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Tacitus: Annals Book 2 [80]

80. Piso, too, though his first attempts were unsuccessful, did not omit the safest precautions under present circumstances, but occupied a very strongly fortified position in Cilicia, named, Celenderis. He had raised to the strength of a legion the Cilician auxiliaries which the petty kings had sent, by mixing with them some deserters, and the lately intercepted recruits with his own and Plancina's slaves. And he protested that he, though Caesar's legate, was kept out of the province which Caesar had given him, not by the legions (for he had come at their invitation) but by Sentius, who was veiling private animosity under lying charges. "Only," he said, "stand in battle array, and the soldiers will not fight when they see that Piso whom they themselves once called 'father,' is the stronger, if right is to decide; if arms, is far from powerless." He then deployed his companies before the lines of the fortress on a high and precipitous hill, with the sea surrounding him on every other side. Against him were the veteran troops drawn up in ranks and with reserves, a formidable soldiery on one side, a formidable position on the other. But his men had neither heart nor hope, and only rustic weapons, extemporised for sudden use. When they came to fighting, the result was doubtful only while the Roman cohorts were struggling up to level ground; then, the Cilicians turned their backs and shut themselves up within the fortress.

80. Nec Piso, quamquam coepta secus cadebant, omisit tutissima e praesentibus, sed castellum Ciliciae munitum admodum, cui nomen Celenderis, occupat; nam admixtis desertoribus et tirone nuper intercepto suisque et Plancinae servitiis auxilia Cilicum quae reguli miserane in numerum legionis composuerat. Caesarisque se legatum testabatur provincia quam is dedisset arceri, non a legionibus (earum quippe accitu venire), sed a Sentio privatum odium falsis criminibus tegente. consisterent in acie, non pugnaturis militibus ubi Pisonem ab ipsis parentem quondam appellatum, si iure ageretur, potiorem, si armis, non invalidum vidissent tum pro munimentis castelli manipulos explicat colle arduo et derupto; nam cetera mari cinguntur. contra veterani ordinibus ac subsidiis instructi: hinc militum, inde locorum asperitas, sed non animus, non spes, ne tela quidem nisi agrestia aut subitum in usum properata. ut venere in manus, non ultra dubitatum quam dum Romanae cohortes in aequum eniterentur: vertunt terga Cilices seque castello claudunt.

81. Meanwhile Piso vainly attempted an attack on the fleet which waited at a distance; he then went back, and as he stood before the walls, now smiting his breast, now calling on individual soldiers by name, and luring them on by rewards, sought to excite a mutiny. He had so far roused them that a standard bearer of the sixth legion went over to him with his standard. Thereupon Sentius ordered the horns and trumpets to be sounded, the rampart to be assaulted, the scaling ladders to be raised, all the bravest men to mount on them, while others were to discharge from the engines spears, stones, and brands. At last Piso's obstinacy was overcome, and he begged that he might remain in the fortress on surrendering his arms, while the emperor was being consulted about the appointment of a governor to Syria. The proposed terms were refused, and all that was granted him were some ships and a safe return to Rome.

81. Interim Piso classem haud procul opperientem adpugnare frustra temptavit; regressusque et pro muris, modo semet adflictando, modo singulos nomine ciens, praemiis vocans, seditionem coeptabat, adeoque commoverat ut signifer legionis sextae signum ad eum transtulerit. tum Sentius occanere cornua tubasque et peti aggerem, erigi scalas iussit ac promptissimum quemque succedere, alios tormentis hastas saxa et faces ingerere. tandem victa pertinacia Piso oravit ut traditis armis maneret in castello, dum Caesar cui Syriam permitteret consulitur. non receptae condiciones nec aliud quam naves et tutum in urbem iter concessum est.

