit of the woman, with her aspiring and boundless views.”

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During the Consulship of Decimus Junius and Quintus Haterius, Nero, now in the sixteenth year of his age, espoused Octavia the daughter of Claudius, and, to signalize his accomplishments in polite learning, and acquire the glory of eloquence, undertook the cause of the Ilians, and having floridly represented the Romans as descendents from Troy, and Æneas as the founder of the Julian race, with other old traditions little remote from fables, he obtained for the Ilians entire immunity from all public charges. By the rhetoric of the same advocate, the Colony of Boulogne, which had been utterly consumed by fire, were relieved by a bounty of two hundred and fifty thousand crowns. To the Rhodians too their liberty was restored, which had been often withdrawn, and often re-established, as a punishment or reward for their different behaviour, when they obliged us by their assistance in our foreign wars, or provoked us by their seditions at home. And, to the city of Apamea, overturned by an earthquake, a remission of tribute was granted for five years.

The policy all this of Agrippina, who pushed Claudius on the contrary upon all the most detested measures of cruelty. As the panted inordinately after the gardens of Statilius Taurus, a nobleman of illustrious fortune, who had been Proconsul of Africa, she procured his bane by the ministry of Tarquitius Priscus, who was his Lieutenant Edition: current; Page: [496]there. After their return, he charged him with some few crimes of extortion, but the sum of the accusation, were the practices of Magic. Neither did Taurus deign longer to bear the unworthy lot of prosecution from that traiterous accuser, but, without waiting for the decision of the Senate, laid violent hands upon himself. Tarquitius was, however, expelled the Senate: such was the detestation of the fathers towards the accuser, that they carried his condemnation against the intrigues of Agrippina.

This year, what the Prince had frequently declared, “That to the decisions of his Imperial Procurators, the same force should be allowed as to his own,” was moreover confirmed and established by a decree of Senate, (as a proof that the same was no declaration at random) nay, with more fulness than heretofore and greater enlargements. For, the deified Augustus had ordained too, that the Knights who ruled Ægypt, should act judicially, and that the sentences by them pronounced should be equally valid with those of the Roman Magistrates. Soon after, this jurisdiction of the Knights was extended to other Provinces, and, even in Rome itself, to their Tribunal were referred many things formerly determined by the Prætors. Claudius now conferred upon them universal jurisdiction, that jurisdiction for which so many seditions had been raised and so much blood shed, when, by the popular ordinances of the Tribune Edition: current; Page: [497]Sempronius, the Equestrian Order was invested with the power of judicature, and when Servilius the Consul, by a contrary establishment, restored to the Senate the judicial authority. This too chiefly was the end and incitement of the bloody wars between Marius and Sylla. But, in those days, the several Orders of the State were engaged in different and interfering pursuits, and the party that prevailed made public regulations at their pleasure. Caius Oppius and Cornelius Balbus were the first particulars, who (enabled by the power of Cæsar the Dictator) arbitrated matters of peace and war. It would little avail to recount after this, the names of Matius and Vedius, and other Roman Knights, who once bore sway; when to his franchized slaves, such as were entrusted with his domestic concerns, Claudius thus asserted a power equal to his own and to that of the laws.

Thereafter, he proposed for the inhabitants of Coos, a general immunity from impositions, and recounted their antiquity in a long detail; “how the Argives, or at least Ceus the father of Latona, first cultivated that island; and thither soon after arrived Æsculapius, and with him the art of medicine and healing, an art, which had great applause amongst his descendents,” whose names he rehearsed, and marked the several ages in which they flourished. He even said, Edition: current; Page: [498]that “Xenophon his own physician, was a branch of the same family, and to his supplications it ought to be granted, that his countrymen the people of Coos should be for ever discharged from all tribute, and only attend the cultivation of an Island solely devoted to the ministry of that Deity.” It is, without question, that many good offices of theirs towards the Roman people, might have been alledged, and even victories gained by their aid; but Claudius, led by his wonted weakness, coloured under no public considerations what he had thus personally granted to his physician.

The deputies from Byzantium being heard, besought of the Senate to be eased of their heavy impositions; and recapitulating things from the first, began with the confederacy which they had struck with us so long ago as the war which we maintained against that King of Macedon, who from the degeneracy of his spirit was distinguished by the name of Pseudophilippus. Next they recounted the forces by them sent against King Antiochus, Perses, and Aristonicus; as also how they had supported Antonius in the war to suppress the Pyrates, with the several aids which they had bestowed upon Sylla, Lucullus and Pompey. They added the services which more lately they had rendered to the Cesars, during their encampments and abode in these their territories, where our armies and their leaders, Edition: current; Page: [499]in all their progresses by land and water, were well accommodated, and all their stores carried after them.

For, Byzantium was founded by the Greeks, in the extremity of Europe, upon a streight which disjoins Europe from Asia. Thither the founders were directed by an Oracle of the Pythian Apollo, who, when consulted by them, where to build a city, replied, “That they should seek a situation opposite to the habitations of the blind-men.” By this riddle the Chalcedonians were represented; for they, who were the first comers into those parts, and had viewed the advantages of this shore, had yet chosen the opposite and the worst. Byzantium, in truth, stands upon a fertile soil and a plentiful sea; since, into her port are borne all those infinite shoals of fish, which breaking out of the Euxine, shun the other coast, as they are scared by the rocks which, under the waters, shoot from it. Hence, at first the gain and wealth of the Byzantines, but, afterwards pressed by the excess of their impositions, they now besought that the same might be abolished or abated. The Emperor too was their advocate, who represented them as late sufferers in the war of Thrace, and in that of Bosphorus, and worthy to be relieved. They were therefore acquitted from tribute for five years.

In the Consulship of Marcus Asinius and Marcus Acilius, a change of affairs for the worse was portended, as was gathered from the frequency of Prodigies. The Ensigns of Edition: current; Page: [500]the soldiers and their tents were scorched with fire from heaven; a swarm of Bees pitched upon the summit of the Capitol; children were born of compounded forms, and a Pig was farrowed with the talons of a hawk. Amongst the prodigies it also was reckoned, that the number of every order of Magistrates was then curtailed, one of the Quæstors, one of the Ædiles, a Tribune, a Prætor, and a Consul, being all deceased, within a few months. But, more particular was the fear of Agrippina. She was alarmed by a saying of Claudius, uttered heedlesly in his wine, “That it was a fate upon him, to bear the iniquities of his wives, but at last to punish them.” Hence she determined to be quick and prevent him, but first to destroy Domitia Lepida, upon motives derived from the pride and resentments of women. For Lepida, who was the daughter of the younger Antonia, the great niece of Augustus, cousin german to Agrippina the elder, and sister to Cnæius Domitius (once husband to the present Agrippina) accounted herself of equal nobility with the other. Neither were they much differing in beauty, age or wealth, both prostitutes in their persons, infamous in their manners, and violent in their tempers, nor less rivals in vices than in the lustre and advantages of their fortune. Hence, however, arose the most vehement struggle, whether the aunt or mother should acquire the ascendent over the spirit of Nero. Lepida laboured to engage Edition: current; Page: [501]and govern his youthful mind, by caresses and liberalities; Agrippina, on the contrary, treated him with sternness and threats, like one who would, in truth, confer the sovereignty upon her son, but not bear him for her sovereign.

The crimes therefore charged upon Lepida, were, “That, by charms and imprecations, she had sought to destroy the Emperor’s Consort, and that by neglecting to restrain the tumultuous behaviour of her numerous slaves in Calabria, she disturbed the public peace of Italy.” For these imputations she was doomed to die, notwithstanding the laboured opposition of Narcissus, who was now become more and more distrustful of Agrippina, insomuch that he is said to have lamented amongst his intimates, “That to himself nothing but certain destruction remained, whether Britannicus or Nero succeeded to the Empire; but such towards him had been the favour of the Emperor, that for the service of his master he would lay down his life. Under Claudius he had procured the conviction and doom of Messalina and of Silius; and under Nero (if Nero came to reign) there would be the like causes for the like accusation. If Britannicus was to succeed, neither from that Prince had he any claim to favour, since he had, by the death of his mother, made room for a step-mother, who by insidious plots was ruining all his house with such notable Edition: current; Page: [502]wickedness, that better it were he had never divulged to the Emperor the prostitutions of his former wife, though neither, in truth, was the present free from prostitution, as Pallas was notoriously her adulterer; insomuch that with no mortal could any doubt remain, but to the lust of rule she postponed her fame, her modesty, her person, and all things.” Repeating these and the like speeches, he tenderly embraced Britannicus, and supplicated for him full and sudden ripeness of age; now to the Gods, then to the young Prince, he lifted up his hands and poured out prayers, “That he might attain vigour of years; that he might exterminate the enemies of his father, and even be revenged on those who slew his mother.”

Amidst all these mighty agitations and anxieties, Claudius was taken ill, and for the recovery of his health had recourse to the soft air, and salubrious waters of Sinuessa. It was then that Agrippina, long since bent upon the parricide, greedy of the present occasion, and well furnished with wicked agents, consulted concerning the quality of the poison: “if it were sudden and rapid in its operation, the dark deed might thence be betrayed; if one slow and consuming were administered, there was danger that Claudius, when his end approached, and perhaps having the while discovered the deadly fraud, would recall the tenderness and partiality of a father for his son.” A subtle poison was therefore Edition: current; Page: [503]judged best, “such as would disorder his brain, and not presently kill.” An experienced artist in such preparations was chosen, her name Locusta; lately condemned for poisoning, and one long entertained amongst the other machines of the Monarchy. By this woman’s skill the poison was prepared; to administer the same was the part of Halotus, one of the Eunuchs, steward of the Emperor’s table and his taster. Indeed, all the particulars of this deed were soon afterwards so thoroughly known, that the writers of those times are able to recount, “how the poison was seethed in a delicious mess of mushrooms, but, whether from the natural stupidity of Claudius, or that he was drunk, he felt not instantly the virulence of the dose.” A looseness too at the same time seemed to relieve him, and to defeat the operation. Agrippina became terribly dismayed; but, as her own life lay at stake, she despised the stain and odium which must accompany her present proceedings, and called in the aid of Xenophon the physician, whom she had already engaged in her guilty purposes. It is thought that he, as if he had meant to assist Claudius in his efforts to vomit, thrust down his throat a feather dipt in outrageous poison, as one who well knew, that the most daring iniquities are attempted with hazard, but accomplished with rewards.

The Senate was in the mean time assembled, and the Consuls and Pontiffs were offering Edition: current; Page: [504]vows for the recovery of the Emperor, when he was already dead; though coverings and restoratives were still applied, till matters were disposed for securing the Empire to Nero. And first, Agrippina, personating unconquerable sorrow, and one who sought on all hands for consolation, clasped Britannicus in her arms, stiled him “the genuine image of his father,” and, by various and feigned devices, withheld him from leaving the chamber. There she likewise detained Antonia and Octavia, his sisters, and, by posting guards, shut up all the passages. From time to time too she declared, that the Prince was upon recovery, thence to encourage the hopes of the soldiery, till the fortunate moment, according to the calculations of the Astrologers, were at hand.

At last, on the thirteenth of October, at noon, the gates of the palace were suddenly thrown open, and Nero, accompanied by Burrhus, walked forth to the cohort, which, according to the custom of the army, was then upon guard. There, upon signification made by the Præfect, he was received with shouts of joy, and instantly put into a litter. It is reported, that there were some who hesitated, diligently looking and frequently asking, where was Britannicus? but that, as no one appeared to propose him, they presently embraced the choice which was offered them. Thus Nero was borne to the camp, where, after a speech suitable to the exigency, and the promise of a largess equal to that of the late Edition: current; Page: [505]Emperor his father, he was saluted Emperor. The declaration of the soldiers was followed and confirmed by the decrees of the Senate; nor was there any reluctancy in the several provinces. To Claudius were decreed cœlestial honours, and the solemnity of his funeral the same as that of the deified Augustus, since in it Agrippina would needs emulate the magnificence of her great grand-mother Livia. His testament, however, was not rehearsed in public, lest the preference there given from his own son to the son of his wife, might grate and provoke the spirit of the populace.

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BOOK XIII.

The SUMMARY.

Silanus, Proconsul of Asia, poisoned at the instigation of Agrippina. Narcissus, freedman to the late Emperor, doomed to die. The funeral of Claudius. Nero’s Panegyric upon him. Nero’s reign begins well. The Senate left to act independently. The Parthians aim at the possession of Armenia. Corbulo employed against them. Nero his passion for Acte. Agrippina provoked by it, and thence loses credit with her son. Pallas removed from the administration. Britannicus poisoned Agrippina grows obnoxious to Nero; is accused before him, and acquitted. Nero’s wild revellings during the night. Debate about recalling insolent freedmen to their former bondage. Some eminent men condemned. Natural deaths. New broils with the Parthians about Armenia. Corbulo inures his men to severe and primitive discipline; invades Armenia, storms several strong holds, takes the city of Artaxata, and burns it. Tiridates flies before him. P. Suilius condemned. Octavius Sagitta, in the age of love, stabs Pontia, his former mistress, upon her refusing to marry him. His Edition: current; Page: [507]freedman takes the fact upon himself. Nero conceives a passion for Poppæa Sabina: Her history, character, and arts. Cornelius, through the Emperor’s jealousy, banished to Marseilles The exorbitance of the publicans restrained. The Frisians endeavour to settle near the Rhine, but are driven thence by the Roman horse, and routed. The Ansibarians make the same attempt, with the same ill fortune. Fierce war between the Hermondurians and Cattians; the latter almost utterly cut off in a great battle. Strange eruption of fire in the territory of the Juhones.

THE first victim under the new Prince was Junius Silanus, Proconsul of Asia, dispatched unknown to Nero, by the fraud of Agrippina; not that he had provoked his fate by any turbulence of spirit, having lived in such sloth and even such scorn, during the late reigns, that Caligula was wont to call him the golden sheep. But Agrippina feared that he might prove the avenger of the murder of his brother Lucius Silanus, by her formerly procured. For, it was now the current rumour amongst the populace, that, “as Nero was scarce past his childhood, and by iniquity had acquired the Empire; such a man was to be preferred to him, one of composed age, spotless integrity, noble, and (which was then highly prized) descended from the Cæsars.” For, he too was the great grandson of Augustus. Such was the cause of his doom; the instruments were Publius Celer a Roman Knight, and Helius the freedman, both employed to manage the Emperor’s domestic revenue in Asia. By them the Proconsul had poison given him at a banquet, Edition: current; Page: [508]so openly, as if they meant not to disavow it. Nor was less haste used to dispatch Narcissus, the late Emperor’s freedman, whose bold invectives against Agrippina I have mentioned. In a rigorous prison, and through the miserable extremity of want, he was constrained to die, sore against the mind of Nero, who, however he hitherto smothered his vices, bore a wonderful conformity to the temper of Narcissus, profuse and rapacious like his own.

A torrent of slaughters was about to have followed, had not Afranius Burrhus and Annæus Seneca prevented it. These were the governors of the Emperor’s youth, and though engaged in partnership of power, yet, by a rare example, well united, men different in their accomplishments, but of equal weight and authority. Burrhus his instructor in lessons of arms, and the gravity of manners, Seneca in the precepts of eloquence, and polite address. In this office they helped and supported each other, the easier to manage between them the dangerous age of the Prince; or, if he rejected the pursuits of virtue, to restrain him at least within the bounds of guiltless pleasures. One constant struggle they both had against the tempestuous spirit of Agrippina, who was transported with every lust of lawless dominion, and, in her designs, upheld by Pallas, the same who had led Claudius into that incestuous match, then into the fatal adoption, and by both, into his own destruction. Edition: current; Page: [509]But Nero’s temper was not such as to be controuled by slaves; and Pallas too having exceeded the liberties of a slave manumised, had by his horrid arrogance provoked Nero’s disgust. Upon Agrippina however, in public, he accumulated all kinds of honours, nay, to a Tribune once, who, according to the discipline of the soldiery, desired the word, gave that of excellent mother; by the Senate too were decreed her two Lictors, with the character of Priestess to Claudius. To him at the same time was ordained a censorial funeral, and afterwards deification.

The day of burial, his funeral praises were pronounced by Nero, who, whilst he carefully recounted the antiquity of his lineage, the many Consulships, the many triumphs of his ancestors, others as carefully listened. The display too of his acquirements in Letters, was heard with attention and pleasure, as also the observation, that during his reign no calamity from foreigners had befallen the state. But when he fell into a commemoration of the wisdom and providence of Claudius, not a soul could refrain from laughter, though the speech was of Seneca’s composing, and discovered much accuracy and fineness, as he had, in truth, a beautiful genius, and stile well suited to the taste of that time. Old men, who make it their recreation to draw parallels between things present and past, took notice, that Nero was the first Roman Emperor who needed the aid of another man’s eloquence. For, Cæsar Edition: current; Page: [510]the Dictator was ranked with the most distinguished Orators. Augustus too had an easy and flowing elocution, such as became a Prince. Tiberius also possessed the art of marshalling words; his sentiments were likewise strong, and it was from policy that sometimes his expressions were obscure. Even the disordered spirit of Caligula impaired not his address and energy in speaking. Nor was Claudius wanting in elegance of discourse, when his discourse was the effect of study. Nero, even from his childhood, had abandoned his lively imagination to other occupations and diversions, to graving, painting, singing, and managing the horse, at times too in composing poems, whence some grounds of science appeared to have been in him.

Having finished this mimicry of mourning, he repaired to the Senate, where, after an introduction concerning his establishment in the Empire by the authority of the fathers, and the common concurrence of the soldiery, he declared with what worthy purposes, and upon what good examples he assumed the Sovereignty; that his youth being never ruffled nor engaged in any of the animosities of civil wars, or any domestic dissensions, he brought with him no spirit of hatred, no sense of injuries, nor appetite of revenge. He then proposed the scheme of his future rule, and in it avoided carefully all those late measures of reigning which were still fresh and odious; “for that he claimed not the judgment and Edition: current; Page: [511]decision of affairs, nor would allow the shutting up those who were accused in the same house with their accusers, and by it sustained the impotent tyranny of a few. Nothing should be saleable within his walls, nor any access there to intrigues of ambition. Between his family and the republic a just distinction should be maintained; the Senate should uphold her ancient jurisdiction; Italy and all those provinces, which depended upon the People and Senate, should apply only to the tribunal of the Consuls, and by them procure access to the Fathers. To himself he reserved what was especially committed to his trust, the direction of the armies.”

This declaration wanted no sincerity, and by the Senate many regulations were made, agreeable to their own good liking, particularly that no advocate should defend a cause for gift or payment, and that those who were designed Quæstors, should be no longer obliged to exhibit public shews of Gladiators. All this was opposed by Agrippina, as what rescinded the acts of Claudius; but the Fathers prevailed, though by her contrivance they were purposely assembled in the palace, that there posted by a door behind a curtain, secure from sight, she might yet easily overhear. Nay, at a time when the Embassadors from Armenia were pleading before Nero a cause of their nation, she was advancing to ascend the Imperial Tribunal, and to sit in joint judgment with the Emperor, Edition: current; Page: [512]if Seneca, seeing all the rest mute through fear, had not remembered him “to descend and meet his mother.” Thus, under the guise of filial reverence, that public disgrace was prevented.

At the end of the year, tidings were brought by the flying alarms of rumour, “that the Parthians having broke out into fresh hostilities, had seized Armenia, and exterminated Rhadamistus,” who, often Sovereign of that Kingdom, and as often a fugitive, had now too abandoned the war. At Rome therefore, a city fond of descanting upon the public, they began to inquire, “how a Prince, scarce passed his seventeenth year, could undertake so mighty a charge, how repulse such a potent foe? what protection to the State from a youth governed by a woman? would he, upon this occasion also, act by the ministry of his tutors? would his tutors fight battles, storm towns, and execute the other functions of war?” Others, on the contrary, alledged, “that it had thus better happened, than if the weight and care of that war had fallen upon Claudius, under all the defects of old age and stupidity, one who would have blindly obeyed the dictates of his slaves. Burrhus and Seneca were known for men of long and various experience in affairs, and to the Emperor himself how little was wanting of mature age? when Pompey, in his eighteenth year, Octavius Cæsar in his nineteenth, each sustained the weight Edition: current; Page: [513]of a civil war? Under public rulers, more was accomplished by counsels and influence, than by arms and force. Nero besides would soon exhibit a manifest proof, whether he employed worthy or unworthy Counsellors, if his choice of a General fell, without pique or partiality, upon a man of signal reputation, rather than upon one that was only wealthy, and trusted to favour and intrigues.”

Whilst these and the like discourses employed the public, Nero, to supply the Legions in the East, ordered recruits to be raised through the neighbouring provinces, and the Legions themselves to be posted near to Armenia; as also that the ancient Kings, Agrippa and Antiochus should make ready their forces, such as might enable them to invade the territories of the Parthians; and that bridges should be forthwith made upon the Euphrates. To Aristobulus he moreover committed the lesser Armenia, and the region of Sophenes to Sohemus, with the ensigns of Royalty and title of Kings. There arose likewise to Vologeses a competitor for his Crown, even his own son Vardanes. Hence the Parthians withdrew from Armenia, yet so as if they meant to return, and only postponed the war.

But, in the Senate, all this was extolled above measure, by such as voted, “that days of public supplications should be decreed to the Gods, that on those public days the Prince should wear the triumphal robe; Edition: current; Page: [514]that he should enter the city in the pomp of Ovation, that to him a statue should be erected, of the same bulk with that of Mars the Avenger, and in the same temple.” Besides their habitual proneness to flattery, they sincerely rejoiced that, for the reconquest of Armenia, he had preferred Domitius Corbulo, whence a door seemed to be opened for the reward of virtue and merit. The forces in the East were so divided, that part of the auxiliaries, with two Legions, were to remain in Syria, under the command of Numidius Quadratus governor of the province; an equal number of Romans and allies were assigned to Corbulo, with an addition of the cohorts, and other troops, which wintered in Cappadocia. The confederate Kings were ordered to obey either, according to the exigencies of the war; but their affections were much more devoted to Corbulo, who, in order to take advantage of fame, which in all new enterprises has ever most powerful influence, marched with expedition, and at Ægeas, a city of Cilicia, was met by Quadratus, who advanced purposely thus far, lest Corbulo, if he had entered Syria to receive his forces there, should draw upon himself the eyes of all men, large as he was in his person, a magnificent speaker, and, besides the esteem of his wisdom and great experience, even things empty in themselves, his air and fashion served powerfully to recommend him.

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Both, however, warned Vologeses by messages, “to prefer peace to war, and by delivering hostages to preserve towards the Roman people that reverence which was wont to be paid by his ancestors.” Vologeses too, in order to make the more effectual preparations for war, or perhaps to remove under the name of hostages, such as he suspected of aiming at the Diadem, yielded the most illustrious of the family of Arsacides. They were received by Histeius the Centurion, who had been for this very end dispatched to the King by Numidius. When this became known to Corbulo, he ordered Arrius Varus, Prefect of a Cohort, to go and take them; hence a quarrel arose between the Centurion and the Prefect, but, to prevent the same from becoming the sport of foreign nations, to the hostages themselves and deputies who conducted them, the decision of the difference was committed, and they preferred the pretensions of Corbulo, in regard of his late exaltation, and even from a certain biass towards him in the hearts of our enemies. Hence a source of discord between the Cenerals. Numidius complained that he was bereft of what he had by his own counsels atchieved; Corbulo, on the contrary, maintained that the King had not inclined to yield hostages, till he himself being appointed to conduct the war, had changed his hopes into fear. Nero, to compose their jarrings, ordered public declarations to be made, “that for the successful Edition: current; Page: [516]conduct of Quadratus and Corbulo, the laurel should be annexed to their fasces.” These transactions, though they reached into the year of the succeeding Consuls, I have thus laid together.

The same year, Nero applied to the Senate for a statue to his father Domitius, and for the Consular ornaments to Asconius Labeo, who had been his Tutor. Statues to himself of solid silver and gold, he refused, and opposed such who proposed them; and, notwithstanding an ordinance of Senate, that the year for the future should begin on December, the month in which Nero was born, he preserved the ancient solemnity of beginning the year with the first of January. Neither would he admit a criminal prosecution against Carinas Celer the Senator, upon the accusation of a slave; nor against Julius Densus of the Equestrian Order, charged as a delinquent for his devotion to Britannicus.

In the Consulship of Nero and Lucius Antistius, as the Magistrates were swearing upon the acts of the Emperors, he withheld Antistius his collegue from swearing upon his; an action copiously extolled by the Fathers, with design that his youthful spirit, first animated by the glory resulting from light things, might proceed to court the same in things which were greater. There followed an instance of his mercy towards Plautius Lateranus, formerly degraded from the order of Senator, for adultery with Messalina, but Edition: current; Page: [517]now by Nero restored. He chose to make many professions of clemency in the frequent speeches with Seneca, either to manifest what worthy counsels he gave, or in ostentation of his own wit, uttered in public by the mouth of the Emperor.

In the mean while, the authority of his mother became by little and little slighted and impaired; for Nero having fallen into a passion for a franchised damsel, her name Acte, at the same time assumed as confidents in his amour Otho and Claudius Senecio, the first of a Consular family, the other a son of one of the Emperor’s freedmen, both youths of graceful persons, who first, unknown to his mother, then in spight of her, had by fellowship in luxury and secret pleasures crept into an unbounded intimacy with him. Nor did even his severest ministers thwart this intrigue, when with a woman of low condition, to the injury of no man, the Prince satisfied his youthful inclinations and pleasures. For, Octavia his wife, however illustrious in her birth, however celebrated for her virtue, he intirely nauseated, whether from blind fatality, or that forbidden pursuits are more prevalent and attractive. Besides, it was dreaded that, had he been withheld from that gallantry, he would have daringly polluted Ladies of high quality.

Now Agrippina stormed, “that a manumised slave was become her competitress, a handmaid her daughter-in-law,” with other Edition: current; Page: [518]the like angry invectives of an incensed woman. Nor would she practise the least patience, till her son were reclaimed by being ashamed or surfeited; though the fouler her reproaches were, the more vehemently she fired his passion. So that, overcome at last by its superior force, he shook off all reverence for his mother, and surrendered himself intirely to Seneca, who had a friend named Annæus Serenus, that had hitherto cloaked the Prince’s passion for Acte, by feigning one of his own, and furnished his name, that in it he might openly present to her whatever Nero in secret bestowed upon her. And now Agrippina, changing her arts and address, assailed his youthful spirit with softness and blandishments, she offered him “her own chamber, that there, and even within her own arms, he might more covertly accomplish whatever the warmth of his youth and sovereign fortune prompted him to.” She even acknowledged her unseasonable rigour, and tendered him the disposal of all her wealth, not far short of the Imperial treasures. For, as she had lately been over strict in checking her son, so now she was become beyond measure submissive and condescending. This sudden change deceived not Nero; and his closest friends dreading it, besought him, “to beware of snares from a woman always implacable, and then both implacable and dissembling.” It happened about that time, that as Nero was surveying the precious ornaments, in which the wives Edition: current; Page: [519]and mothers of the Emperors were wont to shine, he chose out certain rich raiment with many jewels, and sent them as presents to his mother; nor were the same any wise stinted, since the choicest things, and such as others passionately covet, were by him, unasked, presented to her. But Agrippina waxed violent, and said, “that by these gifts, the adorning of her person was not intended, but rather her exclusion from all besides; and her son would thus divide with her what he had wholly received from her.” Nor were there wanting those who related these her words with aggravations.

Nero therefore, provoked with those who managed and upheld the imperious spirit of Agrippina, dismissed Pallas from the employment which he had received from Claudius, and in it had acted like the sovereign director of the Empire. It is reported that, as he departed the palace, attended by a mighty throng of followers, Nero said, not unpleasantly, “Pallas is going to abdicate his sovereignty.” Pallas had, in truth, stipulated, “That he should be questioned for no part of his past behaviour; and, for his accounts, the public should have no more demands upon him, than he upon the public.” After this Agrippina quite abandoned herself to a stile of threats and terrors, not spared she to utter them in the Emperor’s hearing, but declared, “that Britannicus was now grown up, the natural descendent from Claudius, and Edition: current; Page: [520]worthy to assume the Empire of his father; an Empire which one, who was a son only by adoption and ingraftment, swayed by trampling upon his own mother. She freely consented that all the crying calamities brought upon that unhappy house, should be laid open to the world, and first in the list her own incestuous marriage with her uncle, then her own guilt in poisoning her husband. One only consolation, by the providence of the Gods and her own, remained to her, that her step-son was still left alive; with him she would repair to the camp, where, on one side, would be heard the daughter of Germanicus, on the other, Burrhus and Seneca, the first with his maimed hand, the second wlth the stile of a pedagogue, both engaged in a contest with her about the sovereign rule of human kind.” At the same time she tossed her menacing hands, accumulated reproaches, invoked the deified Claudius, with the manes of the Silani, and of so many others whose murders she had in vain perpetrated!

All this alarmed Nero, and as the following day was that of the nativity of Britannicus, who on it accomplished his fourteenth year, he revolved, within himself, now upon the violent spirit of his mother, then upon the promising genius of that youth, of which, during the late Festival of the Saturnalia, he had given a remarkable specimen, and by it acquired universal esteem. Besides other Edition: current; Page: [521]sports, on that occasion, amongst them and others of the like age and condition, as they drew lots who should be King of the play, the lot fell upon Nero. He therefore, in that quality, gave to all the rest distinct commands, yet such as exposed them to no ridicule; but that to Britannicus was, to stand forth in the center of the company, and there begin some song. From attempting this task he hoped the boy would become an object of laughter, untrained as he was even in the parts of sober conversation, much more in the rants of drunkards. Britannicus, however, with an address steady and undisturbed, raised his voice to some verses which imported, how he “was berest of his natural inheritance and the Imperial power.” Hence he drew compassion from those who heard him, which was the more unrestrained, for that their gaity and the night had banished hypocrisy. Nero was struck with the invidious application, and grew into still more mortal hate; but, however urged to dispatch by the menaces of Agrippina, yet as his brother was without crime, and openly he dared not command his execution, he set about a secret machination. He ordered poison to be prepared, and as his agent in it employed Julius Pollio Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort, in whose custody was kept a woman under condemnation for poisoning, Locusta, famous for many black iniquities in that art. For, as to any obstacle from those who were nearest about the person of Britannicus, Edition: current; Page: [522]care had been long since taken that they should be such as were to have no sense of common honesty, or conscience of their faith and duty. The first poison he took was even administered by the hands of his governors, but without effect, being voided in a looseness; whether in itself it wanted energy, or, to prevent a discovery by its sudden rage, had been qualified. Nero, who was impatient of slow progress in his cruelty, threatened terribly the Tribune, and was dooming the Sorceress to execution, “for that, whilst they only apprehended the out-cries of the people, and were meditating ways to acquit themselves, they postponed the security of the Prince.” Hence they undertook to prepare a dose which, sudden as a dagger, should dispatch him, and in a chamber next to the Emperor’s, the deadly potion was seethed, compounded of several poisons, all of experienced rapidity.

At meals, it was the manner of the children of Princes, accompanied with other young nobles, to be served in a sitting posture, in the sight of their nearest kindred, at a separate table, and more sparingly covered. While Britannicus was thus at meat, the opportunity was taken; but, forasmuch as whatever he eat or drank, was first tried by a special officer of his, a taster, to the end therefore that neither this usage might be omitted, nor by the death of both, the iniquity be detected, the guile was thus concerted. To Britannicus drink was presented, such as was yet free Edition: current; Page: [523]from all infection, and tried by the taster, but scalding hot, and for that reason returned by Britannicus; hence it was qualified with cold water, in which the poison was poured, which seized all his organs with such sudden efficacy, that he was at once berest of speech and life. Fear and trembling possessed his companions; such too as comprehended not the mystery, instantly retired, but those of deeper discernment remained, with their eyes fixed stedfastly upon Nero, who, as he lay in a reclining posture, declared, with the air of one utterly ignorant, “That it was a usual fit of the falling-sickness, with which Britannicus from his early childhood had been afflicted, and by degrees his sight and understanding would return.” But in Agrippina such tokens of dread and consternation of spirit broke out, though by disguised looks she laboured to smother the same, that it was manifest she was as much a stranger to the doom of Britannicus as was his own sister Octavia; for, by his death she was sensible, that her last refuge was snatched from her, and saw an awakening example of patricide before her. Even Octavia, however raw in years, had learnt to hide under dissimulation her grief and tenderness, and every other affection of her soul. So, after a short silence, the pleasantry of the entertainment was resumed.

Upon one and the same night were seen the untimely fate of Britannicus and his funeral pile; for beforehand had been prepared Edition: current; Page: [524]all the appointments for his burial, which itself proved but moderate and stinted. In the Field of Mars, however, his remains were reposited, during such tempestuous rains as the populace believed to be denunciations of the wrath of the Deities against the crying deed; a deed which yet was in the judgment of many men, entituled to pardon, whilst they considered the wonted dissensions eternally happening between rival brothers, and the incommunicable genius of sovereignty. It is related by most of the writers of those times, that, for some time before the murder, Nero had defiled the youth by frequent constupration; so that this his death, however suddenly procured during the inviolable hospitality of the table, and so precipitately that to his sister not a moment was allowed for a last embrace, and under the eye of his capital enemy, yet could not appear too early incurred, nor even cruelly inflicted, though by it the last branch of the Claudian race was extirpated, since it was a branch vitiated by unnatural pollution before it perished by poison. Nero, by an edict, justified the hasty dispatch of the obsequies; the same, he said, was the institution of our ancestors, “presently to withdraw from the eyes of the public the coarses of such as fell before their prime, nor to stay to lengthen the solemnity by pomp and funeral orations. He too in Britannicus had lost the support of a brother; hence all his surviving hopes tested solely in the Commonwealth, and Edition: current; Page: [525]hence with the greater tenderness ought the Senate and people to cherish a Prince, who alone survived of a family born to sustain sovereignty.”

He then distinguished his most noted friends with great donations; nor were there wanting such as severely censured some, who, notwithstanding their avowed gravity, were yet parting amongst themselves, like spoils taken in war, the possessions of Britannicus, his palaces in Rome, and his manors and villas throughout Italy. Others believed, that they were constrained to accept them, by the authority of the Emperor, who, stung with the guilt of his own conscience, hoped that his crimes would be overlooked, if by largesses he could engage in his interest the most powerful men in the state. But his mother’s wrath, no liberalities could asswage; she was still caressing Octavia, still holding secret cabals with her confidents; and, besides the usual cravings of her inherent avarice, she was on all hands exacting and amassing treasure, as if by it she had some great design to support. The Tribunes and Centurions she received with great court and affability, and to the quality and merit of such of the virtuous nobility as even then remained, she paid distinguished honour; as if she were thus studying to create a party, and find a leader. These her measures were known to Nero; and therefore the guards which attended at her gate (a pre-eminence which she held as consort to the late Emperor, Edition: current; Page: [526]and had continued to her, as mother to this) were by his order withdrawn, together with the band of Germans which, as an additional honour, had been joined to the former. Moreover, to prevent her being followed by such a throng of courtiers, he separated her habitation from his, and conveyed her into the house which had belonged to Antonia. There, as often as he visited her, he went always surrounded with a crowd of officers, and after the short ceremony of returning her salute, immediately departed.

Of all mortal things there is nought so unstable and transitory, as the name of power which stands not upon its own native vigour and basis. Instantly the house of Agrippina was deserted; none appeared to give her consolation, none to visit her, except some few Ladies, and whether from affection or hate they did it, is uncertain. Amongst these was Junia Silana, she who was by Messalina divorced from Caius Silius, as above I have recounted, a Lady signal in her quality, beauty, and lewdness, and one, for a long while, very dear to Agrippina; but, between them afterwards secret heart burnings and resentments arose, for that Sextius Africanus, a noble youth, purposing to espouse Silana, was diverted by Agrippina, who urged, “that she was lewd, and past her prime:” not that she meant to reserve Africanus for herself, but left by marrying Silana, he should, as she had no children, with her possess all her wealth. Edition: current; Page: [527]Silana, who thought she saw a prospect of vengeance, instructed two of her own creatures, Iturius and Calvisius, to accuse her; neither did she attack her with stale charges often before alledged, such “as her bewailing the fate of Britannicus, and publishing the wrongs done to Octavia, but with designs to stir up Rubellius Plautus to make a revolution in the state, a nobleman who, by his mother, was in blood as nigh as Nero to the deified Augustus; that by espousing him and investing him with Empire, she meant once more to seize the Commonwealth.” All this was by Iturius and Calvisius imparted to Atimetus freedman to Domitia, Nero’s aunt. Atimetus, overjoyed at the discovery, (for between Agrippina and Domitia a passionate competition was maintained) instigated Paris the player, who was also Domitia’s freedman, to proceed with all haste to the Emperor, “and there, in tragical colours, to announce the crime.”

It was far in night, and Nero was wasting the remainder in carousing, when Paris entered, who else was wont at such seasons to heighten the voluptuous gayeties of the Prince; but now, with a face carefully framed into sadness, he laid before Nero a minute and orderly detail of the conspiracy, and by it so thoroughly affrighted him, that he not only determined the death of his mother and of Plautus, but also to remove Burrhus the captain of his Edition: current; Page: [528]guards, as one who owed his promotion to the favour of Agrippina, and would be ready to return her the like good office. We have it upon the authority of Fabius Rusticus, “That to Cæcina Tuscus a codicil was already dispatched, entrusting him with the command of the Prætorian bands, but that, through the credit and mediation of Seneca, Burrhus retained his dignity.” According to the account of Cluvius and Pliny, no jealousy was entertained concerning the fidelity of the Præfect. But, it must be owned that Fabius manifests a constant zeal to extoll Seneca, by whose friendship his own fortune flourished. As my own purpose is to follow the general consent of authors, so I shall insert under the name of each whatever they diversly publish. Nero, possessed with dread, and with a blind passion to slay his mother, could not be brought to defer his cruel purposes, till Burrhus undertook for her execution, in case she were convicted of the imputed crimes; “but, to every one, whoever it were, a liberty of defence, he said, must be granted, how much more to a mother? Nor, in truth, against her did any accusers appear, but only the hearsay of one man, and by him brought from the house of her enemy, a hearsay too which the circumstances and unseasonable hour contributed to refute; it was during the dead darkness and solitude of the night, and during a night spent in the festivity of banquetting, when all things Edition: current; Page: [529]conspired to produce only rash judgment and uncertainty.”

