Short URL for this page:

[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Annals


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!


[image ALT: link to next section]

(Vol. III) Tacitus

Book I (continued)

 p297  31 1 During the same days almost, and from the same causes, the legions of Germany mutinied, in larger numbers​1 and with proportionate fury; while their hopes ran high that Germanicus Caesar, unable to brook the sovereignty of another, would throw himself into the arms of his legions, whose force could sweep the world. There were two armies on the Rhine bank: the Upper, under the command of Gaius Silius; the Lower, in charge of Aulus Caecina. The supreme command rested with Germanicus, then engaged in assessing the tribute of the Gaulish provinces.​2 But while the forces under Silius merely watched with doubtful sympathy the fortunes of a rising which was none of theirs, the lower army plunged into delirium. The beginning came from the twenty-first and fifth legions: then, as they were all stationed, idle or on the lightest of duty, in one summer camp on the Ubian frontier,​3 the first and twentieth as well were drawn into the current. Hence, on the report of Augustus' death, the swarm of city-bred recruits swept from the capital by the recent levy,​4 familiar with licence and  p299 chafing at hardship, began to influence the simple minds of the rest:— "The time had come when the veteran should seek his overdue discharge, and the younger man a less niggardly pay; when all should claim relief from their miseries and take vengeance on the cruelty of their centurions." These were not the utterances of a solitary Percennius declaiming to the Pannonian legions; nor were they addressed to the uneasy ears of soldiers who had other and more power­ful armies to bear in view: it was a sedition of many tongues and voices:— "Theirs were the hands that held the destinies of Rome; theirs the victories by which the empire grew; theirs the name which Caesars assumed!"5

32 1 The legate made no counter-move: indeed, the prevalent frenzy had destroyed his nerve. In a sudden paroxysm of rage the troops rushed with drawn swords on the centurions, the traditional objects of military hatred, and always the first victims of its fury. They threw them to the ground and applied the lash, sixty strokes to a man, one for every centurion in the legion; then tossed them with dislocated limbs, mangled, in some cases unconscious, over the wall or into the waters of the Rhine. Septimius took refuge at the tribunal and threw himself at the feet of Caecina, but was demanded with such insistence that he had to be surrendered to his fate. Cassius Chaerea, soon to win a name in history as the slayer of Caligula, then a reckless stripling,​6 opened a way with his sword through an armed and challenging multitude. Neither tribune  p301 nor camp-marshal kept authority longer: watches, patrols, every duty which circumstances indicated as vital, the mutineers distributed among themselves. Indeed, to a careful observer of the military temperament, the most alarming sign of acute and intractable disaffection was this: there were no spasmodic outbreaks instigated by a few firebrands, but everywhere one white heat of anger, one silence, and withal a steadiness and uniformity which might well have been accredited to discipline.

33 1 In the meantime, Germanicus, as we have stated, was traversing the Gallic provinces and assessing their tribute, when the message came that Augustus was no more. Married to the late emperor's granddaughter Agrippina, who had borne him several children, and himself a grandchild of the dowager (he was the son of Tiberius' brother Drusus), he was tormented none the less by the secret hatred of his uncle and grandmother — hatred springing from motives the more potent because iniquitous. For Drusus was still a living memory to the nation, and it was believed that, had he succeeded, he would have restored the age of liberty; whence the same affection and hopes centred on the young Germanicus with his unassuming disposition and his exceptional courtesy, so far removed from the inscrutable arrogance of word and look which characterized Tiberius. Feminine animosities increased the tension as Livia had a stepmother's irritable dislike of Agrippina, whose own temper was not without a hint of fire, though purity of mind and wifely devotion kept her rebellious spirit on the side of righteousness.

