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I.71‑81

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Annals

of
Tacitus

published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition of Tacitus, 1931

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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II.27‑46

(Vol. III) Tacitus
Annals

Book II (beginning)

p385 1 1 With the consulate of Statilius Sisenna1 and Lucius Libo came an upheaval among the independent kingdoms and Roman provinces of the East. The movement started with the Parthians, who despised as an alien the sovereign whom they had sought and received from Rome, member though he was of the Arsacian house.2 This was Vonones, once given by Phraates3 as a hostage to Augustus. For, though he had thrown back Roman armies and commanders, to the emperor Phraates had observed every point of respect, and, to knit the friendship closer, had sent him part of his family, more from distrust of his countrymen's loyalty than from any awe of ourselves.

2 1 After domestic murders had made an end of Phraates and his successors, a deputation from the Parthian nobility arrived in Rome, to summon Vonones,4 as the eldest of his children, to the throne. The Caesar took this as an honour to himself and presented the youth with a considerable sum. The barbarians, too, accepted him with the pleasure they usually evince at a change of sovereigns. It quickly gave place to shame:— "The Parthians had degenerated: they had gone to another continent for a king tainted with the enemy's arts, and now the throne of the Arsacidae was held, or given away, as one of the provinces of Rome. Where was the glory p387of the men who slew Crassus5 and ejected Antony, if a chattel of the Caesar, who had brooked his bondage through all these years, was to govern Parthians?" Their contempt was heightened by the man himself, with his remoteness from ancestral traditions, his rare appearances in the hunting-field, his languid interest in horseflesh,6 his use of a litter when passing through the towns, and his disdain of the national banquets.7 Other subjects for mirth were his Greek retinue and his habit of keeping even the humblest household necessaries under seal. His easy accessibility, on the other hand, and his unreserved courtesy — virtues unknown to Parthia — were construed as exotic vices; and the good and ill in him, as they were equally strange to the national character, were impartially abhorred.

3 1 Consequently Artabanus,8 an Arsacian of the blood, who had grown to manhood among the Dahae,9 was brought into the lists, and, though routed in the first engagement, rallied his forces and seized the kingdom.

The defeated Vonones found shelter in Armenia, then a masterless land between the Parthian and Roman empires — a dubious neighbour to the latter owing to the criminal action of Antony, who, after entrapping the late king, Artavasdes, by a parade of friendship, had then thrown him into irons and finally executed him.10 His son Artaxias, hostile to p389ourselves on account of his father's memory, was able to protect himself and his crown by the arms of the Arsacidae. After his assassination by the treachery of his own relatives, the Caesar assigned Tigranes to Armenia, and he was settled in his dominions by Tiberius Nero. Tigranes' term of royalty was brief; and so was that of his children, though associated by the regular oriental ties of marriage and joint government.11

4 1 In the next place, by the mandate of Augustus, Artavasdes was imposed upon his countrymen — only to be shaken off, not without a measure of discredit to our arms. Then came the appointment of Gaius Caesar12 to compose the affairs of Armenia. He gave the crown to Ariobarzanes, a Mede13 by extraction; to whose good looks and brilliant qualities the Armenians raised no objection. But when an accident carried off Ariobarzanes, their tolerance did not reach to his family; and after an experiment in female government with a queen called Erato, who was quickly expelled, the drifting, disintegrated people, ownerless rather than emancipated, welcomed the fugitive Vonones to the throne. But as Artabanus became threatening little support could be expected from the Armenians, while the armed protection of Rome would entail a Parthian war, Creticus Silanus, governor of Syria, obtained his eviction, and placed him under a surveillance which still left him his luxuries and his title. His attempt to escape from this toy court we shall notice in its proper place.14

p391 5 1 For Tiberius the disturbances in the East were a not unwelcome accident, as they supplied him with a pretext for removing Germanicus from his familiar legions and appointing him to unknown provinces, where he would be vulnerable at once to treachery and chance. But the keener the devotion of his soldiers and the deeper the aversion of his uncle, the more anxious grew the prince to accelerate his victory; and he began to consider the ways and means of battle in the light of the failures and successes which had fallen to his share during the past two years of campaigning. In a set engagement and on a fair field, the Germans, he reflected, were beaten — their advantage lay in the forests and swamps, the short summer and the premature winter. His own men were not so much affected by their wounds as by the dreary marches and the loss of their weapons. The Gallic provinces were weary of furnishing horses; and a lengthy baggage-train was easy to waylay and awkward to defend. But if they ventured on the sea, occupation would be easy for themselves and undetected by the enemy; while the campaign might begin at an earlier date, and the legions and supplies be conveyed together: the cavalry and horse would be taken up-stream through the river-mouths and landed fresh in the centre of Germany.

