By P. Cornelius Tacitus
translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
BOOK I, A.D. 14, 15
ROME at the beginning was ruled by kings. Freedom and the consulship were established by Lucius Brutus. Dictatorships were held for a temporary crisis. The power of the decemvirs did not last beyond two years, nor was the consular jurisdiction of the military tribunes of long duration. The despotisms of Cinna and Sulla were brief; the rule of Pompeius and of Crassus soon yielded before Caesar; the arms of Lepidus and Antonius before Augustus; who, when the world was wearied by civil strife, subjected it to empire under the title of “Prince.” But the successes and reverses of the old Roman people have been recorded by famous historians; and fine intellects were not wanting to describe the times of Augustus, till growing sycophancy scared them away. The histories of Tiberius, Caius, Claudius, and Nero, while they were in power, were falsified through terror, and after their death were written under the irritation of a recent hatred. Hence my purpose is to relate a few facts about Augustus- more particularly his last acts, then the reign of Tiberius, and all which follows, without either bitterness or partiality, from any motives to which I am far removed.
When after the destruction of Brutus and Cassius there was no longer any army of the Commonwealth, when Pompeius was crushed in Sicily, and when, with Lepidus pushed aside and Antonius slain, even the Julian faction had only Caesar left to lead it, then, dropping the title of triumvir, and giving out that he was a Consul, and was satisfied with a tribune’s authority for the protection of the people, Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with cheap corn, and all men with the sweets of repose, and so grew greater by degrees, while he concentrated in himself the functions of the Senate, the magistrates, and the laws. He was wholly unopposed, for the boldest spirits had fallen in battle, or in the proscription, while the remaining nobles, the readier they were to be slaves, were raised the higher by wealth and promotion, so that, aggrandised by revolution, they preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past. Nor did the provinces dislike that condition of affairs, for they distrusted the government of the Senate and the people, because of the rivalries between the leading men and the rapacity of the officials, while the protection of the laws was unavailing, as they were continually deranged by violence, intrigue, and finally by corruption.
Augustus meanwhile, as supports to his despotism, raised to the pontificate and curule aedileship Claudius Marcellus, his sister’s son, while a mere stripling, and Marcus Agrippa, of humble birth, a good soldier, and one who had shared his victory, to two consecutive consulships, and as Marcellus soon afterwards died, he also accepted him as his son-in-law. Tiberius Nero and Claudius Drusus, his stepsons, he honoured with imperial tides, although his own family was as yet undiminished. For he had admitted the children of Agrippa, Caius and Lucius, into the house of the Caesars; and before they had yet laid aside the dress of boyhood he had most fervently desired, with an outward show of reluctance, that they should be entitled “princes of the youth,” and be consuls-elect. When Agrippa died, and Lucius Caesar as he was on his way to our armies in Spain, and Caius while returning from Armenia, still suffering from a wound, were prematurely cut off by destiny, or by their step-mother Livia’s treachery, Drusus too having long been dead, Nero remained alone of the stepsons, and in him everything tended to centre. He was adopted as a son, as a colleague in empire and a partner in the tribunitian power, and paraded through all the armies, no longer through his mother’s secret intrigues, but at her open suggestion. For she had gained such a hold on the aged Augustus that he drove out as an exile into the island of Planasia, his only grandson, Agrippa Postumus, who, though devoid of worthy qualities, and having only the brute courage of physical strength, had not been convicted of any gross offence. And yet Augustus had appointed Germanicus, Drusus’s offspring, to the command of eight legions on the Rhine, and required Tiberius to adopt him, although Tiberius had a son, now a young man, in his house; but he did it that he might have several safeguards to rest on. He had no war at the time on his hands except against the Germans, which was rather to wipe out the disgrace of the loss of Quintilius Varus and his army than out of an ambition to extend the empire, or for any adequate recompense. At home all was tranquil, and there were magistrates with the same titles; there was a younger generation, sprung up since the victory of Actium, and even many of the older men had been born during the civil wars. How few were left who had seen the republic!
Thus the State had been revolutionised, and there was not a vestige left of the old sound morality. Stript of equality, all looked up to the commands of a sovereign without the least apprehension for the present, while Augustus in the vigour of life, could maintain his own position, that of his house, and the general tranquillity. When in advanced old age, he was worn out by a sickly frame, and the end was near and new prospects opened, a few spoke in vain of the blessings of freedom, but most people dreaded and some longed for war. The popular gossip of the large majority fastened itself variously on their future masters. “Agrippa was savage, and had been exasperated by insult, and neither from age nor experience in affairs was equal to so great a burden. Tiberius Nero was of mature years, and had established his fame in war, but he had the old arrogance inbred in the Claudian family, and many symptoms of a cruel temper, though they were repressed, now and then broke out. He had also from earliest infancy been reared in an imperial house; consulships and triumphs had been heaped on him in his younger days; even in the years which, on the pretext of seclusion he spent in exile at Rhodes, he had had no thoughts but of wrath, hypocrisy, and secret sensuality. There was his mother too with a woman caprice. They must, it seemed, be subject to a female and to two striplings besides, who for a while would burden, and some day rend asunder the State.”
While these and like topics were discussed, the infirmities of Augustus increased, and some suspected guilt on his wife’s part. For a rumour had gone abroad that a few months before he had sailed to Planasia on a visit to Agrippa, with the knowledge of some chosen friends, and with one companion, Fabius Maximus; that many tears were shed on both sides, with expressions of affection, and that thus there was a hope of the young man being restored to the home of his grandfather. This, it was said, Maximus had divulged to his wife Marcia, she again to Livia. All was known to Caesar, and when Maximus soon afterwards died, by a death some thought to be self-inflicted, there were heard at his funeral wailings from Marcia, in which she reproached herself for having been the cause of her husband’s destruction. Whatever the fact was, Tiberius as he was just entering Illyria was summoned home by an urgent letter from his mother, and it has not been thoroughly ascertained whether at the city of Nola he found Augustus still breathing or quite lifeless. For Livia had surrounded the house and its approaches with a strict watch, and favourable bulletins were published from time to time, till, provision having been made for the demands of the crisis, one and the same report told men that Augustus was dead and that Tiberius Nero was master of the State.
The first crime of the new reign was the murder of Postumus Agrippa. Though he was surprised and unarmed, a centurion of the firmest resolution despatched him with difficulty. Tiberius gave no explanation of the matter to the Senate; he pretended that there were directions from his father ordering the tribune in charge of the prisoner not to delay the slaughter of Agrippa, whenever he should himself have breathed his last. Beyond a doubt, Augustus had often complained of the young man’s character, and had thus succeeded in obtaining the sanction of a decree of the Senate for his banishment. But he never was hard-hearted enough to destroy any of his kinsfolk, nor was it credible that death was to be the sentence of the grandson in order that the stepson might feel secure. It was more probable that Tiberius and Livia, the one from fear, the other from a stepmother’s enmity, hurried on the destruction of a youth whom they suspected and hated. When the centurion reported, according to military custom, that he had executed the command, Tiberius replied that he had not given the command, and that the act must be justified to the Senate.
As soon as Sallustius Crispus who shared the secret (he had, in fact, sent the written order to the tribune) knew this, fearing that the charge would be shifted on himself, and that his peril would be the same whether he uttered fiction or truth, he advised Livia not to divulge the secrets of her house or the counsels of friends, or any services performed by the soldiers, nor to let Tiberius weaken the strength of imperial power by referring everything to the Senate, for “the condition,” he said, “of holding empire is that an account cannot be balanced unless it be rendered to one person.” Meanwhile at Rome people plunged into slavery- consuls, senators, knights. The higher a man’s rank, the more eager his hypocrisy, and his looks the more carefully studied, so as neither to betray joy at the decease of one emperor nor sorrow at the rise of another, while he mingled delight and lamentations with his flattery. Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Apuleius, the consuls, were the first to swear allegiance to Tiberius Caesar, and in their presence the oath was taken by Seius Strabo and Caius Turranius, respectively the commander of the praetorian cohorts and the superintendent of the corn supplies. Then the Senate, the soldiers and the people did the same. For Tiberius would inaugurate everything with the consuls, as though the ancient constitution remained, and he hesitated about being emperor. Even the proclamation by which he summoned the senators to their chamber, he issued merely with the title of Tribune, which he had received under Augustus. The wording of the proclamation was brief, and in a very modest tone. “He would,” it said, “provide for the honours due to his father, and not leave the lifeless body, and this was the only public duty he now claimed.”
As soon, however, as Augustus was dead, he had given the watchword to the praetorian cohorts, as commander-in-chief. He had the guard under arms, with all the other adjuncts of a court; soldiers attended him to the forum; soldiers went with him to the Senate House. He sent letters to the different armies, as though supreme power was now his, and showed hesitation only when he spoke in the Senate. His chief motive was fear that Germanicus, who had at his disposal so many legions, such vast auxiliary forces of the allies, and such wonderful popularity, might prefer the possession to the expectation of empire. He looked also at public opinion, wishing to have the credit of having been called and elected by the State rather than of having crept into power through the intrigues of a wife and a dotard’s adoption. It was subsequently understood that he assumed a wavering attitude, to test likewise the temper of the nobles. For he would twist a word or a look into a crime and treasure it up in his memory. On the first day of the Senate he allowed nothing to be discussed but the funeral of Augustus, whose will, which was brought in by the Vestal Virgins, named as his heirs Tiberius and Livia. The latter was to be admitted into the Julian family with the name of Augusta; next in expectation were the grand and great-grandchildren. In the third place, he had named the chief men of the State, most of whom he hated, simply out of ostentation and to win credit with posterity. His legacies were not beyond the scale of a private citizen, except a bequest of forty-three million five hundred thousand sesterces “to the people and populace of Rome,” of one thousand to every praetorian soldier, and of three hundred to every man in the legionary cohorts composed of Roman citizens. Next followed a deliberation about funeral honours. Of these the most imposing were thought fitting. The procession was to be conducted through “the gate of triumph,” on the motion of Gallus Asinius; the titles of the laws passed, the names of the nations conquered by Augustus were to be borne in front, on that of Lucius Arruntius. Messala Valerius further proposed that the oath of allegiance to Tiberius should be yearly renewed, and when Tiberius asked him whether it was at his bidding that he had brought forward this motion, he replied that he had proposed it spontaneously, and that in whatever concerned the State he would use only his own discretion, even at the risk of offending. This was the only style of adulation which yet remained. The Senators unanimously exclaimed that the body ought to be borne on their shoulders to the funeral pile. The emperor left the point to them with disdainful moderation, he then admonished the people by a proclamation not to indulge in that tumultuous enthusiasm which had distracted the funeral of the Divine Julius, or express a wish that Augustus should be burnt in the Forum instead of in his appointed resting-place in the Campus Martius. On the day of the funeral soldiers stood round as a guard, amid much ridicule from those who had either themselves witnessed or who had heard from their parents of the famous day when slavery was still something fresh, and freedom had been resought in vain, when the slaying of Caesar, the Dictator, seemed to some the vilest, to others, the most glorious of deeds. “Now,” they said, “an aged sovereign, whose power had lasted long, who had provided his heirs with abundant means to coerce the State, requires forsooth the defence of soldiers that his burial may be undisturbed.”
Then followed much talk about Augustus himself, and many expressed an idle wonder that the same day marked the beginning of his assumption of empire and the close of his life, and, again, that he had ended his days at Nola in the same house and room as his father Octavius. People extolled too the number of his consulships, in which he had equalled Valerius Corvus and Caius Marius combined, the continuance for thirty-seven years of the tribunitian power, the title of Imperator twenty-one times earned, and his other honours which had either frequently repeated or were wholly new. Sensible men, however, spoke variously of his life with praise and censure. Some said “that dutiful feeling towards a father, and the necessities of the State in which laws had then no place, drove him into civil war, which can neither be planned nor conducted on any right principles. He had often yielded to Antonius, while he was taking vengeance on his father’s murderers, often also to Lepidus. When the latter sank into feeble dotage and the former had been ruined by his profligacy, the only remedy for his distracted country was the rule of a single man. Yet the State had been organized under the name neither of a kingdom nor a dictatorship, but under that of a prince. The ocean and remote rivers were the boundaries of the empire; the legions, provinces, fleets, all things were linked together; there was law for the citizens; there was respect shown to the allies. The capital had been embellished on a grand scale; only in a few instances had he resorted to force, simply to secure general tranquillity.” It was said, on the other hand, “that filial duty and State necessity were merely assumed as a mask. It was really from a lust of sovereignty that he had excited the veterans by bribery, had, when a young man and a subject, raised an army, tampered with the Consul’s legions, and feigned an attachment to the faction of Pompeius. Then, when by a decree of the Senate he had usurped the high functions and authority of Praetor when Hirtius and Pansa were slain- whether they were destroyed by the enemy, or Pansa by poison infused into a wound, Hirtius by his own soldiers and Caesar’s treacherous machinations- he at once possessed himself of both their armies, wrested the consulate from a reluctant Senate, and turned against the State the arms with which he had been intrusted against Antonius. Citizens were proscribed, lands divided, without so much as the approval of those who executed these deeds. Even granting that the deaths of Cassius and of the Bruti were sacrifices to a hereditary enmity (though duty requires us to waive private feuds for the sake of the public welfare), still Pompeius had been deluded by the phantom of peace, and Lepidus by the mask of friendship. Subsequently, Antonius had been lured on by the treaties of Tarentum and Brundisium, and by his marriage with the sister, and paid by his death the penalty of a treacherous alliance. No doubt, there was peace after all this, but it was a peace stained with blood; there were the disasters of Lollius and Varus, the murders at Rome of the Varros, Egnatii, and Juli.”
The domestic life too of Augustus was not spared. “Nero’s wife had been taken from him, and there had been the farce of consulting the pontiffs, whether, with a child conceived and not yet born, she could properly marry. There were the excesses of Quintus Tedius and Vedius Pollio; last of all, there was Livia, terrible to the State as a mother, terrible to the house of the Caesars as a stepmother. No honour was left for the gods, when Augustus chose to be himself worshipped with temples and statues, like those of the deities, and with flamens and priests. He had not even adopted Tiberius as his successor out of affection or any regard to the State, but, having thoroughly seen his arrogant and savage temper, he had sought glory for himself by a contrast of extreme wickedness.” For, in fact, Augustus, a few years before, when he was a second time asking from the Senate the tribunitian power for Tiberius, though his speech was complimentary, had thrown out certain hints as to his manners, style, and habits of life, which he meant as reproaches, while he seemed to excuse. However, when his obsequies had been duly performed, a temple with a religious ritual was decreed him. After this all prayers were addressed to Tiberius. He, on his part, urged various considerations, the greatness of the empire, his distrust of himself. “Only,” he said, “the intellect of the Divine Augustus was equal to such a burden. Called as he had been by him to share his anxieties, he had learnt by experience how exposed to fortune’s caprices was the task of universal rule. Consequently, in a state which had the support of so many great men, they should not put everything on one man, as many, by uniting their efforts would more easily discharge public functions.” There was more grand sentiment than good faith in such words. Tiberius’s language even in matters which he did not care to conceal, either from nature or habit, was always hesitating and obscure, and now that he was struggling to hide his feelings completely, it was all the more involved in uncertainty and doubt. The Senators, however, whose only fear was lest they might seem to understand him, burst into complaints, tears, and prayers. They raised their hands to the gods, to the statue of Augustus, and to the knees of Tiberius, when he ordered a document to be produced and read. This contained a description of the resources of the State, of the number of citizens and allies under arms, of the fleets, subject kingdoms, provinces, taxes, direct and indirect, necessary expenses and customary bounties. All these details Augustus had written with his own hand, and had added a counsel, that the empire should be confined to its present limits, either from fear or out of jealousy.
Meantime, while the Senate stooped to the most abject supplication, Tiberius happened to say that although he was not equal to the whole burden of the State, yet he would undertake the charge of whatever part of it might be intrusted to him. Thereupon Asinius Gallus said, “I ask you, Caesar, what part of the State you wish to have intrusted to you?” Confounded by the sudden inquiry he was silent for a few moments; then, recovering his presence of mind, he replied that it would by no means become his modesty to choose or to avoid in a case where he would prefer to be wholly excused. Then Gallus again, who had inferred anger from his looks, said that the question had not been asked with the intention of dividing what could not be separated, but to convince him by his own admission that the body of the State was one, and must be directed by a single mind. He further spoke in praise of Augustus, and reminded Tiberius himself of his victories, and of his admirable deeds for many years as a civilian. Still, he did not thereby soften the emperor’s resentment, for he had long been detested from an impression that, as he had married Vipsania, daughter of Marcus Agrippa, who had once been the wife of Tiberius, he aspired to be more than a citizen, and kept up the arrogant tone of his father, Asinius Pollio. Next, Lucius Arruntius, who differed but little from the speech of Gallus, gave like offence, though Tiberius had no old grudge against him, but simply mistrusted him, because he was rich and daring, had brilliant accomplishments, and corresponding popularity. For Augustus, when in his last conversations he was discussing who would refuse the highest place, though sufficiently capable, who would aspire to it without being equal to it, and who would unite both the ability and ambition, had described Marcus Lepidus as able but contemptuously indifferent, Gallus Asinius as ambitious and incapable, Lucius Arruntius as not unworthy of it, and, should the chance be given him, sure to make the venture. About the two first there is a general agreement, but instead of Arruntius some have mentioned Cneius Piso, and all these men, except Lepidus, were soon afterwards destroyed by various charges through the contrivance of Tiberius. Quintus Haterius too and Mamercus Scaurus ruffled his suspicious temper, Haterius by having said- “How long, Caesar, will you suffer the State to be without a head?” Scaurus by the remark that there was a hope that the Senate’s prayers would not be fruitless, seeing that he had not used his right as Tribune to negative the motion of the Consuls. Tiberius instantly broke out into invective against Haterius; Scaurus, with whom he was far more deeply displeased, he passed over in silence. Wearied at last by the assembly’s clamorous importunity and the urgent demands of individual Senators, he gave way by degrees, not admitting that he undertook empire, but yet ceasing to refuse it and to be entreated. It is known that Haterius having entered the palace to ask pardon, and thrown himself at the knees of Tiberius as he was walking, was almost killed by the soldiers, because Tiberius fell forward, accidentally or from being entangled by the suppliant’s hands. Yet the peril of so great a man did not make him relent, till Haterius went with entreaties to Augusta, and was saved by her very earnest intercessions.
Great too was the Senate’s sycophancy to Augusta. Some would have her styled “parent”; others “mother of the country,” and a majority proposed that to the name of Caesar should be added “son of Julia.” The emperor repeatedly asserted that there must be a limit to the honours paid to women, and that he would observe similar moderation in those bestowed on himself, but annoyed at the invidious proposal, and indeed regarding a woman’s elevation as a slight to himself, he would not allow so much as a lictor to be assigned her, and forbade the erection of an altar in memory of her adoption, and any like distinction. But for Germanicus Caesar he asked pro-consular powers, and envoys were despatched to confer them on him, and also to express sympathy with his grief at the death of Augustus. The same request was not made for Drusus, because he was consul elect and present at Rome. Twelve candidates were named for the praetorship, the number which Augustus had handed down, and when the Senate urged Tiberius to increase it, he bound himself by an oath not to exceed it. It was then for the first time that the elections were transferred from the Campus Martius to the Senate. For up to that day, though the most important rested with the emperor’s choice, some were settled by the partialities of the tribes. Nor did the people complain of having the right taken from them, except in mere idle talk, and the Senate, being now released from the necessity of bribery and of degrading solicitations, gladly upheld the change, Tiberius confining himself to the recommendation of only four candidates who were to be nominated without rejection or canvass. Meanwhile the tribunes of the people asked leave to exhibit at their own expense games to be named after Augustus and added to the Calendar as the Augustales. Money was, however, voted from the exchequer, and though the use of the triumphal robe in the circus was prescribed, it was not allowed them to ride in a chariot. Soon the annual celebration was transferred to the praetor, to whose lot fell the administration of justice between citizens and foreigners.
This was the state of affairs at Rome when a mutiny broke out in the legions of Pannonia, which could be traced to no fresh cause except the change of emperors and the prospect it held out of license in tumult and of profit from a civil war. In the summer camp three legions were quartered, under the command of Junius Blaesus, who on hearing of the death of Augustus and the accession of Tiberius, had allowed his men a rest from military duties, either for mourning or rejoicing. This was the beginning of demoralization among the troops, of quarreling, of listening to the talk of every pestilent fellow, in short, of craving for luxury and idleness and loathing discipline and toil. In the camp was one Percennius, who had once been a leader of one of the theatrical factions, then became a common soldier, had a saucy tongue, and had learnt from his applause of actors how to stir up a crowd. By working on ignorant minds, which doubted as to what would be the terms of military service after Augustus, this man gradually influenced them in conversations at night or at nightfall, and when the better men had dispersed, he gathered round him all the worst spirits.
