TIBERIUS NERO CAESAR by Suetonius Tranquillus – Read online
TIBERIUS – THE LIVES OF THE TWELVE CAESARS By C. Suetonius Tranquillus
The patrician family of the Claudii (for there was a plebeian family of the same name, no way inferior to the other either in power or dignity) came originally from Regilli, a town of the Sabines. They removed thence to Rome soon after the building of the city, with a great body of their dependants, under Titus Tatius, who reigned jointly with Romulus in the kingdom; or, perhaps, what is related upon better authority, under Atta Claudius, the head of the family, who was admitted by the senate into the patrician order six years after the expulsion of the Tarquins. They likewise received from the state, lands beyond the Anio for their followers, and a burying-place for themselves near the capitol 284. After this period, in process of time, the family had the honour of twenty-eight consulships, five dictatorships, seven censorships, seven triumphs, and two ovations. Their descendants were distinguished by various praenomina and cognomina 285, but rejected by common consent the praenomen of (193) Lucius, when, of the two races who bore it, one individual had been convicted of robbery, and another of murder. Amongst other cognomina, they assumed that of Nero, which in the Sabine language signifies strong and valiant.
It appears from record, that many of the Claudii have performed signal services to the state, as well as committed acts of delinquency. To mention the most remarkable only, Appius Caecus dissuaded the senate from agreeing to an alliance with Pyrrhus, as prejudicial to the republic 286. Claudius Candex first passed the straits of Sicily with a fleet, and drove the Carthaginians out of the island 287. Claudius Nero cut off Hasdrubal with a vast army upon his arrival in Italy from Spain, before he could form a junction with his brother Hannibal 288. On the other hand, Claudius Appius Regillanus, one of the Decemvirs, made a violent attempt to have a free virgin, of whom he was enamoured, adjudged a slave; which caused the people to secede a second time from the senate 289. Claudius Drusus erected a statue of himself wearing a crown at Appii Forum 290, and endeavoured, by means of his dependants, to make himself master of Italy. Claudius Pulcher, when, off the coast of Sicily 291, the pullets used for taking augury would not eat, in contempt of the omen threw them overboard, as if they should drink at least, if they would not eat; and then engaging the enemy, was routed. After his defeat, when he (194) was ordered by the senate to name a dictator, making a sort of jest of the public disaster, he named Glycias, his apparitor.
The women of this family, likewise, exhibited characters equally opposed to each other. For both the Claudias belonged to it; she, who, when the ship freighted with things sacred to the Idaean Mother of the Gods 292, stuck fast in the shallows of the Tiber, got it off, by praying to the Goddess with a loud voice, “Follow me, if I am chaste;” and she also, who, contrary to the usual practice in the case of women, was brought to trial by the people for treason; because, when her litter was stopped by a great crowd in the streets, she openly exclaimed, “I wish my brother Pulcher was alive now, to lose another fleet, that Rome might be less thronged.” Besides, it is well known, that all the Claudii, except Publius Claudius, who, to effect the banishment of Cicero, procured himself to be adopted by a plebeian 293, and one younger than himself, were always of the patrician party, as well as great sticklers for the honour and power of that order; and so violent and obstinate in their opposition to the plebeians, that not one of them, even in the case of a trial for life by the people, would ever condescend to put on mourning, according to custom, or make any supplication to them for favour; and some of them in their contests, have even proceeded to lay hands on the tribunes of the people. A Vestal Virgin likewise of the family, when her brother was resolved to have the honour of a triumph contrary to the will of the people, mounted the chariot with him, and attended him into the Capitol, that it might not be lawful for any of the tribunes to interfere and forbid it. 294
From this family Tiberius Caesar is descended; indeed both by the father and mother’s side; by the former from Tiberius Nero, and by the latter from Appius Pulcher, who were both sons of Appius Caecus. He likewise belonged to the family of the Livii, by the adoption of his mother’s grandfather into it; which family, although plebeian, made a (195) distinguished figure, having had the honour of eight consulships, two censorships, three triumphs, one dictatorship, and the office of master of the horse; and was famous for eminent men, particularly, Salinator and the Drusi. Salinator, in his censorship 295, branded all the tribes, for their inconstancy in having made him consul a second time, as well as censor, although they had condemned him to a heavy fine after his first consulship. Drusus procured for himself and his posterity a new surname, by killing in single combat Drausus, the enemy’s chief. He is likewise said to have recovered, when pro-praetor in the province of Gaul, the gold which was formerly given to the Senones, at the siege of the Capitol, and had not, as is reported, been forced from them by Camillus. His great-great-grandson, who, for his extraordinary services against the Gracchi, was styled the “Patron of the Senate,” left a son, who, while plotting in a sedition of the same description, was treacherously murdered by the opposite party. 296
But the father of Tiberius Caesar, being quaestor to Caius Caesar, and commander of his fleet in the war of Alexandria, contributed greatly to its success. He was therefore made one of the high-priests in the room of Publius Scipio 297; and was sent to settle some colonies in Gaul, and amongst the rest, those of Narbonne and Arles 298. After the assassination of Caesar, however, when the rest of the senators, for fear of public disturbances; were for having the affair buried in oblivion, he proposed a resolution for rewarding those who had killed the tyrant. Having filled the office of praetor 299, and at the end of the year a disturbance breaking out amongst the triumviri, he kept the badges of his office beyond the legal time; and following Lucius Antonius the consul, brother of the triumvir, to Perusia 300, though the rest submitted, yet he himself continued firm to the party, and escaped first to Praeneste, and then to Naples; whence, having in vain invited the slaves to liberty, he fled over to Sicily. But resenting (196) his not being immediately admitted into the presence of Sextus Pompey, and being also prohibited the use of the fasces, he went over into Achaia to Mark Antony; with whom, upon a reconciliation soon after brought about amongst the several contending parties, he returned to Rome; and, at the request of Augustus, gave up to him his wife Livia Drusilla, although she was then big with child, and had before borne him a son. He died not long after; leaving behind him two sons, Tiberius and Drusus Nero.
Some have imagined that Tiberius was born at Fundi, but there is only this trifling foundation for the conjecture, that his mother’s grandmother was of Fundi, and that the image of Good Fortune was, by a decree of the senate, erected in a public place in that town. But according to the greatest number of writers, and those too of the best authority, he was born at Rome, in the Palatine quarter, upon the sixteenth of the calends of December [16th Nov.], when Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was second time consul, with Lucius Munatius Plancus 301, after the battle of Philippi; for so it is registered in the calendar, and the public acts. According to some, however, he was born the preceding year, in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa; and others say, in the year following, during the consulship of Servilius Isauricus and Antony.
His infancy and childhood were spent in the midst of danger and trouble; for he accompanied his parents everywhere in their flight, and twice at Naples nearly betrayed them by his crying, when they were privately hastening to a ship, as the enemy rushed into the town; once, when he was snatched from his nurse’s breast, and again, from his mother’s bosom, by some of the company, who on the sudden emergency wished to relieve the women of their burden. Being carried through Sicily and Achaia, and entrusted for some time to the care of the Lacedaemonians, who were under the protection of the Claudian family, upon his departure thence when travelling by night, he ran the hazard of his life, by a fire which, suddenly bursting out of a wood on all sides, surrounded the whole party so closely, that part of Livia’s dress and hair was burnt. The presents which were made him (197) by Pompeia, sister to Sextus Pompey, in Sicily, namely, a cloak, with a clasp, and bullae of gold, are still in existence, and shewn at Baiae to this day. After his return to the city, being adopted by Marcus Gallius, a senator, in his will, he took possession of the estate; but soon afterwards declined the use of his name, because Gallius had been of the party opposed to Augustus. When only nine years of age, he pronounced a funeral oration in praise of his father upon the rostra; and afterwards, when he had nearly attained the age of manhood, he attended the chariot of Augustus, in his triumph for the victory at Actium, riding on the left-hand horse, whilst Marcellus, Octavia’s son, rode that on the right. He likewise presided at the games celebrated on account of that victory; and in the Trojan games intermixed with the Circensian, he commanded a troop of the biggest boys.
After assuming the manly habit, he spent his youth, and the rest of his life until he succeeded to the government, in the following manner: he gave the people an entertainment of gladiators, in memory of his father, and another for his grandfather Drusus, at different times and in different places: the first in the forum, the second in the amphitheatre; some gladiators who had been honourably discharged, being induced to engage again, by a reward of a hundred thousand sesterces. He likewise exhibited public sports, at which he was not present himself. All these he performed with great magnificence, at the expense of his mother and father-in-law. He married Agrippina, the daughter of Marcus Agrippa, and grand-daughter of Caecilius Atticus, a Roman knight, the same person to whom Cicero has addressed so many epistles. After having by her his son Drusus, he was obliged to part with her 302, though she retained his affection, and was again pregnant, to make way for marrying Augustus’s daughter Julia. But this he did with extreme reluctance; for, besides having the warmest attachment to Agrippina, he was disgusted with the conduct of Julia, who had made indecent advances to him during the lifetime of her former husband; and that she was a woman of loose character, was the general opinion. At divorcing Agrippina he felt the deepest regret; and upon meeting her afterwards, (198) he looked after her with eyes so passionately expressive of affection, that care was taken she should never again come in his sight. At first, however, he lived quietly and happily with Julia; but a rupture soon ensued, which became so violent, that after the loss of their son, the pledge of their union, who was born at Aquileia and died in infancy 303, he never would sleep with her more. He lost his brother Drusus in Germany, and brought his body to Rome, travelling all the way on foot before it.
When he first applied himself to civil affairs, he defended the several causes of king Archelaus, the Trallians, and the Thessalians, before Augustus, who sat as judge at the trials. He addressed the senate on behalf of the Laodiceans, the Thyatireans, and Chians, who had suffered greatly by an earthquake, and implored relief from Rome. He prosecuted Fannius Caepio, who had been engaged in a conspiracy with Varro Muraena against Augustus, and procured sentence of condemnation against him. Amidst all this, he had besides to superintend two departments of the administration, that of supplying the city with corn, which was then very scarce, and that of clearing the houses of correction 304 throughout Italy, the masters of which had fallen under the odious suspicion of seizing and keeping confined, not only travellers, but those whom the fear of being obliged to serve in the army had driven to seek refuge in such places.
He made his first campaign, as a military tribune, in the Cantabrian war 305. Afterwards he led an army into the East 306, where he restored the kingdom of Armenia to Tigranes; and seated on a tribunal, put a crown upon his head. He likewise recovered from the Parthians the standards which they had taken from Crassus. He next governed, for nearly a year, the province of Gallia Comata, which was then in great disorder, on account of the incursions of the barbarians, and the feuds of the chiefs. He afterwards commanded in the several wars against the Rhaetians, Vindelicians, Pannonians, and Germans. In the Rhaetian and Vindelician wars, he subdued the nations in the Alps; and in the Pannonian wars the Bruci, and (199) the Dalmatians. In the German war, he transplanted into Gaul forty thousand of the enemy who had submitted, and assigned them lands near the banks of the Rhine. For these actions, he entered the city with an ovation, but riding in a chariot, and is said by some to have been the first that ever was honoured with this distinction. He filled early the principal offices of state; and passed through the quaestorship 307, praetorship 308, and consulate 309 almost successively. After some interval, he was chosen consul a second time, and held the tribunitian authority during five years.
Surrounded by all this prosperity, in the prime of life and in excellent health, he suddenly formed the resolution of withdrawing to a greater distance from Rome 310. It is uncertain whether this was the result of disgust for his wife, whom he neither durst accuse nor divorce, and the connection with whom became every day more intolerable; or to prevent that indifference towards him, which his constant residence in the city might produce; or in the hope of supporting and improving by absence his authority in the state, if the public should have occasion for his service. Some are of opinion, that as Augustus’s sons were now grown up to years of maturity, he voluntarily relinquished the possession he had long enjoyed of the second place in the government, as Agrippa had done before him; who, when M. Marcellus was advanced to public offices, retired to Mitylene, that he might not seem to stand in the way of his promotion, or in any respect lessen him by his presence. The same reason likewise Tiberius gave afterwards for his retirement; but his pretext at this time was, that he was satiated with honours, and desirous of being relieved from the fatigue of business; requesting therefore that he might have leave to withdraw. And neither the earnest entreaties of his mother, nor the complaint of his father-in-law made even in the senate, that he was deserted by him, could prevail upon him to alter his resolution. Upon their persisting in the design of detaining him, he refused to take any sustenance for four days together. At last, having obtained permission, leaving his wife and son at Rome, he proceeded (200) to Ostia 311, without exchanging a word with those who attended him, and having embraced but very few persons at parting.
From Ostia, journeying along the coast of Campania, he halted awhile on receiving intelligence of Augustus’s being taken ill, but this giving rise to a rumour that he stayed with a view to something extraordinary, he sailed with the wind almost full against him, and arrived at Rhodes, having been struck with the pleasantness and healthiness of the island at the time of his landing therein his return from Armenia. Here contenting himself with a small house, and a villa not much larger, near the town, he led entirely a private life, taking his walks sometimes about the Gymnasia 312, without any lictor or other attendant, and returning the civilities of the Greeks with almost as much complaisance as if he had been upon a level with them. One morning, in settling the course of his daily excursion, he happened to say, that he should visit all the sick people in the town. This being not rightly understood by those about him, the sick were brought into a public portico, and ranged in order, according to their several distempers. Being extremely embarrassed by this unexpected occurrence, he was for some time irresolute how he should act; but at last he determined to go round them all, and make an apology for the mistake even to the meanest amongst them, and such as were entirely unknown to him. One instance only is mentioned, in which he appeared to exercise his tribunitian authority. Being a constant attendant upon the schools and lecture-rooms of the professors of the liberal arts, on occasion of a quarrel amongst the wrangling (201) sophists, in which he interposed to reconcile them, some person took the liberty to abuse him as an intruder, and partial in the affair. Upon this, withdrawing privately home, he suddenly returned attended by his officers, and summoning his accuser before his tribunal, by a public crier, ordered him to be taken to prison. Afterwards he received tidings that his wife Julia had been condemned for her lewdness and adultery, and that a bill of divorce had been sent to her in his name, by the authority of Augustus. Though he secretly rejoiced at this intelligence, he thought it incumbent upon him, in point of decency, to interpose in her behalf by frequent letters to Augustus, and to allow her to retain the presents which he had made her, notwithstanding the little regard she merited from him. When the period of his tribunitian authority expired 313, declaring at last that he had no other object in his retirement than to avoid all suspicion of rivalship with Caius and Lucius, he petitioned that, since he was now secure in that respect, as they were come to the age of manhood, and would easily maintain themselves in possession of the second place in the state, he might be permitted to visit his friends, whom he was very desirous of seeing. But his request was denied; and he was advised to lay aside all concern for his friends, whom he had been so eager to greet.