34 1 But the nearer Germanicus stood to the supreme ambition, the more energy he threw into  p303 the cause of Tiberius. He administered the oath of fealty to himself, his subordinates, and the Belgic cities. Then came the news that the legions were out of hand. He set out in hot haste, and found them drawn up to meet him outside the camp, their eyes fixed on the ground in affected penitence. As soon as he entered the lines, a jangle of complaints began to assail his ears. Some of the men kissed his hand, and with a pretence of kissing it pushed the fingers between their lips, so that he should touch their toothless gums; others showed him limbs bent and bowed with old age. When at last they stood ready to listen, as there appeared to be no sort of order, Germanicus commanded them to divide into companies: they told him they would hear better as they were. At least, he insisted, bring the ensigns forward; there must be something to distinguish the cohorts: they obeyed, but slowly. Then, beginning with a pious tribute to the memory of Augustus, he changed to the victories and the triumphs of Tiberius, keeping his liveliest praise for the laurels he had won in the Germanies at the head of those very legions.​7 Next he enlarged on the unanimity of Italy and the loyalty of the Gallic provinces, the absence everywhere of turbulence or disaffection.

35 1 All this was listened to in silence or with suppressed murmurs. But when he touched on the mutiny and asked where was their soldierly obedience? where the discipline, once their glory? whither had they driven their tribunes — their centurions? with one impulse they tore off their tunics and reproach­fully exhibited the scars of battle and the imprints of the lash. Then, in one undistinguished uproar, they taunted him with the fees  p305 for exemption from duty, the miserly rate of pay, and the severity of the work, — parapet-making, entrenching, and the collection of forage, building material​8 and fuel were specifically mentioned, along with the other camp drudgeries imposed sometimes from necessity, sometimes as a precaution against leisure. The most appalling outcry arose from the veterans, who, enumerating their thirty or more campaigns, begged him to give relief to outworn men and not to leave them to end their days in the old wretchedness, but fix a term to this grinding service and allow them a little rest secured from beggary. There were some even who claimed the money bequeathed to them by the deified Augustus, with happy auguries for Germanicus;​9 and, should he desire the throne, they made it manifest that they were ready. On this he leapt straight from the platform as if he was being infected with their guilt. They barred his way with their weapons, threatening to use them unless he returned: but he, exclaiming that he would sooner die than turn traitor, snatched the sword from his side, raised it, and would have buried it in his breast, if the bystanders had not caught his arm and held it by force. The remoter and closely packed part of the assembly, and — though the statement passes belief — certain individual soldiers, advancing close to him, urged him to strike home. One private, by the name of Calusidius, drew his own blade and offered it with the commendation that "it was sharper." Even to that crowd of madmen the act seemed brutal and ill-conditioned, and there followed a pause long enough for the Caesar's friends to hurry him into his tent.

 p307  36 1 There the question of remedies was debated. For reports were coming in that a mission was being organized to bring the upper army into line, that the Ubian capital​10 had been marked down for destruction, and that after this preliminary experiment in pillage the mutineers proposed to break out and loot the Gallic provinces. To add to the alarm, the enemy was cognizant of the disaffection in the Roman ranks, and invasion was certain if the Rhine bank was abandoned. Yet to arm the auxiliaries native and foreign against the seceding legions was nothing less than an act of civil war. Severity was dangerous, indulgence criminal: to concede the soldiery all or nothing was equally to hazard the existence of the empire. Therefore, after the arguments had been revolved and balanced, it was decided to have letters written in the name of the emperor, directing that all men who had served twenty years should be finally discharged; that any who had served sixteen should be released from duty and kept with the colours under no obligation beyond that of assisting to repel an enemy; and that the legacies claimed should be paid and doubled.

37 1 The troops saw that all this was invented for the occasion, and demanded immediate action. The discharges were expedited at once by the tribunes: the monetary grant was held back till the men should have reached their proper quarters for the winter. The fifth and twenty-first legions declined to move until the sum was made up and paid where they stood, in the summer camp, out of the travelling-chests of the Caesar's suite and of the prince himself. The legate Caecina led the first and twentieth legions back to the Ubian capital:​11 a disgraceful  p309 march, with the general's plundered coffers borne flanked by ensigns and by eagles. Germanicus set out for the upper army, and induced the second, thirteenth, and sixteenth legions to take the oath of fidelity without demur; the fourteenth had shown some little hesitation. The money and discharges, though not demanded, were voluntarily conceded.

