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This webpage reproduces a Book of
Roman History

Cassius Dio

published in Vol. VII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1924

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
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Book LIX

Cassius Dio
Roman History

Thayer's Note: Before e-mailing me with questions, comments, or corrections involving the numbering of Books, chapters, and sections in this text, please read the orientation page.

Vol. VII

11 Tiberius left Rome at this time and never again returned to the city, though he was forever on the point of doing so and kept sending messages to that effect.

1a He caused the Romans a great deal of calamity, since he wasted the lives of men both in the public service and for his private whim. For example, he decided to banish the hunting spectacles from the city; and when in consequence some persons attempted to exhibit them outside, they perished in the ruins of their own theatres, which had been constructed of boards.

1 A certain Latiaris, a companion of Sabinus (one of the most prominent men in Rome), wishing to do Sejanus a favour, concealed some senators in the garret of the apartment where his friend lived and then led Sabinus into conversation; and by throwing out some of his usual remarks he induced the other also to speak out freely all that he had on his mind. 2 For it is the practice of such as desire to play the informer to lead off with some abusive remarks about someone and to disclose some secret, so that their victim, either for listening to them or for saying something similar, may lay himself liable to indictment. For the informers, naturally, inasmuch as they are acting thus with a purpose, this freedom of speech involves no danger, since they are supposed to speak as they do, not because of their  p187 real feelings, but because of their desire to convict others; their victims, on the other hand, are punished for the least word out of the ordinary that they may utter. 3 This is what happened in the case in question. Sabinus was put in prison that very day, and later perished without trial, his body being flung down the Stairway​1 and cast into the river. This affair was tragic enough in itself in the eyes of all; but it was rendered still more tragic by the behaviour of a dog belonging to Sabinus that went with him to the prison, remained beside him at his death, and finally leaped into the river with his body.​a So much for this affair.

2 1 At this time also Livia passed away at the age of eighty-six. Tiberius neither paid her any visits during her illness nor did he himself lay out her body; in fact, he made no arrangements at all in her honour except for the public funeral and images and some other matters of no importance. As for her being deified, he forbade that absolutely. 2 The senate, however, did not content itself with voting merely the measures that he had commanded, but ordered mourning for her during the whole year on the part of the women, although it approved the course of Tiberius in not abandoning the conduct of the public business even at this time. 3 They furthermore voted an arch in her honour — a distinction conferred upon no other woman — because she had saved the lives of not a few of them, had reared the children of many, and had helped many to pay their daughters' dowries, in consequence of all which  p189 some were calling her Mother of her Country. She was buried in the mausoleum of Augustus.

3a Among the many excellent utterances of hers that are reported are the following. Once, when some naked men met her and were to be put to death in consequence, she saved their lives by saying that to chaste women such men are no whit different from statues. 5 When someone asked her how and by what course of action she had obtained such a commanding influence over Augustus, she answered that it was by being scrupulously chaste herself, doing gladly whatever pleased him, not meddling with any of his affairs, and, in particular, by pretending neither to hear or nor to notice the favourites of his passion. 6 Such was the character of Livia. The arch voted to her, however, was not built, for the reason that Tiberius promised to construct it at his own expense; for, as he hesitated to annul the decree in so many words, he made it void in this way, by not allowing the work to be done at public expense nor yet attending to it himself.

7 Sejanus was rising to still greater heights. It was voted that his birthday should be publicly observed, and the multitude of statues that the senate and the equestrian order, the tribes and the foremost citizens set up, would have passed anyone's power to count. 8 Separate envoys were sent to him and to Tiberius by  p191 the senate, by the knights, and also by the people, who selected theirs from the tribunes and from the plebeian aediles. For both of them alike they offered prayers and sacrifices and they took oaths by their Fortunes.

3 1 Tiberius now found an opportunity to attack Gallus, who had married the former wife of Tiberius​2 and had spoken his mind so freely regarding the empire.​3 He was now paying court to Sejanus, either sincerely, because he believed this minister would become emperor, or out of fear of Tiberius, 2 or perhaps by way of a plot to make Sejanus irksome to the emperor himself and so cause his ruin; at any rate he proposed the greater and the more important part of the honours voted to him and strove to be one of the envoys. Tiberius, accordingly, sent a message about Gallus to the senate, declaring among other things that this man was jealous of the emperor's friendship for Sejanus, in spite of the fact that Gallus himself had Syriacus as his friend. 3 He did not make this known to Gallus, but instead entertained him in a most hospitable manner. Thus this man had a most remarkable experience, one that never happened to anyone else: on one and the same day he was banqueted at the house of Tiberius, pledging him in the cup of friendship, and was condemned in the senate, so that a praetor was sent to bind him and lead him away to execution. 4 Yet Tiberius, after acting in this manner, did not permit  p193 his victim to die, in spite of the other's desire for death as soon as he learned of the decree. Instead, in order to make his lot as cruel as possible, he bade Gallus be of good cheer and instructed the senate that he should be guarded without bonds until he himself should reach the city; his object, as I said, was to make the prisoner suffer as long as possible both from the loss of his civic rights and from terror. 5 And so it came to pass; for he was kept under the eyes of the consuls of each year, except when Tiberius held the office, in which case he was guarded by the praetors; and this was done, not to prevent his escape, but to prevent his death. He had no companion or servant with him, spoke to no one, and saw no one, except when he was compelled to take food. 6 And the food was of such quality and amount as neither to afford him any satisfaction or strength nor yet to allow him to die. This was, in fact, the most terrible part of his punishment. Tiberius did the same thing in the case of several others. For instance, he imprisoned one of his companions, and then, when there was talk about executing him, he said: "I have not yet made my peace with him." 7 Another man he tortured very severely, and then, on ascertaining that the victim had been unjustly accused, he caused him to be killed with all speed, declaring that he had been too terribly outraged to live with honour. Syriacus, who had neither committed nor been charged with any wrong, but was renowned for his culture, was slain merely because Tiberius declared he was a friend of Gallus.

 p195  7a 8 Sejanus brought false accusation also against Drusus​4 through the medium of the latter's wife. For by maintaining illicit relations with the wives of nearly all the distinguished men, he learned what their husbands were saying and doing; and he furthermore made them accessories to his crimes by promising to marry them. When, now, Tiberius merely sent Drusus to Rome, Sejanus, fearing that he might change his mind, persuaded Cassius​5 to propose some action against him.