He therefore continued at Rhodes much against his will, obtaining, with difficulty, through his mother, the title of Augustus’s lieutenant, to cover his disgrace. He thenceforth lived, however, not only as a private person, but as one suspected and under apprehension, retiring into the interior of the country, and avoiding the visits of those who sailed that way, which were very frequent; for no one passed to take command of an army, or the government of a province, without touching at Rhodes. But there were fresh reasons for increased anxiety. For crossing over to Samos, on a visit to his step-son Caius, who had been appointed governor of the East, he found him prepossessed against him, by the insinuations of Marcus Lollius, his companion and director. He likewise fell under suspicion of sending by some centurions who had been promoted by himself, upon their return to the camp after a furlough, mysterious messages to several persons there, intended, apparently, to (202) tamper with them for a revolt. This jealousy respecting his designs being intimated to him by Augustus, he begged repeatedly that some person of any of the three Orders might be placed as a spy upon him in every thing he either said or did.
He laid aside likewise his usual exercises of riding and arms; and quitting the Roman habit, made use of the Pallium and Crepida 314. In this condition he continued almost two years, becoming daily an object of increasing contempt and odium; insomuch that the people of Nismes pulled down all the images and statues of him in their town; and upon mention being made of him at table one of the company said to Caius, “I will sail over to Rhodes immediately, if you desire me, and bring you the head of the exile;” for that was the appellation now given him. Thus alarmed not only by apprehensions, but real danger, he renewed his solicitations for leave to return; and, seconded by the most urgent supplications of his mother, he at last obtained his request; to which an accident somewhat contributed. Augustus had resolved to determine nothing in the affair, but with the consent of his eldest son. The latter was at that time out of humour with Marcus Lollius, and therefore easily disposed to be favourable to his father-in-law. Caius thus acquiescing, he was recalled, but upon condition that he should take no concern whatever in the administration of affairs.
He returned to Rome after an absence of nearly eight years 315, with great and confident hopes of his future elevation, which he had entertained from his youth, in consequence of various prodigies and predictions. For Livia, when pregnant with him, being anxious to discover, by different modes of divination, whether her offspring would be a son, amongst others, took an egg from a hen that was sitting, and kept it warm with her own hands, and those of her maids, by turns, until a fine cock-chicken, with a large comb, was hatched. Scribonius, the astrologer, predicted great things of him when he was a mere child. “He will come in time,” said the prophet, “to be even a king, but without the usual badge of royal dignity;” the rule of the Caesars being as yet unknown. When he was (203) making his first expedition, and leading his army through Macedonia into Syria, the altars which had been formerly consecrated at Philippi by the victorious legions, blazed suddenly with spontaneous fires. Soon after, as he was marching to Illyricum, he stopped to consult the oracle of Geryon, near Padua; and having drawn a lot by which he was desired to throw golden tali into the fountain of Aponus 316, for an answer to his inquiries, he did so, and the highest numbers came up. And those very tali are still to be seen at the bottom of the fountain. A few days before his leaving Rhodes, an eagle, a bird never before seen in that island, perched on the top of his house. And the day before he received intelligence of the permission granted him to return, as he was changing his dress, his tunic appeared to be all on fire. He then likewise had a remarkable proof of the skill of Thrasyllus, the astrologer, whom, for his proficiency in philosophical researches, he had taken into his family. For, upon sight of the ship which brought the intelligence, he said, good news was coming whereas every thing going wrong before, and quite contrary to his predictions, Tiberius had intended that very moment, when they were walking together, to throw him into the sea, as an impostor, and one to whom he had too hastily entrusted his secrets.
Upon his return to Rome, having introduced his son Drusus into the forum, he immediately removed from Pompey’s house, in the Carinae, to the gardens of Mecaenas, on the Esquiline 317, and resigned himself entirely to his ease, performing only the common offices of civility in private life, without any preferment in the government. But Caius and Lucius being both carried off in the space of three years, he was adopted by Augustus, along with their brother Agrippa; being obliged in the first place to adopt Germanicus, his brother’s son. After his adoption, he never more acted as master of a (204) family, nor exercised, in the smallest degree, the rights which he had lost by it. For he neither disposed of anything in the way of gift, nor manumitted a slave; nor so much as received any estate left him by will, nor any legacy, without reckoning it as a part of his peculium or property held under his father. From that day forward, nothing was omitted that might contribute to the advancement of his grandeur, and much more, when, upon Agrippa being discarded and banished, it was evident that the hope of succession rested upon him alone.
The tribunitian authority was again conferred upon him for five years 318, and a commission given him to settle the affairs of Germany. The ambassadors of the Parthians, after having had an audience of Augustus, were ordered to apply to him likewise in his province. But on receiving intelligence of an insurrection in Illyricum 319, he went over to superintend the management of that new war, which proved the most serious of all the foreign wars since the Carthaginian. This he conducted during three years, with fifteen legions and an equal number of auxiliary forces, under great difficulties, and an extreme scarcity of corn. And though he was several times recalled, he nevertheless persisted; fearing lest an enemy so powerful, and so near, should fall upon the army in their retreat. This resolution was attended with good success; for he at last reduced to complete subjection all Illyricum, lying between Italy and the kingdom of Noricum, Thrace, Macedonia, the river Danube, and the Adriatic gulf.
The glory he acquired by these successes received an increase from the conjuncture in which they happened. For almost about that very time 320 Quintilius Varus was cut off with three legions in Germany; and it was generally believed that the victorious Germans would have joined the Pannonians, had not the war of Illyricum been previously concluded. A triumph, therefore, besides many other great honours, was decreed him. Some proposed that the surname of “Pannonicus,” others that of “Invincible,” and others, of “O Pius,” should be conferred on him; but Augustus interposed, engaging for him that he would be satisfied with that to which he would succeed at his death. He postponed his triumph, because (205) the state was at that time under great affliction for the disaster of Varus and his army. Nevertheless, he entered the city in a triumphal robe, crowned with laurel, and mounting a tribunal in the Septa, sat with Augustus between the two consuls, whilst the senate gave their attendance standing; whence, after he had saluted the people, he was attended by them in procession to the several temples.
Next year he went again to Germany, where finding that the defeat of Varus was occasioned by the rashness and negligence of the commander, he thought proper to be guided in everything by the advice of a council of war; whereas, at other times, he used to follow the dictates of his own judgment, and considered himself alone as sufficiently qualified for the direction of affairs. He likewise used more cautions than usual. Having to pass the Rhine, he restricted the whole convoy within certain limits, and stationing himself on the bank of the river, would not suffer the waggons to cross the river, until he had searched them at the water-side, to see that they carried nothing but what was allowed or necessary. Beyond the Rhine, such was his way of living, that he took his meals sitting on the bare ground 321, and often passed the night without a tent; and his regular orders for the day, as well as those upon sudden emergencies, he gave in writing, with this injunction, that in case of any doubt as to the meaning of them, they should apply to him for satisfaction, even at any hour of the night.
He maintained the strictest discipline amongst the troops; reviving many old customs relative to punishing and degrading offenders; setting a mark of disgrace even upon the commander of a legion, for sending a few soldiers with one of his freedmen across the river for the purpose of hunting. Though it was his desire to leave as little as possible in the power of fortune or accident, yet he always engaged the enemy with more confidence when, in his night-watches, the lamp failed and went out of itself; trusting, as he said, in an omen which had never failed him and his ancestors (206) in all their commands. But, in the midst of victory, he was very near being assassinated by some Bructerian, who mixing with those about him, and being discovered by his trepidation, was put to the torture, and confessed his intended crime.
After two years, he returned from Germany to the city, and celebrated the triumph which he had deferred, attended by his lieutenants, for whom he had procured the honour of triumphal ornaments 322. Before he turned to ascend the Capitol, he alighted from his chariot, and knelt before his father, who sat by, to superintend the solemnity. Bato, the Pannonian chief, he sent to Ravenna, loaded with rich presents, in gratitude for his having suffered him and his army to retire from a position in which he had so enclosed them, that they were entirely at his mercy. He afterwards gave the people a dinner at a thousand tables, besides thirty sesterces to each man. He likewise dedicated the temple of Concord 323, and that of Castor and Pollux, which had been erected out of the spoils of the war, in his own and his brother’s name.
A law having been not long after carried by the consuls 324 for his being appointed a colleague with Augustus in the administration of the provinces, and in taking the census, when that was finished he went into Illyricum 325. But being hastily recalled during his journey, he found Augustus alive indeed, but past all hopes of recovery, and was with him in private a whole day. I know, it is generally believed, that upon Tiberius’s quitting the room, after their private conference, those who were in waiting overheard Augustus say, “Ah! unhappy Roman people, to be ground by the jaws of such a slow devourer!” Nor am I ignorant of its being reported by some, that Augustus so openly and undisguisedly condemned the sourness of his temper, that sometimes, upon his coming in, he would break off any jocular conversation in which he was engaged; and that he was only prevailed upon by the (207) importunity of his wife to adopt him; or actuated by the ambitious view of recommending his own memory from a comparison with such a successor. Yet I must hold to this opinion, that a prince so extremely circumspect and prudent as he was, did nothing rashly, especially in an affair of so great importance; but that, upon weighing the vices and virtues of Tiberius with each other, he judged the latter to preponderate; and this the rather since he swore publicly, in an assembly of the people, that “he adopted him for the public good.” Besides, in several of his letters, he extols him as a consummate general, and the only security of the Roman people. Of such declarations I subjoin the following instances: “Farewell, my dear Tiberius, and may success attend you, whilst you are warring for me and the Muses 326. Farewell, my most dear, and (as I hope to prosper) most gallant man, and accomplished general.” Again. “The disposition of your summer quarters? In truth, my dear Tiberius, I do not think, that amidst so many difficulties, and with an army so little disposed for action, any one could have behaved more prudently than you have done. All those likewise who were with you, acknowledge that this verse is applicable to you:”
Unus homo nobis vigilando restituit rem. 327
One man by vigilance restored the state.
“Whenever,” he says, “anything happens that requires more than ordinary consideration, or I am out of humour upon any occasion, I still, by Hercules! long for my dear Tiberius; and those lines of Homer frequently occur to my thoughts:”
Toutou d’ espomenoio kai ek pyros aithomenoio
Ampho nostaesuimen, epei peri oide noaesai. 328
Bold from his prudence, I could ev’n aspire
To dare with him the burning rage of fire.
“When I hear and read that you are much impaired by the (208) continued fatigues you undergo, may the gods confound me if my whole frame does not tremble! So I beg you to spare yourself, lest, if we should hear of your being ill, the news prove fatal both to me and your mother, and the Roman people should be in peril for the safety of the empire. It matters nothing whether I be well or no, if you be not well. I pray heaven preserve you for us, and bless you with health both now and ever, if the gods have any regard for the Roman people.”
He did not make the death of Augustus public, until he had taken off young Agrippa. He was slain by a tribune who commanded his guard, upon reading a written order for that purpose: respecting which order, it was then a doubt, whether Augustus left it in his last moments, to prevent any occasion of public disturbance after his decease, or Livia issued it, in the name of Augustus; and whether with the knowledge of Tiberius or not. When the tribune came to inform him that he had executed his command, he replied, “I commanded you no such thing, and you must answer for it to the senate;” avoiding, as it seems, the odium of the act for that time. And the affair was soon buried in silence.
Having summoned the senate to meet by virtue of his tribunitian authority, and begun a mournful speech, he drew a deep sigh, as if unable to support himself under his affliction; and wishing that not his voice only, but his very breath of life, might fail him, gave his speech to his son Drusus to read. Augustus’s will was then brought in, and read by a freedman; none of the witnesses to it being admitted, but such as were of the senatorian order, the rest owning their hand-writing without doors. The will began thus: “Since my ill-fortune has deprived me of my two sons, Caius and Lucius, let Tiberius Caesar be heir to two-thirds of my estate.” These words countenanced the suspicion of those who were of opinion, that Tiberius was appointed successor more out of necessity than choice, since Augustus could not refrain from prefacing his will in that manner.
Though he made no scruple to assume and exercise immediately the imperial authority, by giving orders that he (209) should be attended by the guards, who were the security and badge of the supreme power; yet he affected, by a most impudent piece of acting, to refuse it for a long time; one while sharply reprehending his friends who entreated him to accept it, as little knowing what a monster the government was; another while keeping in suspense the senate, when they implored him and threw themselves at his feet, by ambiguous answers, and a crafty kind of dissimulation; insomuch that some were out of patience, and one cried out, during the confusion, “Either let him accept it, or decline it at once;” and a second told him to his face, “Others are slow to perform what they promise, but you are slow to promise what you actually perform.” At last, as if forced to it, and complaining of the miserable and burdensome service imposed upon him, he accepted the government; not, however, without giving hopes of his resigning it some time or other. The exact words he used were these: “Until the time shall come, when ye may think it reasonable to give some rest to my old age.”