38 1 Among the Chauci, however, a detachment,​12 drawn from the disaffected legions, which was serving on garrison duty, made a fresh attempt at mutiny, and was repressed for the moment by the summary execution of a couple of soldiers. The order had been given by Manius Ennius, the camp-marshal, and was more a wholesome example than a legal exercise of authority. Then as the wave of disorder began to swell, he fled, was discovered, and as his hiding offered no security, resolved to owe salvation to audacity:— "It was no camp-marshal," he cried, "whom they were affronting; it was Germanicus, their general — Tiberius, their emperor." At the same time, overawing resistance, he snatched up the standard, turned it towards the Rhine, and, proclaiming that anyone falling out of the ranks would be regarded as a deserter, led his men back to winter-quarters, mutinous enough but with nothing ventured.

39 1 Meanwhile the deputation from the senate found Germanicus, who had returned by then, at the Altar of the Ubians.​13 Two legions were wintering there, the first and twentieth; also the veterans recently discharged and now with their colours. Nervous as they were and distraught with  p311 the consciousness of guilt, the fear came over them that a senatorial commission had arrived to revoke all the concessions extorted by their rebellion. With the common propensity of crowds to find a victim, however false the charge, they accused Munatius Plancus, an ex-consul who was at the head of the deputation, of initiating the decree. Before the night was far advanced, they began to shout for the colours kept in Germanicus' quarters.​14 There was a rush to the gate; they forced the door, and, dragging the prince from bed, compelled him on pain of death to hand over the ensign. A little later, while roving the streets, they lit on the envoys themselves, who had heard the disturbance and were hurrying to Germanicus. They loaded them with insults, and contemplated murder; especially in the case of Plancus, whose dignity had debarred him from flight. Nor in his extremity had he any refuge but the quarters of the first legion. There, clasping the standards and the eagle, he lay in sanctuary;​15 and had not the eagle-bearer Calpurnius shielded him from the crowning violence, then — by a crime almost unknown even between enemies — an ambassador of the Roman people would in a Roman camp have defiled with his blood the altars of heaven.​16 At last, when the dawn came and officer and private and the doings of the night were recognized for what they were, Germanicus entered the camp, ordered Plancus to be brought to him, and took him on to the tribunal. Then, rebuking the "fatal madness, rekindled not so much by their own anger as by that of heaven," he gave the reasons for the deputies' arrival. He was plaintively eloquent upon the rights of ambassadors and the serious and undeserved  p313 outrage to Plancus, as also upon the deep disgrace contracted by the legion. Then, after reducing his hearers to stupor, if not to peace, he dismissed the deputies under a guard of auxiliary cavalry.

40 1 During these alarms, Germanicus was universally blamed for not proceeding to the upper army, where he could count on obedience and on help against the rebels:— "Discharges, donations, and soft-hearted measures had done more than enough mischief. Or, if he held his own life cheap, why keep an infant son and a pregnant wife among madmen who trampled on all laws, human or divine? These at any rate he ought to restore to their grandfather and the commonwealth." He was long undecided, and Agrippina met the proposal with disdain, protesting that she was a descendant of the deified Augustus, and danger would not find her degenerate. At last, bursting into tears, he embraced their common child, together with herself and the babe to be, and so induced her to depart. Feminine and pitiable the procession began to move — the commander's wife in flight with his infant son borne on her breast, and round her the tearful wives of his friends, dragged like herself from their husbands. Nor were those who remained less woe-begone.

41 1 The picture recalled less a Caesar at the zenith of force and in his own camp than a scene in a taken town. The sobbing and wailing drew the ears and eyes of the troops themselves. They began to emerge from quarters:— "Why," they demanded, "the sound of weeping? What calamity had happened? Here were these ladies of rank, and not a centurion to guard them, not a soldier, no sign of the usual escort or that this was the general's wife!  p315 They were bound for the Treviri​17 — handed over to the protection of foreigners." There followed shame and pity and memories of her father Agrippa, of Augustus her grandfather. She was the daughter-in‑law of Drusus, herself a wife of notable fruitfulness and shining chastity. There was also her little son, born in the camp and bred the playmate of the legions; whom soldier-like they had dubbed "Bootikins"​18Caligula — because, as an appeal to the fancy of the rank and file, he generally wore the footgear of that name. Nothing, however, swayed them so much as their jealousy of the Treviri. They implored, they obstructed:— "She must come back, she must stay," they urged; some running to intercept Agrippina, the majority hurrying back to Germanicus. Still smarting with grief and indignation, he stood in the centre of the crowd, and thus began:—

