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Tacitus: Annals Book 2 [20]

20. All this was known to Caesar. He was acquainted with their plans, their positions, with what met the eye, and what was hidden, and he prepared to turn the enemy's stratagems to their own destruction. To Seius Tubero, his chief officer, he assigned the cavalry and the plain. His infantry he drew up so that part might advance on level ground into the forest, and part clamber up the earthwork which confronted them. He charged himself with what was the specially difficult operation, leaving the rest to his officers. Those who had the level ground easily forced a passage. Those who had to assault the earthwork encountered heavy blows from above, as if they were scaling a wall. The general saw how unequal this close fighting was, and having withdrawn his legions to a little distance, ordered the slingers and artillerymen to discharge a volley of missiles and scatter the enemy. Spears were hurled from the engines, and the more conspicuous were the defenders of the position, the more the wounds with which they were driven from it. Caesar with some praetorian cohorts was the first, after the storming of the ramparts, to dash into the woods. There they fought at close quarters. A morass was in the enemy's rear, and the Romans were hemmed in by the river or by the hills. Both were in a desperate plight from their position; valour was their only hope, victory their only safety.

20. Nihil ex his Caesari incognitum: consilia locos, prompta occulta noverat astusque hostium in perniciem ipsis vertebat. Seio Tuberoni legato tradit equitem campumque; peditum aciem ita instruxit ut pars aequo in silvam aditu incederet, pars obiectum aggerem eniteretur; quod arduum sibi, cetera legatis permisit. quibus plana evenerant, facile inrupere: quis inpugnandus agger, ut si murum succederent, gravibus superne ictibus conflictabantur. sensit dux inparem comminus pugnam remotisque paulum legionibus funditores libritoresque excutere tela et proturbare hostem iubet. missae e tormentis hastae, quantoque conspicui magis propugnatores, tanto pluribus vulneribus deiecti. primus Caesar cum praetoriis cohortibus capto vallo dedit impetum in silvas; conlato illic gradu certatum. hostem a tergo palus, Romanos flumen aut montes claudebant: utrisque necessitas in loco, spes in virtute, salus ex victoria.

21. The Germans were equally brave, but they were beaten by the nature of the fighting and of the weapons, for their vast host in so confined a space could neither thrust out nor recover their immense lances, or avail themselves of their nimble movements and lithe frames, forced as they were to a close engagement. Our soldiers, on the other hand, with their shields pressed to their breasts, and their hands grasping their sword-hilts, struck at the huge limbs and exposed faces of the barbarians, cutting a passage through the slaughtered enemy, for Arminius was now less active, either from incessant perils, or because he was partially disabled by his recent wound. As for Inguiomerus, who flew hither and thither over the battlefield, it was fortune rather than courage which forsook him. Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy's blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success.

21. Nec minor Germanis animus, sed genere pugnae et armorum superabantur, cum ingens multitudo artis locis praelongas hastas non protenderet, non colligeret, neque adsultibus et velocitate corporum uteretur, coacta stabile ad proelium; contra miles, cui scutum pecotri adpressum et insidens capulo manus, latos barbarorum artus, nuda ora foderet viamque strage hostium aperiret, inprompto iam Arminio ob continua pericula, sive illum recens acceptum vulnus tardaverat. quin et Inguiomerum, tota volitantem acie, fortuna magis quam virtus deserebat. et Germanicus quo magis adgnosceretur detraxerat tegimen capitii orabatque insisterent caedibus: nil opus captivis, solam internicionem gentis finem bello fore. iamque sero diei subducit ex acie legionem faciendis castris: ceterae ad noctem cruore hostium satiatae sunt. equites ambigue certavere.

22. Having publicly praised his victorious troops, Caesar raised a pile of arms with the proud inscription, "The army of Tiberius Caesar, after thoroughly conquering the tribes between the Rhine and the Elbe, has dedicated this monument to Mars, Jupiter, and Augustus." He added nothing about himself, fearing jealousy, or thinking that the conciousness of the achievement was enough. Next he charged Stertinius with making war on the Angrivarii, but they hastened to surrender. And, as suppliants, by refusing nothing, they obtained a full pardon.

22. Laudatis pro contione victoribus Caesar congeriem armorum struxit, superbo cum titulo: debellatis inter Rhenum Albimque nationibus exercitum Tiberii Caesaris ea monimenta Marti et Iovi et Augusto sacravisse. de se nihil addidit, metu invidiae an ratus conscientiam facti satis esse. mox bellum in Angrivarios Stertinio mandat, ni deditionem properavissent. atque illi supplices nihil abnuendo veniam omnium accepere.

