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Tacitus: Annals Book 12 [50]

50. For Vologeses, thinking that an opportunity presented itself of invading Armenia, which, though the possession of his ancestors, was now through a monstrous crime held by a foreign prince, raised an army and prepared to establish Tiridates on the throne, so that not a member of his house might be without kingly power. On the advance of the Parthians, the Iberians dispersed without a battle, and the Armenian cities, Artaxata and Tigranocerta, submitted to the yoke. Then a frightful winter or deficient supplies, with pestilence arising from both causes, forced Vologeses to abandon his present plans. Armenia was thus again without a king, and was invaded by Rhadamistus, who was now fiercer than ever, looking on the people as disloyal and sure to rebel on the first opportunity. They however, though accustomed to be slaves, suddenly threw off their tameness and gathered round the palace in arms.

50. Nam Vologeses casum invadendae Armeniae obvenisse ratus, quam a maioribus suis possessam externus rex flagitio obtineret, contrahit copias fratremque Tiridaten deducere in regnum parat, ne qua pars domus sine imperio ageret. incessu Parthorum sine acie pulsi Hiberi, urbesque Armeniorum Artaxata et Tigranocerta iugum accepere. deinde atrox hiems et parum provisi commeatus et orta ex utroque tabes perpellunt Vologesen omittere praesentia. vacuamque rursus Armeniam Radamistus invasit, truculentior quam antea, tamquam adversus defectores et in tempore rebellaturos. atque illi quamvis servitio sueti patientiam abrumpunt armisque regiam circumveniunt.

51. Rhadamistus had no means of escape but in the swiftness of the horses which bore him and his wife away. Pregnant as she was, she endured, somehow or other, out of fear of the enemy and love of her husband, the first part of the flight, but after a while, when she felt herself shaken by its continuous speed, she implored to be rescued by an honourable death from the shame of captivity. He at first embraced, cheered, and encouraged her, now admiring her heroism, now filled with a sickening apprehension at the idea of her being left to any man's mercy. Finally, urged by the intensity of his love and familiarity with dreadful deeds, he unsheathed his scymitar, and having stabbed her, dragged her to the bank of the Araxes and committed her to the stream, so that her very body might be swept away. Then in headlong flight he hurried to Iberia, his ancestral kingdom. Zenobia meanwhile (this was her name), as she yet breathed and showed signs of life on the calm water at the river's edge, was perceived by some shepherds, who inferring from her noble appearance that she was no base-born woman, bound up her wound and applied to it their rustic remedies. As soon as they knew her name and her adventure, they conveyed her to the city of Artaxata, whence she was conducted at the public charge to Tiridates, who received her kindly and treated her as a royal person.

51. Nec aliud Radamisto subsidium fuit quam pernicitas equorum, quis seque et coniugem abstulit. sed coniunx gravida primam utcumque fugam ob metum hostilem et mariti caritatem toleravit; post festinatione continua, ubi quati uterus et viscera vibrantur, orare ut morte honesta contumeliis captivitatis eximeretur. ille primo amplecti adlevare adhortari, modo virtutem admirans, modo timore aeger ne quis relicta poteretur. postremo violentia amoris et facinorum non rudis destringit acinacen vulneratamque ripam ad Araxis trahit, flumini tradit ut corpus etiam auferretur: ipse praeceps Hiberos ad patrium regnum pervadit. interim Zenobiam (id mulieri nomen) placida in eluvie spirantem ac vitae manifestam advertere pastores, et dignitate formae haud degenerem reputantes obligant vulnus, agrestia medicamina adhibent cognitoque nomine et casu in urbem Artaxata ferunt; unde publica cura deducta ad Tiridaten comiterque excepta cultu regio habita est.

52. In the consulship of Faustus Sulla and Salvius Otho, Furius Scribonianus was banished on the ground that he was consulting the astrologers about the emperor's death. His mother, Junia, was included in the accusation, as one who still resented the misfortune of exile which she had suffered in the past. His father, Camillus, had raised an armed insurrection in Dalmatia, and the emperor in again sparing a hostile family sought the credit of clemency. But the exile did not live long after this; whether he was cut off by a natural death, or by poison, was matter of conflicting rumours, according to people's belief. A decree of the Senate was then passed for the expulsion of the astrologers from Italy, stringent but ineffectual. Next the emperor, in a speech, commended all who, from their limited means, voluntarily retired from the Senatorian order, while those were degraded from it who, by retaining their seats, added effrontery to poverty.

52. Fausto Sulla Salvio Othone consulibus Furius Scribonianus in exilium agitur, quasi finem principis per Chaldaeos scrutaretur. adnectebatur crimini Vibia mater eius, ut casus prioris (nam relegata erat) impatiens. pater Scriboniani Camillus arma per Dalmatiam moverat; idque ad clementiam trahebat Caesar, quod stirpem hostilem iterum conservaret. neque tamen exuli longa posthac vita fuit: morte fortuita an per venenum extinctus esset, ut quisque credidit, vulgavere. de mathematicis Italia pellendis factum senatus consultum atrox et inritum. laudati dehinc oratione principis qui ob angustias familiaris ordine senatorio sponte cederent, motique qui remanendo impudentiam paupertati adicerent.