At last, when there were others ready to be abettors of a mutiny, he asked, in the tone of a demagogue, why, like slaves, they submitted to a few centurions and still fewer tribunes. “When,” he said, “will you dare to demand relief, if you do not go with your prayers or arms to a new and yet tottering throne? We have blundered enough by our tameness for so many years, in having to endure thirty or forty campaigns till we grow old, most of us with bodies maimed by wounds. Even dismissal is not the end of our service, but, quartered under a legion’s standard we toil through the same hardships under another title. If a soldier survives so many risks, he is still dragged into remote regions where, under the name of lands, he receives soaking swamps or mountainous wastes. Assuredly, military service itself is burdensome and unprofitable; ten as a day is the value set on life and limb; out of this, clothing, arms, tents, as well as the mercy of centurions and exemptions from duty have to be purchased. But indeed of floggings and wounds, of hard winters, wearisome summers, of terrible war, or barren peace, there is no end. Our only relief can come from military life being entered on under fixed conditions, from receiving each the pay of a denarius, and from the sixteenth year terminating our service. We must be retained no longer under a standard, but in the same camp a compensation in money must be paid us. Do the praetorian cohorts, which have just got their two denarii per man, and which after sixteen years are restored to their homes, encounter more perils? We do not disparage the guards of the capital; still, here amid barbarous tribes we have to face the enemy from our tents.”
The throng applauded from various motives, some pointing with indignation to the marks of the lash, others to their grey locks, and most of them to their threadbare garments and naked limbs. At, last, in their fury they went so far as to propose to combine the three legions into one. Driven from their purpose by the jealousy with which every one sought the chief honour for his own legion, they turned to other thoughts, and set up in one spot the three eagles, with the ensigns of the cohorts. At the same time they piled up turf and raised a mound, that they might have a more conspicuous meeting-place. Amid the bustle Blaesus came up. He upbraided them and held back man after man with the exclamation, “Better imbrue your hands in my blood: it will be less guilt to slay your commander than it is to be in revolt from the emperor. Either living I will uphold the loyalty of the legions, or Pierced to the heart I will hasten on your repentance.”
None the less however was the mound piled up, and it was quite breast high when, at last overcome by his persistency, they gave up their purpose. Blaesus, with the consummate tact of an orator, said, “It is not through mutiny and tumult that the desires of the army ought to be communicated to Caesar, nor did our soldiers of old ever ask so novel a boon of ancient commanders, nor have you yourselves asked it of the Divine Augustus. It is far from opportune that the emperor’s cares, now in their first beginning, should be aggravated. If, however, you are bent upon attempting in peace what even after your victory in the civil wars you did not demand, why, contrary to the habit of obedience, contrary to the law of discipline, do you meditate violence? Decide on sending envoys, and give them instructions in your presence.”
It was carried by acclamation that the son of Blaesus, one of the tribunes, should undertake the mission, and demand for the soldiers release from service after sixteen years. He was to have the rest of their message when the first part had been successful. After the young man departure there was comparative quiet, but there was an arrogant tone among the soldiers, to whom the fact that their commander’s son was pleading their common cause clearly showed that they had wrested by compulsion what they had failed to obtain by good behaviour. Meanwhile the companies which previous to the mutiny had been sent to Nauportus to make roads and bridges and for other purposes, when they heard of the tumult in the camp, tore up the standards, and having plundered the neighbouring villages and Nauportus itself, which was like a town, assailed the centurions who restrained them with jeers and insults, last of all, with blows. Their chief rage was against Aufidienus Rufus, the camp-prefect, whom they dragged from a waggon, loaded with baggage, and drove on at the head of the column, asking him in ridicule whether he liked to bear such huge burdens and such long marches. Rufus, who had long been a common soldier, then a centurion, and subsequently camp-prefect, tried to revive the old severe discipline, inured as he was to work and toil, and all the sterner because he had endured.
On the arrival of these troops the mutiny broke out afresh, and straggling from the camp they plundered the neighbourhood. Blaesus ordered a few who had conspicuously loaded themselves with spoil to be scourged and imprisoned as a terror to the rest; for, even as it then was, the commander was still obeyed by the centurions and by all the best men among the soldiers. As the men were dragged off, they struggled violently, clasped the knees of the bystanders, called to their comrades by name, or to the company, cohort, or legion to which they respectively belonged, exclaiming that all were threatened with the same fate. At the same time they heaped abuse on the commander; they appealed to heaven and to the gods, and left nothing undone by which they might excite resentment and pity, alarm and rage. They all rushed to the spot, broke open the guardhouse, unbound the prisoners, and were in a moment fraternising with deserters and men convicted on capital charges. Thence arose a more furious outbreak, with more leaders of the mutiny. Vibulenus, a common soldier, was hoisted in front of the general’s tribunal on the shoulders of the bystanders and addressed the excited throng, who eagerly awaited his intentions. “You have indeed,” he said, “restored light and air to these innocent and most unhappy men, but who restores to my brother his life, or my brother to myself? Sent to you by the German army in our common cause, he was last night butchered by the gladiators whom the general keeps and arms for the destruction of his soldiers. Answer, Blaesus, where you have flung aside the corpse? Even an enemy grudges not burial. When, with embraces and tears, I have sated my grief, order me also to be slain, provided only that when we have been destroyed for no crime, but only because we consulted the good of the legions, we may be buried by these men around me.”
He inflamed their excitement by weeping and smiting his breast and face with his hands. Then, hurling aside those who bore him on their shoulders, and impetuously flinging himself at the feet of one man after another, he roused such dismay and indignation that some of the soldiers put fetters on the gladiators who were among the number of Blaesus’s slaves, others did the like to the rest of his household, while a third party hurried out to look for the corpse. And had it not quickly been known that no corpse was found, that the slaves, when tortures were applied, denied the murder, and that the man never had a brother, they would have been on the point of destroying the general. As it was, they thrust out the tribunes and the camp-prefect; they plundered the baggage of the fugitives, and they killed a centurion, Lucilius, to whom, with soldiers’ humour, they had given the name “Bring another,” because when he had broken one vine-stick on a man’s back, he would call in a loud voice for another and another. The rest sheltered themselves in concealment, and one only was detained, Clemens Julius, whom the soldiers considered a fit person to carry messages, from his ready wit. Two legions, the eighth and the fifteenth, were actually drawing swords against each other, the former demanding the death of a centurion, whom they nicknamed Sirpicus, while the men of the fifteenth defended him, but the soldiers of the ninth interposed their entreaties, and when these were disregarded, their menaces.
This intelligence had such an effect on Tiberius, close as he was, and most careful to hush up every very serious disaster, that he despatched his son Drusus with the leading men of the State and with two praetorian cohorts, without any definite instructions, to take suitable measures. The cohorts were strengthened beyond their usual force with some picked troops. There was in addition a considerable part of the Praetorian cavalry, and the flower of the German soldiery, which was then the emperor’s guard. With them too was the commander of the praetorians, Aelius Sejanus, who had been associated with his own father, Strabo, had great influence with Tiberius, and was to advise and direct the young prince, and to hold out punishment or reward to the soldiers. When Drusus approached, the legions, as a mark of respect, met him, not as usual, with glad looks or the glitter of military decorations, but in unsightly squalor, and faces which, though they simulated grief, rather expressed defiance. As soon as he entered the entrenchments, they secured the gates with sentries, and ordered bodies of armed men to be in readiness at certain points of the camp. The rest crowded round the general’s tribunal in a dense mass. Drusus stood there, and with a gesture of his hand demanded silence. As often as they turned their eyes back on the throng, they broke into savage exclamations, then looking up to Drusus they trembled. There was a confused hum, a fierce shouting, and a sudden lull. Urged by conflicting emotions, they felt panic and they caused the like. At last, in an interval of the uproar, Drusus read his father’s letter, in which it was fully stated that he had a special care for the brave legions with which he had endured a number of campaigns; that, as soon as his mind had recovered from its grief, he would lay their demands before the Senators; that meanwhile he had sent his son to concede unhesitatingly what could be immediately granted, and that the rest must be reserved for the Senate, which ought to have a voice in showing either favour or severity.
The crowd replied that they had delivered their instructions to Clemens, one of the centurions, which he was to convey to Rome. He began to speak of the soldiers’ discharge after sixteen years, of the rewards of completed service, of the daily pay being a denarius, and of the veterans not being detained under a standard. When Drusus pleaded in answer reference to the Senate and to his father, he was interrupted by a tumultuous shout. “Why had he come, neither to increase the soldiers’ pay, nor to alleviate their hardships, in a word, with no power to better their lot? Yet heaven knew that all were allowed to scourge and to execute. Tiberius used formerly in the name of Augustus to frustrate the wishes of the legions, and the same tricks were now revived by Drusus. Was it only sons who were to visit them? Certainly, it was a new thing for the emperor to refer to the Senate merely what concerned the soldier’s interests. Was then the same Senate to be consulted whenever notice was given of an execution or of a battle? Were their rewards to be at the discretion of absolute rulers, their punishments to be without appeal?” At last they deserted the general’s tribunal, and to any praetorian soldier or friend of Caesar’s who met them, they used those threatening gestures which are the cause of strife and the beginning of a conflict, with special rage against Cneius Lentulus, because they thought that he above all others, by his age and warlike renown, encouraged Drusus, and was the first to scorn such blots on military discipline. Soon after, as he was leaving with Drusus to betake himself in foresight of his danger to the winter can they surrounded him, and asked him again and again whither he was going; was it to the emperor or to the Senate, there also to oppose the interests of the legions. At the same moment they menaced him savagely and flung stones. And now, bleeding from a blow, and feeling destruction certain, he was rescued by the hurried arrival of the throng which had accompanied Drusus.
That terrible night which threatened an explosion of crime was tranquillised by a mere accident. Suddenly in a clear sky the moon’s radiance seemed to die away. This the soldiers in their ignorance of the cause regarded as an omen of their condition, comparing the failure of her light to their own efforts, and imagining that their attempts would end prosperously should her brightness and splendour be restored to the goddess. And so they raised a din with brazen instruments and the combined notes of trumpets and horns, with joy or sorrow, as she brightened or grew dark. When clouds arose and obstructed their sight, and it was thought she was buried in the gloom, with that proneness to superstition which steals over minds once thoroughly cowed, they lamented that this was a portent of never-ending hardship, and that heaven frowned on their deeds. Drusus, thinking that he ought to avail himself of this change in their temper and turn what chance had offered to a wise account, ordered the tents to be visited. Clemens, the centurion was summoned with all others who for their good qualities were liked by the common soldiers. These men made their way among the patrols, sentries and guards of the camp-gates, suggesting hope or holding out threats. “How long will you besiege the emperor’s son? What is to be the end of our strifes? Will Percennius and Vibulenus give pay to the soldiers and land to those who have earned their discharge? In a word, are they, instead of the Neros and the Drusi, to control the empire of the Roman people? Why are we not rather first in our repentance as we were last in the offence? Demands made in common are granted slowly; a separate favour you may deserve and receive at the same moment.”
With minds affected by these words and growing mutually suspicious, they divided off the new troops from the old, and one legion from another. Then by degrees the instinct of obedience returned. They quitted the gates and restored to their places the standards which at the beginning of the mutiny they had grouped into one spot.
At daybreak Drusus called them to an assembly, and, though not a practised speaker, yet with natural dignity upbraided them for their past and commended their present behaviour. He was not, he said, to be conquered by terror or by threats. Were he to see them inclining to submission and hear the language of entreaty, he would write to his father, that he might be merciful and receive the legions’ petition. At their prayer, Blaesus and Lucius Apronius, a Roman knight on Drusus’s staff, with Justus Catonius, a first-rank centurion, were again sent to Tiberius. Then ensued a conflict of opinion among them, some maintaining that it was best to wait the envoys’ return and meanwhile humour the soldiers, others, that stronger measures ought to be used, inasmuch as the rabble knows no mean, and inspires fear, unless they are afraid, though when they have once been overawed, they can be safely despised. “While superstition still swayed them, the general should apply terror by removing the leaders of the mutiny.” Drusus’s temper was inclined to harsh measures. He summoned Vibulenus and Percennius and ordered them to be put to death. The common account is that they were buried in the general’s tent, though according to some their bodies were flung outside the entrenchments for all to see.
Search was then made for all the chief mutineers. Some as they roamed outside the camp were cut down by the centurions or by soldiers of the praetorian cohorts. Some even the companies gave up in proof of their loyalty. The men’s troubles were increased by an early winter with continuous storms so violent that they could not go beyond their tents or meet together or keep the standards in their places, from which they were perpetually tom by hurricane and rain. And there still lingered the dread of the divine wrath; nor was it without meaning, they thought, that, hostile to an impious host, the stars grew dim and storms burst over them. Their only relief from misery was to quit an ill-omened and polluted camp, and, having purged themselves of their guilt, to betake themselves again every one to his winterquarters. First the eighth, then the fifteenth legion returned; the ninth cried again and again that they ought to wait for the letter from Tiberius, but soon finding themselves isolated by the departure of the rest, they voluntarily forestalled their inevitable fate. Drusus, without awaiting the envoys’ return, as for the present all was quiet, went back to Rome. About the same time, from the same causes, the legions of Germany rose in mutiny, with a fury proportioned to their greater numbers, in the confident hope that Germanicus Caesar would not be able to endure another’s supremacy and offer himself to the legions, whose strength would carry everything before it. There were two armies on the bank of the Rhine; that named the upper army had Caius Silius for general; the lower was under the charge of Aulus Caecina. The supreme direction rested with Germanicus, then busily employed in conducting the assessment of Gaul. The troops under the control of Silius, with minds yet in suspense, watched the issue of mutiny elsewhere; but the soldiers of the lower army fell into a frenzy, which had its beginning in the men of the twenty-first and fifth legions, and into which the first and twentieth were also drawn. For they were all quartered in the same summer-camp, in the territory of the Ubii, enjoying ease or having only light on hearing of the death of Augustus, a rabble of city slaves, who had been enlisted under a recent levy at Rome, habituated to laxity and impatient of hardship, filled the ignorant minds of the other soldiers with notions that the time had come when the veteran might demand a timely discharge, the young, more liberal pay, all, an end of their miseries, and vengeance on the cruelty of centurions.
It was not one alone who spoke thus, as did Percennius among the legions of Pannonia, nor was it in the ears of trembling soldiers, who looked with apprehension to other and mightier armies, but there was sedition in many a face and voice. “The Roman world,” they said, was in their hand; their victories aggrandised the State; it was from them that emperors received their titles.”
Nor did their commander check them. Indeed, the blind rage of so many had robbed him of his resolution., In a sudden frenzy they rushed with drawn swords on the centurions, the immemorial object of the soldiers’ resentment and the first cause of savage fury. They threw them to the earth and beat them sorely, sixty to one, so as to correspond with the number of centurions. Then tearing them from the ground, mangled, and some lifeless, they flung them outside the entrenchments or into the river Rhine. One Septimius, who fled to the tribunal and was grovelling at Caecina’s feet, was persistently demanded till he was given up to destruction. Cassius Chaerea, who won for himself a memory with posterity by the murder of Caius Caesar, being then a youth of high spirit, cleared a passage with his sword through the armed and opposing throng. Neither tribune nor camp-prefect maintained authority any longer. Patrols, sentries, and whatever else the needs of the time required, were distributed by the men themselves. To those who could guess the temper of soldiers with some penetration, the strongest symptom of a wide-spread and intractable commotion, was the fact that, instead of being divided or instigated by a few persons, they were unanimous in their fury and equally unanimous in their composure, with so uniform a consistency that one would have thought them to be under command. Meantime Germanicus, while, as I have related, he was collecting the taxes of Gaul, received news of the death of Augustus. He was married to the granddaughter of Augustus, Agrippina, by whom he had several children, and though he was himself the son of Drusus, brother of Tiberius, and grandson of Augusta, he was troubled by the secret hatred of his uncle and grandmother, the motives for which were the more venomous because unjust. For the memory of Drusus was held in honour by the Roman people, and they believed that had he obtained empire, he would have restored freedom. Hence they regarded Germanicus with favour and with the same hope. He was indeed a young man of unaspiring temper, and of wonderful kindliness, contrasting strongly with the proud and mysterious reserve that marked the conversation and the features of Tiberius. Then, there were feminine jealousies, Livia feeling a stepmother’s bitterness towards Agrippina, and Agrippina herself too being rather excitable, only her purity and love of her husband gave a right direction to her otherwise imperious disposition.
But the nearer Germanicus was to the highest hope, the more laboriously did he exert himself for Tiberius, and he made the neighbouring Sequani and all the Belgic states swear obedience to him. On hearing of the mutiny in the legions, he instantly went to the spot, and met them outside the camp, eyes fixed on the ground, and seemingly repentant. As soon as he entered the entrenchments, confused murmurs became audible. Some men, seizing his hand under pretence of kissing it, thrust his fingers into their mouths, that he might touch their toothless gums; others showed him their limbs bowed with age. He ordered the throng which stood near him, as it seemed a promiscuous gathering, to separate itself into its military companies. They replied that they would hear better as they were. The standards were then to be advanced, so that thus at least the cohorts might be distinguished. The soldiers obeyed reluctantly. Then beginning with a reverent mention of Augustus, he passed on to the victories and triumphs of Tiberius, dwelling with especial praise on his glorious achievements with those legions in Germany. Next, he extolled the unity of Italy, the loyalty of Gaul, the entire absence of turbulence or strife. He was heard in silence or with but a slight murmur.
As soon as he touched on the mutiny and asked what had become of soldierly obedience, of the glory of ancient discipline, whither they had driven their tribunes and centurions, they all bared their bodies and taunted him with the scars of their wounds and the marks of the lash. And then with confused exclamations they spoke bitterly of the prices of exemptions, of their scanty pay, of the severity of their tasks, with special mention of the entrenchment, the fosse, the conveyance of fodder, building-timber, firewood, and whatever else had to be procured from necessity, or as a check on idleness in the camp. The fiercest clamour arose from the veteran soldiers, who, as they counted their thirty campaigns or more, implored him to relieve worn-out men, and not let them die under the same hardships, but have an end of such harassing service, and repose without beggary. Some even claimed the legacy of the Divine Augustus, with words of good omen for Germanicus, and, should he wish for empire, they showed themselves abundantly willing. Thereupon, as though he were contracting the pollution of guilt, he leapt impetuously from the tribunal. The men opposed his departure with their weapons, threatening him repeatedly if he would not go back. But Germanicus protesting that he would die rather than cast off his loyalty, plucked his sword from his side, raised it aloft and was plunging it into his breast, when those nearest him seized his hand and held it by force. The remotest and most densely crowded part of the throng, and, what almost passes belief, some, who came close up to him, urged him to strike the blow, and a soldier, by name Calusidius, offered him a drawn sword, saying that it was sharper than his own. Even in their fury, this seemed to them a savage act and one of evil precedent, and there was a pause during which Caesar’s friends hurried him into his tent.
There they took counsel how to heal matters. For news was also brought that the soldiers were preparing the despatch of envoys who were to draw the upper army into their cause; that the capital of the Ubii was marked out for destruction, and that hands with the stain of plunder on them would soon be daring enough for the pillage of Gaul. The alarm was heightened by the knowledge that the enemy was aware of the Roman mutiny, and would certainly attack if the Rhine bank were undefended. Yet if the auxiliary troops and allies were to be armed against the retiring legions, civil war was in fact begun. Severity would be dangerous; profuse liberality would be scandalous. Whether all or nothing were conceded to the soldiery, the State was equally in jeopardy.
Accordingly, having weighed their plans one against each other, they decided that a letter should be written in the prince’s name, to the effect that full discharge was granted to those who had served in twenty campaigns; that there was a conditional release for those who had served sixteen, and that they were to be retained under a standard with immunity from everything except actually keeping off the enemy; that the legacies which they had asked, were to be paid and doubled. The soldiers perceived that all this was invented for the occasion, and instantly pressed their demands. The discharge from service was quickly arranged by the tribunes. Payment was put off till they reached their respective winterquarters. The men of the fifth and twenty-first legions refused to go till in the summer-camp where they stood the money was made up out of the purses of Germanicus himself and his friends, and paid in full. The first and twentieth legions were led back by their officer Caecina to the canton of the Ubii, marching in disgrace, since sums of money which had been extorted from the general were carried among the eagles and standards. Germanicus went to the Upper Army, and the second, thirteenth, and sixteenth legions, without any delay, accepted from him the oath of allegiance. The fourteenth hesitated a little, but their money and the discharge were offered even without their demanding it. Meanwhile there was an outbreak among the Chauci, begun by some veterans of the mutinous legions on garrison duty. They were quelled for a time by the instant execution of two soldiers. Such was the order of Mennius, the camp-prefect, more as a salutary warning than as a legal act. Then, when the commotion increased, he fled and having been discovered, as his hiding place was now unsafe, he borrowed a resource from audacity. “It was not,” he told them, “the camp-prefect, it was Germanicus, their general, it was Tiberius, their emperor, whom they were insulting.” At the same moment, overawing all resistance, he seized the standard, faced round towards the river-bank, and exclaiming that whoever left the ranks, he would hold as a deserter, he led them back into their winter-quarters, disaffected indeed, but cowed.
Meanwhile envoys from the Senate had an interview with Germanicus, who had now returned, at the Altar of the Ubii. Two legions, the first and twentieth, with veterans discharged and serving under a standard, were there in winter-quarters. In the bewilderment of terror and conscious guilt they were penetrated by an apprehension that persons had come at the Senate’s orders to cancel the concessions they had extorted by mutiny. And as it is the way with a mob to fix any charge, however groundless, on some particular person, they reproached Manatius Plancus, an ex-consul and the chief envoy, with being the author of the Senate’s decree. At midnight they began to demand the imperial standard kept in Germanicus’s quarters, and having rushed together to the entrance, burst the door, dragged Caesar from his bed, and forced him by menaces of death to give up the standard. Then roaming through the camp-streets, they met the envoys, who on hearing of the tumult were hastening to Germanicus. They loaded them with insults, and were on the point of murdering them, Plancus especially, whose high rank had deterred him from flight. In his peril he found safety only in the camp of the first legion. There clasping the standards and the eagle, he sought to protect himself under their sanctity. And had not the eagle-bearer, Calpurnius, saved him from the worst violence, the blood of an envoy of the Roman people, an occurrence rare even among our foes, would in a Roman camp have stained the altars of the gods.