The cause of his long demur was fear of the dangers which threatened him on all hands; insomuch that he said, “I have got a wolf by the ears.” For a slave of Agrippa’s, Clemens by name, had drawn together a considerable force to revenge his master’s death; Lucius Scribonius Libo, a senator of the first distinction, was secretly fomenting a rebellion; and the troops both in Illyricum and Germany were mutinous. Both armies insisted upon high demands, particularly that their pay should be made equal to that of the pretorian guards. The army in Germany absolutely refused to acknowledge a prince who was not their own choice; and urged, with all possible importunity, Germanicus 329, who commanded them, to take the government on himself, though he obstinately refused it. It was Tiberius’s apprehension from this quarter, which made him request the senate to assign him some part only in the administration, such as they should judge proper, since no man could be sufficient for the whole, without one or more to assist him. He pretended likewise to be in a bad state of health, that Germanicus might the more patiently wait in hopes of speedily succeeding him, or at least of being (210) admitted to be a colleague in the government. When the mutinies in the armies were suppressed, he got Clemens into his hands by stratagem. That he might not begin his reign by an act of severity, he did not call Libo to an account before the senate until his second year, being content, in the mean time, with taking proper precautions for his own security. For upon Libo’s attending a sacrifice amongst the high-priests, instead of the usual knife, he ordered one of lead to be given him; and when he desired a private conference with him, he would not grant his request, but on condition that his son Drusus should be present; and as they walked together, he held him fast by the right hand, under the pretence of leaning upon him, until the conversation was over.
When he was delivered from his apprehensions, his behaviour at first was unassuming, and he did not carry himself much above the level of a private person; and of the many and great honours offered him, he accepted but few, and such as were very moderate. His birth-day, which happened to fall at the time of the Plebeian Circensian games, he with difficulty suffered to be honoured with the addition of only a single chariot, drawn by two horses. He forbad temples, flamens, or priests to be appointed for him, as likewise the erection of any statues or effigies for him, without his permission; and this he granted only on condition that they should not be placed amongst the images of the gods, but only amongst the ornaments of houses. He also interposed to prevent the senate from swearing to maintain his acts; and the month of September from being called Tiberius, and October being named after Livia. The praenomen likewise of EMPEROR, with the cognomen of FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, and a civic crown in the vestibule of his house, he would not accept. He never used the name of AUGUSTUS, although he inherited it, in any of his letters, excepting those addressed to kings and princes. Nor had he more than three consulships; one for a few days, another for three months, and a third, during his absence from the city, until the ides [fifteenth] of May.
He had such an aversion to flattery, that he would never suffer any senator to approach his litter, as he passed the streets in it, either to pay him a civility, or upon business. (211) And when a man of consular rank, in begging his pardon for some offence he had given him, attempted to fall at his feet, he started from him in such haste, that he stumbled and fell. If any compliment was paid him, either in conversation or a set speech, he would not scruple to interrupt and reprimand the party, and alter what he had said. Being once called “lord,” 330 by some person, he desired that he might no more be affronted in that manner. When another, to excite veneration, called his occupations “sacred,” and a third had expressed himself thus: “By your authority I have waited upon the senate,” he obliged them to change their phrases; in one of them adopting persuasion, instead of “authority,” and in the other, laborious, instead of “sacred.”
He remained unmoved at all the aspersions, scandalous reports, and lampoons, which were spread against him or his relations; declaring, “In a free state, both the tongue and the mind ought to be free.” Upon the senate’s desiring that some notice might be taken of those offences, and the persons charged with them, he replied, “We have not so much time upon our hands, that we ought to involve ourselves in more business. If you once make an opening 331 for such proceedings, you will soon have nothing else to do. All private quarrels will be brought before you under that pretence.” There is also on record another sentence used by him in the senate, which is far from assuming: “If he speaks otherwise of me, I shall take care to behave in such a manner, as to be able to give a good account both of my words and actions; and if he persists, I shall hate him in my turn.”
These things were so much the more remarkable in him, because, in the respect he paid to individuals, or the whole body of the senate, he went beyond all bounds. Upon his differing with Quintus Haterius in the senate-house, “Pardon me, sir,” he said, “I beseech you, if I shall, as a senator, speak my mind very freely in opposition to you.” Afterwards, addressing the senate in general, he said: “Conscript Fathers, I have often said it both now and at other times, that a good (212) and useful prince, whom you have invested with so great and absolute power, ought to be a slave to the senate, to the whole body of the people, and often to individuals likewise: nor am I sorry that I have said it. I have always found you good, kind, and indulgent masters, and still find you so.”
He likewise introduced a certain show of liberty, by preserving to the senate and magistrates their former majesty and power. All affairs, whether of great or small importance, public or private, were laid before the senate. Taxes and monopolies, the erecting or repairing edifices, levying and disbanding soldiers, the disposal of the legions and auxiliary forces in the provinces, the appointment of generals for the management of extraordinary wars, and the answers to letters from foreign princes, were all submitted to the senate. He compelled the commander of a troop of horse, who was accused of robbery attended with violence, to plead his cause before the senate. He never entered the senate-house but unattended; and being once brought thither in a litter, because he was indisposed, he dismissed his attendants at the door.
When some decrees were made contrary to his opinion, he did not even make any complaint. And though he thought that no magistrates after their nomination should be allowed to absent themselves from the city, but reside in it constantly, to receive their honours in person, a praetor-elect obtained liberty to depart under the honorary title of a legate at large. Again, when he proposed to the senate, that the Trebians might have leave granted them to divert some money which had been left them by will for the purpose of building a new theatre, to that of making a road, he could not prevail to have the will of the testator set aside. And when, upon a division of the house, he went over to the minority, nobody followed him. All other things of a public nature were likewise transacted by the magistrates, and in the usual forms; the authority of the consuls remaining so great, that some ambassadors from Africa applied to them, and complained, that they could not have their business dispatched by Caesar, to whom they had been sent. And no wonder; since it was observed that he used to rise up as the consuls approached, and give them the way.
He reprimanded some persons of consular rank in command of armies, for not writing to the senate an account of their proceedings, and for consulting him about the distribution of military rewards; as if they themselves had not a right to bestow them as they judged proper. He commended a praetor, who, on entering office, revived an old custom of celebrating the memory of his ancestors, in a speech to the people. He attended the corpses of some persons of distinction to the funeral pile. He displayed the same moderation with regard to persons and things of inferior consideration. The magistrates of Rhodes, having dispatched to him a letter on public business, which was not subscribed, he sent for them, and without giving them so much as one harsh word, desired them to subscribe it, and so dismissed them. Diogenes, the grammarian, who used to hold public disquisitions, at Rhodes every sabbath-day, once refused him admittance upon his coming to hear him out of course, and sent him a message by a servant, postponing his admission until the next seventh day. Diogenes afterwards coming to Rome, and waiting at his door to be allowed to pay his respects to him, he sent him word to come again at the end of seven years. To some governors, who advised him to load the provinces with taxes, he answered, “It is the part of a good shepherd to shear, not flay, his sheep.”
He assumed the sovereignty 332 by slow degrees, and exercised it for a long time with great variety of conduct, though generally with a due regard to the public good. At first he only interposed to prevent ill management. Accordingly, he rescinded some decrees of the senate; and when the magistrates sat for the administration of justice, he frequently offered his service as assessor, either taking his place promiscuously amongst them, or seating himself in a corner of the tribunal. If a rumour prevailed, that any person under prosecution was likely to be acquitted by his interest, he would suddenly make his appearance, and from the floor of the court, (214) or the praetor’s bench, remind the judges of the laws, and of their oaths, and the nature of the charge brought before them, he likewise took upon himself the correction of public morals, where they tended to decay, either through neglect, or evil custom.
He reduced the expense of the plays and public spectacles, by diminishing the allowances to actors, and curtailing the number of gladiators. He made grievous complaints to the senate, that the price of Corinthian vessels was become enormous, and that three mullets had been sold for thirty thousand sesterces: upon which he proposed that a new sumptuary law should be enacted; that the butchers and other dealers in viands should be subject to an assize, fixed by the senate yearly; and the aediles commissioned to restrain eating-houses and taverns, so far as not even to permit the sale of any kind of pastry. And to encourage frugality in the public by his own example, he would often, at his solemn feasts, have at his tables victuals which had been served up the day before, and were partly eaten, and half a boar, affirming, “It has all the same good bits that the whole had.” He published an edict against the practice of people’s kissing each other when they met; and would not allow new-year’s gifts 333 to be presented after the calends [the first] of January was passed. He had been in the habit of returning these offerings four-fold, and making them with his own hand; but being annoyed by the continual interruption to which he was exposed during the whole month, by those who had not the opportunity of attending him on the festival, he returned none after that day.
Married women guilty of adultery, though not prosecuted publicly, he authorised the nearest relations to punish by agreement among themselves, according to ancient custom. He discharged a Roman knight from the obligation of an oath he had taken, never to turn away his wife; and allowed him to divorce her, upon her being caught in criminal intercourse with her son-in-law. Women of ill-fame, divesting themselves of the rights and dignity of matrons, had now begun a practice of professing themselves prostitutes, to avoid (215) the punishment of the laws; and the most profligate young men of the senatorian and equestrian orders, to secure themselves against a decree of the senate, which prohibited their performing on the stage, or in the amphitheatre, voluntarily subjected themselves to an infamous sentence, by which they were degraded. All those he banished, that none for the future might evade by such artifices the intention and efficacy of the law. He stripped a senator of the broad stripes on his robe, upon information of his having removed to his gardens before the calends [the first] of July, in order that he might afterwards hire a house cheaper in the city. He likewise dismissed another from the office of quaestor, for repudiating, the day after he had been lucky in drawing his lot, a wife whom he had married only the day before.
He suppressed all foreign religions, and the Egyptian 334 and Jewish rites, obliging those who practised that kind of superstition, to burn their vestments, and all their sacred utensils. He distributed the Jewish youths, under the pretence of military service, among the provinces noted for an unhealthy climate; and dismissed from the city all the rest of that nation as well as those who were proselytes to that religion 335, under pain of slavery for life, unless they complied. He also expelled the astrologers; but upon their suing for pardon, and promising to renounce their profession, he revoked his decree.
But, above all things, he was careful to keep the (216) public peace against robbers, burglars, and those who were disaffected to the government. He therefore increased the number of military stations throughout Italy; and formed a camp at Rome for the pretorian cohorts, which, till then, had been quartered in the city. He suppressed with great severity all tumults of the people on their first breaking out; and took every precaution to prevent them. Some persons having been killed in a quarrel which happened in the theatre, he banished the leaders of the parties, and the players about whom the disturbance had arisen; nor could all the entreaties of the people afterwards prevail upon him to recall them 336. The people of Pollentia having refused to permit the removal of the corpse of a centurion of the first rank from the forum, until they had extorted from his heirs a sum of money for a public exhibition of gladiators, he detached a cohort from the city, and another from the kingdom of Cottius 337; who concealing the cause of their march, entered the town by different gates, with their arms suddenly displayed, and trumpets sounding; and having seized the greatest part of the people, and the magistrates, they were imprisoned for life. He abolished every where the privileges of all places of refuge. The Cyzicenians having committed an outrage upon some Romans, he deprived them of the liberty they had obtained for their good services in the Mithridatic war. Disturbances from foreign enemies he quelled by his lieutenants, without ever going against them in person; nor would he even employ his lieutenants, but with much reluctance, and when it was absolutely necessary. Princes who were ill-affected towards him, he kept in subjection, more by menaces and remonstrances, than by force of arms. Some whom he induced to come to him by fair words and promises, he never would permit to return home; as Maraboduus the German, Thrascypolis the (217) Thracian, and Archelaus the Cappadocian, whose kingdom he even reduced into the form of a province.
He never set foot outside the gates of Rome, for two years together, from the time he assumed the supreme power; and after that period, went no farther from the city than to some of the neighbouring towns; his farthest excursion being to Antium 338, and that but very seldom, and for a few days; though he often gave out that he would visit the provinces and armies, and made preparations for it almost every year, by taking up carriages, and ordering provisions for his retinue in the municipia and colonies. At last he suffered vows to be put up for his good journey and safe return, insomuch that he was called jocosely by the name of Callipides, who is famous in a Greek proverb, for being in a great hurry to go forward, but without ever advancing a cubit.
But after the loss of his two sons, of whom Germanicus died in Syria, and Drusus at Rome, he withdrew into Campania 339; at which time opinion and conversation were almost general, that he never would return, and would die soon. And both nearly turned out to be true. For indeed he never more came to Rome; and a few days after leaving it, when he was at a villa of his called the Cave, near Terracina 340, during supper a great many huge stones fell from above, which killed several of the guests and attendants; but he almost hopelessly escaped.
After he had gone round Campania, and dedicated the capitol at Capua, and a temple to Augustus at Nola 341, which he made the pretext of his journey, he retired to Capri; being (218) greatly delighted with the island, because it was accessible only by a narrow beach, being on all sides surrounded with rugged cliffs, of a stupendous height, and by a deep sea. But immediately, the people of Rome being extremely clamorous for his return, on account of a disaster at Fidenae 342, where upwards of twenty thousand persons had been killed by the fall of the amphitheatre, during a public spectacle of gladiators, he crossed over again to the continent, and gave all people free access to him; so much the more, because, at his departure from the city, he had caused it to be proclaimed that no one should address him, and had declined admitting any persons to his presence, on the journey.
Returning to the island, he so far abandoned all care of the government, that he never filled up the decuriae of the knights, never changed any military tribunes or prefects, or governors of provinces, and kept Spain and Syria for several years without any consular lieutenants. He likewise suffered Armenia to be seized by the Parthians, Moesia by the Dacians and Sarmatians, and Gaul to be ravaged by the Germans; to the great disgrace, and no less danger, of the empire.