6 1 To this course, then, he bent his attention. Publius Vitellius and Gaius Antius were sent to assess the Gallic tribute: Silius and Caecina were made responsible for the construction of a fleet. A thousand vessels were considered enough, and these were built at speed. Some were short craft with very little poop or prow, and broad-bellied, the more p393easily to withstand a heavy sea: others had flat bottoms, enabling them to run aground without damage; while still more were fitted with rudders at each end, so as to head either way the moment the oarsmen reversed their stroke. Many had a deck-flooring to carry the military engines, though they were equally useful for transporting horses or supplies. The whole armada, equipped at once for sailing or propulsion by the oar, was a striking and formidable spectacle, rendered still more so by the enthusiasm of the soldiers. The Isle of Batavia15 was fixed for the meeting-place, since it afforded an easy landing and was convenient both as a rendezvous for the troops and as the base for a campaign across the water. For the Rhine, which so far has flowed in a single channel, save only where it circles some unimportant islet, branches at the Batavian frontier into what may be regarded as two rivers. On the German side, it runs unchanged in name and vehemence till its juncture with the North Sea:16 the Gallic bank it washes with a wider, gentler stream, known locally as the Waal, though before long it changes its style once more and becomes the river Meuse, through whose immense estuary it discharges, also into the North Sea.

7 1 However, while the ships were coming in, the Caesar ordered his lieutenant Silius to take a mobile force and raid the Chattan territory: he himself, hearing that the fort on the Lippe17 was invested, led six legions to its relief. But neither could Silius, in consequence of the sudden rains, effect anything beyond carrying off a modest quantity of booty, together with the wife and daughter of the Chattan chief, Arpus, nor did the besiegers allow the prince p395an opportunity of battle, but melted away at the rumour of his approach. Still, they had demolished the funeral mound just raised in memory of the Varian legions,18 as well as an old altar set up to Drusus. He restored the altar and himself headed the legions in the celebrations in honour of his father; the tumulus it was decided not to reconstruct. In addition, the whole stretch of country between Fort Aliso19 and the Rhine was thoroughly fortified with a fresh line of barriers and earthworks.

8 1 The fleet had now arrived. Supplies were sent forward, ships assigned to the legionaries and allies, and he entered the so‑called Drusian Fosse.20 After a prayer to his father, beseeching him of his grace and indulgence to succour by the example and memory of his wisdom and prowess a son who had ventured in his footsteps,21 he pursued his voyage through the lakes22 and the high sea, and reached the Ems without misadventure. The fleet stayed in the mouth of the river on the left side, and an error was committed in not carrying the troops further upstream or disembarking them on the right bank for which they were bound; the consequence being that several days were wasted in bridge-building. The estuaries immediately adjoining were crossed intrepidly enough by the cavalry and legions, before the tide had begun to flow: the auxiliaries in the extreme rear and the Batavians in the same part of the line, while dashing into the water and exhibiting their powers of swimming, were thrown into disorder, and a number of them drowned. As the Caesar p397was arranging his encampment, news came of an Angrivarian23 rising in his rear: Stertinius, who was instantly despatched with a body of horse and light-armed infantry, repaid the treachery with fire and bloodshed.