53. During these proceedings he proposed to the Senate a penalty on women who united themselves in marriage to slaves, and it was decided that those who had thus demeaned themselves, without the knowledge of the slave's master, should be reduced to slavery; if with his consent, should be ranked as freedwomen. To Pallas, who, as the emperor declared, was the author of this proposal, were offered on the motion of Barea Soranus, consul-elect, the decorations of the praetorship and fifteen million sesterces. Cornelius Scipio added that he deserved public thanks for thinking less of his ancient nobility as a descendant from the kings of Arcadia, than of the welfare of the State, and allowing himself to be numbered among the emperor's ministers. Claudius assured them that Pallas was content with the honour, and that he limited himself to his former poverty. A decree of the Senate was publicly inscribed on a bronze tablet, heaping the praises of primitive frugality on a freedman, the possessor of three hundred million sesterces.

53. Inter quae refert ad patres de poena feminarum quae servis coniungerentur; statuiturque ut ignaro domino ad id prolapsae in servitute, sin consensisset, pro libertis haberentur. Pallanti, quem repertorem eius relationis ediderat Caesar, praetoria insignia et centies quinquagies sestertium censuit consul designatus Barea Soranus. additum a Scipione Cornelio grates publice agendas, quod regibus Arcadiae ortus veterrimam nobilitatem usui publico postponeret seque inter ministros principis haberi sineret. adseveravit Claudius contentum honore Pallantem intra priorem paupertatem subsistere. et fixum est [aere] publico senatus consultum quo libertinus sestertii ter milies possessor antiquae parsimoniae laudibus cumulabatur.

54. Not equally moderate was his brother, surnamed Felix, who had for some time been governor of Judaea, and thought that he could do any evil act with impunity, backed up as he was by such power. It is true that the Jews had shown symptoms of commotion in a seditious outbreak, and when they had heard of the assassination of Caius, there was no hearty submission, as a fear still lingered that any of the emperors might impose the same orders. Felix meanwhile, by ill-timed remedies, stimulated disloyal acts; while he had, as a rival in the worst wickedness, Ventidius Cumanus, who held a part of the province, which was so divided that Galilea was governed by Cumanus, Samaria by Felix. The two peoples had long been at feud, and now less than ever restrained their enmity, from contempt of their rulers. And accordingly they plundered each other, letting loose bands of robbers, forming ambuscades, and occasionally fighting battles, and carrying the spoil and booty to the two procurators, who at first rejoiced at all this, but, as the mischief grew, they interposed with an armed force, which was cut to pieces. The flame of war would have spread through the province, but it was saved by Quadratus, governor of Syria. In dealing with the Jews, who had been daring enough to slay our soldiers, there was little hesitation about their being capitally punished. Some delay indeed was occasioned by Cumanus and Felix; for Claudius on hearing the causes of the rebellion had given authority for deciding also the case of these procurators. Quadratus, however, exhibited Felix as one of the judges, admitting him to the bench with the view of cowing the ardour of the prosecutors. And so Cumanus was condemned for the crimes which the two had committed, and tranquillity was restored to the province.

54. At non frater eius, cognomento Felix, pari moderatione agebat, iam pridem Iudaeae impositus et cuncta malefacta sibi impune ratus tanta potentia subnixo. sane praebuerant Iudaei speciem motus orta seditione, postquam * * * congnita caede eius haud obtemperatum esset, manebat metus ne quis principum eadem imperitaret. atque interim Felix intempestivis remediis delicta accendebat, aemulo ad deterrima Ventidio [Cumano, cui pars provinciae habebatur, ita divisis ut huic Galilaeorum natio, Felici Samaritae parerent, discordes olim et tum contemptu regentium minus coercitis odiis. igitur raptare inter se, immittere latronum globos, componere insidias et aliquando proeliis congredi, spoliaque et praedas ad procuratores referre. hique primo laetari, mox gliscente pernicie cum arma militum interiecissent, caesi milites; arsissetque bello provincia, ni Quadratus Syriae rector subvenisset. nec diu adversus Iudaeos, qui in necem militum proruperant, dubitatum quin capite poenas luerent: Cumanus et Felix cunctationem adferebant, quia Claudius causis rebellionis auditis ius statuendi etiam de procuratoribus dederat. sed Quadratus Felicem inter iudices ostentavit, receptum in tribunal, quo studia accusantium deterrerentur; damnatusque flagitiorum quae duo deliquerant Cumanus, et quies provinciae reddita.