At last, with the light of day, when the general and the soldiers and the whole affair were clearly recognised, Germanicus entered the camp, ordered Plancus to be conducted to him, and received him on the tribunal. He then upbraided them with their fatal infatuation, revived not so much by the anger of the soldiers as by that of heaven, and explained the reasons of the envoys’ arrival. On the rights of ambassadors, on the dreadful and undeserved peril of Plancus, and also on the disgrace into which the legion had brought itself, he dwelt with the eloquence of pity, and while the throng was confounded rather than appeased, he dismissed the envoys with an escort of auxiliary cavalry.
Amid the alarm all condemned Germanicus for not going to the Upper Army, where he might find obedience and help against the rebels. “Enough and more than enough blunders,” they said, “had been made by granting discharges and money, indeed, by conciliatory measures. Even if Germanicus held his own life cheap, why should he keep a little son and a pregnant wife among madmen who outraged every human right? Let these, at least, be restored safely to their grandsire and to the State.”
When his wife spurned the notion, protesting that she was a descendant of the Divine Augustus and could face peril with no degenerate spirit, he at last embraced her and the son of their love with many tears, and after long delay compelled her to depart. Slowly moved along a pitiable procession of women, a general’s fugitive wife with a little son in her bosom, her friends’ wives weeping round her, as with her they were dragging themselves from the camp. Not less sorrowful were those who remained. There was no appearance of the triumphant general about Germanicus, and he seemed to be in a conquered city rather than in his own camp, while groans and wailings attracted the ears and looks even of the soldiers. They came out of their tents, asking “what was that mournful sound? What meant the sad sight? Here were ladies of rank, not a centurion to escort them, not a soldier, no sign of a prince’s wife, none of the usual retinue. Could they be going to the Treveri, to be subjects of the foreigner?” Then they felt shame and pity, and remembered his father Agrippa, her grandfather Augustus, her father-in-law Drusus, her own glory as a mother of children, her noble purity. And there was her little child too, born in the camp, brought up amid the tents of the legions, whom they used to call in soldiers’ fashion, Caligula, because he often wore the shoe so called, to win the men’s goodwill. But nothing moved them so much as jealousy towards the Treveri. They entreated, stopped the way, that Agrippina might return and remain, some running to meet her, while most of them went back to Germanicus. He, with a grief and anger that were yet fresh, thus began to address the throng around him-“Neither wife nor son are dearer to me than my father and the State. But he will surely have the protection of his own majesty, the empire of Rome that of our other armies. My wife and children whom, were it a question of your glory, I would willingly expose to destruction, I now remove to a distance from your fury, so that whatever wickedness is thereby threatened, may be expiated by my blood only, and that you may not be made more guilty by the slaughter of a great-grandson of Augustus, and the murder of a daughter-in-law of Tiberius. For what have you not dared, what have you not profaned during these days? What name shall I give to this gathering? Am I to call you soldiers, you who have beset with entrenchments and arms your general’s son, or citizens, when you have trampled under foot the authority of the Senate? Even the rights of public enemies, the sacred character of the ambassador, and the law of nations have been violated by you. The Divine Julius once quelled an army’s mutiny with a single word by calling those who were renouncing their military obedience ‘citizens.’ The Divine Augustus cowed the legions who had fought at Actium with one look of his face. Though I am not yet what they were, still, descended as I am from them, it would be a strange and unworthy thing should I be spurned by the soldiery of Spain or Syria. First and twentieth legions, you who received your standards from Tiberius, you, men of the twentieth who have shared with me so many battles and have been enriched with so many rewards, is not this a fine gratitude with which you are repaying your general? Are these the tidings which I shall have to carry to my father when he hears only joyful intelligence from our other provinces, that his own recruits, his own veterans are not satisfied with discharge or pay; that here only centurions are murdered, tribunes driven away, envoys imprisoned, camps and rivers stained with blood, while I am myself dragging on a precarious existence amid those who hate me? “Why, on the first day of our meeting, why did you, my friends, wrest from me, in your blindness, the steel which I was preparing to plunge into my breast? Better and more loving was the act of the man who offered me the sword. At any rate I should have perished before I was as yet conscious of all the disgraces of my army, while you would have chosen a general who though he might allow my death to pass unpunished would avenge the death of Varus and his three legions. Never indeed may heaven suffer the Belgae, though they proffer their aid, to have the glory and honour of having rescued the name of Rome and quelled the tribes of Germany. It is thy spirit, Divine Augustus, now received into heaven, thine image, father Drusus, and the remembrance of thee, which, with these same soldiers who are now stimulated by shame and ambition, should wipe out this blot and turn the wrath of civil strife to the destruction of the foe. You too, in whose faces and in whose hearts I perceive a change, if only you restore to the Senate their envoys, to the emperor his due allegiance, to myself my wife and son, do you stand aloof from pollution and separate the mutinous from among you. This will be a pledge of your repentance, a guarantee of your loyalty.”
Thereupon, as suppliants confessing that his reproaches were true, they implored him to punish the guilty, pardon those who had erred, and lead them against the enemy. And he was to recall his wife, to let the nursling of the legions return and not be handed over as a hostage to the Gauls. As to Agrippina’s return, he made the excuse of her approaching confinement and of winter. His son, he said, would come, and the rest they might settle themselves. Away they hurried hither and thither, altered men, and dragged the chief mutineers in chains to Caius Caetronius commander of the first legion, who tried and punished them one by one in the following fashion. In front of the throng stood the legions with drawn swords. Each accused man was on a raised platform and was pointed out by a tribune. If they shouted out that he was guilty, he was thrown headlong and cut to pieces. The soldiers gloated over the bloodshed as though it gave them absolution. Nor did Caesar check them, seeing that without any order from himself the same men were responsible for all the cruelty and all the odium of the deed.
The example was followed by the veterans, who were soon afterwards sent into Raetia, nominally to defend the province against a threatened invasion of the Suevi but really that they might tear themselves from a camp stamped with the horror of a dreadful remedy no less than with the memory of guilt. Then the general revised the list of centurions. Each, at his summons, stated his name, his rank, his birthplace, the number of his campaigns, what brave deeds he had done in battle, his military rewards, if any. If the tribunes and the legion commended his energy and good behaviour, he retained his rank; where they unanimously charged him with rapacity or cruelty, he was dismissed the service.
Quiet being thus restored for the present, a no less formidable difficulty remained through the turbulence of the fifth and twenty-first legions, who were in winter quarters sixty miles away at Old Camp, as the place was called. These, in fact, had been the first to begin the mutiny, and the most atrocious deeds had been committed by their hands. Unawed by the punishment of their comrades, and unmoved by their contrition, they still retained their resentment. Caesar accordingly proposed to send an armed fleet with some of our allies down the Rhine, resolved to make war on them should they reject his authority.
At Rome, meanwhile, when the result of affairs in Illyrium was not yet known, and men had heard of the commotion among the German legions, the citizens in alarm reproached Tiberius for the hypocritical irresolution with which he was befooling the senate and the people, feeble and disarmed as they were, while the soldiery were all the time in revolt, and could not be quelled by the yet imperfectly-matured authority of two striplings. “He ought to have gone himself and confronted with his imperial majesty those who would have soon yielded, when they once saw a sovereign of long experience, who was the supreme dispenser of rigour or of bounty. Could Augustus, with the feebleness of age on him, so often visit Germany, and is Tiberius, in the vigour of life, to sit in the Senate and criticise its members’ words? He had taken good care that there should be slavery at Rome; he should now apply some soothing medicine to the spirit of soldiers, that they might be willing to endure peace.”
Notwithstanding these remonstrances, it was the inflexible purpose of Tiberius not to quit the head-quarters of empire or to imperil himself and the State. Indeed, many conflicting thoughts troubled him. The army in Germany was the stronger; that in Pannonia the nearer; the first was supported by all the strength of Gaul; the latter menaced Italy. Which was he to prefer, without the fear that those whom he slighted would be infuriated by the affront? But his sons might alike visit both, and not compromise the imperial dignity, which inspired the greatest awe at a distance. There was also an excuse for mere youths referring some matters to their father, with the possibility that he could conciliate or crush those who resisted Germanicus or Drusus. What resource remained, if they despised the emperor? However, as if on the eve of departure, he selected his attendants, provided his camp-equipage, and prepared a fleet; then winter and matters of business were the various pretexts with which he amused, first, sensible men, then the populace, last, and longest of all, the provinces.
Germanicus meantime, though he had concentrated his army and prepared vengeance against the mutineers, thought that he ought still to allow them an interval, in case they might, with the late warning before them, regard their safety. He sent a despatch to Caecina, which said that he was on the way with a strong force, and that, unless they forestalled his arrival by the execution of the guilty, he would resort to an indiscriminate massacre. Caecina read the letter confidentially to the eagle and standardbearers, and to all in the camp who were least tainted by disloyalty, and urged them to save the whole army from disgrace, and themselves from destruction. “In peace,” he said, “the merits of a man’s case are carefully weighed; when war bursts on us, innocent and guilty alike perish.” Upon this, they sounded those whom they thought best for their purpose, and when they saw that a majority of their legions remained loyal, at the commander’s suggestion they fixed a time for falling with the sword on all the vilest and foremost of the mutineers. Then, at a mutually given signal, they rushed into the tents, and butchered the unsuspecting men, none but those in the secret knowing what was the beginning or what was to be the end of the slaughter. The scene was a contrast to all civil wars which have ever occurred. It was not in battle, it was not from opposing camps, it was from those same dwellings where day saw them at their common meals, night resting from labour, that they divided themselves into two factions, and showered on each other their missiles. Uproar, wounds, bloodshed, were everywhere visible; the cause was a mystery. All else was at the disposal of chance. Even some loyal men were slain, for, on its being once understood who were the objects of fury, some of the worst mutineers too had seized on weapons. Neither commander nor tribune was present to control them; the men were allowed license and vengeance to their heart’s content. Soon afterwards Germanicus entered the camp, and exclaiming with a flood of tears, that this was destruction rather than remedy, ordered the bodies to be burnt.
Even then their savage spirit was seized with desire to march against the enemy, as an atonement for their frenzy, and it was felt that the shades of their fellow-soldiers could be appeased only by exposing such impious breasts to honourable scars. Caesar followed up the enthusiasm of the men, and having bridged over the Rhine, he sent across it 12,000 from the legions, with six-and-twenty allied cohorts, and eight squadrons of cavalry, whose discipline had been without a stain during the mutiny.
There was exultation among the Germans, not far off, as long as we were detained by the public mourning for the loss of Augustus, and then by our dissensions. But the Roman general in a forced march, cut through the Caesian forest and the barrier which had been begun by Tiberius, and pitched his camp on this barrier, his front and rear being defended by intrenchments, his flanks by timber barricades. He then penetrated some forest passes but little known, and, as there were two routes, he deliberated whether he should pursue the short and ordinary route, or that which was more difficult unexplored, and consequently unguarded by the enemy. He chose the longer way, and hurried on every remaining preparation, for his scouts had brought word that among the Germans it was a night of festivity, with games, and one of their grand banquets. Caecina had orders to advance with some light cohorts, and to clear away any obstructions from the woods. The legions followed at a moderate interval. They were helped by a night of bright starlight, reached the villages of the Marsi, and threw their pickets round the enemy, who even then were stretched on beds or at their tables, without the least fear, or any sentries before their camp, so complete was their carelessness and disorder; and of war indeed there was no apprehension. Peace it certainly was not- merely the languid and heedless ease of half-intoxicated people. Caesar, to spread devastation widely, divided his eager legions into four columns, and ravaged a space of fifty miles with fire and sword. Neither sex nor age moved his compassion. Everything, sacred or profane, the temple too of Tamfana, as they called it, the special resort of all those tribes, was levelled to the ground. There was not a wound among our soldiers, who cut down a half-asleep, an unarmed, or a straggling foe. The Bructeri, Tubantes, and Usipetes, were roused by this slaughter, and they beset the forest passes through which the army had to return. The general knew this, and he marched, prepared both to advance and to fight. Part of the cavalry, and some of the auxiliary cohorts led the van; then came the first legion, and, with the baggage in the centre, the men of the twenty-first closed up the left, those of the fifth, the right flank. The twentieth legion secured the rear, and, next, were the rest of the allies.
Meanwhile the enemy moved not till the army began to defile in column through the woods, then made slight skirmishing attacks on its flanks and van, and with his whole force charged the rear. The light cohorts were thrown into confusion by the dense masses of the Germans, when Caesar rode up to the men of the twentieth legion, and in a loud voice exclaimed that this was the time for wiping out the mutiny. “Advance,” he said, “and hasten to turn your guilt into glory.” This fired their courage, and at a single dash they broke through the enemy, and drove him back with great slaughter into the open country. At the same moment the troops of the van emerged from the woods and intrenched a camp. After this their march was uninterrupted, and the soldiery, with the confidence of recent success, and forgetful of the past, were placed in winter-quarters. The news was a source of joy and also of anxiety to Tiberius. He rejoiced that the mutiny was crushed, but the fact that Germanicus had won the soldiers’ favour by lavishing money, and promptly granting the discharge, as well as his fame as a soldier, annoyed him. Still, he brought his achievements under the notice of the Senate, and spoke much of his greatness in language elaborated for effect, more so than could be believed to come from his inmost heart. He bestowed a briefer praise on Drusus, and on the termination of the disturbance in Illyricum, but he was more earnest, and his speech more hearty. And he confirmed, too, in the armies of Pannonia all the concessions of Germanicus.
That same year Julia ended her days. For her profligacy she had formerly been confined by her father Augustus in the island of Pandateria, and then in the town of the Regini on the shores of the straits of Sicily. She had been the wife of Tiberius while Caius and Lucius Caesar were in their glory, and had disdained him as an unequal match. This was Tiberius’s special reason for retiring to Rhodes. When he obtained the empire, he left her in banishment and disgrace, deprived of all hope after the murder of Postumus Agrippa, and let her perish by a lingering death of destitution, with the idea that an obscurity would hang over her end from the length of her exile. He had a like motive for cruel vengeance on Sempronius Gracchus, a man of noble family, of shrewd understanding, and a perverse eloquence, who had seduced this same Julia when she was the wife of Marcus Agrippa. And this was not the end of the intrigue. When she had been handed over to Tiberius, her persistent paramour inflamed her with disobedience and hatred towards her husband; and a letter which Julia wrote to her father, Augustus, inveighing against Tiberius, was supposed to be the composition of Gracchus. He was accordingly banished to Cercina, where he endured an exile of fourteen years. Then the soldiers who were sent to slay him, found him on a promontory, expecting no good. On their arrival, he begged a brief interval in which to give by letter his last instructions to his wife Alliaria, and then offered his neck to the executioners, dying with a courage not unworthy of the Sempronian name, which his degenerate life had dishonoured. Some have related that these soldiers were not sent from Rome, but by Lucius Asprenas, proconsul of Africa, on the authority of Tiberius, who had vainly hoped that the infamy of the murder might be shifted on Asprenas.
The same year witnessed the establishment of religious ceremonies in a new priesthood of the brotherhood of the Augustales, just as in former days Titus Tatius, to retain the rites of the Sabines, had instituted the Titian brotherhood. Twenty-one were chosen by lot from the chief men of the State; Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius, and Germanicus, were added to the number. The Augustal game’s which were then inaugurated, were disturbed by quarrels arising out of rivalry between the actors. Augustus had shown indulgence to the entertainment by way of humouring Maecenas’s extravagant passion for Bathyllus, nor did he himself dislike such amusements, and he thought it citizenlike to mingle in the pleasures of the populace. Very different was the tendency of Tiberius’s character. But a people so many years indulgently treated, he did not yet venture to put under harsher control.
In the consulship of Drusus Caesar and Caius Norbanus, Germanicus had a triumph decreed him, though war still lasted. And though it was for the summer campaign that he was most vigorously preparing, he anticipated it by a sudden inroad on the Chatti in the beginning of spring. There had, in fact, sprung up a hope of the enemy being divided between Arminius and Segestes, famous, respectively, for treachery and loyalty towards us. Arminius was the disturber of Germany. Segestes often revealed the fact that a rebellion was being organized, more especially at that last banquet after which they rushed to arms, and he urged Varus to arrest himself and Arminius and all the other chiefs, assuring him that the people would attempt nothing if the leading men were removed, and that he would then have an opportunity of sifting accusations and distinguishing the innocent. But Varus fell by fate and by the sword of Arminius, with whom Segestes, though dragged into war by the unanimous voice of the nation, continued to be at feud, his resentment being heightened by personal motives, as Arminius had married his daughter who was betrothed to another. With a son-in-law detested, and fathers-in-law also at enmity, what are bonds of love between united hearts became with bitter foes incentives to fury.
Germanicus accordingly gave Caecina four legions, five thousand auxiliaries, with some hastily raised levies from the Germans dwelling on the left bank of the Rhine. He was himself at the head of an equal number of legions and twice as many allies. Having established a fort on the site of his father’s entrenchments on Mount Taunus he hurried his troops in quick marching order against the Chatti, leaving Lucius Apronius to direct works connected with roads and bridges. With a dry season and comparatively shallow streams, a rare circumstance in that climate, he had accomplished, without obstruction, rapid march, and he feared for his return heavy rains and swollen rivers. But so suddenly did he come on the Chatti that all the helpless from age or sex were at once captured or slaughtered. Their able-bodied men had swum across the river Adrana, and were trying to keep back the Romans as they were commencing a bridge. Subsequently they were driven back by missiles and arrows, and having in vain attempted for peace, some took refuge with Germanicus, while the rest leaving their cantons and villages dispersed themselves in their forests. After burning Mattium, the capital of the tribe, and ravaging the open country, Germanicus marched back towards the Rhine, the enemy not daring to harass the rear of the retiring army, which was his usual practice whenever he fell back by way of stratagem rather than from panic. It had been the intention of the Cherusci to help the Chatti; but Caecina thoroughly cowed them, carrying his arms everywhere, and the Marsi who ventured to engage him, he repulsed in a successful battle.
Not long after envoys came from Segestes, imploring aid against the violence of his fellow-countrymen, by whom he was hemmed in, and with whom Arminius had greater influence, because he counselled war. For with barbarians, the more eager a man’s daring, the more does he inspire confidence, and the more highly is he esteemed in times of revolution. With the envoys Segestes had associated his son, by name Segimundus, but the youth hung back from a consciousness of guilt. For in the year of the revolt of Germany he had been appointed a priest at the altar of the Ubii, and had rent the sacred garlands, and fled to the rebels. Induced, however, to hope for mercy from Rome, he brought his father’s message; he was graciously received and sent with an escort to the Gallic bank of the Rhine.
It was now worth while for Germanicus to march back his army. A battle was fought against the besiegers and Segestes was rescued with a numerous band of kinsfolk and dependents. In the number were some women of rank; among them, the wife of Arminius, who was also the daughter of Segestes, but who exhibited the spirit of her husband rather than of her father, subdued neither to tears nor to the tones of a suppliant, her hands tightly clasped within her bosom, and eyes which dwelt on her hope of offspring. The spoils also taken in the defeat of Varus were brought in, having been given as plunder to many of those who were then being surrendered. Segestes too was there in person, a stately figure, fearless in the remembrance of having been a faithful ally. His speech was to this effect. “This is not my first day of steadfast loyalty towards the Roman people. From the time that the Divine Augustus gave me the citizenship, I have chosen my friends and foes with an eye to your advantage, not from hatred of my fatherland (for traitors are detested even by those whom they prefer) but because I held that Romans and Germans have the same interests, and that peace is better than war. And therefore I denounced to Varus, who then commanded your army, Arminius, the ravisher of my daughter, the violater of your treaty. I was put off by that dilatory general, and, as I found but little protection in the laws, I urged him to arrest myself, Arminius, and his accomplices. That night is my witness; would that it had been my last. What followed, may be deplored rather than defended. However, I threw Arminius into chains and I endured to have them put on myself by his partisans. And as soon as give opportunity, I show my preference for the old over the new, for peace over commotion, not to get a reward, but that I may clear myself from treachery and be at the same time a fit mediator for a German people, should they choose repentance rather than ruin, For the youth and error of my son I entreat forgiveness. As for my daughter, I admit that it is by compulsion she has been brought here. It will be for you to consider which fact weighs most with you, that she is with child by Arminius or that she owes her being to me.”
Caesar in a gracious reply promised safety to his children and kinsfolk and a home for himself in the old province. He then led back the army and received on the proposal of Tiberius the title of Imperator. The wife of Arminius gave birth to a male child; the boy, who was brought up at Ravenna, soon afterwards suffered an insult, which at the proper time I shall relate.