The Emperor’s fears being thus in some measure asswaged and day returned, recourse was had to Agrippina herself, that having notified to her the several charges against her, she might invalidate the same, or bear the punishment. These orders were performed by Burrhus, in the presence of Seneca; there attended likewise some of the Emperor’s freedmen, to watch his discourse. Burrhus, after he had to her explained her crimes, and given her the names of those who alledged them, proceeded to high words and menaces. Agrippina retained still the wonted fierceness of her spirit; “I wonder not, said she, that to Silana who never bore a child, the tender affections of a mother are thus unknown; for children are not so easily changed by their parents, as by a harlot are her adulterers; nor, because Iturius and Calvisius, after having riotously devoured their whole fortunes, prostitute themselves, for their last resource, to gratify the vengeance of an old woman, by turning my accusers, does it therefore follow that I am to undergo the foul infamy of parricide, or that any apprehensions should thence alarm the mind of Cæsar. As to Domitia, I would thank her even for all the efforts of her enmity to me, if in instances of tenderness towards my child Nero, she would strive to exceed me. At present, by the ministration of Atimetus Edition: current; Page: [530]her minion, and of Paris the player, she is framing a plot, like one for the stage; but she was occupied in trimming the canals of her villa at Baiæ, at a time when by my councils and management, he was adopted into the Claudian name, invested with the Proconsular authority, designed to the Consulship, and all other measures taken proper for acquiring him the Empire. In short, produce the person, who can charge me, either with attempting the faith of the guards at Rome, or with shaking the allegiance of the provinces, or with suborning the Prince’s slaves and freedmen to treason against his person. Under the reign of Britannicus, indeed, had he possessed the sovereignty, I could have preserved my life; but, were Plautus or any other to gain the supreme rule, and thence a power of pronouncing judgment upon any process against me, is it likely that I should want accusers, when, even under Nero, there are those who stand up to accuse me, not of words, sometimes by me incautiously uttered in the heat of affection and pity, but of treason so flagrant, that only through the bowels of a son for his mother, can I be acquitted by mine?” Compunction seized all who attended her; they voluntarily strove to allay the swellings of her heart, and she demanded an interview with her son. During it, she alledged not a syllable in behalf of her innocence, like one who mistrusted herself, nor of his engagements Edition: current; Page: [531]to gratitude, like one who could reproach him for want of it, but insisted that vengeance should be done upon her accusers, recompences be conferred on her friends, and obtained both. To Fenius Rufus was granted the superintendance of provisions, to Arruntius Stella the direction of the public shews, which the Emperor was preparing to exhibit, and to Caius Balbillus the government of Ægypt; that of Syria was assigned to Publius Anteius, but by various feints and stratagems he was, from time to time, eluded of the possession, and at last detained for good and all at Rome. Silana was sent into exile. Calvisius too and Iturius were banished. Upon Atimetus capital pains were inflicted; but Paris was of too prevailing consequence to the Emperor in his debauches, to be subjected to punishment. Plautus was for the present passed over in silence.

A charge was thereafter brought against Pallas and Burrhus, “for having engaged in a design of advancing to the Empire Cornelius Sylla, in regard of his splendid descent and alliance with Claudius,” whose son-in-law he was, having espoused his daughter Antonia. This accusation was supported by one Pætus, a fellow infamous for busily promoting confiscations in the exchequer, and purchasing the effects of such as were condemned. Equally notorious too, upon this occasion, was the vanity and falshood of his allegations; yet, the apparent innocence of Edition: current; Page: [532]Pallas proved not so well pleasing, as his arrogance proved shocking; for upon naming to him those of his freedmen who were said to have been his accomplices, he answered, “That at home he never used any other way of signifying his pleasure than sometimes by a nod, sometimes by a motion of his hand; or, if his commands consisted of many particulars, he then committed the same to writing; so that, at all adventures, he ever avoided to mix in discourse with his domestics.” Burrhus, notwithstanding he was arraigned, sate and voted with the other judges, and upon the accuser the doom of banishment was inflicted. His duplicates too were burnt, the instruments by which he was wont to exact fresh payment to the cancelled claims of the exchequer.

Towards the close of the year, was removed the band of men which, as a guard, was wont to attend at the celebration of the public plays, thence to exhibit a more plausible appearance of popular liberty, as also to preserve the soldiery from tainting their discipline by the dissolute licentiousness of the theatre, and moreover “to prove, whether the populace would still retain the same modesty of behaviour, now the guards were removed.” At the admonitions of the soothsayers, the Emperor purified the city by lustration, for that the temples of Jupiter and Minerva had been struck with lightning.

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In the Consulship of Quintus Volusius and Publius Scipio, while profound quiet reigned all over the Empire abroad, abominable revellings prevailed at Rome, under the leading of Nero, who, disguised in the habit of a slave, went roaming about the streets, and scoured the public inns and stews, followed by a set of companions, who seized as prey whatever stood exposed to sale, and assaulted whomsoever they met; and all these violences were committed upon people so unapprized of the author, that he himself was once wounded, and bore the scar in his face. When afterwards it came to be divulged, that it was the Emperor who rioted thus, and as fresh outrages were daily done to men and ladies of illustrious quality, the name of Nero being once used to warrant licentiousness, was falsly assumed as a cloak by others, and many with their own separate gangs boldly practised the same excesses. So that such were the nightly combustions at Rome, as if the city had been stormed and the inhabitants taken captive. Julius Montanus, one in the rank of Senators, but hitherto invested with no Magislracy, having casually encountered the Prince in the dark, resolutely repulsed his assaults, and afterwards discovering him, implored his forgiveness; but, as if he had reproached the Emperor, by owning that he knew him, he was compelled to die. Thenceforward, however, Nero became more fearful, and in these his rambles fortified himself with a party of soldiers Edition: current; Page: [534]and a great train of Gladiarors. These interposed not in the beginning of a fray, nor while the same continued but moderately high, as if it were only a quarrel between particulars, and they were unconcerned; but, if such as were insulted, resisted with vigour, instantly the men of arms fell on. Nay, at the diversions of the theatre, the several parties that favoured particular players, were by him turned into hostile factions, encountering as it were in battle, animated, indeed, by the influence of impunity and rewards. Besides, he greedily attended those broils, sometimes concealed, and often as an avowed spectator. These tumults went on, till the people being heated and rent into dissensions, and commotions still more terrible apprehended, no other remedy was found but that of driving the players out of Italy, and of recalling the soldiers to guard the theatre.

About the same time the Senate had under consideration the insolence and base dealings of the Freedmen towards their Lords; and it was demanded with great eagerness, “That to patrons a privilege should be granted of revoking the liberty of such as ungratefully used it.” For this many were ready to vote; but the Consuls were afraid to propose the question, without apprizing the Prince: they, however, acquainted him by writing, with the concurrence and biass of the Senate, and consulted him whether he would be declared the author of this decree, which was opposed by Edition: current; Page: [535]so few. They laid before him the reasonings on both sides, as some urged with great vehemence and resentment, “That, since their investiture with liberty, to such an excess of insolence they had soared, that they scarce allowed their patrons the common treatment of equals, but assailed them with insults and violence, spurned at their motions in the Senate, lifted up their hands against them, threatened them with blows; and, with outrageous impudence, warned their patrons from prosecuting the delinquencies of these their former slaves. And, in truth, what higher satisfaction or amends was permitted to the abused patron, than to banish his criminal freedmen an hundred miles off, into the pleasant confines of Campania? In every other circumstance the privileges of the freedman were the same with those of his patron. It was therefore expedient to arm the patron with some prerogative not to be despised; nor could it be deemed any grievance upon slaves manumised, to preserve their liberty by the same dutiful observances by which they attained it. And, for those already notoriously guilty, it was but just to remand them to the yoke of servitude, that through their example, fear might curb such as benefits could not amend.”

On the other side it was argued, “That the transgression of a few ought to prove pernicious only to themselves, and nothing be derogated from the established rights of all; they Edition: current; Page: [536]were a body widely diffused; from thence in a good measure the tribes were supplied, and the colleges of scribes often filled. From the same source arose the several officers attending the Magistrates and Pontiffs; from thence too the city cohorts were enrolled, nor from any other original did a multitude of Knights and many Senators derive their pedigree. Now if from the several ranks the descendents of freedmen were separated, there would quickly be discovered a manifest scarcity of such as were originally free. Not without good ground had our ancestors, when they ascertained the distinction and privileges of the three orders, awarded undistinguished liberty to all men. Besides, there were two kinds of manumission appointed, on purpose to reserve a latitude for revoking liberty, where the grant was repented, or for the exercise of fresh generosity, by rendering the favour irrevocable. Those who had not been by their patron regularly freed before the Prætor, remained still bound to him by a certain tye of servitude. Every patron must examine carefully the merit of such as he meant to discharge, and grant with deliberation an immunity, which once granted he could never annull.” This opinion prevailed; and Nero wrote to the Senate, that they should try the offences of freedmen singly, whenever they were prosecuted by their patrons, but in nothing retrench from the rights of the body. Not long after Edition: current; Page: [537]Nero bereft Domitia, his aunt, of Paris her freedman, an act done by pretended law, to the great infamy of the Prince, since by his special authority was obtained the judgment which asserted him free born.

There, however, subsisted still some resemblance of the ancient Republic: for, in the contest which arose between Vibullius the Prætor and Antistius Tribune of the people, about some turbulent partizans of the players, by the Prætor cast into irons, and by order of the Tribune released; the Senate affirmed the judgment of Vibullius, and reprimanded the arbitrary conduct of Antistius. The Tribunes were moreover prohibited from entrenching upon the jurisdiction of the Prætors and Consuls, as also from summoning before them out of any quarters of Italy such as might be tried at tribunals of their own. It was added by Lucius Piso Consul elect, “That in their own houses they should not be allowed to exert any act of power, nor that under four months the Quæstors of the Exchequer should register the mulcts by them laid; that in the interval there should be privilege to controvert their sentence, and that by one of the Consuls the contest should be determined.” The jurisdiction too of the Ædiles was further straitened, and it was settled how high the Patrician Ædiles, how high the Plobeian, might exact sureties, and to what value impose penalties. These proceedings encouraged Helvidius Priscus to gratify Edition: current; Page: [538]his own personal pique against Obultronius Sabinus Quæstor of the Exchequer, by charging him, “that by his prerogative of confiscating goods for taxes, he unmercifully extorted upon the poor and insolvent.” After this, the management of the Exchequer was by the Prince removed from the Quæstors, and committed to the Præfects.

Various had been the regulations of this office, and its form often altered; for, Augustus had left to the Senate the power of chusing the Præfects. Thereafter, as the suffrages were suspected to have been gained by caballing, out of the list of Prætors were drawn by lot such as were to preside there. Neither held this expedient long; for that the blind lot often strayed, and fell upon those who were little qualified. Claudius therefore once more restored the Quæstors; and, that the fear of raising enemies might not slacken their activity and inspection, he promised them, by special dispensation, an immediate designation to the greater Magistracies; but, as this was the first which they sustained, ripeness of age was found wanting in them; hence Nero chose into their places such as had exercised the Prætorship, and were of tried abilities.

Under the same Consuls was condemned Vipsanius Lenas, for his rapacious administration in Sardinia. Cestius Proculus charged with extortion (his accusers acquiescing) was acquitted. Clodius Quirinalis, Admiral of the galleys which rode at Ravenna, Edition: current; Page: [539]as he stood convicted, “for having by his profligate manners and acts of cruelty, infested Italy, and treated it as the most abject of all nations,” prevented by poison his impending condemnation. Caninius Rebilus, one of the first rank in Rome, for his abilities in the law, and his abundant treasures, chose a quick release from the torments of an old age broken with infirmities, by opening his veins, a man never before esteemed of magnanimity sufficient to encounter a voluntary death, infamous as he was for a life of lasciviousness and effeminacy. But, illustrious and amiable in fame, departed Lucius Volusius, after a long life of ninety three years, and the upright acquisition of signal opulence, with the singular felicity of having never roused the cruel spirit of so many Emperors.

During the second Consulship of Nero, and that of Lucius Piso his collegue, few events occurred worthy commemoration, unless any writer liked to fill pages in magnifying the vast foundations and wooden structure of the new Amphitheatre, an immense pile then erected by the Emperor in the Field of Mars. But, to the dignity of the Roman people it belongs, that in their History should be inserted illustrious events only, and in the City-Journals such descriptions as those. The Colonies however of Capua and Nuceria were strengthened by a supply of Veterans; to the populace was distributed a largess of four hundred small sesterces Edition: current; Page: [540]*a man; and into the Exchequer was conveyed the sum of four hundred thousand great sesterces; as a fund to support the credit of the Roman people. Moreover, the duty of four in the hundred upon the sale of slaves, was remitted, an act rather specious in appearance than of any efficacy; for, as the seller was obliged to pay it, he thence raised the price upon the buyer. The Emperor too issued an edict, “that no Procurator, or any other Magistrate, who had obtained a charge in any province, should exhibit a spectacle of Gladiators, or of wild beasts, nor any other popular entertainment whatsoever.” For, before this, they had by such acts of munificence no less afflicted those under their jurisdiction, than by plundering them of their money, whilst, under the influence of such court to the multitude, they sheltered their arbitrary delinquencies and rapine.

A decree of Senate also passed equally tending to the avenging of crimes, and providing for domestic security, “that if any one was killed by his slaves, those too, whom by his last will he had made free, if they still continued under the same roof, should amongst his other slaves suffer execution.” Lucius Varius, one who had been Consul, but for the crimes of rapine formerly branded with degradation, was now restored to his primitive dignity, and Pomponia Græcina a Edition: current; Page: [541]Lady of signal quality, arraigned of having embraced an extraneous superstition, was preferred to the inquisition of her husband; for she was married to Plautius, the same who upon his return from Britain, entered the city in the pomp of Ovation. Plautius assembled her kindred, and, in observance of primitive institution, having in their presence taken cognizance of the behaviour and reputation of his wife, adjudged her innocent. To a great age this Lady lived, and under incessant sorrow; for ever after the untimely fate of Julia, (the daughter of Drusus) procured by the perfidious snares of Messalina, she wore for the space of forty years, no habit but that of mourning, entertained no sentiments but those of grief, a temper which during the reign of Claudius escaped with impunity, and redounded thereafter to her glory.

The same year produced many arraignments, and amongst them one against Publius Celer, prosecuted by the province of Asia, with such incontestable evidence, that the Emperor, finding no pretence to discharge him, lengthened out the process till he died of old age. For, Celer having, as is above remembered, dispatched by poison the Proconsul Silanus, skreened under that mighty iniquity all his other enormities. Cossutianus Capito was impleaded by the Cilicians, “as a man utterly abominable and infamous, one who claimed authority to commit in his province the same bold exorbitancies which in Rome he had Edition: current; Page: [542]committed.” And he found himself so sorely beset with the vigour of the accusation, that at last he wholly abandoned his defence, and was condemned by the law against extortion. But, for Eprius Marcellus, who was charged by those of Lycia with the violation of that very law, a faction so powerful was formed, that some of his accusers were punished with exile, “as if they had conspired the ruin of an innocent man.”

With Nero, now in his third Consulship, Valerius Messala commenced collegue, he whose great grandfather Corvinus the Orator, was by some old men (very few) remembered to have been collegue in the same Magistracy with the deified Augustus, who, by one degree more remote, was ancestor to Nero. But, as an additional honour to that illustrious family, a yearly pension was presented to Messala, of about twelve thousand crowns, that by it he might relieve his honest poverty, and still support his integrity. To Aurelius Cotta also, and Haterius Antoninus, annual appointments were assigned by the Prince, though they had wasted in voluptuousness their paternal wealth. In the beginning of this year the war between the Parthians and Romans, for the mastery of Armenia, though it had commenced with faint efforts, and hitherro lingered, was prosecuted with vigour; for, Vologeses would neither suffer his brother Tiridates to be bereft of the monarchy by himself conferred upon him, nor to hold the same as a gift from Edition: current; Page: [543]any other power; and Corbulo, esteemed it becoming the grandeur of the Roman people, to re-establish the conquests formerly made by Lucullus and Pompey. Moreover the Armenians, a people of double and faithless minds, invited the arms and protection of both, though, from the situation of their country and similitude of manners, they stood in nearer conformity to the Parthians, being besides commonly linked with them in conjugal alliances; and, being destitute of all experience or sense of liberty, they were thence rather addicted to Parthian slavery.

But, to Corbulo it proved greater labour to struggle with the degenerate sloth of his soldiers, than against the perfidious dealings of his enemies. For, the Legions brought out of Syria, and enervated by long peace, bore with much impatience the laborious occupations of war. It fully appeared that in that army there were those who had served to the age of Veterans, and yet had never kept guard, never stood sentry, men who beheld entrenchments and pallisades as sights new and wonderful, and who, in spruce apparel and pursuit of gain, without ever wearing helmet or bodyarmour, had amongst the delicacies of cities fulfilled the term of their service. Having therefore discharged such as were enfecbled by sickness or age, he sent to demand recruits. Hence levies were made through Cappadocia and Galatia, and to these was added a Legion from Germany, with some wings of horse and Edition: current; Page: [544]a detachment of infantry from the Cohorts. The whole army too was incamped; though such was the rigour of the winter, and so stubbornly had the frost bound the earth, that without digging they could not pierce it in order to pitch their tents. Many had their limbs utterly scorched up by the raging cold, and some, as they stood sentry, were frozen to death. More remarkable still was the fate of one particular soldier, whose hands, as he carried in them a bundle of wood, stiffened and mortified so suddenly, that still clasping their burden they dropped from his arms. The General himself, in a thin habit and his head bare, whether they marched or worked, was hourly amongst them, commending the magnanimous, heartening the weak, and exhibiting an example to all. Next, as many refused to bear the asperity of the weather and service, and began to depart, he had recourse to severity for a cure; for, he proceeded not as in the other armies, where the first or second offence was forgiven, but whoever deserted his colours, was instantly put to death; a course which was by experience proved to be wholesome, and preferable to that of clemency, since from his camp there were fewer desertions, than from those in which acts of mercy were wont to prevail.

Corbulo, the while, holding his Legions encamped, waited the advancement of the spring, and, having quartered the auxiliary Cohorts in convenient places, expresly forewarned Edition: current; Page: [545]them that they should not venture to engage first in a battle. The superintendance of these garrisons he conferred upon Pactius Orphitus, one who had served as Lieutenant Colonel of a Legion. This officer, although he acquainted the General by letter, that the Barbarians acted negligently, and thence an opportunity presented of assailing them with success, was ordered to abide within his entrenchments, and wait for greater forces; but, he broke through his orders, for, upon the arrival of some few troops of horse, who, assembling from the neighbouring castles, rashly demanded battle, he encountered the enemy, and was routed. Those too, who ought to have reinforced him, being themselves terrified with his disaster, betook themselves to a cowardly and tumultuous flight, and returned to their several fortifications; an event which grievously affected Corbulo. Hence, after he had bitterly reproached Pactius himself and the captains and common soldiers, he expelled them all from the camp, doomed them to lie on the other side its enclosure, without tents or defence; and under this contumelious punishment they were held, till, at the universal supplications of the whole army, they were released.

Now Tiridates, who over and above the forces which he drew from his own vassals, was supported by the might of his brother Vologeses, proceeded no longer against Armenia by disguised efforts, but attacked it with open war, and, upon all such as he suspected of Edition: current; Page: [546]attachment to us, committed depredations, but, where troops were drawn out against him, eluded the encounter, scouring to and fro, and affecting greater matters by the fame and terror of his incursions, than by any exploits in fight. Corbulo therefore, having long laboured to come to an engagement, and being still frustrated, found himself obliged to follow the method of the enemy, and make a circulatory war. Hence he distributed his forces so that his several Lieutenants might at once attack diverse quarters; he at the same directed King Antiochus to fall into the Armenian districts which lay contiguous to his own. For, as to Pharasmanes King of Hiberia, having for the imputation of treason slain his son Rhadamistus, he was already, in order to display his fidelity towards us, renewing with the more acrimony against the Armenians the exercise of his inveterate hate. The Insechians too, a people since singularly attached to the Roman interest, were then first engaged in our alliance, and over-run the wilds of Armenia. Thus all the measures of Tiridates proved abortive and contradictory, so that he dispatched Embassadors to expostulate, in his own name and that of the Parthians; “upon what score it was that, after he had so lately delivered hostages to the Romans, and with them renewed his former amity, which might reasonably have proved to him a source of new friendship, he must yet be chased out of Armenia, a Kingdom so long in the possession Edition: current; Page: [547]of his ancestors? Hence it was, that Vologeses had not hitherto taken arms in person, because they both desired to commit the justice of their cause to the way of accommodation rather than to that of violence. But, if war were still to be obstinately pursued, the Arsacides would not find themselves forsaken of that victorious bravery so often tried by the Romans, in many bloody overthrows.” Corbulo was well informed, that what engaged Vologeses was the revolt of Hyrcania. He therefore, in answer to Tiridates, persuaded him to apply to the Emperor with supplications; “hence he might enjoy his Kingdom in security, and an establishment without the expence of blood, if rejecting his remote and tedious hopes, he would close with sounder measures already concerted.”

But, as the business of peace was nothing advanced by an intercourse of messengers, it was at last judged proper to ascertain a time and place for an interview between the two chiefs. Tiridates declared, “that he would come attended only by a guard of a thousand horse, but would not restrain Corbulo to any number of troops of any kind, provided they came without armour, as a proof of their disposition to peace.” This perfidious wile of the Barbarian must have appeared manifest to every man breathing, especially to an old and cautious Captain, since, by limiting the number of men on one side, and leaving Edition: current; Page: [548]liberty for a greater number on the other, nothing but a snare could be intended. For, against a body of Parthian horsemen constantly trained in the use of the bow, any numbers whatever, when naked of armour, would avail nothing. Corbulo, however, disguised all his apprehensions of guile, and returned answer, “that matters which concerned the interest of both their states, would be more properly discussed in presence of both armies.” Hence he chose a station consisting partly of hills rising with a gentle slope, fit for embattling his infantry, partly of a large plain, affording scope for ranging the squadrons of horse. On the day appointed, Corbulo advanced first, on the wings he posted the social troops and the auxiliary forces sent by the confederate Kings, in the center the sixth Legion, which he had strengthened with three thousand men of the third, led by night from another camp, all mixed together under one Eagle, to preserve still the appearance of a single Legion. Tiridates at last appeared, but late in the day, and afar off, from whence he could be easier seen than heard. So that the Roman General, having obtained no conference, ordered his men to retire to their several camps.

The King too retreated in haste, whether it were that he apprehended a design to surprize him, for that the Romans filed off in different routs, or, that he meant to intercept their provisions which were coming from Trebizond and the Euxine sea. But, as the provisions passed Edition: current; Page: [549]over the mountains, which were secured by several bands of our men, he found no means to attack them; and Corbulo the while, that the war might not thus linger without action, and in order to force the Armenians to defend their own dwellings, set himself to raze their strong holds. The attack of the strongest of all those in that quarter, the fort named Volandum, he reserved to himself; and to Cornelius Flaccus his Lieutenant, and Insteius Capito Camp Marshal, committed those of smaller note. Having therefore viewed the fortifications and prepared all things requisite for storming the place, he exhorted his men, “to exterminate that base and vagabond foe, never prepared for war, yet never disposed to peace, but still by flight confessing faithlessness and cowardice; do this, said he, and at once pursue a harvest of spoil and glory.” He then distributed his forces into four divisions; one he formed close under their shields into the military shell, in order to overthrow the pallisade and undermine the rampart; others were ordered, by ladders to mount the walls, and a party to manage the engines, and thence annoy the fortress with showers of darts and artificial fire. To the archers too and slingers a quarter was assigned whence they might from afar discharge volleys of stones and bullets. So that every part of the fortress being assailed, and the consternation every where equal, no one quarter of the besieged might be at leisure to relieve another. All Edition: current; Page: [550]this was executed by the besiegers with such spirit and vigour, that in a few hours the defendants were entirely driven from the walls, the gates were forced, the bulwarks scaled, and all that were arrived to full age, put to the edge of the sword, without the loss of one of our men, and very few were wounded. The weak and mixt multitude were sold by the public cryer, and to the conquerors remained all the rest of the spoil. Equal success attended the Lieutenant General and Camp Marshal; in one day they took three castles by storm, insomuch that all the others, some from dread, others from the inclination of the inhabitants, surrendered. Such a series of good fortune inspired a resolution, to attempt the siege of Artaxata, the capital of Armenia. The Legions were not however conducted thither the shortest road; for that, in passing the bridge over the Araxes, which washes the walls of the city, they would have been exposed to be galled by the enemy. Fetching therefore a long circuit, they forded over upon the large shallows.

As to Tiridates, he struggled between shame and fear; if he gave way to the siege, it would appear that there was no reliance upon any relief or force from him; if he attempted to prevent it, he must be hemmed in with his cavalry in close and intricate places. At last, he determined to shew himself in order of battle, and at break of day begin the onset, or by a feigned flight try to draw the Romans into a snare. Edition: current; Page: [551]With great suddenness therefore he beset them, but without any surprize to our General, who had formed his army as well for a fight as a march. On the right marched the third Legion, on the left the sixth, and in the center a chosen detachment from the tenth; the baggage was secured between the ranks, and a thousand horse guarded the rear. These last were ordered “to repulse the foe, if they made any close attack, but, not to pursue them when they fled.” The foot archers and remainder of the horse were placed on the wings, but the left was the most extended, and reached to the roots of the hills, that, if the enemy attempted an onset there, he might be encountered at once by our front, and by the heart of the army. Tiridates, on his side, pickecred about, yet never approached within the throw of a dart, but, now braving us with the countenance of an assailant, then assuming an air of dismay, provoked us to loosen our ranks, that he might fall upon us when we were disjoyned. When he saw no unwary relaxation in our order, and that only one captain of horse, who had adventured too rashly, was by a volley of arrows slain, and by his fate had confirmed all the rest in submission to discipline, he marched off at the close of the evening.

Corbulo encamped upon the place, and, supposing that Tiridates had retired to Artaxata, was unresolved whether he should march thither the same night with his Legions unincumbered Edition: current; Page: [552]by baggage, and immediately invest it; but, upon tidings brought him by his spies, that the King had undertaken a long rout; though it was uncertain whether towards the regions of Media or Albania, he waited for the morning, and dispatched his troops lightly armed to beset the city, and begin the storm of the place by a distant attack. But the citizens voluntarily opening their gates, made an unreserved surrender to the Romans; by this their persons were secured. The city was fired, and laid level with the ground, for such was the wide circuit of its walls, that, without a powerful garrison, they could not be defended, nor were our forces sufficiently large to fill the garrison, and yet to prosecute the war; or, had it been left untouched and destitute of a guard, there had been no profit nor glory in having taken it. To this relation of the fall of the city is added a Phænomenon, which was deemed miraculous, as a signal sent immediately from heaven, for that, while all the region round the walls and close to them, was gloriously irradiated by the sun, the whole space incompassed by them, was so suddenly darkened by a thick cloud, spangled with lightening and roaring with thunder, that it was believed the angry Gods, to satiate their vengeance, had consigned that city to utter destruction.

For these prosperous exploits Nero was proclaimed Imperator, and, by decree of Senate, days of public devotion were appointed, Edition: current; Page: [553]with statues of victory to the Prince, triumphal arches, and perpetuity of the Consulship. It was moreover decreed, that the day when the city was won, the day when the news arrived at Rome, and the day that produced this decree, should all be enrolled amongst the annual festivals, with several other particulars of the same stamp, so much beyond all measure, that Caius Cassius, though he had agreed to the former, yet argued here, “That were every instance of public prosperity to be attended with public thanksgiving, the whole year would not afford days enough for days of devotion; a just distribution ought therefore to be made between days of devotion and days of business, in such sort that the worship of the Gods might be solemnized, without interfering with the secular business of men.”

Thereafter was impleaded a man, who had passed through various revolutions of life, and justly incurred much hatred, and many enmities; yet obnoxious as he was, his condemnation drew an imputation and blemish upon Seneca. It was Publius Suilius, he who, during the reign of Claudius, had borne such terrible sway, and exercised such a venal spirit, and though now by the change of times, considerably sunk, yet not so low as his enemies wished. Besides, he was one, who chose rather to bear the character of a criminal, than descend to that of a supplicant. Hence the decree of Senate made at this time Edition: current; Page: [554]for the revival of the Cincian law, which subjected to penalties all those who had pleaded for pay, was thought to have passed on purpose to ruine him. Nor did Suilius, on his part, spare to retort complaints and recriminations, but, vehement as he ever was in his temper, now too, extremely old, and thence indulging avowed freedom, upbraided Seneca, “as an inveterate foe to all the friends of Claudius, during whose reign he had been justly doomed to exile; as one who, being himself conversant in stupid and insignificant studies, and in teaching scholars, was actuated by envy towards all such, who in defending the rights of their fellow citizens, exercised vigorous eloquence, free from pedantry and corruption. For himself; he had been Quæstor to Germanicus, but Seneca the adulterer of Germanicus’s daughter. Now, was it to be judged a more heinous offence, to pursue the advantages of a worthy vocation, by accepting a reward from a suitor, who freely gives it, than to contaminate the beds of Princesses? By what precepts of wisdom, by what principles of philosophy, had he, during four years of imperial favour, amassed a treasure of more than seven millions? Through Rome he hunted after testaments and inheritances, the rich and childish were catched, as it were, in his net, and all Italy and the Provinces were, by his mighty and excessive usury, exhausted. But small is my own wealth, Edition: current; Page: [555]and with industry acquired; and upon the whole, I am determined rather to undergo the heaviest prosecution, the severest sentence and doom, and every degree of hardship and suffering, than debase a distinguished reputation, the acquisition of a long life, and bend to this sudden son of felicity.”

There were some too, who failed not to relate to Seneca all these reproaches, in the same angry strain, or in one still more embittered. Accusers, moreover, were found, who arraigned him, “for his excesses in Asia, when he ruled as Quæstor there, for plundering the inhabitants, and robbing from the public revenue.” But, as a whole year was granted them for preparing their evidence, it was deemed a quicker expedient to proceed upon his enormities at Rome, of all which there were in store ready witnesses. By these it was urged, “That by a virulent accusation, he had driven Quintus Pomponius upon the necessity of raising a civil war; by him was procured the violent death of Poppæa Sabina, and of Julia the daughter of Drusus; of his framing was the doom of Valerius Asiaticus, of Lusius Saturninus, and of Cornelius Lupus. Add to these, whole bands of Roman Knights, at his instigation condemned; with all the long train of cruelties during the reign of Claudius.” For upon Suilius they charged the whole. In his defence he began to alledge, “That of all these accumulated prosecutions, he had of Edition: current; Page: [556]his own inclination engaged in none, but purely in obedience to the Prince.” But Nero checked this plea, and testified that, from the Memoirs of Claudius, he had found, that no accusation whatsoever had ever been undertaken by compulsion from him. The accused then pleaded the uncontroulable orders of Messalina; an impotent defence! “for why had no other advocates but only Suilius, been singled out, to have lent their eloquence for accomplishing the purposes of that bloody prostitute? In truth, the ministers and promoters of such black deeds must be punished, they who, having received the wages of their iniquities, would upon others father the iniquities themselves.” A part of his estate was therefore confiscated; for to his son and grand-daughter the other part was granted, besides that from the sentence were also exempted the fortunes left them by the will of their mother, and that of their grand-father. He himself was banished to the isles Baleares; but, neither during the heat and peril of the prosecution, nor after his condemnation, was his spirit in the least sunk or dismayed. He was even said to have passed his solitary exile in a life of voluptuousness and pleasure. In hatred to him, Nerulinus his son was also arraigned, upon the crimes of public rapine; but Nero interposed, and alledged, that by the doom of the father, public vengeance was sufficiently satiated.

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About the same time Octavius Sagitta, Tribune of the people, intoxicated with a passion for Pontia, a married woman, gained her by vast presents, first to consent to the adultery, afterwards to quit her husband, engaging himself and her in a promise of marriage after the divorce. But the woman, when she found herself single, framed delays from time to time, pleaded the opposition of her father, and then, having discovered some hopes of a wealthier husband, quite renounced her engagement. Octavius failed not to combat this resolution; one moment broke into complaints, the next into menaces; he adjured her by the reputation which for her he had shipwrecked, by the wealth which upon her he had totally consumed; lastly, he told her, that his life and person was the only fortune left him, and of that too the disposal lay wholly in her breast. At length, perceiving her deaf to all his reasonings, he requested the consolation of one parting night; for that thus calmed and gratified, he would thenceforth be able to govern his passion. The night was granted and named, and Pontia appointed a maid, her confident to secure the chamber. Sagitta brought with him one freedman, and a dagger concealed under his robe. The interview began, as usual in combinations of love and anger, with a medley of chiding and beseeching, of reproaches and submissions; and part too of the night was devoted to joy and embraces. At last, he became enraged with Edition: current; Page: [558]expostulations and despair, and suddenly plunged his dagger into her heart, (free as she was of all dread) beat down and wounded the maid, who was flying to her assistance, and burst out of the chamber. Next day the murder was divulged; and, by what hand, was apparent, for it was proved they had lodged together; but the freedman adopted the guilt. He averred, that the assassination was of his own committing, to procure just vengeance to an injured master; and, by the exemplary greatness of such behaviour, many were induced to believe him, till the maid, when she was healed of her wound, fully disclosed the author, and all the particulars; so that the Tribune was arraigned before the Consuls by the father of the deceased, and, at the expiration of his office, condemned by the Senate to the penalties of the Cornelian Law.

An instance of lewdness no less notorious, proved this year the source of heavy calamities to the Roman state. In the city lived a daughter of Titus Ollius, but, as Poppæus Sabinus her mother’s father, had shone in the Commonwealth, and from the Consular dignity and glory of a triumph, acquired an illustrious name, from his she took her own, that of Sabina Poppæa; for, Ollius, ere yet he had overtaken any public dignity, was swallowed up by the fatal friendship of Sejanus. This Lady possessed every ornament but that of a virtuous soul; for, from her mother, who in beauty had excelled all the women of her time, Edition: current; Page: [559]she derived her loveliness, as well as the glory of descent; the lustre of her birth was supported by proportionable wealth; her speech was soft and engaging, her wit pertinent, modesty the part she personated, lewdness that she practised. It was rare that she appeared abroad, then too part of her face hid under her veil, the more to stimulate the curious beholders, or, perhaps, because thus she was still more charming. By the awe of fame she was never controuled; between husband and adulterer, she made no distinction; by no man’s passion was she ever biassed, nor even by her own; whereever her interest appeared, thither she transferred her lewd pleasures. Hence, though she was married to Rufius Crispinus, a Roman Knight, and by him had brought forth a son, she was carried away by the gay youth and profuseness of Otho, especially for that he was esteemed to reign, beyond all others, in the affection of Nero, nor was it long ere this commerce of adultery was followed by their intermarriage.

It became now the ordinary language of Otho, to extol to the Prince the beauty and delicate charms of his wife, either, as he was prompted by the indiscreet warmth of a lover, or designed to enflame Nero with the like passion, and from their common enjoyment of the same woman, hoped to find an additional support to his present authority. It was usual to hear him boast, as he rose from the Emperor’s table, “That he now retired to Edition: current; Page: [560]the sum of all nobleness and loveliness, her who was the centre of every joy and felicity, the desire of all men, but happily his own peculiar lot.” After these and the like incitements, Nero deferred not long his own gratification; an interview was appointed, where Poppæa, at first, employed all her soft arts and caresses, and by them intirely subdued him; she seigned herself smitten with his fine person, and wholly overcome by her passion for him. But, when she had worked up the Prince’s affection to a pitch of impatience, she changed her former behaviour into haughtiness and despite. If she were detained above a night or two, “she was a married woman, she cried, nor could she relinquish her husband, as to him she was engaged by a way of living, which no other man could equal. Otho was magnificent in his person, generous in his spirit; in him she beheld every thing worthy the most exalted fortune. Nero was attached to Acte, thence inured to the embraces of a slave, and could from a fellowship so wretched and servile, derive nothing but sordidness and servility.” Upon this, Otho became degraded from his usual intimacy with the Emperor, then debarred of all intercourse, and even access; and, at last, to prevent all his rival practices in Rome, was preferred to the government of Lusitania, a government which he administered, till the beginning of the civil wars, with eminent uprightness and honour, and wide of all the Edition: current; Page: [561]courses of his former dissolute life; a proof of his various character, that of an unbridled voluptuary in a private station, in authority observing gravity, and just restraints.

Nero as yet endeavoured to find disguises for his vilenesses and crimes. He, whom of all others he apprehended most, was Cornelius Sylla, mistaking the heavy spirit of the man for deep artifice and dissimulation. These apprehensions were inflamed by Graptus, a freedman of his, an ancient domestic of the court, ever since the reign of Tiberius, and being well practised in the dark devices of the Emperors, he, upon this occasion, framed the following forgery. The Milvian Bridge was then the famous scene of nocturnal revellings, and thither Nero frequently resorted, that there he might more licentiously riot without the city. Graptus therefore feigned, “That a plot had been laid for him, as he should return from thence by the Flaminian Way, but, by the benignity of fate, he had escaped it in coming home through the Gardens of Sallust, and of this treason Sylla was the author.” The fact was, that as some of the Emperor’s attendants were repairing back to the palace, certain young companions, indulging a sort of licentiousness then universally practised, had filled them with causeless fears. But, amongst these companions not a slave of Sylla’s was observed, nor one of his dependents; and for himself, his courage was so utterly despicable, and so unequal to any Edition: current; Page: [562]enterprize, that his very nature was repugnant to every attempt of treason. Nevertheless, as if he had been a traitor fully convicted, he was banished his country, and confined within the walls of Marseilles.

During the same Consuls were heard the deputies from Puzzoli, some dispatched by their Senate, others by the populace, the former inveighing against the violence of the multitude, the latter against the oppression and avarice of the Magistrates and Nobles; and, as the sedition was so violent, that the factious had already combated with stones, threatened the firing of houses, and were betaking themselves to arms and massacre; Caius Cassius was appointed to apply a remedy; but, they could not bear the severity of his proceedings; so that, at his own request, that charge was transferred to the two brothers Scribonii, assisted by a Prætorian Cohort, by the terror of which and the execution of some few incendiaries, concord was restored amongst the inhabitants.

The decree of Senate now made, for permitting the Syracusians, in their shews of Gladiators, to exceed the number formerly limited, is a matter so common, that I should not insert it here, had not Pætus Thrasea opposed it, and thence administered to his revilers matter of invective. “For, if he believed that the condition of the Commonwealth called upon the Senators to exert liberty of speech, why were his censures and pursuits confined Edition: current; Page: [563]to things of such trivial moment? How came it, that he stood not forth to advise or controul measures of war and peace, the administration of the revenue, that of the laws, and whatever else concerned the support and governance of the Roman state? To every Senator, as soon as invested with the privilege of voting, full freedom was allowed of propounding whatever he would, and of claiming that what he propounded might be put to the vote. Now, did nothing else in the state want check or amendment, but only, that the spectacles at Syracuse should be exhibited with no enlargements? Was, in truth, all the rest of the administration throughout the Empire, so excellent, as if by Thrasea himself, and not by Nero, it were swayed? But, if all these were passed over in profound dissimulation, how much more reasonably to be forborne were things utterly void of all use and significancy?” To his friends, who asked him the meaning of his conduct, Thrasea answered, “That he had, from no ignorance in the situation of the public, interposed against a decree of that sort, but in it consulted the honour of the Senate, by making it appear, that an inspection into the greatest affairs was not like to be disavowed by those, who thus applied their thoughts to the most insignificant.”

In the same year, so importunate were the cries of the people against the exactions of the Edition: current; Page: [564]Tax-gatherers, that Nero was deliberating about the intire suppression of all taxes and duties, as the most illustrious bounty he could bestow upon human kind. But the Senate, after many high praises upon his greatness of soul, restrained his rash resolution, by apprizing him, “That the dissolution of the Empire must ensue a reduction of the revenues which sustained it; and were the public duties once annulled, it would be a precedent for labouring the discharge of all the public tributes. The companies for administering the taxes, were for the most part established by the Consuls and Tribunes, even then when popular liberty was in its prime at Rome, and the regulations which followed, were so concerted, that the public impositions might just ballance the public exigencies. But the ravenous extortions of the publicans did, in truth, require to be stopped, that so the rates borne by the people for so many years without murmuring, might not be embittered by new grievances.”