9 1 The river Weser ran between the Roman and Cheruscan forces. Arminius came to the bank and halted with his fellow chieftains:— "Had the Caesar come?" he inquired.24 On receiving the reply that he was in presence, he asked to be allowed to speak with his brother. That brother, Flavus by name, was serving in the army, a conspicuous figure both from his loyalty and from the loss of an eye through a wound received some few years before during Tiberius' term of command. Leave was granted, <and Stertinius took him down to the river>.25 Walking forward, he was greeted by Arminius; who, dismissing his own escort, demanded that the archers posted along our side of the stream should be also withdrawn. When these had retired, he asked his brother, whence the disfigurement of his face? On being told the place and battle, he inquired what reward he had received. Flavus mentioned his increased pay, the chain, the crown, and other military decorations; Arminius scoffed at the cheap rewards of servitude.

10 1 They now began to argue from their opposite points of view. Flavus insisted on "Roman greatness, the power of the Caesar; the heavy penalties for the vanquished; the mercy always waiting for him who submitted himself. Even Arminius' wife and child were not treated as enemies." His brother p399urged "the sacred call of their country; their ancestral liberty; the gods of their German hearths; and their mother, who prayed, with himself, that he would not choose the title of renegade and traitor to his kindred, to the kindred of his wife, to the whole of his race in fact, before that of their liberator." From this point they drifted, little by little, into recriminations; and not even the intervening river would have prevented a duel, had not Stertinius run up and laid a restraining hand on Flavus, who in the fullness of his anger was calling for his weapons and his horse. On the other side Arminius was visible, shouting threats and challenging to battle: for he kept interjecting much in Latin, as he had seen service in the Roman camp as a captain of native auxiliaries.

11 1 On the morrow, the German line drew up beyond the Weser. The Caesar, as he held it doubtful generalship to risk the legions without providing adequately guarded bridges, sent his cavalry across by a ford. Stertinius and Aemilius — a retired centurion of the first rank26 — were in command, and, in order to distract the enemy, delivered the assault at widely separate points: where the current ran fiercest, Chariovalda, the Batavian leader, dashed out. By a feigned retreat the Cherusci drew him on to a level piece of ground fringed with woods: then, breaking cover, they streamed out from all quarters, overwhelmed the Batavians where they stood their ground, harassed them where they retired, and, when they rallied in circular formation, flung them back, partly by hand-to‑hand fighting, partly by discharges of missiles. After long sustaining the fury of the enemy, Chariovalda exhorted his men to hack a way, p401in mass, through the assailing bands; then threw himself into the thickest of the struggle, and fell under a shower of spears, with his horse stabbed under him and many of his nobles around. The rest were extricated from danger by their own efforts or by the mounted men who advanced to the rescue under Stertinius and Aemilius.

12 1 After crossing the Weser, Germanicus gathered from the indications of a deserter that Arminius had chosen his ground for battle: that other nations also had mustered at the holy forest of Hercules,27 and that the intention was to hazard a night attack on the camp. The informer's account carried conviction: indeed, the German fires could be discerned; and scouts, who ventured closer up, came in with the news that they could hear the neigh of horses and the murmur of a vast and tumultuous array. The Caesar, who thought it desirable, with the supreme decision hard at hand, to probe the feeling of his troops, debated with himself how to ensure that the experiment should be genuine. The reports of tribunes and centurions were more often cheering than accurate; the freedman was a slave at heart; in friends there was a strain of flattery; should he convoke an assembly, even there a few men gave the lead and the rest applauded. He must penetrate into the soldiers' thoughts while, private and unguarded, they expressed their hope or fear over their rations.

13 1 At fall of night, leaving his pavilion by a secret outlet unknown to the sentries, with a single attendant, a wild-beast's skin over his shoulders,28 he turned into the streets of the camp, stood by the tents and tasted his own popularity, while the men — p403serious or jesting but unanimous — praised some the commander's lineage, others his looks, the most his patience and his courtesy; admitting that they must settle their debt of gratitude in the field and at the same time sacrifice to glory and revenge their perfidious and treaty-breaking foe. In the midst of all this, one of the enemy, with a knowledge of Latin, galloped up to the wall, and in loud tones proffered to each deserter in the name of Arminius, wives and lands and a daily wage of one hundred sesterces29 for the duration of the war. This insult fired the anger of the legions:— "Wait till the day broke and they had the chance of battle! The Roman soldier would help himself to German lands and come back dragging German wives. The omen was welcome: the enemy's women and his money were marked down for prey!" — Some time about the third watch, a demonstration was made against the camp, though not a spear was thrown, when the assailants realized that the ramparts were lined with cohorts and that no precaution had been omitted.

