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Tacitus: Annals Book 3 [30]

30. Two remarkable men died at the end of the year, Lucius Volusius and Sallustius Crispus. Volusius was of an old family, which had however never risen beyond the praetorship. He brought into it the consulship; he also held the office of censor for arranging the classes of the knights, and was the first to pile up the wealth which that house enjoyed to a boundless extent. Crispus was of equestrian descent and grandson of a sister of Caius Sallustius, that most admirable Roman historian, by whom he was adopted and whose name he took. Though his road to preferment was easy, he chose to emulate Maecenas, and without rising to a senator's rank, he surpassed in power many who had won triumphs and consulships. He was a contrast to the manners of antiquity in his elegance and refinement, and in the sumptuousness of his wealth he was almost a voluptuary. But beneath all this was a vigorous mind, equal to the greatest labours, the more active in proportion as he made a show of sloth and apathy. And so while Maecenas lived, he stood next in favour to him, and was afterwards the chief depository of imperial secrets, and accessory to the murder of Postumus Agrippa, till in advanced age he retained the shadow rather than the substance of the emperor's friendship. The same too had happened to Maecenas, so rarely is it the destiny of power to be lasting, or perhaps a sense of weariness steals over princes when they have bestowed everything, or over favourites, when there is nothing left them to desire.

30. Fine anni concessere vita insignes viri L. Volusius et Sallustius Crispus. Volusio vetus familia neque tamen praeturam egressa: ipse consulatum intulit, censoria etiam potestate legendis equitum decuriis functus, opumque quis domus illa immensum viguit primus adcumulator. Crispum equestri ortum loco C. Sallustius, rerum Romanarum florentissimus auctor, sororis nepotem in nomen adscivit. atque ille, quamquam prompto ad capessendos honores aditu, Maecenatem aemulatus sine dignitate senatoria multos triumphalium consulariumque potentia antiit, diversus a veterum instituto per cultum et munditias copiaque et affluentia luxu propior. suberat tamen vigor animi ingentibus negotiis par, eo acrior quo somnum et inertiam magis ostentabat. igitur incolumi Maecenate proximus, mox praecipuus, cui secreta imperatorum inniterentur, et interficiendi Postumi Agrippae conscius, aetate provecta speciem magis in amicitia principis quam vim tenuit. idque et Maecenati acciderat, fato potentiae raro sempiternae, an satias capit aut illos cum omnia tribuerunt aut hos cum iam nihil reliquum est quod cupiant.

31. Next followed Tiberius's fourth, Drusus's second consulship, memorable from the fact that father and son were colleagues. Two years previously the association of Germanicus and Tiberius in the same honour had not been agreeable to the uncle, nor had it the link of so close a natural tie. At the beginning of this year Tiberius, avowedly to recruit his health, retired to Campania, either as a gradual preparation for long and uninterrupted seclusion, or in order that Drusus alone in his father's absence might discharge the duties of the consulship. It happened that a mere trifle which grew into a sharp contest gave the young prince the means of acquiring popularity. Domitius Corbulo, an ex-praetor, complained to the Senate that Lucius Sulla, a young noble, had not given place to him at a gladiatorial show. Corbulo had age, national usage and the feelings of the older senators in his favour. Against him Mamercus Scaurus, Lucius Arruntius and other kinsmen of Sulla strenuously exerted themselves. There was a keen debate, and appeal was made to the precedents of our ancestors, as having censured in severe decrees disrespect on the part of the young, till Drusus argued in a strain calculated to calm their feelings. Corbulo too received an apology from Mamercus, who was Sulla's uncle and stepfather, and the most fluent speaker of that day. It was this same Corbulo, who, after raising a cry that most of the roads in Italy were obstructed or impassable through the dishonesty of contractors and the negligence of officials, himself willingly undertook the complete management of the business. This proved not so beneficial to the State as ruinous to many persons, whose property and credit he mercilessly attacked by convictions and confiscations.