9 After exalting Sejanus to a high pinnacle of glory and making him a member of his family by his alliance with Julia, the daughter of Drusus, Tiberius later killed him.

4 1 Now Sejanus was growing greater and more formidable all the time, so that the senators and the rest looked up to him as if he were actually emperor and held Tiberius in slight esteem. When Tiberius learned this, he did not treat the matter lightly or disregard it, since he feared they might declare his rival emperor outright. He did nothing openly, to be sure, 2 for Sejanus had completely won over the entire Pretorian guard and had gained the favour of the senators, partly by the benefits he conferred, partly by the hopes he inspired, and partly by intimidation: he had furthermore made all the associates of Tiberius so completely his friends that they immediately reported to him absolutely everything the emperor either said or did, whereas no one informed Tiberius of what Sejanus did. 3 Hence Tiberius proceeded to attack him in another way; he appointed him consul and termed him Sharer of  p197 his Cares, often repeated the phrase "My Sejanus," and published the same by using it in letters addressed to the senate and to the people. 4 Men were accordingly deceived by this behaviour, taking it to be sincere, and so set up bronze statues everywhere to both alike, wrote their names together in the records, and brought gilded chairs into the theatres for both. Finally it was voted that they should be made consuls together every five years and that a body of citizens should go out to meet both alike whenever they entered Rome. And in the end they sacrificed to the images of Sejanus as they did to those of Tiberius.

5 While matters were going thus with Sejanus, many of the other prominent men perished, among them Gaius Fufius Geminus. This man, having been accused of maiestas against Tiberius, took his will into the senate-chamber and read it, showing that he had left his inheritance in equal portions to his children and to the emperor. 6 Upon being charged with cowardice, he went home before a vote was taken; then, when he learned that the quaestor had arrived to look after his execution, he wounded himself, and showing the wound to the official, exclaimed: "Report to the senate that it is thus one dies who is a man." Likewise his wife, Mutilia Prisca, against whom some complaint had been lodged, entered the senate chamber and there stabbed herself with a dagger, which she had brought in secretly.

7 Next he destroyed Mucia​6 and her husband and  p199 two daughters on account of her friendship for his mother.

8 Under Tiberius all who accused any persons received money, and large sums too, both from the victims' estates and from the public treasury, and various honours besides. There were cases, too, where men who recklessly threw others into a panic or readily passed sentence of death upon them obtained either images or triumphal honours. Hence several distinguished men who were held worthy of some such honour would not accept it, lest they might one day be thought to have been like these men. 9 Tiberius, feigning illness, sent Sejanus on to Rome with the assurance that he himself would follow. He declared that a part of his own body and soul was being wrenched away from him, and with tears he embraced and kissed him, so that Sejanus was still more elated.

5 1 Sejanus was so great a person by reason both of his excessive haughtiness and of his vast power, that, to put it briefly, he himself seemed to be the emperor and Tiberius a kind of island potentate, inasmuch as the latter spent his time on the island of Capreae. 2 There was rivalry and jostling about the great man's doors, the people fearing not merely that they might not be seen by their patron, but also that they might be among the last to appear before him; for every word and look, especially in the case of the most prominent men, was carefully observed. 3 Those, now, who hold a prominent position as the result of native worth are not much given to seeking signs of friendship from others, and if such manifestations are  p201 wanting on the part of these others, they do not tax them with it, inasmuch as they know full well that they are not being looked down upon; but those, on the other hand, who enjoy an adventitious splendour seek very eagerly all such attentions, feeling them to be necessary to render their position complete, and if they fail to obtain them, are as vexed as if they were being slandered and as angry as if they were being insulted. 4 Consequently the world is more scrupulous in the case of such persons than in the case of the emperors themselves, one might almost say; since for the latter it counts as a virtue to pardon anyone in case of an offence, but by the former such conduct is thought to argue their weakness, whereas to attack and to exact vengeance is considered to furnish proof of great power.

5 Now on a New Year's day, when all were assembling at Sejanus' house, the couch that stood in the reception room utterly collapsed under the weight of the throng seated upon it; and, as he was leaving the house, a weasel darted through the midst of the crowd. 6 After he had sacrificed on the Capitol and was now descending to the Forum, the servants who were acting as his body-guard turned aside along the road leading to the prison, being unable by reason of the crowd to keep up with him, and while they were descending the steps down which condemned criminals were cast, they slipped and fell. Later, as he was taking the auspices, not one bird of good omen appeared, but many crows flew round him and cawed, then all flew off together to the jail and perched there.

 p203  6 1 Neither Sejanus nor anyone else took these omens to heart. For, in view of the way matters stood, not even if some god had plainly foretold that so great a change would take place in a short time, would anyone have believed it. 2 So they swore by his Fortune interminably and called him Tiberius' colleague, covertly referring to the supreme power rather than to the consul­ship. Tiberius, however, who was no longer ignorant of anything that concerned his minister, was planning how he might put him to death; but, not finding any way of doing this openly and safely, he handled both Sejanus himself and the Romans in general in a remarkable fashion, so as to learn exactly what was in their minds. 3 He kept sending despatches of all kinds regarding himself both to Sejanus and to the senate, now saying that he was in a bad state of health and almost at the point of death, and now that he was exceedingly well and would arrive in Rome directly. 4 At one moment he would heartily praise Sejanus, and again would as heartily denounce him; and, while honouring some of Sejanus' friends out of regard for him, he would be disgracing others. Thus Sejanus, filled in turn with extreme elation and extreme fear, was in constant suspense; for it never occurred to him, on the one hand, to be afraid and so attempt a revolution, inasmuch as he was still held in honour, nor, on the other hand, to be bold and attempt some desperate venture, inasmuch as he was frequently abased. 5 So also with the people at large: they kept hearing alternately the most contradictory reports  p205 which came at brief intervals, and so were unable either to regard Sejanus any longer with admiration or, on the other hand, to hold him in contempt, while as for Tiberius, they were kept guessing whether he was going to die or return to Rome; consequently they were in a continual state of doubt.