But having now the advantage of privacy, and being remote from the observation of the people of Rome, he abandoned himself to all the vicious propensities which he had long but imperfectly concealed, and of which I shall here give a particular account from the beginning. While a young soldier in the camp, he was so remarkable for his excessive inclination to wine, that, for Tiberius, they called him Biberius; for Claudius, Caldius; and for Nero, Mero. And after he succeeded to the empire, and was invested with the office of reforming the morality of the people, he spent a whole night and two days together in feasting and drinking with Pomponius Flaccus and Lucius Piso; to one of whom he immediately gave the province of Syria, and to the other the prefecture of the city; declaring them, in his letters-patent, to be “very pleasant companions, and friends fit for all occasions.” He made an appointment to sup with Sestius Gallus, a lewd and prodigal old fellow, who had been disgraced by Augustus, and reprimanded by himself but a few days before in the senate-house; upon condition that he should not recede in the least from his usual method of entertainment, and that they should be attended at table by naked girls. He preferred a very obscure candidate for the quaestorship, before the most noble competitors, only for taking off, in pledging him at table, an amphora of wine at a draught 343. He presented Asellius Sabinus with two hundred thousand sesterces, for writing a dialogue, in the way of dispute, betwixt the truffle and the fig-pecker, the oyster and the thrush. He likewise instituted a new office to administer to his voluptuousness, to which he appointed Titus Caesonius Priscus, a Roman knight.
In his retreat at Capri 344, he also contrived an apartment containing couches, and adapted to the secret practice of abominable lewdness, where he entertained companies of girls and catamites, and assembled from all quarters inventors of unnatural copulations, whom he called Spintriae, who defiled one another in his presence, to inflame by the exhibition the languid appetite. He had several chambers set round with pictures and statues in the most lascivious attitudes, and furnished with the books of Elephantis, that none might want a pattern for the execution of any lewd project that was prescribed him. He likewise contrived recesses in woods and groves for the gratification of lust, where young persons of both sexes prostituted themselves in caves and hollow rocks, in the disguise of little Pans and Nymphs 345. So that he was publicly and commonly called, by an abuse of the name of the island, Caprineus. 346
But he was still more infamous, if possible, for an (220) abomination not fit to be mentioned or heard, much less credited. 347 —————————When a picture, painted by Parrhasius, in which the artist had represented Atalanta in the act of submitting to Meleager’s lust in a most unnatural way, was bequeathed to him, with this proviso, that if the subject was offensive to him, he might receive in lieu of it a million of sesterces, he not only chose the picture, but hung it up in his bed-chamber. It is also reported that, during a sacrifice, he was so captivated with the form of a youth who held a censer, that, before the religious rites were well over, he took him aside and abused him; as also a brother of his who had been playing the flute; and soon afterwards broke the legs of both of them, for upbraiding one another with their shame.
How much he was guilty of a most foul intercourse with women even of the first quality 348, appeared very plainly by the death of one Mallonia, who, being brought to his bed, but resolutely refusing to comply with his lust, he gave her up to the common informers. Even when she was upon her trial, he frequently called out to her, and asked her, “Do you repent?” until she, quitting the court, went home, and stabbed herself; openly upbraiding the vile old lecher for his gross obscenity 349. Hence there was an allusion to him in a farce, which was acted at the next public sports, and was received with great applause, and became a common topic of ridicule 350: that the old goat————
He was so niggardly and covetous, that he never allowed to his attendants, in his travels and expeditions, any salary, but their diet only. Once, indeed, he treated them liberally, at the instigation of his step-father, when, dividing them into three classes, according to their rank, he gave the (221) first six, the second four, and the third two, hundred thousand sesterces, which last class he called not friends, but Greeks.
During the whole time of his government, he never erected any noble edifice; for the only things he did undertake, namely, building the temple of Augustus, and restoring Pompey’s Theatre, he left at last, after many years, unfinished. Nor did he ever entertain the people with public spectacles; and he was seldom present at those which were given by others, lest any thing of that kind should be requested of him; especially after he was obliged to give freedom to the comedian Actius. Having relieved the poverty of a few senators, to avoid further demands, he declared that he should for the future assist none, but those who gave the senate full satisfaction as to the cause of their necessity. Upon this, most of the needy senators, from modesty and shame, declined troubling him. Amongst these was Hortalus, grandson to the celebrated orator Quintus Hortensius, who [marrying], by the persuasion of Augustus, had brought up four children upon a very small estate.
He displayed only two instances of public munificence. One was an offer to lend gratis, for three years, a hundred millions of sesterces to those who wanted to borrow; and the other, when, some large houses being burnt down upon Mount Caelius, he indemnified the owners. To the former of these he was compelled by the clamours of the people, in a great scarcity of money, when he had ratified a decree of the senate obliging all money-lenders to advance two-thirds of their capital on land, and the debtors to pay off at once the same proportion of their debts, and it was found insufficient to remedy the grievance. The other he did to alleviate in some degree the pressure of the times. But his benefaction to the sufferers by fire, he estimated at so high a rate, that he ordered the Caelian Hill to be called, in future, the Augustan. To the soldiery, after doubling the legacy left them by Augustus, he never gave any thing, except a thousand denarii a man to the pretorian guards, for not joining the party of Sejanus; and some presents to the legions in Syria, because they alone had not paid reverence to the effigies of Sejanus among their standards. He seldom gave discharges to the veteran soldiers, calculating (222) on their deaths from advanced age, and on what would be saved by thus getting rid of them, in the way of rewards or pensions. Nor did he ever relieve the provinces by any act of generosity, excepting Asia, where some cities had been destroyed by an earthquake.
In the course of a very short time, he turned his mind to sheer robbery. It is certain that Cneius Lentulus, the augur, a man of vast estate, was so terrified and worried by his threats and importunities, that he was obliged to make him his heir; and that Lepida, a lady of a very noble family, was condemned by him, in order to gratify Quirinus, a man of consular rank, extremely rich, and childless, who had divorced her twenty years before, and now charged her with an old design to poison him. Several persons, likewise, of the first distinction in Gaul, Spain, Syria, and Greece, had their estates confiscated upon such despicably trifling and shameless pretences, that against some of them no other charge was preferred, than that they held large sums of ready money as part of their property. Old immunities, the rights of mining, and of levying tolls, were taken from several cities and private persons. And Vonones, king of the Parthians, who had been driven out of his dominions by his own subjects, and fled to Antioch with a vast treasure, claiming the protection of the Roman people, his allies, was treacherously robbed of all his money, and afterwards murdered.
He first manifested hatred towards his own relations in the case of his brother Drusus, betraying him by the production of a letter to himself, in which Drusus proposed that Augustus should be forced to restore the public liberty. In course of time, he shewed the same disposition with regard to the rest of his family. So far was he from performing any office of kindness or humanity to his wife, when she was banished, and, by her father’s order, confined to one town, that he forbad her to stir out of the house, or converse with any men. He even wronged her of the dowry given her by her father, and of her yearly allowance, by a quibble of law, because Augustus had made no provision for them on her behalf in his will. Being harassed by his mother, Livia, who claimed an equal share in the government with him, he frequently avoided (223) seeing her, and all long and private conferences with her, lest it should be thought that he was governed by her counsels, which, notwithstanding, he sometimes sought, and was in the habit of adopting. He was much offended at the senate, when they proposed to add to his other titles that of the Son of Livia, as well as Augustus. He, therefore, would not suffer her to be called “the Mother of her Country,” nor to receive any extraordinary public distinction. Nay, he frequently admonished her “not to meddle with weighty affairs, and such as did not suit her sex;” especially when he found her present at a fire which broke out near the Temple of Vesta 351, and encouraging the people and soldiers to use their utmost exertions, as she had been used to do in the time of her husband.
He afterwards proceeded to an open rupture with her, and, as is said, upon this occasion. She having frequently urged him to place among the judges a person who had been made free of the city, he refused her request, unless she would allow it to be inscribed on the roll, “That the appointment had been extorted from him by his mother.” Enraged at this, Livia brought forth from her chapel some letters from Augustus to her, complaining of the sourness and insolence of Tiberius’s temper, and these she read. So much was he offended at these letters having been kept so long, and now produced with so much bitterness against him, that some considered this incident as one of the causes of his going into seclusion, if not the principal reason for his so doing. In the (224) whole years she lived during his retirement, he saw her but once, and that for a few hours only. When she fell sick shortly afterwards, he was quite unconcerned about visiting her in her illness; and when she died, after promising to attend her funeral, he deferred his coming for several days, so that the corpse was in a state of decay and putrefaction before the interment; and he then forbad divine honours being paid to her, pretending that he acted according to her own directions. He likewise annulled her will, and in a short time ruined all her friends and acquaintance; not even sparing those to whom, on her death-bed, she had recommended the care of her funeral, but condemning one of them, a man of equestrian rank, to the treadmill. 352
He entertained no paternal affection either for his own son Drusus, or his adopted son Germanicus. Offended at the vices of the former, who was of a loose disposition and led a dissolute life, he was not much affected at his death; but, almost immediately after the funeral, resumed his attention to business, and prevented the courts from being longer closed. The ambassadors from the people of Ilium coming rather late to offer their condolence, he said to them by way of banter, as if the affair had already faded from his memory, “And I heartily condole with you on the loss of your renowned countryman, Hector.” He so much affected to depreciate Germanicus, that he spoke of his achievements as utterly insignificant, and railed at his most glorious victories as ruinous to the state; complaining of him also to the senate for going to Alexandria without his knowledge, upon occasion of a great and sudden famine at Rome. It was believed that he took care to have him dispatched by Cneius Piso, his lieutenant in Syria. This person was afterwards tried for the murder, and would, as was supposed, have produced his orders, had they not been contained in a private and confidential dispatch. The following words therefore were posted up in many places, and frequently shouted in the night: “Give us back our Germanicus.” This suspicion was afterwards confirmed by the barbarous treatment of his wife and children.
His daughter-in-law Agrippina, after the death of her husband, complaining upon some occasion with more than ordinary freedom, he took her by the hand, and addressed her in a Greek verse to this effect: “My dear child, do you think yourself injured, because you are not empress?” Nor did he ever vouchsafe to speak to her again. Upon her refusing once at supper to taste some fruit which he presented to her, he declined inviting her to his table, pretending that she in effect charged him with a design to poison her; whereas the whole was a contrivance of his own. He was to offer the fruit, and she to be privately cautioned against eating what would infallibly cause her death. At last, having her accused of intending to flee for refuge to the statue of Augustus, or to the army, he banished her to the island of Pandataria 353. Upon her reviling him for it, he caused a centurion to beat out one of her eyes; and when she resolved to starve herself to death, he ordered her mouth to be forced open, and meat to be crammed down her throat. But she persisting in her resolution, and dying soon afterwards, he persecuted her memory with the basest aspersions, and persuaded the senate to put her birth-day amongst the number of unlucky days in the calendar. He likewise took credit for not having caused her to be strangled and her body cast upon the Gemonian Steps, and suffered a decree of the senate to pass, thanking him for his clemency, and an offering of gold to be made to Jupiter Capitolinus on the occasion.
He had by Germanicus three grandsons, Nero, Drusus, and Caius; and by his son Drusus one, named Tiberius. Of these, after the loss of his sons, he commended Nero and Drusus, the two eldest sons of Germanicus, to the senate; and at their being solemnly introduced into the forum, distributed money among the people. But when he found that on entering upon the new year they were included in the public vows for his own welfare, he told the senate, “that such honours ought not to be conferred but upon those who had been proved, and were of more advanced years.” By thus betraying his private feelings towards them, he exposed them to all sorts of accusations; and after practising many artifices to provoke (226) them to rail at and abuse him, that he might be furnished with a pretence to destroy them, he charged them with it in a letter to the senate; at the same time accusing them, in the bitterest terms, of the most scandalous vices. Upon their being declared enemies by the senate, he starved them to death; Nero in the island of Ponza, and Drusus in the vaults of the Palatium. It is thought by some, that Nero was driven to a voluntary death by the executioner’s shewing him some halters and hooks, as if he had been sent to him by order of the senate. Drusus, it is said, was so rabid with hunger, that he attempted to eat the chaff with which his mattress was stuffed. The relics of both were so scattered, that it was with difficulty they were collected.
Besides his old friends and intimate acquaintance, he required the assistance of twenty of the most eminent persons in the city, as counsellors in the administration of public affairs. Out of all this number, scarcely two or three escaped the fury of his savage disposition. All the rest he destroyed upon one pretence or another; and among them Aelius Sejanus, whose fall was attended with the ruin of many others. He had advanced this minister to the highest pitch of grandeur, not so much from any real regard for him, as that by his base and sinister contrivances he might ruin the children of Germanicus, and thereby secure the succession to his own grandson by Drusus.
He treated with no greater leniency the Greeks in his family, even those with whom he was most pleased. Having asked one Zeno, upon his using some far-fetched phrases, “What uncouth dialect is that?” he replied, “The Doric.” For this answer he banished him to Cinara 354, suspecting that he taunted him with his former residence at Rhodes, where the Doric dialect is spoken. It being his custom to start questions at supper, arising out of what he had been reading in the day, and finding that Seleucus, the grammarian, used to inquire of his attendants what authors he was then studying, and so came prepared for his enquiries—he first turned him out of his family, and then drove him to the extremity of laying violent hands upon himself.
His cruel and sullen temper appeared when he was still a boy; which Theodorus of Gadara 355, his master in rhetoric, first discovered, and expressed by a very apposite simile, calling him sometimes, when he chid him, “Mud mixed with blood.” But his disposition shewed itself still more clearly on his attaining the imperial power, and even in the beginning of his administration, when he was endeavouring to gain the popular favour, by affecting moderation. Upon a funeral passing by, a wag called out to the dead man, “Tell Augustus, that the legacies he bequeathed to the people are not yet paid.” The man being brought before him, he ordered that he should receive what was due to him, and then be led to execution, that he might deliver the message to his father himself. Not long afterwards, when one Pompey, a Roman knight, persisted in his opposition to something he proposed in the senate, he threatened to put him in prison, and told him, “Of a Pompey I shall make a Pompeian of you;” by a bitter kind of pun playing upon the man’s name, and the ill-fortune of his party.