The Emperor therefore by an edict ordained, “That the laws of the revenue, which had till then been kept secret, should now be committed to the public Tables; the publicans should exact no claims for above a year backward; in all suits against them, the Prætor at Rome, and in the Provinces, the Proprætor or Proconsul for the time being, should proceed to discretionary judgment; but to the soldiers should be reserved the Edition: current; Page: [565]usual exemption, in all instances save those of traffic;” with other the like injunctions, which, being intirely equitable, were for some short time obeyed, but soon grew neglected and obsolete. The suppression, however, of the Quadragesima (fortieth penny) and of the Quinquagesima (fiftieth) continues still in force, as also that of other impositions with the like titles, invented by the publicans to cover their lawless exactions. Moreover, a regulation was made about the importation of grain from the provinces beyond sea, and it was ordained that the ships of traders should not be rated with the commodities which they carried, nor any duty be paid for the same.

Two men accused of male-administration in Africa, where they had both ruled as Proconsuls, were acquitted by the Emperor, Sulpicius Camerinus, and Pomponius Silvanus. Against the former there appeared only a few private prosecutors, who charged him rather with particular acts of rage than those of general rapine. But Silvanus was beset with a mighty train of impleaders, who required time to procure their witnesses, as did he to be instantly admitted to his defence; and, by being wealthy, ancient, and childless, prevailed, yet out-lived and disappointed those who saved his life to merit his estate.

Till this time Germany had continued in a state of tranquillity, secured by the temper of our commanders there, who, at a time when the honours of the triumph were so Edition: current; Page: [566]miserably prostituted, judged that higher glory was to be reaped by preserving peace. These commanders were Paullinus Pompeius, and Lucius Vetus. To keep, however, the soldiers employed, the former now perfected the damm which had been begun by Drusus threescore and three years before, to restrain the overflowing of the Rhine, while Vetus was digging a canal of communication between the Arar and Moselle, that the armies from Italy, having sailed by sea into the Rhone, and thence into the Arar, might fall through this canal into the Moselle, thence through the Rhine into the Ocean. So that, all impediments of the passage being thus removed, a naval intercourse might be opened from West to North, between the two seas. But this great work was marred through the envy of Ælius Gracilis Lieutenant of Belgic Gaul, who warned Vetus against bringing his Legions into another man’s province, and courting the affections of the Gauls, for that such conduct would alarm the Emperor; an apprehension which frequently serves to frustrate many worthy enterprizes.

But, from the continued inaction of both armies, a report spread, that their Generals were enjoyned not to lead them against the enemy. In confidence of this, the Frisians possessed the forests and morasses with their youth, and carrying over the lakes all such as were weak through sex or age, placed them along the banks of the Rhine, then proceeded Edition: current; Page: [567]to settle themselves upon those tracts of land which being void of inhabitants, were appropriated to the uses of our soldiers. In this enterprize they were counselled and conducted by Verritus and Malorigis, who were sovereigns over this nation, as far as the Germans are wont to submit to sovereignty. They had already founded their dwellings, sown the fields, and were cultivating the lands, as if the same had been their native soil, when Dubius Avitus, who succeeded Paullinus in the province, threatened them with the vengeance of the Roman sword, unless they retired to their ancient territories, or obtained from the Emperor a new settlement. By these menaces he forced Verritus and Malorigis to the ways of supplication. On this negotiation therefore they proceeded to Rome, where, while they waited for access to Nero, who was engaged in other affairs, amongst the sights which are usually shewn to Barbarians, they were conducted into Pompey’s Theatre, that they might there survey the multitude of the Roman people. Here, gazing round them, (no wise interrupted by the diversions of the stage, which they understood not) while they were intent upon the arrangement of the audience, and informing themselves about the distribution of ranks, “which were the Roman Knights, and where sat the fathers of the Senate?” they spied certain persons in a foreign habit, sitting upon the benches of the Senators, and asked who were these? When they had learnt that Edition: current; Page: [568]this was a distinction conferred upon the Ambassadors of such nations as signalized themselves by their merit and friendship towards the Romans; “There is not amongst men, they cried, that nation which, in good faith, and feats of arms, surpasses the Germans;” and thus, leaving their seats, placed themselves among the Senators; a proceeding courteously taken by the spectators, as a flight of ancient liberty, and the effect of an honest emulation. Nero bestowed upon both the privileges of Roman citizens, but ordered that the Frisians should abandon their new possessions; and, as they refused to obey, they were forced, by a sudden irruption of the auxiliary horse, who put in bonds, or to the sword, all who obstinately resisted.

The Ansibarians too took possession of the same lands, a more potent people, not in their own multitudes only, but also from the sympathy of the neighbouring nations; for that they had been exterminated by the Chaucians, were destitute of all settlement, and, like exiles, besought only a quiet shelter and retreat. They were likewise led by a man of signal renown amongst these nations, and even of approved fidelity towards the Romans, his name Boiocalus, who, in behalf of himself and his people, upon this occasion, alledged, “That, upon the revolt of the Cheruscans, he had been thrown into bonds by order of Arminius, afterwards carried arms under Tiberius, then under Germanicus, and, to the merit Edition: current; Page: [569]of fifty years service and adherence to the Romans, he was still ready to add that of submitting his people to their Empire. Was not the territory in dispute large and waste? or reserved for any other use than that of occasional pasture for the soldiers cattle, and how small a portion sufficed for this? yet the Romans might still, if they pleased, retain wide exclusive tracts, only for their beasts to range in, although by feeding their beasts they even famished men; provided they did not wilfully devote all the rest to desarts and solitude, rather than allow it for an habitation to a people disposed to their friendship and alliance. The possessing of this territory was no new thing; formerly it was held by the Chamavians, next by the Tubantes, afterwards by the Usipians. As the heavens were appropriated to the Gods, so was the earth to the children of men, and such portions of it as none possessed, were free and common to all.” Here he Iifted up his eyes to the sun, and invoking, as if they had been present, that and the other cœlestial luminaries, he asked them, “Could they bear to survey a desolate soil? or, would they not more justly let loose the sea to swallow up usurpers, who thus engrossed the earth?”

This language warmed Avitus, who replied, “that to the orders of the most powerful, submission must always be paid, even the Gods to whom they now appealed, had so Edition: current; Page: [570]appointed, that to the Romans should appertain the sovereign judgment, what to bestow and what to take away, and other judges than themselves they would suffer none.” This was his public answer to the Ansibarians; but, to Boiocalus he privately promised, that in acknowledgment of his long attachment to the Romans, he should have lands for himself assigned him, an offer which he considered as a price proposed for betraying his people, and rejecting it with indignation, added, “A place to live in we may want, but a place to die in we cannot.” Thus they parted with animosity on both sides. The Ansibarians, to prepare for the impending war, invited into a confederacy the Bructerians, Tencterians, and even other nations more remote. Avitus too, after he had written to Curtilius Mancia, who commanded the upper army, to pass the Rhine, and to appear with his forces upon their rear, marched himself with his Legions into the territories of the Tencterians, and threatened them with desolation and slaughter, unless they departed from the league. Hence they were forced to acquiesce; and, as the like terrors awed the Bructerians, the rest too relinquished a hopeless cause, whence ruine to themselves was threatened from their attachment to others. So that the forlorn Ansibarians retreated back to the Usipians and Tubantes, but by them also were exterminated. They then withdrew for reception first to the Cattians, afterwards to Edition: current; Page: [571]the Cheruscans, and, in these long and various wanderings from nation to nation, thus vagabond, indigent, and treated as enemies and intruders, all their youth fell by the sword, and the promiscuous multitude were utterly dispersed according to the various lot of captivity.

Between the Hermundurians and the Cattians, during the same summer, a mighty battle was fought, about the propriety of a river, which divided their territories, and which yielding abundant store of salt, each people was labouring by force to appropriate to themselves. To this quarrel, besides their passion for committing all disputes to the decision of the sword, they were further animated by an inherent superstition, “that these places were doubtless in the neighbourhood of heaven, and no where quicker than there did the supplications of men reach the ears of the Gods. Hence, through a special indulgence of the Deities, in this river and in these groves, salt was produced, not, as with other nations, from the foam of the sea crusted upon the shore, but by pouring the water of this river upon flaming piles of wood, and thus condensed by a combination of opposite elements.” The issue of the war was prosperous to the Hermundurians, and to the Cattians the more bloody and destructive, for that, presuming upon victory, they had devoted the adverse host to Mars and Mercury, a vow, by which men and horses, with whatever else appertains to the vanquished, are Edition: current; Page: [572]doomed to be burnt or slain. Thus upon their own heads returned their cruel menaces against their foes.

The people Juhones, a state in alliance with us, were at this time afflicted with a calamity altogether sudden and alarming, by the eruption of a subterraneous fire, which caught and consumed, on every side, their towns, farms, and particular dwellings, and was advancing with fury to the late-built walls of Cologn. Neither could it be extinguished even by the salling of rain, nor by the throwing of water, or by any other usual expedient, till certain boors, despairing of remedy, and enraged at the devouriug conflagration, vented their wrath in attacking it at a distance with vollies of stones; as the flames came thus to abate, they proceeded to a closer approach, and, by dint of clubs and blows, as in an encounter with fierce beasts, quite repulsed it. At length, utterly to smother it, they stripped themselves of their cloaths, which the more soiled and worn they were, the more effectual they proved.

During the same year, the tree Ruminalis, standing in the place assigned for the election of Magistrates, the same which after the birth of Romulus and Remus, had yielded shelter to these exposed babes, eight hundred and forty years ago, began to decay with withered branches and a deadened trunk; a change which passed for an omen of evil portent, till it revived again into fresh blossoms and verdure.

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BOOK XIV.

The SUMMARY.

Nero hates and dreads his mother, and causes her to be murdered. He gives a false account of that murder to the Senate. What strange applause he finds there, and his encouragement from thence to every excess and enormity. He drives chariots, nay, mounts the stage. Quinquennial games instituted, with popular observations upon that institution. The brave conduct of Corbulo in Armenia; he takes Tigranocerta, and establishes Tigranes King there. A great massacre of the Romans in Britain, during the absence of Suetonius Paullinus, then employed in subduing the isle of Anglesey. Thence the province almost lost, but recovered again by the vigorous efforts of the Governor, and in one great combat. The Governor of Rome slain at home by one of his slaves; the rest punished. The law of Majesty revived. The death of Burrhus. Attempts to ruine Seneca; who is aware of them, and sues to be dismissed, but is refused. Tigellinus his mischievous credit with the Emperor; causes Plautus and Sylla to be killed. Nero dismisses his wife Octavia, and marries Poppæa. Hence a popular tumult, which hastens the murder of Octavia.

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During the Consulship of Caius Vipstanus and Caius Fonteius, Nero determined to accomplish, without more delay, the parricide, which he had been long deviseing, as from the permanence of his power he was become resolute and hardened, and his passion for Poppæa waxed daily more flameing. She too, who could never hope to see Octavia divorced, nor herself espoused during the life of Agrippina, teased him with incessant reproaches, nay, sometimes jeered him by the sarcastical name of “pupil, one blindly subject to the controulment of another, so far from being suffered to sway the Empire, that he was not allowed even private liberty. For, upon what other motives could he delay to marry her? Had he any objections to her person and beauty, or to her blood and ancestors, men of renown, distinguished with triumphal honours? was he unsatisfied about the fruitfulness of her body, or the sincere affections of her soul? No; the truth was, it was dreaded, that when she was become his wife, she would be laying open the grievances of the Senate, the resentment of the people, against the pride and rapaciousness of his mother. But, after all, if Agrippina would bear for a daughter-in-law, no other than one who would prove to her son a vexatious and malevolent wife, she desired to be restored again to the conjugal embraces of Otho; for, she was ready and resolved Edition: current; Page: [575]to withdraw to any quarter of the earth, there rather to hear of the Emperor’s abasement and reproach, than stay to behold it, and expose herself to a partnership of the perils which surrounded him.” These and the like expostulations, enforced with sighs and tears, and all the soft artifices of the adulteress, pierced the soul of Nero; nor did any one check their operation, as all earnestly wished to see the authority of Agrippina crushed, and as no mortal believed, that ever the son would wax so hardened in his hate as to spill the blood of his mother.

It is recorded by Cluvius, that such was the flaming passion of Agrippina for retaining her wonted dominion, to such extravagant lengths was she transported, that often, in the face of the day, at a season when Nero was heated with wine and banquetting, she accosted him, gayly attired, and, while he was thus drunk, strove to prompt him to incest; that their obscene kisses, gestures, and other such signals and incitements to that abomination, being well observed by those who were present, Seneca, for an antidote against the enticements of one woman, had recourse to another; hence Acte was introduced, a franchised Damsel, one who being equally anxious for her own danger and the infamy of Nero, warned him, that already the incest was every where published, and his mother gloried in the publication, and that the soldiery would never bear the rule of a Prince contaminated with Edition: current; Page: [576]such unnatural pollution. Fabius Rusticus ascribes this strange appetite not to Agrippina, but to Nero, and recounts that, by the cunning of the same Acte, he was weaned and rescued. But, the detail given by Cluvius, is the same with that of the other writers, and on this side too is the testimony of popular fame; whether she really nourished in her heart an impurity so monstrous, or whether the concerting of this unheard-of prostitution appeared the more credible in her, who almost in her childhood had, from thirst of dominion, consented to be debauched by Lepidus, with the like spirit of power, abandoned herself to the lust of Pallas, and, during her incestuous marriage with her uncle Claudius, had been practised in a course of wickedness of every kind and degree.

Thenceforth Nero began to avoid all private encounters with his mother, and, upon every occasion of her retiring to any of her gardens out of Rome, or to her seats at Tusculum or Antium, used to applaud her for thus employing her leisure. At length, considering her as his dread and torment, where-ever she resided, he assumed a resolution to kill her, and was only in suspence about the means, whether by poison or the sword, or any other effectual violence. That of poison was preferred at first, but to administer the same was difficult: if it were done at the Prince’s table, its operation could never pass for accidental death, since in the like manner Britannicus had Edition: current; Page: [577]already perished; to apply to her own domestics, appeared a great risque, as she was a woman who from her own long intimacy with frauds and blood, was wary and vigilant against all snares and circumvention, and moreover always secured herself by counter-poisons against the efforts of poison. How to dispatch her with the sword, and yet cover the appearances of the execution, no one pretended to devise; it was feared too, that the orders would be rejected, to whomsoever they were given, for the perpetration of such hideous iniquity. Here Anicetus proferred his service and dexterity, a franchised slave, tutor to Nero in his infancy, but now Commander of the fleet which rode at Misenum, one virulently hated by Agrippina, and with equal virulence hating her. He therefore explained, “how a vessel might be so contrived, that by the sudden bursting of one particular quarter in the open sea, she might be overwhelmed, without the least warning or apprehension. Nothing, he said, was so fertile of disasters as the sea, and, if she were thus dispatched by shipwreck, who could be so injurious as to ascribe the malignity of wind and waves to the malice and contrivance of men? moreover, the Prince would of course bestow on his deceased mother, a temple and altars, and all other honours proper to create an oftentation of filial grief and piety.”

Nero was pleased with the device, which was also favoured by the juncture of time, the Edition: current; Page: [578]Festival of Minerva, called Quinquatrus, which he was then celebrating at Baiæ. Thither he inticed his mother; for, he was frequently declaring, “that the hasty humours of parents were to be borne withal, and, towards her it behoved him to suppress every irritation of his own spirit;” as by such declarations he meant to raise a general rumour of his own reconcilement to her, a rumour which he hoped would reach Agrippina and find credit with her, from the credulous genius of women, prone to believe whatever feeds their wishes and promises matter of joy. When she approached, he met her upon the shore, (for she came by sea from Antium) presented her his hand, and embraced her, then conducted her to Bauli, so the villa is called, which, lying between the Cape of Misenum and the gulf of Baiæ, is washed by the sea which winds round the point. Here, amongst several other vessels, there lay one more gaudy and ornamental than the rest, as if, in this particular too, he meditated fresh honour to his mother; for, she had been always wont to be carried in a galley with three banks of oars, rowed by mariners from the fleet. Moreover, the banquet to which she was invited, was so timed, that under the dark shades of night the horrid execution might be covered. It was, however, apparent, that some body had betrayed the design, and that Agrippina, upon hearing the perfidious machination, though she was doubtful whether she ought to believe it, had yet Edition: current; Page: [579]chosen to be carried by land to Baiæ in a sedan; but, upon her arrival there, the plausible behaviour of Nero asswaged her fears; for, besides placing her at table above him, treating her with all tenderness and caresses, he amused her with great variety of conversation, now breaking out into sallies of youthful frankness, then with an air composed and grave, discourseing of weighty affairs, and having thus drawn out the banquet into a great length, he attended her to the shore, there more ardently than before he kissed her eyes, kissed her bosom, and left it uncertain whether, by such passionate behaviour, he only meant to complete this scene of dissimulation, or whether the last sight of a mother just going to perish, really checked his spirit however savage.

The night proved clear, the stars shone in full lustre, the sea was smooth and calm; as if all this had been concerted by the providence of the Gods, for the more incontestable detection of the murder. Agrippina, of all her numerous domestics, was, when she embarked, attended only by two, Crepereius Gallus, who stood by the steerage, and Acerronia, who, as her Lady reposed, lay at her feet, and was recounting to her, with much joy, the remorse of her son, and the favour which by it he had regained from his mother: nor had the vessel yet made much way, when suddenly upon a signal given, the deck over that quarter was loosened, and being purposely loaded with a great quantity of lead, sunk violently down, Edition: current; Page: [580]and instantly crushed Crepereius to death. Agrippina and Acerronia were defended by the posts of the bed, which happened to be too strong to yield to the descending weight; neither did the structure of the vessel burst, for, the mariners were all embarrassed, and those of them who were not entrusted with the fraud, obstructed the measures of such as were. The next expedient concerted by the latter was, to bear her down on one side, and so sink her. But, neither amongst these accomplices was there an instant concurrence in executing a project thus hastily proposed, and there were others at the same time struggling contrariwise to preserve her; hence it proceeded that she was not swallowed up at once in the deep, but descended more leisurely. Now Acerronia, while she declared herself to be Agrippina, and called upon them passionately, to succour and save the Prince’s mother, was pursued with poles, and oars, and whatever other naval weapons came accidentally to hand, and so slain. Agrippina kept silence, and, being therefore the less known, escaped, with one wound however upon her shoulder. What with swimming, what with the assistance of some fisherboats, which rowed out to succour her, she reached the lake Lucrinus, and was thence conducted to her own villa.

Here she revolved upon her danger, that for this very end she had been inveigled by the fraudulent letters of her son, for this treated by him with such signal marks of honour, that Edition: current; Page: [581]the vessel, even under the shelter of the shore, without the agitation of winds, without concussion from rocks, had yielded in its upper part, and tumbled down, like a frail structure of earth. She considered the fate of Acerronia, mistaken for herself and designedly slain, and she beheld her own wound. From the whole however she inferred that her only resource against these black machinations was to act as if she saw them not. With this view, she dispatched Agerinus her freedman, to notify to her son, “that through the benevolence of the Gods, and the auspicious influence of his fortune, she had escaped a grievous casualty, but besought him, that, however terrified with the danger which had threatened his mother, he should yet postpone the trouble of visiting her, for, what she only needed at present was rest.” In the mean while, counterfeiting perfect security and fearlesness, she had medicines applied to her wound, and her body chafed and anointed; she called too for the last will of Acerronia, and ordered all her effects to be registered and sealed up; in which proceeding only she acted without counterfeiting.

As to Nero; while he was hourly expecting expresses, that the parricide was executed, tydings arrived, “that she had escaped only with a slight hurt, having so far felt the danger as to remain in no uncertainty who it was that sought her life.” At this he became mortally struck with dismay, and swore Edition: current; Page: [582]in passionate terms, “that, without peradventure, she would presently be at hand, bent upon taking hasty vengeance, whether by arming the slaves, or by stirring up against him the rage of the soldiery, or by flying to the Senate and people, with a tragical representation of the vessel wrecked, herself wounded, her friends murdered, and her son the author of all. And against this menaceing event, what resource, what protection had he, unless some such could be proposed by Burrhus and Seneca?” For, the instant he received the news of the disappointment, he had called for them both to consult them; neither is it certain whether, before this, they were unacquainted with the conspiracy. Upon this emergency, they both kept long silence, as they apprehended that it was in vain to persuade him to drop the design, and perhaps believed it to be already pushed so far, that unless Agrippina soon perished, Nero certainly must. At length, Seneca proved the more forward of the two; yet no further than to look at Burrhus, and ask, “whether the orders for this execution were not to be trusted to the soldiery?” Burrhus answered, that “the Prætorian guards were so zealously attached to the whole family of the Cæasrs, so fond in particular of the name and memory of Germanicus, that, against any descendent of his they could never be animated to aught that were cruel and bloody. It therefore behoved Anicetus to acquit Edition: current; Page: [583]himself of his engagement.” Neither did Anicetus pause one moment, but even demanded the office of completing the murder. Nero became revived with these words, and declaring himself to be that day presented with the Empire, owned his franchised slave for the author of the mighty present, and urged him to dispatch, leading with him for his assistance such as were most prompt to obey. The freedman however, having heard that Agerinus was arrived from Agrippina, with the news of her disaster and escape, contrived a plot to turn the treason upon her; and therefore, as the other was delivering his message, dropped a dagger between his legs, then, as if he had caught him in the terrible fact, called for irons to be instantly cast upon him. By this fable, he purposed to support another, by feigning that the destruction of the Prince had been concerted by his mother, and that being struck with confusion upon the discovery of her treason, she had desperately put an end to her own life.

During these transactions, while the danger which threatened Agrippina at sea, flew abroad (for it was understood as the effect of chance) the people flocked impatiently to the shore, each as foon as he heard it. Some climbed up the mounds which shoot out into the sea, some crowded into barks and skiffs, others entered the floods and waded as deep as their height would permit; nay, there were those who stretched out their arms, as it were Edition: current; Page: [584]to catch and receive her; so that, with lamentions for her misfortune, with vows for her deliverance, and with the indistinct clamour of a multitude, many asking different questions, or returning uncertain answers, the whole coast resounded. There ran, moreover, to the rest a great crowd with lights in their hands, and, as soon as it was confirmed that Agrippina was out of danger, they were speeding, with all zeal, to offer her their congratulations, till by the sight and menaces of an armed band, they were terrified and dispersed. Anicetus beset the villa with a guard, and, bursting open the gates, seized and secured all such of her slaves as appeared to stop him. He then advanced towards her chamber, where he found the door guarded by very few; all the rest were scared away by the terror and violence of his entrance. In her chamber was a small light, and only one of her Damsels. Agrippina too herself was more and more tossed with anxious thoughts, that no soul had yet arrived from her son, nor had even Agerinus returned; she perceived from without strange vicissitudes and an unusual scene, the desertion of her own people, and the sudden violence and tumult of strangers, with all the warnings of her last fate. Insomuch that, seeing her maid too about to depart, she said, “Thou likewise art going to abandon me;” and, that moment, spied Anicetus, accompanied with Herculeus Captain of a galley, and Oloaritus a Centurion of the navy. She Edition: current; Page: [585]told him, “If he came from the Emperor to be informed of her health, he should acquaint him she was well recovered; if upon any bloody design, she would no wise believe him commissioned by her son; her son could never give unnatural orders for parricide.” The assassins having placed themselves round her bed, the Captain was the first that wounded her, striking her upon the head with a club; for, to the Centurion, as he was drawing his sword to dispatch her, she presented her belly, and with a loud voice, “Strike thy sword into my womb,” she cried, and was instantly assassinated with a multitude of wounds.

In these particulars authors are unanimous; but, that Nero afterwards surveyed the body of his murdered mother, and magnified its symmetry and loveliness, there are those who have related, and those who deny. That very night her corps was burned with sordid obsequies, upon no other bed than such as she used to recline upon at meals. Neither, during the reign of Nero, were her relics reposited, or covered with common earth, till afterwards from the benevolence of her domestics, she received a slight and vulgar grave, upon the road to cape Misenum, adjoyning to a villa of Cæsar’s the Dictator, which from its elevated situation overlooks the coast and bays below. Mnester, a freedman of hers, as soon as her funeral fire was lighted, run himself through with a sword, whether from affection for his Edition: current; Page: [586]Lady, or from dread of his own doom, is altogether uncertain. This violent end of Agrippina was foretold her many years before, and believed, and yet set at nought by her; for, as the Chaldæans, whom she consulted concerning the fortune of Nero, answered, that “he would certainly reign, and certainly kill his mother;” “Let him kill me, said she, so he do but reign.”

The scene of this horrible iniquity being over, the Emperor became terribly struck with its crying enormity, and for the rest of the night was now dumb, motionless, with his eyes fixed, then started up, amazed, and trembling, and thus waited, in distractions of mind, the approach of day, a day from which he expected some direful doom. What first raised his assurance, was the flattery of the Tribunes and Centurions, who, at the instigation of Burrhus, grasped his hand, with congratulations, “That he had thus escaped such unforeseen peril, and the mortal snares of his mother.” Next, his friends and intimates betook themselves, with thanksgiving, to the several Temples; and the example being thus begun was followed by the adjacent towns and communities of Campania, who gave public testimonies of their joy, by sacrifices to the Gods, and embassies to the Prince. For himself; his dissimulation took a different turn from theirs. Sad and dejected was his mien, he seemed to hate a life thus saved, and bewailed with many tears, the death of his mother. However, as Edition: current; Page: [587]places cannot change their aspect, like the supple countenances of men, and as the tragical prospect of that deadly sea and coast was incessantly reproaching him, (besides there were those who believed, that from the high cliffs round about they heard the shrill sound of trumpets, and shrieks and wailings from Agrippina’s grave) he withdrew to Naples, and there sent letters to the Senate, of which these are the heads:

That Agerinus, a freedman of Agripina’s, in intimate trust with her, had been seized, ready armed to assassinate him; whence she had undergone the pains of parricide, from the same guilty conscience that prompted her to contrive it.” To this he added a catalogue of her crimes, traced a long way backwards; how she had aimed at a co-ordinate power in the Empire, with an oath from the Prætorian bands, an oath of allegiance to a woman, nay, to the abasement of the Senate and people, had expected the like mark of subjection from them; and finding her ambition disappointed, she became enraged against the soldiery, against the fathers, and the populace, opposed a donative to the guards, and a largess to the people, and devised destruction against the illustrious chiefs of Rome. Nay, it was with great difficulty that he defeated her design of usurping a seat in the Senate, and of returning answers to the Ambassadors of foreign nations.” He even obliquely lashed the transactions under Edition: current; Page: [588]Claudius, and cast upon his mother all the acts of tyranny in that reign, ascribing her fall to the good fortune of the State; for he recounted the particulars of the shipwreck. But where lived there a soul so stupid to believe it to be the blind work of chance? or that a forlorn woman, just saved from a wreck, should employ a single assassin, to break through an armed fleet and the imperial guards, and slay the Emperor? Hence it was not now upon Nero that the popular censure fell (for Nero’s brutal barbarity surpassed all censure) but upon Seneca, for that, by such a representation to the Senate, he had in writing avowed the deed.

Wonderful, however, was the competition of the Grandees in decreeing the following solemnities; “That at all the altars public devotions should be performed; the feast of Minerva, during which the conspiracy was detected, should be celebrated with anniversary plays for ever; in the Senate-house should be placed the statue of that Goddess in gold, and close by her, that of the Emperor; and, in the list of unhallowed days, Agrippina’s anniversary should be inserted.” Thrasea Petus, who was wont either to pass over the like sallies of servility in utter silence or with a short word of assent, walked now out of the Senate, and thence awakened future vengeance against himself, and yet to the rest opened no source of liberty. There happened, moreover, at the same time frequent prodigies, Edition: current; Page: [589]from which arose many prognostics, but no consequences. One woman brought forth a serpent, another, in the embraces of her husband was struck dead with a thunder-bolt. The sun became suddenly darkened, and the fourteen quarters of the city felt the effects of lightning. All which events came to pass so apparently without any providential design in the Deities, that for many years after this, Nero continued safe in his sovereignty and enormities. Now, in order to heighten the popular hate towards his mother, and withal to magnify his own clemency, as if the same were enlarged now she was removed, he restored to their native country and inheritance, Junia and Calpurnia, Ladies of illustrious quality, with Valerius Capito and Licinius Gabolus, men of Prætorian dignity, all formerly doomed to exile by Agrippina. He likewise permitted the remains of Lollia Paullina to be brought home, and a sepulchre for them to be built. Iturius too and Calvisius, whom he had lately banished, he now pardoned and released; for Silana had already yielded to the lot of mortality at Tarentum, whither, from her remote banishment, she had returned, either because the authority of Agrippina, by whose enmity she fell, was then declining, or her wrath by that time asswaged.

While Nero lingered in the towns of Campania, full of anxiety how to conduct himself upon his return to Rome, whether he Edition: current; Page: [590]should find the Senate obsequious, or zeal in the people, his doubts were combated by all the profligates of the court (and no court upon earth abounded with more.) They argued, “That the very name of Agrippina was detested, insomuch that by her death, the affections of the people were more powerfully kindled towards him. He should therefore proceed confidently, and in person receive proofs of popular adoration.” As they demanded too, that, for trial, they might arrive somewhat before him, they found, in all respects, a more forward and officious zeal than they themselves had promised, the several tribes, in distinct bodies, coming forth to meet him, as also the Senate in their robes of state, with mighty droves of women and children, ranged in classes, according to their sex and age; and all along, where he was to pass, a successive variety of plays and shews, and scenes of public rejoycing, were prepared, with all the parade attending a triumph. Elated with such reception, and as if crowned with victory from this general servitude, he repaired to the Capitol, paid his vows and oblations, and thenceforth abandoned himself to the full bent of all his furious passions; for, though he had hitherto but poorly controuled them, yet his reverence to his mother, however weak it were, had till then checked their violence.

It was a usual diversion of his, and long allowed him, to drive a chariot drawn by four horses; nor less scandalous was his passion for Edition: current; Page: [591]singing to the harp, as he was wont when he supped, in a theatrical gesture and habit: “An employment, which he alledged to have been commonly practised by Kings and Heroes of old; that the same was celebrated in the songs of the poets, and even performed to the honour of the Gods; for, thus were music and singing sacred to Apollo, and thus represented, with the same dress and instrument, not only in the cities of Greece, but even in the Roman Temples, stood that sublime and oracular Deity.” Neither could this his bent be restrained. So that Seneca and Burrhus, lest he should have persisted in both, judged it advisable to indulge him in one. Thus, a piece of ground, in the Vatican, was enclosed with a wall, that he might there exert his dexterity in racing and the discipline of steeds, without being exposed as in a public shew, to the promiscuous crowd. But, in a short time, he even sought to be publicly seen, and invited to the sight the Roman populace, who failed not to magnify him with abundant encomiums; for the vulgar is ever longing after public diversions, and ever delighted with the same inclination in the Prince. Moreover, such open prostitution and forfeiture of all shame did not, as his ministers expected, produce in him any satiety, but contrariwise fresh eagerness. As he imagined too that, by bringing many under such debasement, he should remove his own, he introduced, as actors, into the Theatre, several who were Edition: current; Page: [592]descended from illustrious families, but through indigence become venal, men whose names (as they are now now more) I repeat not with their story; a consideration which I judge due to the dignity of their ancestors; seeing too, that upon his head the iniquities recoil, who, rather than they should not transgress, gave them money for transgressing. He likewise engaged several Roman Knights (men well known) to undertake parts in theatrical representations, by excessive rewards; unless it be thought that pay from one who has authority to command, carries with it the power of compulsion.

Nevertheless, that he might not as yet debase himself in the common Theatre, he instituted a sort of plays called Juvenales; and, for celebrating these, names were given in from all quarters. Here no man’s quality and blood, nor his age, nor the public figure and offices which any of them had borne, excused them from personating the port and buffoonry of the Greek and Roman mimics, even in the obscene gesticulation of their bodies and the effeminate cadences of their voice. Even Ladies of illustrious quality came also to devise unseemly revellings. So that, in the grove planted by Augustus round the lake where the naval combat was exhibited, tabernacles were erected and booths were built, where wine and dainties were exposed to sale, with whatever incites to sensuality and wantonness. To promote the debauch, money was given to Edition: current; Page: [593]the innocent as well as the voluptuous, to be wasted alike in riot, by the former from awe of Nero, by the latter from ostentation of vice. From this source arose a monstrous increase of all pollution and enormities; and though our manners had been long since corrupted, yet never were they more debauched and pervaded by any inundation of vice and depravity, than by this shocking sink of lewdness. Modesty is a thing hard to be secured even by the most virtuous management and restraints; much less is modesty, or chastity, or any honest endowment, to be preserved amidst scenes of impurity, where vices are engaged in a contention to outvie each other.

At length, Nero could forbear no longer, but mounted the Stage and took the harp, trying the strings with awful attention, and studying his part. About him stood his companions; a Cohort too of the guards were arrived, with many Tribunes and Centurions; as also Burrhus the Præfect, praising Nero and grieving for him. At this time likewise was first enrolled the body of Roman Knights entituled Augustani, young men distinguished by the bloom of their years, and strength of body, all professed profligates, some from the bent of nature, the rest in hopes of preferment. These attended nights and days, wholly employed in clapping the Emperor, and sounding his applauses. They extolled his person and voice by epithets peculiar to the Gods; as if Edition: current; Page: [594]only from their zeal for virtue they sought splendour and honour.

The Emperor, however, that he might not be only renowned for the accomplishments of a player, studied to excel also in Poetry, having drawn about him several who had a genius for poesy, though not yet noted for their poems. These were wont to sit down in concert with the Prince, and connect together such lines as they had severally brought, or such as they found already composed, piecing out with supplements of their own all his effusions, however lame and crude. This is apparent from the very composition of these poems, which flow with no uniformity of stile or genius, like the productions of one man. He used, besides, to bestow some time after meals upon hearing the reasonings of Philosophers; and while each maintained his own sect, and contradicted the rest, they all exposed their endless broils. Nay, some of them were fond of being seen, with their stern aspect and accent, amidst the Royal excesses and recreations of Nero.

About the same time, from a contest altogether trivial, there arose a horrid slaughter between two of our Italian Colonies, Nuceria and Pompeium, at the celebration of a combat of Gladiators exhibited by Livineius Regulus, whose expulsion from the Senate I have before recounted. Now, as they teased and rattled [Editor: illegible word?] each other with the Edition: current; Page: [595]usual gibes and petulance of citizens, they proceeded to bitterness and invectives, then to rage and vollies of stones, at length to a general encounter at arms. But to the Pompeian populace, who were the more powerful, the victory remained, as in their territory too the revel was exhibited. Hence, numbers of those of Nuceria were borne to Rome, with mangled and mutilated bodies; and many arrived there with complaints and wailings, some for the death of their sons, some for that of their fathers. The cognizance of this affair was by the Prince left to the Senate, by them to the Consuls, but returned again before the fathers, who by a decree disabled the Pompeians from meeting in any such popular concourse for ten years, and dissolved for ever the fraternities which they had instituted against the Law. Livineius and the other incendiaries of the riot were doomed to exile.

Pedius Blæsus was also punished with expulsion from the Senate, at the suit of the Cyrenians, who urged that he had robbed the treasure of Æsculapius, and in the enrolling of soldiers, had been governed by price and popularity. The same Cyrenians brought a charge against Acilius Strabo, one who had been invested with the Prætorian power, and sent as an arbitrator from the Emperor Claudius to adjust and discriminate the territories formerly held by King Apion, and by him bequeathed, together with his whole Kingdom, to the Roman people; for that the same had Edition: current; Page: [596]been usurped on every side by the borderers, who having thus enjoyed them a long while, derived a claim of right from encroachment and iniquity. Strabo, therefore, having adjudged the lands to the Romans and expulsed the invaders, much matter of popular hate against the arbitrator was thence administered to the Cyrenians. In answer to the charge the Senate said, “That to them the tenor of his commission from Claudius was unknown, and they must consult the Prince.” Nero approved the arbitration of Strabo, but wrote back, “That he would nevertheless relieve our confederates the Cyrenians, and yield them up the usurped possessions.”

Thereafter followed the deaths of these illustrious Romans, Domitius Afer and Marcus Servilius, men, who, for the sublime dignities of the state, which they had swayed, and for their own abounding eloquence, had flourished in signal credit. The first was renowned for a powerful Pleader, Servilius too for his long success at the bar, and afterwards for the History by him compiled of the Roman affairs, as also for the elegance and probity of his life, which received fresh lustre from the opposite behaviour of Afer, who in parts and genius was his equal, but far different in life and manners.

During the fourth Consulship of Nero with Cornelius Cossus for his collegue, Quinquennial Games were instituted at Rome, after the fashion of the prize-matches amongst Edition: current; Page: [597]the Greeks, and, like almost all new institutions, were variously represented. Some alledged, “That Pompey too was censured by our ancestors, for having founded a permanent Theatre: till then, the public sports were wont to be exhibited from scenes occasionally erected for the solemnity, to last no longer, and to be seen from seats suddenly reared; or, if times more remote were consulted, the people would be found to have then beheld such representations standing, lest, had they been indulged with seats, they might have consumed whole days in amusements of the theatre. In truth, the primitive rule in representing popular shews would be preserved, were the same still exhibited by the Prætors, and no Roman citizen whatever compelled to enter the public lists. But, now, the ancient usages of our country, which had been long decaying piecemeal, were utterly obliterated by the prevalence of foreign sports and gratifications. Insomuch that at Rome might be seen, from all quarters, whatever was capable of being corrupted or of propagating corruption; the Roman youth deviated into foreign studies, frequented common wrestling-schools, indulged sloth and pursued unnatural amours, since they were influenced by the example and supreme direction of Prince and Senate, who not only granted licence to a torrent of vice, but promoted it by authority and coercion. Romans of the first rank, under Edition: current; Page: [598]colour of rehearsing their poems and harangues, defiled themselves with the practice of the stage. What remained further, unless they stripped themselves naked, and commencing fencers, wielded the whirlebat, and, for military glory and arms, studied these theatrical skirmishes for pay? Would the bands of Roman Knights, would those entituled Augustani, more worthily fulfil their high office of judicature, by a nice ear in the modulations of music, and by applauding the soft shakes and thrills of Nero’s throat? Nights as well as days were bestowed upon the infamous revel, that no portion of time might remain, for skreening modesty and shame; but, in that huge assembly, blended at random, every libertine might dare to gratify by night whatever his concupiscence prompted him to by day.”

Many others were even well pleased with this dissolute pastime, but disguised it however under venerable names. “Our ancestors too, they alledged, had not abstained from the divertisement of public representations, which were exhibited in a manner suitable to the fortune and revenue of that time. Thus from Tuscany they procured players, from Thurium the diversion of racing; and after the conquest of Greece and Asia, the Roman sports were solemnized with greater elegance and accuracy. Yet, in a course of two hundred years, ever since the triumph Edition: current; Page: [599]of Lucius Mummius, who first presented the Romans with these foreign shews, no Roman of ingenuous birth had debased himself to the business of the stage. Nay, public frugality too had been consulted, by rearing a standing Theatre, much more than by erecting a great occasional edifice, at an immense expence, every year. Neither had the Magistrates occasion, henceforth, to exhaust their private fortune, nor the people to importune the Magistrates for the exhibition of the prize-combats of Greece, since by the Commonwealth all the expence was defrayed. Moreover, the prizes then gained by Poets and Orators, would prove incentives to the cultivation of genius: nor to any one of those who sat judges there, could it prove irksome to lend his ear to the rehearsal of generous productions, and to recreations altogether lawful. A few nights spent upon this solemnity once in the course of five years, were rather assigned to diversion, than to lewdness, during such a copious blaze of lights, that no sally of iniquity could possibly be concealed.” It is very true, that this revel escaped free from any signal act of dishonour; moreover, the popular contention and zeal for the several actors, was so moderate that it produced no sort of uproar. For, though the Pantomimes were again restored to the stage, they were restrained from the celebration of games which were held sacred. The prize of eloquence was borne away Edition: current; Page: [600]by none, but the victory was adjudged to Nero. The Grecian garb, worn at such solemnities by many, and generally railed at, waxed now into disuse.