The report of the surrender and kind reception of Segestes, when generally known, was heard with hope or grief according as men shrank from war or desired it. Arminius, with his naturally furious temper, was driven to frenzy by the seizure of his wife and the foredooming to slavery of his wife’s unborn child. He flew hither and thither among the Cherusci, demanding “war against Segestes, war against Caesar.” And he refrained not from taunts. “Noble the father,” he would say, “mighty the general, brave the army which, with such strength, has carried off one weak woman. Before me, three legions, three commanders have fallen. Not by treachery, not against pregnant women, but openly against armed men do I wage war. There are still to be seen in the groves of Germany the Roman standards which I hung up to our country’s gods. Let Segestes dwell on the conquered bank; let him restore to his son his priestly office; one thing there is which Germans will never thoroughly excuse, their having seen between the Elbe and the Rhine the Roman rods, axes, and toga. Other nations in their ignorance of Roman rule, have no experience of punishments, know nothing of tributes, and, as we have shaken them off, as the great Augustus, ranked among dieties, and his chosen heir Tiberius, departed from us, baffled, let us not quail before an inexperienced stripling, before a mutinous army. If you prefer your fatherland, your ancestors, your ancient life to tyrants and to new colonies, follow as your leader Arminius to glory and to freedom rather than Segestes to ignominious servitude.” This language roused not only the Cherusci but the neighbouring tribes and drew to their side Inguiomerus, the uncle of Arminius, who had long been respected by the Romans. This increased Caesar’s alarm. That the war might not burst in all its fury on one point, he sent Caecina through the Bructeri to the river Amisia with forty Roman cohorts to distract the enemy, while the cavalry was led by its commander Pedo by the territories of the Frisii. Germanicus himself put four legions on shipboard and conveyed them through the lakes, and the infantry, cavalry, and fleet met simultaneously at the river already mentioned. The Chauci, on promising aid, were associated with us in military fellowship. Lucius Stertinius was despatched by Germanicus with a flying column and routed the Bructeri as they were burning their possessions, and amid the carnage and plunder, found the eagle of the nineteenth legion which had been lost with Varus. The troops were then marched to the furthest frontier of the Bructeri, and all the country between the rivers Amisia and Luppia was ravaged, not far from the forest of Teutoburgium where the remains of Varus and his legions were said to lie unburied.
Germanicus upon this was seized with an eager longing to pay the last honour to those soldiers and their general, while the whole army present was moved to compassion by the thought of their kinsfolk and friends, and, indeed, of the calamities of wars and the lot of mankind. Having sent on Caecina in advance to reconnoitre the obscure forest-passes, and to raise bridges and causeways over watery swamps and treacherous plains, they visited the mournful scenes, with their horrible sights and associations. Varus’s first camp with its wide circumference and the measurements of its central space clearly indicated the handiwork of three legions. Further on, the partially fallen rampart and the shallow fosse suggested the inference that it was a shattered remnant of the army which had there taken up a position. In the centre of the field were the whitening bones of men, as they had fled, or stood their ground, strewn everywhere or piled in heaps. Near, lay fragments of weapons and limbs of horses, and also human heads, prominently nailed to trunks of trees. In the adjacent groves were the barbarous altars, on which they had immolated tribunes and first-rank centurions. Some survivors of the disaster who had escaped from the battle or from captivity, described how this was the spot where the officers fell, how yonder the eagles were captured, where Varus was pierced by his first wound, where too by the stroke of his own ill-starred hand he found for himself death. They pointed out too the raised ground from which Arminius had harangued his army, the number of gibbets for the captives, the pits for the living, and how in his exultation he insulted the standards and eagles.
And so the Roman army now on the spot, six years after the disaster, in grief and anger, began to bury the bones of the three legions, not a soldier knowing whether he was interring the relics of a relative or a stranger, but looking on all as kinsfolk and of their own blood, while their wrath rose higher than ever against the foe. In raising the barrow Caesar laid the first sod, rendering thus a most welcome honour to the dead, and sharing also in the sorrow of those present. This Tiberius did not approve, either interpreting unfavourably every act of Germanicus, or because he thought that the spectacle of the slain and unburied made the army slow to fight and more afraid of the enemy, and that a general invested with the augurate and its very ancient ceremonies ought not to have polluted himself with funeral rites.
Germanicus, however, pursued Arminius as he fell back into trackless wilds, and as soon as he had the opportunity, ordered his cavalry to sally forth and scour the plains occupied by the enemy. Arminius having bidden his men to concentrate themselves and keep close to the woods, suddenly wheeled round, and soon gave those whom he had concealed in the forest passes the signal to rush to the attack. Thereupon our cavalry was thrown into disorder by this new force, and some cohorts in reserve were sent, which, broken by the shock of flying troops, increased the panic. They were being pushed into a swamp, well known to the victorious assailants, perilous to men unacquainted with it, when Caesar led forth his legions in battle array. This struck terror into the enemy and gave confidence to our men, and they separated without advantage to either. Soon afterwards Germanicus led back his army to the Amisia, taking his legions by the fleet, as he had brought them up. Part of the cavalry was ordered to make for the Rhine along the sea-coast. Caecina, who commanded a division of his own, was advised, though he was returning by a route which he knew, to pass Long Bridges with all possible speed. This was a narrow road amid vast swamps, which had formerly been constructed by Lucius Domitius; on every side were quagmires of thick clinging mud, or perilous with streams. Around were woods on a gradual slope, which Arminius now completely occupied, as soon as by a short route and quick march he had outstripped troops heavily laden with baggage and arms. As Caecina was in doubt how he could possibly replace bridges which were ruinous from age, and at the same time hold back the enemy, he resolved to encamp on the spot, that some might begin the repair and others the attack. The barbarians attempted to break through the outposts and to throw themselves on the engineering parties, which they harassed, pacing round them and continually charging them. There was a confused din from the men at work and the combatants. Everything alike was unfavourable to the Romans, the place with its deep swamps, insecure to the foot and slippery as one advanced, limbs burdened with coats of mail, and the impossibility of aiming their javelins amid the water. The Cherusci, on the other hand, were familiar with fighting in fens; they had huge frames, and lances long enough to inflict wounds even at a distance. Night at last released the legions, which were now wavering, from a disastrous engagement. The Germans whom success rendered unwearied, without even then taking any rest, turned all the streams which rose from the slopes of the surrounding hills into the lands beneath. The ground being thus flooded and the completed portion of our works submerged, the soldiers’ labour was doubled. This was Caecina’s fortieth campaign as a subordinate or a commander, and, with such experience of success and peril, he was perfectly fearless. As he thought over future possibilities, he could devise no plan but to keep the enemy within the woods, till the wounded and the more encumbered troops were in advance. For between the hills and the swamps there stretched a plain which would admit of an extended line. The legions had their assigned places, the fifth on the right wing, the twenty-first on the left, the men of the first to lead the van, the twentieth to repel pursuers. It was a restless night for different reasons, the barbarians in their festivity filling the valleys under the hills and the echoing glens with merry song or savage shouts, while in the Roman camp were flickering fires, broken exclamations, and the men lay scattered along the intrenchments or wandered from tent to tent, wakeful rather than watchful. A ghastly dream appalled the general. He seemed to see Quintilius Varus, covered with blood, rising out of the swamps, and to hear him, as it were, calling to him, but he did not, as he imagined, obey the call; he even repelled his hand, as he stretched it over him. At daybreak the legions, posted on the wings, from panic or perversity, deserted their position and hastily occupied a plain beyond the morass. Yet Arminius, though free to attack, did not at the moment rush out on them. But when the baggage was clogged in the mud and in the fosses, the soldiers around it in disorder, the array of the standards in confusion, every one in selfish haste and all ears deaf to the word of command he ordered the Germans to charge, exclaiming again and again, “Behold a Varus and legions once more entangled in Varus’s fate.” As he spoke, he cut through the column with some picked men, inflicting wounds chiefly on the horses. Staggering in their blood on the slippery marsh, they shook off their riders, driving hither and thither all in their way, and trampling on the fallen. The struggle was hottest round the eagles, which could neither be carried in the face of the storm of missiles, nor planted in the miry soil. Caecina, while he was keeping up the battle, fell from his horse, which was pierced under him, and was being hemmed in, when the first legion threw itself in the way. The greed of the foe helped him, for they left the slaughter to secure the spoil, and the legions, towards evening, struggled on to open and firm ground.
Nor did this end their miseries. Entrenchments had to be thrown up, materials sought for earthworks, while the army had lost to a great extent their implements for digging earth and cutting turf. There were no tents for the rank and file, no comforts for the wounded. As they shared their food, soiled by mire or blood, they bewailed the darkness with its awful omen, and the one day which yet remained to so many thousand men.
It chanced that a horse, which had broken its halter and wandered wildly in fright at the uproar, overthrew some men against whom it dashed. Thence arose such a panic, from the belief that the Germans had burst into the camp, that all rushed to the gates. Of these the decuman gate was the point chiefly sought, as it was furthest from the enemy and safer for flight. Caecina, having ascertained that the alarm was groundless, yet being unable to stop or stay the soldiers by authority or entreaties or even by force, threw himself to the earth in the gateway, and at last by an appeal to their pity, as they would have had to pass over the body of their commander, closed the way. At the same moment the tribunes and the centurions convinced them that it was a false alarm.
Having then assembled them at his headquarters, and ordered them to hear his words in silence, he reminded them of the urgency of the crisis. “Their safety,” he said, “lay in their arms, which they must, however, use with discretion, and they must remain within the entrenchments, till the enemy approached closer, in the hope of storming them; then, there must be a general sortie; by that sortie the Rhine might be reached. Whereas if they fled, more forests, deeper swamps, and a savage foe awaited them; but if they were victorious, glory and renown would be theirs.” He dwelt on all that was dear to them at home, all that testified to their honour in the camp, without any allusion to disaster. Next he handed over the horses, beginning with his own, of the officers and tribunes, to the bravest fighters in the army, quite impartially, that these first, and then the infantry, might charge the enemy.
There was as much restlessness in the German host with its hopes, its eager longings, and the conflicting opinions of its chiefs. Arminius advised that they should allow the Romans to quit their position, and, when they had quitted it, again surprise them in swampy and intricate ground. Inguiomerus, with fiercer counsels, heartily welcome to barbarians, was for beleaguering the entrenchment in armed array, as to storm them would, he said, be easy, and there would be more prisoners and the booty unspoilt. So at daybreak they trampled in the fosses, flung hurdles into them, seized the upper part of the breastwork, where the troops were thinly distributed and seemingly paralysed by fear. When they were fairly within the fortifications, the signal was given to the cohorts, and the horns and trumpets sounded. Instantly, with a shout and sudden rush, our men threw themselves on the German rear, with taunts, that here were no woods or swamps, but that they were on equal ground, with equal chances. The sound of trumpets, the gleam of arms, which were so unexpected, burst with all the greater effect on the enemy, thinking only, as they were, of the easy destruction of a few half-armed men, and they were struck down, as unprepared for a reverse as they had been elated by success. Arminius and Inguiomerus fled from the battle, the first unhurt, the other severely wounded. Their followers were slaughtered, as long as our fury and the light of day lasted. It was not till night that the legions returned, and though more wounds and the same want of provisions distressed them, yet they found strength, healing, sustenance, everything indeed, in their victory. Meanwhile a rumour had spread that our army was cut off, and that a furious German host was marching on Gaul. And had not Agrippina prevented the bridge over the Rhine from being destroyed, some in their cowardice would have dared that base act. A woman of heroic spirit, she assumed during those days the duties of a general, and distributed clothes or medicine among the soldiers, as they were destitute or wounded. According to Caius Plinius, the historian of the German wars, she stood at the extremity of the bridge, and bestowed praise and thanks on the returning legions. This made a deep impression on the mind of Tiberius. “Such zeal,” he thought, “could not be guileless; it was not against a foreign foe that she was thus courting the soldiers. Generals had nothing left them when a woman went among the companies, attended the standards, ventured on bribery, as though it showed but slight ambition to parade her son in a common soldier’s uniform, and wish him to be called Caesar Caligula. Agrippina had now more power with the armies than officers, than generals. A woman had quelled a mutiny which the sovereign’s name could not check.” All this was inflamed and aggravated by Sejanus, who, with his thorough comprehension of the character of Tiberius, sowed for a distant future hatreds which the emperor might treasure up and might exhibit when fully matured.
Of the legions which he had conveyed by ship, Germanicus gave the second and fourteenth to Publius Vitellius, to be marched by land, so that the fleet might sail more easily over a sea full of shoals, or take the ground more lightly at the ebb-tide. Vitellius at first pursued his route without interruption, having a dry shore, or the waves coming in gently. After a while, through the force of the north wind and the equinoctial season, when the sea swells to its highest, his army was driven and tossed hither and thither. The country too was flooded; sea, shore, fields presented one aspect, nor could the treacherous quicksands be distinguished from solid ground or shallows from deep water. Men were swept away by the waves or sucked under by eddies; beasts of burden, baggage, lifeless bodies floated about and blocked their way. The companies were mingled in confusion, now with the breast, now with the head only above water, sometimes losing their footing and parted from their comrades or drowned. The voice of mutual encouragement availed not against the adverse force of the waves. There was nothing to distinguish the brave from the coward, the prudent from the careless, forethought from chance; the same strong power swept everything before it. At last Vitellius struggled out to higher ground and led his men up to it. There they passed the night, without necessary food, without fire, many of them with bare or bruised limbs, in a plight as pitiable as that of men besieged by an enemy. For such, at least, have the opportunity of a glorious death, while here was destruction without honour. Daylight restored land to their sight, and they pushed their way to the river Visurgis, where Caesar had arrived with the fleet. The legions then embarked, while a rumour was flying about that they were drowned. Nor was there a belief in their safety till they saw Caesar and the army returned.
By this time Stertinius, who had been despatched to receive the surrender of Segimerus, brother of Segestes, had conducted the chief, together with his son, to the canton of the Ubii. Both were pardoned, Segimerus readily, the son with some hesitation, because it was said that he had insulted the corpse of Quintilius Varus. Meanwhile Gaul, Spain, and Italy vied in repairing the losses of the army, offering whatever they had at hand, arms, horses, gold. Germanicus having praised their zeal, took only for the war their arms and horses, and relieved the soldiers out of his own purse. And that he might also soften the remembrance of the disaster by kindness, he went round to the wounded, applauded the feats of soldier after soldier, examined their wounds, raised the hopes of one, the ambition of another, and the spirits of all by his encouragement and interest, thus strengthening their ardour for himself and for battle. That year triumphal honours were decreed to Aulus Caecina, Lucius Apronius, Caius Silius for their achievements under Germanicus. The title of “father of his country,” which the people had so often thrust on him, Tiberius refused, nor would he allow obedience to be sworn to his enactments, though the Senate voted it, for he said repeatedly that all human things were uncertain, and that the more he had obtained, the more precarious was his position. But he did not thereby create a belief in his patriotism, for he had revived the law of treason, the name of which indeed was known in ancient times, though other matters came under its jurisdiction, such as the betrayal of an army, or seditious stirring up of the people, or, in short, any corrupt act by which a man had impaired “the majesty of the people of Rome.” Deeds only were liable to accusation; words went unpunished. It was Augustus who first, under colour of this law, applied legal inquiry to libellous writings provoked, as he had been, by the licentious freedom with which Cassius Severus had defamed men and women of distinction in his insulting satires. Soon afterwards, Tiberius, when consulted by Pompeius Macer, the praetor, as to whether prosecutions for treason should be revived, replied that the laws must be enforced. He too had been exasperated by the publication of verses of uncertain authorship, pointed at his cruelty, his arrogance, and his dissensions with his mother. It will not be uninteresting if I relate in the cases of Falanius and Rubrius, Roman knights of moderate fortune, the first experiments at such accusations, in order to explain the origin of a most terrible scourge, how by Tiberius’s cunning it crept in among us, how subsequently it was checked, finally, how it burst into flame and consumed everything. Against Falanius it was alleged by his accuser that he had admitted among the votaries of Augustus, who in every great house were associated into a kind of brotherhood, one Cassius, a buffoon of infamous life, and that he had also in selling his gardens included in the sale a statue of Augustus. Against Rubrius the charge was that he had violated by perjury the divinity of Augustus. When this was known to Tiberius, he wrote to the consuls “that his father had not had a place in heaven decreed to him, that the honour might be turned to the destruction of the citizens. Cassius, the actor, with men of the same profession, used to take part in the games which had been consecrated by his mother to the memory of Augustus. Nor was it contrary to the religion of the State for the emperor’s image, like those of other deities, to be added to a sale of gardens and houses. As to the oath, the thing ought to be considered as if the man had deceived Jupiter. Wrongs done to the gods were the gods’ concern.”
Not long afterwards, Granius Marcellus, proconsul of Bithynia, was accused of treason by his quaestor, Caepio Crispinus, and the charge was supported by Romanus Hispo. Crispinus then entered on a line of life afterwards rendered notorious by the miseries of the age and men’s shamelessness. Needy, obscure, and restless, he wormed himself by stealthy informations into the confidence of a vindictive prince, and soon imperilled all the most distinguished citizens; and having thus gained influence with one, hatred from all besides, he left an example in following which beggars became wealthy, the insignificant, formidable, and brought ruin first on others, finally on themselves. He alleged against Marcellus that he had made some disrespectful remarks about Tiberius, a charge not to be evaded, inasmuch as the accuser selected the worst features of the emperor’s character and grounded his case on them. The things were true, and so were believed to have been said.
Hispo added that Marcellus had placed his own statue above those of the Caesars, and had set the bust of Tiberius on another statue from which he had struck off the head of Augustus. At this the emperor’s wrath blazed forth, and, breaking through his habitual silence, he exclaimed that in such a case he would himself too give his vote openly on oath, that the rest might be under the same obligation. There lingered even then a few signs of expiring freedom. And so Cneius Piso asked, “In what order will you vote, Caesar? If first, I shall know what to follow; if last, I fear that I may differ from you unwillingly.” Tiberius was deeply moved, and repenting of the outburst, all the more because of its thoughtlessness, he quietly allowed the accused to be acquitted of the charges of treason. As for the question of extortion, it was referred to a special commission.
Not satisfied with judicial proceedings in the Senate, the emperor would sit at one end of the Praetor’s tribunal, but so as not to displace him from the official seat. Many decisions were given in his presence, in opposition to improper influence and the solicitations of great men. This, though it promoted justice, ruined freedom. Pius Aurelius, for example, a senator, complained that the foundations of his house had been weakened by the pressure of a public road and aqueduct, and he appealed to the Senate for assistance. He was opposed by the praetors of the treasury, but the emperor helped him, and paid him the value of his house, for he liked to spend money on a good purpose, a virtue which he long retained, when he cast off all others. To Propertius Celer, an ex-praetor, who sought because of his indigence to be excused from his rank as a senator, he gave a million sesterces, having ascertained that he had inherited poverty. He bade others, who attempted the same, prove their case to the Senate, as from his love of strictness he was harsh even where he acted on right grounds. Consequently every one else preferred silence and poverty to confession and relief.
In the same year the Tiber, swollen by continuous rains, flooded the level portions of the city. Its subsidence was followed by a destruction of buildings and of life. Thereupon Asinius Gallus proposed to consult the Sibylline books. Tiberius refused, veiling in obscurity the divine as well as the human. However, the devising of means to confine the river was intrusted to Ateius Capito and Lucius Arruntius.
Achaia and Macedonia, on complaining of their burdens, were, it was decided, to be relieved for a time from proconsular government and to be transferred to the emperor. Drusus presided over a show of gladiators which he gave in his own name and in that of his brother Germanicus, for he gloated intensely over bloodshed, however cheap its victims. This was alarming to the populace, and his father had, it was said, rebuked him. Why Tiberius kept away from the spectacle was variously explained. According to some, it was his loathing of a crowd, according to others, his gloomy temper, and a fear of contrast with the gracious presence of Augustus. I cannot believe that he deliberately gave his son the opportunity of displaying his ferocity and provoking the people’s disgust, though even this was said.
Meanwhile the unruly tone of the theatre which first showed itself in the preceding year, broke out with worse violence, and some soldiers and a centurion, besides several of the populace, were killed, and the tribune of a praetorian cohort was wounded, while they were trying to stop insults to the magistrates and the strife of the mob. This disturbance was the subject of a debate in the Senate, and opinions were expressed in favour of the praetors having authority to scourge actors. Haterius Agrippa, tribune of the people, interposed his veto, and was sharply censured in a speech from Asinius Gallus, without a word from Tiberius, who liked to allow the Senate such shows of freedom. Still the interposition was successful, because Augustus had once pronounced that actors were exempt from the scourge, and it was not lawful for Tiberius to infringe his decisions. Many enactments were passed to fix the amount of their pay and to check the disorderly behaviour of their partisans. Of these the chief were that no Senator should enter the house of a pantomime player, that Roman knights should not crowd round them in the public streets, that they should exhibit themselves only in the theatre, and that the praetors should be empowered to punish with banishment any riotous conduct in the spectators.
A request from the Spaniards that they might erect a temple to Augustus in the colony of Tarraco was granted, and a precedent thus given for all the provinces. When the people of Rome asked for a remission of the one per cent. tax on all saleable commodities, Tiberius declared by edict “that the military exchequer depended on that branch of revenue, and, further, that the State was unequal to the burden, unless the twentieth year of service were to be that of the veteran’s discharge.” Thus the ill-advised results of the late mutiny, by which a limit of sixteen campaigns had been extorted, were cancelled for the future.