About the same time, when the praetor consulted him, whether it was his pleasure that the tribunals should take cognizance of accusations of treason, he replied, “The laws ought to be put in execution;” and he did put them in execution most severely. Some person had taken off the head of Augustus from one of his statues, and replaced it by another 356. The matter was brought before the senate, and because the case was not clear, the witnesses were put to the torture. The party accused being found guilty, and condemned, this kind of proceeding was carried so far, that it became capital for a man to beat his slave, or change his clothes, near the statue of Augustus; to carry his head stamped upon the coin, or cut in the stone of a ring, into a necessary house, or the stews; or to reflect upon anything that had been either said or done by him. In fine, a person was condemned to death, for suffering some honours to be decreed to him in the colony where he lived, upon the same day on which they had formerly been decreed to Augustus.
He was besides guilty of many barbarous actions, under the pretence of strictness and reformation of manners, but more to gratify his own savage disposition. Some verses were published, which displayed the present calamities of his reign, and anticipated the future. 357
Asper et immitis, breviter vis omnia dicam?
Dispeream si te mater amare potest.
Non es eques, quare? non sunt tibi millia centum?
Omnia si quaeras, et Rhodos exsilium est.
Aurea mutasti Saturni saecula, Caesar:
Incolumi nam te, ferrea semper erunt.
Fastidit vinum, quia jam sit it iste cruorem:
Tam bibit hunc avide, quam bibit ante merum.
Adspice felicem sibi, non tibi, Romule, Sullam:
Et Marium, si vis, adspice, sed reducem.
Nec non Antoni civilia bella moventis
Nec semel infectas adspice caeda manus.
Et dic, Roma perit: regnabit sanguine multo,
Ad regnum quisquis venit ab exsilio.
Obdurate wretch! too fierce, too fell to move
The least kind yearnings of a mother’s love!
No knight thou art, as having no estate;
Long suffered’st thou in Rhodes an exile’s fate,
No more the happy Golden Age we see;
The Iron’s come, and sure to last with thee.
Instead of wine he thirsted for before,
He wallows now in floods of human gore.
Reflect, ye Romans, on the dreadful times,
Made such by Marius, and by Sylla’s crimes.
Reflect how Antony’s ambitious rage
Twice scar’d with horror a distracted age,
And say, Alas! Rome’s blood in streams will flow,
When banish’d miscreants rule this world below.
At first he would have it understood, that these satirical verses were drawn forth by the resentment of those who were impatient under the discipline of reformation, rather than that they spoke their real sentiments; and he would frequently say, “Let them hate me, so long as they do but approve my conduct.” 358 At length, however, his behaviour showed that he was sensible they were too well founded.
A few days after his arrival at Capri, a fisherman coming up to him unexpectedly, when he was desirous of privacy, and presenting him with a large mullet, he ordered the man’s face to be scrubbed with the fish; being terrified at the thought of his having been able to creep upon him from the back of the island, over such rugged and steep rocks. The man, while undergoing the punishment, expressing his joy that he had not likewise offered him a large crab which he had also taken, he ordered his face to be farther lacerated with its claws. He put to death one of the pretorian guards, for having stolen a peacock out of his orchard. In one of his journeys, his litter being obstructed by some bushes, he ordered the officer whose duty it was to ride on and examine the road, a centurion of the first cohorts, to be laid on his face upon the ground, and scourged almost to death.
Soon afterwards, he abandoned himself to every species of cruelty, never wanting occasions of one kind or another, to serve as a pretext. He first fell upon the friends and acquaintance of his mother, then those of his grandsons, and his daughter-in-law, and lastly those of Sejanus; after whose death he became cruel in the extreme. From this it appeared, that he had not been so much instigated by Sejanus, as supplied with occasions of gratifying his savage temper, when he wanted them. Though in a short memoir which he composed of his own life, he had the effrontery to write, “I have punished Sejanus, because I found him bent upon the destruction of the children of my son Germanicus,” one of these he put to death, when he began to suspect Sejanus; and another, after he was taken off. It would be tedious to relate all the numerous instances of his cruelty: suffice it to give a few examples, in their different kinds. Not a day passed without the punishment of some person or other, not excepting holidays, or those appropriated to the worship of the gods. Some were tried even on New-Year’s-Day. Of many who were condemned, their wives and children shared the same fate; and for those who were sentenced to death, the relations were forbid to put on mourning. Considerable rewards were voted for the prosecutors, and sometimes for the witnesses also. The information of any person, without exception, was taken; and all offences were capital, even speaking (230) a few words, though without any ill intention. A poet was charged with abusing Agamemnon; and a historian 359, for calling Brutus and Cassius “the last of the Romans.” The two authors were immediately called to account, and their writings suppressed; though they had been well received some years before, and read in the hearing of Augustus. Some, who were thrown into prison, were not only denied the solace of study, but debarred from all company and conversation. Many persons, when summoned to trial, stabbed themselves at home, to avoid the distress and ignominy of a public condemnation, which they were certain would ensue. Others took poison in the senate house. The wounds were bound up, and all who had not expired, were carried, half-dead, and panting for life, to prison. Those who were put to death, were thrown down the Gemonian stairs, and then dragged into the Tiber. In one day, twenty were treated in this manner; and amongst them women and boys. Because, according to an ancient custom, it was not lawful to strangle virgins, the young girls were first deflowered by the executioner, and afterwards strangled. Those who were desirous to die, were forced to live. For he thought death so slight a punishment, that upon hearing that Carnulius, one of the accused, who was under prosecution, had killed himself, he exclaimed, “Carnulius has escaped me.” In calling over his prisoners, when one of them requested the favour of a speedy death, he replied, “You are not yet restored to favour.” A man of consular rank writes in his annals, that at table, where he himself was present with a large company, he was suddenly asked aloud by a dwarf who stood by amongst the buffoons, why Paconius, who was under a prosecution for treason, lived so long. Tiberius immediately reprimanded him for his pertness; but wrote to the senate a few days after, to proceed without delay to the punishment of Paconius.
Exasperated by information he received respecting the death of his son Drusus, he carried his cruelty still farther. He imagined that he had died of a disease occasioned (231) by his intemperance; but finding that he had been poisoned by the contrivance of his wife Livilla 360 and Sejanus, he spared no one from torture and death. He was so entirely occupied with the examination of this affair, for whole days together, that, upon being informed that the person in whose house he had lodged at Rhodes, and whom he had by a friendly letter invited to Rome, was arrived, he ordered him immediately to be put to the torture, as a party concerned in the enquiry. Upon finding his mistake, he commanded him to be put to death, that he might not publish the injury done him. The place of execution is still shown at Capri, where he ordered those who were condemned to die, after long and exquisite tortures, to be thrown, before his eyes, from a precipice into the sea. There a party of soldiers belonging to the fleet waited for them, and broke their bones with poles and oars, lest they should have any life left in them. Among various kinds of torture invented by him, one was, to induce people to drink a large quantity of wine, and then to tie up their members with harp-strings, thus tormenting them at once by the tightness of the ligature, and the stoppage of their urine. Had not death prevented him, and Thrasyllus, designedly, as some say, prevailed with him to defer some of his cruelties, in hopes of longer life, it is believed that he would have destroyed many more: and not have spared even the rest of his grandchildren: for he was jealous of Caius, and hated Tiberius as having been conceived in adultery. This conjecture is indeed highly probable; for he used often to say, “Happy Priam, who survived all his children!” 361
Amidst these enormities, in how much fear and apprehension, as well as odium and detestation, he lived, is evident from many indications. He forbade the soothsayers to be consulted in private, and without some witnesses being present. He attempted to suppress the oracles in the neighbourhood of the city; but being terrified by the divine authority of the (232) Praenestine Lots 362, he abandoned the design. For though they were sealed up in a box, and carried to home, yet they were not to be found in it, until it was returned to the temple. More than one person of consular rank, appointed governors of provinces, he never ventured to dismiss to their respective destinations, but kept them until several years after, when he nominated their successors, while they still remained present with him. In the meantime, they bore the title of their office; and he frequently gave them orders, which they took care to have executed by their deputies and assistants.
He never removed his daughter-in-law, or grandsons 363, after their condemnation, to any place, but in fetters and in a covered litter, with a guard to hinder all who met them on the road, and travellers, from stopping to gaze at them.
After Sejanus had plotted against him, though he saw that his birth-day was solemnly kept by the public, and divine honours paid to golden images of him in every quarter, yet it was with difficulty at last, and more by artifice than his imperial power, that he accomplished his death. In the first place, to remove him from about his person, under the pretext of doing him honour, he made him his colleague in his fifth consulship; which, although then absent from the city, he took upon him for that purpose, long after his preceding consulship. Then, having flattered him with the hope of an alliance by marriage with one of his own kindred, and the prospect of the tribunitian authority, he suddenly, while Sejanus little expected it, charged him with treason, in an abject and pitiful address to the senate; in which, among other things, he begged them “to send one of the consuls, to conduct himself, a poor solitary old man, with a guard of soldiers, into their presence.” Still distrustful, however, and apprehensive of an insurrection, he ordered his grandson, Drusus, whom he still kept in confinement at Rome, to be set at liberty, and if occasion required, to head the troops. He had likewise ships in readiness to transport him to any of the legions to which he might consider it expedient to make his escape. Meanwhile, he was upon the (233) watch, from the summit of a lofty cliff, for the signals which he had ordered to be made if any thing occurred, lest the messengers should be tardy. Even when he had quite foiled the conspiracy of Sejanus, he was still haunted as much as ever with fears and apprehensions, insomuch that he never once stirred out of the Villa Jovis for nine months after.
To the extreme anxiety of mind which he now experienced, he had the mortification to find superadded the most poignant reproaches from all quarters. Those who were condemned to die, heaped upon him the most opprobrious language in his presence, or by hand-bills scattered in the senators’ seats in the theatre. These produced different effects: sometimes he wished, out of shame, to have all smothered and concealed; at other times he would disregard what was said, and publish it himself. To this accumulation of scandal and open sarcasm, there is to be subjoined a letter from Artabanus, king of the Parthians, in which he upbraids him with his parricides, murders, cowardice, and lewdness, and advises him to satisfy the furious rage of his own people, which he had so justly excited, by putting an end to his life without delay.
At last, being quite weary of himself, he acknowledged his extreme misery, in a letter to the senate, which begun thus: “What to write to you, Conscript Fathers, or how to write, or what not to write at this time, may all the gods and goddesses pour upon my head a more terrible vengeance than that under which I feel myself daily sinking, if I can tell.” Some are of opinion that he had a foreknowledge of those things, from his skill in the science of divination, and perceived long before what misery and infamy would at last come upon him; and that for this reason, at the beginning of his reign, he had absolutely refused the title of the “Father of his Country,” and the proposal of the senate to swear to his acts; lest he should afterwards, to his greater shame, be found unequal to such extraordinary honours. This, indeed, may be justly inferred from the speeches which he made upon both those occasions; as when he says, “I shall ever be the same, and shall never change my conduct, so long as I retain my senses; but to avoid giving a bad precedent to posterity, the senate ought to beware of binding themselves to the acts of (234) any person whatever, who might by some accident or other be induced to alter them.” And again: “If ye should at any time entertain a jealousy of my conduct, and my entire affection for you, which heaven prevent by putting a period to my days, rather than I should live to see such an alteration in your opinion of me, the title of Father will add no honour to me, but be a reproach to you, for your rashness in conferring it upon me, or inconstancy in altering your opinion of me.”
In person he was large and robust; of a stature somewhat above the common size; broad in the shoulders and chest, and proportionable in the rest of his frame. He used his left hand more readily and with more force than his right; and his joints were so strong, that he could bore a fresh, sound apple through with his finger, and wound the head of a boy, or even a young man, with a fillip. He was of a fair complexion, and wore his hair so long behind, that it covered his neck, which was observed to be a mark of distinction affected by the family. He had a handsome face, but it was often full of pimples. His eyes, which were large, had a wonderful faculty of seeing in the night-time, and in the dark, for a short time only, and immediately after awaking from sleep; but they soon grew dim again. He walked with his neck stiff and upright: generally with a frowning countenance, being for the most part silent: when he spoke to those about him, it was very slowly, and usually accompanied with a slight gesticulation of his fingers. All which, being repulsive habits and signs of arrogance, were remarked by Augustus, who often endeavoured to excuse them to the senate and people, declaring that “they were natural defects, which proceeded from no viciousness of mind.” He enjoyed a good state of health, without interruption, almost during the whole period of his rule; though, from the thirtieth year of his age, he treated it himself according to his own discretion, without any medical assistance.
In regard to the gods, and matters of religion, he discovered much indifference; being greatly addicted to astrology, and fully persuaded that all things were governed by fate. Yet he was extremely afraid of lightning, and when the sky was in a disturbed state, always wore a laurel crown on his head; because it is supposed that the leaf of that tree is never touched by the lightning.
He applied himself with great diligence to the liberal arts, both Greek and Latin. In his Latin style, he affected to imitate Messala Corvinus 364, a venerable man, to whom he had paid much respect in his own early years. But he rendered his style obscure by excessive affectation and abstruseness, so that he was thought to speak better extempore, than in a premeditated discourse. He composed likewise a lyric ode, under the title of “A Lamentation upon the death of Lucius Caesar;” and also some Greek poems, in imitation of Euphorion, Rhianus, and Parthenius 365. These poets he greatly admired, and placed their works and statues in the public libraries, amongst the eminent authors of antiquity. On this account, most of the learned men of the time vied with each other in publishing observations upon them, which they addressed to him. His principal study, however, was the history of the fabulous ages, inquiring even into its trifling details in a ridiculous manner; for he used to try the grammarians, a class of men which, as I have already observed, he much affected, with such questions as these: “Who was Hecuba’s mother? What name did Achilles assume among the virgins? What was it that the Sirens used to sing?” And the first day that he entered the senate-house, after the death of Augustus, as if he intended to pay respect at once to his father’s memory and to the gods, he made an offering of frankincense and wine, but without any music, in imitation of Minos, upon the death of his son.