82. There meantime, when the illness of Germanicus was universally known, and all news, coming, as it did, from a distance, exaggerated the danger, there was grief and indignation. There was too an outburst of complaint. "Of course this was the meaning," they said, "of banishing him to the ends of the earth, of giving Piso the province; this was the drift of Augusta's secret interviews with Plancina. What elderly men had said of Drusus was perfectly true, that rulers disliked a citizen-like temper in their sons, and the young princes had been put out of the way because they had the idea of comprehending in a restored era of freedom the Roman people under equal laws." This popular talk was so stimulated by the news of Germanicus's death that even before the magistrate's proclamation or the Senate's resolution, there was a voluntary suspension of business, the public courts were deserted, and private houses closed. Everywhere there was a silence broken only by groans; nothing was arranged for mere effect. And though they refrained not from the emblems of the mourner, they sorrowed yet the more deeply in their hearts. It chanced that some merchants who left Syria while Germanicus was still alive, brought more cheering tidings about his health. These were instantly believed, instantly published. Every one passed on to others whom he met the intelligence, ill-authenticated as it was, and they again to many more, with joyous exaggeration. They ran to and fro through the city and broke open the doors of the temples. Night assisted their credulity, and amid the darkness confident assertion was comparatively easy. Nor did Tiberius check the false reports till by lapse of time they died away.

82. At Romae, postquam Germanici valetudo percrebuit cunctaque ut ex longinquo aucta in deterius adferebantur, dolor ira, et erumpebant questus. ideo nimirum in extremas terras relegatum, ideo Pisoni permissam provinciam; hoc egisse secretos Augustae cum Plancina sermones. vera prorsus de Druso seniores locutos: displicere regnantibus civilia filiorum ingenia, neque ob aliud interceptos quam quia populum Romanum aequo iure complecti reddita libertate agitaverint. hos vulgi sermones audita mors adeo incendit ut ante edictum magistratuum, ante senatus consultum sumpto iustitio desererentur fora, clauderentur domus. passim silentia et gemitus, nihil compositum in ostentationem; et quamquam neque insignibus lugentium abstinerent, altius animis maerebant. forte negotiatores vivente adhuc Germanico Syria egressi laetiora de valetudine eius attulere. statim credita, statim vulgata sunt: ut quisque obvius, quamvis leviter audita in alios atque illi in plures cumulata gaudio transferunt. cursant per urbem, molinutur templorum foris; iuvat credulitatem nox et promptior inter tenebras adfirmatio. nec obstitit falsis Tiberius donec tempore ac spatio vanescerent: et populus quasi rursum ereptum acrius doluit.

83. And so the people grieved the more bitterly as though Germanicus was again lost to them. New honours were devised and decreed, as men were inspired by affection for him or by genius. His name was to be celebrated in the song of the Salii; chairs of state with oaken garlands over them were to be set up in the places assigned to the priesthood of the Augustales; his image in ivory was to head the procession in the games of the circus; no flamen or augur, except from the Julian family, was to be chosen in the room of Germanicus. Triumphal arches were erected at Rome, on the banks of the Rhine, and on mount Amanus in Syria, with an inscription recording his achievements, and how he had died in the public service. A cenotaph was raised at Antioch, where the body was burnt, a lofty mound at Epidaphna, where he had ended his life. The number of his statues, or of the places in which they were honoured, could not easily be computed. When a golden shield of remarkable size was voted him as a leader among orators, Tiberius declared that he would dedicate to him one of the usual kind, similar to the rest, for in eloquence, he said, there was no distinction of rank, and it was a sufficient glory for him to be classed among ancient writers. The knights called the seats in the theatre known as "the juniors," Germanicus's benches, and arranged that their squadrons were to ride in procession behind his effigy on the fifteenth of July. Many of these honours still remain; some were at once dropped, or became obsolete with time.