7 1 Sejanus was disturbed by all this, and much more disturbed when from one of his statues there at first burst forth smoke, and then, when the head was removed so that the trouble might be investigated, a huge serpent leapt up; then, when a new head was straightway placed upon the statue, and Sejanus was about to offer sacrifice to himself on account of the omen 2 (for he was wont to include himself in such sacrifices), a rope was discovered coiled about the neck of the statue. Again, there was the behaviour of a statue of Fortune, which had belonged, they say, to Tullius, one of the former kings of Rome, but was at this time kept by Sejanus at his house and was a source of great pride to him: 3 he himself saw this statue turn its back to him while he was sacrificing . . . . . and later others who went out with them. These incidents aroused the suspicions of the people; but since they did not know the intentions of Tiberius, and besides, had to take into consideration his caprice and the instability of human affairs, they were steering a middle course. 4 Privately they kept a sharp eye to their own safety, but publicly they paid court to him, the more so as Tiberius had made both Sejanus and his son priests along with Gaius. So they gave him the proconsular power, and also voted that the  p207 consuls of each year should be instructed to emulate him in their conduct of the office. 5 As for Tiberius, though he honoured him with the priesthoods, yet he did not send for him; instead, when Sejanus requested permission to go to Campania, pleading as an excuse that his betrothed was ill, the emperor directed him to remain where he was, because he himself was going to arrive in Rome almost immediately.

8 1 This was one reason, then, why Sejanus was again becoming alienated; there was also the fact that Tiberius, after appointing Gaius priest, praised him and gave some indications that he intended to make him his successor to the throne. 2 Sejanus would therefore have set on foot a rebellion, especially as the soldiers were ready to obey him in everything, had he not perceived that the populace was immensely pleased at the compliments paid to Gaius, out of reverence for the memory of Germanicus, his father. For he had previously supposed that they, too, were on his side, and now, finding them earnest supporters of Gaius, 3 he became dejected, and regretted that he had not begun a rebellion during his consul­ship. The rest were becoming alienated from him, not only for these reasons, but also because Tiberius quashed an indictment against an enemy of Sejanus, a man who had been chosen ten years before to govern Spain, and was now, thanks to the influence of Sejanus, being brought to trial on certain charges; whereupon, because of this case, he granted a general immunity from such suits, during the interval before taking office, to all who were designated to govern provinces or to perform any other public business. 4 And in a letter to the  p209 senate about the death of Nero​7 he referred to Sejanus by that name simply, without the addition of the customary titles. Moreover, because sacrifices were being offered to Sejanus, he forbade such offerings to be made to any human being; and because many honours were being voted to Sejanus, he forbade the consideration of any measure which proposed honours for himself. He had, to be sure, forbidden this practice still earlier, but now, because of Sejanus, he renewed his injunction; for one who allowed nothing of the sort to be done in his own case would naturally not permit it in the case of another.

9 1 In view of all this, people began to hold Sejanus more and more in contempt; in fact they even avoided meeting him or being left alone with him, and that in a manner too marked not to be noticed. When, therefore, Tiberius learned of this, he took courage, believing that he should have the populace and the senate on his side, and attacked him. 2 And first, in order to take him off his guard as completely as possible, he spread the report that he was going to give him the tribunician power. Then he sent a communication against him to the senate by the hands of Naevius Sertorius Macro, whom he had already secretly appointed to command the bodyguards and had instructed in regard to all that required to be done. 3 Macro entered Rome by night, as if on some different errand, and communicated his instructions to Memmius Regulus, then consul (his colleague sided with Sejanus), and to Graecinius Laco, commander of the night-watch. 4 At dawn  p211 Macro ascended the Palatine (for the senate was to sit in the temple of Apollo), and encountering Sejanus, who had not yet gone in, and perceiving that he was troubled because Tiberius had sent him no message, he encouraged him, telling him aside and in confidence that he was bringing him the tribunician power. 5 Overjoyed at this announcement, Sejanus rushed into the senate-chamber. Macro now sent back to their camp the Pretorians that were guarding Sejanus and the senate, after revealing to them his authority and declaring that he bore a letter from Tiberius which bestowed rewards upon them. 6 Then, after stationing the night-watch about the temple in their place, he went in, delivered the letter to the consuls, and came out again before a word was read. He then instructed Laco to keep guard there and himself hurried away to the camp to prevent any uprising.

10 1 In the meantime the letter was read. It was a long one, and contained no wholesale denunciation of Sejanus, but first some other matter, then a slight censure of his conduct, then something else, and after that some further objection to him; and at the close it said that two senators who were among his intimate associates must be punished and that he himself must be kept under guard. 2 For Tiberius refrained from giving orders outright to put him to death, not because he did not wish to give such orders, but because he feared that some disturbance might result from such a course. At any rate, he pretended that he could not with safety even make the journey to Rome, and therefore summoned one of the consuls to him. Now the letter disclosed no  p213 more than this; but one could observe both by sight and hearing many and various effects produced by it. 3 At first, before it was read, they had been lauding Sejanus, thinking that he was about to receive the tribunician power, and had kept cheering him, anticipating the honours for which they had hoped and making it clear to him that they would concur in bestowing them. 4 When, however, nothing of the sort appeared, but they heard again and again just the reverse of what they had expected, they were at first perplexed, and then thrown into deep dejection. Some of those seated near him actually rose up and left him; for they now no longer cared to share the same seat with the man whom previously they had prized having as their friend. 5 Then praetors and tribunes surrounded him, to prevent his causing any disturbance by rushing out, as he certainly would have done, if he had been startled at the outset by hearing any general denunciation. As it was, he paid no great heed to the successive charges as they were read, thinking each one a slight matter which stood alone, and hoping that, at best, no further charge, or, in any event, none that could not be disposed of, was contained in the letter; so he let the time slip by and remained in his seat.