A question was then raised in the Senate by Arruntius and Ateius whether, in order to restrain the inundations of the Tiber, the rivers and lakes which swell its waters should be diverted from their courses. A hearing was given to embassies from the municipal towns and colonies, and the people of Florentia begged that the Clanis might not be turned out of its channel and made to flow into the Arnus, as that would bring ruin on themselves. Similar arguments were used by the inhabitants of Interamna. The most fruitful plains of Italy, they said, would be destroyed if the river Nar (for this was the plan proposed) were to be divided into several streams and overflow the country. Nor did the people of Reate remain silent. They remonstrated against the closing up of the Veline lake, where it empties itself into the Nar, “as it would burst in a flood on the entire neighbourhood. Nature had admirably provided for human interests in having assigned to rivers their mouths, their channels, and their limits, as well as their sources. Regard, too, must be paid to the different religions of the allies, who had dedicated sacred rites, groves, and altars to the rivers of their country. Tiber himself would be altogether unwilling to be deprived of his neighbour streams and to flow with less glory.” Either the entreaties of the colonies, or the difficulty of the work or superstitious motives prevailed, and they yielded to Piso’s opinion, who declared himself against any change.
Poppaeus Sabinus was continued in his government of the province of Moesia with the addition of Achaia and Macedonia. It was part of Tiberius’ character to prolong indefinitely military commands and to keep many men to the end of their life with the same armies and in the same administrations. Various motives have been assigned for this. Some say that, out of aversion to any fresh anxiety, he retained what he had once approved as a permanent arrangement; others, that he grudged to see many enjoying promotion. Some, again, think that though he had an acute intellect, his judgment was irresolute, for he did not seek out eminent merit, and yet he detested vice. From the best men he apprehended danger to himself, from the worst, disgrace to the State. He went so far at last in this irresolution, that he appointed to provinces men whom he did not mean to allow to leave Rome.
I can hardly venture on any positive statement about the consular elections, now held for the first time under this emperor, or, indeed, subsequently, so conflicting are the accounts we find not only in historians but in Tiberius’ own speeches. Sometimes he kept back the names of the candidates, describing their origin, their life and military career, so that it might be understood who they were. Occasionally even these hints were withheld, and, after urging them not to disturb the elections by canvassing, he would promise his own help towards the result. Generally he declared that only those had offered themselves to him as candidates whose names he had given to the consuls, and that others might offer themselves if they had confidence in their influence or merit. A plausible profession this in words, but really unmeaning and delusive, and the greater the disguise of freedom which marked it, the more cruel the enslavement into which it was soon to plunge us.
BOOK II, A.D. 16-19
IN the consulship of Sisenna Statilius Taurus and Lucius Libo there was a commotion in the kingdoms and Roman provinces of the East. It had its origin among the Parthians, who disdained as a foreigner a king whom they had sought and received from Rome, though he was of the family of the Arsacids. This was Vonones, who had been given as an hostage to Augustus by Phraates. For although he had driven before him armies and generals from Rome, Phraates had shown to Augustus every token of reverence and had sent him some of his children, to cement the friendship, not so much from dread of us as from distrust of the loyalty of his countrymen.
After the death of Phraates and the succeeding kings in the bloodshed of civil wars, there came to Rome envoys from the chief men of Parthia, in quest of Vonones, his eldest son. Caesar thought this a great honour to himself, and loaded Vonones with wealth. The barbarians, too, welcomed him with rejoicing, as is usual with new rulers. Soon they felt shame at Parthians having become degenerate, at their having sought a king from another world, one too infected with the training of the enemy, at the throne of the Arsacids now being possessed and given away among the provinces of Rome. “Where,” they asked, “was the glory of the men who slew Crassus, who drove out Antonius, if Caesar’s drudge, after an endurance of so many years’ slavery, were to rule over Parthians.”
Vonones himself too further provoked their disdain, by his contrast with their ancestral manners, by his rare indulgence in the chase, by his feeble interest in horses, by the litter in which he was carried whenever he made a progress through their cities, and by his contemptuous dislike of their national festivities. They also ridiculed his Greek attendants and his keeping under seal the commonest household articles. But he was easy of approach; his courtesy was open to all, and he had thus virtues with which the Parthians were unfamiliar, and vices new to them. And as his ways were quite alien from theirs they hated alike what was bad and what was good in him.
Accordingly they summoned Artabanus, an Arsacid by blood, who had grown to manhood among the Dahae, and who, though routed in the first encounter, rallied his forces and possessed himself of the kingdom. The conquered Vonones found a refuge in Armenia, then a free country, and exposed to the power of Parthia and Rome, without being trusted by either, in consequence of the crime of Antonius, who, under the guise of friendship, had inveigled Artavasdes, king of the Armenians, then loaded him with chains, and finally murdered him. His son, Artaxias, our bitter foe because of his father’s memory, found defence for himself and his kingdom in the might of the Arsacids. When he was slain by the treachery of kinsmen, Caesar gave Tigranes to the Armenians, and he was put in possession of the kingdom under the escort of Tiberius Nero. But neither Tigranes nor his children reigned long, though, in foreign fashion, they were united in marriage and in royal power.
Next, at the bidding of Augustus, Artavasdes was set on the throne, nor was he deposed without disaster to ourselves. Caius Caesar was then appointed to restore order in Armenia. He put over the Armenians Ariobarzanes, a Mede by birth, whom they willingly accepted, because of his singularly handsome person and noble spirit. On the death of Ariobarzanes through a fatal accident, they would not endure his son. Having tried the government of a woman named Erato and having soon afterwards driven her from them, bewildered and disorganised, rather indeed without a ruler than enjoying freedom, they received for their king the fugitive Vonones. When, however, Artabanus began to threaten, and but feeble support could be given by the Armenians, or war with Parthia would have to be undertaken, if Vonones was to be upheld by our arms, the governor of Syria, Creticus Silanus, sent for him and kept him under surveillance, letting him retain his royal pomp and title. How Vonones meditated an escape from this mockery, I will relate in the proper place. Meanwhile the commotion in the East was rather pleasing to Tiberius, as it was a pretext for withdrawing Germanicus from the legions which knew him well, and placing him over new provinces where he would be exposed both to treachery and to disasters. Germanicus, however, in proportion to the strength of the soldiers’ attachment and to his uncle’s dislike, was eager to hasten his victory, and he pondered on plans of battle, and on the reverses or successes which during more than three years of war had fallen to his lot. The Germans, he knew, were beaten in the field and on fair ground; they were helped by woods, swamps, short summers, and early winters. His own troops were affected not so much by wounds as by long marches and damage to their arms. Gaul had been exhausted by supplying horses; a long baggage-train presented facilities for ambuscades, and was embarrassing to its defenders. But by embarking on the sea, invasion would be easy for them, and a surprise to the enemy, while a campaign too would be more quickly begun, the legions and supplies would be brought up simultaneously, and the cavalry with their horses would arrive, in good condition, by the rivermouths and channels, at the heart of Germany.
To this accordingly he gave his mind, and sent Publius Vitellius and Caius Antius to collect the taxes of Gaul. Silius, Anteius, and Caecina had the charge of building a fleet. It seemed that a thousand vessels were required, and they were speedily constructed, some of small draught with a narrow stem and stern and a broad centre, that they might bear the waves more easily; some flat-bottomed, that they might ground without being injured; several, furnished with a rudder at each end, so that by a sudden shifting of the oars they might be run into shore either way. Many were covered in with decks, on which engines for missiles might be conveyed, and were also fit for the carrying of horses or supplies, and being equipped with sails as well as rapidly moved by oars, they assumed, through the enthusiasm of our soldiers, an imposing and formidable aspect. The island of the Batavi was the appointed rendezvous, because of its easy landing-places, and its convenience for receiving the army and carrying the war across the river. For the Rhine after flowing continuously in a single channel or encircling merely insignificant islands, divides itself, so to say, where the Batavian territory begins, into two rivers, retaining its name and the rapidity of its course in the stream which washes Germany, till it mingles with the ocean. On the Gallic bank, its flow is broader and gentler; it is called by an altered name, the Vahal, by the inhabitants of its shore. Soon that name too is changed for the Mosa river, through whose vast mouth it empties itself into the same ocean.
Caesar, however, while the vessels were coming up, ordered Silius, his lieutenant-general, to make an inroad on the Chatti with a flying column. He himself, on hearing that a fort on the river Luppia was being besieged, led six legions to the spot. Silius owing to sudden rains did nothing but carry off a small booty, and the wife and daughter of Arpus, the chief of the Chatti. And Caesar had no opportunity of fighting given him by the besiegers, who dispersed on the rumour of his advance. They had, however, destroyed the barrow lately raised in memory of Varus’s legions, and the old altar of Drusus. The prince restored the altar, and himself with his legions celebrated funeral games in his father’s honour. To raise a new barrow was not thought necessary. All the country between the fort Aliso and the Rhine was thoroughly secured by new barriers and earthworks. By this time the fleet had arrived, and Caesar, having sent on his supplies and assigned vessels for the legions and the allied troops, entered “Drusus’s fosse,” as it was called. He prayed Drusus his father to lend him, now that he was venturing on the same enterprise, the willing and favourable aid of the example and wi memory of his counsels and achievements, and he arrived after a prosperous voyage through the lakes and the ocean as far as the river Amisia. His fleet remained there on the left bank of the stream, and it was a blunder that he did not have it brought up the river. He disembarked the troops, which were to be marched to the country on the right, and thus several days were wasted in the construction of bridges. The cavalry and the legions fearlessly crossed the first estuaries in which the tide had not yet risen. The rear of the auxiliaries, and the Batavi among the number, plunging recklessly into the water and displaying their skill in swimming, fell into disorder, and some were drowned. While Caesar was measuring out his camp, he was told of a revolt of the Angrivarii in his rear. He at once despatched Stertinius with some cavalry and a light armed force, who punished their perfidy with fire and sword. The waters of the Visurgis flowed between the Romans and the Cherusci. On its banks stood Arminius with the other chiefs. He asked whether Caesar had arrived, and on the reply that he was present, he begged leave to have an interview with his brother. That brother, surnamed Flavus, was with our army, a man famous for his loyalty, and for having lost an eye by a wound, a few years ago, when Tiberius was in command. The permission was then given, and he stepped forth and was saluted by Arminius, who had removed his guards to a distance and required that the bowmen ranged on our bank should retire. When they had gone away, Arminius asked his brother whence came the scar which disfigured his face, and on being told the particular place and battle, he inquired what reward he had received. Flavus spoke of increased pay, of a neck chain, a crown, and other military gifts, while Arminius jeered at such a paltry recompense for slavery.
Then began a controversy. The one spoke of the greatness of Rome, the resources of Caesar, the dreadful punishment in store for the vanquished, the ready mercy for him who surrenders, and the fact that neither Arminius’s wife nor his son were treated as enemies; the other, of the claims of fatherland, of ancestral freedom, of the gods of the homes of Germany, of the mother who shared his prayers, that Flavus might not choose to be the deserter and betrayer rather than the ruler of his kinsfolk and relatives, and indeed of his own people.
By degrees they fell to bitter words, and even the river between them would not have hindered them from joining combat, had not Stertinius hurried up and put his hand on Flavus, who in the full tide of his fury was demanding his weapons and his charger. Arminius was seen facing him, full of menaces and challenging him to conflict. Much of what he said was in Roman speech, for he had served in our camp as leader of his fellow-countrymen.
Next day the German army took up its position on the other side of the Visurgis. Caesar, thinking that without bridges and troops to guard them, it would not be good generalship to expose the legions to danger, sent the cavalry across the river by the fords. It was commanded by Stertinius and Aemilius, one of the first rank centurions, who attacked at widely different points so as to distract the enemy. Chariovalda, the Batavian chief, dashed to the charge where the stream is most rapid. The Cherusci, by a pretended flight, drew him into a plain surrounded by forest-passes. Then bursting on him in a sudden attack from all points they thrust aside all who resisted, pressed fiercely on their retreat, driving them before them, when they rallied in compact array, some by close fighting, others by missiles from a distance. Chariovalda, after long sustaining the enemy’s fury, cheered on his men to break by a dense formation the onset of their bands, while he himself, plunging into the thickest of the battle, fell amid a shower of darts with his horse pierced under him, and round him many noble chiefs. The rest were rescued from the peril by their own strength, or by the cavalry which came up with Stertinius and Aemilius.
Caesar on crossing the Visurgis learnt by the information of a deserter that Arminius had chosen a battle-field, that other tribes too had assembled in a forest sacred to Hercules, and would venture on a night attack on his camp. He put faith in this intelligence, and, besides, several watchfires were seen. Scouts also, who had crept close up to the enemy, reported that they had heard the neighing of horses and the hum of a huge and tumultuous host. And so as the decisive crisis drew near, that he ought thoroughly to sound the temper of his soldiers, he considered with himself how this was to be accomplished with a genuine result. Tribunes and centurions, he knew, oftener reported what was welcome than what was true; freedmen had slavish spirits, friends a love of flattery. If an assembly were called, there too the lead of a few was followed by the shout of the many. He must probe their inmost thoughts, when they were uttering their hopes and fears at the military mess, among themselves, and unwatched.
At nightfall, leaving his tent of augury by a secret exit, unknown to the sentries, with one companion, his shoulders covered with a wild beast’s skin, he visited the camp streets, stood by the tents, and enjoyed the men’s talk about himself, as one extolled his noble rank, another, his handsome person, nearly all of them, his endurance, his gracious manner and the evenness of his temper, whether he was jesting or was serious, while they acknowledged that they ought to repay him with their gratitude in battle, and at the same time sacrifice to a glorious vengeance the perfidious violators of peace. Meanwhile one of the enemy, acquainted with the Roman tongue, spurred his horse up to the entrenchments, and in a loud voice promised in the name of Arminius to all deserters wives and lands with daily pay of a hundred sesterces as long as war lasted. The insult fired the wrath of the legions. “Let daylight come,” they said, “let battle be given. The soldiers will possess themselves of the lands of the Germans and will carry off their wives. We hail the omen; we mean the women and riches of the enemy to be our spoil.” About midday there was a skirmishing attack on our camp, without any discharge of missiles, when they saw the cohorts in close array before the lines and no sign of carelessness.
The same night brought with it a cheering dream to Germanicus. He saw himself engaged in sacrifice, and his robe being sprinkled with the sacred blood, another more beautiful was given him by the hands of his grandmother Augusta. Encouraged by the omen and finding the auspices favourable, he called an assembly, and explained the precautions which wisdom suggested as suitable for the impending battle. “It is not,” he said, “plains only which are good for the fighting of Roman soldiers, but woods and forest passes, if science be used. For the huge shields and unwieldly lances of the barbarians cannot, amid trunks of trees and brushwood that springs from the ground, be so well managed as our javelins and swords and closefitting armour. Shower your blows thickly; strike at the face with your swords’ points. The German has neither cuirass nor helmet; even his shield is not strengthened with leather or steel, but is of osiers woven together or of thin and painted board. If their first line is armed with spears, the rest have only weapons hardened by fire or very short. Again, though their frames are terrible to the eye and formidable in a brief onset, they have no capacity of enduring wounds; without, any shame at the disgrace, without any regard to their leaders, they quit the field and flee; they quail under disaster, just as in success they forget alike divine and human laws. If in your weariness of land and sea you desire an end of service, this battle prepares the way to it. The Elbe is now nearer than the Rhine, and there is no war beyond, provided only you enable me, keeping close as I do to my father’s and my uncle’s footsteps, to stand a conqueror on the same spot.”
The general’s speech was followed by enthusiasm in the soldiers, and the signal for battle was given. Nor were Arminius and the other German chiefs slow to call their respective clansmen to witness that “these Romans were the most cowardly fugitives out of Varus’s army, men who rather than endure war had taken to mutiny. Half of them have their backs covered with wounds; half are once again exposing limbs battered by waves and storms to a foe full of fury, and to hostile deities, with no hope of advantage. They have, in fact, had recourse to a fleet and to a trackless ocean, that their coming might be unopposed, their flight unpursued. But when once they have joined conflict with us, the help of winds or oars will be unavailing to the vanquished. Remember only their greed, their cruelty, their pride. Is anything left for us but to retain our freedom or to die before we are enslaved? When they were thus roused and were demanding battle, their chiefs led them down into a plain named Idistavisus. It winds between the Visurgis and a hill range, its breadth varying as the river banks recede or the spurs of the hills project on it. In their rear rose a forest, with the branches rising to a great height, while there were clear spaces between the trunks. The barbarian army occupied the plain and the outskirts of the wood. The Cherusci were posted by themselves on the high ground, so as to rush down on the Romans during the battle.
Our army advanced in the following order. The auxiliary Gauls and Germans were in the van, then the foot-archers, after them, four legions and Caesar himself with two praetorian cohorts and some picked cavalry. Next came as many other legions, and light-armed troops with horse-bowmen, and the remaining cohorts of the allies. The men were quite ready and prepared to form in line of battle according to their marching order.
Caesar, as soon as he saw the Cheruscan bands which in their impetuous spirit had rushed to the attack, ordered the finest of his cavalry to charge them in flank, Stertinius with the other squadrons to make a detour and fall on their rear, promising himself to come up in good time. Meanwhile there was a most encouraging augury. Eight eagles, seen to fly towards the woods and to enter them, caught the general’s eye. “Go,” he exclaimed, “follow the Roman birds, the true deities of our legions.” At the same moment the infantry charged, and the cavalry which had been sent on in advance dashed on the rear and the flanks. And, strange to relate, two columns of the enemy fled in opposite directions, that, which had occupied the wood, rushing into the open, those who had been drawn up on the plains, into the wood. The Cherusci, who were between them, were dislodged from the hills, while Arminius, conspicuous among them by gesture, voice, and a wound he had received, kept up the fight. He had thrown himself on our archers and was on the point of breaking through them, when the cohorts of the Raeti, Vendelici, and Gauls faced his attack. By a strong bodily effort, however, and a furious rush of his horse, he made his way through them, having smeared his face with his blood, that he might not be known. Some have said that he was recognised by Chauci serving among the Roman auxiliaries, who let him go.
Inguiomerus owed his escape to similar courage or treachery. The rest were cut down in every direction. Many in attempting to swim across the Visurgis were overwhelmed under a storm of missiles or by the force of the current, lastly, by the rush of fugitives and the falling in of the banks. Some in their ignominious flight climbed the tops of trees, and as they were hiding themselves in the boughs, archers were brought up and they were shot for sport. Others were dashed to the ground by the felling of the trees. It was a great victory and without bloodshed to us. From nine in the morning to nightfall the enemy were slaughtered, and ten miles were covered with arms and dead bodies, while there were found amid the plunder the chains which the Germans had brought with them for the Romans, as though the issue were certain. The soldiers on the battle field hailed Tiberius as Imperator, and raised a mound on which arms were piled in the style of a trophy, with the names of the conquered tribes inscribed beneath them.
That sight caused keener grief and rage among the Germans than their wounds, their mourning, and their losses. Those who but now were preparing to quit their settlements and to retreat to the further side of the Elbe, longed for battle and flew to arms. Common people and chiefs, young and old, rushed on the Roman army, and spread disorder. At last they chose a spot closed in by a river and by forests, within which was a narrow swampy plain. The woods too were surrounded by a bottomless morass, only on one side of it the Angrivarii had raised a broad earthwork, as a boundary between themselves and the Cherusci. Here their infantry was ranged. Their cavalry they concealed in neighbouring woods, so as to be on the legions’ rear, as soon as they entered the forest. All this was known to Caesar. He was acquainted with their plans, their positions, with what met the eye, and what was hidden, and he prepared to turn the enemy’s stratagems to their own destruction. To Seius Tubero, his chief officer, he assigned the cavalry and the plain. His infantry he drew up so that part might advance on level ground into the forest, and part clamber up the earthwork which confronted them. He charged himself with what was the specially difficult operation, leaving the rest to his officers. Those who had the level ground easily forced a passage. Those who had to assault the earthwork encountered heavy blows from above, as if they were scaling a wall. The general saw how unequal this close fighting was, and having withdrawn his legions to a little distance, ordered the slingers and artillerymen to discharge a volley of missiles and scatter the enemy. Spears were hurled from the engines, and the more conspicuous were the defenders of the position, the more the wounds with which they were driven from it. Caesar with some praetorian cohorts was the first, after the storming of the ramparts, to dash into the woods. There they fought at close quarters. A morass was in the enemy’s rear, and the Romans were hemmed in by the river or by the hills. Both were in a desperate plight from their position; valour was their only hope, victory their only safety.
The Germans were equally brave, but they were beaten by the nature of the fighting and of the weapons, for their vast host in so confined a space could neither thrust out nor recover their immense lances, or avail themselves of their nimble movements and lithe frames, forced as they were to a close engagement. Our soldiers, on the other hand, with their shields pressed to their breasts, and their hands grasping their sword-hilts, struck at the huge limbs and exposed faces of the barbarians, cutting a passage through the slaughtered enemy, for Arminius was now less active, either from incessant perils, or because he was partially disabled by his recent wound. As for Inguiomerus, who flew hither and thither over the battlefield, it was fortune rather than courage which forsook him. Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success.
Having publicly praised his victorious troops, Caesar raised a pile of arms with the proud inscription, “The army of Tiberius Caesar, after thoroughly conquering the tribes between the Rhine and the Elbe, has dedicated this monument to Mars, Jupiter, and Augustus.” He added nothing about himself, fearing jealousy, or thinking that the conciousness of the achievement was enough. Next he charged Stertinius with making war on the Angrivarii, but they hastened to surrender. And, as suppliants, by refusing nothing, they obtained a full pardon. When, however, summer was at its height some of the legions were sent back overland into winter-quarters, but most of them Caesar put on board the fleet and brought down the river Amisia to the ocean. At first the calm waters merely sounded with the oars of a thousand vessels or were ruffled by the sailing ships. Soon, a hailstorm bursting from a black mass of clouds, while the waves rolled hither and thither under tempestuous gales from every quarter, rendered clear sight impossible, and the steering difficult, while our soldiers, terrorstricken and without any experience of disasters on the sea, by embarrassing the sailors or giving them clumsy aid, neutralized the services of the skilled crews. After a while, wind and wave shifted wholly to the south, and from the hilly lands and deep rivers of Germany came with a huge line of rolling clouds, a strong blast, all the more frightful from the frozen north which was so near to them, and instantly caught and drove the ships hither and thither into the open ocean, or on islands with steep cliffs or which hidden shoals made perilous. these they just escaped, with difficulty, and when the tide changed and bore them the same way as the wind, they could not hold to their anchors or bale out the water which rushed in upon them. Horses, beasts of burden, baggage, were thrown overboard, in order to lighten the hulls which leaked copiously through their sides, while the waves too dashed over them.