14 1 The same night brought Germanicus a reassuring vision: for he dreamed that he was offering sacrifice, and that — as his vestment was bespattered with the blood of the victim — he had received another, more beautiful, from the hand of his grandmother, Augusta. Elated by the omen, and finding the auspices favourable, he summoned a meeting of the troops and laid before them the measures his knowledge had suggested and the points likely to be of service in the coming struggle:— "A plain was not the only battle-field favourable to a Roman soldier: if he used judgment, woods and glades were equally suitable. The barbarians' p405huge shields, their enormous spears, could not be so manageable among tree-trunks and springing brushwood as the pilum, the short sword, and close-fitting body-armour. Their policy was to strike thick and fast, and to direct the point to the face. The Germans carried neither corselet nor headpiece — not even shields with a toughening of metal or hide, but targes of wickerwork or thin, painted board. Their first line alone carried spears of a fashion: the remainder had only darts, fire-pointed or too short. Their bodies, again, while grim enough to the eye and powerful enough for a short-lived onset, lacked the stamina to support a wound. They were men who could turn and run without a thought for their leaders, faint-hearted in adversary, in success regardless of divine and human law. — If they were weary of road and sea,30 and desired the end, this battle could procure it. Already the Elbe was nearer than the Rhine, and there would be no fighting further,31 if once, treading as he was in the footsteps of his father and his uncle, they established him victorious in the same region!"

15 1 The commander's speech was followed by an outbreak of military ardour, and the signal was given to engage.

Nor did Arminius or the other German chieftains fail to call their several clans to witness that "these were the Romans of Varus' army who had been the quickest to run, men who rather than face war had resorted to mutiny; half of whom were again exposing their spear-scored backs, half their wave and tempest-broken limbs, to a revengeful foe, under the frowns of Heaven and hopeless of success! For it p407was to ships and pathless seas they had had recourse, so that none might oppose them as they came or chase them when they fled. But if once the fray was joined, winds and oars were a vain support for beaten men! — They had only to remember Roman greed, cruelty, and pride: was there another course left for them but to hold their freedom or to die before enslavement?"

16 1 Thus inflamed and clamouring for battle, they followed their leaders down into a plain known as Idisiaviso.32 Lying between the Weser and the hills, it winds irregularly along, with here a concession from the river and there an encroachment by some mountain-spur. Behind rose the forest, lifting its branches high in air, and leaving the ground clear between the trunks. The barbarian line was posted on the level and along the skirts of the wood: the Cherusci alone were planted on the hill-tops, ready to charge from the height when the Romans engaged. Our army advanced in the following order: in the van, the auxiliary Gauls and Germans with the unmounted archers behind; next, four legions, and the Caesar with two praetorian cohorts and the flower of the cavalry; then, four other legions, the light-armed troops with the mounted archers and the rest of the allied cohorts. The men were alert and ready, so arranged that the order of march could come to a halt in line of battle.

17 1 On sighting the Cheruscan bands, whose wild hardihood had led them to dash forward, the prince ordered his best cavalry to charge the flank; Stertinius with the remaining squadrons was to ride round and attack the rear, while he himself would not be wanting when the time came. Meanwhile p409his attention was arrested by a curiously happy omen — eight33 eagles seen aiming for, and entering, the glades. "Forward," he exclaimed, "and follow the birds of Rome, the guardian spirits of the legions!" At the same moment the line of infantry charged and the advanced cavalry broke into the rear and flanks. Thus, remarkably enough, two columns of the enemy were following directly opposed lines of flight — the troops who had held the forest, rushing into the open; those who had been stationed in the plain, diving into the forest. Midway between both, the Cherusci were being pushed from the hills — among them the unmistakable figure of Arminius, striking, shouting, bleeding, in his effort to maintain the struggle. He had flung himself on the archers, and would have broken through at that point, had not the Raetian, Vindelician, and Gallic cohorts opposed their standards. Even so, a great physical effort, together with the impetus of his horse, carried him clear. To avoid recognition, he had stained his face with his own blood; though, according to some authorities, the Chauci serving among the Roman auxiliaries knew him and gave him passage. The like courage or the like treachery won escape for Inguiomerus: the rest were butchered in crowds. Numbers were overwhelmed in an attempt to swim the Weser, at first by the discharge of spears or the sweep of the current, later by the weight of the plunging masses and the collapse of the river-banks. Some clambered to an ignominious refuge in the tree-tops, and, while seeking cover among the branches, were shot down in derision by a body of archers, who had been moved up; others were brought down by felling the trees.