During these transactions, a Comet blazed, a phenomenon which, according to the persuasion of the vulgar, always portends a change of Kings. Hence, as if Nero had been already deposed, it became the topic of general inquiry, who should be chosen to succeed him, and, by the universal voice on this occasion, the name of Rubellius Plautus was resounded, one who by his mother inherited the nobility of the Julian race. He himself observed the reverend manners of our ancestors, severe in his dress, his house virtuous, regular, and devoted to retirement. But, the more retired his apprehensions made him to be, the higher renown he acquired. The rumour was heightened by a flash of lightning, which was expounded with the like credulity and folly. For, as Nero sat at meat in a villa called Sublaqueum, upon the banks of the Simbruine Lakes, lightning darted upon the repast, scattered the dishes, and overthrew the table; and as this casualty happened in the neighbourhood of Tivoli, from whence Plautus by his father’s side originally sprang, the people believed him the man destined to Empire by the Deities. He was likewise favoured by many such whose ambition always hurrying, and for the most part deceiving them, engages them in novel pursuits fraught with ambiguity and danger. Edition: current; Page: [601]All this alarmed Nero, who therefore signified to Plautus by a letter, “That he would do well to consult the tranquillity of Rome, and withdraw himself from the reach of those who malignantly defamed him. In Asia he had ancient possessions, where he might enjoy the bloom of his life, free from all peril and the embroilments of state.” Upon this warning, he retired thither, with Antistia his wife and a few friends. In the course of these days, the inordinate propensity of Nero to unbounded voluptuousness involved him in much danger and infamy; for, as he would needs swim in the source of the aqueduct which supplies the city, and derives its name from (Ancus) Marcius, the founder, it was construed, that he had with an impure body polluted the sacred stream, and profaned the sanctity of the place; and a dangerous malady immediately ensuing, ascertained the resentment of the Deities.

Now, Corbulo judged it proper, after the demolition of Artaxata, to improve the reigning terror, and to seize Tigranocerta; for that, having once taken it, whether he were to raze it or save it, he should either infuse fresh dread into the foe, or fill them with the fame of his clemency. Thus he marched towards it, but committed no hostilities, lest he should banish all hopes of pardon, nor yet receded from his usual discipline, as he knew it to be a nation addicted to sudden changes; and, as in encountering dangers, dull and spiritless; so, in feats Edition: current; Page: [602]of perfidiousness, dexterous and vigilant. The Barbarians took various courses, according to their several humours. Some met him as supplicants; others abandoned their dwellings, and betook themselves to the recesses of the desart; several crept into caves, accompanied with whatever was dearest to them. The methods therefore taken by the Roman General were various as the occasion; to the supplicants he extended mercy; after the fugitives he ordered quick pursuits. But towards those who had hid themselves in dens, he was rigorously severe; for, with faggots and brushes he filled the mouths and issues of the caverns, and set the same on fire. Then continuing his march along the confines of the Mardians, he was insulted by the prædatory bands of that people, exercised in continual robberies, and protected by their wild mountains against reprizals and invasions. But Corbulo, by pouring in the Hiberians upon them, exposed them to devastation and sword, and took vengeance of their insolent hostilities, at the expence of the blood of foreigners.

But, though neither he, nor his army, was any wise impaired by fighting, they were both spent with continued travel and want, and reduced to combat hunger with the use of flesh alone. Add to these distresses, a scorching summer, extreme scarcity of water, mighty marches; evils which were extenuated only by the exemplary patience of the General, who underwent more hardships than any common soldier. Edition: current; Page: [603]Thence they arrived in places that were cultivated, where the ripened harvest furnished grain for bread; and, as here stood two castles whither the Armenians had flocked for sanctuary, one was taken at once by storm; the other, having repulsed the first onset, was by a siege compelled to surrender. Corbulo passed next to the country of the Taurantes, where he escaped a sudden and threatening danger; for hard by his pavilion a Barbarian, armed with a dagger, was apprehended, one of no mean degree, who, upon the rack, unfolded the order of the conspiracy, owned himself the contriver, and discovered his associates, who, being all convicted, suffered the just doom of traitors, such who under the sacred name and profession of peace and friendship, were meditating guile and blood. Not long after, the Ambassadors by him sent forward to Tigranocerta, returned with tidings, that the inhabitants were bent upon submitting to the Roman authority, and their gates stood open to receive the Roman army. At the same time they presented him from the city with a golden crown, as a token of hospitality and friendly reception; an acknowledgment which he accepted with all marks of honour, and in no one instance infringed the property or privileges of the town, that thence they might persevere in their allegiance, being left in full enjoyment of their estate.

But the Royal citadel, which was garrisoned by a band of young men of resolute valour, Edition: current; Page: [604]was not mastered without blows. They even ventured upon a sally, and joining battle without the walls, were beaten back into their fortification, whither, as our men forced an entrance after them, they were obliged at last to yield to the arms of the assailants. These enterprizes were the more easily accomplished, for that the Parthians were engaged the while in a war with the Hyrcanians, a people who had already sent an embassy to the Roman Emperor, to entreat his alliance, representing it as a pledge of their friendship to Rome, that they had thus diverted the power of Vologeses. As these Ambassadors were returning, that they might not, by crossing the Euphrates, be intercepted by the stationary guards of the enemy, Corbulo furnished them with a convoy of soldiers, who conducted them as far as the coast of the Persian gulf, from whence, without touching the bounds of Parthia, they returned in safety to their native homes.

Moreover, as Tiridates had passed through Media, and thence invaded the extreme parts of Armenia, Corbulo, having sent forward Verulanus his Lieutenant General, with the auxiliary troops, advanced himself at the head of the Legions lightly equipped, and constraining the invader to retire quite away from that Kingdom, deprived him of all hopes from pursuing the war: having likewise laid waste, with fire and slaughter, all those quarters which he had learnt were zealous for that King, and therefore disaffected to Edition: current; Page: [605]us, he had already assumed the complete possession and government of all Armenia, when Tigranes arrived, a Prince preferred by Nero to that crown. He was a Cappadocian, nobly descended, and grandson to King Archelaus; but from the former lot of his life, having passed many years at Rome in the quality of a hostage, his spirit was miserably debased, even to a degree of abjectness and servility: neither was he now received into the sovereignty with general unanimity, as amongst several there still remained a lasting affection for the family of the Arsacides. However, as there were many who abominated the pride of the Parthians, they preferred the accepting of a King from the hands of the Romans. Upon the new Monarch too was bestowed a body of guards, namely, a thousand legionary soldiers, three Cohorts detached from our confederates, and two wings of horse, to support him in maintaining his new realm. Several portions, besides, of Armenia, were subjected to the neighbouring Kings, to Pharasmanes, to Polemon, Aristobulus and Antiochus, according to the contiguity of the same to their respective dominions. Corbulo having compleated this settlement, withdrew into Syria, a province assigned to him, upon the death of Vinidius, the late Governor.

The same year, Laodicea, one of the capital cities of Asia, having been overthrown by an earthquake, rose again, by her own ability and means, into her former lustre, unassisted by Edition: current; Page: [606]any aid from us. But, in Italy, the ancient city of Puzzoli obtained from Nero the prerogative and title of a Colony. All the Veterans then dismissed were ingrafted amongst the inhabitants of Tarentum and Antium, yet cured not the defect and thinness of people there; for, many of these new-comers straggled away to their old haunts in the provinces, where, during their term of service, they had quartered: being, besides, never accustomed to engage in wedlock, or to rear children, they lived without families, and died without posterity. For, Colonies were not now established as of old, when intire Legions were transplanted thither, with their Officers, Tribunes and Centurions, and all the soldiers in their distinct classes; so as they might from ancient acquaintance and unanimity, fall naturally into the form of a Commonweal; but, a medly of men, not known to each other, now thrown together, without any ruler to manage them, without mutual affection to unite them, and all detached from different companies, like so many individuals suddenly amassed from so many different races of men, were rather a crowd than a Colony.

The election of Prætors followed, a transaction wont to be subject to the pleasure of the Senate; but as this proceeded with unusual vehemence and caballing, the Prince settled the contention, by preferring to the command of a Legion the three candidates who exceeded the stated number. He also exalted the dignity Edition: current; Page: [607]of the Fathers, by ordaining, that, “whoever should appeal from the stated judges to the Senate, should be exposed to the hazard of forfeiting the same sum of money as did those who appealed to the Emperor.” For, hitherto this was left at large and free from all penalty. At the close of the year Vibius Secundus, a Roman Knight, was, upon the accusation of the Moors, condemned for public extortion, and expelled Italy; for he escaped a severer doom by the prevailing credit and opulence of Vibius Crispus, his brother.

During the Consulship of Cæsonius Pætus and Petronius Turpilianus, we suffered a cruel slaughter in Britain. In truth, as Avitus the Governor had done no more there than (what I have already observed) just maintained our former conquests, so his successor Veranius, having only in some light incursions ravaged the territories of the Silures, was intercepted by death from any further prosecution of the war; a man indeed of high reputation during his life, for severe virtue and manners; but by the stile of his last will, his servile ambition and court to power, became notorious; for, after manifold flatteries bestowed upon Nero, he added, “that he should have completely subjected That province to his obedience, had his own life been prolonged for two years.” After him, Suetonius Paullinus obtained the government of Britain, a competitor with Corbulo, in the science of war, and in the voice of the populace, Edition: current; Page: [608]who to every man of renown are sure to create a rival. He hoped too, by subduing that fierce enemy, to reap equal glory to that which the other derived from the recovery of Armenia. He therefore prepared to fall upon the isle of Anglesey, powerful in inhabitants, and a common refuge to the revolters and fugitives. He built, for that end, boats with broad flat bottoms, the easier to approach a shore full of shallows and uncertain landings; upon these the foot were embarked; the horse followed partly by fording, partly by swimming.

On the opposite shore stood the enemy’s army, compact with men and arms: amongst them were women running franticly to and fro, resembling the wild transports of furies; dismally clad in funeral apparel, their hair disheveled, and torches in their hands. Round the host also appeared their Priests the Druids, with their hands lifted up to heaven, uttering bitter and direful imprecations; and from the strangeness of the spectacle, struck the spirit of the Roman soldiers with great dismay; insomuch that, as if all their limbs had been benumbed, they stood motionless, with their bodies exposed, like marks, to wounds and darts, till, by the repeated exhortations of the General, as well as by mutual incitements from one another, they were at last roused to shake off the scandalous terror inspired by a band of raving women, and fanatic priests; and thus advancing their ensigns, they discomfited all Edition: current; Page: [609]that resisted, and involved them in their own fires. A garrison was thereafter established over the vanquished, and the groves cut down by them dedicated to detestable superstitions; for there they sacrificed captives, and, in order to discover the will of the Gods, consulted the entrails of men; practices of cruelty by them accounted holy. While Suetonius was thus employed, tydings were brought him of the sudden revolt of the Province.

Prasutagus, the late King of the Icenians, a Prince long renowned for his opulence and grandeur, had by will left the Emperor joint heir with his own two daughters; as by such a signal instance of loyalty, he judged he should purchase a sure protection to his Kingdom and family, against all injury and violence. A scheme which produced an effect so intirely contrary, that his realm was ravaged by the Centurions, and his house by slaves; as if both his house and realm had been the just spoils of war. First of all Boudicea his wife underwent the ignominious violence of stripes, and his daughters that of constupration; and, as though the entire region had been bequeathed to the plunderers, all the principal Icenians were spoiled of their ancient possessions, and the Royal relations of the late King, were kept and treated as slaves. Enraged by all this contumelious tyranny, and dreading oppressions still more severe, since they were thus reduced into a province; they flew unanimously to arms, having animated the Trinobantes to join Edition: current; Page: [610]in the revolt, as well as all others who were not yet broken by the yoke of servitude, and had secretly conspired to recover their original liberty. Their most implacable enmity was towards the Veterans, lately translated to the Colony of Camalodunum; for, these new guests had thrust them out of their houses, exterminated them from their native lands, and treated them with the vile titles of captives and slaves. These outrages too of the Veterans, were abetted by the common soldiers, from their similitude of life and inclination, and in hopes of enjoying the same licentious situation. Moreover, the Temple built and dedicated to the deified Claudius, was by them regarded as the bulwark of a domination established over them without end. Besides that the Priests, culled out for ministring in the Temple, under the cloak of Religion, devoured their whole substance. Neither did it appear an arduous undertaking to extirpate a Colony no wise secured by fortifications; a provision little minded by our Commanders, who had consulted accommodation and pleasure antecedently to advantage and security.

During these transactions, the Statue of Victory at Camalodunum, without any visible violence, tumbled down with her face turned round; as if by it she betokened her yielding to the enemy. There were women too who, transported with oracular fury, chanted destruction to be at hand. In the place where they assembled for the business of the public, Edition: current; Page: [611]the accent and tumultuous murmurs of strangers were heard; their Theatre ecchoed with dismal howlings, and, in the lakes formed by the tides resisting the Thames, a representation was seen of a Colony overthrown. The sea too appeared all dyed with blood, and at the departure of the tide, phantoms of human bodies appeared left behind upon the strand. From which omens, as the Britons derived matter of hope and joy, so did the Veterans matter of heaviness and fear. But, because Suetonius was at a great distance, they sought succours from Catus Decianus, Procurator of the province, who yet sent them no more than two hundred men, nor these completely armed; and, in the Colony itself, was but a small handful of soldiers. The Veterans not only relied upon the shelter and strength of the Temple, but were frustrated in their measures by such as were secret accomplices in the revolt; hence they had neither secured themselves by a ditch or pallisade, nor removed their women and old men, reserving only those of youth and vigour for their defence. So that, utterly unprepared, and as void of circumspection as if full peace had reigned, they were beset and cut off by a vast host of Barbarians. In truth, every thing in the Colony yielded to instant violence, and was razed or burnt; only the Temple, whither the soldiers were retired in a body, stood a two days siege, and was then taken by storm. Moreover, Petilius Cerialis, Commander of the ninth Legion, Edition: current; Page: [612]as he advanced to relieve his friends, was met and encountered by the victorious Britons, his Legion routed, and all his infantry slain. Cerialis, with the horse, escaped to the Camp, and there defended himself in his entrenchments. Catus the Procurator, terrified with this ruin and slaughter, and with the universal hate of the province, which by his rapacious avarice he had driven into hostility, fled over into Gaul.

But Suetonius, with marvellous bravery, marched through the heart of the enemy quite to London, a city in truth not distinguished with the title of a Colony, but highly famed for the vast conflux of traders, and her abundant commerce and plenty. Here he was deliberating about settling his head quarters in this place, and chusing it for the seat and centre of the war; but, reflecting upon the thin number of his soldiers, and well warned by the temerity of Petilius so signally chastized, he resolved to abandon it, and, with the loss of one town, to save the whole province. Nor could the tears and wailings of numbers imploring his protection, divert him from ordering the signal for departure to be sounded. Into part of his forces he assumed all those who would accompany him; whoever staid behind, whether detained by the weakness of their sex, by the unweildiness of old age, or by the charms of the place, fell, without exception, by the rage of the enemy. The like slaughter befell the municipal city of Verulamium. For, the Barbarians, who were charmed with plunder, Edition: current; Page: [613]but cold and dastardly in other exploits of war, omitted to attack forts and garrisons; but, where-ever there was abundant booty, easy to be seized by the spoiler, dangerous to be defended by the owner, thither they carried their animosity and arms. In the several places which I have mentioned, it appeared that seventy thousand souls had perished, all Romans, or the confederates of Rome. For, the enemy neither made, nor sold, nor exchanged prisoners, nor observed any other law of war; but upon all exercised mortal fury, by present killing, gibbetting, burning and crucifying, with the desperate eagerness and precipitation of men, who were sure of undergoing a terrible doom, and resolved, by anticipated vengeance, to spill the blood of others before their own were spilt.

Suetonius had already an army of nigh ten thousand men; namely, the fourteenth Legion, with the Veterans of the twentieth, and auxiliaries from the quarters next adjoining; so that, relinquishing all further delay, he prepared for encountring the enemy in battle, and chose a place which stretched out before into a hollow and narrow vale, with steep sides, and was behind girt in with a wood. He was thoroughly apprized, that in the front only the whole forces of the enemy were to be expected, and that the space between was a plain bottom, where no stratagems nor ambushes were to be dreaded. He therefore drew up the Legionary soldiers into close ranks, sustained them Edition: current; Page: [614]with the soldiery lightly armed, and on each wing placed the cavalry. The British army were every where exulting and bounding in great separate bands, some of horse, some of foot, and exhibited in all a multitude so vast as hitherto was not parallelled. They were even animated by a spirit so confident and fierce, that with them they had also brought their wives, to be spectators of their victory, and stowed them in their waggons, which they had placed round the extremity of the camp.

Boudicea was carried about in a chariot, where before her sat her two daughters. Traversing the field, from nation to nation, she to all declared, “That it was, in truth, usual to the Britons to war under the conduct of women; yet, upon this occasion, she assumed not the authority of one descended from such mighty ancestors; nor aimed to revenge the loss of her Kingdom, and that of her Royal opulence basely plundered; but, she then appeared upon the same foot with one of the vulgar, and sought vengeance for the oppression of public liberty, for the stripes inflicted upon her person, for the defilement of her virgin daughters. To such height was the wild fury and concupiscence of the Romans advanced, that neither the persons of individuals, nor even old age, nor even tender maidens could escape their rage and contamination. The incensed Deities were however ready to aid the just sword of vengeance; by it a Legion, which dared to Edition: current; Page: [615]tempt an engagement, had already fallen; the rest skulked behind the entrenchments of their camp, or were devising on every side which way to fly: nor would they be able to bear even the uproar and shouts of so many thousand men, how much less their impetuous onset and vengeful arms? If the Britons would survey the number of men under arms; if they would well weigh the affecting causes of the war; they would find, that in that battle they must remain utterly victorious, or utterly perish. Such was the firm purpose of her who was a woman. The men, if they pleased, might still enjoy life and bondage.”

Neither was Suetonius silent at a juncture so perillous, and though he confided in the bravery of his men, yet failed not to join to it the force of exhortations mixed with entreaties, “to despise the savage dinn and clamour of the Barbarians, with all their impotent menaces. In that great host were to be seen more weak women than vigorous men, an unwarlike host, destitute of arms, and disposed to instant flight, as soon as they came to experience again the same victorious bravery and steel which by so many defeats they had proved. Even, in an army composed of many Legions, the glory of discomfiting the foe remained always to a few; hence it would redound to their peculiar glory, that though but a small band, they should reap all the renown which could Edition: current; Page: [616]accrue to a great and complete army. They were only to keep condensed in their ranks, and having first discharged their darts, close in, and with the navels of their shields and edge of their swords, pursue the defeat and slaughter. Of the spoil they must have no thought, since after victory, to their share of course would fall spoil, and honour, and all things.”

Every part of the General’s speech was followed by such signal ardour in his men, with such promptness had the old soldiers, men long inured to all the arts and events of battle, already assumed a proper posture for weilding and darting their javelins, that Suetonius, as certain of the issue, gave the signal for onset.

First of all, the Legion kept their ground immoveable, and still sheltered themselves, as with a bulwark, within the natural streights of the place, till the enemy had advanced within arrow shot, and exhausted all their darts. Upon this advantage, they rushed out upon them, as it were with the force and keenness of a wedge; equal was the impetuosity of the auxiliaries: The horse too, advancing with a battlement of pikes, utterly broke and overthrew whatever quarters of the foe exerted any resistance and strength; for, all the rest turned their backs, but found it difficult to escape; the inclosure made by their own carriages had obstructed their flight. Such too was the fury of the soldiers, that they spared not even the lives of women; nay, the very beasts escaped not, but Edition: current; Page: [617]were pierced with darts, and served to swell the mighty heaps of the dead. Signal was the glory that day gained, and equal to the victories of the ancient Romans; for there are authors who record, that of the Britons were slain almost eighty thousand, of our men about four hundred, with not many more wounded. Boudicea ended her life by poison. Poenius Postumus too, Camp-Marshal to the second Legion, upon tidings of the exploits and success of the fourteenth and twentieth, as he had defrauded his own of equal honour, and, contrary to the laws of military duty, disobeyed the orders of his General, ran himself through with his sword.

The whole army was thereafter drawn together, and kept the field under tents, in order to finish the remains of the war. Their forces were moreover augmented by Nero, who sent them from Germany two thousand Legionary soldiers, eight Cohorts of auxiliaries, and a thousand horse. By their arrival the ninth Legion was supplied with a Legionary recruit; the auxiliary Cohorts and wings of the cavalry were posted in new winter quarters; and thus, which ever of the several nations appeared hostile or suspicious, were subjected to the devastations of fire and sword. But famine, above all other calamities, afflicted the foe, who had neglected to cultivate the ground; and, as those of every age were bent upon the war, they had designed to appropriate our stores to their own use. Besides, that this people, by nature wonderfully Edition: current; Page: [618]stubborn, were become more backward to peace, from the behaviour of Julius Classicianus, who was come as successor to Catus, and, being at variance with Suetonius, obstructed the public good to gratify private pique. Thus he had every-where published, “That another Governor was to be expected, who, free from the wrath of an enemy, free from the arrogance of a conqueror, would by merciful measures ensure the submission of the province.” At the same time, he transmitted advice to Rome, “That unless a successor were sent to Suetonius, there never would be an end of war;” and, while he charged all the disasters of that General upon baseness of conduct, he ascribed all his conquests and success to the auspicious fortune of the Republic.

Hence Polycletus, one of the Imperial freedmen, was dispatched to inspect the condition of Britain; a project from which Nero conceived mighty hopes, that by the authority of his domestic, private amity between the Governor and Procurator would not only be effected, but the hostile spirits of the revolted Barbarians reconciled to peace. Nor was Polycletus backward to the employment, thus far at least, that having travelled through Italy and Gaul, and oppressed both with his enormous train, thence crossing the channel, he marched in such awful state, that even to our own soldiers he became a terror. But, to the enemy he proved an object of derision; for, Edition: current; Page: [619]as amongst them popular liberty even then reigned, they were hitherto utter strangers to the power of manumised bondmen. They were likewise amazed, that a General and army, who had finished so formidable a war, should themselves be subservient to slaves. The whole affair, however, was reported to the Emperor in a favourable light; so that Suetonius was continued in the government. But, after having stranded a few gallies, and lost the men who rowed them, as if this accident had been a proof that the war still subsisted, he was ordered to resign his army to Petronius Turpilianus, who had just ended his Consulship; a Commander who, as he neither offered to the foe any act of hostility, nor from them received any insult, bestowed upon such stupid inaction the worthy appellation of Peace.

This same year were perpetrated at Rome two glaring iniquities, one by a Senator, the other by the desperate hand of a slave. Domitius Balbus had sustained the dignity of Prætor, and his wealth and childlesness, added to his exceeding age, exposed him to the machinations of villainy. Hence a will was forged in his name by Valerius Fabianus his kinsman, one nominated to public offices; who took into the combination Vincius Rufinus, and Terentius Lentinus, both Roman Knights. With them were associated in the same cause Antonius Primus, and Asinius Marcellus, Antonius a man of a Edition: current; Page: [620]prompt daring spirit; Marcellus signal in his descent, as on him devolved the lustre of his great grand-father Asinius Pollio; nor passed he himself for a despicable person in his own conduct, save that he believed poverty to be of all evils the heaviest and most severe. Fabianus therefore, in confederacy with those whom I have mentioned, and others of less note, sealed and witnessed the testament. A fraud of which they were convicted before the Senate. Thus Fabianus and Antonius, with Rufinus and Terentius, were all doomed to the penalties of the Cornelian law. In behalf of Marcellus, the illustrious memory of his ancestors, with the entreaties of Nero, prevailed, and procured him an exemption rather from punishment than infamy. The same day involved Pompeius Ælianus too in his doom, a young man once invested with the dignity of Quæstor, but now charged with being privy to the vile practices of Fabianus; thus he was interdicted Italy, as also the place of his nativity Spain. Upon Valerius Ponticus was inflicted the like ignominious sentence; for that he had arraigned the delinquents at the tribunal of the Prætor, on purpose to save them from being impleaded before the Governor of Rome, and would have eluded the punishment through the false glosses of law, nay at last had meditated their escape by manifest collusion and double dealing. To the decree of penalties therefore the Senate added, “That whoever should take a price for such Edition: current; Page: [621]vile employment, or whosoever should procure it at a price, should be involved in the same penalty with one publicly condemned for calumny.”

Not long after Pedanius Secundus, Governor of Rome, was murdered by a slave of his own, either upon refusing him his liberty, for which he had bargained at a certain price, or that he was enraged by a jealous passion for a pathic, and could not bear his Lord for a rival. Now, since according to the strict institutions of antiquity, the whole family of slaves, who upon such occasion abode under the same roof, must inevitably be adjudged to the pains of death; such was the uproar and conflux of the populace, zealous to save so many innocent lives, that it proceeded even to sedition. In the Senate itself there were different opinions, some were for the popular side, against such excessive rigour; while many would admit no innovation or abatement. Of these last was Caius Cassius, who, leaving the question then under debate, reasoned in this manner:

Many times have I assisted, Conscript Fathers, in this august assembly, when new decrees of Senate have been demanded, contrary to the laws and establishments of our fore-fathers, without setting myself to oppose such demands; not from any doubt that, in transactions of every kind, the provisions made of old were not more judicious and upright, and whenever they were Edition: current; Page: [622]changed, for the worse they were changed. But I forbore, lest I should seem, from an immoderate fondness for primitive rules, to magnify my own zeal; besides, whatever weight I may have, I judged ought not to be forfeited, by engaging in frequent oppositions, but to be reserved in full vigour against any emergent conjuncture, when the Commonwealth should stand in need of council; a conjuncture which this very day has produced. A Senator of Consular rank is murdered in his own house by the treachery of one of his own slaves; a treachery which was by none of the rest prevented, by none of them disclosed, although over their heads was hanging still in full force the decree of Senate, which denounced to the whole domestic tribe the pains of death. In the name of the Gods, ascertain by a decree the desired impunity. But then, what security will any man derive from his dignity, when even the Government of Rome secured not him who possessed it? Who will be protected by the number of his slaves, when a band of four hundred afforded no protection to Pedanius Secundus? To which of us will our domestics, upon any occasion, administer aid, when they regard not our lives, even where for their neglect capital terrors threaten theirs? or has, in truth, what some without blushing feign, the murderer only taken vengeance for injuries received? Had this slave any dispute Edition: current; Page: [623]about his paternal patrimony? or had he inherited from his progenitors the bondman his pathic? Let us even declare that his Lord was rightfully killed. Though it be strange we should hunt after arguments in an affair determined by our wiser ancestors! yet suppose the question were now first to be decided; still do you believe that a vindictive slave could desperately design to kill his Lord, yet not a menacing word fall from him? was nothing rashly uttered by him? Be it so, that he effectually hid his bloody purpose; be it so, that he prepared the bloody instrument in the midst of his fellows, all ignorant of his ends. But still, could he pass through the guard of slaves at the chamber door, open those doors, bring in a light, perpetrate the assassination, unknown to them all? Many murderous designs are prevented by our slaves; and while they make such discoveries, though we are but individuals, we can live safely amongst many, and owe our security to their care; or if at last we must perish by them, the blood of many traitors shall atone for ours. By our ancestors the spirit of their slaves was always suspected, even of such as were born in their private territories, nay, in their houses, and had with their milk sucked in a tenderness for their Lords. And since we are come to entertain in our families nations of slaves, inured to their national rites widely Edition: current; Page: [624]different from ours, and addicted to strange Religions, or observing none; it is impossible to curb such a promiscuous rabble, without the intervention of exemplary terrors. But with the guilty some innocents must perish. Yes; and so it is in an army, which, after a shameful rout, are punished with decimation, where to be bastinaded to death, is often the lot of the faultless and brave. Somewhat there is grievous and unjust in every great exertion of justice, where private sufferings are compensated by public utility.”

This judgment of Cassius, which no particular Senator durst venture to combat, was yet opposed by the dissenting murmurs of such as thus uttered their compassion for those involved in it, for their number, for the age of some, for the sex of others, for the undoubted innocence of most. It was however carried by the party who adjudged all to the pains of death. A judgment which yet it was impossible to execute; for the populace were flocked tumultuously together, and threatening to fall on with stones and firebrands. Nero therefore reprimanded the people by an edict, and with lines of soldiers secured all the way through which the condemned were led to execution. Cingonius Varro had moved, that the freedmen too, who abode under the same roof, should be for ever expelled Italy; but this was prohibited by the Prince, who urged, “That Edition: current; Page: [625]since the rigorous usage of antiquity had not been mollified by mercy, it ought not to be heightened by cruelty.”

During the same Consuls, Tarquitius Priscus was, at the suit of the Bithynians, condemned for public rapine, to the infinite gratification of the fathers, who well remembered, that by him had been accused Statilius Taurus, his own Proconsul in Africa. Moreover, a general poll was taken, and a general rate imposed, throughout both the Gauls; an employment executed by Quintus Volusius, Sextius Africanus, and Trebellius Maximus, and, in it, much contention arose between Volusius and Africanus, two men who were competitors in nobility and rank; for Trebellius, while, in this their strife, he was neglected by both, they jointly contributed to render him superior to either.

The same year, Memmius Regulus finished his days, a man for his eminent authority and firmness of mind, in signal estimation; and, as far as the lustre of a citizen is not darkened by the shade and high station of the Emperor, the distinction which he bore was splendid and sublime; insomuch that, when Nero was once under the pressure of sickness, and the flatterers about him were lamenting, “That, if the illness proved fatal, there must be an end of the Empire with that of his life;” he replied, “That to the Republic there would still remain a certain refuge.” And, as they Edition: current; Page: [626]then asked, “In whom chiefly,” he added, “Memmius Regulus.” Yet Regulus preserved his life after all this, under the protection of his own quiet spirit; besides that he derived his quality from a recent stock, and was no wise obnoxious for his wealth. This year too Nero instituted an Athletic school, and to the Knights and Senators, for their exercises there, presented anointing oil, according to the wanton usages of the revelling Greeks.

In the Consulship of Publius Marius and Lucius Asinius, the Prætor Antistius, whose arbitrary administration in the Tribuneship of the people I have remembered, framed a Poem full of invectives against the Prince, and exposed it to a numerous assembly, then banqueting in the house of Ostorius Scapula. Hence he was arraigned upon the Law of violated Majesty, by Cossutianus Capito, who, at the request of Tigellinus his father-in-law, had acquired the dignity of Senator. This Law, after long disuse, was upon this occasion first revived, though it was believed, that thence the doom of Antistius was not so much intended, as matter of renown to the Emperor; for, that, when the Senate had capitally condemned him, Cæsar meant, by interposing his Tribunitial power, to save him from the pains of death. Now, as the evidence delivered by Ostorius was, that he had heard nothing at all of the imputed crime, the contrary testimony of other witnesses was credited, Edition: current; Page: [627]and Junius Marullus Consul elect, voted that “The accused should be divested of his Prætorship, and executed, according to rigour of antiquity.” The rest too were concurring with the same vote, when Pætus Thrasea, after much honourable commendation of Nero, and many bitter reproaches upon Antistius, argued, “That whatever severity the guilt of the person accused might merit, yet an adequate measure of punishment was not what they were now to adjudge, under a Prince so excellent, and while the Senate in its decisions was under no controul. Halters and executioners were terrors long since abolished; moreover, by the laws penal sentences were already prescribed, in conformity to which, punishments might be pronounced without bringing the judges under the imputation of cruelty, or the times under that of infamy. What therefore remained, but to sentence his estate to confiscation, and him to exile in an island? whence the longer he protracted his guilty life, the greater private misery he must endure, himself, however, a singular example of public clemency.”

The freedom of Thrasea broke the bondage which hung upon the minds of others; so that after the Consul had given leave to divide by discessiona, all but a few went readily into the motion of Thrasea. Of these Edition: current; Page: [628]few was Vitellius, most abandoned to strains of flattery, one whose custom it was to be carping at every upright man, and awed into silence by every reply; a conduct usual to slavish spirits. The Consuls however not dareing to give the last sanction to the decree of Senate, wrote the Emperor an account of their unanimity; and the account affected him, insomuch that he hesitated a while, between shame and resentment; at last he returned an answer, “That Antistius, unprovoked by any injury, had uttered many grievous aspersions upon the Prince; and, for these aspersions proper vengeance had been required from the Senate. Neither would it have been more than just judgment, to have ordained a punishment suitable to the enormous measure of the iniquity. For himself; as he would have certainly opposed any rigorous doom, if such they had decreed, he would no wise frustrate their mercy and moderation. Determine therefore they might, as to them seemed best; nay, from him they had full leave to pronounce a sentence of acquittal.” By the recital of these expressions, with others in the like strain, his displeasure appeared notorious; yet neither did the Consuls vary the state of the question, nor Thrasea depart from his motion, nor any of the rest desert the measures which by their assent they had approved. Some would not, by a severer sentence, seem to expose the Prince to popular malignity; many placed their safety in their numbers: Edition: current; Page: [629]Thrasea was governed by his wonted firmness of soul, and scorned to forfeit his illustrious renown.

For an offence much like the former, Fabricius Veiento was involved in a heavy prosecution; “for that he had compiled a long train of invectives against Senators and Pontiffs, and inserted the same in the rolls to which he had given the title of Codicils, or last will.” To this charge it was added by Talius Geminus his accuser, “That he had made constant traffic of the Prince’s bounty and favours, and turned into purchase and sale the right of occupying the great offices of the state;” an argument this that determined Nero to adjudge his cause in person. Veiento being convicted, the Emperor banished him from Italy, and doomed to the flames these his writings, which were universally sought and read, while it was difficult to find them, and dangerous to keep them; afterwards, from the freedom and impunity of possessing them, they sunk into neglect and oblivion.

But while the public evils waxed every day more poignant, the supports of the public became lessened, and Burrhus yielded to his last fate; nor is it certainly known whether by poison or a disease. The latter was imagined from hence, that a swelling which began in his throat increased inwardly by degrees, till by a total stoppage of respiration he died suffocated. Many asserted, that by the order of Edition: current; Page: [630]Nero, under appearance of applying a remedy, his palate and glands were fomented with some venomous medicine, and that Burrhus having perceived the deadly fraud, when the Prince came to visit him, turned his face and eyes another way, and to all his repeated inquiries about his health, returned no other answer but this, I am well. Great and permanent at Rome was the sense of his loss, as well through the memory of his own virtue, as from the characters of his successors, one innocent and heavy, the other black with all the most flagrant iniquities and defilements For, Nero had created two captains of the Prætorian guards, Fenius Rufus, in compliment to the populace, who loved him for his disinterested administration in the super-intendency of the public stores, as also Sofonius Tigellinus, purely from partiality to the inveterate lewdness and infamy of the man; for pollution and infamy were the characteristic of Tigellinus. Hence his superior sway over the spirit of Nero, as one assumed into power from an intimacy in all the secret sallies of his lust. Rufus was distinguished in the city and soldiery with popular estimation; a character which brought him under distaste with Nero.

The death of Burrhus quite overthrew the authority of Seneca, as righteous measures had no longer the same succours now the other champion of virtue was removed; and the heart of Nero was attached to men altogether wicked and depraved. These combined to Edition: current; Page: [631]assail Seneca with criminal imputations manifold; as, “That he had already accumulated wealth incredible, far surpassing the measure of a citizen, and was still accumulating more: that from the Emperor he was labouring to withdraw the veneration of the Roman people: nay, such were the charms of his gardens, such the magnificence of his seats, as if in them he aimed even to excel the Emperor. To himself alone he arrogated the praise and perfection of eloquence; and, ever since Nero became inspired with a passion for versifying, Seneca had employed himself, with unusual assiduity, in the same study: for, to the bodily recreations of the Prince, he had declared an open enmity, and hence disparaged his vigour and skill in the managing horses, hence turned his voice into mockery, whenever he sung; all with this view, that in the whole Republic there should nothing occur signal or sublime, which was not by him introduced and devised. Surely Nero was passed the weakness of childhood, and arrived at his prime of youth: he ought now to depose his pedagogue, and trust only to the documents conveyed to him by tutors sufficiently famous, his own mighty ancestors.”

Seneca was not unapprized of the efforts of his calumniators, the same being disclosed to him by such as still retained some concern for truth and honour; but, as the Emperor manifested daily more shyness, and less affability; Edition: current; Page: [632]he besought an hour of audience, and having obtained it, began thus: “This is the fourteenth year since I was first assigned to cultivate thy promising and princely spirit, Cæsar, and the eighth since thy advancement to the Empire. During this whole series of time, so mighty and so many are the honours and riches which thou hast showered down upon me, that, to my abundant felicity, nought is wanting but some bounds and moderation. To corroborate this address, I shall quote great examples, and illustrious names, such as are adapted, not to my station and fortune, but to thine. Augustus, from whom thou art the fourth in descent, granted to Marcus Agrippa leave to retreat to Mitylene, and to Caius Mæcenas he allowed, even in Rome, a recess as complete as in any remote country he could have enjoyed; the former his companion in the war, the other long harassed at Rome with occupations manifold, both by him distinguished with such remunerations as were glorious, in truth, yet signally due to their transcendent worth and services. For myself, by what merit could I pretend to incite that boundless munificence of thine, other than mine own solitary studies, formed, if I may so speak, and nourished in obscurity? and even from them this glory is devolved upon me, that in the seasonings of literature I am thought to have initiated thy youth; a sublime reward alone for such Edition: current; Page: [633]slender service! but thou hast encompassed me about with an accumulation of Imperial benignity and grace, beyond all expression or limits, and with wealth without measure or end. Insomuch that I often reason thus with myself, Am I, (one by rank no higher than a Knight, by birth no other than a foreigner) am I numbered with the Grandees of the Imperial city? Hath my new name thus blazed forth amongst the illustrious Lords of Rome, men who justly boast a long train of hereditary honours? Where then is that Philosophic spirit, which professes to be satisfied with humble necessaries? Is Seneca that man? He who thus incloses and adorns such spacious gardens; he who thus travels in pomp from seat to seat in the neighbourhood of Rome? Is it he who wallows in wealth, in ample possessions, in copious and extensive usury? One plea only there is that occurs to my thoughts, that against thy donations it became not me to strive; but both of us have now discharged to the utmost measure this commerce of liberality and duty; whatever the bounty of a Prince could confer upon his friend, whatever a friend could accept from the bounty of his Prince, thou hast already conferred, I have already accepted. Any further addition can only prove fresh fuel to the bitterness of envy, an enemy which, like all other earthly things, lies, in truth, subdued under the weight of thy mighty grandeur, but fastens upon me with Edition: current; Page: [634]all its rage, and I stand in eminent need of succour. Thus, in the same manner, as were I weary and faint through the toil of journeying or of warfare, I should supplicate for refreshment and rest; so in this long journey of life, old as I am, and no longer equal to the easiest trust, and lightest cares, and utterly unable to sustain the load and envy of my own over-grown riches; I seek assistance and support. Order the auditors of thy revenue to undertake the direction of my fortune, and to annex it to thy own. Nor shall I by this plunge myself into indigence and poverty, but having only surrendered that immense opulence, which exposes me to so much invidious splendor, I shall redeem all the time which is at present sequestered to the care of so many seats and gardens, and apply it to the repose and cultivation of my mind. To thee remains abundant strength and support, and thy rule is, by a long course of reigning, throughly established; thou mayst now spare thy ancient friends and counsellors, and vouchsafe them a retreat to quiet and ease. To thy glory this also will redound, that to the highest estate thou hadst advanced such men as knew how to bear the lowest.”