42 1 "Neither my wife nor my son is dearer to me than my father and my country; but his own majesty will protect my father, and its other armies the empire. My wife and children I would cheerfully devote to death in the cause of your glory; as it is, I am removing them from your madness. Whatever this impending villainy of yours may prove to be, I prefer that it should be expiated by my own blood only, and that you should not treble your guilt by butchering the great-grandson of Augustus and murdering the daughter-in‑law of Tiberius. For what in these latter days have you left unventured or unviolated? What name am I to give a gathering like this? Shall I call you soldiers — who have besieged the son of your emperor with your earthworks and your arms? Or citizens — who have treated the authority of the  p317 senate as a thing so abject? You have outraged the privileges due even to an enemy, the sanctity of ambassadors, the law of nations. The deified Julius crushed the insurrection of an army by one word: they refused the soldiers' oath, and he addressed them as Quirites.​19 A look, a glance, from the deified Augustus, and the legions of Actium quailed.​20 I myself am not yet as they, but I spring of their line, and if the garrisons of Spain or Syria were to flout me, it would still be a wonder and an infamy. And is it the first and twentieth legions, — the men who took their standards from Tiberius, and you who have shared his many fields and thriven on his many bounties,​21 — that make this generous return to their leader? Is this the news I must carry to my father, while he hears from other provinces that all is well — that his own recruits, his own veterans, are not sated yet with money and dismissals; that here only centurions are murdered, tribunes ejected, generals imprisoned; that camp and river are red with blood, while I myself linger out a precarious life among men that seek to take it away?

43 1 "For why, in the first day's meeting, my short-sighted friends, did you wrench away the steel I was preparing to plunge in my breast? Better and more lovingly the man who offered me his sword! At least I should have fallen with not all my army's guilt upon my soul. You would have chosen a general, who, while leaving my own death unpunished, would have avenged that of Varus and his three legions. For, though the Belgians offer their services,  p319 God forbid that theirs should be the honour and glory of vindicating the Roman name and quelling the nations of Germany! May thy spirit, Augustus, now received with thyself into heaven, — may thy image, my father Drusus, and the memory of thee, be with these same soldiers of yours, whose hearts are already opening to the sense of shame and of glory, to cancel this stain and convert our civil broils to the destruction of our enemies! And you yourselves — for now I am looking into changed faces and changed minds — if you are willing to restore to the senate its deputies, to the emperor your obedience, and to me my wife and children, then stand clear of the infection and set the malignants apart: that will be a security of repentance — that a guarantee of loyalty!"

44 1 His words converted them into suppliants; they owned the justice of the charges and begged him to punish the guilty, forgive the erring, and lead them against the enemy. Let him recall his wife; let the nursling of the legions return: he must not be given in hostage to Gauls! His wife, he answered, must be excused: she could hardly return with winter and her confinement impending.​22 His son, however, should come back to them: what was still to be done they could do themselves. — They were changed men now; and, rushing in all directions, they threw the most prominent of the mutineers into chains and dragged them to Gaius Caetronius, legate of the first legion, who dealt out justice — and punishment — to them one by one by the following method. The legions were stationed in front with drawn swords; the accused was displayed on the platform by a tribune; if they cried "Guilty," he was thrown  p321 down and hacked to death. The troops revelled in the butchery, which they took as an act of purification; nor was Germanicus inclined to restrain them — the orders had been none of his, and the perpetrators of the cruelty would have to bear its odium. The veterans followed the example, and shortly afterwards were ordered to Raetia;​23 nominally to defend the province against a threatened Suevian invasion,​24 actually to remove them from a camp grim even yet with remembered crimes and the equal horror of their purging. Then came a revision of the list of centurions. Each, on citation by the commander-in‑chief, gave his name, company, and country; the number of his campaigns, his distinctions in battle and his military decorations, if any. If the tribunes and his legion bore testimony to his energy and integrity, he kept his post; if they agreed in charging him with rapacity or cruelty, he was dismissed fromº the service.