83. Honores ut quis amore in Germanicum aut ingenio validus reperti decretique: ut nomen eius Saliari carmine caneretur; sedes curules sacerdotum Augustalium locis superque eas querceae coronae statuerentur; ludos circensis eburna effigies praeiret neve quis flamen aut augur in locum Germanici nisi gentis Iuliae crearetur. arcus additi Romae et apud ripam Rheni et in monte Syriae Amano cum inscriptione rerum gestarum ac mortem ob rem publicam obisse. sepulchrum Antiochiae ubi crematus, tribunal Epidaphnae quo in loco vitam finierat. statuarum locorumve in quis coleretur haud facile quis numerum inierit. cum censeretur clipeus auro et magnitudine insignis inter auctores eloquentiae, adseveravit Tiberius solitum paremque ceteris dicaturum: neque enim eloquentiam fortuna discerni et satis inlustre si veteres inter scriptores haberetur. equester ordo cuneum Germanici appellavit qui iuniorum dicebatur, instituitque uti turmae idibus Iuliis imaginem eius sequerentur. pleraque manent: quaedam statim omissa sunt aut vetustas oblitteravit.

84. While men's sorrow was yet fresh, Germanicus's sister Livia, who was married to Drusus, gave birth to twin sons. This, as a rare event, causing joy even in humble homes, so delighted the emperor that he did not refrain from boasting before the senators that to no Roman of the same rank had twin offspring ever before been born. In fact, he would turn to his own glory every incident, however casual. But at such a time, even this brought grief to the people, who thought that the increase of Drusus's family still further depressed the house of Germanicus.

84. Ceterum recenti adhuc maestitia soror Germanici Livia, nupta Druso, duos virilis sexus simul enixa est. quod rarum laetumque etiam modicis penatibus tanto gaudio principem adfecit ut non temperaverit quin iactaret apud patres nulli ante Romanorum eiusdem fastigii viro geminam stirpem editam: nam cuncta, etiam fortuita, ad gloriam vertebat. sed populo tali in tempore id quoque dolorem tulit, tamquam auctus liberis Drusus domum Germanici magis urgeret.

85. That same year the profligacy of women was checked by stringent enactments, and it was provided that no woman whose grandfather, father, or husband had been a Roman knight should get money by prostitution. Vistilia, born of a praetorian family, had actually published her name with this object on the aedile's list, according to a recognised custom of our ancestors, who considered it a sufficient punishment on unchaste women to have to profess their shame. Titidius Labeo, Vistilia's husband, was judicially called on to say why with a wife whose guilt was manifest he had neglected to inflict the legal penalty. When he pleaded that the sixty days given for deliberation had not yet expired, it was thought sufficient to decide Vistilia's case, and she was banished out of sight to the island of Seriphos. There was a debate too about expelling the Egyptian and Jewish worship, and a resolution of the Senate was passed that four thousand of the freedmen class who were infected with those superstitions and were of military age should be transported to the island of Sardinia, to quell the brigandage of the place, a cheap sacrifice should they die from the pestilential climate. The rest were to quit Italy, unless before a certain day they repudiated their impious rites.

85. Eodem anno gravibus senatus decretis libido feminarum coercita cautumque ne quaestum corpore faceret cui avus aut pater aut maritus eques Romanus fuisset. nam Vistilia praetoria familia genita licentiam stupri apud aedilis vulgaverat, more inter veteres recepto, qui satis poenarum adversum impudicas in ipsa professione flagitii credebant. exactum et a Titidio Labeone Vistiliae marito cur in uxore delicti manifesta ultionem legis omisisset. atque illo praetendente sexaginta dies ad consultandum datos necdum praeterisse, satis visum de Vistilia statuere; eaque in insulam Seriphon abdita est. actum et de sacris Aegyptiis Iudaicisque pellendis factumque patrum consultum ut quattuor milia libertini generis ea superstitione infecta quis idonea aetas in insulam Sardiniam veherentur, coercendis illic latrociniis et, si ob gravitatem caeli interissent, vile damnum; ceteri cederent Italia nisi certam ante diem profanos ritus exuissent.