31. Sequitur Tiberi quartus, Drusi secundus consulatus, patris atque filii collegio insignis. nam triennio ante Germanici cum Tiberio idem honor neque patruo laetus neque natura tam conexus fuerat. eius anni principio Tiberius quasi firmandae valetudini in Campaniam concessit, longam et continuam absentiam paulatim meditans, sive ut amoto patre Drusus munia consulatus solus impleret. ac forte parva res magnum ad certamen progressa praebuit iuveni materiem apiscendi favoris. Domitius Corbulo praetura functus de L. Sulla nobili iuvene questus est apud senatum quod sibi inter spectacula gladiatorum loco non decessisset. pro Corbulone aetas, patrius mos, studia seniorum erant: contra Mamercus Scaurus et L. Arruntius aliique Sullae propinqui nitebantur. certabantque orationibus et memorabantur exempla maiorum qui iuventutis inreverentiam gravibus decretis notavissent, donec Drusus apta temperandis animis disseruit; et satisfactum Corbuloni per Mamercum qui patruus simul ac vitricus Sullae et oratorum [EA] aetate uberrimus erat. idem Corbulo plurima per Italiam itinera fraude mancipum et incuria magistratuum interrupta et impervia clamitando, executionem eius negotii libens suscepit; quod haud perinde publice usui habitum quam exitiosum multis quorum in pecuniam atque famam damnationibus et hasta saeviebat.

32. Soon afterwards Tiberius informed the Senate by letter that Africa was again disturbed by an incursion of Tacfarinas, and that they must use their judgment in choosing as proconsul an experienced soldier of vigorous constitution, who would be equal to the war. Sextus Pompeius caught at this opportunity of venting his hatred against Lepidus, whom he condemned as a poor-spirited and needy man, who was a disgrace to his ancestors, and therefore deserved to lose even his chance of the province of Asia. But the Senate were against him, for they thought Lepidus gentle rather than cowardly, and that his inherited poverty, with the high rank in which he had lived without a blot, ought to be considered a credit to instead of a reproach. And so he was sent to Asia, and with respect to Africa it was decided that the emperor should choose to whom it was to be assigned.

32. Neque multo post missis ad senatum litteris Tiberius motam rursum Africam incursu Tacfarinatis docuit, iudicioque patrum deligendum pro consule gnarum militiae, corpore validum et bello suffecturum. quod initium Sex. Pompeius agitandi adversus Marcum Lepidum odii nanctus, ut socordem, inopem et maioribus suis dedecorum eoque etiam Asiae sorte depellendum incusavit, adverso senatu qui Lepidum mitem magis quam ignavum, paternas ei angustias et nobilitatem sine probro actam honori quam ignominiae habendam ducebat. igitur missus in Asiam et de Africa decretum ut Caesar legeret cui mandanda foret.

33. During this debate Severus Caecina proposed that no magistrate who had obtained a province should be accompanied by his wife. He began by recounting at length how harmoniously he had lived with his wife, who had borne him six children, and how in his own home he had observed what he was proposing for the public, by having kept her in Italy, though he had himself served forty campaigns in various provinces. "With good reason," he said, "had it been formerly decided that women were not to be taken among our allies or into foreign countries. A train of women involves delays through luxury in peace and through panic in war, and converts a Roman army on the march into the likeness of a barbarian progress. Not only is the sex feeble and unequal to hardship, but, when it has liberty, it is spiteful, intriguing and greedy of power. They show themselves off among the soldiers and have the centurions at their beck. Lately a woman had presided at the drill of the cohorts and the evolutions of the legions. You should yourselves bear in mind that, whenever men are accused of extortion, most of the charges are directed against the wives. It is to these that the vilest of the provincials instantly attach themselves; it is they who undertake and settle business; two persons receive homage when they appear; there are two centres of government, and the women's orders are the more despotic and intemperate. Formerly they were restrained by the Oppian and other laws; now, loosed from every bond, they rule our houses, our tribunals, even our armies."