As the ocean is stormier than all other seas, and as Germany is conspicuous for the terrors of its climate, so in novelty and extent did this disaster transcend every other, for all around were hostile coasts, or an expanse so vast and deep that it is thought to be the remotest shoreless sea. Some of the vessels were swallowed up; many were wrecked on distant islands, and the soldiers, finding there no form of human life, perished of hunger, except some who supported existence on carcases of horses washed on the same shores. Germanicus’s trireme alone reached the country of the Chauci. Day and night, on those rocks and promontories he would incessantly exclaim that he was himself responsible for this awful ruin, and friends scarce restrained him from seeking death in the same sea. At last, as the tide ebbed and the wind blew favourably, the shattered vessels with but few rowers, or clothing spread as sails, some towed by the more powerful, returned, and Germanicus, having speedily repaired them, sent them to search the islands. Many by that means were recovered. The Angrivarii, who had lately been admitted to our alliance, restored to us several had ransomed from the inland tribes. Some had been carried to Britain and were sent back by the petty chiefs. Every one, as he returned from some far-distant region, told of wonders, of violent hurricanes, and unknown birds, of monsters of the sea, of forms half-human, half beast-like, things they had really seen or in their terror believed. Meanwhile the rumoured loss of the fleet stirred the Germans to hope for war, as it did Caesar to hold them down. He ordered Caius Silius with thirty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry to march against the Chatti. He himself, with a larger army, invaded the Marsi, whose leader, Mallovendus, whom we had lately admitted to surrender, pointed out a neighbouring wood, where, he said, an eagle of one of Varus’s legions was buried and guarded only by a small force. Immediately troops were despatched to draw the enemy from his position by appearing in his front, others, to hem in his rear and open the ground. Fortune favoured both. So Germanicus, with increased energy, advanced into the country, laying it waste, and utterly ruining a foe who dared not encounter him, or who was instantly defeated wherever he resisted, and, as we learnt from prisoners, was never more panic-stricken. The Romans, they declared, were invincible, rising superior to all calamities; for having thrown away a fleet, having lost their arms, after strewing the shores with the carcases of horses and of men, they had rushed to the attack with the same courage, with equal spirit, and, seemingly, with augmented numbers. The soldiers were then led back into winter-quarters, rejoicing in their hearts at having been compensated for their disasters at sea by a successful expedition. They were helped too by Caesar’s bounty, which made good whatever loss any one declared he had suffered. It was also regarded as a certainty that the enemy were wavering and consulting on negotiations for peace, and that, with an additional campaign next summer the war might be ended. Tiberius, however, in repeated letters advised Germanicus to return for the triumph decreed him. “He had now had enough of success, enough of disaster. He had fought victorious battles on a great scale; he should also remember those losses which the winds and waves had inflicted, and which, though due to no fault of the general, were still grievous and shocking. He, Tiberius, had himself been sent nine times by Augustus into Germany, and had done more by policy than by arms. By this means the submission of the Sugambri had been secured, and the Suevi with their king Maroboduus had been forced into peace. The Cherusci too and the other insurgent tribes, since the vengeance of Rome had been satisfied, might be left to their internal feuds.” When Germanicus requested a year for the completion of his enterprise, Tiberius put a severer pressure on his modesty by offering him a second consulship, the functions of which he was to discharge in person. He also added that if war must still be waged, he might as well leave some materials for renown to his brother Drusus, who, as there was then no other enemy, could win only in Germany the imperial title and the triumphal laurel. Germanicus hesitated no longer, though he saw that this was a pretence, and that he was hurried away through jealousy from the glory he had already acquired. About the same time Libo Drusus, of the family of Scribonii, was accused of revolutionary schemes. I will explain, somewhat minutely, the beginning, progress, and end of this affair, since then first were originated those practices which for so many years have eaten into the heart of the State. Firmius Catus, a senator, an intimate friend of Libo’s, prompted the young man, who was thoughtless and an easy prey to delusions, to resort to astrologers’ promises, magical rites, and interpreters of dreams, dwelling ostentatiously on his great-grandfather Pompeius, his aunt Scribonia, who had formerly been wife of Augustus, his imperial cousins, his house crowded with ancestral busts, and urging him to extravagance and debt, himself the companion of his profligacy and desperate embarrassments, thereby to entangle him in all the more proofs of guilt. As soon as he found enough witnesses, with some slaves who knew the facts, he begged an audience of the emperor, after first indicating the crime and the criminal through Flaccus Vescularius, a Roman knight, who was more intimate with Tiberius than himself. Caesar, without disregarding the information, declined an interview, for the communication, he said, might be conveyed to him through the same messenger, Flaccus. Meanwhile he conferred the praetorship on Libo and often invited him to his table, showing no unfriendliness in his looks or anger in his words (so thoroughly had he concealed his resentment); and he wished to know all his saying and doings, though it was in his power to stop them, till one Junius, who had been tampered with by Libo for the purpose of evoking by incantations spirits of the dead, gave information to Fulcinius Trio. Trio’s ability was conspicuous among informers, as well as his eagerness for an evil notoriety. He at once pounced on the accused, went to the consuls, and demanded an inquiry before the Senate. The Senators were summoned, with a special notice that they must consult on a momentous and terrible matter.
Libo meanwhile, in mourning apparel and accompanied by ladies of the highest rank, went to house after house, entreating his relatives, and imploring some eloquent voice to ward off his perils; which all refused, on different pretexts, but from the same apprehension. On the day the Senate met, jaded with fear and mental anguish, or, as some have related, feigning illness, he was carried in a litter to the doors of the Senate House, and leaning on his brother he raised his hands and voice in supplication to Tiberius, who received him with unmoved countenance. The emperor then read out the charges and the accusers’ names, with such calmness as not to seem to soften or aggravate the accusations.
Besides Trio and Catus, Fonteius Agrippa and Caius Vibius were among his accusers, and claimed with eager rivalry the privilege of conducting the case for the prosecution, till Vibius, as they would not yield one to the other, and Libo had entered without counsel, offered to state the charges against him singly, and produced an extravagantly absurd accusation, according to which Libo had consulted persons whether he would have such wealth as to be able to cover the Appian road as far as Brundisium with money. There were other questions of the same sort, quite senseless and idle; if leniently regarded, pitiable. But there was one paper in Libo’s handwriting, so the prosecutor alleged, with the names of Caesars and of Senators, to which marks were affixed of dreadful or mysterious significance. When the accused denied this, it was decided that his slaves who recognised the writing should be examined by torture. As an ancient statute of the Senate forbade such inquiry in a case affecting a master’s life, Tiberius, with his cleverness in devising new law, ordered Libo’s slaves to be sold singly to the State-agent, so that, forsooth, without an infringement of the Senate’s decree, Libo might be tried on their evidence. As a consequence, the defendant asked an adjournment till next day, and having gone home he charged his kinsman, Publius Quirinus, with his last prayer to the emperor. The answer was that he should address himself to the Senate. Meanwhile his house was surrounded with soldiers; they crowded noisily even about the entrance, so that they could be heard and seen; when Libo, whose anguish drove him from the very banquet he had prepared as his last gratification, called for a minister of death, grasped the hands of his slaves, and thrust a sword into them. In their confusion, as they shrank back, they overturned the lamp on the table at his side, and in the darkness, now to him the gloom of death, he aimed two blows at a vital part. At the groans of the falling man his freedmen hurried up, and the soldiers, seeing the bloody deed, stood aloof. Yet the prosecution was continued in the Senate with the same persistency, and Tiberius declared on oath that he would have interceded for his life, guilty though he was, but for his hasty suicide. His property was divided among his accusers, and praetorships out of the usual order were conferred on those who were of senators’ rank. Cotta Messalinus then proposed that Libo’s bust should not be carried in the funeral procession of any of his descendants; and Cneius Lentulus, that no Scribonius should assume the surname of Drusus. Days of public thanksgiving were appointed on the suggestion of Pomponius Flaccus. Offerings were given to Jupiter, Mars, and Concord, and the 13th day of September, on which Libo had killed himself, was to be observed as a festival, on the motion of Gallus Asinius, Papius Mutilus, and Lucius Apronius. I have mentioned the proposals and sycophancy of these men, in order to bring to light this old-standing evil in the State.
Decrees of the Senate were also passed to expel from Italy astrologers and magicians. One of their number, Lucius Pituanius, was hurled from the Rock. Another, Publius Marcius, was executed, according to ancient custom, by the consuls outside the Esquiline Gate, after the trumpets had been bidden to sound. On the next day of the Senate’s meeting much was said against the luxury of the country by Quintus Haterius, an ex-consul, and by Octavius Fronto, an ex-praetor. It was decided that vessels of solid gold should not be made for the serving of food, and that men should not disgrace themselves with silken clothing from the East. Fronto went further, and insisted on restrictions being put on plate, furniture, and household establishments. It was indeed still usual with the Senators, when it was their turn to vote, to suggest anything they thought for the State’s advantage. Gallus Asinius argued on the other side. “With the growth of the empire private wealth too,” he said, “had increased, and there was nothing new in this, but it accorded with the fashions of the earliest antiquity. Riches were one thing with the Fabricii, quite another with the Scipios. The State was the standard of everything; when it was poor, the homes of the citizens were humble; when it reached such magnificence, private grandeur increased. In household establishments, and plate, and in whatever was provided for use, there was neither excess nor parsimony except in relation to the fortune of the possessor. A distinction had been made in the assessments of Senators and knights, not because they differed naturally, but that the superiority of the one class in places in the theatre, in rank and in honour, might be also maintained in everything else which insured mental repose and bodily recreation, unless indeed men in the highest position were to undergo more anxieties and more dangers, and to be at the same time deprived of all solace under those anxieties and dangers.” Gallus gained a ready assent, under these specious phrases, by a confession of failings with which his audience symphathised. And Tiberius too had added that this was not a time for censorship, and that if there were any declension in manners, a promoter of reform would not be wanting.
During this debate Lucius Piso, after exclaiming against the corruption of the courts, the bribery of judges, the cruel threats of accusations from hired orators, declared that he would depart and quit the capital, and that he meant to live in some obscure and distant rural retreat. At the same moment he rose to leave the Senate House. Tiberius was much excited, and though he pacified Piso with gentle words, he also strongly urged his relatives to stop his departure by their influence or their entreaties. Soon afterwards this same Piso gave an equal proof of a fearless sense of wrong by suing Urgulania, whom Augusta’s friendship had raised above the law. Neither did Urgulania obey the summons, for in defiance of Piso she went in her litter to the emperor’s house; nor did Piso give way, though Augusta complained that she was insulted and her majesty slighted. Tiberius, to win popularity by so humouring his mother as to say that he would go to the praetor’s court and support Urgulania, went forth from the palace, having ordered soldiers to follow him at a distance. He was seen, as the people thronged about him, to wear a calm face, while he prolonged his time on the way with various conversations, till at last when Piso’s relatives tried in vain to restrain him, Augusta directed the money which was claimed to be handed to him. This ended the affair, and Piso, in consequence, was not dishonoured, and the emperor rose in reputation. Urgulania’s influence, however, was so formidable to the State, that in a certain cause which was tried by the Senate she would not condescend to appear as a witness. The praetor was sent to question her at her own house, although the Vestal virgins, according to ancient custom, were heard in the courts, before judges, whenever they gave evidence.
I should say nothing of the adjournment of public business in this year, if it were not worth while to notice the conflicting opinions of Cneius Piso and Asinius Gallus on the subject. Piso, although the emperor had said that he would be absent, held that all the more ought the business to be transacted, that the State might have honour of its Senate and knights being able to perform their duties in the sovereign’s absence. Gallus, as Piso had forestalled him in the display of freedom, maintained that nothing was sufficiently impressive or suitable to the majesty of the Roman people, unless done before Caesar and under his very eyes, and that therefore the gathering from all Italy and the influx from the provinces ought to be reserved for his presence. Tiberius listened to this in silence, and the matter was debated on both sides in a sharp controversy. The business, however, was adjourned.
A dispute then arose between Gallus and the emperor. Gallus proposed that the elections of magistrates should be held every five years, and that the commanders of the legions who before receiving a praetorship discharged this military service should at once become praetorselect, the emperor nominating twelve candidates every year. It was quite evident that this motion had a deeper meaning and was an attempt to explore the secrets of imperial policy. Tiberius, however, argued as if his power would be thus increased. “It would,” he said, “be trying to his moderation to have to elect so many and to put off so many. He scarcely avoided giving offence from year to year, even though a candidate’s rejection was solaced by the near prospect of office. What hatred would be incurred from those whose election was deferred for five years! How could he foresee through so long an interval what would be a man’s temper, or domestic relations, or estate? Men became arrogant even with this annual appointment. What would happen if their thoughts were fixed on promotion for five years? It was in fact a multiplying of the magistrates five-fold, and a subversion of the laws which had prescribed proper periods for the exercise of the candidate’s activity and the seeking or securing office. With this seemingly conciliatory speech he retained the substance of power.
He also increased the incomes of some of the Senators. Hence it was the more surprising that he listened somewhat disdainfully to the request of Marcus Hortalus, a youth of noble rank in conspicuous poverty. He was the grandson of the orator Hortensius, and had been induced by Augustus, on the strength of a gift of a million sesterces, to marry and rear children, that one of our most illustrious families might not become extinct. Accordingly, with his four sons standing at the doors of the Senate House, the Senate then sitting in the palace, when it was his turn to speak he began to address them as follows, his eyes fixed now on the statue of Hortensius which stood among those of the orators, now on that of Augustus:-“Senators, these whose numbers and boyish years you behold I have reared, not by my own choice, but because the emperor advised me. At the same time, my ancestors deserved to have descendants. For myself, not having been able in these altered times to receive or acquire wealth or popular favour, or that eloquence which has been the hereditary possession of our house, I was satisfied if my narrow means were neither a disgrace to myself nor burden to others. At the emperor’s bidding I married. Behold the offspring and progeny of a succession of consuls and dictators. Not to excite odium do I recall such facts, but to win compassion. While you prosper, Caesar, they will attain such promotion as you shall bestow. Meanwhile save from penury the great-grandsons of Quintus Hortensius, the foster-children of Augustus.”
The Senate’s favourable bias was an incitement to Tiberius to offer prompt opposition, which he did in nearly these words:- “If all poor men begin to come here and to beg money for their children, individuals will never be satisfied, and the State will be bankrupt. Certainly our ancestors did not grant the privilege of occasionally proposing amendments or of suggesting, in our turn for speaking, something for the general advantage in order that we might in this house increase our private business and property, thereby bringing odium on the Senate and on emperors whether they concede or refuse their bounty. In fact, it is not a request, but an importunity, as utterly unreasonable as it is unforeseen, for a senator, when the house has met on other matters, to rise from his place and, pleading the number and age of his children, put a pressure on the delicacy of the Senate, then transfer the same constraint to myself, and, as it were, break open the exchequer, which, if we exhaust it by improper favouritism, will have to be replenished by crimes. Money was given you, Hortalus, by Augustus, but without solicitation, and not on the condition of its being always given. Otherwise industry will languish and idleness be encouraged, if a man has nothing to fear, nothing to hope from himself, and every one, in utter recklessness, will expect relief from others, thus becoming useless to himself and a burden to me.”
These and like remarks, though listened to with assent by those who make it a practice to eulogise everything coming from sovereigns, both good and bad, were received by the majority in silence or with suppressed murmurs. Tiberius perceived it, and having paused a while, said that he had given Hortalus his answer, but that if the senators thought it right, he would bestow two hundred thousand sesterces on each of his children of the male sex. The others thanked him; Hortalus said nothing, either from alarm or because even in his reduced fortunes he clung to his hereditary nobility. Nor did Tiberius afterwards show any pity, though the house of Hortensius sank into shameful poverty.
That same year the daring of a single slave, had it not been promptly checked, would have ruined the State by discord and civil war. A servant of Postumus Agrippa, Clemens by name, having ascertained that Augustus was dead, formed a design beyond a slave’s conception, of going to the island of Planasia and seizing Agrippa by craft or force and bringing him to the armies of Germany. The slowness of a merchant vessel thwarted his bold venture. Meanwhile the murder of Agrippa had been perpetrated, and then turning his thoughts to a greater and more hazardous enterprise, he stole the ashes of the deceased, sailed to Cosa, a promontory of Etruria, and there hid himself in obscure places till his hair and beard were long. In age and figure he was not unlike his master. Then through suitable emissaries who shared his secret, it was rumoured that Agrippa was alive, first in whispered gossip, soon, as is usual with forbidden topics, in vague talk which found its way to the credulous ears of the most ignorant people or of restless and revolutionary schemers. He himself went to the towns, as the day grew dark, without letting himself be seen publicly or remaining long in the same places, but, as he knew that truth gains strength by notoriety and time, falsehood by precipitancy and vagueness, he would either withdraw himself from publicity or else forestall it. It was rumoured meanwhile throughout Italy, and was believed at Rome, that Agrippa had been saved by the blessing of Heaven. Already at Ostia, where he had arrived, he was the centre of interest to a vast concourse as well as to secret gatherings in the capital, while Tiberius was distracted by the doubt whether he should crush this slave of his by military force or allow time to dissipate a silly credulity. Sometimes he thought that he must overlook nothing, sometimes that he need not be afraid of everything, his mind fluctuating between shame and terror. At last he entrusted the affair to Sallustius Crispus, who chose two of his dependants (some say they were soldiers) and urged them to go to him as pretended accomplices, offering money and promising faithful companionship in danger. They did as they were bidden; then, waiting for an unguarded hour of night, they took with them a sufficient force, and having bound and gagged him, dragged him to the palace. When Tiberius asked him how he had become Agrippa, he is said to have replied, “As you became Caesar.” He could not be forced to divulge his accomplices. Tiberius did not venture on a public execution, but ordered him to be slain in a private part of the palace and his body to be secretly removed. And although many of the emperor’s household and knights and senators were said to have supported him with their wealth and helped him with their counsels, no inquiry was made. At the close of the year was consecrated an arch near the temple of Saturn to commemorate the recovery of the standards lost with Varus, under the leadership of Germanicus and the auspices of Tiberius; a temple of Fors Fortuna, by the Tiber, in the gardens which Caesar, the dictator, bequeathed to the Roman people; a chapel to the Julian family, and statues at Bovillae to the Divine Augustus. In the consulship of Caius Caecilius and Lucius Pomponius, Germanicus Caesar, on the 26th day of May, celebrated his triumph over the Cherusci, Chatti, and Angrivarii, and the other tribes which extend as far as the Elbe. There were borne in procession spoils, prisoners, representations of the mountains, the rivers and battles; and the war, seeing that he had been forbidden to finish it, was taken as finished. The admiration of the beholders was heightened by the striking comeliness of the general and the chariot which bore his five children. Still, there was a latent dread when they remembered how unfortunate in the case of Drusus, his father, had been the favour of the crowd; how his uncle Marcellus, regarded by the city populace with passionate enthusiasm, had been snatched from them while yet a youth, and how short-lived and ill-starred were the attachments of the Roman people.
Tiberius meanwhile in the name of Germanicus gave every one of the city populace three hundred sesterces, and nominated himself his colleague in the consulship. Still, failing to obtain credit for sincere affection, he resolved to get the young prince out of the way, under pretence of conferring distinction, and for this he invented reasons, or eagerly fastened on such as chance presented. King Archelaus had been in possession of Cappadocia for fifty years, and Tiberius hated him because he had not shown him any mark of respect while he was at Rhodes. This neglect of Archelaus was not due to pride, but was suggested by the intimate friends of Augustus, because, when Caius Caesar was in his prime and had charge of the affairs of the East, Tiberius’s friendship was thought to be dangerous. When, after the extinction of the family of the Caesars, Tiberius acquired the empire, he enticed Archelaus by a letter from his mother, who without concealing her son’s displeasure promised mercy if he would come to beg for it. Archelaus, either quite unsuspicious of treachery, or dreading compulsion, should it be thought that he saw through it, hastened to Rome. There he was received by a pitiless emperor, and soon afterwards was arraigned before the Senate. In his anguish and in the weariness of old age, and from being unused, as a king, to equality, much less to degradation, not, certainly, from fear of the charges fabricated against him, he ended his life, by his own act or by a natural death. His kingdom was reduced into a province, and Caesar declared that, with its revenues, the one per cent. tax could be lightened, which, for the future, he fixed at one-half per cent.
During the same time, on the deaths of Antiochus and Philopator, kings respectively of the Commageni and Cilicians, these nations became excited, a majority desiring the Roman rule, some, that of their kings. The provinces too of Syria and Judaea, exhausted by their burdens, implored a reduction of tribute.