86. Next the emperor brought forward a motion for the election of a Vestal virgin in the room of Occia, who for fifty-seven years had presided with the most immaculate virtue over the Vestal worship. He formally thanked Fonteius Agrippa and Domitius Pollio for offering their daughters and so vying with one another in zeal for the commonwealth. Pollio's daughter was preferred, only because her mother had lived with one and the same husband, while Agrippa had impaired the honour of his house by a divorce. The emperor consoled his daughter, passed over though she was, with a dowry of a million sesterces.

86. Post quae rettulit Caesar capiendam virginem in locum Occiae, quae septem et quinquaginta per annos summa sanctimonia Vestalibus sacris praesederat; egitque grates Fonteio Agrippae et Domitio Pollioni quod offerendo filias de officio in rem publicam certarent. praelata est Pollionis filia, non ob aliud quam quod mater eius in eodem coniugio manebat; nam Agrippa discidio domum imminuerat. et Caesar quamvis posthabitam decies sestertii dote solatus est.

87. As the city populace complained of the cruel dearness of corn, he fixed a price for grain to be paid by the purchaser, promising himself to add two sesterces on every peck for the traders. But he would not therefore accept the title of "father of the country" which once before too had been offered him, and he sharply rebuked those who called his work "divine" and himself "lord." Consequently, speech was restricted and perilous under an emperor who feared freedom while he hated sycophancy.

87. Saevitiam annonae incusante plebe statuit frumento pretium quod emptor penderet, binosque nummos se additurum negotiatoribus in singulos modios. neque tamen ob ea parentis patriae delatum et antea vocabulum adsumpsit, acerbeque increpuit eos qui divinas occupationes ipsumque dominum dixerant. unde angusta et lubrica oratio sub principe qui libertatem metuebat adulationem oderat.

88. I find it stated by some writers and senators of the period that a letter from Adgandestrius, chief of the Chatti, was read in the Senate, promising the death of Arminius, if poison were sent for the perpetration of the murder, and that the reply was that it was not by secret treachery but openly and by arms that the people of Rome avenged themselves on their enemies. A noble answer, by which Tiberius sought to liken himself to those generals of old who had forbidden and even denounced the poisoning of king Pyrrhus. Arminius, meanwhile, when the Romans retired and Maroboduus was expelled, found himself opposed in aiming at the throne by his countrymen's independent spirit. He was assailed by armed force, and while fighting with various success, fell by the treachery of his kinsmen. Assuredly he was the deliverer of Germany, one too who had defied Rome, not in her early rise, as other kings and generals, but in the height of her empire's glory, had fought, indeed, indecisive battles, yet in war remained unconquered. He completed thirty-seven years of life, twelve years of power, and he is still a theme of song among barbarous nations, though to Greek historians, who admire only their own achievements, he is unknown, and to Romans not as famous as he should be, while we extol the past and are indifferent to our own times. 88. Reperio apud scriptores senatoresque eorundem temporum Adgandestrii principis Chattorum lectas in senatu litteras, quibus mortem Arminii promittebat si patrandae neci venenum mitteretur, responsumque esse non fraude neque occultis, sed palam et armatum populum Romanum hostis suos ulcisci. qua gloria aequabat se Tiberius priscis imperatoribus qui venenum in Pyrrum regem vetuerant prodiderantque. ceterum Arminius abscedentibus Romanis et pulso Maroboduo regnum adfectans libertatem popularium adversam habuit, petitusque armis cum varia fortuna certaret, dolo propinquorum cecidit: liberator haud dubie Germaniae et qui non primordia populi Romani, sicut alii reges ducesque, sed florentissimum imperium lacessierit, proeliis ambiguus, bello non victus. septem et triginta annos vitae, duodecim potentiae explevit, caniturque adhuc barbaras apud gentis, Graecorum annalibus ignotus, qui sua tantum mirantur, Romanis haud perinde celebris, dun vetera extollimus recentium incuriosi.

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