p411 18 1 It was a brilliant, and to us not a bloody, victory. The enemy were slaughtered from the fifth hour of daylight to nightfall, and for ten miles the ground was littered with corpses and weapons. Among the spoils were found the chains which, without a doubt of the result, they had brought in readiness for the Romans.34

After proclaiming Tiberius Imperator on the field of battle,35 the troops raised a mound, and decked it with arms in the fashion of a trophy, inscribing at the foot the names of the defeated clans.

19 1 The sight affected the Germans with an anguish and a fury which wounds, distress, and ruin had been powerless to evoke. Men, who a moment ago had been preparing to leave their homesteads and migrate across the Elbe, were now eager for battle and flew to arms. Commons and nobles, youth and age, suddenly assailed the Roman line of march and threw it into disorder. At last they fixed on a position pent in between a stream and the forests, with a narrow, waterlogged plain in the centre; the forests too were encircled by a deep swamp, except on one side, where the Angrivarii had raised a broad earthen barrier to mark the boundary between themselves and the Cherusci. Here the infantry took up their station; the mounted men they concealed in the neighbouring groves, so as to be in the rear of the legions when they entered the forest.

20 1 None of these points escaped the Caesar. He was aware of their plans, their position, their open and secret arrangements, and he proposed to turn the devices of the enemy to their own ruin. To his legate, Seius Tubero, he assigned the cavalry and the plain; the line of infantry he drew up so p413that one part should march by the level track to the forest, while the other sealed the obstacle presented by the barrier. The difficult part of the enterprise he reserved for himself, the rest he left to his deputies. The party to which the even ground had been allotted broke in without trouble; their comrades with the barrier to force, much as if they had been scaling a wall, suffered considerably from the heavy blows delivered from higher ground. Feeling that the odds were against him at close quarters, Germanicus withdrew the legionaries a short distance, and ordered his slingers and marksmen to make play with their missiles and disperse the enemy. Spears were flung from the engines; and the more conspicuous the defenders, the more numerous the wounds under which they fell. On the capture of the rampart, the Caesar charged foremost into the forest with the praetorian cohorts. There the conflict raged foot to foot. The enemy was hemmed in by the morass in his rear, the Romans by the river or the hills: the position left no choice to either, there was no hope but in courage, no salvation but from victory.

21 1 In hardihood the Germans held their own; but they were handicapped by the nature of the struggle and the weapons. Their extraordinary numbers — unable in the restricted space to extend or recover their tremendous lances, or to make use of their rushing tactics and nimbleness of body — were compelled to a standing fight; while our own men, shields tight to the breast and hand on hilt, kept thrusting at the barbarians' great limbs and bare heads and opening a bloody passage through their antagonists — Arminius being now less active, whether owing to the succession of dangers or to p415the hampering effects of his recent wound. Inguiomerus, moreover, as he flew over the battle-field, found himself deserted less by his courage than by fortune. Germanicus, also, to make recognition the easier had torn off his headpiece and was adjuring his men to press on with the carnage:— "Prisoners were needless: nothing but the extermination of the race would end the war." — At last, in the decline of the day, he withdrew one legion from the front to begin work on the camp; while the others satiated themselves with the enemies' blood till night. The cavalry engagement was indecisive.

22 1 First eulogizing the victors in an address, the Caesar raised a pile of weapons, with a legend boasting that "the army of Tiberius Caesar, after subduing the nations between the Rhine and the Elbe, had consecrated that memorial to Mars, to Jupiter, and to Augustus." Concerning himself he added nothing, either apprehending jealousy or holding the consciousness of the exploit to be enough. Shortly afterwards he commissioned Stertinius to open hostilities against the Angrivarii,36 unless they forestalled him by surrender. And they did, in fact, come to their knees, refusing nothing, and were forgiven all.