6 Meanwhile Regulus summoned him to go forward, but he paid no heed, not out of contempt — for he had already been humbled — but because he was unaccustomed to having orders addressed to him. But when the consul, raising his voice and also pointing at him, called the second and third time, "Sejanus, come here," he merely asked him, "Me? you are calling me?" At last, however, he  p215 stood up, and Laco, who had now returned, took his stand beside him. 7 When finally the reading of the letter was finished, all with one voice denounced and threatened him, some because they had been wronged, others through fear, some to conceal their friendship for him, and still others out of joy at his downfall. 8 Regulus did not put the vote to all the senators nor propose to any the death penalty, fearing opposition from some quarter and a disturbance in consequence; for Sejanus had numerous relatives and friends. He merely asked a single senator if he should not be imprisoned, and when he got an affirmative answer, he led Sejanus out of the senate, and together with the other magistrates and Laco took him down to the prison.

11 1 Thereupon one might have witnessed such a surpassing proof of human frailty as to prevent one's ever again being puffed up with conceit. For the man whom at dawn they had escorted to the senate-hall as a superior being, they were now dragging to prison as if no better than the worst; on him whom they had previously thought worthy of many crowns, they now laid bonds; 2 him whom they were wont to protect as a master, they now guarded like a runaway slave, uncovering his head when he would fain cover it; him whom they had adorned with the purple-bordered toga, they struck in the face; and him whom they were wont to adore and worship with sacrifices as a god, they were now leading to execution. 3 The populace also assailed him, shouting many reproaches at him for the lives he had taken and many jeers for the hopes he had cherished.  p217 They hurled down, beat down, and dragged down all his images, as though they were thereby treating the man himself with contumely, and he thus became a spectator of what he was destined to suffer. 4 For the moment, it is true, he was merely cast into prison; but a little later, in fact that very day, the senate associated in the temple of Concord not far from the jail, when they saw the attitude of the populace and that none of the Pretorians was about, and condemned him to death. 5 By their order he was executed and his body cast down the Stairway, where the rabble abused it for three whole days and afterwards threw it into the river. His children also were put to death by decree, the girl (whom he had betrothed to the son of Claudius) having been first outraged by the public executioner on the principle that it was unlawful for a virgin to be put to death in the prison. 6 His wife Apicata was not condemned, to be sure, but on learning that her children were dead, and after seeing their bodies on the Stairway, she withdrew and composed a statement about the death of Drusus, directed against Livilla, his wife, who had been the cause of a quarrel between herself and her husband, resulting in their separation; then, after sending this document to Tiberius, she committed suicide. 7 It was in this way that Tiberius came to read her statement; and when he had obtained proof of the information given, he put to death Livilla and all the others therein mentioned. I have, indeed, heard that he spared Livilla out of regard for her mother Antonia, and that Antonia herself of her own accord killed her daughter by starving her. These events, however, were later.

 p219  12 1 At the time of our narrative a great uproar took place in the city; for the populace slew anyone it saw of those who had possessed great influence with Sejanus and had committed acts of insolence to please him. 2 The soldiers, too, angered because they had been suspected of friendliness for Sejanus and because the night-watch had been preferred to them for loyalty to the emperor, proceeded to burn and plunder, despite the fact that all the officials were guarding the whole city in accordance with Tiberius' command. 3 Moreover, not even the senate remained quiet; but those of its members who had paid court to Sejanus were greatly disturbed by their fear of vengeance; and those who had accused or borne witness against others were filled with terror, because of the prevailing suspicion that their victims had been destroyed in the interest of Sejanus rather than of Tiberius. Very small, indeed, was the courageous element that remained free from these terrors and expected that Tiberius would become milder. 4 For, as usually happens, they laid the responsibility for their previous misfortunes upon the man who had perished, and charged the emperor with few or none of them; as for most of these things, they said he had either been ignorant of them or had been forced to do them against his will. Privately this was the attitude of the various groups; but publicly they voted, as if they had been freed from a tyranny, not to hold any mourning over the deceased and to have a statue of Liberty erected in the Forum; 5 also a festival was to be held under the auspices of all the magistrates and priests, a thing that had never before happened; and the day on which Sejanus had died was to be celebrated by annual  p221 horse-races and wild‑beast-hunts under the direction of the members of the four priesthoods and of the Sodales Augustales, another thing that had never before been done. 6 Thus, to celebrate the overthrow of the man whom they had led to his destruction by the excessive and novel honours bestowed upon him, they voted observances that were unknown even in honour of the gods. So clearly, indeed, did they comprehend that it was chiefly these honours that had bereft him of his senses, that they at once expressly forbade the granting of excessive honours to anybody and likewise the taking of oaths in the name of anyone besides the emperor. 7 Nevertheless, though they passed such votes, as if under some divine inspiration, they began shortly afterward to fawn upon Macro and Laco. They granted them large sums of money, and also gave Laco the rank of an ex-quaestor and Macro that of an ex-praetor; they furthermore allowed them to witness the games in their company and to wear the purple-bordered toga at the votive festivals. 8 The two men, however, did not accept these honours, for the example still so fresh in their minds served as a deterrent. Nor did Tiberius take any of the many honours that were voted him, chief among which was the proposal that he should begin to be termed Father of his Country now, at any rate, and also one that his birthday should be marked by ten horse-races and a banquet of the senators. On the contrary, he gave notice anew that no one should introduce any such motion.  p223 These were the events that were taking place in the city.

13 1 Tiberius for a time had been in great fear that Sejanus would occupy the city and sail against him, and so he had got ships in readiness in order to escape if anything of the sort came to pass; he had also commanded Macro, as some report, to bring Drusus before the senate and people, in the event of any uprising, and declare him emperor. 2 When, now, he learned that Sejanus was dead, he rejoiced, as was natural, but he would not receive the embassy that was sent to congratulate him, though many members of the senate and many of the knights and the populace had been sent out, as before. 3 Indeed, he even rebuffed the consul Regulus, who had always been devoted to his interests and had come in response to the emperor's own command, in order to ensure the safety of his journey to the city.