33. Inter quae Severus Caecina censuit ne quem magistratum cui provincia obvenisset uxor comitaretur, multum ante repetito concordem sibi coniugem et sex partus enixam, seque quae in publicum statueret domi servavisse, cohibita intra Italiam, quamquam ipse pluris per provincias quadraginta stipendia explevisset. haud enim frustra placitum olim ne feminae in socios aut gentis externas traherentur: inesse mulierum comitatui quae pacem luxu, bellum formidine morentur et Romanum agmen ad similitudinem barbari incessus convertant. non imbecillum tantum et imparem laboribus sexum sed, si licentia adsit, saevum, ambitiosum, potestatis avidum; incedere inter milites, habere ad manum centuriones; praesedisse nuper feminam exercitio cohortium, decursu legionum. cogitarent ipsi quotiens repetundarum aliqui arguerentur plura uxoribus obiectari: his statim adhaerescere deterrimum quemque provincialium, ab his negotia suscipi, transigi; duorum egressus coli, duo esse praetoria, pervicacibus magis et impotentibus mulierum iussis quae Oppiis quondam aliisque legius constrictae nunc vinclis exolutis domos, fora, iam et exercitus regerent.

34. A few heard this speech with approval, but the majority clamorously objected that there was no proper motion on the subject, and that Caecina was no fit censor on so grave an issue. Presently Valerius Messalinus, Messala's son, in whom the father's eloquence was reproduced, replied that much of the sternness of antiquity had been changed into a better and more genial system. "Rome," he said, "is not now, as formerly, beset with wars, nor are the provinces hostile. A few concessions are made to the wants of women, but such as are not even a burden to their husbands homes, much less to the allies. In all other respects man and wife share alike, and this arrangement involves no trouble in peace. War of course requires that men should be unincumbered, but when they return what worthier solace can they have after their hardships than a wife's society? But some wives have abandoned themselves to scheming and rapacity. Well; even among our magistrates, are not many subject to various passions? Still, that is not a reason for sending no one into a province. Husbands have often been corrupted by the vices of their wives. Are then all unmarried men blameless? The Oppian laws were formerly adopted to meet the political necessities of the time, and subsequently there was some remission and mitigation of them on grounds of expediency. It is idle to shelter our own weakness under other names; for it is the husband's fault if the wife transgresses propriety. Besides, it is wrong that because of the imbecility of one or two men, all husbands should be cut off from their partners in prosperity and adversity. And further, a sex naturally weak will be thus left to itself and be at the mercy of its own voluptuousness and the passions of others. Even with the husband's personal vigilance the marriage tie is scarcely preserved inviolate. What would happen were it for a number of years to be forgotten, just as in a divorce? You must not check vices abroad without remembering the scandals of the capital." Drusus added a few words on his own experience as a husband. "Princes," he said, "must often visit the extremities of their empire. How often had the Divine Augustus travelled to West and to the East accompanied by Livia? He had himself gone to Illyricum and, should it be expedient, he would go to other countries, not always however with a contented mind, if he had to tear himself from a much loved wife, the mother of his many children."

34. Paucorum haec adsensu audita: plures obturbabant neque relatum de negotio neque Caecinam dignum tantae rei censorem. mox Valerius Messalinus, cui parens Messala ineratque imago paternae facundiae, respondit multa duritiae veterum [IN] melius et laetius mutata; neque enim, ut olim, obsideri urbem bellis aut provincias hostilis esse. et pauca feminarum necessitatibus concidi quae ne coniugum quidem penatis, adeo socios non onerent; cetera promisca cum marito nec ullum in eo pacis impedimentum. bella plane accinctis obeunda: sed revertentibus post laborem quod honestius quam uxorium levamentum? at quasdam in ambitionem aut avaritiam prolapsas. quid? ipsorum magistratuum nonne plerosque variis libidinibus obnoxios? non tamen ideo neminem in provinciam mitti. corruptos saepe pravitatibus uxorum maritos: num ergo omnis caelibes integros? placuisse quondam Oppias leges, sic temporibus rei publicae postulantibus: remissum aliquid postea et mitigatum, quia expedierit. frustra nostram ignaviam alia ad vocabula transferri: nam viri in eo culpam si femina modum excedat. porro ob unius aut alterius imbecillum animum male eripi maritis consortia rerum secundarum adversarumque. simul sexum natura invalidum deseri et exponi suo luxu, cupidinibus alienis. vix praesenti custodia manere inlaesa coniugia: quid fore si per pluris annos in modum discidii oblitterentur? sic obviam irent iis quae alibi peccarentur ut flagitiorum urbis meminissent. addidit pauca Drusus de matrimonio suo; nam principibus adeunda saepius longinqua imperii. quoties divum Augustum in Occidentem atque Orientem meavisse comite Livia! se quoque in Illyricum profectum et, si ita conducat, alias ad gentis iturum, haud semper aeque animo si ab uxore carissima et tot communium liberorum parente divelleretur. sic Caecinae sententia elusa.