23 1 However, as summer was already at the full,37 a part of the legions were sent back to winter quarters by the land route: the majority were put on shipboard by the prince, who took them down the Ems into the North Sea. At first it was a tranquil expanse, troubled only by the sound and impulse of the sails and oars of a thousand ships. But soon p417the hail poured from a black mass of clouds, and simultaneously the waves, buffeted by conflicting gales from every quarter, began to blot out the view and impede the steering. The soldiers — struck by alarm, and unfamiliar with the sea and its hazards — nullified by their obstruction or mistimed help the services of the professional sailors. Then all heaven, all ocean, passed into the power of the south wind; which, drawing its strength from the sodden lands of Germany, the deep rivers, the endless train of clouds,38 with its grimness enhanced by the rigour of the neighbouring north, caught and scattered the vessels to the open ocean or to islands39 either beetling with crags or perilous from sunken shoals. These were avoided with time and difficulty; but, when the tide began to change and set in the same direction as the wind, it was impossible either to hold anchor or to bale out the inrushing flood. Chargers, pack-horses, baggage, even arms, were jettisoned, in order to lighten the hulls, which were leaking through the sides and overtopped by the waves.

24 1 Precisely as Ocean40 is more tempestuous than the remaining sea, and Germany unequalled in the asperity of its climate, so did that calamity transcend others in extent and novelty — around them lying hostile shores or a tract so vast and profound that it is believed the last and landless deep. Some of the ships went down; more were stranded on remote islands;41 where, in the absence of human life, the troops died of starvation, except for a few who supported themselves on the dead horses washed up on the same beach. Germanicus' galley put in to the Chaucian coast alone. Throughout all those days and nights, posted on some cliff or projection p419of the shore, he continued to exclaim that he was guilty of the great disaster; and his friends with difficulty prevented him from finding a grave in the same waters. At length, with the turning tide and a following wind, the crippled vessels began to come in, some with a few oars left, others with clothing hoisted for canvas, and a few of the weaker in tow. They were instantly refitted and sent out to examine the islands. By that act of forethought a large number of men were gathered in, while many were restored by our new subjects, the Angrivarians, who had ransomed them from the interior. A few had been swept over to Britain, and were sent back by the petty kings. Not a man returned from the distance without his tale of marvels — furious whirlwinds, unheard-of birds, enigmatic shapes half-human and half-bestial:42 things seen, or things believed in a moment of terror.

25 1 But though the rumoured loss of the fleet inspired the Germans to hope for war, it also inspired the Caesar to hold them in check. Gaius Silius he ordered to take the field against the Chatti with thirty thousand foot and three thousand horse: he himself with a larger force invaded the Marsi; whose chieftain, Mallovendus, had lately given in his submission, and now intimated that the eagle of one of Varus' legions was buried in an adjacent grove, with only a slender detachment on guard. One company was despatched immediately to draw the enemy by manoeuvring on his front; another, to work round the rear and excavate. Both were attended by good fortune; and the Caesar pushed on to the interior with all the more energy, ravaging and destroying an enemy who either dared not engage p421or was immediately routed wherever he turned to bay. It was gathered from the prisoners that the Germans had never been more completely demoralized. Their cry was that "the Romans were invincible — proof against every disaster! They had wrecked their fleet, lost their arms; the shores had been littered with the bodies of horses and men; yet they had broken in again, with the same courage, with equal fierceness, and apparently with increased numbers!"