23. When, however, summer was at its height some of the legions were sent back overland into winter-quarters, but most of them Caesar put on board the fleet and brought down the river Amisia to the ocean. At first the calm waters merely sounded with the oars of a thousand vessels or were ruffled by the sailing ships. Soon, a hailstorm bursting from a black mass of clouds, while the waves rolled hither and thither under tempestuous gales from every quarter, rendered clear sight impossible, and the steering difficult, while our soldiers, terrorstricken and without any experience of disasters on the sea, by embarrassing the sailors or giving them clumsy aid, neutralized the services of the skilled crews. After a while, wind and wave shifted wholly to the south, and from the hilly lands and deep rivers of Germany came with a huge line of rolling clouds, a strong blast, all the more frightful from the frozen north which was so near to them, and instantly caught and drove the ships hither and thither into the open ocean, or on islands with steep cliffs or which hidden shoals made perilous. these they just escaped, with difficulty, and when the tide changed and bore them the same way as the wind, they could not hold to their anchors or bale out the water which rushed in upon them. Horses, beasts of burden, baggage, were thrown overboard, in order to lighten the hulls which leaked copiously through their sides, while the waves too dashed over them.

23. Sed aestate iam adulta legionum aliae itinere terrestri in hibernacula remissae; pluris Caesar classi inpositas per flumen Amisiam Oceano invexit. ac primo placidum aequor mille navium remis strepere aut velis inpelli: mox atro nubium globo effusa grando, simul variis undique procellis incerti fluctus prospectum adimere, regimen inpedire; milesque pavidus et casuum maris ignarus dum turbat nautas vel intempestive iuvat, officia prudentium corrumpebat omne dehinc caelum et mare omne in austrum cessit, qui tumidis Germaniae terris, profundis amnibus, immenso nubium tractu validus et rigore vicini septentrionis horridior rapuit disiecitque navis in aperta Oceani aut insulas saxis abruptis vel per occulta vada infestas. quibus paulum aegreque vitatis, postquam mutabat aestus eodemque quo ventus ferebat, non adhaerere ancoris, non exhaurire inrumpentis undas poterant: equi, iumenta, sarcinae, etiam arma praecipitantur quo levarentur alvei manantes per latera et fluctu superurgente.

24. As the ocean is stormier than all other seas, and as Germany is conspicuous for the terrors of its climate, so in novelty and extent did this disaster transcend every other, for all around were hostile coasts, or an expanse so vast and deep that it is thought to be the remotest shoreless sea. Some of the vessels were swallowed up; many were wrecked on distant islands, and the soldiers, finding there no form of human life, perished of hunger, except some who supported existence on carcases of horses washed on the same shores. Germanicus's trireme alone reached the country of the Chauci. Day and night, on those rocks and promontories he would incessantly exclaim that he was himself responsible for this awful ruin, and friends scarce restrained him from seeking death in the same sea. At last, as the tide ebbed and the wind blew favourably, the shattered vessels with but few rowers, or clothing spread as sails, some towed by the more powerful, returned, and Germanicus, having speedily repaired them, sent them to search the islands. Many by that means were recovered. The Angrivarii, who had lately been admitted to our alliance, restored to us several had ransomed from the inland tribes. Some had been carried to Britain and were sent back by the petty chiefs. Every one, as he returned from some far-distant region, told of wonders, of violent hurricanes, and unknown birds, of monsters of the sea, of forms half-human, half beast-like, things they had really seen or in their terror believed.

24. Quanto violentior cetero mari Oceanus et truculentia caeli praestat Germania, tantum illa clades novitate et magnitudine excessit, hostilibus circum litoribus aut ita vasto et profundo ut credatur novissimum ac sine terris mare. pars navium haustae sunt, plures apud insulas longius sitas eiectae; milesque nullo illic hominum cultu fame absumptus, nisi quos corpora equorum eodem elisa toleraverant. sola Germanici triremis Chaucorum terram adpulit; quem per omnis illos dies noctesque apud scopulos et prominentis oras, cum se tanti exitii reum clamitaret, vix cohibuere amici quo minus eodem mari oppeteret. tandem relabente aestu et secundante vento claudae naves raro remigio aut intentis vestibus, et quaedam a validioribus tractae, revertere; quas raptim refectas misit ut scrutarentur insulas. collecti ea cura plerique: multos Angrivarii nuper in fidem accepti redemptos ab interioribus reddidere; quidam in Britanniam rapti et remissi a regulis. ut quis ex longinquo revenerat, miracula narrabant, vim turbinum et inauditas volucris, monstra maris, ambiguas hominum et beluarum formas, visa sive ex metu credita.