Tiberius accordingly discussed these matters and the affairs of Armenia, which I have already related, before the Senate. “The commotions in the East,” he said, “could be quieted only by the wisdom, of Germanicus; own life was on the decline, and Drusus had not yet reached his maturity.” Thereupon, by a decree of the Senate, the provinces beyond sea were entrusted to Germanicus, with greater powers wherever he went than were given to those who obtained their provinces by lot or by the emperor’s appointment.
Tiberius had however removed from Syria Creticus Silanus, who was connected by a close tie with Germanicus, his daughter being betrothed to Nero, the eldest of Germanicus’s children. He appointed to it Cneius Piso, a man of violent temper, without an idea of obedience, with indeed a natural arrogance inherited from his father Piso, who in the civil war supported with the most energetic aid against Caesar the reviving faction in Africa, then embraced the cause of Brutus and Cassius, and, when suffered to return, refrained from seeking promotion till, he was actually solicited to accept a consulship offered by Augustus. But beside the father’s haughty temper there was also the noble rank and wealth of his wife Plancina, to inflame his ambition. He would hardly be the inferior of Tiberius, and as for Tiberius’s children, he looked down on them as far beneath him. He thought it a certainty that he had been chosen to govern Syria in order to thwart the aspirations of Germanicus. Some believed that he had even received secret instructions from Tiberius, and it was beyond a question that Augusta, with feminine jealousy, had suggested to Plancina calumnious insinuations against Agrippina. For there was division and discord in the court, with unexpressed partialities towards either Drusus or Germanicus. Tiberius favoured Drusus, as his. son and born of his own blood. As for Germanicus, his uncle’s estrangement had increased the affection which all others felt for him, and there was the fact too that he had an advantage in the illustrious rank of his mother’s family, among whom he could point to his grandfather Marcus Antonius and to his great-uncle Augustus. Drusus, on the other hand, had for his great-grandfather a Roman knight, Pomponius Atticus, who seemed to disgrace the ancestral images of the Claudii. Again, the consort of Germanicus, Agrippina, in number of children and in character, was superior to Livia, the wife of Drusus. Yet the brothers were singularly united, and were wholly unaffected by the rivalries of their kinsfolk.
Soon afterwards Drusus was sent into Illyricum to be familiarised with military service, and to win the goodwill of the army. Tiberius also thought that it was better for the young prince, who was being demoralised by the luxury of the capital, to serve in a camp, while he felt himself the safer with both his sons in command of legions. However, he made a pretext of the Suevi, who were imploring help against the Cherusci. For when the Romans had departed and they were free from the fear of an invader, these tribes, according to the custom of the race, and then specially as rivals in fame, had turned their arms against each other. The strength of the two nations, the valour of their chiefs were equal. But the title of king rendered Maroboduus hated among his countrymen, while Arminius was regarded with favour as the champion of freedom.
Thus it was not only the Cherusci and their allies, the old soldiers of Arminius, who took up arms, but even the Semnones and Langobardi from the kingdom of Maroboduus revolted to that chief. With this addition he must have had an overwhelming superiority, had not Inguiomerus deserted with a troop of his dependants to Maroboduus, simply for the reason that the aged uncle scorned to obey a brother’s youthful son. The armies were drawn up, with equal confidence on both sides, and there were not those desultory attacks or irregular bands, formerly so common with the Germans. Prolonged warfare against us had accustomed them to keep close to their standards, to have the support of reserves, and to take the word of command from their generals. On this occasion Arminius, who reviewed the whole field on horseback, as he rode up to each band, boasted of regained freedom, of slaughtered legions, of spoils and weapons wrested from the Romans, and still in the hands of many of his men. As for Maroboduus, he called him a fugitive, who had no experience of battles, who had sheltered himself in the recesses of the Hercynian forest and then with presents and embassies sued for a treaty; a traitor to his country, a satellite of Caesar, who deserved to be driven out, with rage as furious as that with which they had slain Quintilius Varus. They should simply remember their many battles, the result of which, with the final expulsion of the Romans, sufficiently showed who could claim the crowning success in war. Nor did Maroboduus abstain from vaunts about himself or from revilings of the foe. Clasping the hand of Inguiomerus, he protested “that in the person before them centred all the renown of the Cherusci, that to his counsels was due whatever had ended successfully. Arminius in his infatuation and ignorance was taking to himself the glory which belonged to another, for he had treacherously surprised three unofficered legions and a general who had not an idea of perfidy, to the great hurt of Germany and to his own disgrace, since his wife and his son were still enduring slavery. As for himself, he had been attacked by twelve legions led by Tiberius, and had preserved untarnished the glory of the Germans, and then on equal terms the armies had parted. He was by no means sorry that they had the matter in their own hands, whether they preferred to war with all their might against Rome, or to accept a bloodless peace.”
To these words, which roused the two armies, was added the stimulus of special motives of their own. The Cherusci and Langobardi were fighting for ancient renown or newly-won freedom; the other side for the increase of their dominion. Never at any time was the shock of battle more tremendous or the issue more doubtful, as the right wings of both armies were routed. Further fighting was expected, when Maroboduus withdrew his camp to the hills. This was a sign of discomfiture. He was gradually stripped of his strength by desertions, and, having fled to the Marcomanni, he sent envoys to Tiberius with entreaties for help. The answer was that he had no right to invoke the aid of Roman arms against the Cherusci, when he had rendered no assistance to the Romans in their conflict with the same enemy. Drusus, however, was sent as I have related, to establish peace.
That same year twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night, so that the destruction was all the more unforeseen and fearful. Nor were there the means of escape usual in, such a disaster, by rushing out into the open country, for there people were swallowed up by the yawning earth. Vast mountains, it is said, collapsed; what had been level ground seemed to be raised aloft, and fires blazed out amid the ruin. The calamity fell most fatally on the inhabitants of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest share of sympathy. The emperor promised ten million sesterces, and remitted for five years all they paid to the exchequer or to the emperor’s purse. Magnesia, under Mount Sipylus, was considered to come next in loss and in need of help. The people of Temnus, Philadelpheia, Aegae, Apollonis, the Mostenians, and Hyrcanian Macedonians, as they were called, with the towns of Hierocaesarea, Myrina, Cyme, and Tmolus, were; it was decided, to be exempted from tribute for the same time, and some one was to be sent from the Senate to examine their actual condition and to relieve them. Marcus Aletus, one of the expraetors, was chosen, from a fear that, as an exconsul was governor of Asia, there might be rivalry between men of equal rank, and consequent embarrassment.
To his splendid public liberality the emperor added bounties no less popular. The property of Aemilia Musa, a rich woman who died intestate, on which the imperial treasury had a claim, he handed over to Aemilius Lepidus, to whose family she appeared to belong; and the estate of Patuleius, a wealthy Roman knight, though he was himself left in part his heir, he gave to Marcus Servilius, whose name he discovered in an earlier and unquestioned will. In both these cases he said that noble rank ought to have the support of wealth. Nor did he accept a legacy from any one unless he had earned it by friendship. Those who were strangers to him, and who, because they were at enmity with others, made the emperor their heir, he kept at a distance. While, however, he relieved the honourable poverty of the virtuous, he expelled from the Senate or suffered voluntarily to retire spendthrifts whose vices had brought them to penury, like Vibidius Varro, Marius Nepos, Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sulla, and Quintus Vitellius.
About the same time he dedicated some temples of the gods, which had perished from age or from fire, and which Augustus had begun to restore. These were temples to Liber, Libera, and Ceres, near the Great Circus, which last Aulus Postumius, when Dictator, had vowed; a temple to Flora in the same place, which had been built by Lucius and Marcus Publicius, aediles, and a temple to Janus, which had been erected in the vegetable market by Caius Duilius, who was the first to make the Roman power successful at sea and to win a naval triumph over the Carthaginians. A temple to Hope was consecrated by Germanicus; this had been vowed by Atilius in that same war. Meantime the law of treason was gaining strength. Appuleia Varilia, grand-niece of Augustus, was accused of treason by an informer for having ridiculed the Divine Augustus, Tiberius, and Tiberius’s mother, in some insulting remarks, and for having been convicted of adultery, allied though she was to Caesar’s house. Adultery, it was thought, was sufficiently guarded against by the Julian law. As to the charge of treason, the emperor insisted that it should be taken separately, and that she should be condemned if she had spoken irreverently of Augustus. Her insinuations against himself he did not wish to be the subject of judicial inquiry. When asked by the consul what he thought of the unfavourable speeches she was accused of having uttered against his mother, he said nothing. Afterwards, on the next day of the Senate’s meeting, he even begged in his mother’s name that no words of any kind spoken against her might in any case be treated as criminal. He then acquitted Appuleia of treason. For her adultery, he deprecated the severer penalty, and advised that she should be removed by her kinsfolk, after the example of our forefathers, to more than two hundred miles from Rome. Her paramour, Manlius, was forbidden to live in Italy or Africa. A contest then arose about the election of a praetor in the room of Vipstanus Gallus, whom death had removed. Germanicus and Drusus (for they were still at Rome) supported Haterius Agrippa, a relative of Germanicus. Many, on the other hand, endeavoured to make the number of children weigh most in favour of the candidates. Tiberius rejoiced to see a strife in the Senate between his sons and the law. Beyond question the law was beaten, but not at once, and only by a few votes, in the same way as laws were defeated even when they were in force.
In this same year a war broke out in Africa, where the enemy was led by Tacfarinas. A Numidian by birth, he had served as an auxiliary in the Roman camp, then becoming a deserter, he at first gathered round him a roving band familiar with robbery, for plunder and for rapine. After a while, he marshalled them like regular soldiers, under standards and in troops, till at last he was regarded as the leader, not of an undisciplined rabble, but of the Musulamian people. This powerful tribe, bordering on the deserts of Africa, and even then with none of the civilisation of cities, took up arms and drew their Moorish neighbours into the war. These too had a leader, Mazippa. The army was so divided that Tacfarinas kept the picked men who were armed in Roman fashion within a camp, and familiarised them with a commander’s authority, while Mazippa, with light troops, spread around him fire, slaughter, and consternation. They had forced the Ciniphii, a far from contemptible tribe, into their cause, when Furius Camillus, proconsul of Africa, united in one force a legion and all the regularly enlisted allies, and, with an army insignificant indeed compared with the multitude of the Numidians and Moors, marched against the enemy. There was nothing however which he strove so much to avoid as their eluding an engagement out of fear. It was by the hope of victory that they were lured on only to be defeated. The legion was in the army’s centre; the light cohorts and two cavalry squadrons on its wings. Nor did Tacfarinas refuse battle. The Numidians were routed, and after a number of years the name of Furius won military renown. Since the days of the famous deliverer of our city and his son Camillus, fame as a general had fallen to the lot of other branches of the family, and the man of whom I am now speaking was regarded as an inexperienced soldier. All the more willingly did Tiberius commemorate his achievements in the Senate, and the Senators voted him the ornaments of triumph, an honour which Camillus, because of his unambitious life, enjoyed without harm. In the following year Tiberius held his third, Germanicus his second, consulship. Germanicus, however, entered on the office at Nicopolis, a city of Achaia, whither he had arrived by the coast of Illyricum, after having seen his brother Drusus, who was then in Dalmatia, and endured a stormy voyage through the Adriatic and afterwards the Ionian Sea. He accordingly devoted a few days to the repair of his fleet, and, at the same time, in remembrance of his ancestors, he visited the bay which the victory of Actium had made famous, the spoils consecrated by Augustus, and the camp of Antonius. For, as I have said, Augustus was his great-uncle, Antonius his grandfather, and vivid images of disaster and success rose before him on the spot. Thence he went to Athens, and there, as a concession to our treaty with an allied and ancient city, he was attended only by a single lictor. The Greeks welcomed him with the most elaborate honours, and brought forward all the old deeds and sayings of their countrymen, to give additional dignity to their flattery.
Thence he directed his course to Euboea and crossed to Lesbos, where Agrippina for the last time was confined and gave birth to Julia. He then penetrated to the remoter parts of the province of Asia, visited the Thracian cities, Perinthus and Byzantium; next, the narrow strait of the Propontis and the entrance of the Pontus, from an anxious wish to become acquainted with those ancient and celebrated localities. He gave relief, as he went, to provinces which had been exhausted by internal feuds or by the oppressions of governors. In his return he attempted to see the sacred mysteries of the Samothracians, but north winds which he encountered drove him aside from his course. And so after visiting Ilium and surveying a scene venerable from the vicissitudes of fortune and as the birth-place of our people, he coasted back along Asia, and touched at Colophon, to consult the oracle of the Clarian Apollo. There, it is not a woman, as at Delphi, but a priest chosen from certain families, generally from Miletus, who ascertains simply the number and the names of the applicants. Then descending into a cave and drinking a draught from a secret spring, the man, who is commonly ignorant of letters and of poetry, utters a response in verse answering to the thoughts conceived in the mind of any inquirer. It was said that he prophesied to Germanicus, in dark hints, as oracles usually do, an early doom. Cneius Piso meanwhile, that he might the sooner enter on his design, terrified the citizens of Athens by his tumultuous approach, and then reviled them in a bitter speech, with indirect reflections on Germanicus, who, he said, had derogated from the honour of the Roman name in having treated with excessive courtesy, not the people of Athens, who indeed had been exterminated by repeated disasters, but a miserable medley of tribes. As for the men before him, they had been Mithridates’s allies against Sulla, allies of Antonius against the Divine Augustus. He taunted them too with the past, with their ill-success against the Macedonians, their violence to their own countrymen, for he had his own special grudge against this city, because they would not spare at his intercession one Theophilus whom the Areopagus had condemned for forgery. Then, by sailing rapidly and by the shortest route through the Cyclades, he overtook Germanicus at the island of Rhodes. The prince was not ignorant of the slanders with which he had been assailed, but his good nature was such that when a storm arose and drove Piso on rocks, and his enemy’s destruction could have been referred to chance, he sent some triremes, by the help of which he might be rescued from danger. But this did not soften Piso’s heart. Scarcely allowing a day’s interval, he left Germanicus and hastened on in advance. When he reached Syria and the legions, he began, by bribery and favouritism, to encourage the lowest of the common soldiers, removing the old centurions and the strict tribunes and assigning their places to creatures of his own or to the vilest of the men, while he allowed idleness in the camp, licentiousness in the towns, and the soldiers to roam through the country and take their pleasure. He went such lengths in demoralizing them, that he was spoken of in their vulgar talk as the father of the legions.
Plancina too, instead of keeping herself within the proper limits of a woman, would be present at the evolutions of the cavalry and the manoeuvres of the cohorts, and would fling insulting remarks at Agrippina and Germanicus. Some even of the good soldiers were inclined to a corrupt compliance, as a whispered rumour gained ground that the emperor was not averse to these proceedings. Of all this Germanicus was aware, but his most pressing anxiety was to be first in reaching Armenia.
This had been of old an unsettled country from the character of its people and from its geographical position, bordering, as it does, to a great extent on our provinces and stretching far away to Media. It lies between two most mighty empires, and is very often at strife with them, hating Rome and jealous of Parthia. It had at this time no king, Vonones having been expelled, but the nation’s likings inclined towards Zeno, son of Polemon, king of Pontus, who from his earliest infancy had imitated Armenian manners and customs, loving the chase, the banquet, and all the popular pastimes of barbarians, and who had thus bound to himself chiefs and people alike. Germanicus accordingly, in the city of Artaxata, with the approval of the nobility, in the presence of a vast multitude, placed the royal diadem on his head. All paid him homage and saluted him as King Artaxias, which name they gave him from the city.
Cappadocia meanwhile, which had been reduced to the form of a province, received as its governor Quintus Veranius. Some of the royal tributes were diminished, to inspire hope of a gentler rule under Rome. Quintus Servaeus was appointed to Commagene, then first put under a praetor’s jurisdiction.
Successful as was this settlement of all the interests of our allies, it gave Germanicus little joy because of the arrogance of Piso. Though he had been ordered to march part of the legions into Armenia under his own or his son’s command, he had neglected to do either. At length the two met at Cyrrhus, the winterquarters of the tenth legion, each controlling his looks, Piso concealing his fears, Germanicus shunning the semblance of menace. He was indeed, as I have said, a kind-hearted man. But friends who knew well how to inflame a quarrel, exaggerated what was true and added lies, alleging various charges against Piso, Plancina, and their sons. At last, in the presence of a few intimate associates, Germanicus addressed him in language such as suppressed resentment suggests, to which Piso replied with haughty apologies. They parted in open enmity. After this Piso was seldom seen at Caesar’s tribunal, and if he ever sat by him, it was with a sullen frown and a marked display of opposition. He was even heard to say at a banquet given by the king of the Nabataeans, when some golden crowns of great weight were presented to Caesar and Agrippina and light ones to Piso and the rest, that the entertainment was given to the son of a Roman emperor, not of a Parthian king. At the same time he threw his crown on the ground, with a long speech against luxury, which, though it angered Germanicus, he still bore with patience.
Meantime envoys arrived from Artabanus, king of the Parthians. He had sent them to recall the memory of friendship and alliance, with an assurance that he wished for a renewal of the emblems of concord, and that he would in honour of Germanicus yield the point of advancing to the bank of the Euphrates. He begged meanwhile that Vonones might not be kept in Syria, where, by emissaries from an easy distance, he might draw the chiefs of the tribes into civil strife. Germanicus’ answer as to the alliance between Rome and Parthia was dignified; as to the king’s visit and the respect shown to himself, it was graceful and modest. Vonones was removed to Pompeiopolis, a city on the coast of Cilicia. This was not merely a concession to the request of Artabanus, but was meant as an affront to Piso, who had a special liking for Vonones, because of the many attentions and presents by which he had won Plancina’s favour. In the consulship of Marcus Silanus and Lucius Norbanus, Germanicus set out for Egypt to study its antiquities. His ostensible motive however was solicitude for the province. He reduced the price of corn by opening the granaries, and adopted many practices pleasing to the multitude. He would go about without soldiers, with sandalled feet, and apparelled after the Greek fashion, in imitation of Publius Scipio, who, it is said, habitually did the same in Sicily, even when the war with Carthage was still raging. Tiberius having gently expressed disapproval of his dress and manners, pronounced a very sharp censure on his visit to Alexandria without the emperor’s leave, contrary to the regulations of Augustus. That prince, among other secrets of imperial policy, had forbidden senators and Roman knights of the higher rank to enter Egypt except by permission, and he had specially reserved the country, from a fear that any one who held a province containing the key of the land and of the sea, with ever so small a force against the mightiest army, might distress Italy by famine.
Germanicus, however, who had not yet learnt how much he was blamed for his expedition, sailed up the Nile from the city of Canopus as his starting-point. Spartans founded the place because Canopus, pilot of one of their ships, had been buried there, when Menelaus on his return to Greece was driven into a distant sea and to the shores of Libya. Thence he went to the river’s nearest mouth, dedicated to a Hercules who, the natives say, was born in the country and was the original hero, others, who afterwards showed like valour, having received his name. Next he visited the vast ruins of ancient Thebes. There yet remained on the towering piles Egyptian inscriptions, with a complete account of the city’s past grandeur. One of the aged priests, who was desired to interpret the language of his country, related how once there had dwelt in Thebes seven hundred thousand men of military age, and how with such an army king Rhamses conquered Libya, Ethiopia, Media, Persia, Bactria, and Scythia, and held under his sway the countries inhabited by the Syrians, Armenians, and their neighbours, the Cappadocians, from the Bithynian to the Lycian sea. There was also to be read what tributes were imposed on these nations, the weight of silver and gold, the tale of arms and horses, the gifts of ivory and of perfumes to the temples, with the amount of grain and supplies furnished by each people, a revenue as magnificent as is now exacted by the might of Parthia or the power of Rome.
But Germanicus also bestowed attention on other wonders. Chief of these were the stone image of Memnon, which, when struck by the sun’s rays, gives out the sound of a human voice; the pyramids, rising up like mountains amid almost impassable wastes of shifting sand, raised by the emulation and vast wealth of kings; the lake hollowed out of the earth to be a receptacle for the Nile’s overflow; and elsewhere the river’s narrow channel and profound depth which no line of the explorer can penetrate. He then came to Elephantine and Syene, formerly the limits of the Roman empire, which now extends to the Red Sea.
While Germanicus was spending the summer in visits to several provinces, Drusus gained no little glory by sowing discord among the Germans and urging them to complete the destruction of the now broken power of Maroboduus. Among the Gotones was a youth of noble birth, Catualda by name, who had formerly been driven into exile by the might of Maroboduus, and who now, when the king’s fortunes were declining, ventured on revenge. He entered the territory of the Marcomanni with a strong force, and, having corruptly won over the nobles to join him, burst into the palace and into an adjacent fortress. There he found the long-accumulated plunder of the Suevi and camp followers and traders from our provinces who had been attracted to an enemy’s land, each from their various homes, first by the freedom of commerce, next by the desire of amassing wealth, finally by forgetfulness of their fatherland.