Though he was ready and conversant with the Greek tongue, yet he did not use it everywhere; but chiefly he avoided it in the senate-house, insomuch that having occasion to employ the word monopolium (monopoly), he first begged pardon for being obliged to adopt a foreign word. And when, in a decree of the senate, the word emblaema (emblem) was read, he proposed to have it changed, and that a Latin word should be substituted in its room; or, if no proper one could be found, to express the thing by circumlocution. A soldier (236) who was examined as a witness upon a trial, in Greek 366, he would not allow to reply, except in Latin.
During the whole time of his seclusion at Capri, twice only he made an effort to visit Rome. Once he came in a galley as far as the gardens near the Naumachia, but placed guards along the banks of the Tiber, to keep off all who should offer to come to meet him. The second time he travelled on the Appian Way 367, as far as the seventh mile-stone from the city, but he immediately returned, without entering it, having only taken a view of the walls at a distance. For what reason he did not disembark in his first excursion, is uncertain; but in the last, he was deterred from entering the city by a prodigy. He was in the habit of diverting himself with a snake, and upon going to feed it with his own hand, according to custom, he found it devoured by ants: from which he was advised to beware of the fury of the mob. On this account, returning in all haste to Campania, he fell ill at Astura 368; but recovering a little, went on to Circeii 369. And to obviate any suspicion of his being in a bad state of health, he was not only present at the sports in the camp, but encountered, with javelins, a wild boar, which was let loose in the arena. Being immediately seized with a pain in the side, and catching cold upon his over-heating himself in the exercise, he relapsed into a worse condition than he was before. He held out, however, for some time; and sailing as far as Misenum 370, omitted nothing (237) in his usual mode of life, not even in his entertainments, and other gratifications, partly from an ungovernable appetite, and partly to conceal his condition. For Charicles, a physician, having obtained leave of absence, on his rising from table, took his hand to kiss it; upon which Tiberius, supposing he did it to feel his pulse, desired him to stay and resume his place, and continued the entertainment longer than usual. Nor did he omit his usual custom of taking his station in the centre of the apartment, a lictor standing by him, while he took leave of each of the party by name.
Meanwhile, finding, upon looking over the acts of the senate, “that some person under prosecution had been discharged, without being brought to a hearing,” for he had only written cursorily that they had been denounced by an informer; he complained in a great rage that he was treated with contempt, and resolved at all hazards to return to Capri; not daring to attempt any thing until he found himself in a place of security. But being detained by storms, and the increasing violence of his disorder, he died shortly afterwards, at a villa formerly belonging to Lucullus, in the seventy-eighth year of his age 371, and the twenty-third of his reign, upon the seventeenth of the calends of April (16th March), in the consulship of Cneius Acerronius Proculus and Caius Pontius Niger. Some think that a slow-consuming poison was given him by Caius 372. Others say that during the interval of the intermittent fever with which he happened to be seized, upon asking for food, it was denied him. Others report, that he was stifled by a pillow thrown upon him 373, when, on his recovering from a swoon, he called for his ring, which had been taken from him in the fit. Seneca writes, “That finding himself dying, he took his signet ring off his finger, and held it a while, as if he would deliver it to somebody; but put it again upon his finger, and lay for some time, with his left hand clenched, and without stirring; when suddenly summoning his attendants, (238) and no one answering the call, he rose; but his strength failing him, he fell down at a short distance from his bed.”
Upon his last birth-day, he had brought a full-sized statue of the Timenian Apollo from Syracuse, a work of exquisite art, intending to place it in the library of the new temple 374; but he dreamt that the god appeared to him in the night, and assured him “that his statue could not be erected by him.” A few days before he died, the Pharos at Capri was thrown down by an earthquake. And at Misenum, some embers and live coals, which were brought in to warm his apartment, went out, and after being quite cold, burst out into a flame again towards evening, and continued burning very brightly for several hours.
The people were so much elated at his death, that when they first heard the news, they ran up and down the city, some crying out, “Away with Tiberius to the Tiber;” others exclaiming, “May the earth, the common mother of mankind, and the infernal gods, allow him no abode in death, but amongst the wicked.” Others threatened his body with the hook and the Gemonian stairs, their indignation at his former cruelty being increased by a recent atrocity. It had been provided by an act of the senate, that the execution of condemned criminals should always be deferred until the tenth day after the sentence. Now this fell on the very day when the news of Tiberius’s death arrived, and in consequence of which the unhappy men implored a reprieve, for mercy’s sake; but, as Caius had not yet arrived, and there was no one else to whom application could be made on their behalf, their guards, apprehensive of violating the law, strangled them, and threw them down the Gemonian stairs. This roused the people to a still greater abhorrence of the tyrant’s memory, since his cruelty continued in use even after he was dead. As soon as his corpse was begun to be moved from Misenum, many cried out for its being carried to Atella 375, and being half burnt there (239) in the amphitheatre. It was, however, brought to Rome, and burnt with the usual ceremony.
He had made about two years before, duplicates of his will, one written by his own hand, and the other by that of one of his freedmen; and both were witnessed by some persons of very mean rank. He appointed his two grandsons, Caius by Germanicus, and Tiberius by Drusus, joint heirs to his estate; and upon the death of one of them, the other was to inherit the whole. He gave likewise many legacies; amongst which were bequests to the Vestal Virgins, to all the soldiers, and each one of the people of Rome, and to the magistrates of the several quarters of the city.
* * * * * *
At the death of Augustus, there had elapsed so long a period from the overthrow of the republic by Julius Caesar, that few were now living who had been born under the ancient constitution of the Romans; and the mild and prosperous administration of Augustus, during forty-four years, had by this time reconciled the minds of the people to a despotic government. Tiberius, the adopted son of the former sovereign, was of mature age; and though he had hitherto lived, for the most part, abstracted from any concern with public affairs, yet, having been brought up in the family of Augustus, he was acquainted with his method of government, which, there was reason to expect, he would render the model of his own. Livia, too, his mother, and the relict of the late emperor, was still living, a woman venerable by years, who had long been familiar with the councils of Augustus, and from her high rank, as well as uncommon affability, possessed an extensive influence amongst all classes of the people.
Such were the circumstances in favour of Tiberius’s succession at the demise of Augustus; but there were others of a tendency disadvantageous to his views. His temper was haughty and reserved: Augustus had often apologised for the ungraciousness of his manners. He was disobedient to his mother; and though he had not openly discovered any propensity to vice, he enjoyed none of those qualities which usually conciliate popularity. To these considerations it is to be added, that Postumus Agrippa, the grandson of Augustus by Julia, was living; and if consanguinity was to be the rule of succession, his right was indisputably preferable to that of an adopted son. Augustus had sent this youth into exile a few years before; but, towards the close (240) of his life, had expressed a design of recalling him, with the view, as was supposed, of appointing him his successor. The father of young Agrippa had been greatly beloved by the Romans; and the fate of his mother, Julia, though she was notorious for her profligacy, had ever been regarded by them with peculiar sympathy and tenderness. Many, therefore, attached to the son the partiality entertained for his parents; which was increased not only by a strong suspicion, but a general surmise, that his elder brothers, Caius and Lucius, had been violently taken off, to make way for the succession of Tiberius. That an obstruction was apprehended to Tiberius’s succession from this quarter, is put beyond all doubt, when we find that the death of Augustus was industriously kept secret, until young Agrippa should be removed; who, it is generally agreed, was dispatched by an order from Livia and Tiberius conjointly, or at least from the former. Though, by this act, there remained no rival to Tiberius, yet the consciousness of his own want of pretensions to the Roman throne, seems to have still rendered him distrustful of the succession; and that he should have quietly obtained it, without the voice of the people, the real inclination of the senate, or the support of the army, can be imputed only to the influence of his mother, and his own dissimulation. Ardently solicitous to attain the object, yet affecting a total indifference; artfully prompting the senate to give him the charge of the government, at the time that he intimated an invincible reluctance to accept it; his absolutely declining it in perpetuity, but fixing no time for an abdication; his deceitful insinuation of bodily infirmities, with hints likewise of approaching old age, that he might allay in the senate all apprehensions of any great duration of his power, and repress in his adopted son, Germanicus, the emotions of ambition to displace him; form altogether a scene of the most insidious policy, inconsistency, and dissimulation.
In this period died, in the eighty-sixth year of her age, Livia Drusilla, mother of the emperor, and the relict of Augustus, whom she survived fifteen years. She was the daughter of L. Drusus Calidianus and married Tiberius Claudius Nero, by whom she had two sons, Tiberius and Drusus. The conduct of this lady seems to justify the remark of Caligula, that “she was an Ulysses in a woman’s dress.” Octavius first saw her as she fled from the danger which threatened her husband, who had espoused the cause of Antony; and though she was then pregnant, he resolved to marry her; whether with her own inclination or not, is left by Tacitus undetermined. To pave the way for this union, he divorced his wife Scribonia, and with the approbation of the Augurs, which he could have no difficulty in obtaining, celebrated (241) his nuptials with Livia. There ensued from this marriage no issue, though much desired by both parties; but Livia retained, without interruption, an unbounded ascendancy over the emperor, whose confidence she abused, while the uxorious husband little suspected that he was cherishing in his bosom a viper who was to prove the destruction of his house. She appears to have entertained a predominant ambition of giving an heir to the Roman empire; and since it could not be done by any fruit of her marriage with Augustus, she resolved on accomplishing that end in the person of Tiberius, the eldest son by her former husband. The plan which she devised for this purpose, was to exterminate all the male offspring of Augustus by his daughter Julia, who was married to Agrippa; a stratagem which, when executed, would procure for Tiberius, through the means of adoption, the eventual succession to the empire. The cool yet sanguinary policy, and the patient perseverance of resolution, with which she prosecuted her design, have seldom been equalled. While the sons of Julia were yet young, and while there was still a possibility that she herself might have issue by Augustus, she suspended her project, in the hope, perhaps, that accident or disease might operate in its favour; but when the natural term of her constitution had put a period to her hopes of progeny, and when the grandsons of the emperor were risen to the years of manhood, and had been adopted by him, she began to carry into execution what she long had meditated. The first object devoted to destruction was C. Caesar Agrippa, the eldest of Augustus’s grandsons. This promising youth was sent to Armenia, upon an expedition against the Persians; and Lollius, who had been his governor, either accompanied him thither from Rome, or met him in the East, where he had obtained some appointment. From the hand of this traitor, perhaps under the pretext of exercising the authority of a preceptor, but in reality instigated by Livia, the young prince received a fatal blow, of which he died some time after.
The manner of Caius’s death seems to have been carefully kept from the knowledge of Augustus, who promoted Lollius to the consulship, and made him governor of a province; but, by his rapacity in this station, he afterwards incurred the emperor’s displeasure. The true character of this person had escaped the keen discernment of Horace, as well as the sagacity of the emperor; for in two epistles addressed to Lollius, he mentions him as great and accomplished in the superlative degree; maxime Lolli, liberrime Lolli; so imposing had been the manners and address of this deceitful courtier.
Lucius, the second son of Julia, was banished into Campania, (242) for using, as it is said, so litious language against his grandfather. In the seventh year of his exile Augustus proposed to recall him; but Livia and Tiberius, dreading the consequences of his being restored to the emperor’s favour, put in practice the expedient of having him immediately assassinated. Postumus Agrippa, the third son, incurred the displeasure of his grandfather in the same way as Lucius, and was confined at Surrentum, where he remained a prisoner until he was put to death by the order either of Livia alone, or in conjunction with Tiberius, as was before observed.
Such was the catastrophe, through the means of Livia, of all the grandsons of Augustus; and reason justifies the inference, that she who scruple not to lay violent hands upon those young men, had formerly practised every artifice that could operate towards rendering them obnoxious to the emperor. We may even ascribe to her dark intrigues the dissolute conduct of Julia for the woman who could secretly act as procuress to her own husband, would feel little restraint upon her mind against corrupting his daughter, when such an effect might contribute to answer the purpose which she had in view. But in the ingratitude of Tiberius, however undutiful and reprehensible in a son towards a parent, she at last experienced a just retribution for the crimes in which she had trained him to procure the succession to the empire. To the disgrace of her sex, she introduced amongst the Romans the horrible practice of domestic murder, little known before the times when the thirst or intoxication of unlimited power had vitiated the social affections; and she transmitted to succeeding ages a pernicious example, by which immoderate ambition might be gratified, at the expense of every moral obligation, as well as of humanity.