25. Meanwhile the rumoured loss of the fleet stirred the Germans to hope for war, as it did Caesar to hold them down. He ordered Caius Silius with thirty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry to march against the Chatti. He himself, with a larger army, invaded the Marsi, whose leader, Mallovendus, whom we had lately admitted to surrender, pointed out a neighbouring wood, where, he said, an eagle of one of Varus's legions was buried and guarded only by a small force. Immediately troops were despatched to draw the enemy from his position by appearing in his front, others, to hem in his rear and open the ground. Fortune favoured both. So Germanicus, with increased energy, advanced into the country, laying it waste, and utterly ruining a foe who dared not encounter him, or who was instantly defeated wherever he resisted, and, as we learnt from prisoners, was never more panic-stricken. The Romans, they declared, were invincible, rising superior to all calamities; for having thrown away a fleet, having lost their arms, after strewing the shores with the carcases of horses and of men, they had rushed to the attack with the same courage, with equal spirit, and, seemingly, with augmented numbers.

25. Sed fama classis amissae ut Germanos ad spem belli, ita Caesarem ad coercendum erexit. C. Silio cum triginta peditum, tribus equitum milibus ire in Chattos imperat; ipse maioribus copiis Marsos inrumpit, quorum dux Mallovendus nuper in deditionem acceptus propinquo luco defossam Varianae legionis aquilam modico praesidio servari indicat. missa extemplo manus quae hostem a fronte eliceret, alii qui terga circumgressi recluderent humum. et utrisque adfuit fortuna. eo promptior Caesar pergit introrsus, populatur, excindit non ausum congredi hostem aut, sicubi restiterat, statim pulsum nec umquam magis, ut ex captivis cognitum est, paventem. quippe invictos et nullis casibas superabilis Romanos praedicabant, qui perdita classe, amissis armis, post constrata equorum virorumque corporibus litora eadem virtute, pari ferocia et velut aucti numero inrupissent.

26. The soldiers were then led back into winter-quarters, rejoicing in their hearts at having been compensated for their disasters at sea by a successful expedition. They were helped too by Caesar's bounty, which made good whatever loss any one declared he had suffered. It was also regarded as a certainty that the enemy were wavering and consulting on negotiations for peace, and that, with an additional campaign next summer the war might be ended. Tiberius, however, in repeated letters advised Germanicus to return for the triumph decreed him. "He had now had enough of success, enough of disaster. He had fought victorious battles on a great scale; he should also remember those losses which the winds and waves had inflicted, and which, though due to no fault of the general, were still grievous and shocking. He, Tiberius, had himself been sent nine times by Augustus into Germany, and had done more by policy than by arms. By this means the submission of the Sugambri had been secured, and the Suevi with their king Maroboduus had been forced into peace. The Cherusci too and the other insurgent tribes, since the vengeance of Rome had been satisfied, might be left to their internal feuds." When Germanicus requested a year for the completion of his enterprise, Tiberius put a severer pressure on his modesty by offering him a second consulship, the functions of which he was to discharge in person. He also added that if war must still be waged, he might as well leave some materials for renown to his brother Drusus, who, as there was then no other enemy, could win only in Germany the imperial title and the triumphal laurel. Germanicus hesitated no longer, though he saw that this was a pretence, and that he was hurried away through jealousy from the glory he had already acquired.

26. Reductus inde in hiberna miles, laetus animi quod adversa marls expeditione prospera pensavisset. addidit munificentiam Caesar, quantum quis damni professus erat exsolvendo. nec dubium habebatur labare hostis petendaeque pacis consilia sumere, et si proxima aestas adiceretur, posse bellum patrari. sed crebris epistulis Tiberius monebat rediret ad decretum triumphum: satis iam eventuum, satis casuum. prospera illi et magna proelia: eorum quoque meminisset, quae venti et fluctus, nulla ducis culpa, gravia tamen et saeva damna intulissent. se novies a divo Augusto in Germaniam missum plura consilio quam vi perfecisse. sic Sugambros in deditionem acceptos, sic Suebos regemque Maroboduum pace obstrictum. posse et Cheruscos ceterasque rebellium gentis, quoniam Romanae ultioni consultum esset, internis discordiis relinqui. precante Germanico annum efficiendis coeptis, acrius modestiam eius adgreditur alterum consulatum offerendo cuius munia praesens obiret. simul adnectebat, si foret adhuc bellandum, relinqueret materiem Drusi fratris gloriae, qui nullo tum alio hoste non nisi apud Germanias adsequi nomen imperatorium et deportare lauream posset. haud cunctatus est ultra Germanicus, quamquam fingi ea seque per invidiam parto iam decori abstrahi intellegeret.