45 1 This brought the immediate troubles to a standstill; but there remained an obstacle of equal difficulty in the defiant attitude of the fifth and twenty-first legions, which were wintering some sixty miles away at the post known as the Old Camp.​25 They had been the first to break into mutiny; the worst atrocities had been their handiwork; and now they persisted in their fury, undaunted by the punishment and indifferent to the repentance of their comrades. The Caesar, therefore, arranged for the dispatch of arms, vessels, and auxiliaries down the Rhine, determined, if his authority were rejected, to try conclusions with the sword.

46 1 Before the upshot of events in Illyricum26  p323 was known at Rome, word came that the German legions had broken out. The panic-stricken capital turned on Tiberius:— "While with his hypocritical hesitation he was befooling the senate and commons, two powerless and unarmed bodies, meantime the troops were rising and could not be checked by the unripe authority of a pair of boys. He ought to have gone in person and confronted the rebels with the majesty of the empire: they would have yielded at sight of a prince, old in experience, and supreme at once to punish or reward. Could Augustus, in his declining years, make so many excursions into the Germanies? and was Tiberius, in the prime of life,​27 to sit idle in the senate, cavilling at the Conscript Fathers' words? Ample provision had been made for the servitude of Rome: it was time to administer some sedative to the passions of the soldiers, and so reconcile them to peace."

47 1 To all this criticism Tiberius opposed an immutable and rooted determination not to endanger himself and the empire by leaving the centre of affairs. He had, indeed, difficulties enough of one sort or another to harass him. The German army was the stronger; that of Pannonia the nearer: the one was backed by the resources of the Gallic provinces; the other threatened Italy. Which, then, should come first? And what if those postponed should take fire at the slight? But in the persons of his sons he could approach both at once, without hazarding the imperial majesty, always most venerable from a distance. Further, it was excusable in the young princes to refer certain questions to their father, and it was in his power to pacify or crush resistance offered to Germanicus or Drusus; but  p325 let the emperor be scorned, and what resource was left? — However, as though any moment might see his departure, he chose his escort, provided the equipage, and fitted out vessels. Then with a variety of pleas, based on the wintry season or the pressure of affairs, he deceived at first the shrewdest; the populace, longer; the provinces, longest of all.

48 1 Meanwhile Germanicus had collected his force and stood prepared to exact reckoning from the mutineers. Thinking it best, however, to allow them a further respite, in case they should consult their own safety by following the late precedent, he forwarded a letter to Caecina, saying that he was coming in strength, and, unless they forestalled him by executing the culprits, would put them impartially to the sword. Caecina read it privately to the eagle-bearers, the ensigns, and the most trustworthy men in the camp, urging them to save all from disgrace, and themselves from death. "For in peace," he said, "cases are judged on their merits; when war threatens, the innocent and the guilty fall side by side." Accordingly they tested the men whom they considered suitable, and, finding that in the main the legions were still duti­ful, with the general's assent they fixed the date for an armed attack upon the most objectionable and active of the incendiaries. Then, passing the signal to one another, they broke into the tents and struck down their unsuspecting victims; while no one, apart from those in the secret, knew how the massacre had begun or where it was to end.

49 1 No civil war of any period has presented the features of this. Not in battle, not from opposing camps, but comrades from the same bed — men who  p327 had eaten together by day and rested together at dark — they took their sides and hurled their missiles. The yells, the wounds, and the blood were plain enough; the cause, invisible: chance ruled supreme. A number of the loyal troops perished as well: for, once it was clear who were the objects of attack, the malcontents also had caught up arms. No general or tribune was there to restrain: licence was granted to the mob, and it might glut its vengeance to the full. Before long, Germanicus marched into the camp. "This is not a cure, but a calamity," he said, with a burst of tears, and ordered the bodies to be cremated.

Even yet the temper of the soldiers remained savage and a sudden desire came over them to advance against the enemy: it would be the expiation of their madness; nor could the ghosts of their companions be appeased till their own impious breasts had been marked with honourable wounds. Falling in with the enthusiasm of his troops, the Caesar laid a bridge over the Rhine, and threw across twelve thousand legionaries, with twenty-six cohorts of auxiliaries and eight divisions of cavalry, whose discipline had not been affected by the late mutiny.