To this speech Nero replied in this manner: “That I am able thus instantly to combat these studied reasonings of thine, is a faculty which from thy benignity and care I first derived; for thou hast taught me, not Edition: current; Page: [635]only the art of acquitting myself promptly, where matters are prepared, but even in emergencies intirely unforeseen. It is true, my ancestor Augustus granted liberty to Agrippa and Mæcenas to retreat, after a lite of many labours, to a life of ease; but at such a time of his age and establishment he granted it, that his authority was sufficient to sustain any concession which he could have made them, of what kind or importance soever: And he divested neither of them of the bounties and recompences which he had conferred upon them. In the perils of war and of civil distraction, they had meritoriously served him; for in such were the younger years of Augustus employed. Neither wouldst thou, Seneca, have failed to have assisted me with thy person and arms, if I had been engaged in war. What my different circumstances required, thou hast done. With wise rules, wholsome counsel, and useful precepts, thou hast cherished my infancy, and, since, my youth. In truth, the gifts and acquirements which I hold from thee, while my life remains, will never forsake me: whereas the acknowledgments which thou reapest from me, thy gardens, seats and rents, are all exposed to uncertainty and disasters; and however copious they may appear, there are many instances of favourites, in worthy accomplishments no wise equal to thee, yet distinguished with larger possessions. I blush to quote freedmen that are beheld Edition: current; Page: [636]more wealthy than thou. Hence too I am ashamed that thou, who in dearness to me art beyond all others, dost not yet in fortune surpass all. Thy age, moreover, still retains soundness and vigour, is still capable of managing thy revenues, and of enjoying them with pleasure. For myself, I am but yet in the dawn of Empire; unless, perhaps, thou dost account that my munificence to thee has already exceeded that of Claudius to Vitellius, a man distinguished with three Consulships; when, in truth, all my bounty towards thee, cannot equal the opulence which Volusius, by a long course of parsimony only, has acquired. I add, that, if, in any particular I deviate, through the frailty of my years, it is thou who dost check and recover me: and, as thou hast with good education embellished my youth, thou dost still manage and controul it. It is not with thy moderation, if thou returnest thy wealth, nor with thy recess, if thou forsakest thy Prince, that the tongues of men will be employed; no, the treasure returned will by the universal cry be ascribed to my rapaciousness, and thy retirement, to the dread of my cruelty. But suppose this disinterestedness of thine meet with the highest strains of popular praise; yet surely upon a wife man it will reflect no honour, that to himself he meditates glory from a proceeding which upon his friend must bring infamy.” To all this he added kisses and embracing, Edition: current; Page: [637]framed as he was by nature, and by habit nurtured, to smother his hate under hollow courtesy and blandishments. Seneca presented his thanks, which is the certain issue of every argument with one who possesses sovereignty. He changed, however, the methods and symptoms of his former power, stopped the usual conflux of such as attended to pay their court, avoided a train of attendants, and his appearance abroad was exceeding rare, as if by ill health, or the study of philosophy, he were confined at home.

After the disgrace of Seneca, to depress the authority of Fenius Rufus, became a short task, when the crime charged upon him by his enemies, was that of his adherence to Agrippina. Tigellinus too waxed daily more mighty, and as he was persuaded that his mischievous devices, in which alone his whole sufficiency lay, would prove still more agreeable and meritorious, if he could engage the Prince under the tyes of a confederacy in acts of blood, he dived curiously into his secret fears; and having discovered that Plautus and Sylla were the men principally dreaded, and thence both lately removed from Italy; the former into Asia, the other into Narbon Gaul, he urged upon Nero, “the signal quality of the men, the nearness of their abode to great armies, Plautus in the neighbourhood of that in the East, Sylla of that in Germany. For himself, he harboured not, like Burrhus, different hopes and Edition: current; Page: [638]views, but consulted purely the security of the Prince. But though his safety at Rome might be ensured, and all conspiracies there obviated by prompt and temporary measures; yet, by what measures could remote insurrections be suppressed, and revolts in the confines of the Empire? The nations of Gaul, animated by the dictatorial name of Sylla, were already upon the wing for rebellion; nor were the several people of Asia less suspected of an attachment to the other, for the illustrious memory and renown of his grandfather Drusus. Sylla was likewise indigent, an especial incitement to resoluteness and enterprize; and he feigned sloth only till he spied an opportunity for some desperate attempt. Plautus was master of mighty wealth, nor so much as pretended a fondness for quiet, but even professed to admire the lives and examples of the ancient Romans; nay, he had adopted the sect of the Stoics, with all their superciliousness and pride, a sect which prompts men to be turbulent, and to chuse a life full of action.” Without further deliberation or delay, the murder of both was doomed. Sylla was, by assassins, who in six days arrived express at Marseilles, dispatched as he sat down to meat, without previous apprehension or tidings. When his head was presented to Nero, the sight moved him to derision, “as if it were unseasonably hoary, and thence uncomely.”

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The bloody sentence awarded against Plautus was not so successfully concealed, for his life was of sensible concernment to many; moreover, from the length of the way, and the passing of the sea, so much time intervened, that public fame became alarmed; and amongst the people an imagination prevailed, that he had fled for sanctuary to Corbulo, who then commanded mighty armies, a man who, if men signal in name and innocence were to be marked out for slaughter, stood in the first degree of fear and jeopardy. Nay, it was divulged with the same credulity, “That all Asia had taken arms to espouse the defence of the young nobleman; and that, as the soldiers dispatched to perpetrate the murder, were neither powerful in their number, nor prompt in their inclinations, when they could not execute their orders, they also had of themselves joined in the revolt, and espoused the new cause.” These rumours, published by the wild breath of common fame, were readily credited by all the disaffected, and, through hate and disaffection, inlarged. Moreover, to Plautus were brought the counsel and admonitions of Lucius Antistius, his father-in-law, by a freedman of his own, who, speeded by a brisk wind, had out-sailed the fatal Centurion. The advice imported, “That he should be sure to shun a dastardly death; he had yet leisure to escape, and could not fail of finding from the worthy and generous, compassion for a name so noble and distinguished. Edition: current; Page: [640]With himself he must associate the resolute and brave, nor ought he the while to slight any means of aid. If he had once repulsed the sixty soldiers (for so many were coming to the execution) he might then, while the tydings were transmitting to Nero, while another band of men were advancing so vast a way, prosecute a world of schemes, sufficient to lay the terrible foundations of a war. At worst he would either, by such measures, purchase honourable security; at least, after a brave resistance, he had nought more dreadful to suffer, than he must suffer under a stupid acquiescence.”

But these considerations moved not Plautus; whether it were that being an exile, and destitute of arms, he foresaw no certain resource, or whether he were weary of perplexity, and wavering hopes, or perhaps chiefly influenced by tenderness for his wife and children, to whom he imagined the Prince would prove the more reconcilable, when he found himself no wise incensed by any insurrection or alarms. There are those who relate, that the advices he received from his father-in-law were of a different strain, importing as if nothing sanguinary or capital threatened him. They add, “That two Philosophers, Ceranus a Greek, and Musonius a Tuscan, had exhorted him to wait his death with unshaken intrepidity, as by it he would be disburdened of a life fraught with uncertainty and fears.” Certain it is, the assassins found him in the middle Edition: current; Page: [641]of the day, naked and applying himself to the usual exercises of his body. In this situation the Centurion butchered him, in the sight of Pelago the Eunuch, who was by Nero set over the Centurion and his band, like the Royal minister of some tyrant, trusted with the command of his body-guards, and instruments of blood. The head of the slain was carried to Rome, and shewed to the Emperor. What he said when he saw it, I shall repeat in his very words. “What is it, cried he, that withstands Nero, that he may not now discard all fear, and instantly set about solemnizing his nuptials with Poppæa, a solemnity hitherto deferred because of the terrors arising from such men as this? May he not instantly divorce Octavia his wife? one easy, in truth, and modest in her conduct, but still, from the name of her Imperial father, and from the ardent zeal of the people towards her, a burden and eye-fore.” To the Senate he sent letters, but in them owned nothing of the assassination of Sylla and Plautus, yet alledged, that both were turbulent and seditious spirits, and what vehement sollicitude it cost him to preserve the peace and stability of the Commonwealth. Hence public processions and devotions were decreed to the Deities, and Sylla and Plautus degraded from the dignity of Senators. Strange mockery and insult, more provoking to the public, than its more substantial calamities!

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Nero therefore having received the decree of Senate, and perceiving that all his wickedness and bloody cruelties passed for so many seats of renown, thrust Octavia forthwith from his bed, alledging, “that she was barren,” and then espoused Poppæa. This woman, who had been long the concubine of Nero, and both as her adulterer and her husband, ever ruled him implicitly, suborned a domestic of Octavia’s, to accuse her of criminal amours with a slave. For this end one Eucerus, a native of Alexandria, who excelled upon the flute, was impleaded as her gallant. Hence her maids were examined upon the rack; and, though some of them, overcome by the fury of the torture, favoured the perfidious forgery, the major part persevered to vindicate the unspotted sanctimony of their Lady. Amongst these was one, who, while Tigellinus was vehemently urging a confession, returned him for answer, “That the parts of Octavia which denoted her a woman, were purer than his mouth.” The result however was her removal from the palace and her husband, under the mock-judgment of a legal divorcement, and for her appenage, she was presented with the house of Burrhus, and with the possessions of Plautus, black and ill-boding donations. She was thereafter banished into Campania, and over her a guard of soldiers placed. From this cruel treatment there arose amongst the populace many mournful complaints, by them no wise smothered or Edition: current; Page: [643]disguised; since they are governed by a lower measure of circumspection, and, from the mediocrity of their lot, exposed to fewer perils. Whether, by these daring resentments of the people, Nero was alarmed, or moved by remorse for such black iniquity, he recalled Octavia his wife.

Hence the people in transports of joy ascended the Capitol, and now at last found occasion to accost the Deities with adoration and thanksgiving; overthrew the statues of Poppæa, but bore upon their shoulders the images of Octavia, bedecked them with fresh flowers, placed them in the great Forum, and in the several Temples. They also burst into strains of praises to the Prince, and sought to offer him in person their veneration and vows. Already they were filling the palace with their multitude and acclamations, when suddenly some bands of the guards issued out upon them, and assailing them with blows, nay, threatening them with slaughter, repulsed and utterly dispersed them. The disorders too committed during the tumult, were repaired, to Poppæa her honour publicly restored, and her statues replaced. But she, ever implacable in her hate, was now become more implacable through fear, lest either the fury of the populace should break into outrages still more terrible, or Nero be brought to change with the bent and inclination of the people. She therefore fell prostrate at his knees, and said, “Her affairs were no longer in a situation to encourage her Edition: current; Page: [644]competition for the glory of his marriage, though dearer to her than life was that glory; her life itself was in extremity of danger from the followers and slaves of Octavia, a rabble who, having assumed the name of the people, in the midst of peace, committed such violences as were scarce produced by war. Against the Prince these arms were wielded, nor was aught wanting but a leader, a want which, when commotions were once raised, was ever easy to be supplied. Octavia had no more to do, but to relinquish Campania, and advance to Rome itself, she at whose nod even in her absence insurrections could be excited. For her own particular, with what transgression was she chargeable? in what instance had she offended any individual? was she from hence obnoxious, that to the house of the Cæsars she would yield a genuine issue; when the Roman people rather affected to see the offspring of an Ægyptian minstrel heir to the Imperial dignity? in a word, if this expedient best suited with the exigency of things, he ought to call home his Lady rather through choice than compulsion, or else to consult the security of himself and the state by just vengeance. It was true, the first tumult was dissipated by small force; but, if the people came utterly to despair of seeing Octavia any longer the wife of Nero, they themselves would not fail to give a proper husband to Octavia.

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This discourse, artfully mixed and framed to produce both terror and wrath, had its effect upon Nero, and while he listened to it, at once frightened and enraged him. But little had availed the fiction of Octavia’s intrigue with her slaves, a fiction which was quite defeated by the testimony of her maids upon the rack. It was therefore agreed to procure some one who should own himself guilty with her, one against whom might be also feigned a plausible charge of meditating a revolution in the state; and such a proper instrument was judged Anicetus, who had accomplished the murder of his mother, and, as I have related, commanded the fleet at Misenum, a man held by the Emperor, just after that bloody service, in some slight favour, and thence-forth in heavier detestation; for Princes behold the ministers of their cruelties, as men whose looks reproach their guilty souls. Him therefore Nero summoned, and reminding him of his former exploit, “Thou alone, said he, didst relieve me from the conspiracies of a mother; service of no less merit at present invites thee, if thou canst but discharge me effectually of an irksome and disaffected wife; nor in this task needest thou either strength or weapon; thou art only to acknowledge that thou hast been engaged with Octavia in adultery.” Nero promised him “rewards of mighty value, though at first it was necessary they should continue private and unknown, as also, upon his mock condemnation, Edition: current; Page: [646]delectable retirements; but, in case of refusal, threatened him with present death.” Anicetus, prompted by his own frantic spirit, and by the protection and impunity which had followed all his enormities past, carried his fictions even beyond his orders, and communicated, as secrets, all his fictions to his friends: a set of men whom the Prince had placed about him, as it were to aid him by their counsels in his designs. Then, as convicted by his own confession, he was banished into Sardinia, where he underwent a sort of exile far from necessitous or miserable, and died at last by the lot of nature.

Now Nero issued an edict, “That Octavia in hopes of engaging the fleet in her conspiracy, had thence corrupted Anicetus the admiral;” and, forgetting that he had but just before accused her of barrenness, he added, “that, conscious of her secret lusts, she had always forced abortion; and that all these her crimes were by him fully detected.” Thus he commanded her to be shut up in an island, that of Pandateria.

Never exile filled the hearts of the beholders with more affecting compassion. Some still remembered to have seen Agrippina doomed to the like fate; the more recent sufferings of Julia were likewise recalled to mind, the first banished by Tiberius, the other by Claudius. But these Ladies had arrived at maturity of years, had enjoyed some seasons of felicity, tasted some share of delight, Edition: current; Page: [647]and, by reviewing their once happier fortune, their pangs, from instant cruelty, were abated. To Octavia the first day of her nuptials served for a funeral day; she was brought under a roof where all must appear dismal and sad, where her unhappy father was snatched away by poison, and instantly afterwards her brother by the same cruel means. Next, though a wife, she was subjected to the ascendancy of a slave. Then her husband espoused Poppæa, a marriage threatening nothing less than destruction to his legitimate wise. Lastly, she suffered the imputation of a crime more piercing than the most cruel death whatsoever. Add to all this, a tender girl, in the twentieth year of her age, encompassed with an host of soldiers and Centurions, already bereft of life, through the sad presages of impending evils, yet not surrendered to the quiet rest of death.

After the interval of a few days, she was formally doomed to die, though to prevent it, she descended to alledge, “That she owned herself in a state of widowhood, and claimed no other prerogative than of being only the Emperor’s sister. She pleaded their common ancestors, who bore the dear and favourite name of Germanicus:” at length she even invoked the name of Agrippina; she said, “That had Agrippina lived, she should, in truth, have endured a lot of wedlock sufficiently unhappy, but still such a one as would never have ended in a bloody doom.” Forthwith Edition: current; Page: [648]she was tied down with bonds, and the veins over all her limbs were opened; but, as her blood was chilled through fear, and issued slowly, the execution was completed by stifling her in the steam of a boiling bath. This cruelty was followed by another yet more crying and brutal; her head being cut off and carried to Rome, Poppæa chose to entertain herself with the tragical spectacle. For this execution the Senate decreed gifts and oblations to the Temples; a circumstance which I insert with design that whoever shall, from me or any other Writer, learn the events of those calamitous times, may hold it for granted, that as often as ever sentences of murder and banishment were pronounced by the Prince, so often were thanksgivings by the fathers paid to the Deities; and the very same ordinances which of old were monuments of public prosperity, served now for testimonies of public havock and ruin. And yet, I shall not fail to recount every decree of Senate, which either proved a new flight of flattery, or only the dregs of excessive tameness and servitude.

This year was fatal to Doryphorus and Pallas, two Imperial freedmen of most conspicuous note, both believed to have perished by poison, the former, for thwarting the marriage with Poppæa, and Pallas, for that by his great age he detained from the Emperor his inestimable wealth. Against Seneca, Romanus had secretly laboured a charge of Edition: current; Page: [649]being an associate with Caius Piso, but was himself encountered by Seneca with more vigour for the same crime. Hence a source of much dread to Piso; and against Nero there arose a conspiracy, mighty, indeed, and menacing, but abortive and unprosperous.

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BOOK XV.

The SUMMARY.

Vologeses King of Parthia invades Armenia, but is opposed by Corbulo with great prudence and spirit. Cæsennius Pætus sent by Nero to command in Armenia. His rashness, vanity, and disgraceful concessions to the enemy. Corbulo relieves him. Poppæa bears a daughter to Nero. Deputies from Parthia to sue for holding the sovereignty of Armenia, return without success, and the conduct of that war committed to Corbulo, who again enters Armenia, terrifies the Parthians into a treaty, obliges them to lay down their arms, and Tiridates to lay his crown at the feet of Nero’s statue, never to resume it more without the Emperor’s consent. Nero sings in the public Theatre at Naples. His excesses in all pollution and cruelty. Rome consumed by fire; Nero suspected as the author of it. He falsly charges it upon the Christians, and destroys them by many wanton and merciless torments. A conspiracy formed against him; its progress, detection, and the many illustrions lives sacrificed for it, with the boundless public flattery then arising from private sufferings and sorrow.

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DURING these transactions, Vologeses King of the Parthians, having learnt the exploits of Corbulo, that Tigranes, an alien born, was by him established King of Armenia, from whence his brother Tiridates had been ignominiously expulsed, was in himself bent to revenge the despite done to the Monarchy of the Arsacides; but revolving again upon the mighty power of the Romans, and awed with reverence for the constant league between the two Empires, was perplexed and divided between interfering passions. For he was a Prince by nature addicted to lingering, and then particularly, retarded by the revolt of the Hyrcanians, (a very potent nation) and by the long series of wars that followed it. In this suspence he was roused by the tydings of a fresh insult, for that Tigranes having passed the limits of Armenia, had wasted the territories of the Adiabenians, a bordering people, with more lasting and extensive spoil than by robbers was wont to be committed: An outrage which the chiefs of these nations underwent with painful regret, “that they were sunk into such abject scorn, as to be over-run, not in truth by the prowess of any Roman leader, but by the insolent arms of an hostage to Rome, one there kept for so many years amongst his fellow-slaves.” The anguish of Vologeses was inflamed by Monobazus, in whose hands lay the government of the Adiabenians, and who pressed to Edition: current; Page: [652]know “what military succours were there to secure them, and from what quarter to be sought? The fate of Armenia was already determined, the adjacent regions were about to be swallowed up; and unless they were defended by the Parthians, they themselves would soon consider, that bondage from the Romans proved always much lighter to such as submitted to mercy, than to those who staid to be subdued.” Tiridates too, who was a fugitive from his Kingdom, affected Vologeses yet more grievously, whether he beheld the silent distress of his brother, or heard his respectful complainings. For the deprived Prince was wont to alledge, “that mighty Empires were not to be sustained by sloth and inaction; the vigour of men and arms was to be exerted. In sovereign fortune, those measures were ever most righteous, which proved most successful. To those in a private station belonged the narrow domestic ambition of preserving their own; to struggle for the possessions of others, was renown truly monarchical.”

Vologeses, therefore, stimulated by all these considerations, assembled a council, and placing Tiridates next to himself, began thus; “This Prince, begotten by the same father with myself, I invested with the possession of Armenia, since to me, in regard of primogeniture, it was his lot to yield the sovereignty of Parthia; and thus he became what we account the third sovereign of our Edition: current; Page: [653]blood. For Pacorus already occupied the realm of Media. By this means, I seemed to have happily settled our family, and provided against the ancient hate and competition of brothers. This the Romans oppose, and though they never infringed the peace with any felicity to themselves, they now again openly break it, doubtless to their own bane and confusion. I am far from denying that rather by arguments than arms, would I chuse to preserve the acquisition of my ancestors. If I have been blameable in my delays, I will redouble my vigour. Your glory is unsullied, your force undiminished; to this praise you have also added that of moderation, a virtue never to be slighted by the most elevated amongst men, and is held by the Gods themselves in high estimation.” As soon as he had thus spoke, upon the head of Tiridates he set the royal diadem, to Moneses a noble Parthian he delivered a complete band of stout horse, which according to the custom of Monarchy, always attended the person of the King; to these he added a body of auxiliary Adiabenians, and commanded that General, “to force Tigranes from Armenia.” He purposed himself the while to drop his contest with the Hyrcanians, to amass all his forces in the heart of Parthia, and reserving to his own conduct the main stress of the war, to advance, and threaten a descent into the Roman provinces.

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Corbulo, as soon as by certain intelligence he had learnt all these proceedings, sent two Legions to succour Tigranes, under the command of Verulanus Severus and Vettius Bolanus, with secret injunctions, “rather to study delays than to act with dispatch.” The truth was, Corbulo aimed more at keeping a war on foot, than pushing it to a conclusion; besides, he had written to Nero, “That, in order to defend Armenia, another General was necessary; for that Syria, now threatened with a terrible tempest from Vologeses, was thence exposed to more vehement danger.” In the mean while he disposed the remaining Legions along the banks of the Euphrates, suddenly raised a body of militia out of the natives of the province; at all the passes he posted guards, to obstruct the inroads of the enemy; and, because that region is scanty of water, over the several fountains forts were erected, and some springs he buried under hills of sand.

While Corbulo was thus busied in measures for securing Syria, Moneses advanced towards Armenia, with rapid marches, as by them he meant to out-run the report of his coming: but, he found Tigranes neither void of intelligence, nor in a negligent situation; for that Prince had possessed himself of Tigranocerta, a city of great strength in the multitude of its defenders, and the mightiness of its walls. Add, that the Nicephorus, a river of no small breadth, environed great part Edition: current; Page: [655]of the wall, and round the rest, where the defence of the river was not trusted, a vast trench was drawn. Within it too was a garrison of soldiers, and stores of provision before laid up. In bringing in these provisions some few soldiers, having out of greediness straggled too far, fell into the hands of the swift and unexpected foe; but by this mishap of theirs, the minds of the rest became filled with resentment, rather than with dismay. Neither have the Parthians any bravery to venture a close attack upon a place besieged: it was but a few scattering arrows that they shot, nor thence at all dismayed the besieged, but only baffled themselves. The Adiabenians when, with ladders and engines of battery, they began to approach the walls, were easily driven back, and by an immediate sally of our men, put to the slaughter.

Corbulo however, though all his proceedings prospered, judging it wisdom to moderate the career of his good fortune, dispatched embassadors to Vologeses to expostulate with him upon his hostile conduct, “That he had with violence and war fallen upon a Roman Province; that his forces besieged a King who was a friend and confederate of Rome; nay, besieged the Roman Cohorts themselves;” and to warn him, “that either he must abandon the siege, or Corbulo too would instantly march and encamp upon the territories of the enemy.” Casperius the Centurion, who was delegated to execute this Edition: current; Page: [656]embassy, reached the King at the city of Nisibis, thirty-seven miles distant from Tigranocerta, and there delivered his message with great sternness. It was, in truth, long since the politic drift of Vologeses, and thoroughly riveted in his heart, to avoid engaging with the arms of Rome; neither did his present enterprizes advance with any measure of success; fruitless and vain had been the siege of Tigranocerta; Tigranes sat secure and strong in men and provisions; they who had undertaken to storm the walls, were utterly routed; two Legions were sent to the relief of Armenia; the remaining Legions covered Syria, nay, stood ready for an offensive war, and to invade the dominions of Parthia; his whole cavalry, through scarcity of forage, were miserably enfeebled; for such an infinite flight of locusts had fallen, as utterly devoured the whole crop of the earth and every green thing. Smothering, however, his dread, and assuming a guise of moderation, he returned for answer, “That he would send Embassadors to Rome, to sue to Cæsar for a concession of the Kingdom of Armenia, and to corroborate the peace between them.” And instantly commanding Moneses to relinquish the siege of Tigranocerta, he departed himself homewards again.

These quick changes were by many extolled, as “events altogether honourable, purely atchieved by the menaces of Corbulo, and the dismay of the King.” Others explained the whole “into a secret compact between Edition: current; Page: [657]them, that the war being dropped on both sides, and Vologeses withdrawing from Armenia, Tigranes too should depart that Kingdom. Upon what motives else was the Roman army led out of Tigranocerta? Why, in a time of inaction, were those places abandoned, which during war were strenuously defended? Had the troops found, in the remotest parts of Cappadocia, more commodious winter quarters, under huts suddenly raised, than in the capital of a Kingdom just before carefully kept and protected? Without all doubt, the war was therefore suspended, that upon some other Commander than Corbulo the lot might might fall of meeting Vologeses in the field; nor would Corbulo expose to new risques that renown and glory which for so many years he had been acquiring.” For, as I have already observed, he had demanded that a General should be sent for the particular defence of Armenia, and heard that Cæsennius Pætus was approaching with that character. Cæsennius was, in truth, already arrived, and the forces so divided, that under the command of Pætus were to remain the fourth Legion and the twelfth, to which was added the fifth, lately called thither from Mœsia, as also the auxiliaries from Pontus, Galatia, and Cappadocia; with Corbulo were to continue the third, sixth, and tenth Legions, and what forces formerly belonged to Syria. All other particulars they were to possess in common, or to share, just as Edition: current; Page: [658]the public service required. But, as Corbulo could not bear a competitor; so Pætus, to whom it was doubtless abundant glory, if in merit he were reckoned the second, disparaged all the atchievements of Corbulo; he affirmed, “That, in all his exploits, nothing of hostile blood was spilled, nothing of spoil was taken; and all the boasted praise of mastering and assaulting cities, was merely nominal and assumed. For himself, he would impose upon the vanquished tribute and laws; and, instead of the present shadow of a King, subject them at once to the jurisdiction of Rome.”

At this very juncture, the Embassadors of Vologeses, the same, whom I have mentioned to have been sent to the Prince, returned unsuccessful. Hence the Parthians proceeded to open war, nor did Pætus decline it; but, with two Legions, the fourth and twelfth, the former then commanded by Famisulanus Vectonianus, the other by Calvisius Sabinus, he entered Armenia, and a sad presage accompanied his entrance; for, in passing over the Euphrates, which he crossed upon a bridge, the horse which carried the Consular ornaments, became frightened without any apparent cause, and starting back again, got clear away: Moreover, as they were fortifying their quarters against winter, a victim which stood by the works, before the same were above half finished, broke violently through, leaped over the pale, and fled. The javelins too of our Edition: current; Page: [659]men blazed with spontaneous fire, a prodigy which appeared the more signal, for that with javelins and such weapons missive their enemies the Parthians always fight.

But all these omens were contemned by Pætus, who, before his winter encampment was yet sufficiently fortified, without preparing any the least magazine of grain, hurried the army over the mountain Taurus, “to recover, as he said, the city of Tigranocerta, and lay waste the several regions which Corbulo had spared.” And it is true that he took certain castles, somewhat of glory too he won, and somewhat of plunder, if he had either possessed his glory with moderation, or his plunder with care. But while with long marches, he over-ran countries which could not possibly be maintained, what provisions he had pillaged, became corrupted and spoiled, and the winter was just overtaking him, so that he led back the army to their quarters. There he composed letters to Nero, in a pompous stile, as if the war had been already concluded; but as to any available performances, his letters were empty and vain.

Corbulo, the while, sat down upon the banks of the Euphrates, a station which he had never neglected; he now particularly multiplied the guards which defended it. And, that the enemy’s troops, who with great ostentation and numbers were prancing over the opposite plains, might create no obstruction to his laying a bridge over the river, he fastened together Edition: current; Page: [660]with great beams, certain vessels of vast bulk. Upon them he reared large towers, and steering this armed float to and fro upon the stream, did thence with engines of battery annoy and dissipate the Barbarians, upon whom by this means were poured volleys of stones and darts, at a greater distance than could be equalled by the flight of arrows by them returned. Thereafter, the bridge was extended quite over; the opposite hills were immediately possessed by the confederate Cohorts, and upon them the Legions next pitched their camp. All which was executed with such celerity, and such a formidable display of forces, that the Parthians intirely abandoned their dispositions for invading Syria, and turned all their hopes and efforts towards Armenia.

There abode Pætus in such utter ignorance of the impending tempest, that he still kept the fifth Legion at so great a distance as Pontus, and had weakened the rest, by allowing the soldiers, without restriction, leave to be absent. In this situation he received the news, that Vologeses advanced with a mighty host, breathing terror and vengeance. Forthwith he called to him the twelfth Legion; but this very thing, from whence he hoped the reputation of having augmented his army, betrayed their thinness: Yet they still might have maintained their camp, and by protracting the war, have baffled all the efforts of the Parthians, if in the spirit of Pætus there had been any firmness, either in adhering to his own counsel, or Edition: current; Page: [661]to the counsels of others. But whenever by officers of experience he seemed fixed in his measures against such pressing dangers, presently after, that he might not seem to want the judgment of any man, he lapsed into courses which were different, and always worse. At this very juncture he wilfully departed out of the entrenchments which inclosed their winter quarters, and uttering brave words, “That, in order to repulse the foe, to him was committed neither ditch nor pale, but the bodies and arms of men;” he led forth the Legions, like one who would needs encounter the Parthians in battle. But having lost a Centurion and a few private men, whom he had sent forward to view the enemy’s forces, he returned to his camp in great haste and affright: Yet seeing Vologeses had pursued his advantage with no remarkable ardour, Pætus became once more infatuated with vain confidence, and upon the next summit of mount Taurus placed three thousand select infantry, to repulse the King from passing it. He likewise committed a particular part of the plain to the troops of Pannonia, which were the strength of his cavalry. His wife and son he shut up in a castle named Arsamosata, and for garrisoning the castle, gave them a band of five hundred men. Thus he dispersed his army, who, had they been in a body, might with more vigour have sustained the shock of a roving and inconstant enemy: Nay, it is said, that he was with great difficulty induced to transmit to Corbulo any Edition: current; Page: [662]account of the enemy’s distressing him. Neither did Corbulo make much dispatch, that the more the danger increased, the greater praise he might reap from bringing relief. He gave orders however to make ready a body of succours consisting of three thousand Legionary soldiers (one from each of the three Legions) of eight hundred horse, and an equal number of foot detached from the Cohorts.

Vologeses, though he was advised, that Pætus beset the roads on every hand, here with his infantry, there with his horse, yet no-wise varied his design or his march, but, with a violent onset, and ostentation of terrors, quite dismayed and drove awaythe Pannonian troops; the Legionary foot posted upon Taurus he utterly overthrew, and found resistance from one Centurion only, namely, Tarquitius Crescens, who had the bravery to defend a tower, in which he kept garrison? He even made frequent sallies, and such of the Barbarians who ventured to approach, he slew, till at last he was assaulted and overwhelmed by volleys of flaming matter. Such of the infantry as escaped unhurt, betook themselves to wild and remote deserts, and the wounded recovered the camp: There they published “the signal bravery of the Parthian King, the multitudes and barbarity of the several nations his followers,” and, through the impulse of their own fears, magnified excessively whatever inspired them: all which was swallowed with ready credulity by the rest, who were themselves possessed Edition: current; Page: [663]with the same terrors. Nor in truth did the General make any efforts to repel this torrent of adversity: he had already deserted all the duties of war, and again dispatched more entreaties to Corbulo, “to come with speed, and save the Roman Ensigns and Eagles; to save the name and remains of an unhappy army, who with himself would, while their lives remained, honour their deliverer with perfect faith and gratitude.”

Corbulo was no wise daunted, and, leaving part of his forces in Syria to maintain the posts which he had fortified upon the Euphrates; began the shortest route, where no hazard was incurred of lacking provisions; first through Comagena, then through Cappadocia, and thence into Armenia. There accompanied his army, besides other implements usual in war, a huge train of camels loaded with grain, thence to repel famine as well as the foe. The first that he met of those who were routed, was Pactius a Centurion of principal rank: After him came several common soldiers, who, while they strove to cover the shame of their flight, each by a different excuse, were by Corbulo admonished “to return to their colours, and try the mercy of Pætus: for his particular, he owned himself implacable to all who in battle came not off victorious.” At the same time he addressed himself to his own Legions, from rank to rank, persuading and exhorting, reminded them of their exploits and victories past, and to their present view exhibited a Edition: current; Page: [664]scene of fresh glory; “Not now the villages and cities of the Armenians were to be possessed as the recompence of their services and hardships, but the Roman Camp to be saved, and in it two Roman Legions. If every private soldier were, for saving the life of a citizen, distinguished with the lustre of a Civic Crown publicly presented by the hand of his General; how much more signal and extensive must be the renown, when the lives preserved, and they who preserve them, were thus equally numerous?” By these and the like stimulations, they became fired with alacrity for the common cause; besides, some were prompted by personal incitements, even the distresses and dangers in which their brothers, or their companions and kinsmen, were involved. So that they sped their march night and day, without intermission.

Hence the more vehemently did Vologeses press the besieged, now assaulting the entrenchment of the Legions, then the castle in which were guarded those who from the tenderness of their sex and years were unfit for the roughness and toils of war; and he pushed these his assaults much more closely than was usual to the Parthians, in hopes by such designed temerity to tempt out the enemy to a battle. But they, with all these insults, could scarce be dragged out of their tents, at most only endeavoured to maintain their works, part of them submitting to the orders and restrictions of their General, others resigned to Edition: current; Page: [665]their own cowardice, as men who stupidly waited for deliverance from Corbulo; or if the power of the assailants in the mean while prevailed, they had already provided themselves with examples to follow, namely, the behaviour of two old Roman armies overthrown, one at Caudium in Italy, the other at Numantia in Spain: “for that, neither were the Samnites (a single Italian state) nor were the Spaniards, either of them masters of forces comparable to those of the Parthians, a mighty Empire, rival with that of Rome! nay, those same ancients, so very brave and stubborn, and so much extolled, as often as fortune forsook them, were ever supple enough to consult self-preservation.” By the temper of the army, thus abandoned to despair, the General was constrained to write to Vologeses; yet, the first letter which he sent contained nothing of supplicancy or abasement, but was conceived in a strain of expostulation and complaint, “That for the Kingdom of Armenia he should thus exercise the violences of enmity and war; a country ever subject to the Roman jurisdiction, or to a King appointed by the Emperor of Rome. Peace was, in truth, alike advantageous to the Parthians and to the Romans; neither ought he to view only the present situation of things; but remember that against two Legions he was come at the head of the whole power of his Kingdom, while to the Edition: current; Page: [666]Romans remained, for the support of the war, all the rest of the globe.”

Vologeses, without entering at all into the merit of the war, in answer to the representation, wrote back, “That he must wait the coming of his brothers, Pacorus and Tiridates; as to them was reserved the appointment of a place and time for adjusting such measures concerning Armenia, as became their own high character, and the grandeur of the Arsacides; at the same time too, they would determine how to deal with the Roman Legions.” Pætus again dispatched a message, and desired a conference with the King, who, in his own stead, deputed Vasaces, his General of horse. At this interview Pætus urged examples, and represented “such Roman Captains as Lucullus and Pompey, and since some of the Cæsars, acquiring and bestowing the Realm of Armenia.” Vasaces alledged, “That indeed the name and shadow of holding and conferring it, rested in us Romans, but in the Parthians the essential power.” After much mutual contestation, Monobazus the Adiabenian was the next day joined with them, as a witness to their stipulations, and between them it was agreed, “That the Legions should be released from the leaguer, all the Roman troops utterly depart the territories of Armenia, all their fortresses and stores be delivered up to the Parthians. Then, after complete performance Edition: current; Page: [667]of these concessions, Vologeses should have free privilege to send Embassadors to Nero.

In the mean time, Pætus laid a bridge over the river Arsanias, which flowed along his camp, under pretext of his preparing to march off that way; but it was, in reality, a work enjoined him by the Parthians, as a monument and confession of their victory, since to them only it was of use; for our men took a different rout. All this disgrace was heightened by public rumour, which added, that “the Legions had passed like captives under a gallows,” with many other disastrous circumstances, such as are wont to accompany distress. And it is true, that of such ignominious treatment some semblance was administered by the insulting behaviour of the Armenians, who, before the Roman army was yet discamped, entered their works, beset all the avenues and thoroughfares, singled out their own captive slaves, distinguished their lost beasts, and rescued both: They even stripped the Romans of their cloaths, and seized their arms, while the poor soldiers only trembled and delivered, thus to cut off all provocation and excuse of involving them in a battle. Vologeses raised a pompous heap of all the arms and bodies of the slain, by it to manifest our overthrow, but forbore beholding the scandalous flight of the Legions, from whence he aimed at acquiring the applause of moderation, when he had just before satiated his pride. He passed Edition: current; Page: [668]the river Arsanias mounted upon an elephant, as did all that were near the King in blood or favour, by the vigour of their horses. For, a report had spread that the bridge, by the fraud of the builders, would certainly sink under any considerable pressure: Though they who ventured over it, experienced it to be a strong and secure fabric.

For the rest; it was notorious that the beleagured army were to the last provided with such abundant supplies of grain, that they even set fire to their store-houses. And it was by Corbulo recounted, “That the Parthians, on the contrary, were destitute of provisions, and their forage entirely consumed, so that they were about to have forsaken the leaguer; neither was he himself above three days march distant with his forces.” He even added, “That Pætus covenanted, under the tye of an oath solemnly taken under the sacred Eagles, in the presence of those whom the King had sent to witness it, That no Roman should enter Armenia, till by the arrival of letters from Nero, it were known whether he consented to the peace.” But though such imputations were to pass only for infamy aggravated, yet the subsequent conduct of Pætus and his army is liable to no ambiguity, that in one day they travelled the space of forty miles, that the wounded were every where dropped and forsaken, and that no less infamous was the flight and dismay of those fugitives, than if they had turned their backs Edition: current; Page: [669]and run in the day of battle. Upon the banks of the Euphrates Corbulo with his forces met them, but without such a display of flying colours and glittering arms as might seem to upbraid their different and melancholy plight. Sorrowful were his several bands, and in commiseration for the heavy lot of their fellow-soldiers, could not refrain from a flood of tears; scarce were they able to exchange their salutations for weeping: All competition about superior bravery was vanished, as well as all ambition for glory; for these are the passions of happy and prosperous men! here compassion only prevailed, and the lower the men, the stronger their compassion.

Between the two leaders there followed a brief conference, Corbulo lamenting, “That so much travel had been fruitlesly bestowed, when the war might have been finished with the utter flight of the Parthians.” The other replied, “That the affairs of Armenia remained perfectly as they were. Let us, said he, turn about our Eagles, and invade it in concert, enfeebled as it is by the departure of Vologeses.Corbulo alledged, “That from the Emperor he had no such orders: he had already passed out of his Province, from no other inducement than to deliver the distressed Legions; and as it was altogether uncertain where the next efforts of the Parthians would fall, he would retire back into Syria: Even thus they had cause to invoke the Deity of happy fortune, Edition: current; Page: [670]that the foot, which were so miserably spent with great marches, might be able to come up with the Parthian horse, which were altogether fresh and untired, and in travelling easily over those smooth plains, were sure to out-march them.” Pætus therefore withdrew to Cappadocia, and there wintered. But to Corbulo a message arrived from Vologeses, “To withdraw his several garrisons from beyond the Euphrates, and let the river remain, as formerly, the common boundary.” Corbulo too insisted, “That all the Parthian garrisons should evacuate Armenia.” And at last the King complied. Moreover, all the fortifications raised by Corbulo on the other side Euphrates, were demolished, and by both the King and Corbulo the Armenians were left to their own disposal and controulment.