27. About the same time Libo Drusus, of the family of Scribonii, was accused of revolutionary schemes. I will explain, somewhat minutely, the beginning, progress, and end of this affair, since then first were originated those practices which for so many years have eaten into the heart of the State. Firmius Catus, a senator, an intimate friend of Libo's, prompted the young man, who was thoughtless and an easy prey to delusions, to resort to astrologers' promises, magical rites, and interpreters of dreams, dwelling ostentatiously on his great-grandfather Pompeius, his aunt Scribonia, who had formerly been wife of Augustus, his imperial cousins, his house crowded with ancestral busts, and urging him to extravagance and debt, himself the companion of his profligacy and desperate embarrassments, thereby to entangle him in all the more proofs of guilt.

27. Sub idem tempus e familia Scriboniorum Libo Drusus defertur moliri res novas. eius negotii initium, ordinem, finem curatius disseram, quia tum primum reperta sunt quae per tot annos rem publicam exedere. Firmius Catus senator, ex intima Libonis amicitia, invenem inprovidum et facilem inanibus ad Chaldaeorum promissa, magorum sacra, somniorum etiam interpretes impulit, dum proavom Pompeium, amitam Scriboniam, quae quondam Augusti coniunx fuerat, consobrinos Caesares, plenam imaginibus domum ostentat, hortaturque ad luxum et aes alienum, socius libidinum et necessitatum, quo pluribus indiciis inligaret.

28. As soon as he found enough witnesses, with some slaves who knew the facts, he begged an audience of the emperor, after first indicating the crime and the criminal through Flaccus Vescularius, a Roman knight, who was more intimate with Tiberius than himself. Caesar, without disregarding the information, declined an interview, for the communication, he said, might be conveyed to him through the same messenger, Flaccus. Meanwhile he conferred the praetorship on Libo and often invited him to his table, showing no unfriendliness in his looks or anger in his words (so thoroughly had he concealed his resentment); and he wished to know all his saying and doings, though it was in his power to stop them, till one Junius, who had been tampered with by Libo for the purpose of evoking by incantations spirits of the dead, gave information to Fulcinius Trio. Trio's ability was conspicuous among informers, as well as his eagerness for an evil notoriety. He at once pounced on the accused, went to the consuls, and demanded an inquiry before the Senate. The Senators were summoned, with a special notice that they must consult on a momentous and terrible matter.

28. Vt satis testium et qui servi eadem noscerent repperit, aditum ad principem postulat, demonstrato crimine et reo per Flaccum Vescularium equitem Romanum, cui propior cum Tiberio usus erat. Caesar indicium haud aspernatus congressus abnuit: posse enim eodem Flacco internuntio sermones commeare. atque interim Libonem ornat praetura, convictibus adhibet, non vultu alienatus, non verbis commotior (adeo iram condiderat); cunctaque eius dicta factaque, cum prohibere posset, scire malebat, donec Iunius quidam, temptatus ut infernas umbras carminibus eliceret, ad Fulcinium Trionem indicium detulit. celebre inter accusatores Trionis ingenium erat avidumque famae malae. statim corripit reum, adit consules, cognitionem senatus poscit. et vocantur patres, addito consultandum super re magna et atroci.

29. Libo meanwhile, in mourning apparel and accompanied by ladies of the highest rank, went to house after house, entreating his relatives, and imploring some eloquent voice to ward off his perils; which all refused, on different pretexts, but from the same apprehension. On the day the Senate met, jaded with fear and mental anguish, or, as some have related, feigning illness, he was carried in a litter to the doors of the Senate House, and leaning on his brother he raised his hands and voice in supplication to Tiberius, who received him with unmoved countenance. The emperor then read out the charges and the accusers' names, with such calmness as not to seem to soften or aggravate the accusations.

29. Libo interim veste mutata cum primoribus feminis circumire domos, orare adfinis, vocem adversum pericula poscere, abouentibus cunctis, cum diversa praetenderent, eadem formidine. die senatus metu et aegritudine fessus, sive, ut tradidere quidam, simulato morbo, lectica delatus ad foris curiae innisusque fratri et manus ac supplices voces ad Tiberium tendens immoto eius vultu excipitur. mox libellos et auctores recitat Caesar ita moderans ne lenire neve asperare crimina videretur.

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