Maroboduus, now utterly deserted, had no resource but in the mercy of Caesar. Having crossed the Danube where it flows by the province of Noricum, he wrote to Tiberius, not like a fugitive or a suppliant, but as one who remembered his past greatness. When as a most famous king in former days he received invitations from many nations, he had still, he said, preferred the friendship of Rome. Caesar replied that he should have a safe and honourable home in Italy, if he would remain there, or, if his interests required something different, he might leave it under the same protection under which he had come. But in the Senate he maintained that Philip had not been so formidable to the Athenians, or Pyrrhus or Antiochus to the Roman people, as was Maroboduus. The speech is extant, and in it he magnifies the man’s power, the ferocity of the tribes under his sway, his proximity to Italy as a foe, finally his own measures for his overthrow. The result was that Maroboduus was kept at Ravenna, where his possible return was a menace to the Suevi, should they ever disdain obedience. But he never left Italy for eighteen years, living to old age and losing much of his renown through an excessive clinging to life. Catualda had a like downfall and no better refuge. Driven out soon afterwards by the overwhelming strength of the Hermundusi led by Vibilius, he was received and sent to Forum Julii, a colony of Narbonensian Gaul. The barbarians who followed the two kings, lest they might disturb the peace of the provinces by mingling with the population, were settled beyond the Danube between the rivers Marus and Cusus, under a king, Vannius, of the nation of the Quadi. Tidings having also arrived of Artaxias being made king of Armenia by Germanicus, the Senate decreed that both he and Drusus should enter the city with an ovation. Arches too were raised round the sides of the temple of Mars the Avenger, with statues of the two Caesars. Tiberius was the more delighted at having established peace by wise policy than if he had finished a war by battle. And so next he planned a crafty scheme against Rhescuporis, king of Thrace. That entire country had been in the possession of Rhoemetalces, after whose death Augustus assigned half to the king’s brother Rhescuporis, half to his son Cotys. In this division the cultivated lands, the towns, and what bordered on Greek territories, fell to Cotys; the wild and barbarous portion, with enemies on its frontier, to Rhescuporis. The kings too themselves differed, Cotys having a gentle and kindly temper, the other a fierce and ambitious spirit, which could not brook a partner. Still at first they lived in a hollow friendship, but soon Rhescuporis overstepped his bounds and appropriated to himself what had been given to Cotys, using force when he was resisted, though somewhat timidly under Augustus, who having created both kingdoms would, he feared, avenge any contempt of his arrangement. When however he heard of the change of emperor, he let loose bands of freebooters and razed the fortresses, as a provocation to war. Nothing made Tiberius so uneasy as an apprehension of the disturbance of any settlement. He commissioned a centurion to tell the kings not to decide their dispute by arms. Cotys at once dismissed the forces which he had prepared. Rhescuporis, with assumed modesty, asked for a place of meeting where, he said, they might settle their differences by an interview. There was little hesitation in fixing on a time, a place, finally on terms, as every point was mutually conceded and accepted, by the one out of good nature, by the other with a treacherous intent. Rhescuporis, to ratify the treaty, as he said, further proposed a banquet; and when their mirth had been prolonged far into the night, and Cotys amid the feasting and the wine was unsuspicious of danger, he loaded him with chains, though he appealed, on perceiving the perfidy, to the sacred character of a king, to the gods of their common house, and to the hospitable board. Having possessed himself of all Thrace, he wrote word to Tiberius that a plot had been formed against him, and that he had forestalled the plotter. Meanwhile, under pretext of a war against the Bastarnian and Scythian tribes, he was strengthening himself with fresh forces of infantry and cavalry.
He received a conciliatory answer. If there was no treachery in his conduct, he could rely on his innocence, but neither the emperor nor the Senate would decide on the right or wrong of his cause without hearing it. He was therefore to surrender Cotys, come in person transfer from himself the odium of the charge. This letter Latinius Pandus, propraetor of Moesia, sent to Thrace, with soldiers to whose custody Cotys was to be delivered. Rhescuporis, hesitating between fear and rage, preferred to be charged with an accomplished rather than with an attempted crime. He ordered Cotys to be murdered and falsely represented his death as self-inflicted. Still the emperor did not change the policy which he had once for all adopted. On the death of Pandus, whom Rhescuporis accused of being his personal enemy, he appointed to the government of Moesia Pomponius Flaccus, a veteran soldier, specially because of his close intimacy with the king and his consequent ability to entrap him. Flaccus on arriving in Thrace induced the king by great promises, though he hesitated and thought of his guilty deeds, to enter the Roman lines. He then surrounded him with a strong force under pretence of showing him honour, and the tribunes and centurions, by counsel, by persuasion, and by a more undisguised captivity the further he went, brought him, aware at last of his desperate plight, to Rome. He was accused before the Senate by the wife of Cotys, and was condemned to be kept a prisoner far away from his kingdom. Thrace was divided between his son Rhoemetalces, who, it was proved, had opposed his father’s designs, and the sons of Cotys. As these were still minors, Trebellienus Rufus, an expraetor, was appointed to govern the kingdom in the meanwhile, after the precedent of our ancestors who sent Marcus Lepidus into Egypt as guardian to Ptolemy’s children. Rhescuporis was removed to Alexandria, and there attempting or falsely charged with attempting escape, was put to death. About the same time, Vonones, who, as I have related, had been banished to Cilicia, endeavoured by bribing his guards to escape into Armenia, thence to Albania and Heniochia, and to his kinsman, the king of Scythia. Quitting the sea-coast on the pretence of a hunting expedition, he struck into trackless forests, and was soon borne by his swift steed to the river Pyramus, the bridges over which had been broken down by the natives as soon as they heard of the king’s escape. Nor was there a ford by which it could be crossed. And so on the river’s bank he was put in chains by Vibius Fronto, an officer of cavalry; and then Remmius, an enrolled pensioner, who had previously been entrusted with the king’s custody, in pretended rage, pierced him with his sword. Hence there was more ground for believing that the man, conscious of guilty complicity and fearing accusation, had slain Vonones.
Germanicus meanwhile, as he was returning from Egypt, found that all his directions to the legions and to the various cities had been repealed or reversed. This led to grievous insults on Piso, while he as savagely assailed the prince. Piso then resolved to quit Syria. Soon he was detained there by the failing health of Germanicus, but when he heard of his recovery, while people were paying the vows they had offered for his safety, he went attended by his lictors, drove away the victims placed by the altars with all the preparations for sacrifice, and the festal gathering of the populace of Antioch. Then he left for Seleucia and awaited the result of the illness which had again attacked Germanicus. The terrible intensity of the malady was increased by the belief that he had been poisoned by Piso. And certainly there were found hidden in the floor and in the walls disinterred remains of human bodies, incantations and spells, and the name of Germanicus inscribed on leaden tablets, half-burnt cinders smeared with blood, and other horrors by which in popular belief souls are devoted so the infernal deities. Piso too was accused of sending emissaries to note curiously every unfavourable symptom of the illness.
Germanicus heard of all this with anger, no less than with fear. “If my doors,” he said, “are to be besieged, if I must gasp out my last breath under my enemies’ eyes, what will then be the lot of my most unhappy wife, of my infant children? Poisoning seems tedious; he is in eager haste to have the sole control of the province and the legions. But Germanicus is not yet fallen so low, nor will the murderer long retain the reward of the fatal deed.” He then addressed a letter to Piso, renouncing his friendship, and, as many also state, ordered him to quit the province. Piso without further delay weighed anchor, slackening his course that he might not have a long way to return should Germanicus’ death leave Syria open to him.
For a brief space the prince’s hopes rose; then his frame became exhausted, and, as his end drew near, he spoke as follows to the friends by his side:-“Were I succumbing to nature, I should have just ground of complaint even against the gods for thus tearing me away in my youth by an untimely death from parents, children, country. Now, cut off by the wickedness of Piso and Plancina, I leave to your hearts my last entreaties. Describe to my father and brother, torn by what persecutions, entangled by what plots, I have ended by the worst of deaths the most miserable of lives. If any were touched by my bright prospects, by ties of blood, or even by envy towards me while I lived, they will weep that the once prosperous survivor of so many wars has perished by a woman’s treachery. You will have the opportunity of complaint before the Senate, of an appeal to the laws. It is not the chief duty of friends to follow the dead with unprofitable laments, but to remember his wishes, to fulfil his commands. Tears for Germanicus even strangers will shed; vengeance must come from you, if you loved the man more than his fortune. Show the people of Rome her who is the granddaughter of the Divine Augustus, as well as my consort; set before them my six children. Sympathy will be on the side of the accusers, and to those who screen themselves under infamous orders belief or pardon will be refused.”
His friends clasped the dying man’s right hand, and swore that they would sooner lose life than revenge.
He then turned to his wife and implored her by the memory of her husband and by their common offspring to lay aside her high spirit, to submit herself to the cruel blows of fortune, and not, when she returned to Rome, to enrage by political rivalry those who were stronger than herself. This was said openly; other words were whispered, pointing, it was supposed, to his fears from Tiberius. Soon afterwards he expired, to the intense sorrow of the province and of the neighbouring peoples. Foreign nations and kings grieved over him, so great was his courtesy to allies, his humanity to enemies. He inspired reverence alike by look and voice, and while he maintained the greatness and dignity of the highest rank, he had escaped the hatred that waits on arrogance.
His funeral, though it lacked the family statues and procession, was honoured by panegyrics and a commemoration of his virtues. Some there were who, as they thought of his beauty, his age, and the manner of his death, the vicinity too of the country where he died, likened his end to that of Alexander the Great. Both had a graceful person and were of noble birth; neither had much exceeded thirty years of age, and both fell by the treachery of their own people in strange lands. But Germanicus was gracious to his friends, temperate in his pleasures, the husband of one wife, with only legitimate children. He was too no less a warrior, though rashness he had none, and, though after having cowed Germany by his many victories, he was hindered from crushing it into subjection. Had he had the sole control of affairs, had he possessed the power and title of a king, he would have attained military glory as much more easily as he had excelled Alexander in clemency, in self-restraint, and in all other virtues. As to the body which, before it was burnt, lay bare in the forum at Antioch, its destined place of burial, it is doubtful whether it exhibited the marks of poisoning. For men according as they pitied Germanicus and were prepossessed with suspicion or were biased by partiality towards Piso, gave conflicting accounts. Then followed a deliberation among the generals and other senators present about the appointment of a governor to Syria. The contest was slight among all but Vibius Marsus and Cneius Sentius, between whom there was a long dispute. Finally Marsus yielded to Sentius as an older and keener competitor. Sentius at once sent to Rome a woman infamous for poisonings in the province and a special favourite of Plancina, Martina by name, on the demand of Vitellius and Veranius and others, who were preparing the charges and the indictment as if a prosecution had already been commenced.
Agrippina meantime, worn out though she was with sorrow and bodily weakness, yet still impatient of everything which might delay her vengeance, embarked with the ashes of Germanicus and with her children, pitied by all. Here indeed was a woman of the highest nobility, and but lately because of her splendid union wont to be seen amid an admiring and sympathizing throng, now bearing in her bosom the mournful relics of death, with an uncertain hope of revenge, with apprehensions for herself, repeatedly at fortune’s mercy by reason of the ill-starred fruitfulness of her marriage. Piso was at the island of Coos when tidings reached him that Germanicus was dead. He received the news with extravagant joy, slew victims, visited the temples, with no moderation in his transports; while Plancina’s insolence increased, and she then for the first time exchanged for the gayest attire the mourning she had worn for her lost sister. Centurions streamed in, and hinted to Piso that he had the sympathy of the legions at his command. “Go back,” they said, “to the province which has not been rightfully taken from you, and is still vacant.” While he deliberated what he was to do, his son, Marcus Piso, advised speedy return to Rome. “As yet,” he said, “you have not contracted any inexpiable guilt, and you need not dread feeble suspicions or vague rumours. Your strife with Germanicus deserved hatred perhaps, but not punishment, and by your having been deprived of the province, your enemies have been fully satisfied. But if you return, should Sentius resist you, civil war is begun, and you will not retain on your side the centurions and soldiers, who are powerfully swayed by the yet recent memory of their general and by a deep-rooted affection for the Caesars.”
Against this view Domitius Celer, one of Piso’s intimate friends, argued that he ought to profit by the opportunity. “It was Piso, not Sentius, who had been appointed to Syria. It was to Piso that the symbols of power and a praetor’s jurisdiction and the legions had been given. In case of a hostile menace, who would more rightfully confront it by arms than the man who had received the authority and special commission of a governor? And as for rumours, it is best to leave time in which they may die away. Often the innocent cannot stand against the first burst of unpopularity. But if Piso possesses himself of the army, and increases his resources, much which cannot be foreseen will haply turn out in his favour. Are we hastening to reach Italy along with the ashes of Germanicus, that, unheard and undefended, you may be hurried to ruin by the wailings of Agrippina and the first gossip of an ignorant mob? You have on your side the complicity of Augusta and the emperor’s favour, though in secret, and none mourn more ostentatiously over the death of Germanicus than those who most rejoice at it.”
Without much difficulty Piso, who was ever ready for violent action, was led into this view. He sent a letter to Tiberius accusing Germanicus of luxury and arrogance, and asserting that, having been driven away to make room for revolution, he had resumed the command of the army in the same loyal spirit in which he had before held it. At the same time he put Domitius on board a trireme, with an order to avoid the coast and to push on to Syria through the open sea away from the islands. He formed into regular companies the deserters who flocked to him, armed the camp-followers, crossed with his ships to the mainland, intercepted a detachment of new levies on their way to Syria, and wrote word to the petty kings of Cilicia that they were to help him with auxiliaries, the young Piso actively assisting in all the business of war, though he had advised against undertaking it. And so they coasted along Lycia and Pamphylia, and on meeting the fleet which conveyed Agrippina, both sides in hot anger at first armed for battle, and then in mutual fear confined themselves to revilings, Marsus Vibius telling Piso that he was to go to Rome to defend himself. Piso mockingly replied that he would be there as soon as the praetor who had to try poisoning cases had fixed a day for the accused and his prosecutors.
Meanwhile Domitius having landed at Laodicea, a city of Syria, as he was on his way to the winter-quarters of the sixth legion, which was, he believed, particularly open to revolutionary schemes, was anticipated by its commander Pacuvius. Of this Sentius informed Piso in a letter, and warned him not to disturb the armies by agents of corruption or the province by war. He gathered round him all whom he knew to cherish the memory of Germanicus, and to be opposed to his enemies, dwelling repeatedly on the greatness of the general, with hints that the State was being threatened with an armed attack, and he put himself at the head of a strong force, prepared for battle. Piso, too, though his first attempts were unsuccessful, did not omit the safest precautions under present circumstances, but occupied a very strongly fortified position in Cilicia, named, Celenderis. He had raised to the strength of a legion the Cilician auxiliaries which the petty kings had sent, by mixing with them some deserters, and the lately intercepted recruits with his own and Plancina’s slaves. And he protested that he, though Caesar’s legate, was kept out of the province which Caesar had given him, not by the legions (for he had come at their invitation) but by Sentius, who was veiling private animosity under lying charges. “Only,” he said, “stand in battle array, and the soldiers will not fight when they see that Piso whom they themselves once called ‘father,’ is the stronger, if right is to decide; if arms, is far from powerless.” He then deployed his companies before the lines of the fortress on a high and precipitous hill, with the sea surrounding him on every other side. Against him were the veteran troops drawn up in ranks and with reserves, a formidable soldiery on one side, a formidable position on the other. But his men had neither heart nor hope, and only rustic weapons, extemporised for sudden use. When they came to fighting, the result was doubtful only while the Roman cohorts were struggling up to level ground; then, the Cilicians turned their backs and shut themselves up within the fortress. Meanwhile Piso vainly attempted an attack on the fleet which waited at a distance; he then went back, and as he stood before the walls, now smiting his breast, now calling on individual soldiers by name, and luring them on by rewards, sought to excite a mutiny. He had so far roused them that a standard bearer of the sixth legion went over to him with his standard. Thereupon Sentius ordered the horns and trumpets to be sounded, the rampart to be assaulted, the scaling ladders to be raised, all the bravest men to mount on them, while others were to discharge from the engines spears, stones, and brands. At last Piso’s obstinacy was overcome, and he begged that he might remain in the fortress on surrendering his arms, while the emperor was being consulted about the appointment of a governor to Syria. The proposed terms were refused, and all that was granted him were some ships and a safe return to Rome.
There meantime, when the illness of Germanicus was universally known, and all news, coming, as it did, from a distance, exaggerated the danger, there was grief and indignation. There was too an outburst of complaint. “Of course this was the meaning,” they said, “of banishing him to the ends of the earth, of giving Piso the province; this was the drift of Augusta’s secret interviews with Plancina. What elderly men had said of Drusus was perfectly true, that rulers disliked a citizen-like temper in their sons, and the young princes had been put out of the way because they had the idea of comprehending in a restored era of freedom the Roman people under equal laws.” This popular talk was so stimulated by the news of Germanicus’s death that even before the magistrate’s proclamation or the Senate’s resolution, there was a voluntary suspension of business, the public courts were deserted, and private houses closed. Everywhere there was a silence broken only by groans; nothing was arranged for mere effect. And though they refrained not from the emblems of the mourner, they sorrowed yet the more deeply in their hearts. It chanced that some merchants who left Syria while Germanicus was still alive, brought more cheering tidings about his health. These were instantly believed, instantly published. Every one passed on to others whom he met the intelligence, ill-authenticated as it was, and they again to many more, with joyous exaggeration. They ran to and fro through the city and broke open the doors of the temples. Night assisted their credulity, and amid the darkness confident assertion was comparatively easy. Nor did Tiberius check the false reports till by lapse of time they died away.
And so the people grieved the more bitterly as though Germanicus was again lost to them. New honours were devised and decreed, as men were inspired by affection for him or by genius. His name was to be celebrated in the song of the Salii; chairs of state with oaken garlands over them were to be set up in the places assigned to the priesthood of the Augustales; his image in ivory was to head the procession in the games of the circus; no flamen or augur, except from the Julian family, was to be chosen in the room of Germanicus. Triumphal arches were erected at Rome, on the banks of the Rhine, and on mount Amanus in Syria, with an inscription recording his achievements, and how he had died in the public service. A cenotaph was raised at Antioch, where the body was burnt, a lofty mound at Epidaphna, where he had ended his life. The number of his statues, or of the places in which they were honoured, could not easily be computed. When a golden shield of remarkable size was voted him as a leader among orators, Tiberius declared that he would dedicate to him one of the usual kind, similar to the rest, for in eloquence, he said, there was no distinction of rank, and it was a sufficient glory for him to be classed among ancient writers. The knights called the seats in the theatre known as “the juniors,” Germanicus’s benches, and arranged that their squadrons were to ride in procession behind his effigy on the fifteenth of July. Many of these honours still remain; some were at once dropped, or became obsolete with time.
While men’s sorrow was yet fresh, Germanicus’s sister Livia, who was married to Drusus, gave birth to twin sons. This, as a rare event, causing joy even in humble homes, so delighted the emperor that he did not refrain from boasting before the senators that to no Roman of the same rank had twin offspring ever before been born. In fact, he would turn to his own glory every incident, however casual. But at such a time, even this brought grief to the people, who thought that the increase of Drusus’s family still further depressed the house of Germanicus.
That same year the profligacy of women was checked by stringent enactments, and it was provided that no woman whose grandfather, father, or husband had been a Roman knight should get money by prostitution. Vistilia, born of a praetorian family, had actually published her name with this object on the aedile’s list, according to a recognised custom of our ancestors, who considered it a sufficient punishment on unchaste women to have to profess their shame. Titidius Labeo, Vistilia’s husband, was judicially called on to say why with a wife whose guilt was manifest he had neglected to inflict the legal penalty. When he pleaded that the sixty days given for deliberation had not yet expired, it was thought sufficient to decide Vistilia’s case, and she was banished out of sight to the island of Seriphos.
There was a debate too about expelling the Egyptian and Jewish worship, and a resolution of the Senate was passed that four thousand of the freedmen class who were infected with those superstitions and were of military age should be transported to the island of Sardinia, to quell the brigandage of the place, a cheap sacrifice should they die from the pestilential climate. The rest were to quit Italy, unless before a certain day they repudiated their impious rites.
Next the emperor brought forward a motion for the election of a Vestal virgin in the room of Occia, who for fifty-seven years had presided with the most immaculate virtue over the Vestal worship. He formally thanked Fonteius Agrippa and Domitius Pollio for offering their daughters and so vying with one another in zeal for the commonwealth. Pollio’s daughter was preferred, only because her mother had lived with one and the same husband, while Agrippa had impaired the honour of his house by a divorce. The emperor consoled his daughter, passed over though she was, with a dowry of a million sesterces.
As the city populace complained of the cruel dearness of corn, he fixed a price for grain to be paid by the purchaser, promising himself to add two sesterces on every peck for the traders. But he would not therefore accept the title of “father of the country” which once before too had been offered him, and he sharply rebuked those who called his work “divine” and himself “lord.” Consequently, speech was restricted and perilous under an emperor who feared freedom while he hated sycophancy.
I find it stated by some writers and senators of the period that a letter from Adgandestrius, chief of the Chatti, was read in the Senate, promising the death of Arminius, if poison were sent for the perpetration of the murder, and that the reply was that it was not by secret treachery but openly and by arms that the people of Rome avenged themselves on their enemies. A noble answer, by which Tiberius sought to liken himself to those generals of old who had forbidden and even denounced the poisoning of king Pyrrhus. Arminius, meanwhile, when the Romans retired and Maroboduus was expelled, found himself opposed in aiming at the throne by his countrymen’s independent spirit. He was assailed by armed force, and while fighting with various success, fell by the treachery of his kinsmen. Assuredly he was the deliverer of Germany, one too who had defied Rome, not in her early rise, as other kings and generals, but in the height of her empire’s glory, had fought, indeed, indecisive battles, yet in war remained unconquered. He completed thirty-seven years of life, twelve years of power, and he is still a theme of song among barbarous nations, though to Greek historians, who admire only their own achievements, he is unknown, and to Romans not as famous as he should be, while we extol the past and are indifferent to our own times.
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