14 1 Thus perished Sejanus, after attaining to greater power than any of those who held this position​8 either before or after him, with the exception of Plautianus. Moreover, his relatives, his associates, and all the rest who had paid court to him and had proposed the granting of honours to him were brought to trial. 2 The majority of them were convicted for the acts that had previously made them the objects of envy; and their fellow-citizens condemned them for the measures which they themselves had previously voted. Many men who had been tried on various charges and acquitted were again accused and now convicted, on the ground that they had been saved before as a favour to the man now fallen. 3 Accordingly,  p225 if no other complaint could be brought against a person, the very fact that he had been a friend of Sejanus sufficed to bring punishment upon him — as if, forsooth, Tiberius himself had not been fond of him and thereby caused others to display such zeal in his behalf. 4 Among those who gave information of this sort were the very men who had been foremost in paying court to Sejanus; for, inasmuch as they had accurate knowledge of those who were in the same position as themselves, they had no difficulty either in seeking them out or in securing their conviction. So these men, expecting to save themselves by this procedure and to obtain money and honours besides, were accusing others or bearing witness against them; but, as it turned out, they realized none of their hopes. 5 For, as they were liable themselves to the same charges on which they were prosecuting the others, they perished also, partly for this very reason and partly as betrayers of their friends. 15 1 Of those against whom charges were brought, many were present to hear their accusation and make their defence, and some expressed their minds very freely in so doing; but the majority made away with themselves before their conviction. They did this chiefly to avoid suffering insult and outrage. For all who incurred any such charge, senators as well as knights, and women as well as men, were crowded together in the prison, 3 and upon being condemned either paid the penalty there or were hurled down from the Capitol by the tribunes or even by the consuls, after which the bodies of all of them were cast into the Forum and later thrown into the river. But their object was partly that  p227 their children might inherit their property, 4 since very few estates of such as voluntarily died before their trial were confiscated, Tiberius in this way inviting men to become their own murderers, so that he might avoid the reputation of having killed them — just as if it were not far more dreadful to compel a man to die by his own hand than to deliver him to the executioner. 16 1 Most of the estates of those who failed to die in the manner were confiscated, only a little or even nothing at all being given to their accusers; for now Tiberius was inclined to be far more strict in the matter of money. For this reason he increased to one per cent. a certain tax which had been only one-half of one per cent. and was accepting every inheritance that was left to him; and for that matter, nearly everybody left him something, even those who made away with themselves, as they had also done to Sejanus while he was alive.

3 Furthermore, with the same purpose that had prompted him not to take away the wealth of those who perished voluntarily, Tiberius caused all accusations to be lodged with the senate, so that he could be free from blame himself (as he imagined) and the senate should pass sentence upon itself as guilty of wrong-doing. 4 Hence people learned only too clearly, now that they were perishing at one another's hands, that their former woes were the work of Tiberius quite as much as the work of Sejanus. For it happened not only that those who had accused others were brought to trial and those who had testified against others now found others testifying against them, but also that those who had condemned others were convicted in their turn. 5 So  p229 it was that neither Tiberius spared anyone, but employed all the citizens without exception against one another, nor, for that matter, could anybody rely upon the loyalty of any friend; but the guilty and the innocent, the timorous and the fearless, stood on the same footing when face to face with the inquiry into the charges involving the acts of Sejanus. 6 For, although he decided after a long time to propose a sort of amnesty for these offences, in that he permitted all those who so desired to go into mourning for Sejanus (forbidding all interference with such acts in the case of any other person also, though decrees to this effect were frequently passed), yet he did not live up to this edict in fact, but after a brief interval punished a good many for so honouring Sejanus and on sundry lawless charges, the accusation generally being that they had outraged and murdered their nearest kinswomen.

17 1 When things had now come to this pass, and there was not a man that could deny that he would be glad to feast on the emperor's flesh, a most ridiculous proceeding took place in the following year, when Gnaeus Domitius and Camillus Scribonianus became consuls. 2 It had long since ceased to be the custom for the members of the senate to take the oath on New Year's day each for himself; instead, one of their number, as has already been stated,​9 would take the oath for them all and the rest would then express their acquiescence. On this occasion, however, they did not do so, but of their own motion, without any compulsion, they pledged themselves separately and individually, as if this would make  p231 them any more regard­ful of their oath. 3 It should be explained that previously for many years the emperor objected to anyone's swearing at all to support his official acts, as I have said. At this same time occurred also another incident, still more ridiculous than the other: they voted that Tiberius should select as many of their number as he liked and should then employ twenty of these, to be chosen by lot and armed with daggers, as guards whenever he entered the senate-chamber. 4 Now, inasmuch as the soldiers were on guard outside the building and no private citizen could come inside, their resolution that a guard should be given him was evidently directed against no one but themselves, thus indicating that they were his enemies. 18 1 Tiberius, of course, commended them and made a show of thanking them for their good will, but he rejected their offer as being without precedent; for he was not so simple as to give swords to the very men whom he hated and by whom he was hated. 2 At any rate, as a result of these very measures he began to grow more suspicious of them (for every act of insincerity that one undertakes for the purpose of flattery is inevitably suspected), and dismissing utterly from his thoughts all their decrees, he bestowed honours both in words and in money upon the Pretorians, in spite of his knowledge that they had been on the side of Sejanus, in order that he might find them more zealous in his service against the senators. 3 There was another time, to be sure, that he commended the senators; this was when they voted that the guards' pay should be given them from the public treasury. Thus, in a most effective manner, he kept deceiving the one  p233 group by his words while winning over the others by his deeds. For example, when Junius Gallio proposed that the Pretorians who had finished their term of service should be given the privilege of witnessing the games from the seats of the knights, 4 he not only banished him, the specific charge being that he was apparently trying to induce the guards to be loyal to the State rather than to the emperor, but in addition, when he learned that Gallio was setting sail for Lesbos, he deprived him of a safe and comfortable existence there and delivered him up to the custody of the magistrates, as he had once done with Gallus. 5 And in order to convince the two parties still more of his attitude toward each of them, he not long afterward asked the senate that Macro and a certain number of military tribunes should escort him into the senate-chamber, saying that this guard would suffice. He had no need of them, of course, for he had no idea of ever entering the city again; but he wished to show them his hatred of them and his good-will toward the soldiers of the guard. 6 And the senators themselves acknowledged this situation; in any event, they attached to the decree a clause providing that they should be searched on entering, to make sure that none had a dagger hidden beneath his arm. This resolution was passed in the following year.