26 1 The army was then marched back to winter quarters, elated at having balanced the maritime disaster by this fortunate expedition. Moreover, there was the liberality of the Caesar, who compensated every claimant in full for the loss he professed to have sustained. Nor was any doubt felt that the enemy was wavering and discussing an application for peace; and that with another effort in the coming summer, the war might see its close.43 But frequent letters from Tiberius counselled the prince "to return for the triumph decreed him: there had been already enough successes, and enough mischances. He had fought auspicious and great fields: he should also remember the losses inflicted by wind and wave — losses not in any way due to his leadership, yet grave and deplorable. He himself had been sent nine times into Germany by the deified Augustus; and he had effected more by policy than by force. Policy had procured the Sugambrian surrender; policy had bound the Suebi and King Maroboduus to keep the peace. The Cherusci and the other rebel tribes, now that enough has been done for Roman vengeance, might similarly be left to their intestine strife." When Germanicus p423asked for one year more in which to finish his work, he delivered a still shrewder attack on his modesty, and offered him a second consulate, the duties of which he would assume in person. A hint was appended that "if the war must be continued, he might leave his brother, Drusus, the material for a reputation; since at present there was no other national enemy, and nowhere but in the Germanies could he acquire the style of Imperator and a title to the triumphal bays." — Germanicus hesitated no longer, though he was aware that these civilities were a fiction, and that jealousy was the motive which withdrew him from a glory already within his grasp.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Statilio Tauro is correct in point of fact, but the two cognomina are against the usage of Tacitus.

2 The royal house of Parthia, lasting approximately from 250 B.C. to 230 A.D., when it fell before the new Persian Empire of the Sassanids.

3 Phraates IV (37 B.C.‑2 A.D.). The reference in the beginning of the next sentence is to Antony's great and ill-starred expedition against Parthia in 36 B.C. See Plut. Ant. 37 sqq.; D. Cass. XLIX.24 sqq.

4 Vonones I (7 or 8‑11 A.D.).

5 At Carrhae (53 B.C.).

6 The locus classicus is Justin XLI.3: Carne non nisi venatibus quaesita vescuntur. Equis omni tempore vectantur: illis bella, illis convivia, illis publica ac privata officia obeunt e.q.s.

7 Of the king with his grandees (megistanes). So, on the death of Germanicus, it was said regum etiam regem et exercitatione venandi et convictu megistanum abstinuisse, quod apud Parthos iustiti instar est (Suet. Cal. 5).º

8 Artabanus III (11‑40 A.D.).

9 A Scythian race to the south-east of the Caspian Sea.

10 The following list of Armenian sovereigns may make this and the following chapter a little clearer: 56 or 55 B.C.‑34 B.C. Artavasdes I (played Antony false in his Parthian campaign of 36 B.C.; entrapped by him two years later and handed to Cleopatra; executed by her in 30 B.C.): 33 B.C.20 B.C. Artaxias II ("nobis infensus"; massacred all Romans in his dominions): 20 B.C.‑6 B.C., approximately, a. Tigranes II ("datus a Caesare Armeniis"; established on the throne by Tiberius — see Hor. Epp. I.12.26);º b. Tigranes III and Erato (husband and wife as well as brother and sister; joint sovereigns); 6 B.C.‑1 B.C., approximately, a. Artavasdes II ("iussu Augusti impositus"); b. Tigranes III and Erato (restored): 1 B.C.‑11 A.D., approximately, a. Ariobarzanes ("origine Medus"); b. Artavasdes III (his son); c. Tigranes IV (cf. VI.40); d. Erato (again restored?): 11 or 12 A.D. Vonones.

11 The allusion, of course, is to the custom of sister-marriage — the survival probably of a period when the blood royal could be transmitted only in the female line. Familiar instances are the Carian dynasties (Mausolus-Artemisia, Idrieus-Ada) and the native and even Ptolemaic sovereigns of Egypt (Ptolemy Philadelphius-Arsinoë, Ptolemy Philopator-Arsinoë).

12 See I.3. Invested with proconsular power and sent out as vice-regent to the eastern provinces in 1 B.C., he was treacherously wounded in Armenia (3 A.D.), and died before reaching Italy (Feb. 21, 4 A.D.).

13 From Media Atropatene (Azerbeidjân), between Armenia and Media proper: an appanage of the Arsacidae.

14 See below, chap. 68.

15 The Rhine delta, as explained below.

16 Now the Old ("Crooked") Rhine — little better than a ditch — on which Utrecht and Leyden stand.

17 If this is not the Fort Aliso mentioned below, its position cannot be even conjectured.

18 See I.62.

19 Almost certainly the fort constructed by Drusus at the confluence of the Lippe and "Eliso" (ᾗ ὅ τε Λουπίας καὶ ὁ Ἐλίσων συμμίγνυνται, D. Cass. LIV.33). If the Eliso is the Alme (the oldest and perhaps most probable view), the fort must be placed near Paderborn; if the Ahse, then near Hamm; and if the Stever, about Haltern.