But, at Rome the while, they were erecting trophies of victory over the Parthians, and raising triumphal arches upon the mount of the Capirol; solemnities decreed by the Senate while the war was yet in its height, nor even now discontinued, as popular shew was only studied, in defiance of conviction and fact. Nay, Nero, in order to disguise all sollicitude from affairs abroad, ordered the stores of grain, which from time to time was distributed amongst the populace, but now corrupted with staleness, to be thrown into the Tiber, in ostentation of the public security and plenty of provisions. It is certain, their price became nothing Edition: current; Page: [671]raised, notwithstanding that almost two hundred vessels thus loaded, were by a violent storm sunk in the very harbour, and a hundred more already arrived in the Tiber, were consumed by an accidental fire. Thereafter he committed the direction of the public revenue to three Senators of Consular dignity, Lucius Piso, Ducennius Geminus, and Pompeius Paullinus, inveighing against the Princes his ancestors, “for that, through the profuseness of their expence and disbursements, they had exceeded their annual receipts; whereas by himself the Commonwealth was yearly presented with more than a million of crowns.”

There prevailed in those days a pestilent abuse, practised by men aspiring and childless, who, whenever the election of Magistrates, or the allotment of Provinces, was at hand, provided themselves with sons by fraudulent adoptions; then when in common with real fathers they had obtained Prætorships and provincial Governments, they instantly dismissed such as they had occasionally adopted. Hence those who were genuine fathers, betook themselves with mighty indignation to the Senate: There they represented their own “inherent right from nature, their many toils and paternal cares bestowed in education and rearing, in opposition to the fraud, selfish devices, and facility of these adoptions hastily made, and suddenly dissolved. To such as were childless, it was abundant compensation, Edition: current; Page: [672]that with much security, and exempt from all anxiety and charge, they could arrive at public distinction, and honours, and find every advantage in the state easy and open to their wishes. For themselves, the preference ensured to them by the law, and by them tediously expected, vanished in mockery, while every man had it in his option to become a parent without parental tenderness and sollicitude, and fatherless again without the lamentation and anguish of a parent, and by the collusive ceremony of a moment, arrived at equal emoluments with natural fathers, by them so long pursued.” This produced a decree of Senate, “That in the pursuit of any public employment whatsoever, no feigned adoptions should have influence, nor yet avail in claiming estates by will.”

What followed was the accusation and trial of Claudius Timarchus of Crete, who, besides other excesses common to the Grandees of all provinces, elated with over-grown wealth, and thence wantonly prompted to domineer over their inferiors, had uttered an expression, which imported great scandal and contumely upon the Senate; as he had often declared, that “it lay in his power, whether the Proconsuls who had obtained the government of Crete, should receive for their administration the public thanks;” an occasion which Pætus Thrasea sought to improve to the benefit of the public; so that, after Edition: current; Page: [673]he had delivered his vote, namely, “That the accused should be banished from Crete,” he added the following speech. “It is a truth confirmed by experience, Conscript Fathers, that renowned laws and wholsome precedents are by upright patriots derived from the transgressions and delinquency of others: Thus was the Cincian law produced by the licentious behaviour of the Orators, the Julian ordinances by the caballings and efforts of the candidates for public preferments, and the institutions of Calpurnius the Tribune, by the rapaciousness of the Magistrates. For guilt is ever antecedent to punishment, and later than the offence comes the correction. To quell therefore this fresh insolence of the Provincials, let us take measures worthy of the good faith, worthy of the magnanimity of the Romans, such as may no wise infringe the protection due to our confederates, nor yet leave room for any Roman to depend for his estimation upon other judgment than that of his fellow-citizens. Of old, indeed, not Prætors and Consuls only, and men in office, were sent into the Provinces; but private persons invested with no magistracy, were also sent, to inspect the state of those Provinces in general, and to report what they judged meet concerning the civil observance of every particular; and by the judgment of single inspectors nations were awed. But now we court foreigners, and flatter them; and as at Edition: current; Page: [674]the beck of some one of them thanks are decreed to our Magistrates, from the same motive too, but with more facility, is their accusation decreed: Nay, let such accusations be still decreed; to the Provincials let there always continue a privilege of making, in such instances, an oftentation of their power; but let their false and groundless applause, their commendations extorted by importunity and prayers, be restrained with the same rigour as the efforts of malice, as the ravages of cruelty. Into heavier defaults we often fall, while we labour to oblige, than when we are not afraid to offend. There are even certain virtues subject to popular hate, such as a severity never to be shaken, and a soul impregnable against all insinuation and courtship. Hence the administration of our Magistrates abroad, is generally best at the beginning, but relaxes in the close, while in the submissive manner of candidates for honours at home, we sollicit favourable suffrages from the Provincials. Now if this depraved custom be effectually suppressed, the Provinces will be ruled with more impartiality, with greater firmness and resolution: For, as by the terror of the law against extortion and rapine, the force of avarice in the governors is broken, so by abolishing the usage of giving them public thanks, the court by them paid to the Provinces is to be restrained.

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Great was the applause and universal the assent, that accompanied this proposition from Thrasea, which yet could not be reduced into a decree, since the Consuls insisted that the same was foreign from the question first moved. But afterwards, at the motion of the Prince, it was ordained, “That to the general council of the Provinces no man should have leave to propose a deputation to the Senate for public thanks to any Prætorian or Proconsular Governor whatsoever; and that no man should be allowed to execute such a deputation.” During the same Consuls, the Athletic Academy was by a blast of lightning burnt to ruins, and in it the brazen statue of Nero melted to a shapeless mass. In Campania too, the noble city which from Pompey takes its name, was in a great measure overturned by an earthquake; and this year died Lælia the Vestal virgin, into whose place was assumed Cornelia, of the Cossian family.

In the Consulship of Memmius Regulus and Verginius Rufus, a daughter was by Poppæa born to Nero, and filled him with more than mortal joy, insomuch, that he named her Augusta, and upon Poppæa conferred the same title. The place of her birth was the Colony of Antium, where he himself was born. The Senate had before solemnly recommended to the Gods the pregnant womb of Poppæa, and, for her delivery, undertaken public vows: Now many more were added, and the whole amply fulfilled. Days of devotion, Edition: current; Page: [676]and processions were also subjoined; a Temple was decreed to “Fecundity, with Athletic sports in imitation of those which were peculiar to Antium; moreover, that in the throne of Jupiter Capitolinus should be placed golden images of the Fortunes; and that at Antium, in honour to the Claudian and Domitian families, Circensian games should be celebrated, as at the suburbs Bovillæ they were in distinction to the Julian race.” But all these proved fleeting memorials; for within four months the infant expired: From whence arose fresh sallies of flattery; since deification was voted to her, with “divine worship, a tabernacle, chapel, and priest.” For the Emperor, as he had rejoiced, so he sorrowed, beyond all measure. It was a particular universally observed, that when just upon the delivery of Poppæa, the Senate in a body flocked with congratulations to Antium, Thrasea was by Nero restrained from accompanying them; a contumely which, though it foreboded his impending destruction, he yet received with a spirit perfectly undismayed. It was reported that Nero afterwards vaunted to Seneca his own clemency and reconciliation to Thrasea, and that to Nero in return Seneca expressed his gladness and thanks. Hence fresh glory accrued to these illustrious patriots, and by it higher obnoxiousness and danger.

During these transactions, there arrived in the beginning of spring, Embassadors from the Edition: current; Page: [677]Parthians; charged with overtures from Vologeses their King, and with letters in the same strain, that he now voluntarily relinquished “all his former measures so often contested, about the enjoyment of Armenia, since the Gods, though they were the sovereign arbitrator between potent states, and had yielded the possession of it to the Parthians, yet so yielded it, that thence ignominy devolved upon the Romans. He had lately held Tigranes blocked up in a siege, then Pætus and the Legions; and when it was in his power to have destroyed them, it was his choice to dismiss them unhurt. He had sufficiently displayed his forces and might, and exhibited too a glaring proof of his moderation. Neither would his brother Tiridates refuse coming to Rome, there to receive the Armenian diadem; but that as he was a Magian, the character of his Priesthood with-held him: He was ready, however, to address himself to the Roman Ensigns, and to the Images of Cæsar, and there, in presence of the Legions, receive the solemn investiture of the Kingdom.”

When these letters of Vologeses were read, so opposite to the account transmitted by Pætus, as if things remained entirely in the same situation; the Centurion, who had arrived with the Embassadors, was asked, “In what condition stood the Kingdom of Armenia?” he answered, that “all the Romans were to a man withdrawn from Edition: current; Page: [678]thence;” and as hence was understood the scorn offered by the Barbarians, thus suing for a country which they had already seized, Nero held a consultation with the principal Grandees, whether to engage in a perilous war, or prefer an infamous peace; nor was there any hesitation in resolving upon war; and to Corbulo, who by the experience of so many years, knew both the soldiery and the enemy, the supreme command was committed, lest through the temerity and unskilfulness of any other, more faults and disgrace might be incurred; for, of Pætus and his conduct they were sorely ashamed. The Embassadors were therefore dismissed unsuccessful, but distinguished with presents, thence to raise hopes that, were Tiridates to bring his own supplications, he would not supplicate in vain. To Sestius was given the administration of Syria, and to Corbulo were granted all the military forces there, which were also increased by the addition of the fifteenth Legion, led by Marius Celsus, from Pannonia. Directions were likewise written to the Kings and Tetrarchs in the East, to the Deputies and Superintendents, and to the several Proprætors who ruled the neighbouring Provinces, “to pay entire obedience to the orders of Corbulo,” who was thus trusted with much the same extensive authority, which the Roman people had conferred upon Pompey in his expedition against the Pirates. Upon the return of Pætus to Rome, while he was dreading a more rigorous Edition: current; Page: [679]treatment, Nero deemed it sufficient to lash him with railleries in this manner; “I pardon you, said he, instantly, lest, with that strange propensity to fear, you might pine away, were your anxiety ever so little protracted.”

Now when Corbulo had removed into Syria the fourth and twelfth Legions, which, from the loss of all their bravest men, and the consternation of the rest, were judged little qualified for feats of war; he drew from that Province the sixth Legion and the third, a body of men fresh and undiminished, hardened by variety of military toils, and accustomed to prosperous exploits, and led them to Armenia. To them he added the fifth, which being quartered in Pontus had escaped the late defeat. Moreover, the soldiers of the fifteenth Legion lately arrived, and some chosen bands from Illyrium and Ægypt, with all the auxiliary troops of horse and companies of foot, as also the succours from the confederate Kings, were drawn together at Melitene, as from thence he had concerted their passing the Euphrates. He then purified the army by the usual solemnity of Lustration, and in a stated assembly animated them with a speech: In it he made a glorious display “of the auspicious sway and invincible fortune of Cæsar; of the signal exploits by himself atchieved;” and upon the simple conduct of Pætus he cast “whatever contumelies or disasters had been sustained.” These things he delivered with great spirit and Edition: current; Page: [680]authority, which, in a military man like him, carried all the force of eloquence.

He took next the same rout which of old was passed by Lucullus, having removed whatever impediments, in so long a course of years, had closed up the way: Neither did he discountenance the Embassadors, who where approaching from Tiridates and Vologeses, with overtures of peace; but, to confer with them, appointed certain Centurions, whom he furnished with instructions no wise harsh; namely, “That as yet the contest was not risen to such height as that nothing could determine it, but the decision of the sword. The Roman arms had in many instances been prosperous, in some the Parthian; whence a lesson might be drawn against arrogance and presumption in either. It moreover concerned the interest of Tiridates to possess a Kingdom untouched by the ravages of war, by accepting it as the gift of the Romans: more substantially too would Vologeses study the advantage of the people of Parthia by an alliance with the Romans, than by involving both in mutual damages and mischief. It was well known what terrible revolts were then rending the bowels of his Monarchy, as also what fierce and unruly nations he governed. To the Roman Emperor, on the contrary, there continued in all his dominions a steady peace, and only the weight of that single war.” To enforce his reasoning, he immediately subjoined the Edition: current; Page: [681]terrors of the sword, drove from their seats the Grandees of Armenia, who were the first revolters from us, razed their castles, and filled with equal dismay the inhabitants of the mountains and those of the vales, the warriors, and the unwarlike.

The name of Corbulo was held in no distaste, much less in hostile hate, even amongst the Barbarians; hence they believed his counsel worthy to be trusted. Vologeses, therefore, who was never violent for a general war with the Romans, now sought a truce for certain of his Governments. Tiridates demanded a day and place for a conference; and a time near at hand was appointed: For the place, as the Barbarians chose that where they had lately besieged Pætus and the Legions, from a fond remembrance of their more propitious atchievements there, the same was not declined by Corbulo, that from the different face of his own fortune, his glory might be augmented. Yet neither suffered he the disgrace of Pætus there to be blackened with any fresh reproach; a tenderness chiefly manifest from hence, that he ordered the son of Pætus, one of his own Tribunes, to march at the head of some companies and commit to sepulchres the ghostly remains of that unfortunate field. Upon the day stipulated, Tiberius Alexander an illustrious Roman Knight, one sent with Corbulo as an assistant and inspector, in the measures of the war, and with him, Vivianus Annius, son-in-law to Edition: current; Page: [682]Corbulo, one under the age of a Senator, but set over the fifth Legion in the room of its own Commander, entered together into the camp of Tiridates, as a compliment of honour, and that, possessed of such hostages, he might fear no guile. Then the King and the General took each twenty horse and proceeded to the interview. At the sight of Corbulo, the King leaped first from his horse, nor was Corbulo slow to return the courtesy, and both, on foot, interchanged their right hands.

Thence the Roman Captain proceeded to applaud the young Prince, “that, renouncing all desperate measures, he had adopted such as were wholsome and secure.” Tiridates, after a long display “of the splendor of his race,” pursued the rest of his discourse with sufficient modesty and condescension; “That he would travel to Rome and present a new subject of glory to Cæsar, a Prince of the Arsacides his supplicant, at a season when no public distress impaired the affairs of Parthia.” It was then agreed that before the image of Cæsar he should resign the Royal Diadem, never to resume it more except from the hand of Nero; thus ended the conference with a mutual kiss. Then after an interval of a few days, the two armies met with mighty pomp and ostentation on both sides. There stood the Parthian horse, ranged into troops, and distinguished by the standards of their several nations; here were posted the Edition: current; Page: [683]battalions of the Legions, their Eagles glittering, their Ensigns displayed, with the figures of the deified Emperors exhibited like Deities in a Temple. In the center was placed a tribunal, which supported a chair of state, as did the chair a statue of Nero: To this Tiridates approached, and having, according to form, slain certain victims, pulled the Diadem from his head and laid it at the feet of the Statue. Great upon this occasion were the emotions in the minds of all men; and the greater as they had still before their eyes the late overthrow, at least the late siege of the Roman armies: “But now, intirely inverted were the operations of fortune; Tiridates was departing for Rome, exposed as a spectacle to the nations, under a character how little below that of a captive?”

Corbulo, to all his glory, added actions of complaisance and a sumptuous banquet; during which the King, as often as any usage of ours, new to him, occurred, was assiduous to know what the same might mean; why a Centurion advertised the General, when the watch was first set? why, when meals were ended the trumpet sounded? why the fuel upon the altar reared before the Augural port, was kindled with a torch? all which Corbulo explained, and heightening all beyond just bounds, struck him with admiration of the ancient institutions of the Romans. The next day, Tiridates besought “so much time, before he undertook so long a journey, as might suffice Edition: current; Page: [684]to visit his brothers and his mother;” and, for an hostage, delivered up his daughter, and writ a supplicant letter to Nero.

Thus he departed, and found Pacorus in Media, and at Ecbatana Vologeses, who, in truth, was far from neglecting the concerns of this his brother: For, by a special embassy he had desired of Corbulo, “That Tiridates might bear no visible semblance of slavery; nor be obliged to surrender his sword, nor be debarred from the distinction of embracing the Governors of Provinces; nor stand waiting at their gates for admittance; and, that in Rome, the same honour should be paid him as to the Consuls was paid.” In truth, that Prince, inured to the pride which prevails among foreigners, was a stranger to the maxims of us Romans, who study the energy of Empire, and overlook the shadows and empty forms.

The same year, Cæsar conferred upon those nations of the Alps who inhabit the sea coast, the rights and immunities of Latium: To the Roman Knights he assigned places in the Circus before the seats of the populace; for, till that time they sat there without discrimination, as the sanctions of the Roscian law were only confined to the fourteen rows in the Theatre. On this year too was exhibited a combat of Gladiators equally magnificent with the former; but many Ladies of illustrious quality, and many Senators, by entering the lists, infamously stained themselves.

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In the Consulship of Caius Lecanius and Marcus Licinius, Nero became every day more transported with a passion for mounting the public stage, and entertaining the promiscuous multitude: For hitherto he had only sung in the assemblies entituled Juvenalia, which were restrained to particular houses and gardens; places which he despised, as not sufficiently celebrated, and too confined for a voice so signal as his. At Rome, however, he dared not to begin, but chose Naples, the same being a Greek city, “where having made his first essay, he would pass thence over to Greece, and there having, by victory in song, gained the prize-crowns, ever so highly renowned and held sacred of old, he could not fail of attracting, with heightened applause, the hearts of the Roman citizens.” To this entertainment crowded all the rabble of Neapolitans, with numbers from the neighbouring cities and colonies, excited by the rumour and curiosity of the spectacle; besides such as followed the Emperor, either in compliment to him, or about private affairs of their own: Nay, with these entered several bands of soldiers, and all together thronged the Theatre; where an accident befel, which, in the opinion of many, was sad and presaging; but with Nero it passed for a providential event, and betokened the tutelage of his guardian Deities: The Theatre, when the audience who filled it were retired, tumbled to the ground, but as not a soul was in it, none Edition: current; Page: [686]were hurt by its ruins. For this deliverance Nero celebrated the benignity of the Gods in songs of thanksgiving purposely composed, as also the story and description of the recent contingency. Then in his rout to pass the Adriatic, he rested a while at Beneventum, where by Vatinius was presented a splendid shew of Gladiators. This Vatinius was one of the many baleful monsters that haunted the court, and one of the foremost, originally bred in a shoemaker’s stall, in his person hideous and distorted, addicted to sneering and drollery, and at first admitted merely as a buffoon; thence, by lying accusations against every worthy man, he had arrived to such high consideration, that in favour, in opulence, and in power to injure and destroy, he even surpassed the other implements of mischief.

Nero, during the course of this solemnity, though he attended it assiduously, forbore not however, even in the midst of his diversion and pleasures, to pursue feats of blood; since, in those very days of festivity, Torquatus Silanus was forced to die, for that, besides the ancient splendor of the Junian family, he was great grandson to the deified Augustus. Against him the accusers had orders to object, “his great prodigality and bounties; and that other resource and views he had none remaining, save only in a public revolution. Nay, already he kept about him men with the stile of principal Secretaries, of Chancellors, of Treasurers, names and offices of Edition: current; Page: [687]Imperial grandeur, which he thus aspired to, and even personated.” Immediately, all his freedmen, in any degree of intimacy with their master, were cast into bonds, and hurried to the dungeon. Torquatus, seeing his impending condemnation, opened the veins of both his arms, and expired; an event which was followed, according to custom, with a speech from Nero; “That however guilty the criminal had been, how justly soever he had despaired of acquitting himself by any defence, his life had still been spared, had he staid for the clemency of his Judge.”

Nero, having deferred his voyage to Greece, for reasons which were not known, soon after re-visited Rome, his head busied with many imaginations, all smothered at first, about shewing himself to the Provinces in the East, especially to Ægypt: At last this project became the subject of a public edict. In it he declared, that “his absence would not be of long continuance, and the Commonwealth, in all its parts, would continue the while in the same perfect quiet and prosperity;” then for the success of that journey, he betook himself in devotion to the Capitol. While he was there, paying his oblations to the several Deities, as he entered amongst others, into the Temple of Vesta, he became seized with a sudden and prevailing horror, which shook him in every joint; whether the awe of the Goddess struck him with dismay; or whether, from the remembrance of his foulness and Edition: current; Page: [688]crimes, he was ever haunted by terrors, it is certain that he dropped his project, making many asseverations, “That lighter with him were all his pursuits than his passion for his Country: He had seen the sorrowful looks of the Roman citizens, he still heard their secret complainings, that he would venture upon such mighty travels, when, in truth, they could never bear even his shortest excursions from Rome; as they were accustomed to be revived under all disasters, by the joyful sight of the Prince. Hence it was that, as in private consanguinities and friendship, dearest in affection were the nearest in blood, so over himself above all considerations availed that of the Roman people; and when they would thus retain him, it behoved him to obey.” These and the like declarations of his were well pleasing to the populace, from their propensity to the revels and diversions, and from another motive ever the most prevalent of all, the scarcity of provisions apprehended in his absence. The Senate and Grandees were in suspence whether he were to be esteemed a more raging tyrant at Rome, or remote from Rome; and thence, according to the genius of all great and affecting fears, they believed what happened, to be the worst that could happen.

Nero himself, in order to gain a reputation of delighting, above all places, in Rome, banquetted frequently in the public places and great squares, and used the whole city as his Edition: current; Page: [689]own house. But, as particularly signal for luxury and popular observation, was the feast prepared by Tigellinus; I shall here, for an example, recount its order and state, that henceforth I may not be obliged to a frequent recital of the like enormous prodigalities. For this purpose, he built, in the lake of Agrippa, a large vessel which contained the banquet, and was itself drawn by other vessels with oars: The vessels were embellished with diversified ornaments of gold and ivory, and rowed by bands of Pathics, ranged according to their seniority, and pre-eminence in the science of unnatural prostitutions. From divers regions he had procured variety of wild-fowl, and wild beasts for venison, with sea-fish as far as the Ocean. Upon the borders and angles of the lake stood brothels filled with Ladies of illustrious rank: Over-against them professed harlots were exposed, completely naked. Now every-where, were beheld obscene postures and agitations; and as soon as darkness spread, all the neighbouring groves and circumjacent dwellings, resounded to each other with the joyful symphony of music and songs, and appeared all illuminated with a blaze of lights. For Nero’s part, he wallowed in all sorts of defilements, natural and unnatural. He, in truth, had then left no kind of abomination untried, which could serve to finish his vileness, had he not, in a few days after, personated a woman, and been given in marriage, with all the forms and solemnity of genuine Edition: current; Page: [690]nuptials, to one of this contaminated herd, a Pathic named Pythagoras: Over the Roman Emperor, as over a bride, was cast the sacred nuptial veil; the Augurs were seen in form solemnizing the espousals, the portion of the bride was openly paid, the bridal bed displayed, the nuptial torches kindled, and, in fine, to view was exposed whatever, even in natural commerce with women, is buried under the shades of night.

There followed a dreadful calamity, but whether merely fortuitous, or by the execrable contrivance of the Prince, is not determined; for both are by authors asserted: But of all the evils which ever befel this city by the rage of fire, this was the most destructive and tragical. It arose in that part of the Circus, which is contiguous to mount Palatine and mount Cœlius, where beginning amongst shops, in which were kept such goods as are proper to feed the fury of fire, it grew instantly outragious; and being also aided by fresh force from the wind, it devoured the whole extent of the Circus. For, neither were particular houses secured by any enclosures, nor the Temples by their walls, and it had nothing to encounter capable of obstructing its violence; but the flame spreading every way, with terrible impetuosity, invaded first the flat regions of the city, then mounted to the higher, and again ravaging the lower, such was its amazing velocity as to frustrate all relief, and its havock was felt before any measures to oppose it could be Edition: current; Page: [691]tried. Besides, the city was obnoxious to conflagrations from the disposition of its building, with long narrow allies, winding like labyrinths to and fro, and streets void of all regularity, as was the fashion of old Rome. Add to all this, the shrieks and wailings of women under woe and dismay, the helpless condition of the young and tender, that of the aged and infirm, with the confusion of such as strove only to provide for themselves, interfering with those who laboured to assist others, these dragging the weak and unweildy, those waiting for the like help; some running, others lingering. From all which various efforts there arose only mutual interruption, and universal embarrassment; and while they chiefly regarded the danger that pursued them behind, they often found themselves suddenly beset before, and on every side; or if they had first escaped into the quarters adjoyning, these too were already seized by the devouring flames; even the parts which they believed quite remote and exempt, were discovered to be under the same affecting calamity. At last, utterly perplexed what they had best shun, or where to seek sanctuary, they filled with their multitude the streets and ways, and lay along in the open fields. Some there were who, in despair for the loss of their whole substance, and even bereft of daily sustenance, others who through tenderness for their relations, whom they had not been able to snatch from the flames, suffered themselves to perish in them, though they had full scope and opportunity Edition: current; Page: [692]to escape. Neither durst any man offer to marr the progress of the fire: Such were the repeated menaces of many who openly forbid all attempts to extinguish it; and, as there were others who, in the face of the public, heightened it by volleys of lighted fire-brands, with loud declarations, “that they had one to authorize them;” whether it were a device for the more licentious exercise of plunder, or whether in reality they had such orders.

Nero was at that juncture sojourning at Antium, but never offered to return to the city, till he heard that the fire was advancing to that quarter of his house which filled the space between the Palace and the Gardens of Mæcenas: Nor, even upon his arrival, could its rage be staid, but, in spight of opposition, it devoured houses and palace, and every thing round about. For the relief, however, of the forlorn people, thus vagabond and bereft of their dwellings, he laid open the field of Mars and all the great edifices erected by Agrippa, and called his monuments; he even presented them the use of his own Gardens. He likewise reared hasty tabernacles, for the reception of the destitute multitude: from Ostia too and the neighbouring cities, by his orders, were brought all sorts of houshold implements and necessaries; and the price of grain reduced to three sesterces the measure. All which bounties of his, however popular, were bestowed in vain, without any gratitude returned; because Edition: current; Page: [693]a rumour had flown abroad, “That, during the very time when Rome was under the fury of consuming flames, he entered his domestic Theatre, and chanted the destruction of Troy, likening the present desolation to the tragical calamities of antiquity.”

At length, on the sixth day, the conflagration was stayed, at the foot of mount Esquiline, by levelling with the ground an infinite number of buildings, and making a mighty void; so that the raging devastation hitherto uninterrupted, might find nothing to encounter but open fields and empty air. Scarce had the late consternation ceased, when a new and no trivial alarm recurred; for the fire broke out with fresh outrage, but in places more wide and spacious; hence fewer lives were destroyed: But, more Temples were here overthrown, and more sumptuous Porticos, such as were appropriated to public diversion and festivity. This conflagration too was subject to the greater measure of infamy, for that it rose in the possessions of Tigellinus, in the Amylian fields; whence it was conjectured, that Nero was thus aiming at the glory of building a new city, and calling it by his name. For, of the fourteen quarters into which Rome is divided, four were still standing entire, three lay in utter ruins; and, in the seven others, there remained only here and there a few shadows of houses, miserably shattered and half consumed.

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Easy it were not to recount the number of the houses, squares, palaces, and temples which were lost: But foremost in antiquity and primitive rites, were the following edifices, that dedicated by Servius Tullius to the Moon; the Temple and great Altar consecrated by Evander the Arcadian to Hercules then a living Deity, and present in person; the Chapel vowed by Romulus to Jupiter the Stayer; the Court of Numa, with the Temple of Vesta, and in it the tutelar Gods peculiar to the Romans; all now consumed to ruins. In the same fate were involved the treasures acquired and accumulated by so many victories; the beautiful productions of Greek artists, ancient writings of celebrated Authors, and till then preserved perfectly intire, which, though many of them were still remembered by aged men, yet even upon the restoration of the city with such mighty lustre and embellishments, could never be retrieved nor supplied. There were those who observed, that on the eighteenth of July the fire began, the same day on which the Gauls, called Senones, having taken and spoiled the city, burnt it to the ground: Others were so curious in their calculation, as to reckon the just number of years, months and days between the two conflagrations.*

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For the rest; Nero appropriated to himself the ruins of his native country, and upon them founded a palace, one where profusion of gold and precious stones, raised not the chief admiration; since these were stale and usual ornaments, such as from diffusive luxury were become long common: But the principal surprize arose from the spacious glades, and large artificial lakes. In imitation of vast wildernesses, here stood thick woods and shades; there lay ample lawns, avenues, and open views. The projectors and comptrollers of this plan, were Severus and Celer, two men of such temerity and enterprizing talents, as to attempt to remove by art the everlasting obstacles of nature, and to baffle, in vain experiments, all the Emperor’s power. For they had undertaken to sink a navigable canal from the lake Avernus to the mouth of the Tiber, over a dry and desert shore, or through steep intervening mountains. Yet in all that way, they could not have encountered any source of moisture for supplying water, save only the marsh Pomptina: The rest was every where a succession of rocks, or a soil perched and untractable: Or, had it even been possible to have broke through all obstruction, intolerable had been the toil, and the end incompetent. Nero however, zealous for atchieving feats which were deemed incredible, exerted all his might to perforate the mountains adjoining to Avernus; and to this day remain the traces of his romantic and abortive ambition.

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The remainder of the old foundations, which his own court covered not, was assigned for houses; nor were these placed, as after it was burnt by the Gauls, at random and stragling; but the streets were delineated regularly, spacious and streight; the height of the buildings was restrained to a certain standard; the courts were widened; and, to all the great houses which stood by themselves, for securing their fronts, large Porticos were added. These Porticos Nero engaged to rear at his own expence, and then to deliver to each proprietor the squares about them, discharged of all rubbish. He moreover assigned donatives proportioned to every man’s rank and substance; and set a day for payment, on condition that against that day their several houses or palaces were finished. He appointed the marshes of Ostia for a receptacle of the ruins, and that with these the vessels, which had conveyed grain up the Tiber, should return laden back; that the new buildings should be raised to a certain height from the foundation, without rafters or boards; that they should be arched and partitioned with stone from the quarries of Gabii or Alba, the same being proof against the violence of fire: That over the common springs, which were licentiously diverted and wasted by private hands, overseers should be placed, to provide for their flowing in greater abundance into the public cisterns, and for supplying a greater number of places: That every housekeeper should furnish his yard with some machine Edition: current; Page: [697]proper to extinguish fire; neither should there be any more a common intermediate wall between house and house, but within its own independent walls every house should be enclosed. These regulations, which importing the general benefit of the citizens, were popularly received, derived also much beauty and decoration upon the new city. Yet, some there were who believed the ancient form and structure more conducing to health; as from the narrowness of the streets, and the height of the building, the rays of the sun were hardly felt or admitted; whereas now, so spacious was the breadth of the streets, and so utterly destitute of all shade, that the heat scorched with unabated rage.

Thus far the provisions made, were the result of counsels purely human. The Gods are next accosted with expiations, and recourse had to the Sibyll’s Books. By admonition from them, to Vulcan, Ceres and Proserpina, supplicatory sacrifices were made, and Juno atoned by the devotion of Matrons, first solemnized in the Capitol, then upon the next shore, where by water drawn from the sea the Temple and Image of the Goddess were besprinkled, and her feast and wake were celebrated by Ladies who had husbands. But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the Prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the Gods, availed to acquit Nero from the hideous charge, which was still universally believed, Edition: current; Page: [698]that by him the conflagration was authorized. Hence to suppress the prevailing rumour, he transferred the guilt upon fictitious criminals, and subjected to most exquisite tortures, and doomed to executions singularly cruel those people who, for their detestable crimes were already in truth universally abhorred, and known to the vulgar by the name of Christians. The founder of this name was Christ, one who in the reign of Tiberius suffered death as a criminal, under Pontius Pilate Imperial Procurator of Judæa, and, for a while, the pestilent superstition was quelled, but revived again and spread, not only over Judæa, where this evil was first broached, but even through Rome, the great gulph into which, from every quarter of the earth, there are torrents for ever flowing of all that is hideous and abominable amongst men: Nay, in it the filthy glut of iniquity never fails to find popular reverence and distinction. First therefore were seized such as freely owned their sect, then, a vast multitude by them discovered; and all were convicted, not so much for the imputed crime of burning Rome, as for their hate and enmity to human kind. To their death and torture were added the aggravations of cruel derision and sport; for, either they were disguised in the skins of savage beasts, and exposed to expire by the teeth of devouring dogs; or they were hoisted up alive, and nailed to crosses; or wrapt in combustible vestments, and set up as torches, that, when the day set, they might Edition: current; Page: [699]be kindled to illuminate the night. For presenting this tragical spectacle, Nero had lent his own gardens, and exhibited at the same time the public diversion of the Circus, sometimes driving a chariot in person, and, at intervals, standing as a spectator amongst the vulgar, in the habit of a charioteer. Hence it proceeded, that towards the miserable sufferers, however guilty and justly deserving the most exemplary death, popular commiseration arose, as for people who, with no view to the utility of the State, but only to gratify the bloody spirit of one man, were doomed to perish.

In the mean time, in order to supply his prodigality with money, all Italy was pillaged, the Provinces were squeezed and desolated; so were the several nations our confederates, and all those cities which have the title of free. In this general spoil, even the Gods were involved, their Temples in the City plundered, and from thence all the treasures of gold conveyed, which the Roman people, in every age of their state, either as monuments of triumphs celebrated, or of vows fulfilled, had solemnly consecrated, both in their times of prosperity, and in seasons of public peril. Through Greece, and Asia, in truth, the Deities were not only despoiled of their gifts and oblations, but even of their Statues and Images; for, into these Provinces, and with this commission, had been sent Acratus his freedman, and Secundus Carinas, the former a prompt instrument to execute any iniquity, however black and flagrant; Edition: current; Page: [700]the other a man practised in the Greek learning, which however sunk no deeper than his lips, and with virtuous acquirements he had never formed his soul. Of Seneca it was reported, “That to avert from himself the odium and imputation of this sacrilege, he had besought Nero for leave to retire to a seat of his own, remote from Rome, but was refused, and thence feigning an indisposition in his nerves, confined himself to his chamber.” It is by some authors recorded, That a freedman of his, named Cleonicus, had, by the command of Nero, prepared poison for his master, who escaped it, either from the discovery made by the freedman, or from the caution inspired by his own incessant apprehensions; while with a diet exceeding simple he supported an abstemious life, satisfying the call of hunger by wild fruit from the woods, and of thirst by a draught from the brook.”

About the same time a body of Gladiators, who were kept at the city of Præneste, laboured an escape and revolt; and though by the diligence of the soldiers who guarded them they were mastered and suppressed, the people were already in busy murmurs reviving the terror of Spartacus and the public miseries of old; fond as they ever are of agitations and novelty, yet ever frightened by them. Nor was it long after this that a fatal disaster befel the fleet, from no encounter in war; for scarce ever was known a time of such profound peace: Edition: current; Page: [701]But Nero had ordered the gallies to return to the coast of Campania at a limited day, without any allowance made for the changes and casualties of the deep. So that the Pilots, even while the sea raged, steered from the port of Formia, and, by a violent tempest from the South, while they struggled to double the Cape of Misenum, were driven upon the shore of Cuma, where many gallies of three banks of oars, and a number of smaller vessels, were wrecked.

In the close of the year, the heads and mouths of the people were filled with a long rote of prodigies, as so many heralds of impending calamities. At no time had thunder roared, or lightning shot with such fierceness and frequency, besides the appearance of a Comet, an omen ever expiated by Nero with the effusion of illustrious blood. In the streets and roads were found exposed several monstrous births with double heads, some of the human species, some of brutes; as also from the bellies of victims some such were taken, when for the sacrifice custom required beasts that are pregnant: And in the territory of Placentia, by the side of the public way, was brought forth a calf with its head growing upon its leg, a prodigy which, according to the interpretation returned by the Soothsayers, boded, “That for human kind another head was preparing, but one which would never arrive at strength, or remain concealed; for that this which presaged it, had lain repressed Edition: current; Page: [702]in the womb, and then issued into the world close by the public road.”

Silius Nerva and Atticus Vestinus commenced Consuls, during the progress of a conspiracy so vigorous that to the same moment it owed its beginning and advancement. In it Senators, Knights, soldiers, and even women, had engaged with a spirit of eagerness and competition; such was their detestation of Nero, and equally strong their zeal for Caius Piso. This Patrician, a descendent of the Calpurnian house, and by the nobleness of his paternal blood, allied to many illustrious families, was, for his own virtue, or for qualities that resembled virtues, held amongst the populace in signal applause: for, as he was a master of eloquence, he employed it in the patronage and defence of his fellow citizens; he was generous to his friends and acquaintance; and even toward such as were unknown to him, complaisant in his language and address. He possessed, with these advantages, others that were fortuitous, tallness of person and a graceful countenance: But strictness of life and manners he never practised, nor observed restraints in his pleasures; the ways of delicacy he ever indulged, as also those of magnificence, sometimes the excesses of luxury. Many too there were who approved this his conduct, such who, in a general prevalence of debauchery, would not have the supreme head confined in his morals, nor strictly severe.

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It was from no ambition or pursuit of his that the birth of the conspiracy sprung; and yet I could not easily recount who he was that first concerted it, nor who animated a design which was by such a number espoused. That Subrius Flavius Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort, and Sulpicius Asper the Centurion, were the keenest champions in it, the spirit and constancy with which they encountered death, do abundantly evince. Lucan the Poet, and Plautius Lateranus, Consul elect, concurred from ardent animosity and hate, the former stimulated by personal provocations, for that Nero had obstructed the fame of his Poems, and, from a ridiculous emulation, forbid their publication. Lateranus was piqued by no injury done to himself, but, from sincere affection to the Republic, became an accomplice. But there were two men, Flavius Scevinus and Afranius Quinctianus, both Senators, who, by engaging in an enterprize so great and daring, and even claiming to be foremost in the execution, departed from the constant character of their lives; for, Scevinus had a soul drowned in sensuality, and thence led a stupid life devoted to sleep and sloth: Quinctianus was infamous for unnatural prostitution; and, having been by Nero exposed in a virulent Satire, to revenge the indignity he conspired.

Now as all these, as well in conferences with one another, as amongst their friends, were ever displaying “the inhuman cruelties Edition: current; Page: [704]of the Prince, the condition of the Empire, threatened with instant dissolution, and the necessity of substituting in his place some one capable of relieving the afflicted state;” they drew into the combination Tullius Senecio, Cervarius Proculus, Vulcatus Araricus, Julius Tugurinus, Munatius Gratus, Antonius Natalis, and Martius Festus, all Roman Knights. Of these Senecio, who had lived in singular intimacy with Nero, and preserved even then the face of favour, was thence the more encompassed with dread and danger. To Natalis all the secret purposes in the heart of Piso were open without reserve: secret views governed the rest, and they sought their own interest in a change. Of the men of the sword, besides Subrius and Sulpicius, the officers already mentioned, there were assumed as accomplices, Granius Silvanus and Statius Proximus, Tribunes of the Prætorian bands, with the Centurions Maximus Scaurus, and Venetus Paullus. But, as their main strength and dependence, they considered Fenius Rufus, Captain of the Imperial Guards, a man for life and estimation, in signal credit and popularity, one who exposed himself to daily perils from the hate and persecution of Tigellinus, his collegue, who, by the recommendations of a cruel spirit, and manners altogether impure, had gained a superior ascendancy in the heart of the Prince, and, labouring to destroy him by forged crimes, had often well nigh effected Edition: current; Page: [705]his destruction, by alarming Nero with the views and discontents of Rufus, “as one who had been engaged in a criminal commerce with Agrippina, and, in anguish and resentment for her untimely end, was bent upon vengeance.” As soon therefore as the conspirators had, from the frequent discourse of the Captain, received full conviction that he too had embraced their party, they proceeded more resolutely to debate about the time and place of the assassination. It was reported, “That Subrius Flavius had undertaken to make the first onset, and assail Nero, either while he was chanting in the Theatre, or scouring from place to place, in his drunken revels by night, unattended by his guards.” In the latter project an incitement from solitude; in the former, even the great conflux of people, all witnesses of an exploit so glorious, had roused his soul, to a purpose so full of nobleness and merit, had not a sollicitude to execute it with impunity, restrained him; a consideration which, in all grand enterprizes, is ever unseasonable and fatal.