19 1 At the time in question he spared, among others who had been intimate with Sejanus, Lucius Caesianus, a praetor, and Marcus Terentius, a knight.  p235 He over­looked the action of the former, who at the Floralia had seen to it that all the merry-making up to nightfall was done by baldheaded men, in order to poke fun at the emperor, who was bald, 2 and at night had furnished light to the people as they left the theatre by torches in the hands of five thousand boys with shaven pates. Indeed, Tiberius was so far from becoming angry with him that he pretended not to have heard about it at all, though all baldheaded persons were thenceforth called Caesiani. 3 As for Terentius, he was spared because, when on trial for his friendship with Sejanus, he not only did not deny it, but even affirmed that he had shown the greatest zeal in his behalf and had paid court to him for the reason that the minister had been so highly honoured by Tiberius himself; 4 "Consequently," he said, "if the emperor did right in having such a friend, I, too, have done no wrong; and if he, who has accurate knowledge of everything, erred, what wonder is it that I shared in his deception? For surely it is our duty to cherish all whom he honours, without concerning ourselves overmuch about the kind of men they are, but making our friendship for them depend on just one thing — the fact that they please the emperor." 5 The senate, because of this, acquitted him and rebuked his accusers besides; and Tiberius concurred with them. When Piso, a city prefect, died, he honoured him with a public funeral, a distinction that he also granted to others. In his stead he chose Lucius Lamia, whom he had long since assigned to Syria,  p237 but was detaining in Rome. 6 He did the same also with many others, not that he really had any need of them, but he thus made an outward show of honouring them. Meanwhile Vitrasius Pollio, the governor of Egypt, died, and he entrusted the province for a time to a certain Hiberus,​10 an imperial freedman.

20 1 As for the consuls, Domitius held office for the whole year (for he was the husband of Agrippina, the daughter of Germanicus), but the rest only so long as pleased Tiberius. Some he would choose for a longer period and some for a shorter; some he removed before the end of the appointed term, and others he allowed to hold office beyond their time. 2 He would even appoint a man for the whole year and then depose him, setting up another and still another in his place; and sometimes, after choosing certain substitutes for third place, he would then cause others to become consul ahead of them in place of the second set. 3 These irregularities in the case of the consuls occurred throughout practically his whole reign. Of the candidates for the other offices, he selected as many as he wished and referred them to the senate, some with his recommendation, in which event they were chosen unanimously, but in the case of others conditioning their selection upon the merit of their claims, upon mutual agreement, or upon the lot. 4 After that the candidates went before the people or before the plebs,​11 according as they belonged to the one or the other, and were duly elected; this was done in order to conform to time-honoured precedent, just as is done to‑day, so as to produce the semblance of a valid  p239 election. In case there was ever a deficiency of candidates, or in case they became involved in irreconcilable strife, a smaller number were chosen. 5 Thus, in the following year, when Servius Galba (who later became emperor) and Lucius Cornelius held the title of consuls, there were only fifteen praetors; and this situation continued for many years, so that sometimes sixteen and sometimes one or two fewer were chosen.

21 1 Tiberius now approached the capital and sojourned in its environs; but he did not go inside the walls, although he was but four miles away, and bestowed in marriage the remaining daughters of Germanicus and of Julia, the daughter of Drusus. 2 Hence the city, on its part, did not hold any festival in honour of their marriages, but everything went on as usual, even the senate convening and deciding judicial cases. For Tiberius made an important point of their assembling as often as it was fitting for them to meet, and insisted on their not arriving later or departing earlier than the time appointed. 3 He also sent to the consuls many injunctions on this head, and once ordered certain statements to be read aloud by them. He took the same course also in regard to some other matters — just as if he could not write directly to the senate! He did, however, send in to that body not only the documents given him by the informers, but also the confessions which Macro had obtained from people under torture, so the nothing was left to them except the vote of condemnation. 4 About this time, however, a certain Vibullius​12 Agrippa, a knight, swallowed poison from a ring and died in  p241 the senate-house itself; and Nerva, who could no longer endure the emperor's society, starved himself to death, chiefly because Tiberius had reaffirmed the laws on contracts enacted by Caesar, which were sure to result in great loss of confidence and financial confusion, and although Tiberius repeatedly urged him to eat something, he would make no reply. 5 Thereupon Tiberius modified his decision regarding loans and gave one hundred million sesterces to the public treasury, with the provision that this money should be lent out by the senators without interest to such as asked for it; and he further commanded that the most notorious of those who were bringing accusations against others should be put to death in a single day. 6 And when a man who had been a centurion desired to lodge information against someone, he forbade anyone who had served in the army to do this, although he allowed the knights and senators to do so.

22 1 For his course in these matters Tiberius received praise, and especially because he would not accept numerous honours that were voted to him because of these acts. But the sensual orgies which he carried on shamelessly with persons of the highest rank, both male and female, brought him ill repute. 2 For example, there was the case of his friend Sextus Marius. Imperial favour had made the man so rich and power­ful that once, when he was at odds with a neighbour, he invited him to be his guest for two days, on the first of which he razed the man's villa level with the ground and on the next rebuilt it on a larger and more elaborate scale; 3 and  p243 then, when the other could not guess who had done it, Marius admitted his responsibility for both achievements and added significantly: "This shows you that I have both the knowledge and the power to repel attacks and also to requite kindness." When this Marius, now, had sent away his daughter, a strikingly beauti­ful girl, to a place of refuge, in order to prevent her from being outraged by Tiberius, he was charged with having criminal relations with her himself, and because of this he perished together with his daughter. 4 All this brought disgrace upon the emperor, and his connexion with the death of Drusus​13 and Agrippina gave him a reputation for cruelty. Men had been thinking that all the previous action against these two was due to Sejanus, and had been expecting that now their lives would be spared; so, when they learned that they, too, had been murdered, 5 they were exceedingly grieved, partly because of the deed itself and partly because, so far from depositing their bones in the imperial tomb, Tiberius ordered their remains to be hidden so carefully somewhere under­ground that they could never be found. Besides Agrippina, Munatia Plancina was slain; up to this time, it would appear, Tiberius, though he hated her (not on account of Germanicus, but for another reason), nevertheless had permitted her to live, in order to prevent Agrippina from rejoicing at her death.