One of the first victims in the sanguinary reign of the present emperor, was Germanicus, the son of Drusus, Tiberius’s own brother, and who had been adopted by his uncle himself. Under any sovereign, of a temper different from that of Tiberius, this amiable and meritorious prince would have been held in the highest esteem. At the death of his grandfather Augustus, he was employed in a war in Germany, where he greatly distinguished himself by his military achievements; and as soon as intelligence of that event arrived, the soldiers, by whom he was extremely beloved, unanimously saluted him emperor. Refusing, however, to accept this mark of their partiality, he persevered in allegiance to the government of his uncle, and prosecuted the war with success. Upon the conclusion of this expedition, he was sent, with the title of emperor in the East, to repress the seditions of the Armenians, in which he was equally successful. But the (243) fame which he acquired, served only to render him an object of jealousy to Tiberius, by whose order he was secretly poisoned at Daphne, near Antioch, in the thirty-fourth year of his age. The news of Germanicus’s death was received at Rome with universal lamentation; and all ranks of the people entertained an opinion, that, had he survived Tiberius, he would have restored the freedom of the republic. The love and gratitude of the Romans decreed many honours to his memory. It was ordered, that his name should be sung in a solemn procession of the Salii; that crowns of oak, in allusion to his victories, should be placed upon curule chairs in the hall pertaining to the priests of Augustus; and that an effigy of him in ivory should be drawn upon a chariot, preceding the ceremonies of the Circensian games. Triumphal arches were erected, one at Rome, another on the banks of the Rhine, and a third upon Mount Amanus in Syria, with inscriptions of his achievements, and that he died for his services to the republic. 376
His obsequies were celebrated, not with the display of images and funeral pomp, but with the recital of his praises and the virtues which rendered him illustrious. From a resemblance in his personal accomplishments, his age, the manner of his death, and the vicinity of Daphne to Babylon, many compared his fate to that of Alexander the Great. He was celebrated for humanity and benevolence, as well as military talents, and amidst the toils of war, found leisure to cultivate the arts of literary genius. He composed two comedies in Greek, some epigrams, and a translation of Aratus into Latin verse. He married Agrippina, the daughter of M. Agrippa, by whom he had nine children. This lady, who had accompanied her husband into the east, carried his ashes to Italy, and accused his murderer, Piso; who, unable to bear up against the public odium incurred by that transaction, laid violent hands upon himself. Agrippina was now nearly in the same predicament with regard to Tiberius, that Ovid had formerly been in respect of Augustus. He was sensible, that when she accused Piso, she was not ignorant of the person by whom the perpetrator of the murder had been instigated; and her presence, therefore, seeming continually to reproach him with his guilt, he resolved to rid himself of a person become so obnoxious to his sight, and banished her to the island of Pandataria, where she died some time afterwards of famine.
But it was not sufficient to gratify this sanguinary tyrant, that he had, without any cause, cut off both Germanicus and his wife Agrippina: the distinguished merits and popularity of that prince were yet to be revenged upon his children; and accordingly he (244) set himself to invent a pretext for their destruction. After endeavouring in vain, by various artifices, to provoke the resentment of Nero and Drusus against him, he had recourse to false accusation, and not only charged them with seditious designs, to which their tender years were ill adapted, but with vices of a nature the most scandalous. By a sentence of the senate, which manifested the extreme servility of that assembly, he procured them both to be declared open enemies to their country. Nero he banished to the island of Pontia, where, like his unfortunate mother, he miserably perished by famine; and Drusus was doomed to the same fate, in the lower part of the Palatium, after suffering for nine days the violence of hunger, and having, as is related, devoured part of his bed. The remaining son, Caius, on account of his vicious disposition, he resolved to appoint his successor on the throne, that, after his own death, a comparison might be made in favour of his memory, when the Romans should be governed by a sovereign yet more vicious and more tyrannical, if possible, than himself.
Sejanus, the minister in the present reign, imitated with success, for some time, the hypocrisy of his master; and, had his ambitious temper, impatient of attaining its object, allowed him to wear the mask for a longer period, he might have gained the imperial diadem; in the pursuit of which he was overtaken by that fate which he merited still more by his cruelties than his perfidy to Tiberius. This man was a native of Volsinium in Tuscany, and the son of a Roman knight. He had first insinuated himself into the favour of Caius Caesar, the grandson of Augustus, after whose death he courted the friendship of Tiberius, and obtained in a short time his entire confidence, which he improved to the best advantage. The object which he next pursued, was to gain the attachment of the senate, and the officers of the army; besides whom, with a new kind of policy, he endeavoured to secure in his interest every lady of distinguished connections, by giving secretly to each of them a promise of marriage, as soon as he should arrive at the sovereignty. The chief obstacles in his way were the sons and grandsons of Tiberius; and these he soon sacrificed to his ambition, under various pretences. Drusus, the eldest of this progeny, having in a fit of passion struck the favourite, was destined by him to destruction. For this purpose, he had the presumption to seduce Livia, the wife of Drusus, to whom she had borne several children; and she consented to marry her adulterer upon the death of her husband, who was soon after poisoned, through the means of an eunuch named Lygdus, by order of her and Sejanus.
Drusus was the son of Tiberius by Vipsania, one of Agrippa’s (245) daughters. He displayed great intrepidity during the war in the provinces of Illyricum and Pannonia, but appears to have been dissolute in his morals. Horace is said to have written the Ode in praise of Drusus at the desire of Augustus; and while the poet celebrates the military courage of the prince, he insinuates indirectly a salutary admonition to the cultivation of the civil virtues:
Doctrina sed vim promovet insitam,
Rectique cultus pectora roborant:
Utcunque defecere mores,
Dedecorant bene nata culpae.—Ode iv. 4.
Yet sage instructions to refine the soul
And raise the genius, wondrous aid impart,
Conveying inward, as they purely roll,
Strength to the mind and vigour to the heart:
When morals fail, the stains of vice disgrace
The fairest honours of the noblest race.—Francis.
Upon the death of Drusus, Sejanus openly avowed a desire of marrying the widowed princess; but Tiberius opposing this measure, and at the same time recommending Germanicus to the senate as his successor in the empire, the mind of Sejanus was more than ever inflamed by the united, and now furious, passions of love and ambition. He therefore urged his demand with increased importunity; but the emperor still refusing his consent, and things being not yet ripe for an immediate revolt, Sejanus thought nothing so favourable for the prosecution of his designs as the absence of Tiberius from the capital. With this view, under the pretence of relieving his master from the cares of government, he persuaded him to retire to a distance from Rome. The emperor, indolent and luxurious, approved of the proposal, and retired into Campania, leaving to his ambitious minister the whole direction of the empire. Had Sejanus now been governed by common prudence and moderation, he might have attained to the accomplishment of all his wishes; but a natural impetuosity of temper, and the intoxication of power, precipitated him into measures which soon effected his destruction. As if entirely emancipated from the control of a master, he publicly declared himself sovereign of the Roman empire, and that Tiberius, who had by this time retired to Capri, was only the dependent prince of that tributary island. He even went so far in degrading the emperor, as to have him introduced in a ridiculous light upon the stage. Advice of Sejanus’s proceedings was soon carried to the emperor at Capri; his indignation was immediately excited; and with a confidence founded upon an authority exercised for several years, he sent orders for accusing Sejanus (246) before the senate. This mandate no sooner arrived, than the audacious minister was deserted by his adherents; he was in a short time after seized without resistance, and strangled in prison the same day.
Human nature recoils with horror at the cruelties of this execrable tyrant, who, having first imbrued his hands in the blood of his own relations, proceeded to exercise them upon the public with indiscriminate fury. Neither age nor sex afforded any exemption from his insatiable thirst for blood. Innocent children were condemned to death, and butchered in the presence of their parents; virgins, without any imputed guilt, were sacrificed to a similar destiny; but there being an ancient custom of not strangling females in that situation, they were first deflowered by the executioner, and afterwards strangled, as if an atrocious addition to cruelty could sanction the exercise of it. Fathers were constrained by violence to witness the death of their own children; and even the tears of a mother, at the execution of her child, were punished as a capital offence. Some extraordinary calamities, occasioned by accident, added to the horrors of the reign. A great number of houses on Mount Caelius were destroyed by fire; and by the fall of a temporary building at Fidenae, erected for the purpose of exhibiting public shows, about twenty thousand persons were either greatly hurt, or crushed to death in the rains.
By another fire which afterwards broke out, a part of the Circus was destroyed, with the numerous buildings on Mount Aventine. The only act of munificence displayed by Tiberius during his reign, was upon the occasion of those fires, when, to qualify the severity of his government, he indemnified the most considerable sufferers for the loss they had sustained.
Through the whole of his life, Tiberius seems to have conducted himself with a uniform repugnance to nature. Affable on a few occasions, but in general averse to society, he indulged, from his earliest years, a moroseness of disposition, which counterfeited the appearance of austere virtue; and in the decline of life, when it is common to reform from juvenile indiscretions, he launched forth into excesses, of a kind the most unnatural and most detestable. Considering the vicious passions which had ever brooded in his heart, it may seem surprising that he restrained himself within the bounds of decency during so many years after his accession; but though utterly destitute of reverence or affection for his mother, he still felt, during her life, a filial awe upon his mind: and after her death, he was actuated by a slavish fear of Sejanus, until at last political necessity absolved him likewise from this restraint. These checks being both removed, (247) he rioted without any control, either from sentiment or authority.
Pliny relates, that the art of making glass malleable was actually discovered under the reign of Tiberius, and that the shop and tools of the artist were destroyed, lest, by the establishment of this invention, gold and silver should lose their value. Dion adds, that the author of the discovery was put to death.
The gloom which darkened the Roman capital during this melancholy period, shed a baleful influence on the progress of science throughout the empire, and literature languished during the present reign, in the same proportion as it had flourished in the preceding. It is doubtful whether such a change might not have happened in some degree, even had the government of Tiberius been equally mild with that of his predecessor. The prodigious fame of the writers of the Augustan age, by repressing emulation, tended to a general diminution of the efforts of genius for some time; while the banishment of Ovid, it is probable, and the capital punishment of a subsequent poet, for censuring the character of Agamemnon, operated towards the farther discouragement of poetical exertions. There now existed no circumstance to counterbalance these disadvantages. Genius no longer found a patron either in the emperor or his minister; and the gates of the palace were shut against all who cultivated the elegant pursuits of the Muses. Panders, catamites, assassins, wretches stained with every crime, were the constant attendants, as the only fit companions, of the tyrant who now occupied the throne. We are informed, however, that even this emperor had a taste for the liberal arts, and that he composed a lyric poem upon the death of Lucius Caesar, with some Greek poems in imitation of Euphorion, Rhianus, and Parthenius. But none of these has been transmitted to posterity: and if we should form an opinion of them upon the principle of Catullus, that to be a good poet one ought to be a good man, there is little reason to regret that they have perished.
We meet with no poetical production in this reign; and of prose writers the number is inconsiderable, as will appear from the following account of them.——
VELLEIUS PATERCULUS was born of an equestrian family in Campania, and served as a military tribune under Tiberius, in his expeditions in Gaul and Germany. He composed an Epitome of the History of Greece and Rome, with that of other nations of remote antiquity: but of this work there only remain fragments of the history of Greece and Rome, from the conquest of Perseus to the seventeenth year of the reign of Tiberius. It is written in two books, addressed to Marcus Vinicius, who had (248) the office of consul. Rapid in the narrative, and concise as well as elegant in style, this production exhibits a pleasing epitome of ancient transactions, enlivened occasionally with anecdotes, and an expressive description of characters. In treating of the family of Augustus, Paterculus is justly liable to the imputation of partiality, which he incurs still more in the latter period of his history, by the praise which is lavished on Tiberius and his minister Sejanus. He intimates a design of giving a more full account of the civil war which followed the death of Julius Caesar; but this, if he ever accomplished it, has not been transmitted to posterity. Candid, but decided in his judgment of motives and actions, if we except his invectives against Pompey, he shows little propensity to censure; but in awarding praise, he is not equally parsimonious, and, on some occasions, risks the imputation of hyperbole. The grace, however, and the apparent sincerity with which it is bestowed, reconcile us to the compliment. This author concludes his history with a prayer for the prosperity of the Roman empire.——
VALERIUS MAXIMUS was descended of a Patrician family; but we learn nothing more concerning him, than that for some time he followed a military life under Sextus Pompey. He afterwards betook himself to writing, and has left an account, in nine books, of the memorable apophthegms and actions of eminent persons; first of the Romans, and afterwards of foreign nations. The subjects are of various kinds, political, moral, and natural, ranged into distinct classes. His transitions from one subject to another are often performed with gracefulness; and where he offers any remarks, they generally show the author to be a man of judgment and observation. Valerius Maximus is chargeable with no affectation of style, but is sometimes deficient in that purity of language which might be expected in the age of Tiberius, to whom the work is addressed. What inducement the author had to this dedication, we know not; but as it is evident from a passage in the ninth book, that the compliment was paid after the death of Sejanus, and consequently in the most shameful period of Tiberius’s reign, we cannot entertain any high opinion of the independent spirit of Valerius Maximus, who could submit to flatter a tyrant, in the zenith of infamy and detestation. But we cannot ascribe the cause to any delicate artifice, of conveying to Tiberius, indirectly, an admonition to reform his conduct. Such an expedient would have only provoked the severest resentment from his jealousy.——
PHAEDRUS was a native of Thrace, and was brought to Rome as a slave. He had the good fortune to come into the service of Augustus, where, improving his talents by reading, he obtained (249) the favour of the emperor, and was made one of his freedmen. In the reign of Tiberius, he translated into Iambic verse the Fables of Aesop. They are divided into five books, and are not less conspicuous for precision and simplicity of thought, than for purity and elegance of style; conveying moral sentiments with unaffected ease and impressive energy. Phaedrus underwent, for some time, a persecution from Sejanus, who, conscious of his own delinquency, suspected that he was obliquely satirised in the commendations bestowed on virtue by the poet. The work of Phaedrus is one of the latest which have been brought to light since the revival of learning. It remained in obscurity until two hundred years ago, when it was discovered in a library at Rheims.——
HYGINUS is said to have been a native of Alexandria, or, according to others, a Spaniard. He was, like Phaedrus, a freedman of Augustus; but, though industrious, he seems not to have improved himself so much as his companion, in the art of composition. He wrote, however, a mythological history, under the title of Fables, a work called Poeticon Astronomicon, with a treatise on agriculture, commentaries on Virgil, the lives of eminent men, and some other productions now lost. His remaining works are much mutilated, and, if genuine, afford an unfavourable specimen of his elegance and correctness as a writer.
CELSUS was a physician in the time of Tiberius, and has written eight books, De Medicina, in which he has collected and digested into order all that is valuable on the subject, in the Greek and Roman authors. The professors of Medicine were at that time divided into three sects, viz., the Dogmatists, Empirics, and Methodists; the first of whom deviated less than the others from the plan of Hippocrates; but they were in general irreconcilable to each other, in respect both of their opinions and practice. Celsus, with great judgment, has occasionally adopted particular doctrines from each of them; and whatever he admits into his system, he not only establishes by the most rational observations, but confirms by its practical utility. In justness of remark, in force of argument, in precision and perspicuity, as well as in elegance of expression, he deservedly occupies the most distinguished rank amongst the medical writers of antiquity. It appears that Celsus likewise wrote on agriculture, rhetoric, and military affairs; but of those several treatises no fragments now remain.