In the mean time, while they were hesitating and protracting the issue of their hopes and fears, a certain woman, named Epicharis, applied herself to rouse the conspirators; though it was a perfect mystery by what means she came at all apprized of the conspiracy (for till then she had never shewn any regard to aught that was worthy or honourable) at last, she became impatient of their slowness, and retireing Edition: current; Page: [706]to Campania, employed all her industry and skill to alienate the hearts of the chief officers in the fleet riding at Misenum; and, to engage them in the design, she began in the following manner. In that fleet Volusius Proculus had the command of a thousand marines, one of the ministers of blood employed to dispatch the mother of Nero, and, in his own opinion, not distinguished with promotion equal to the mighty and meritorious murder. As this officer, whether from old acquaintance with Epicharis, or a friendship newly contracted, recounted to her “his signal services to Nero, and how fruitless they had been bestowed,” and as he subjoined “bitter complaints, with a settled resolution of taking vengeance whenever opportunity arose,” she conceived hopes that he might be engaged himself in the design, and to it conciliate many others. Nor of small moment was the aid and concurrence of the fleet, and frequent were the opportunities of exerting it, as Nero took singular delight in sailing often about the coasts of Misenum and Puzzoli. Epicharis therefore, in answer to Proculus, urged many reasonings, with a detail of all the crying cruelties committed by the Prince. She added, “That to the Senate nothing remained to be done towards accomplishing his fall; only it was already determined to what pains the tyrant must be doomed for destroying the Roman state, What therefore was to be expected from Edition: current; Page: [707]Proculus, but that he should assume the task with zeal, associate in the cause all the bravest soldiers; and then depend upon a recompence worthy of such sublime service.” From him, however, she concealed the names of the conspirators: hence it was that even when he had betrayed to Nero her whole discourse, his discovery availed nothing. For, when Epicharis was summoned, and confronted with the informer, as his charge against her was supported by no witnesses, she found it easy to refute and baffle him. After all, she was detained in prison, because Nero vehemently suspected, that these matters were not the more false for not being proved to be true.

Notwithstanding the silence of Epicharis, the conspirators, who were thoroughly alarmed with the dread of a discovery, came to a result to hasten the assassination, and to do it at Baiæ in a villa belonging to Piso, whither the Emperor often resorted, charmed with the loveliness of the place, and there wont to bath and banquet, remote from his guards and the other incumbrances of Imperial state. But in this, Piso would by no means concur: he alledged “the general abhorrence which must ensue, were the inviolable rites of the table, were the Gods of hospitality, defiled by the blood of a Prince, however vile he were: hence it were more adviseable to dispatch him at Rome, in that same detested house which with the spoils of the unhappy Edition: current; Page: [708]citizens he had reared; or, rather they ought, in the face of the public, to execute a deed, which for the benefit of the public they had undertaken.” Thus he reasoned openly amongst the conspirators, but, his heart, was influenced by secret jealousy, as he dreaded Lucius Silanus a man of transcendent quality, and, by the tuition of Caius Cassius, by whom he was bred, ennobled with accomplishments proper for every the most resplendent dignity; lest Silanus might seize the vacant sovereignty for himself, as he would be sure of instant assistance from all such as were clear of the conspiracy, and from all those who should prove affected with compassion for Nero, as for one traiterously slain. There were many who believed, that “Piso likewise distrusted the lively and turbulent spirit of the Consul Vestinus, whether he might not be prompted to restore liberty and the ancient government, or else, procuring some other than Piso to be chosen Emperor, turn the Republic into a gift of his own bestowing.” For in the conspiracy he had no share, though Nero afterwards, under the imputation of this very crime, doomed him an innocent sacrifice to satiate his own inveterate rancour.

At length they agreed to perpetrate their designs upon the anniversary sacred to Ceres, and always solemnized with the Circensian games; for that, the Emperor who otherwise came seldom abroad, but remained shut up in Edition: current; Page: [709]his apartments or gardens, was yet wont to frequent the diversions of the Circus, where, during the gayety and pleasures of the sports, access to him was more readily obtained. The scheme of their plot they contrived on this wise: “Lateranus, in the posture of a supplicant, and feigning to implore relief in his domestic affairs, was to fall at the Prince’s feet, and, while he apprehended no such attempt, throw him down, and, as Lateranus was of a daring spirit and huge in stature, hold him fixt to the place. While he lay thus pressed and entangled, the Tribunes, Centurions, and all the rest, according as they felt themselves prompted by present impulse and magnanimity, were instantly to rush in and slay him. That Scevinus should be the foremost to strike,” was a task by himself earnestly claimed; for, from the Temple of Health in Etruria, or, as others have recorded, from that of Fortune in the city of Ferentum, he had brought away a dagger, and carried it constantly about him, as a weapon consecrated to the perpetration of a deed of mighty moment. It was moreover concluded, “That Piso should wait the event in the Temple of Ceres, and be thence brought forth by Fenius, Captain of the Guards, and the other conspirators, and conducted to the camp; moreover, in order to attract the affections of the populace, Antonia, daughter of the late emperor Claudius, was to accompany him.” A particular Edition: current; Page: [710]recorded by Caius Plinius; for myself, I was determined to suppress no circumstance in what way soever delivered; however marvellous and inconsistent it may seem, that either Antonia should contribute her name, and risque her life, to promote a scheme, to herself altogether fruitless and vain; or, that Piso, a man universally known to have been passionately fond of his wife, should engage to marry another; were it not that, of all the passions which actuate the heart of man, the lust of reigning is the most vehement and flaming.

But, wonderful it was, in a combination so numerous, so variously framed, amongst those of every condition, different in rank, in quality, sex, and age, many wealthy, many poor, all things should be buried in such faithful secrecy, till from the family of Scevinus the traiterous discovery first arose. The day before that of the designed assassination, he had been engaged in a long conference with Antonius Natalis, and immediately, upon returning home, sealed his will; then unsheathing the dagger mentioned above, he complained that it had lain so long neglected till it was become blunt, ordered it to be grinded into an edge, and the point to be accurately sharpened. The charge of this he committed to Milichus, one of his freedmen, and next betook himself to a repast more gaudy and profuse than ordinary. His favourite slaves he presented with their liberty, others with Edition: current; Page: [711]sums of money; upon his countenance too there hung clouds and melancholy; and it was apparent, that his mind laboured with some grand design, though he counterfeited cheerfulness by many starts of discourse upon as many subjects. At last, he directed the same Milichus to prepare bandages for wounds, and applications for stopping blood; whether the freedman were in truth already privy to the conspiracy, and had hitherto persevered in fidelity, or whether he were utterly in the dark, and then first, as several authors have written, gathered from consequences his sudden suspicion. For, when the freedman, still acted by the base spirit of a slave, revolved with himself the recompence to be expected from proveing a traitor to his master, and at the same time beheld, as already his own, immense wealth and potent sway; he renounced at once every tie of faith, all tenderness for his Lord, and all remembrance of liberty by him generously bestowed. In truth, besides his own mercenary motives, he had taken counsel of his wife, a woman’s counsel and the worst; for she was ever urging him with the dreadful peril of hiding treason, “That many freedmen, many slaves, had beheld, as well as he, the same things, and of no availment would prove the silence of one; and yet only by one, whoever he were who first discovered, would all the rewards be reaped.”

Milichus, therefore, at the first dawn of day, went straight to the Gardens of Servilius, Edition: current; Page: [712]where Nero then abode, and, being refused admittance, declared that he brought “mighty and horrible discoveries,” with such earnestness, that he was conducted by the porters to Epaphroditus, a freedman of Nero’s, and by him forthwith to Nero himself. To him he represented, “what formidable conspiracies were concerted, what mortal danger was just impending,” with all the circumstances which he had heard, with whatever from his own observation he conjectured, and even shewing the dagger destined to destroy him, desired the criminal to be instantly produced. Scevinus was by the soldiers haled hastily thither, and proceeding to his defence, answered, “That for the dagger with which he was charged, it was a relique left him by his forefathers, ever held sacred in their family, by himself always kept in his chamber, and from thence traiterously conveyed away by his freedman. New wills he had often made, and sealed them, without observing any distinction of days. Frequently before this, he had bestowed upon his slaves liberty and largesses, lately with the greater liberality, for that, his fortune being reduced, and his creditors importunate, he distrusled his power of gratifying his domestics by legacies. A generous table he had ever kept, and ever indulged himself in a life of ease and pleasure, such as by the rigid censurers of manners, was but little approved. Dresses for wounds, he had ordered none; but, as Edition: current; Page: [713]all the other imputations objected by his freedman, were manifestly impotent and vain, he had invented and added a charge of treason, such as might enable him to be at once witness and accuser.” His words he enforced with an undaunted spirit; he even charged the accuser, as “a fellow altogether pestilent and traiterous, and his testimony incompetent,” with a voice and countenance so intrepid, that the informer must have been baffled, but for his wife. She advertised him, that “with Scevinus, Antonius Natalis had held a long conversation and exceeding secret, and that both were close confidents of Caius Piso.

Natalis therefore was called, and both were examined, but apart, concerning “the particulars, and the subject of that conversation.” As their answers varied, cause of suspicion arose, and they were thrown into irons; but the sight of the rack, and the menaces of torture, neither could bear. Natalis however was foremost to confess, as better acquainted with the whole order and progress of the conspiracy, and withal more expert in impeaching. First, he discovered how far Piso was concerned, afterwards to him he added Seneca; whether he had indeed acted as an inter-agent between him and Piso, or whether he only did it to purchase the favour of Nero, who, in ardent hate to Seneca, was daily hunting after all sorts of devices to destroy him. Now Scevinus, having learnt that by Edition: current; Page: [714]Natalis a confession was made, yielded to the same imbecility of spirit; or, perhaps, he believed that already the confederacy was, in every particular, disclosed, and from his own silence no emolument to be expected. Hence he declared all the other accomplices. Of these Lucan and Quinctianus, and Senecio, persisted long in denying the charge; but at length, by a promise of their exemption from punishment, they suffered themselves to be corrupted; then, to atone for their late slowness, they named their dearest friends. Lucan informed against Attilla, his own mother, Quinctianus against Glicius Gallus, and Senecio against Annius Pollio.

Nero, the while recollected that, upon the evidence of Volusius Proculus, Epicharis was holden in custody, and, supposing that the tender body of a woman could never endure the rage of the rack, ordered her to be crushed and mangled with variety of torments. But neither the fury of stripes, nor of fire, nor of the torturers, who tore her with the more vehemence, lest, with all their dexterity and efforts in cruelty, they should be at last scorned and baffled by a woman, could at all vanquish her. She still utterly denied every particular objected; this was the issue of the torture the first day, and by her its violence was despised. The day following, as she was returning to suffer a repetition of the same outrageous torments, and reconducted in a chair (for, all her members being rent and disjointed, she Edition: current; Page: [715]could not support herself) with the girdle that bound her breasts, she framed a noose for her neck, and tying it to the canopy of the chair, hung upon it with all the weight of her body, and thence dislodged the slender remains of life. Behind her she left an example the more signal and heroic, for that a woman who was once a slave, should, upon an occasion so trying and important, undergo torture and death, to protect such to whom she had no tye of kindred or friendship, nay, such as she scarce knew; when men, men born free, when Roman Knights, and Senators of Rome, without once feeling the torture, betrayed, without exception, every one the dearest pledges which he had in friendship and blood. For, Lucan too and Senecio, and Quinctianus, never ceased making discoveries, and were still naming more accomplices; a detail which was incessantly adding to the affright and dismay of Nero; though he had, with guards redoubled, fenced himself in. Nay, as if he meant to have imprisoned Rome itself; upon the walls, all round, bands of soldiers were posted: even the sea and the Tiber were garrisoned. Moreover, parties of foot and horse were perpetually ranging every-where, in the public squares, in private houses, even through the circumjacent territory, and neighbouring municipal towns. But, with both horse and foot, there were Germans intermixt; for, in them, as they were foreigners, the Prince chiefly confided. Thenceforth, the accused were haled in whole droves, Edition: current; Page: [716]numbers after numbers, without intermission, towards his tribunal, and lay in miserable expectation, at the gates of his Garden. When they had entered, in order to be successively heard, if it appeared, “that they had ever been seen gay or smiling with any of the conspirators, or happened to speak to them, though fortuitously, or to meet them, however unexpectedly, or to have been common guests at the same table, or sat together at some public shew;” all this, or any part of it, was imputed as guilt and treason. Besides the cruel scrutiny made by Nero and Tigellinus, violent were the questions and imputations urged by Fenius Rufus, who had as yet escaped all information, and, to beget a persuasion, that he had been an utter stranger to the plot, manifested himself now stern and outrageous against his own associates. Nay, it was he that frustrated the bold purpose of Subrius Flavius, who, while he attended, and demanded by signs, whether he should draw his sabre, and, even in the heat of the inquest, perpetrate the assassination, was by contrary signs from Rufus forbid, and his ardour checked, when already his hand grasped the hilt.

There were those who, when the conspiracy was first betrayed, while Milichus was yet under examination, while Scevinus wavered, exhorted Piso, “to proceed directly to the Camp, or mount the Rostrum, and try the affections of the people and soldiery; Edition: current; Page: [717]for, if once his accomplices were openly assembled to maintain his efforts, those too who were not engaged, would certainly follow; and, when the commotion was once begun, mighty would be the public noise and alarm; an incident which, in all new attempts, is of infinite availment. Neither was Nero provided to resist the shock. With terrors that come sudden and unforeseen, even brave men were daunted; how little then was it to be apprehended that, that Comedian, guarded forsooth by Tigellinus with his host of harlots, would dare to risque a conflict of arms? Many designs there were, which, though to dastardly spirits they appeared arduous and impossible, were yet accomplished by trying to accomplish them. In such a mixt multitude, engaged in the plot, or privy to it, it was vain to expect constant faith and secrecy; or, that the minds of all would be proof against temptation, and their bodies against pain. To the force of recompences and tortures nothing was impenetrable; nay, there would soon arrive men, who would commit to bonds Piso himself, and at length subject him to a contumelious death. But with how much more glory and renown, would he fall, while he espoused the Commonwealth, bravely invoking aid, and rousing champions for public Liberty; while, even though the soldiers failed him, though the people forsook him, he still persisted, and, by losing Edition: current; Page: [718]his life, approved his death worthy of his ancestors, glorious to his posterity?” But, upon Piso these reasonings had no influence. After he had appeared for a small space abroad, he retired to privacy at home, and was preparing his mind to encounter a deliberate death, when at his house arrived a band of soldiers, all young men, either in years or service, purposely culled by Nero, who dreaded the old soldiers, as tinctured with partiality for the conspirators. Then it was, that causing the veins in both his arms to be broached, he expired. He left a will full of noisome flattery to Nero, thus framed in tenderness to his wife, a woman of vitious conduct, void of every recommendation save the beauty of her person, one whom he had ravished from her husband, a friend of his own, his name Domitius Silius, and hers Arria Galla; and both concurred, he by his passiveness, she by her wantonness, to blaze the dishonour of Piso.

The next death added by Nero to this, was that of Plautius Lateranus, Consul elect, and inflicted with such precipitation, that he would not allow him to pay the last embraces to his children, nor that short interval wont to be indulged to the condemned, for chusing their own death. Instantly he was dragged to the place allotted for the execution of slaves, and there, by the hand of Statius the Tribune, slaughtered. He died full of exemplary firmness and invincible silence, nor once upbraiding the Tribune with an equal participation Edition: current; Page: [719]in the conspiracy. The bloody doom of Seneca followed, to the infinite joy of the Prince, from no proof that he had of his engagement in the plot, but to satiate his own cruelty, that the raging sword might perpetrate what had been by poison unsuccessfully attempted. For, Natalis only had named him; but concerning him could discover no more than thus much, “That he had been by Piso sent to visit Seneca, then indisposed, to complain in his name, that he himself was refused admittance; and withal to represent, that it would be better if they maintained their friendship in free and familiar intercourse; that to this Seneca replied, That the maintaining of frequent conversations and interviews by themselves, was conducing to the service of neither, but upon the safety of Piso his own security rested.” Granius Silvanus, Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort, was ordered to represent all this to Seneca, and to demand of him, whether he owned the words of Natalis, and his own answers. Seneca had that very day, either from chance or foresight, returned from Campania, and rested at a villa of his, four miles from Rome. Thither arrived the Tribune in the evening, beset the villa with his men, and to him, as he sat at table with Paullina his wife, and two friends, delivered his orders from the Emperor.

Seneca replied, “That Natalis had, in truth, been sent to him, and in the name of Edition: current; Page: [720]Piso complained, that the latter was debarred from visiting him; a complaint which he had answered by excuses taken from his bodily disorder and desire of quiet; but still he never had any motive to declare, that to his own security he preferred the safety of a private man. A genius addicted to flatter, he never had, as no man better knew than Nero, who from Seneca had felt more frequent proofs of freedom than servility.” When this his answer was by the Tribune reported to Nero, in presence of Poppæa and Tigellinus, who were assistants to the rageing tyrant, and composed his cabinet council, he asked, whether Seneca were determined upon a voluntary death? The Tribune averred, “That he had manifested no one symptom of fear, and neither in his words nor looks was aught of anguish to be discovered.” Hence, he was commanded to return directly, and carry him the denunciation of death. Fabius Rusticus writes, “That the Tribune took not now the same road which he came, but wheeling aside to Fenius, Captain of the guards, and disclosing the Emperor’s orders, demanded whether he should obey him, and was by him admonished to pursue them.” Such was the fatal spiritlessness and timidity of all the conspirators! Silvanus too was one, and yet contributing to multiply the same bloody iniquities which he had conspired to avenge. He avoided, however, seeing Seneca, and delivering in person the sad message, but Edition: current; Page: [721]sent in a Centurion to apprize him of “his final doom.”

The denunciation no wise dismayed Seneca, who called calmly for his will, and, as this was prohibited by the Centurion, turning to his friends, he told them, “That since he was disabled from a grateful requital of their benefits, he bequeathed them that which alone was now left him, yet something more glorious and amiable than all the rest, the pattern of his life; if they retained the impressions and resemblance of this, they would thence reap the applause of virtuous manners, as well as that of persevering in their friendship.” He withal repressed their tears, sometimes with gentle reasoning, sometimes in the stile of authority and correction, and strove to recover them to resolution and constancy. “Where, he often asked, where were now all the documents of philosophy? Where, that philosophical principle, for so many years premeditated, against the sudden encounter of calamities? For, to whom was unknown the bloody nature of Nero? Nor, after the butchering of his mother, and the murdering of his brother, did aught remain, to consummate his cruelty, but to add to theirs the slaughter of his nursing-father and instructor.”

Having uttered these and the like reasonings, directed to the company in general, he embraced his wife; an affecting object, which somewhat abated his firmness, and softened Edition: current; Page: [722]him into anxiety for her future lot; he pressed and besought her, to moderate her sorrow, to “beware of perpetuating such a dismal passion; but to bear the death of her husband by contemplating his life spent in a steady course of virtue, and to support his loss by all worthy consolations.” Paullina, on the contrary, urged her purpose to die with him, and called for the aid of a minister of death. Upon this declaration, Seneca would not bereave her of so much glory; such besides was his fondness for her, that he was loth to leave one by himself beloved above all things, exposed to insults and injuries: “I had laid before thee, said he, the delights and solacements of living; thou preferrest the renown of dying; I shall not envy thee the honour of the example. Between us let us equally share the fortitude of an end so brave, but greater will be the splendour of thy particular fall.” Presently after this conversation, both had the veins of their arms opened, at the same instant. Seneca was aged, his body cold, and extenuated by feeble diet, so that the issues of his blood were exceeding slow; hence he caused to be cut the veins also of his legs and those about the joints of his knees. As he was succumbing under many grievous agonies, he persuaded her to retire into another chamber, lest his own sufferings might vanquish the resolution of his wife, or he himself, by beholding her pangs, lapse into weakness and impatience; and, his eloquence Edition: current; Page: [723]flowing even to the last moment of his life, he called for his scribes, and to them dictated many things, which being already published in his own words, and common, I forbear to rehearse in any words of mine.

Towards Paullina, Nero bore no personal hate, and, to avoid feeding the public abhorrence of his cruelty, ordered her death to be prevented. Hence, at the persuasion of the soldiers, her domestic slaves and freedmen bound up her arms, and staid the blood; but, whether with her own concurrence, is uncertain. For, as the populace in their censure are rather prone to malignancy, there were some who believed, “that while she feared the wrath of Nero as implacable, she aimed at the applause of dying with her husband; but, as soon as gentler hopes occurred, she became vanquished with the sweetness and allurements of life:” to which it is certain, she added but a small portion of years, ever retaining for the memory of her husband a reverence worthy of all praise; her face too, and all her limbs, were still covered with such deadly paleness, that it was notorious the principles of life had been in a great measure exhausted. Seneca, the while, afflicted with the tedious protraction of life, and the slow advances of death, besought Statius Annæus, one long proved by him for faith in friendship and skill in medicine, to bring him a draught of the poison, which a great while ago he had laid up in store, the same sort which is used at Edition: current; Page: [724]Athens, to dispatch such as are by the public judgment condemned. This he swallowed, but in vain; for already all his limbs were chilled, all his juices stagnated and impenetrable to the rapidity of poison. He therefore had recourse to a hot bath, from whence he besprinkled such of his slaves as stood nearest, adding, that “of this liquor he made a libation to Jupiter the deliverer.” From thence he was conveyed into a stove, and suffocated with the steam. His corps was burnt without any funeral solemnity; for thus in his will he had enjoined, even then when, in the plenitude of his opulence and authority, he had provided for his decease and obsequies.

A rumour there was, that Subrius Flavius, in a secret consultation with the Centurions, and even with the privacy of Seneca, had determined, that, as soon as by the aid of Piso, Nero was slain, Piso too should be dispatched, and the Empire transferred to Seneca, as one exempt from all reproach, and only “for the fame and resplendency of his virtues, preferred to the supreme dignity.” Nay, even the words said to have been by Flavius then uttered, became current, “That it would nothing avail towards abolishing the public contumely, to depose a Minstrel, if to the vacant purple a Tragedian succeeded.” For, as Nero was wont to sing to the harp, so was Piso to chant in the accent and dress of tragedy.

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Now neither could the share of the soldiers in the conspiracy be kept longer a mystery; such was the temptation and eagerness of the discoverers to betray Fenius Rufus, whom they could not bear both for an accomplice and inquisitor. Hence it was, that in the examination of Scevinus, while Rufus urged him to a full confession, with much vehemence and many menaces; the other smiled, and told him, “That in all the particulars of the plot, no man was more knowing than himself;” he even exhorted him, “to make suitable returns of gratitude to so good a Prince.” To refute the charge, Fenius had not a syllable to utter, nor yet would acquiesce in silence, but faultring and perplexed in his speech, exposed notoriously his inward dismay. At the same time the rest, chiefly Cervarius Proculus, a Roman Knight, combining with all their might to convict him, one Cassius a soldier, who, for his signal strength of body, was appointed to attend the trials, laid hold upon him, by the Emperor’s order, and cast him into bonds.

In the detection made by the same men, Subrius Flavius, the Tribune, was next fatally involved. At first he aimed at a defence, and pleaded “the diversity of his profession and manners from those of the conspirators: for that, never for the execution of an attempt so great and daring, would he, who was a man of arms, have leagued with such as were resigned to effeminacy, and never Edition: current; Page: [726]bore any.” But, at last, finding himself pushed with questions and circumstances, he aspired to the glory of confession; and, in answer to Nero, who asked him from what provocations he had slighted the obligation of his oath; “I abhorred thee, said he, though, amongst all thy soldiery, none was more faithful and affectionate than I, as long as thou didst merit affection. With thy own detestable crimes my abhorrence of thee began, after thou hadst become the murderer of thy mother, the murderer of thy wife, a Charioteer, a Comedian, and the Incendiary that set fire to Rome.” I have repeated his very words; for they were not divulged abroad, like those of Seneca: nor less worthy to be known were the sentiments of a man of the sword, which, however artless and unpolite, are vigorous and brave. It was apparent, that this whole conspiracy had afforded nothing, which proved more bitter and pungent than this to the ears of Nero, who was abandoned to every black iniquity, but unaccustomed and too imperious to be upbraided afterwards with his flagitious doings. The execution of Flavius was committed to the Tribune Veianus Niger, and in the next field, by his direction, was digged a funeral trench, which Flavius derided, “as too streight and shallow;” and, applying to the guard of soldiers, “This, says he, is not so much as according to the laws of discipline.” Being admonished by the Tribune, to extend his neck valiantly, “I Edition: current; Page: [727]wish, replied he, thou mayst strike with equal valour.” In truth, Niger was totally overcome by a violent trembling, and hardly at two blows beheaded him; hence, to magnify his own cruelty, he boasted to Nero, that in putting him to death, he designedly employed more strokes than one.

The next example of constancy and fortitude was administered by Sulpicius Asper, the Centurion, who, in answer to the question urged by Nero, why he had conspired to kill him, said in few words, “Other relief there was none against thy numberless and raging enormities;” and immediately underwent his prescribed doom. Nor did the other Centurions deviate in bravery and spirit, but gallantly faced death, and suffered its pains. In Fenius Rufus equal magnanimity was not found; nay, such and so permanent were his unmanly lamentations and anguish, that even in his last will, he bewailed himself. Great was the expectation which Nero was fostering, that Vestinus the Consul, would prove likewise involved in the treason, as he esteemed him a man of a violent spirit, and prompted by virulent hate and disaffection. But, to Vestinus the conspirators had imparted none of their counsels, some influenced by stale personal distastes, many because they believed him a man altogether precipitate and untractable. But, that which begot in Nero his enmity to Vestinus, was an intimate fellowship between them. From thence the latter throughly Edition: current; Page: [728]knew and scorned the vile cowardly heart of the Prince, and the Prince dreaded the haughty and vehement temper of his friend, by whom he had been frequently insulted with poignant and disdainful sarcasms, which, whenever they are seasoned with much truth, never fail to leave behind them a bitter and vengeful remembrance. A recent provocation had likewise occurred, Vestinus had taken to wife Statilia Messalina, though he was aware that amongst her other gallants, Cæsar too was one.

When therefore there appeared no accuser to charge him, no crime to be charged, Nero, since he could not satiate his rancour, under the title and guise of a Judge, flew to the violence of a Tyrant. Against him he dispatched Gerelanus the Tribune, at the head of five hundred men, with orders, “To obviate the attempts and machinations of the Consul, to take possession of his house so much resembling a citadel, and to subdue his domestic band of chosen youths:” for, the dwelling of Vestinus overlooked the great Forum, and he always kept a number of beautiful slaves, all of an age. He had that day discharged all the functions of Consul; he was afterwards celebrating a banquet at home, void of all fear, or, perhaps, by the gayety of feasting, seeking to hide his fears, when the soldiers entered. They told him, the Tribune had sent them to bring him; nor delayed he a jot, but rose from table, and in one and the Edition: current; Page: [729]same moment the hasty tragedy was begun and finished: he was shut up in a chamber, the physician attended, his veins were cut, and, while yet full of life, and his strength unabated, he was conveyed into a baghio and smothered with hot water; nor, under all this deadly denunciation and process, did a syllable escape him, importing the least regret or self-commiseration. In the mean time, the whole company who supped with him, were enclosed with a Guard, nor released till the night was far spent. Nero, after he had represented to himself the consternation of men, who from the joy of a feast, were waiting for their mortal doom, and had even made himself sport with their fears, declared at last, “That they had undergone penalty sufficient for their Consular supper.”

The next bloody sentence he pronounced, was against Lucan the Poet. He, while his blood issued in streams, perceiving his feet and hands to grow cold and stiffen, and life to retire by little and little from the extremities, while his heart was still beating with vital warmth, and his faculties no wise impaired, recollected some lines of his own, which described a wounded soldier expiring in a manner that resembled this. The lines themselves he rehearsed, and they were the last words he ever uttered. Thereafter Senecio, and Quinctianus, and Scevinus, suffered the violence of their fate, but with a spirit far different from the former effeminacy and voluptuousness of Edition: current; Page: [730]their lives. Anon too were executed the restdue of the conspirators, without aught memorable done or expressed by them.

Now, when Rome was filled with deaths, and coarses, and funerals, so was the Capitol with victims. One man had lost a son, one a brother, this a friend, that a kinsman; all fallen by the fury of the sword; and every man paid his public thanksgiving to the Gods, adorned his house with laurel, fell prostrate at the Emperor’s feet, embraced his knees, and worried his right hand with kisses. He, who believed all this to be a sincere manifestation of joy, rewarded Antonius Natalis and Cervarius Proculus with pardon, for their early confession and discovery. Upon Milichus was accumulated abundant wealth and recompence, and he assumed a Greek name, signifying Protector. Granius Silvanus, one of the conspiring Tribunes, though he was acquitted, fell by his own hand. Statius Proximus, another, frustrated the Prince’s pardon, by vainly engaging afterwards in another offence, and dying for it. Of their commands next were bereft the following Tribunes, Pompeius, Cornelius Martialis, Flavius Nepos, and Statius Domitius, for no charge as if towards the Emperor they bore any malevolence, but only that they were dreaded by him. To Nonius Priscus, to Glitius Gallus, and Annius Pollio, all obnoxious from their friendship to Seneca, and rather calumniated than convicted, banishment Edition: current; Page: [731]was adjudged. Antonia Flacilla accompanied Priscus her exiled husband; and Gallus too was attended by his wife Egnatia Maximilla, a couple at first possessed of wealth mighty and unimpaired, afterwards dispossessed of all, and, from both these different fortunes, their glory was augmented. Into banishment too was driven Rufius Crispinus, a punishment for which the conspiracy furnished a pretence; but the real cause was the antipathy of Nero, and his crime, to have been once the husband of Poppæa. Upon Virginius and Musonius Rufus, their own signal renown drew the severity of expulsion. They had both engaged the affections of the Roman youth, Virginius by lectures of Eloquence, Musonius by reasonings upon the precepts of Philosophy. Cluvidienus Quietus, Julius Agrippa, Blitius Catulinus, Petronius Priscus, and Julius Altinus, as if a host had been formed of criminals convict, and their doom and numbers displayed, were all at once condemned to be transported into the Islands of the Ægean sea. Cæsonius Maximus, and Cadicia the wife of Scevinus, were exterminated Italy, and, only by suffering the punishment of crimes, learnt that ever they had been charged as criminals. The information against Atilla, the mother of Lucan, was dissembled, and, without being cleared, she escaped unpunished.

Nero having accomplished all these matters, assembled the soldiery, entertained them with Edition: current; Page: [732]a speech, distributed amongst them a largess of fifty crowns a man; and whereas hitherto they had been supplied with grain at the established rate, he allowed it them thenceforth without payment. Then, as if he had been about to recount to the Senate the feats and events of a war, he ordered the fathers to assemble. Upon Petronius Turpilianus, the Consular, upon Cocceius Nerva, Prætor elect, and upon Tigellinus, Captain of the Prætorian Guards, he conferred the ornaments and distinction of triumph. Nay, to such notable eminence did he raise Tigellinus and Nerva, that, besides their triumphal Statues erected in the Forum, he would needs have their images placed likewise in the palace. To Nymphidius he granted the Consular decorations, a man concerning whom, since his name now first occurs, I shall here recite a few particulars. For, he too will have his share in the bloody calamities and vicislitudes of Rome. He was born of a manumised slave, who having a comely person, had prostituted the same to the domestics of the Emperors, bond and free without distinction; hence he boasted himself the son of Caligula, seeing, like him, he happened to be tall of stature, and of a countenance stern and terrible. Or, perhaps, it is likely that Caligula, who was addicted to the embraces of harlots, had also descended to gallantries with the mother of Nymphidius.

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Nero having thus assembled the fathers, and delivered a discourse concerning the late transactions, addressed an edict to the people upon the same subject, and published from records the several evidences against the condemned conspirators, as also their own confessions. He was, indeed, forely reproached by a rumour current amongst the populace, “That merely to satiate his malice, or out of base fear, he had sacrificed guiltless and illustrious men.” Yet, that there was a real conspiracy, concerted and grown to maturity, and at last detected and crushed, was no matter of doubt to such as were then curious to be truly informed, and even acknowledged by those of the conspirators, who, after the fall of Nero, returned from banishment to Rome. Now in the Senate, where every particular, the more sensibly he was pierced with anguish, the more fawnings and congratulations he expressed, Salienus Clemens fell upon Junius Gallio, already terrified with the death of Seneca his brother, and then a supplicant for his own life, charging Gallio with the character of “a parricide and a public enemy,” till the fathers unanimously awed and restrained him. They advised him, “That he would not seem to take an advantage of the public calamities, to gratify his own personal animosity; and since, through the clemency of the Prince, all matters were composed, or all faults cancelled, he Edition: current; Page: [734]would not revive staid proceedings, nor open a new source of cruelty.”

And now it was decreed that “public thanksgivings and oblations should be paid to all the Deities, and peculiar honours to the Sun, the God, who possessing an ancient Chappel in the Circus, the place intended for the perpetration of the parricide, had exposed to light the dark contrivances of the conspirators; that the Circensian Games, exhibited to Ceres, should be solemnized with an extraordinary accession of horses and chariots; that the month of April, should thenceforth bear the name of Nero, and to the Goddess Salus a Temple be erected in the place whence Scevinus had brought the dagger.” The dagger it self was by Nero dedicated in the Capitol, and inscribed, To Jove the avenger (Jupiter Vindex) words which at that time were not minded. But, upon the revolt of Julius Vindex, which afterwards happened, from them was then drawn a happy augury and presage of approaching vengeance. In the Journals of the Senate, I find that Cerialis Anicius, Consul elect, when it came to his vote, proposed, “That a Temple should, with all speed, be raised, at the charge of the state, and consecrated to the deified Nero;” a motion which he really meant in compliment, as to one who soared above the highest lot of mortality, and was entitled to celestial Edition: current; Page: [735]worship from men; but from whence too was inferred an omen of his hastening fate, since to Princes, divine honours are never paid till they have finally forsaken all commerce with men.

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BOOK XVI.

The SUMMARY.

FAlse hopes of mighty Treasures in Africa, and thence the vanity, and wild prodigality of Nero. He contends for the public prize at the Quinquennial Games. The death of Poppæa, and her royal funeral. C. Cassius and L. Silanus banished; the latter murdered, with several others. An uncommon tempest in Campania. Anteius and Ostorius doomed to die; as also Mella, Crispinus and Petronius. Thrasea Pætus obnoxious to Nero for his distinguished virtue; thence accused and marked for destruction; as also Bareas Soranus, and his daughter Servilia. Her signal defence and tenderness towards her father. The remarkable behaviour and end of Thrasea.

FOrtune thereafter exposed Nero to public-derision, through the intoxication of his own vanity, and the wild promises made him by Cesellius Bassus a Carthaginian, Edition: current; Page: [737]one of a restless and chimerical spirit, who from the impulse of a nocturnal dream gathered certain high hopes, and, sure of success, sailed to Rome, where, having by money procured access to the Prince, he set forth, “That in his lands was discovered a cave of enormous profundity, where lay immense store of gold, never reduced into form or coin, but in rude and ponderous lumps, such as were used by the ancients; that indeed the antiquity of the place was apparent in the structure and ruins, as here appeared heaps of huge massy bricks, there pillars still erect; and all this wealth had for so many ages lain buried and reserved to multiply the riches and felicities of the present reign. For the rest, what could be learnt from conjecture was, that Dido the Phœnician, she who fled from Tyre, having founded Carthage, had buried this treasure, lest her new people might be debauched by excessive opulence, and become virious and ungovernable; or lest the Princes of Numidia, who upon other accounts bore her malevolence, might from the ardent thirst of gold be instigated to make war upon her.”

This struck Nero, who little weighing the credibility of the account, or the faith and veracity of him that brought it, nor so much as dispatching inspectors to examine whether the particulars represented were true, heightened yet more the rumour of the discovery; and, as if it had been so much certain spoil Edition: current; Page: [738]already acquired, he sent over some to transport it to Rome, nay, to accelerare its arrival, furnished them with light galleys manned by setts of chosen and expert rowers. Nor did any other subject employ the conversation of the public at that time, while with the credulous multitude it passed for true, but from men of discernment met a different censure. And, as the Quinquennial Games happened then for the second time to be in a course of celebration, the Poets and Orators, in their panegyrics upon the Prince, borrowed from thence their chief themes; “for that the earth was no longer satisfied with yielding only her wonted bounties of fruits and grain, or gold incorporated with other ore, but teemed, in his reign, with productions altogether new; and to him the Gods presented treasures already stored;” with many other fictions abounding in pompous eloquence, nor less remarkable for servile debasement and flattery, secure as they were of his prompt faith to believe whatever they could feign.

In the mean time, he rioted in prodigality without all measure, from these fantastical hopes, and utterly consumed his ancient treasures, as if others in their stead now spontaneously accrued, sufficient to supply him in a course of profusion for many years. Nay, out of this imaginary fund he was already distributing largesses; and the vain expectation of great riches became one of the causes of public poverty. When Bassus had perforated and Edition: current; Page: [739]hollowed all his grounds, with many adjacent fields, for a great compass round, hunting from place to place after the promised cave, which now he averred to be here, then to be there, attended not only with a number of soldiers, but by a multitude of boors employed as labourers in that work; he at last renounced his phrenzy, and, wondering that his dreams had never proved false before, and that this was the first time he felt their delusion, discharged himself by a voluntary death from the agonies of shame and dread. Some authors say, that he was thrown into prison, and anon released, but his fortune seized in the room of this treasure Royal.

During the prosecution of this affair, as the time was at hand for disputing the prizes in the Quinquennial Games, the Senate, in order to avert in some degree, the disgrace which Nero must incur by appearing a competitor there, offered to assert to him by decree “the victory in Song;” nay, even to adjudge him “the crown of Eloquence;” meaning by such distinction from the fathers, to throw a veil over his Theatrical debasement. But Nero declared, “That he needed not the interposition and partiality of the Senate, nor any authority of theirs, since he himself was a match for all his competitors, and would only by the equitable determination of the Judges, purchase the just praise and recompence of his skill.” He then presented himself publicly, but first upon the Stage peculiar Edition: current; Page: [740]to the festival, and there rehearsed a Poem of his own composing; but anon, upon the clamour and importunity of the vulgar herd, “that he would display to the public the whole fruits of his studies” (for this was the phrase which they used) he entered the Great Theatre and practised a sedulous obedience to all the laws of the Harp, such as not to sit down however fatigued, not to wipe the sweat from his face, save only with the vestment he wore, thence to keep dry his mouth and nose. In conclusion, bowing the knee and with his hands lifted up, paying veneration to the multitude, he awaited with fictitious awe the determination of his Judges. In truth, the commonalty of Rome, ever wont to humour and encourage the acting and gesticulations of common players, ecchoed their applauses of Nero with measured notes and symphony, and clapped in tune according to the rules of concert. You would have thought that they had really rejoyced, and it is probable their rejoicings were sincere, from an utter insensibility of public honour, or of the crying reproach which debased the Roman state.