50 1 Throughout the pause, which the mourning for Augustus had begun and our discords prolonged, the Germans had been hovering gleefully in the neighbourhood. By a forced march, however, the Roman columns cut through the Caesian Forest and the line of delimitation commenced by Tiberius.​28 By this line they pitched the camp, with their front and rear protected by embankments and the flanks by a barricade of felled trees. Then came a threading of  p329 gloomy forests and a consultation which of two roads to follow; the one short and usual, the other more difficult and unexplored, and therefore left unguarded by the enemy. The longer route was chosen, but otherwise all speed was made: for scouts had brought in news that the night was a German festival and would be celebrated with games and a solemn banquet. Caecina was ordered to move ahead with the unencumbered cohorts and clear a passage through the woods: the legions followed at a moderate interval. The clear, starry night was in our favour; the Marsian villages were reached, and a ring of pickets was posted round the enemy, who were still lying, some in because, others beside their tables, without misgivings and with no sentries advanced. All was disorder and improvidence: there was no apprehension of war, and even their peace was the nerveless lethargy of drunkards.

51 1 To extend the scope of the raid, the Caesar divided his eager legions into four bodies, and, for fifty miles around, wasted the country with sword and flame. Neither age nor sex inspired pity: places sacred and profane were razed indifferently to the ground; among them, the most noted religious centre of these tribes, known as the temple of Tanfana.​29 The troops escaped without a wound: they had been cutting down men half-asleep, unarmed or dispersed.

The carnage brought the Bructeri, Tubantes, and Usipetes into the field; and they occupied the forest passes by which the army was bound to return. This came to the prince's ear, and he took the road prepared either to march or to fight. A detachment of cavalry and ten auxiliary cohorts led the way, then  p331 came the first legion; the baggage-train was in the centre; the twenty-first legion guarded the left flank; the fifth, the right; the twentieth held the rear, and the rest of the allies followed. The enemy, however, made no move, till the whole line was defiling through the wood: then instituting a half-serious attack on the front and flanks, they threw their full force on the rear. The light-armed cohorts were falling into disorder before the serried German masses, when the Caesar rode up to the men of the twenty-first, and, raising his voice, kept crying that now was their time to efface the stain of mutiny:— "Forward, and make speed to turn disgrace into glory!" In a flame of enthusiasm, they broke through their enemies at one charge, drove them into the open and cut them down. Simultaneously the forces in the van emerged from the forest and fortified a camp. From this point the march was unmolested, and the soldiers, emboldened by their late performances, and forget­ful of the past, were stationed in winter quarters.

52 1 The news both relieved and disquieted Tiberius. He was thankful that the rising had been crushed; but that Germanicus should have earned the good-will of the troops by his grants of money and acceleration of discharges — to say nothing of his laurels in the field — there was the rub! However, in a motion before the senate, he acknowledged his services and enlarged on his courage; but in terms too speciously florid to be taken as the expression of his inmost feelings. He expressed his satisfaction with Drusus and the conclusion of the trouble in Illyricum more briefly; but he was in earnest, and his language honest. In addition, he confirmed to the Pannonian legions all concessions granted by Germanicus to his own.

 p333  53 1 This year saw the decease of Julia;​30 whose licentiousness had long ago driven her father, Augustus, to confine her, first in the islet of Pandateria,​31 and latterly in the town of Rhegium​32 on the Sicilian Strait. Wedded to Tiberius while Gaius and Lucius Caesar were still in their heyday, she had despised him as her inferior; and this, in reality, was the inner reason for his retirement to Rhodes. Once upon the throne, he left her, exiled, disgraced, and (since the killing of Agrippa Postumus)​33 utterly hopeless, to perish of destitution and slow decline: the length of her banishment, he calculated, would obscure the mode of her removal. A similar motive dictated his barbarous treatment of Sempronius Gracchus, a man of high birth, shrewd wit and perverted eloquence; who had seduced the same Julia while she was still the wife of Marcus Agrippa. Nor was this the close of the intrigue: for when she was made over to Tiberius, her persevering adulterer worked her into a fever of defiance and hatred towards her husband; and her letter to her father Augustus, with its tirade against Tiberius, was believed to have been drafted by Gracchus. He was removed, in consequence, to Cercina,​34 an island in African waters; where he endured his banishment for fourteen years. Now the soldiers sent to despatch him found him on a projecting strip of shore, awaiting the worst. As they landed, he asked for a few minutes' grace, so that he could write his final instructions to his wife Alliaria. This done, he offered his  p335 neck to the assassins, and met death with a firmness not unworthy of the Sempronian name from which his life had been a degeneration. Some state that the soldiers were not sent from Rome, but from Lucius Asprenas, proconsul of Africa: a version due to Tiberius, who had hoped, though vainly, to lay the scandal of the assassination at Asprenas' door.