35. Caecina's motion was thus defeated. At the Senate's next meeting came a letter from Tiberius, which indirectly censured them for throwing on the emperor every political care, and named Marcus Lepidus and Junius Blaesus, one of whom was to be chosen pro-consul of Africa. Both spoke on the subject, and Lepidus begged earnestly to be excused. He alleged ill-health, his children's tender age, his having a daughter to marry, and something more of which he said nothing, was well understood, the fact that Blaesus was uncle of Sejanus and so had very powerful interest. Blaesus replied with an affectation of refusal, but not with the same persistency, nor was he backed up by the acquiescence of flatterers.

35. Et proximo senatus die Tiberius per litteras, castigatis oblique patribus quod cuncta curarum ad principem reicerent, M'. Lepidum et Iunium Blaesum nominavit ex quis pro consule Africae legeretur. tum audita amborum verba, intentius excusante se Lepido, cum valetudinem corporis, aetatem liberum, nubilem filiam obtenderet, intellegereturque etiam quod silebat, avunculum esse Seiani Blaesum atque eo praevalidum. respondit Blaesus specie recusantis sed neque eadem adseveratione et consensu adulantium adiutus est.

36. Next was exposed an abuse, hitherto the subject of many a whispered complaint. The vilest wretches used a growing freedom in exciting insult and obloquy against respectable citizens, and escaped punishment by clasping some statue of the emperor. The very freedman or slave was often an actual terror to his patron or master whom he would menace by word and gesture. Accordingly Caius Cestius, a senator, argued that "though princes were like deities, yet even the gods listened only to righteous prayers from their suppliants, and that no one fled to the Capitol or any other temple in Rome to use it as an auxiliary in crime. There was an end and utter subversion of all law when, in the forum and on the threshold of the Senate House, Annia Rufilla, whom he had convicted of fraud before a judge, assailed him with insults and threats, while he did not himself dare to try legal proceedings, because he was confronted by her with the emperor's image." There rose other clamorous voices, with even more flagrant complaints, and all implored Drusus to inflict exemplary vengeance, till he ordered Rufilla to be summoned, and on her conviction to be confined in the common prison.

36. Exim promptum quod multorum intimis questibus tegebatur. incedebat enim deterrimo cuique licentia impune probra et invidiam in bonos excitandi arrepta imagine Caesaris: libertique etiam ac servi, patrono vel domino cum voces, cum manus intentarent, ultro metuebantur. igitur C. Cestius senator disseruit principes quidem instar deorum esse, sed neque a diis nisi iustas supplicum preces audiri neque quemquam in Capitolium aliave urbis templa perfugere ut eo subsidio ad flagitia utatur. abolitas leges et funditus versas, ubi in foro, in limine curiae ab Annia Rufilla, quam fraudis sub iudice damnavisset, probra sibi et minae intendantur, neque ipse audeat ius experiri ob effigiem imperatoris oppositam. haud dissimilia alii et quidam atrociora circumstrepebant, precabanturque Drusum daret ultionis exemplum, donec accitam convictamque attineri publica custodia iussit.

37. Considius Aequus too and Coelius Cursor, Roman knights, were punished on the emperor's proposal, by a decree of the Senate, for having attacked the praetor, Magius Caecilianus, with false charges of treason. Both these results were represented as an honour to Drusus. By moving in society at Rome, amid popular talk, his father's dark policy, it was thought, was mitigated. Even voluptuousness in one so young gave little offence. Better that he should incline that way, spend his days in architecture, his nights in banquets, than that he should live in solitude, cut off from every pleasure, and absorbed in a gloomy vigilance and mischievous schemes.