But far different was the behaviour of such as dwelt in the municipal cities of Italy (for the countries of Italy as yet retained their primitive severity, and the sober manners of the ancients) as also of such as came from the remote Provinces, where they were unacquainted with the like wantonness and revellings, and attended then at Rome upon embassies, or Edition: current; Page: [741]their own private affairs; neither of these could bear this dishonourable spectacle, or were capable of discharging a task so unmanly; so that while, with irregular and aukward efforts in clapping, they marred the feats of the disciplined clappers, they were frequently bastonaded by the soldiers, who stood in several clusters amongst the crowd, to watch that not a moment should pass either in unequal and ill-concerted acclamations, or in cold and lifeless silence. Certain it is, that many Roman Knights while they strove to retire, were through the streightness of the crammed passages, and the weight of the multitude, pressed to death; and that others, by never stirring night and day from their seats, were there seized with mortal maladies: for they dreaded even more than maladies the deadly consequence of their absence from this Imperial revel; since, besides the several concealed spies, there were a number of observers, who publicly noted names and faces, and all the symptoms of pleasure or melancholy in every particular of the assembly. Hence it was that, upon the vulgar and ignoble, instant pains were inflicted; towards those of illustrious quality his hate was for the present smothered, but soon after discharged in deadly vengeance. It was reported, “That Vespasian was by Phoebus, Nero’s freedman, bitterly reproached and even charged as a criminal, for having nodded, and hardly found protection even by the prayers and mediation of worthy and Edition: current; Page: [742]honourable friends; that perdition still hung over him, and he only escaped it by the grandeur of his ensuing destiny.”

The diversions of the Theatre were followed by the death of Poppæa, occasioned by a casual fit of passion in her husband, who killed her with a blow of his foot upon her pregnant womb; for, to poison I cannot ascribe it, as some writers have done, rather through antipathy to Nero, than love of truth; seeing he vehemently coveted children, and was governed by a passionate fondness for his wife. Her corps was not consumed to ashes, according to the rites of the Romans, but after the manner of foreign Monarchs, embowelled, and replete with spices, reposited in the sepulchre of the Julian family. Her obsequies, however, were publicly celebrated, and from the public Rostrum her panegyric was delivered by the Emperor, who magnified “her beauty and happy lot, to have been the mother of an infant now enrolled amongst the Deities,” with many other blind endowments of fortune, which he enumerated as so many virtues. The death of Poppæa begat in Rome every appearance of sadness and mourning, but secretly instilled much joy into the hearts of all who remembered her lewdness and cruelty; and, besides the reproach of this murder, Nero earned fresh detestation by forbidding Caius Cassius from assisting at her funeral, the first signal of his impending doom, nor was his doom long postponed. In the same fate Silanus Edition: current; Page: [743]too was involved, and each of them consigned to destruction, without guilt or offence in either, only that both were men of high and signal distinction, Cassius for his hereditary opulence and the exemplary gravity of his manners, Silanus for the ancient splendor of his race, and the popularity and eminent modesty of his youth. Nero therefore sent to the Senate a speech in writing, and in it argued for “the necessity of removing both from any share in the administration of the state.” To Cassius particularly he objected, “That amongst the Images of his ancestors, he preserved in high reverence that of Caius Cassius, thus inscribed, The leader of the party, for that, he too was meditating the scheme of a civil war, and a revolt from the family of the Cæsars; but since in his design of exciting insurrections, he would not employ only the influence of a name so obnoxious, he had engaged Lucius Silanus, a youth splendid in descent, of a tempestuous spirit, and one whom he set as a stale to produce and animate a public revolution.”

He fell afterwards directly upon Silanus himself, with great bitterness, urging against him the very same imputations which he had formerly objected to his uncle Torquatus, “That already he assumed the port of a Prince, in his house had established officers of Imperial state, and raised his freedmen to several dignities, some to be Auditors of the Revenues, Edition: current; Page: [744]some to be Masters of Requests; others to be principal Secretaries;” ridiculous imputations, and as false as ridiculous! For, dread of the prevailing tyranny kept Silanus under more awe and precaution, and, from the late bloody doom of his uncle, he had learnt a terrible lesson of circumspection. Nero next prompted certain persons to assume the name of voluntary informers and forge an accusation against Lepida the wife of Cassius, aunt to Silanus, “That with her nephew she had been guilty of incest, and in sacrifice had practised magical rites of direful tendency.” As accomplices were seized and arraigned Vulcatius Tullinus and Marcellus Cornelius, two Senators, with Calpurnius Fabatus a Roman Knight, men who, by appealing to Cæsar, did thence divert their instant condemnation; and as Nero was thenceforth intent upon more exalted atchievements in cruelty, they whom he considered as smaller delinquents, entirely escaped his rage.

The Senate then proceeded to pronounce against Cassius and Silanus sentence of perpetual banishment, but, to the judgment of Cæsar referred the punishment of Lepida. Cassius was transported into Sardinia, and, in regard of his great age, the short remains of his life were spared. Silanus, under colour of sending him away to the isle of Naxos, was removed to Ostia, and afterwards confined in Barium, a city of Apulia; while there, with Edition: current; Page: [745]the spirit of a wise man, he supported a lot most unworthy of his virtue and innocence, a Centurion commissioned for the assassination, laid hold on him, and advised him to cut his veins: he answered, “That to die was the firm purpose of his soul, but upon an executioner he would not confer the glory of fulfilling that purpose.” Yet the Centurion perceiving him a man of great strength, and though destitute of arms, resolute and daring, and more disposed to acts of wrath than those of dismay, ordered his soldiers to secure him: nor did Silanus fail to make vigorous resistance, and to distribute blows with as much energy as by naked hands could be exerted, till at last he fell by the sword of the Centurion, but under a multitude of wounds all received before, like those of a brave man who falls facing the enemy in the day of battle.

Nor with less dispatch and intrepidity did Lucius Vetus and his mother-in-law Sextia, with Pollutia his daughter, undergo their bloody doom. Towards them the Prince had long borne much vindictive rancour and hate, as those whose lives were so many standing reproaches upon him, for the murder of Rubellius Plautus, son-in-law to Lucius Vetus. But the first handle for manifesting this his hatred and cruelty, was administered by a freedman of Vetus, his name Fortunatus, who having abused his trust and defrauded his Lord, added malice to robbery, and became his accuser. Into a partnership in this traiterous Edition: current; Page: [746]plot he assumed Claudius Demianus, one who for his villainies in Asia was by Vetus, then Proconsul there, sent in bonds to Rome, but now by Nero, in recompence of this his accusation, released. The accused, when he was apprized of this combination, and that against the credit of his freedman his life was staked, retired to a seat of his own in the neighbourhood of Formiæ, whither a Guard of soldiers followed, and there secretly beset him; with him too was his daughter. She, besides the agonies which she felt from the present awakening peril, had a soul before sorely embittered by a long course of sorrow, ever since she had first beheld the assassins sent to butcher Plautus her husband; and, as she had passionately hugged his bleeding neck, she still preserved the garments stained by his blood, still persevered a widow, devoted to unrelenting grief and wailings, and a stranger to all nourishment, except what just saved her from the grave. Upon this occasion, at the request of her father, she travelled to Naples, and, since she was denied access to Nero, she besieged his gates, and watched his coming forth, imploring him “to hear the defence of an innocent man, nor to a traiterous freedman sacrifice one who had been once his collegue in the Consulship.” And this her petition she continued to urge importunately, sometimes with the lamentable moanings of a woman, sometimes with a spirit surpassing her sex, and an accent vehement and imperious; Edition: current; Page: [747]till the implacable Emperor by his behaviour convinced her, that he was no more to be softened by distress and supplications, than moved by the apprehensions of public odium.

Hence she reported to her father, “That he must banish all hope, and meet a fate which he could not fly.” Tydings at the same time arrived, “That the Senate was hastening his trial and proceeding to a sentence terrible and merciless.” Nor were there wanting some who persuaded him to bequeath to Nero the bulk of his fortune, as the best expedient “to secure the remainder to his grand-children,” a proposal by him rejected, nor would he stain the whole course of his life, spent almost in the fulness of liberty, by closing it with an act of servitude, but amongst his domestics distributed whatever sums of money were then in his possession, with orders, “to appropriate to themselves and remove away whatever they found portable, leaving only three couches for the use of their coarses.” Then all three opened their veins, in one and the same chamber, with one and the same steel, and, each covered for decency with a single rayment, were with dispatch conveyed into warm baths; the father’s eyes intent upon his daughter, those of the old Lady upon her grand-daughter, and hers upon both; all praying with emulation for a speedy issue of fleeting life, each wishing to expire first, wishing to leave behind such dear relations still alive, though hastening to die. Fortune Edition: current; Page: [748]observed the order of seniority and nature, the oldest first expired, and the youngest last. After they were buried, they were accused, and voted to “capital punishment according to the precedent of antiquity;” but against this Nero interposed, and would needs indulge them to die without prescription of form. Such were the instances of derision added to slaughters already perpetrated! Publius Gallus a Roman Knight, who had been intimate with Fenius Rufus, and not unacceptable to Vetus, was for such offence prohibited fire and water. To the freedman and accuser, in recompence of the meritorious pains and service, a place in the Theatre was assigned amongst the officers belonging to the Tribunes. And as the name of April was changed into that of Nero, so was May into that of Claudius, and June into that of Germanicus. Cornelius Orfitus, from whose motion these alterations proceeded, declared, “That he had therefore proposed abolishing the name of June, for that two of the Junii Torquati already executed for treason, had thence rendered that name abominable.”

This year, one stained with so many accumulated acts of tyranny and blood, was by the Gods too branded with devouring tempests and mortality. By the violence of whirl-winds, the country of Campania was ravaged, villages were overturned, the plantations torn up, the fruits of the earth scattered, and the extensive devastation carried as far as the neighbourhood Edition: current; Page: [749]of Rome; where, at the same time a fierce pestilence was, without any discernable malignity in the air, sweeping away all conditions of men. Full of coarses were the houses, full of funerals the streets; nor sex nor age was spared by the impartial malady; to the same swift destruction yielded the bondmen and free, amidst the tears and wailings of their wives and children, who, whilst they were yet attending and lamenting their expiring parents and husbands, were themselves snatched away, and frequently burnt in the same funeral pile with those they lamented. As fast as the rest, perished illustrious Roman Knights and Senators, but less bewailed, since by a deadly contagion common to all, they escaped falling by the cruelty of the Prince. The same year recruits were raised in Narbon Gaul, and through Africa and Asia, for supplying the Legions in Illyrium, from whence had been discharged all such as were enfeebled by infirmity or age. To the inhabitants of Lyons, as a relief for their late calamity by fire, the Emperor presented a hundred thousand crowns, to repair the damages of their city, a sum once presented voluntarily by the Community of Lyons to Rome, during a time when she was under public distractions and embarrasment.

In the Consulship of Caius Suetonius and Lucius Telesinus; Antistius Sosianus, one doomed, as I have above related, to perpetual exile, for certain virulent verses by him composed against Nero, becoming afterwards Edition: current; Page: [750]apprized of the honour and distinction paid to informers, and of the Emperor’s propensity to acts of rage and blood; being withal a man of a restless spirit, and no wise slack to embrace occasions of advantage, courted the friendship of Pammenes, and through the similitude of their lot obtained it. For Pammenes too was an exile of the same place, one celebrated for his science in the mysteries of Astrology, and thence engaged in numerous friendships. He judged, that, without some important purpose, so many messengers and so many quærists to consult him, could not be thus daily arriving, and learnt withal that, from Publius Anteius a yearly stipend was allowed him; nor was it any secret to Sosianus that Anteius, for his zeal and attachment to Agrippina, was exposed to the malice and jealousy of Nero; that his opulence was sufficiently signal to stimulate that rapacious Prince, and that from this source only, multitudes had suffered their deadly bane. With this view he intercepted letters from Anteius, and even stole the papers containing the calculation of his nativity, and the future events of his life, which were secretly kept in the custody of Pammenes. He besides found the scheme by him drawn concerning the birth and fortune of Ostorius Scapula, and then wrote forthwith to the Emperor, “That might he obtain a short respite from banishment, he had mighty discoveries to communicate, such as were highly conducing to the personal Edition: current; Page: [751]safety of the Prince; for that Anteius and Ostorius were meditating some sudden attempt upon the state, and diving sollicitously into their own destiny and that of Cæsar.” Immediately light pinnaces were dispatched away, and Sosianus transported with expedition to Rome, where, upon the first divulging of his discovery, Anteius and Ostorius were by all men considered rather already under the sentence of death, than such as were to be tried for their lives; insomuch that none dared appear to witness the execution of Anteius his will, till Tigellinus authorized it, having first given him warning, to lose no time, but forthwith execute his last testament.” He then swallowed a draught of poison, but growing tired and impatient of its slow operation, accelerated his death by opening his veins.

Ostorius was then abiding at an estate of his in a remote quarter of Italy, upon the borders of Liguria, and thither a Centurion was sent with orders to slay him with all dispatch. The motive for such precipitation sprung from this source; Ostorius was a man of a high military renown, distinguished in Britain with a Civic Crown, of prodigious bodily strength, and, from his experience in war, eminently qualified for feats of arms: Hence Nero, who ever lived under continual dread, and, since the discovery of the late conspiracy, in the utmost dismay and affright, was scared, lest that brave officer should Edition: current; Page: [752]take up arms and fall upon him. The Centurion, when he had beset with Guards every issue from the villa, to prevent all escape, acquainted Ostorius with his orders from the Emperor: Ostorius, without delay, upon his own person turned the edge of that bravery which he had so often exerted with applause against the foe; and, seeing that from his veins, though largely opened, there flowed but little blood, he dispatched himself by a poynard, using so far the help of one of his slaves, as to make him hold up the weapon steadily; then grasping and strengthning the slave’s hand with his own, he run his throat upon the fatal steel.

Were I even recounting the rage of foreign wars, and a series of deaths undergone for the Commonweal, in a detail of events and disasters, all like the above, resembling one another, I should doubtless succumb under the weary task, and propose no other than to surfeit my readers, justly loathing a recital of the fall of citizens, however honourable yet tragical and without end: Yet more irksome is the present work, in which such a deluge of blood tyrannically spilt at home, and the general and slavish passiveness under the Tyrant, are considerations that gnaw the soul and oppress it under anguish and sorrow. By such therefore as shall peruse this History, I desire it may be remembered (and it is the only apology I claim) that from no hatred of mine, but the duty of an Historian, I mention those Edition: current; Page: [753]who thus tamely submitted to perish: They perished, in truth, to satiate the vengeance of the Gods against the Roman State, which vengeance falling upon particulars, in a continued course of slaughters, its operations cannot justly be displayed in one general description, like the slaughter of armies, or the storming and subduing of cities. To the posterity of illustrious Men let this occasional compliment be paid, that as they are not buried, like the common herd, but their obsequies distinguished from the promiscuous sepulture of the vulgar; so, by recounting the circumstances of their dying, they may receive and ever retain peculiar marks of remembrance.

For, within the compass of a few days, Annæus Mella, Cerialis Anicius, Rufius Crispinus, and Caius Petronius, suffered, as it were all in a band, the violence of their fate. Mella and Crispinus were Roman Knights, in figure and estimation considerable as Senators; the latter particularly had been once Captain of the Prætorian Guards, and distinguished with the ornaments of the Consulship, but lately banished, as an accomplice in the conspiracy, into Sardinia, where, upon notice received that he was doomed to die, he slew himself. Mella, who was brother to Gallio and Seneca, forbore suing for the great Offices of State, from a wayward ambition, that a Roman Knight might be seen to vie in authority with Senators of Consular dignity: He likewise judged that acting as Edition: current; Page: [754]Comptroller to the Prince, in the ministration of his private revenues, was a quicker road to wealth. Add, that he was the father of Lucan, a circumstance from whence accrued a vast accession to his fame and splendour: But after the untimely fate of his son, while with special sharpness and ardour he was recovering his effects, against himself he excited an accuser, Fabius Romanus, one of Lucan’s intimate friends. He feigned, “That in the conspiracy, the father and son were equally confederate;” and having counterfeited Letters to this purpose, in the hand of Lucan, presented them to Nero, who after perusal, ordered them to be carried to the accused, after whose riches he ravenously hunted. Mella anticipated his sentence by a passage to death, in those days, as the quickest, most frequently chosen, and broached his veins, when by Will he had bequeathed to Tigellinus and his son-in-law Cossutianus Capito, an immense legacy in money, in order to secure the remainder. It is added that, in his will he inserted complaints concerning the rigour and iniquity of his doom, “That he died guiltless of every crime deserving death, whilst Rufius Crispinus and Anicius Cerialis, men virulently dissaffected to the Prince, were suffered to live.” But all this was believed to have been a fiction, purposely framed to justify the execution of these two; for Crispinus was already slain, and over Cerialis the same bloody fate was impending: Nor indeed Edition: current; Page: [755]was it long ere he became his own executioner; but fell with less commiseration than the rest, for that by him, it was remembered, had been disclos’d to Caligula a plot concerted to destroy that Tyrant.

Concerning Caius Petronius some few particulars are to be recapitulated. He was one who in sleep wasted the day, and to the civil offices and gay delights of life devoted the night: As others by a course of pains and vigilance had acquired a name and character; Petronius was by signal idleness and indolence raised to notice and renown. Nor yet was he esteemed either a prodigal of his fortune or a slave to his grosser appetites, like many who thus brutally lavish and devour their estates. Petronius was curious and refined in his luxury; and since his actions and sayings were frank and unrestrained, all accompanied with an air of negligence, the more so they were, the more pleasing they were, as bearing thence the impression of pure simplicity and artless nature. However, while he exercised the Proconsular Government of Bithynia, and presently after the Consulship it self, he manifested himself a man of spirit and vigour, and equal to great affairs. Then relapsing into a habit of sensuality and vice, or affecting to appear vitious and sensual, he was by Nero associated with the select few, who composed his fraternity of intimates, and established master of elegance. Insomuch that to the Emperor, in the midst of all his affluent enjoyments, nothing Edition: current; Page: [756]appeared delicious and ravishing, if it came not recommended by the taste and approbation of Petronius. Hence the hate and envy of Tigellinus towards one, in credit, his rival, in the science of pleasures, his superiour. He had therefore recourse to the cruelty of the Prince, a passion to which all his other depraved appetites ever gave place. Against Petronius he objected an intimacy with the conspirator Scevinus, corrupted one of his slaves to accuse his master, precluded him from all defence, and to sudden bonds committed most of his domesties.

Nero happened at that time to be upon the road to Campania, and Petronius having accompanied him as far as Cuma, was there by order put under durance; nor would he longer bear to protract his fate, by humouring the impulse of hopes or fears; nor yet did he hastily throw away life, but ordering his veins to be cut, directed them again to be closed and bound, then to be opened by intervals, just as his fancy moved him, discoursing the while to his friends, but upon no subject serious or profound, nor in strains and sentences whence he could aim at the renown of magnanimity in braving of death. To them too he attended while they recited, no solemn solemn sayings concerning the Immortality of the Soul, nor the Systems of Philosophers, but gay Sonnets, with Verses musical and flowing. With bounties he rewarded some of his slaves, with chastisements others: He even diverted Edition: current; Page: [757]himself with walking out, nay, refreshed himself with sleep, on design, that his death, though in reality doomed, might appear like one altogether casual. Neither followed he in his last Will the example and stile of most, who perished like himself under the tyranny. Petronius flattered neither Nero, nor Tigellinus, nor any of the partizans of power, but under the names of lewd women and pathics, described all the secret abominations of the Emperor, with every practice of impurity by him used and admired as singular and new. To Nero he transmitted this picture of himself, carefully sealed, then broke his signet, that after his death it might not be perfidiously used and become a snare to the innocent.

While Nero was doubting and recollecting, by what means could be divulged all the various devices of lubricity in which he consumed the night, his suspicion fixed upon Silia, one the better known for having married a Senator; one too by the Prince associated into all the essays and diversity of his pollutions, and thoroughly intimate with Petronius. On pretence therefore that she had not concealed what she had there seen and undergone, she was doomed to banishment; a sacrifice in effect to his own personal hate. To that of Tigellinus he made another, and to his vengeance surrendered Numicius Thermus, once Prætor, for that a freedman belonging to Thermes had uttered certain criminal imputations upon Tigellinus, an offence Edition: current; Page: [758]which the speaker expiated under exquisite torments, and his innocent Lord by a bloody doom.

After the slaughter of so many men signal in name and quality, Nero, at length, became possessed with a passion to hew down virtue itself, by devoting to butchery Thrasea Pætus and Bareas Soranus, both, long since, the objects of his hate. But against Thrasea he was incensed from separate causes, for that he had withdrawn from the Senate, when the affair of Agrippina and the merits of her death came under debate there, as above I have remembered: In the solemnizing too of the preludes intitled Juvenales, he had manifested a behaviour far from courtly or acceptable; an indignity which pierced the Prince the deeper, for that Thrasea himself had, at Padua, the place of his nativity, chanted in the habit of a Tragedian, during the celebration of the Cestic Games, instituted there by the founder, Antenor from Troy. Moreover when Antistius the Prætor, was about to have been by the Senate condemned to execution, for a virulent Satire by him composed against Nero, Thrasea proposed a mitigation of the sentence, and carried it. Add that when celestial honours were decreed to Poppæa, he was purposely absent, nor afterwards attended her funeral: Offences which by Capito Cossutianus were carefully saved from falling under oblivion: Besides the native bent of his spirit, abandoned to all feats of Edition: current; Page: [759]villainy, he bore special rancour towards Thrasea, since it was he who had supported the deputies from Cilicia in their charge upon Capito for extortion there, and by his credit obtained judgment against him.

To all these crimes of Thrasea’s he added many more: “He had avoided the solemnity of renewing at the beginning of the year, the annual oath then taken to the Emperor; he had forborn to assist at the susception of yearly vows for the preservation and prosperity of the Prince, though he were at the same time invested with the Quindecemviral Priesthood: He had never made oblations for the safety of the Prince, nor for his voice divine. He, who had been formerly so assiduous in attending, so indefatigable in affairs; he who was wont to interest himself in every decree, as a promoter or opponent of the most trivial and common, had not now in three years once entered the Senate. In an instance so recent as that of Silanus and Vetus, when the fathers assembled with such warmth and rapidity, to obviate and punish two men so dangerous, he only attended to the personal affairs of his clients. What else was all this but an open revolt, a party declared against the administration? and, if in many particulars the same daring insolence were once found, what but a public war could ensue? As of old (pursued Capito) this city, one ever addicted to divisions and strife, was wont to Edition: current; Page: [760]discourse of Cæsar and Cato, as her two great chiefs and competitors then; so now with the same factious spirit it is discoursed of thee, Nero, and of Thrasea. Nay, he has his professed followers and partizans, or rather a body of champions at arms; men who in truth are not yet arrived to his boldness and contumacy in counsel and speeches, but study an exact conformity to his mien and manners, to a behaviour rigid and melancholy, on purpose to upbraid thee for a life of gayety and voluptuousness. To this man only is thy imperial life of no concernment; with him alone all thy accomplishments pass unregarded: The events of thy reign the most prosperous, are by him treated with scorn; and is it not equally true, that with thy misfortunes and sorrows he is not satiated? Such is the contumacy of his spirit, that he would not believe Poppæa to be a Deity; and from the same spirit it proceeds that he would not swear to the validity and observance of all the public Acts of Julius Cæsar and of Augustus, Princes promoted to deification. It is thus he contemns the Worship of the Deities, thus cancels the Laws of the State. Through the Provinces and amongst the several Armies, the Journals of the Roman people are perused with the greater curiosity and care, that thence may be learnt what transactions there are which bear not the name and sanction of Thrasea. In short, let us either Edition: current; Page: [761]embrace these institutions and politics, if they excel our own; or from a turbulent faction thirsting after innovations, let their Oracle and Leader be snatched away. Pupils and champions formed by the same sect were the Tuberones and Favonii formerly, names grating and grievous even to the ancient Commonwealth. It is only to subvert the Empire, that they use the fair sound and pretence of Liberty; if their evil purposes succeed, Liberty itself will be the next object of their violence. In vain hast thou banished Cassius from the State, if afterwards thou dost suffer a party, which emulate the Brutus’s to gather strength and numbers in it. For the rest, to the Senate and our management leave the judgment and fate of Thrasea, nor to that assembly do thou write aught about him.” Naturally furious was the soul of Cossutianus, and now further stimulated by Nero, who to him joined as his assistant in the accusation Marcellus Eprius, an Orator of great acrimony and vehemence.

The task of accusing Bareas Soranus was already bespoke and undertaken by Ostorius Sabinus a Roman Knight, who arraigned his conduct in the administration of Asia, where he had governed as Proconsul with such signal vigilance and justice, as thence to incur fresh jealousy and rancour from the Emperor. As another offence too, he had bestowed much pains about a popular work, that of opening Edition: current; Page: [762]the Port of Ephesus, and had besides left unpunished the Citizens of Pergamos for having resolutely opposed Acratus, one of Nero’s freedmen, when he would have robbed their City of her pictures and statues. These were his real crimes; those openly imputed were, “his friendship with Plautus, and his intrigues to ingratiate himself with the Asiatics, in order to engage them in novel designs.” A particular juncture was chosen for awarding them their doom, that of the arrival of Tiridates to receive the Crown of Armenia; perhaps with design that, while the public attention and rumour were engaged in concernments from abroad, domestic iniquity and bloodshed might pass in quietness and obscurity: Or perhaps Nero meant on this occasion to display the might and terrors of Imperial power, and the slaughter of illustrious men, as a feat of Majesty Royal.

Now while the whole City thronged out to receive the Emperor, and to behold a foreign King, Thrasea had orders to forbear attending the entry, yet was no wise cast down, but composed a Memorial to Nero: In it he besought to know “the allegations against him, and averred that he would vindicate himself, were he but apprized of the crimes, and had opportunity of clearing his innocence.” Nero received the Memorial greedily, as he hoped that Thrasea, under the influence of terror, might have written somewhat tending to magnify the grandeur and glory of Edition: current; Page: [763]the Prince, and to stain his own renown; but finding himself disappointed, and dreading withal the countenance, the spirit, and free speech of that great man, he ordered the Senate to be summoned. Thrasea then consulted with his friends and kindred, whether he should attempt a defence, or be silent. Their advices varied: They who counselled his repairing to the Senate, said “That they were assured of his magnanimity there, and nothing would escape him, but what would procure him fresh glory. To the timorous only and the sluggard it belonged to hide the meanness of their end in shade and obscurity. It was fit the people should behold such a man going forth boldly to encounter death; it was fit the Senate should hear his words more than human, pronounced as it were by the mouth of some Deity, a miracle which might possibly soften even the heart of Nero. But though he should persevere in barbarity; yet surely in different esteem with posterity, would be the memory of a demise so worthy and distinguished, from that of such as chose stupidly to perish in passive silence.”

Those who gave different counsel, and were for his waiting the issue at home, acknowledged the same things of the behaviour and merit of Thrasea; “but, if he went, over him was impending much cruel mockery, and many bitter contumelies: It behoved him to avoid having his ears assailed with invectives Edition: current; Page: [764]and the lashes of reproach. It was not Cossutianus only, nor Eprius that were prompt to outrages: There were others besides, who, perhaps, would assault him with violent hands and blows, to humour the savage brutality of the Emperor, and the precedent begun by the violent and bad, might, through dread, be followed even by the merciful and upright. He ought therefore to with-hold from that venerable body, which he had so long adorned, an occasion of so transcendent a wickedness and reproach, and to leave it to uncertainty and conjecture, what would have been the spirit and decree of the Senate, upon the seeing of Thrasea defend himself before them as a criminal arraigned. To hope that ever Nero would be moved to a sense of shame for his crying enormities, was rash and vain: Much more to be dreaded was his flying into fresh rage, and his discharging the same upon the wife, and houshold of Thrasea, and upon every other object of his tenderness and care. Upon the whole; he ought to measure the glory of his latter end by that of the worthies, by whose steps and studies he had squared his life, and die in the strength of his integrity, in the fulness of fame.” In the consultation there assisted Rusticus Arulenus, a young man of great spirit and fervour. From this temper and a passion for fame, he offered to thwart the Decree of Senate, by interposing against it; for he was Tribune Edition: current; Page: [765]of the people. Thrasea restrained his temerity, and cautioned him against attempting “methods in themselves wild, to the person accused unavailing, and to the person attempting them certainly fatal: For himself; he had finished his course, and from the rule of life which for so many years he had without varying observed, he must not now depart. Into public offices Arulenus had but just entered, and upon his own choice it rested, how far to engage in transactions future: But it much imported him to weigh well beforehand what path he ought to pursue, when during such times he engaged in offices of State.” For the rest; to the result of his own meditation he left it, whether it were proper for him to appear in the Senate.

On the day following, two Cohorts of the Prætorian Guards under arms, environed the Temple of Venus the Prolific; a number of men dressed in the city robe, but armed with swords no wise concealed, had beset the entrance of the Senate; and in the great Squares, and several Temples, were every where posted bands of soldiers in array. Through the midst of this scene of terror, and under the awe of objects so formidable and even menacing, the Senators passed to their assembly. There he, who was the Emperor’s Quæstor, recited a speech by him sent, in which, without descending to name particulars, he upbraided the fathers, “That they deserted the functions of Edition: current; Page: [766]the State, and from their example the Roman Knights too were lapsed into sloth and inaction. Hence what marvel, that Senators from the remote Provinces failed to attend, when many who had arrived at the Consulship, and been distinguished with Sacerdotal dignities, chose to withdraw from the public, and rather to devote themselves to solitude and pleasant amusements in their Gardens?”

This speech was, as it were, a weapon presented to the accusers, and greedily they snatched it. Cossutianus having begun the charge, it was by Marcellus pursued with greater acrimony and vehemence: “The Commonwealth, the Commonwealth, he fiercely cried, was here concerned in her tenderest and most essential part: Such were the frowardness and contumacy of inferiours, that thence the gentleness and clemency of him, who bore rule, were checked and diminished: Over-mild and acquiescing had, to that day, been the temper of the Fathers, who could thus suffer so many capital criminals to evade chastisement, could suffer Thrasea so long revolted from public obedience, suffer his son-in-law Helvidius Priscus immersed in the same rebellious measures, Paconius Agrippinus too, one who possessed from his father an hereditary rancour towards the Emperors, with Curtius Montanus, employed in composing abominable Poems replete with treason. Edition: current; Page: [767]For himself; he wanted to behold Thrasea, him who had been Consul, now filling his place in the Senate, him who was a Pontiff, assisting at the solemnity where public vows were made, him who was a fellow-citizen, renewing with the rest the oath of fidelity; unless he had already renounced every institution of our ancestors, civil and sacred, openly acted the traitor, and now declared himself a public enemy. In a word; as he was wont to perform the part of an active Senator, wont to defend and protect such as had lampooned and defamed the Prince, let him resume his place, let him offer his sentiments, what he wished to have corrected, and what to have changed: Much more easily would they bear him carping at every particular transaction, than condemning by his sullen silence the whole administration at once. What was it that grieved him? Was it the profound peace established over the whole earth, or the public victories gained by our armies without the loss of men? Far be it from the Senate to suffer such a man to gratify an ambition so malignant and depraved, a man who sorrowed for the felicities of the State, one to whom the public Places, the Theatres and the Temples, appeared so many desarts, wild and strange, and one who was continually threatening to relinquish his country and roam an exile. With him our Decrees here passed for none, our Magistrates for none; Edition: current; Page: [768]with him this Metropolis was no longer Rome. He ought therefore to cease to live in that City, since he had long since divested himself of all tenderness for her, and now could not bear her sight.”

As in these and the like flights of fury, Marcellus, even in his person horrid and grim, was raging against Thrasea, with eyes, voice and visage all on fire, the Senate no longer manifested that usual air of sadness, which from the frequency of returning dread and peril, was become customary there: A terror altogether new, more deep and alarming possessed them, while to their sight were presented such a number of soldiers, their arms, and separate bands. Their imaginations were also filled with the tragical lot of the person accused, the venerable person of Thrasea: And there were who commiserated that of Helvidius, “who must be doomed to punishment, merely for an alliance with a man void of blame. Against Agrippinus too what else was charged but the tragical fate of his father, a man who, in truth, had fallen himself an innocent victim to the cruelty of Tiberius. Nay, banishment must be the doom of Montanus, a young man and virtuous, for no Libel by him written, but purely because by his Writings he had signalized his genius and parts.”

In the mean while entered Ostorius Sabinus, the accuser of Soranus, and against him urged “the friendship between him and Rubellius Edition: current; Page: [769]Plautus; and that in his Proconsular administration of Asia, he had rather consulted his own popularity and lustre than the public good and utility, by nourishing animosity and tumults in the provincial Cities:” Stale imputations, and long since prepared by the accuser. But now he offered a recent charge, and in the crimes and peril of the father involved the daughter, “That she had with large sums feed the Magicians:” A transaction resulting purely from the passionate tenderness of Servilia (for this was the young Lady’s name) towards her father, as well as from the unwariness of her youth: Yet the whole of her consultation was “only about the conservation of her house, whether the wrath of Nero might not come to be appeased, and whether no tragical judgment would follow the cognizance of the Senate.” For this she was brought into the Senate; and before the Tribunal of the two Consuls, but at opposite sides, stood the father and daughter, he full of years, she under twenty, and, since the late banishment of Annius Pollio her husband, in a state of widowhood, solitary and sad. Her father’s face upon this occasion she could not bear to behold, since she, as it seemed, had wofully heightened his danger and sufferings.

The accuser now questioned her, “Whether she had not turned into money her bridal Ornaments, and even stript from her neck her collar of jewels, in order to defray Edition: current; Page: [770]the expence of magic Rites and Sacrifices?” At first she cast herself down, and lay along upon the floor, then after a flood of tears, after long sobbing and silence, she rose, and embracing the Altars, particularly that of Venus; “No mischievous Divinities, said she, have I invoked; no incantations have I tried, nor was aught else the burden of my rash and disastrous supplications, than that thou Cæsar, and you Fathers of the Senate, would to this my dear and indulgent parent, beset with terrors and affliction, graciously afford protection and safety. With this view I presented my jewels, my precious rayment, and other decorations peculiar to my quality; as I would have presented my blood and life, had my blood and life been required. To these Foretellers, men till now utterly unknown to me, it belongs to declare whose ministers they are, and what mysteries they use: By myself the Prince’s name was not once pronounced otherwise than with those of the Deities. Yet to all this proceeding of mine, whatever it were, my unfortunate father was an utter stranger; and if it is a crime, I alone am the delinquent.” These words alarmed Soranus, and while she was yet uttering them, he interrupted her; he cried out with earnestness, “That his daughter went not with him to the Province, such too was her tender age, that she could have no possible acquaintance with Plautus: In the crimes of her husband Edition: current; Page: [771]she was no wise engaged; her only blame was that of filial piety over-strained: Let her cause be therefore disjoined from his; his own fate, whatever it should prove, he was ready to undergo.” This said, he was hastening to embrace his daughter, who flew to meet him, but the Consular Lictors stepped between and prevented them.

To the witnesses next an immediate hearing was given, and however high the barbarous spirit of the accuser had already raised common compassion for the accused, equally high was the indignation excited by the appearing of Publius Egnatius as an evidence; a client and follower of Soranus, now bought with a price to overwhelm his patron and his friend. As he professed the rigid Sect of the Stoics, his testimony was from this circumstance to derive weight and consideration; for into such solemnity he had framed his countenance and whole exteriour, as to display the semblance of a man worthily disposed and virtuously employed, but possessed a soul traiterous and ensnaring, replete with avarice and every depraved appetite, all artfully concealed. But now the force of money, more prevalent than art, having laid open so much hypocrisy and imposture, furnished an instructive example, that as we guard against such as are branded for notorious frauds and contaminated with open villainies; so with no less care ought we to guard against men, who, under the fair guise of righteous life and acquirements, hide hollow Edition: current; Page: [772]hearts, alike prompt to profess and to betray friendships. On that same day, however, was exhibited a different and honourable example by Cassius Asclepiodotus, a man, for his signal opulence, of the foremost rank in Bithynia; yet without regarding what risk he incurred, the same devotion and reverence, with which he had courted Soranus during the sunshine of his fortune, he ceased not to pay him, though now sinking under malignant fate. Hence he was despoiled of his whole fortune, and doomed to exile. Such was the lukewarmness and indifference of the Deities, alike unmoved by patterns of righteousness and those of iniquity! To Thrasea, to Soranus and Servilia, was granted the choice of their own deaths: Helvidius and Paconius were to be banished from Italy: Montanus, for the sake of his father, had his pardon, with an exception annexed, “That he should never be admitted to any Office in the State.” To Eprius, one of the accusers, was decreed a reward of more than thirty thousand pounds, to Cossutianus another, the like sum; and to Ostorius the third, as many thousand crowns, besides another recompence, that of the ornaments of the Quæstorship.

The Quæstor attending the Consul was, now in the close of the day, dispatched to Thrasea, then in his gardens. He was at that instant frequented by a numerous assembly of men and women, illustrious for their quality, but was chiefly attentive to Demetrius, Edition: current; Page: [773]a professor of the Cynic School. With this Philosopher, as far as could be conjectured by the intenseness of his looks, and by certain words, which, when they happened to raise their voices, were over-heard, he was reasoning and inquiring about the nature of the Soul, and concerning its departure from the body, till he was interrupted by the arrival of Domitius Cæcilianus. This was one of his most intimate friends, and related to him what the Senate had decreed. As upon these sad tydings the company melted into plaints and tears, Thrasea pressed them, “forthwith to retire, nor to tempt danger by involving themselves in the fate of a person condemned:” And as Arria his wife was earnest to emulate the example of her mother, and to share with her husband in his last lot, he besought her, “to preserve her life, nor deprive their common daughter of her only remaining refuge.”

He then went forth into a gallery, and there the Quæstor from the Senate found him, filled rather with chearfulness than with any opposite passion, since he had learnt that against Helvidius his son-in-law, nothing worse was decreed than his banishment from Italy. Haveing now had delivered to him in form the sentence of the Senate, he took Helvidius and Demetrius into his chamber, and extending both his arms, the veins of both were cut: As the blood sprang, he called the Quæstor nigher, and with it besprinkling the floor; Edition: current; Page: [774]“Let us, said he to him, make this libation to Jove the Deliverer. Look here, young man, and consider; may Heaven too grant there be no Omen in my words: But into such times thy birth and age have thrown thee, as may justly require thee to fortify thy spirit by examples of magnanimity.” After this, as from the slow approaches of death, grievous torments were ensuing, he turned towards Demetrius****

The rest of this Annal is last.

END of Vol. II.
*

About fifty thousand Crowns.

*

Augustus was wont to bestow the fortunes of persons condemned upon their children.

a

About ten thousand Crowns.

*

About two Millions, and five hundred thousand Crowns.

*

Betwixt twelve and thirteen Crowns.

Three Millions one hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds.

a

Namely, to go over to him whose vote they approved.

*

I doubt the text here is taulty. Perhaps it ought to be read, as it is in one of the Manuscripts, “Between the foundation of the city, and both conflagrations. Inter conditam urbem & utraque incendia.