23 1 Besides doing all this, he appointed Gaius quaestor, though not of the first rank, and promised to advance him to the other offices five years earlier than was customary, despite the fact that he had requested the senate not to make the young man conceited by numerous or premature honours, for fear he might  p245 go astray in some way or other. He also had a grandson by the name of Tiberius, 2 but him he disregarded both on account of his age (he was still a mere child) and on account of the suspicion that he was not the son of Drusus. He therefore cleaved to Gaius as his successor in the monarchy, the more so as he felt sure that Tiberius would live but a short time and would be murdered by Gaius himself. 3 For there was no element in Gaius' character of which he was ignorant; indeed, he once said to him, when he was quarreling with Tiberius: "You will kill him and others will kill you." But as he had no one so closely related to himself, and was well aware that Gaius would be a thorough knave, 4 he was glad to give him the empire, they say, in order that his own misdeeds might be lost sight of in the enormity of Gaius' crimes, and that the largest and the noblest portion of what was left of the senate might perish after his own death. At all events, he is said to have uttered frequently that old sentiment:

"When I am dead, let fire o'erwhelm the earth."​14

Often, also, he used to declare Priam fortunate, because he involved both his country and his throne in his own utter ruin. 5 Evidence of the truth of these records about him is to be found in the events of those days. For such a multitude of the senators and others lost their lives that in the case of the officials chosen by lot the ex-praetors held the governor­ship of the provinces for three years and the ex-consuls for six, owing to the lack of persons qualified to succeed them. 6 And what name could one properly apply to the appointed officials, upon  p247 whom from the first he bestowed office for indefinitely long periods? Among those who perished at this time was Gallus: for not until then, and scarcely even then, did Tiberius become reconciled with him, as he himself put it.​15 Thus it came to pass that, contrary to the usual custom, he inflicted life upon some as a punishment, and bestowed death upon others as a kindness.

24 1 The twentieth year of Tiberius' reign was now at hand, but he did not enter the city, although he was sojourning in the vicinity of the Alban territory and Tusculum; the consuls, however, Lucius Bitellius and Fabius Persicus, celebrated the completion of his second ten-year period. For this was the way the senators styled it, rather than as a twenty-year period, to signify that they were granting him the leader­ship of the State again, as had been done in the case of Augustus. But punishment overtook them at the very time that they were celebrating the festival; for this time none of those accused was acquitted, but all were convicted, most of them by means of the papers of Tiberius and the statements obtained under torture by Macro, and the rest by what these two suspected they were planning. It was rumoured, indeed, that the real reason why Tiberius did not come to Rome was to avoid being disgraced by being present when the sentences were pronounced. 3 Among the various persons who perished either at the hands of the executioners or by their own act was Pomponius Labeo. This man, who had once governed Moesia for eight years after his praetor­ship, was indicted, together with his wife, for taking bribes, and voluntarily perished along with her. Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus, on the other  p249 hand, who had never governed a province or accepted bribes, was convicted because of a tragedy he had composed, and fell a victim to a worse fate than that which he had described. 4 "Atreus" was the name of his drama, and in the manner of Euripides​16 it advised one of the subjects of that monarch to endure the folly of the reigning prince. Tiberius, upon hearing of it, declared that this had been written with reference to him, claiming that he himself was "Atreus" because of his bloodthirstiness; and remarking, "I will make him Ajax," he compelled him to commit suicide. 5 The above, however, was not the accusation that was actually brought against him, but instead, he was charged with having committed adultery with Livilla; indeed, many others also were punished on her account, some with good reason and some as the result of false accusations.

25 1 While affairs at Rome were in this state, the subject territory was not quiet either. The very moment a youth who claimed to be Drusus appeared in the regions of Greece and Ionia, the cities received him gladly and espoused his cause. He would have gone on to Syria and taken over the legions, had not someone recognized him, arrested him, and taken him to Tiberius.

2 After this, Gaius Gallus and Marcus Servilius became consuls. Tiberius was at Antium holding a festival in honour of Gaius' marriage; for not even such a purpose would he enter Rome, because of the case of a certain Fulcinius Trio. This man, who had been a friend of Sejanus, but had stood high in  p251 the favour of Tiberius on account of his services as an informer, had been accused and handed over for trial; and becoming frightened, he took his own life before he could be tried, after roundly abusing both the emperor and Macro in his will. 3 His sons, now, did not dare to make the will public, but Tiberius, learning what had been written, ordered it to be brought into the senate. For he was little concerned, indeed, about such matters, and would sometimes voluntarily give to the public denunciations of his conduct that were being kept secret, as if they were so many eulogies. 4 At any rate, he sent to the senate all the statements that Drusus had made in his misery and distress. Besides Trio, who thus perished, there was also Poppaeus Sabinus, who had governed the two Moesias and Macedonia as well during almost the whole reign of Tiberius up to this time, and was now most happy to leave this world before any charge could be brought against him. 5 Regulus became his successor by the same manner of appointment; for Macedonia and, according to some, Achaia, too, were assigned to him without recourse to the lot.​17

26 1 At about this same time Artabanus, the Parthian, upon the death of Artaxes, bestowed Armenia upon his son Arsaces; and when no vengeance came upon him from Tiberius for this, he made an attempt upon Cappadocia and treated even the Parthians somewhat haughtily. 2 Consequently some revolted from him and sent an embassy to Tiberius, asking a king for themselves from amongst those who were  p253 being kept at Rome as hostages. He first sent them Phraates, the son of Phraates, and then, after his death, which occurred on the way thither, Tiridates, who was also of the royal race. 3 To ensure his securing the throne as easily as possible, the emperor wrote to Mithridates the Iberian to invade Armenia, so that Artabanus should leave his own land in order to assist his son. And this is exactly what happened; nevertheless, Tiridates reigned only a short time, for Artabanus enlisted the aid of the Scythians and easily expelled him. 4 While Parthian affairs were taking this course, Armenia fell into the hands of Mithridates, the son, as it would appear, of Mithridates the Iberian and the brother of Pharasmanes, who became king of the Iberians after him.