54 1 The year also brought a novelty in religious ceremonial, which was enriched by a new college of Augustal priests, on the pattern of the old Titian brotherhood​35 founded by Titus Tatius to safeguard the Sabine rites. Twenty-one members were drawn by lot from the leading Roman houses: Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius,​36 and Germanicus were added. The Augustal Games,​37 now first instituted, were marred by a disturbance due to the rivalry of the actors. Augustus had countenanced these theatrical exhibitions in complaisance to Maecenas, who had fallen violently in love with Bathyllus.​38 Besides, he had no personal dislike for amusements of this type, and considered it a graceful act to mix in the pleasures of the crowd. The temper of Tiberius had other tendencies, but as yet he lacked the courage to force into the ways of austerity a nation which had been for so many years pampered.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Four legions in the Upper Army and an equal number in the Lower, as against three in Pannonia. Of the two military districts (on the left bank of the Rhine), Germania superior extended from Lake Constance to Brohl, between Bonn and Coblenz; Germania inferior from Brohl to the sea.

2 i.e. in receiving the returns of property, on the basis of which the tribute was periodically apportioned.

3 In the Cologne district.

4 After the loss of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth legions with Varus, Augustus by the most drastic methods enrolled two new legions, the twenty-first and twenty-second: the former (Rapax) was under Caecina; the latter (Deiotariana) stationed in Egypt.

5 They were legiones Germanicae, and a senatorial decree had conferred the name Germanicus upon Tiberius' brother Drusus and his posterity. It was borne, therefore, by their present commander and his brother Claudius — occasionally (ἔστιν ὅτε, D. Cass. LVII.8) by Tiberius himself.

6 According to Dio Cassius, he was ἐρρωμενέστατος ἀνδρῶν; but adulescens hardly squares with Suetonius' assertion that he was iam senior less than twenty-seven years later. Tacitus' account of his dispatch of Caligula (Jan. 24, 41 A.D.) is unluckily lost, but the details are striking enough even in the pages of Dio (LIX.29), Josephus (A. J. XIX.1‑4), and Suetonius (Calig. 56‑8).

7 Tiberius — the foremost Roman general after the death of Agrippa — operated against the Germans, first in 9‑8 B.C., then in 4‑5 A.D., and finally, after the Varian disaster, in 9‑11 A.D.

8 i.e. timber — a sense of materia which survives in the Spanish madera.

9 For the legacy, see above (chap. 8). The implication of reposcerent is taken to be that they considered Germanicus the lawful heir: on the other hand, the phrase faustis in Germanicum ominibus can hardly be pressed into meaning much more than "with expressions of good-will to Germanicus." Cf. V.4: populus . . . circumsistit curiam faustisque in Caesarem omnibus falsas litteras et principe invito exitium domui eius intendi clamitat.

10 Cologne — later Colonia Agrippinensis. In the following chapter, civitas Ubiorum is merely synonymous.

11 Yet in chap. 48 he reappears, not at Cologne but at Xanten (Castra Vetera); whence Mommsen's conjecture that the text of Tacitus, or of his authority, should run:— primam ac vicesimam legiones Germanicus in civitatem Ubiorum reduxit, quintam et unetvicesimam Caecina legatus in Castra Vetera, turpi agmine e.q.s.

12 Not a vexillum veteranorum (p276 n.) — for the veterans were in camp — but a detached body of legionaries on special service. The Chauci are the "Lesser Chauci" (Chauci minores, Καῦχοι οἱ μικροί) between the Ems and Weser.

13 The deputation is that sent out to confer the proconsulare imperium (chap. 14): the Altar was at Cologne, dedicated to Augustus, and serving apparently as a centre of the cult to the whole of Roman Germany.

14 The veterans, like Germanicus, are presumably quartered, not in camp, but in the town. They demand their vexillum as the symbol and guarantee of their status, in case the motives of the deputation should prove sinister.