37. Et Considius Aequus et Caelius cursor equites Romani quod fictis maiestatis criminibus Magium Caecilianum praetorem petivissent auctore principe ac decreto senatus puniti. utrumque in laudem Drusi trahebatur: ab eo in urbe inter coetus et sermones hominum obversante secreta patris mitigari. neque luxus in iuvene adeo displicebat: huc potius intenderet, diem aedificationibus noctem conviviis traheret, quam solus et nullis voluptatibus avocatus maestam vigilantiam et malas curas exerceret.

38. Tiberius indeed and the informers were never weary. Ancharius Priscus had prosecuted Caesius Cordus, proconsul of Crete, for extortion, adding a charge of treason, which then crowned all indictments. Antistius Vetus, one of the chief men of Macedonia, who had been acquitted of adultery, was recalled by the emperor himself, with a censure on the judges, to be tried for treason, as a seditious man who had been implicated in the designs of Rhescuporis, when that king after the murder of his brother Cotys had meditated war against us. The accused was accordingly outlawed, with the further sentence that he was to be confined in an island from which neither Macedonia nor Thrace were conveniently accessible. As for Thrace, since the division of the kingdom between Rhoemetalces and the children of Cotys, who because of their tender age were under the guardianship of Trebellienus Rufus, it was divided against itself, from not being used to our rule, and blamed Rhoemetalces no less than Trebellienus for allowing the wrongs of his countrymen to go unpunished. The Coelaletae, Odrusae and Dii, powerful tribes, took up arms, under different leaders, all on a level from their obscurity. This hindered them from combining in a formidable war. Some roused their immediate neighbourhood; others crossed Mount Haemus, to stir up remote tribes; most of them, and the best disciplined, besieged the king in the city of Philippopolis, founded by the Macedonian Philip.

38. Non enim Tiberius, non accusatores fatiscebant. et Ancharius Priscus Caesium Cordum pro consule Cretae postulaverat repetundis, addito maiestatis crimine, quod tum omnium accusationum complementum erat. Caesar Antistium Veterem e primoribus Macedoniae, absolutum adulterii, increpitis iudicibus ad dicendam maiestatis causam retraxit, ut turbidum et Rhescuporidis consiliis permixtum, qua tempestate Cotye [fratre] interfecto bellum adversus nos volverat. igitur aqua et igni interdictum reo, adpositumque ut teneretur insula neque Macedoniae neque Thraeciae opportuna. nam Thraecia diviso imperio in Rhoemetalcen et libetos Cotyis, quis ob infantiam tutor erat Trebellenus Rufus, insolentia nostri discors agebat neque minus Rhoemetalcen quam Trebellenum incusans popularium iniurias inultas sinere. Coelaletae Odrusaeque et Dii, validae nationes, arma cepere, ducibus diversis et paribus inter se per ignobilitatem; quae causa fuit ne in bellum atrox coalescerent. pars turbant praesentia, alii montem Haemum transgrediuntur ut remotos populos concirent; plurimi ac maxime compositi regem urbemque Philippopolim, a Macedone Philippo sitam, circumsidunt.

39. When this was known to Publius Vellaeus who commanded the nearest army, he sent some allied cavalry and light infantry to attack those who were roaming in quest of plunder or of reinforcements, while he marched in person with the main strength of the foot to raise the siege. Every operation was at the same moment successful; the pillagers were cut to pieces; dissensions broke out among the besiegers, and the king made a well-timed sally just as the legion arrived. A battle or even a skirmish it did not deserve to be called, in which merely half-armed stragglers were slaughtered without bloodshed on our side.

39. Quae ubi cognita P. Vellaeo (is proximum exercitum praesidebat), alarios equites ac levis cohortium mittit in eos qui praedabundi aut adsumendis auxiliis vagabantur, ipse robur peditum ad exolvendum obsidium ducit. simulque cuncta prospere acta, caesis populatoribus et dissensione orta apud obsidentis regisque opportuna eruptione et adventu legionis. neque aciem aut proelium dici decuerit in quo semermi ac palantes trucidati sunt sine nostro sanguine.

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