5 In the consul­ship of Sextus Papinius and Quintus Plautus, the Tiber inundated a large part of the city so that people went about in boats; and a much larger region in the vicinity of Circus and the Aventine was devastated by fire. To the sufferers from the latter disaster Tiberius contributed a hundred million sesterces. 27 1 And if Egyptian affairs touch Roman interests at all, it may be mentioned that the phoenix was seen that year. All these events were thought to foreshadow the death of Tiberius. Thrasyllus,​18 indeed, did die at this very time, and the emperor himself died in the following spring, in the consul­ship of Gnaeus Proculus and Pontius Nigrinus. 2 It chanced that Macro had plotted  p255 against Domitius and numerous others, and had manufactured complaints and testimony taken under torture against them; yet not all the accused were put to death, thanks to Thrasyllus, who handled Tiberius very cleverly. 3 For, though in his own case he stated very accurately both the day and the hour in which he should die, he falsely declared that the emperor should live ten years longer; this was in order that Tiberius, feeling he had a fairly long time to live, should be in no haste to put the accused men to death. And thus it came to pass. For Tiberius, thinking it would be possible for him to do whatever he liked later, at his leisure, made no haste in any way, and showed no anger when the senate, in view of the statements made by the defendants contradicting the testimony taken under torture, postponed sentencing them. 4 Nevertheless, one woman wounded herself, was carried into the senate and from there to prison, where she died; and Lucius Arruntius, distinguished alike for his great age and for his learning, took his own life, even though Tiberius was then sick and was not thought likely to recover. For Arruntius was aware of the evil character of Gaius and desired to be out of the way before he should have any experience of it; for he declared, "I cannot in my old age become the slave of a new master like him." 5 The rest were saved, some even after their condemnation (for it was not lawful for them to be put to death before the expiration of the ten days' grace), and the others because their trial was again postponed when the judges learned that Tiberius was very low. 28 1 He died at Misenum before learning anything about the trials. He had been ill  p257 for a good while, but expecting to live because of Thrasyllus' prophecy, he neither consulted his physicians nor changed his manner of life; and so, wasting away gradually, 2 as he was well stricken in years and subject to a sickness that was not severe, he would often all but expire and then recover again. These changes would alternately cause Gaius and the rest great pleasure, when they thought he was going to die, and great fear, when they thought he would live. 3 Gaius, therefore, fearing that his health might actually be restored, refused his requests for something to eat, on the ground that it would hurt him, and pretending that he needed warmth, wrapped him up in many thick clothes and so smothered him, being aided to a certain extent by Macro. 4 For the latter, now that Tiberius was seriously ill, was paying court to the young man, particularly as he had already succeeded in making him fall in love with his own wife, Ennia Thrasylla. Tiberius, suspecting this, had once said: "You do well, indeed, to abandon the setting and hasten to the rising sun."

5 Thus Tiberius, who possessed a great many virtues and a great many vices, and followed each set in turn as if the other did not exist, passed away in this fashion on the twenty-sixth19 day of March. He had lived seventy-seven years, four months, and nine days, of which time he had been emperor twenty-two years, seven months, and seven days. A public funeral was accorded him and a eulogy, delivered by Gaius.

 p259  Fragments

1 This is what he was like in the beginning, but he did not remain so until the end, for he harshly punished many who were innocent, heartlessly staining his hands with their blood; and he was so cordially hated that he was called "bloodstained mud."

2 Tiberius put to death a man of consular rank, accusing him of having carried in his bosom a coin bearing the emperor's likeness when he retired to a latrine.

For a man of consular rank and one of the noblest in the realm lost his head and with it his wealth at the hands of Tiberius, who had merely this to say to him: "With my coin in your bosom you turned aside into foul and noisome places and relieved your bowels."

3 Tiberius was harsh in his manner and disposition, and was easily overcome with wine. Hence the Romans used to call him Biberius, which with them means a wine-bibber.

The Loeb Edition's Notes:

1 The Scalae Gemoniae.

2 Vipsania Agrippina, whom Tiberius had divorced at Augustus' command, in order to marry Julia. See liv.31, 2.

3 Cf. lvii.2, 5.

4 Drusus, the son of Germanicus. Cf. lvii.22, 4a.

5 The consul of that year, either C. Cassius Longinus or his brother L. Cassius Longinus.

6 An error for Mutilia.

7 The son of Germanicus. Cf. lvii.18, 10 and Suet. Tib. 54.

8 Prefect of the pretorian guard.

9 Evidently in a passage now lost, between lvii.17, 8, and lviii.7, 2.

10 He is called Severus by Philo, In Flaccum 1.

11 The comitia centuriata and the comitia tributa respectively.

12 He is called Vibulenus by Tacitus (Ann. vi.40).

13 The son of Germanicus.

14 Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag.,2 Adesp. 513.

15 Cf. chap. 3, 6 sup.

16 Cf. Phoen. 393.

17 This is Dio's way of stating that Tiberius had taken back these provinces that had been assigned to the senate by Augustus (cf. liii.12, 4). Claudius later restored them to the senate (lx.24, 1).

18 Cf. lv.11.

19 Dio is in error. The date was actually the sixteenth.

Thayer's Note:

a A more warmly human and detailed account of this story is found in Pliny the Elder's Natural History, VIII.lxi.145. The passage is online both in Latin and in English.

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