20 The name here includes not only the canal, some two miles long, by which Drusus connected the northern branch of the Rhine near Arnheim with the Yssel, but the widened course of the stream itself.

Thayer's Note: The canal has not been located; see the discussion at Livius.

21 Suet. Claud. 1: Drusus . . . Oceanum septemtrionalem primus Romanorum ducum navigavit.

22 The Zuyderzee.

23 In chap. 19 the tribe is found east of the Weser; whence Giefers' conjecture Ampsivariorum. No certainty can be felt on the point; and it is possible, even, that something is lost before metanti castra, as it is difficult to suppose that the march from the Ems to the west bank of the Weser could have been passed over without a word.

24 Merivale pointed out that the breadth of the Weser makes the following narrative questionable. Other over-picturesque touches in Tacitus' sources are Germanicus' dream (chap. 14), and the apparition of the eight eagles (chap. 17).

25 The text translates roughly Nipperdey's proposal: Tum permissu <imperatoris deducitur a Stertinio>, progressusque e.q.s.

26 The leading centurion of the sixty in a legion was the primipilus — the first centurion of the first maniple of the first cohort. On the completion of his service he frequently received equestrian rank, and was employed in positions of very considerable responsibility. Here Aemilius (probably the vir militaris of IV.42) acts as praefectus equitum. An inscription, which should apparently be referred to him, runs: Paulo Aemilio, D. f., primo pilo, bis praefecto equitum, tribuno cohortis IIII praetoriae (CIL X.3881).

27 Germ. 3: Fuisse apud eos et Herculem memorant, primumque omnium virorum fortium ituri in proelia canunt.

28 His object may have been to pass for a native auxiliary.

29 Twenty-five denarii — an offer which, if made, could never have been taken seriously by the legionaries (see I.17).

30 One of the three reminiscences of Horace which have been detected in Tacitus: see Carm. II.6.7, lasso maris et viarum and Epp. I.11.6, odio maris atque viarum. The other two may be found at XI.15, laeta in praesensCarm. II.16.25, laetus in praesens, and XV.37 contaminatorum gregeCarm. I.37.9 contaminato cum grege.

31 On the east of the Elbe,º the Suebi and Marbod (see I.44 and the note, and, for an interesting account of Marbod's position, Seeck's Untergang der antiken Welt I.228, sqq.) were friendly, or at least neutral.

32 Grimm interpreted his emendation by Elfenwiese: attempted identifications are highly speculative.

33 One for each legion. "Critics have superfluously noted that eagles are now rarely if ever seen in those parts, and that their nearest representative, the 'vultur albucillus,' is not gregarious": Furneaux.

34 This not improbable detail is found rather too frequently in the ancient historians. Furneaux cites Polyb. III.82 and Florus III.7.2: one might add Hdt. I.66; D. Sic. XX.13; 1 Macc. iii.41.

35 The salutatio imperatoria, by which, under the republic, the victorious general was acclaimed as imperator by his troops, and crowned with bays, was now, with the triumph, a prerogative of the princeps: a fact symbolized by the laurel planted before the palace. See below, III.74.

36 In order to complete the suppression of the revolt mentioned at the close of chap. 8: the same doubt as to the reading exists, of course, here.

37 The period would be July. The summer, like the other seasons, was divided into three months: in the first, it was nova; in the second, adulta; in the third, praeceps (Servius on Georg. I.43).

38 The underlying theory is that the sodden lands and the rivers form the clouds by evaporation; the clouds, in their turn, give rise to the wind (Sen. Q. N. V.5; ib. 13).

39 Between the Weser and Holland: the saxa abrupta, like the Scopuli of the next chapter, can be only a mistaken literary embellishment.

40 The open ocean as opposed to land-locked seas.

41 Presumably off the coast of Schleswig.

42 The influence of Pedo Albinovanus' poem (see p345, n.) has been plausibly suspected in more places than one of this narrative.

43 The verdict of history upon these campaigns must, however, coincide with that of Tiberius.


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