To the writers of this reign we must add APICIUS COELIUS, who has left a book De Re Coquinaria [of Cookery]. There were three Romans of the name of Apicius, all remarkable for their (250) gluttony. The first lived in the time of the Republic, the last in that of Trajan, and the intermediate Apicius under the emperors Augustus and Tiberius. This man, as Seneca informs us, wasted on luxurious living, sexcenties sestertium, a sum equal to 484,375 pounds sterling. Upon examining the state of his affairs, he found that there remained no more of his estate than centies sestertium, 80,729l. 3s. 4d., which seeming to him too small to live upon, he ended his days by poison.
[ Among the Romans, all the descendants from one common stock were called Gentiles, being of the same race or kindred, however remote. The Gens, as they termed this general relation or clanship, was subdivided into families, in Familias vel Stirpes; and those of the same family were called Agnati. Relations by the father’s side were also called Agnati, to distinguish them from Cognati, relations only by the mother’s side. An Agnatus might also be called Cognatus, but not the contrary.] To mark the different gentes and familiae, and to distinguish the individuals of the same family, the Romans had commonly three names, the Praenomen, Nomen, and Cognomen. The praenomen was put first, and marked the individual. It was usually written with one letter; as A. for Aulus; C. Caius; D. Decimus: sometimes with two letters; as Ap. for Appius; Cn. Cneius; and sometimes with three; as Mam. for Mamercus.] The Nomen was put after the Praenomen, and marked the gens. It commonly ended in ius; as Julius, Tullius, Cornelius. The Cognomen was put last, and marked the familia; as Cicero, Caesar, etc.] Some gentes appear to have had no surname, as the Marian; and gens and familia seem sometimes to be put one for the other; as the Fabia gens, or Fabia familia.] Sometimes there was a fourth name, properly called the Agnomen, but sometimes likewise Cognomen, which was added on account of some illustrious action or remarkable event. Thus Scipio was named Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, from the conquest of Carthage. In the same manner, his brother was called Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus. Thus also, Quintus Fabius Maximus received the Agnomen of Cunctator, from his checking the victorious career of Hannibal by avoiding a battle.]
[ A.U.C. 474.]
[ A.U.C. 490.]
[ A.U.C. 547.]
[ A.U.C. 304.]
[ An ancient Latin town on the Via Appia, the present road to Naples, mentioned by St. Paul, Acts xxviii. 15, and Horace, Sat. i. 5, 3, in giving an account of their travels.]
[ A.U.C. 505.]
[ Cybele; first worshipped in Phrygia, about Mount Ida, from whence a sacred stone, the symbol of her divinity, probably an aerolite, was transported to Rome, in consequence of the panic occasioned by Hannibal’s invasion, A.U.C. 508.]
[ A.U.C. 695.]
[ A.U.C. 611.]
[ A.U.C. 550.]
[ A.U.C. 663.]
[ A.U.C. 707.]
[ These, and other towns in the south of France, became, and long continued, the chief seats of Roman civilization among the Gauls; which is marked by the magnificent remains of ancient art still to be seen. Arles, in particular, is a place of great interest.]
[ A.U.C. 710.]
[ A.U.C. 713.]
[ A.U.C. 712. Before Christ about 39.]
[ A.U.C. 744.]
[ A.U.C. 735.]
[ See before, in the reign of AUGUSTUS, c. xxxii.]
[ A.U.C. 728.]
[ A.U.C. 734.]
[ A.U.C. 737.]
[ A.U.C. 741.]
[ A.U.C. 747.]
[ A.U.C. 748.]
[ Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber, about thirteen miles from the city, was founded by Ancus Martius. Being the port of a city like Rome, it could not fail to become opulent; and it was a place of much resort, ornamented with fine edifices, and the environs “never failing of pasture in the summer time, and in the winter covered with roses and other flowers.” The port having been filled up with the depositions of the Tiber, it became deserted, and is now abandoned to misery and malaria. The bishopric of Ostia being the oldest in the Roman church, its bishop has always retained some peculiar privileges.]
[ The Gymnasia were places of exercise, and received their name from the Greek word signifying naked, because the contending parties wore nothing but drawers.]
[ A.U.C. 752.]
[ The cloak and slippers, as distinguished from the Roman toga and shoes.]
[ A.U.C. 755.]
[ This fountain, in the Euganian hills, near Padua, famous for its mineral waters, is celebrated by Claudian in one of his elegies.]
[ The street called Carinae, at Rome, has been mentioned before; AUGUSTUS, c. v.; and also Mecaenas’ house on the Esquiline, ib. c. lxxii. The gardens were formed on ground without the walls, and before used as a cemetery for malefactors, and the lower classes. Horace says— Nunc licet Esquiliis habitare salubribus, atque
Aggere in aprico spatiari.—Sat. 1. i. viii. 13.] 318
[ A.U.C. 757.]
[ A.U.C. 760.]
[ A.U.C. 762.]
[ Reviving the simple habits of the times of the republic; “nec fortuitum cernere cespitem,” as Horace describes it.—Ode 15.]
[ A.U.C. 765.]
[ The portico of the temple of Concord is still standing on the side of the Forum nearest the Capitol. It consists of six Ionic columns, each of one piece, and of a light-coloured granite, with bases and capitals of white marble, and two columns at the angles. The temple of Castor and Pollux has been mentioned before: JUL. c. x.]
[ A.U.C. 766.]
[ A.U.C. 767.]
[ Augustus interlards this epistle, and that subsequently quoted, with Greek sentences and phrases, of which this is one. It is so obscure, that commentators suppose that it is a mis-reading, but are not agreed on its drift.]
[ A verse in which the word in italics is substituted for cunctando, quoted from Ennius, who applied it to Fabius Maximus.]
[ Iliad, B. x. Diomede is speaking of Ulysses, where he asks that he may accompany him as a spy into the Trojan camp.]
[ Tiberius had adopted Germanicus. See before, c. xv. See also CALIGULA, c. i.]
[ In this he imitated Augustus. See c. liii. of his life.]
[ Si hanc fenestram aperueritis, if you open that window, equivalent to our phrase, “if you open the door.”]
[ Princeps, principatus, are the terms generally used by Suetonius to describe the supreme authority vested in the Caesars, as before at the beginning of chap. xxiv., distinguished from any terms which conveyed of kingly power, the forms of the republic, as we have lately seen, still subsisting.]
[ Strenas; the French etrennes.]
[ “Tiberius pulled down the temple of Isis, caused her image to be thrown into the Tiber, and crucified her priests.”—Joseph. Ant. Jud. xviii. 4.]
[ Similia sectantes. We are strongly inclined to think that the words might be rendered “similar sects,” conveying an allusion to the small and obscure body of Christians, who were at this period generally confounded with the Jews, and supposed only to differ from them in some peculiarities of their institutions, which Roman historians and magistrates did not trouble themselves to distinguish. How little even the well-informed Suetonius knew of the real facts, we shall find in the only direct notice of the Christians contained in his works (CLAUDIUS c. xxv., NERO, c. xvi.); but that little confirms our conjecture. All the commentators, however, give the passage the turn retained in the text. Josephus informs us of the particular occurrence which led to the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by Tiberius.—Ant. xviii. 5.]
[ Varro tells us that the Roman people “were more actively employed (manus movere) in the theatre and circus, than in the corn-fields and vineyards.”—De Re Rustic. ii. And Juvenal, in his satires, frequently alludes to their passion for public spectacles, particularly in the well-known lines— ————Atque duas tantum res serrius optat,
Panem et Circenses. Sat. x. 80.]
[ The Cottian Alps derived their name from this king. They include that part of the chain which divides Dauphiny from Piedmont, and are crossed by the pass of the Mont Cenis.]
[ Antium, mentioned before, (AUG. c. lviii.) once a flourishing city of the Volscians, standing on the sea-coast, about thirty-eight miles from Rome, was a favourite resort of the emperors and persons of wealth. The Apollo Belvidere was found among the ruins of its temples and other edifices.]
[ A.U.C. 779.]
[ Terracina, standing at the southern extremity of the Pontine Marshes, on the shore of the Mediterranean. It is surrounded by high calcareous cliffs, in which there are caverns, affording, as Strabo informs us, cool retreats, attached to the Roman villas built round.]
[ Augustus died at Nola, a city in Campania. See c. lviii. of his life.]
[ Fidenae stood in a bend of the Tiber, near its junction with the Anio. There are few traces of it remaining.]
[ That any man could drink an amphora of wine at a draught, is beyond all credibility; for the amphora was nearly equal to nine gallons, English measure. The probability is, that the man had emptied a large vessel, which was shaped like an amphora.]
[ Capri, the luxurious retreat and scene of the debaucheries of the Roman emperors, is an island off the southern point of the bay of Naples, about twelve miles in circumference.]
[ Pan, the god of the shepherds, and inventor of the flute, was said to be the son of Mercury and Penelope. He was worshipped chiefly in Arcadia, and represented with the horns and feet of a goat. The Nymphs, as well as the Graces, were represented naked.]
[ The name of the island having a double meaning, and signifying also a goat.]
[ “Quasi pueros primae teneritudinis, quos ‘pisciculos’ vocabat, institueret, ut natanti sibi inter femina versarentur, ac luderent: lingua morsuque sensim appetentes; atque etiam quasi infantes firmiores, necdum tamen lacte depulsos, inguini ceu papillae admoveret: pronior sane ad id genus libidinis, et natura et aetate.”]
[ “Foeminarum capitibus solitus illudere.”]
[ “Obscoenitate oris hirsuto atque olido.”]
[ “Hircum vetulum capreis naturam ligurire”]
[ The Temple of Vesta, like that dedicated to the same goddess at Tivoli, is round. There was probably one on the same site, and in the same circular form, erected by Numa Pompilius; the present edifice is far too elegant for that age, but there is no record of its erection, but it is known to have been repaired by Vespasian or Domitian after being injured by Nero’s fire. Its situation, near the Tiber, exposed it to floods, from which we find it suffered, from Horace’s lines— “Vidimus flavum Tiberim, retortis
Littore Etrusco violenter undis,
Ire dejectum monumenta Regis,
Templaque Vestae.”—Ode, lib. i. 2. 15.
This beautiful temple is still in good preservation. It is surrounded by twenty columns of white marble, and the wall of the cell, or interior (which is very small, its diameter being only the length of one of the columns), is also built of blocks of the same material, so nicely joined, that it seems to be formed of one solid mass.]
[ Antlia; a machine for drawing up water in a series of connected buckets, which was worked by the feet, nisu pedum.]
[ The elder Livia was banished to this island by Augustus. See c. lxv. of his life.]
[ An island in the Archipelago.]
[ This Theodore is noticed by Quintilian, Instit. iii. 1. Gadara was in Syria.]
[ It mattered not that the head substituted was Tiberius’s own.]
[ The verses were probably anonymous.]
[ Oderint dum probent: Caligula used a similar expression; Oderint dum metuant.]
[ A.U.C. 778. Tacit. Annal. iv. The historian’s name was A. Cremutius Cordo. Dio has preserved the passage, xlvii. p. 619. Brutus had already called Cassius “The last of the Romans,” in his lamentation over his dead body.]
[ She was the sister of Germanicus, and Tacitus calls her Livia; but Suetonius is in the habit of giving a fondling or diminutive term to the names of women, as Claudilla, for Claudia, Plautilla, etc.]
[ Priam is said to have had no less than fifty sons and daughters; some of the latter, however, survived him, as Hecuba, Helena, Polyxena, and others.]
[ There were oracles at Antium and Tibur. The “Praenestine Lots” are described by Cicero, De Divin. xi. 41.]
[ Agrippina, and Nero and Drusus.]
[ He is mentioned before in the Life of AUGUSTUS, c. xc.; and also by Horace, Cicero, and Tacitus.]
[ Obscure Greek poets, whose writings were either full of fabulous stories, or of an amatory kind.]
[ It is suggested that the text should be amended, so that the sentence should read—“A Greek soldier;” for of what use could it have been to examine a man in Greek, and not allow him to give his replies in the same language?]
[ So called from Appius Claudius, the Censor, one of Tiberius’s ancestors, who constructed it. It took a direction southward of Rome, through Campania to Brundusium, starting from what is the present Porta di San Sebastiano, from which the road to Naples takes its departure.]
[ A small town on the coast of Latium, not far from Antium, and the present Nettuno. It was here that Cicero was slain by the satellites of Antony.]
[ A town on a promontory of the same dreary coast, between Antium and Terracina, built on a promontory surrounded by the sea and the marsh, still called Circello.]
[ Misenum, a promontory to which Aeneas is said to have given its name from one of his followers. (Aen. ii. 234.) It is now called Capo di Miseno, and shelters the harbour of Mola di Gaieta, belonging to Naples. This was one of the stations of the Roman fleet.]
[ Tacitus agrees with Suetonius as to the age of Tiberius at the time of his death. Dio states it more precisely, as being seventy-seven years, four months, and nine days.]
[ Caius Caligula, who became his successor.]
[ Tacitus and Dio add that he was smothered under a heap of heavy clothes.]
[ In the temple of the Palatine Apollo. See AUGUSTUS, c. xxix.]
[ Atella, a town between Capua and Naples, now called San Arpino, where there was an amphitheatre. The people seemed to have raised the shout in derision, referring, perhaps, to the Atellan fables, mentioned in c. xiv.; and in their fury they proposed that his body should only be grilled, as those of malefactors were, instead of being reduced to ashes.]
[ Tacit. Annal. lib. ii.]
[ A.U.C. 757.]
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