15 The standards and eagles (propria legionum numina, II.17) were sacrosanct and adored as such.

16 They stood with the standards in the principia.

17 A Gallic tribe, whose capital was the modern Trèves.

18 "Little caliga" — the hob-nailed military (and rustic) boot, not worn by officers above the rank of centurion, and therefore regarded by the private soldier as typifying his vocation. The tradition that Caligula was actually born in camp is refuted by Suetonius (Cal. 8):— ego in actis Anti editum invenio.

19 Citizens, as opposed to soldiers: the occasion was the mutiny of the tenth legion in 47 B.C. A dubious story runs their long afterwards Severus Alexander repeated the device at Antioch:— Vos omnes hodie una voce, Quirites, dimittam, et incertum an Quirites (Lampridius, chap. 53).

20 At Brindisi, in the winter of 30 B.C. But Germanicus seems to embellish the facts.

21 The scene is in the camp of the first legion (chap. 39), to which Germanicus addresses his direct appeal:— tu tot proeliorum socia e.q.s. The twentieth (Valeria victrix), one of those raised, possibly by Tiberius himself, to cope with the great Pannonian revolt of 6 A.D., is illa as the more remote in thought, even if not in the order of words.

22 It has been shown by Mommsen that the child, in all probability, was still-born.

23 The province, which included on the north the frontier-district of Vindelicia, comprised the upper valleys of the Danube and Inn, the Grisons, Tyrol, and part of Bavaria.

24 By the group of tribes, east of the Elbe and north of the Danube, which constituted the kingdom of Marbod (see II.44).

25 In the neighbourhood of Xanten.

26 In the broad sense of Pannonia, Dalmatia, and Moesia.

27 The rhetoric is more effective than accurate, since the latest expeditions of Augustus which can possibly be brought under the description in the text are dated 16 B.C. and 8 B.C. (D. Cass. LIV.19; LV.6). At the time of the latter, he was fifty-four years of age, and Tiberius was now fifty-six.

28 With the Caesian Forest and the Tiberian limes alike unidentified, and the locality of the Marsi unknown (according to Strabo, 290, they had anticipated deportation into Gaul by retreating εἰς τὴν ἐν βάθει χώραν), the topography of Germanicus' raid must remain as obscure to the modern reader as it doubtless was to Tacitus. "It seems hardly possible to go beyond the likelihood that the Romans may have advanced, probably from Vetera, along the left bank of the Lippe, and then struck southward through a comparatively unknown country (saltus obscuros) towards the upper Ruhr, and that the tribes living north of the Lippe endeavoured to intercept their retreat." Furneaux.

29 The "temple" was probably a consecrated grove and altar; compare the well-known passage (Germ. 9):— nec cohibere parietibus deos neque in ullam humani oris speciem adsimulare ex magnitudine caelestium arbitrantur: lucos ac nemora consecrant e.q.s. For Tanfana the only other evidence is a ninth- or tenth-century line:— Zanfana sentit morgane feiziu scâf cleiniu (Zanfana sendet morgen kleine feiste Schafe).

30 Daughter of Augustus by Scribonia, and his only child (born 39 B.C., died 14 A.D.); married in 25 B.C. to her first cousin M. Marcellus, and upon his death without issue, two years later, to M. Vipsanius Agrippa, by whom she had three sons, C. and L. Caesar and Agrippa Postumus, with two daughters, Julia and Germanicus' wife Agrippina; transferred after Agrippa's death to Tiberius (11 B.C.), who was compelled to divorce his wife Vipsania for the occasion; disgraced and exiled in 2 B.C.

31 Vandotena (Ventotene), a barren island north-west from the Bay of Naples.

32 Reggio.

33 See above, chaps. 5‑6. The implication is that she saw no hope from her son-in‑law, Germanicus.

34 In reality, two small islands (Kerkena) in the Gulf of Gabes.

35 An ancient priesthood, the origin and functions of which are equally obscure.

36 Germanicus' brother, the future emperor. After his own deification, the full style of the association became sodales Augustales Claudiales.

37 See above, chap. 15.

38 He was a freedman and friend of Augustus, the rival of Pylades, and with him the creator of the pantomime.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 29 Mar 12