55. Not long afterwards some tribes of the wild population of Cilicia, known as the Clitae, which had often been in commotion, established a camp, under a leader Troxobor, on their rocky mountains, whence rushing down on the coast, and on the towns, they dared to do violence to the farmers and townsfolk, frequently even to the merchants and shipowners. They besieged the city Anemurium, and routed some troopers sent from Syria to its rescue under the command of Curtius Severus; for the rough country in the neighbourhood, suited as it is for the fighting of infantry, did not allow of cavalry operations. After a time, Antiochus, king of that coast, having broken the unity of the barbarian forces, by cajolery of the people and treachery to their leader, slew Troxobor and a few chiefs, and pacified the rest by gentle measures.

55. Nec multo post agrestium Cilicum nationes, quibus Clitarum cognomentum, saepe et alias commotae, tunc Troxobore duce montis asperos castris cepere atque inde decursu in litora aut urbes vim cultoribus et oppidanis ac plerumque in mercatores et navicularios audebant. obsessaque civitas Anemuriensis, et missi e Syria in subsidium equites cum praefecto Curtio Severo turbantur, quod duri circum loci peditibusque ad pugnam idonei equestre proelium haud patiebantur. dein rex eius orae Antiochus blandimentis adversum plebem, fraude in ducem cum barbarorum copias dissociasset, Troxobore paucisque primoribus interfectis ceteros clementia composuit.

56. About the same time, the mountain between Lake Fucinus and the river Liris was bored through, and that this grand work might be seen by a multitude of visitors, preparations were made for a naval battle on the lake, just as formerly Augustus exhibited such a spectacle, in a basin he had made this side the Tiber, though with light vessels, and on a smaller scale. Claudius equipped galleys with three and four banks of oars, and nineteen thousand men; he lined the circumference of the lake with rafts, that there might be no means of escape at various points, but he still left full space for the strength of the crews, the skill of the pilots, the impact of the vessels, and the usual operations of a seafight. On the raft stood companies of the praetorian cohorts and cavalry, with a breastwork in front of them, from which catapults and balistas might be worked. The rest of the lake was occupied by marines on decked vessels. An immense multitude from the neighbouring towns, others from Rome itself, eager to see the sight or to show respect to the emperor, crowded the banks, the hills, and mountain tops, which thus resembled a theatre. The emperor, with Agrippina seated near him, presided; he wore a splendid military cloak, she, a mantle of cloth of gold. A battle was fought with all the courage of brave men, though it was between condemned criminals. After much bloodshed they were released from the necessity of mutual slaughter.

56. Sub idem tempus inter lacum Fucinum amnemque Lirim perrupto monte, quo magnificentia operis a pluribus viseretur, lacu in ipso navale proelium adornatur, ut quondam Augustus structo trans Tiberim stagno, sed levibus navigiis et minore copia ediderat. Claudius triremis quadriremisque et undeviginti hominum milia armavit, cincto ratibus ambitu, ne vaga effugia forent, ac tamen spatium amplexus ad vim remigii, gubernantium artes, impetus navium et proelio solita. in ratibus praetoriarum cohortium manipuli turmaeque adstiterant, antepositis propugnaculis ex quis catapultae ballistaeque tenderentur. reliqua lacus classiarii tectis navibus obtinebant. ripas et collis montiumque edita in modum theatri multitudo innumera complevit, proximis e municipiis et alii urbe ex ipsa, visendi cupidine aut officio in principem. ipse insigni paludamento neque procul Agrippina chlamyde aurata praesedere. pugnatum quamquam inter sontis fortium virorum animo, ac post multum vulnerum occidioni exempti sunt.

57. When the sight was over, the outlet of the water was opened. The careless execution of the work was apparent, the tunnel not having been bored down so low as the bottom, or middle of the lake. Consequently after an interval the excavations were deepened, and to attract a crowd once more, a show of gladiators was exhibited, with floating pontoons for an infantry engagement. A banquet too was prepared close to the outflow of the lake, and it was the means of greatly alarming the whole company, for the water, in the violence of its outburst, swept away the adjoining parts, shook the more remote, and spread terror with the tremendous crash. At the same time, Agrippina availed herself of the emperor's fright to charge Narcissus, who had been the agent of the work, with avarice and peculation. He too was not silent, but inveighed against the domineering temper of her sex, and her extravagant ambition.

57. Sed perfecto spectaculo apertum aquarum iter. incuria operis manifesta fuit, haud satis depressi ad lacus ima vel media. eoque tempore interiecto altius effossi specus, et contrahendae rursum multitudini gladiatorum spectaculum editur, inditis pontibus pedestrem ad pugnam. quin et convivium effluvio lacus adpositum magna formidine cunctos adfecit, quia vis aquarum prorumpens proxima trahebat, convulsis ulterioribus aut fragore et sonitu exterritis. simul Agrippina trepidatione principis usa ministrum operis Narcissum incusat cupidinis ac praedarum. nec ille reticet, impotentiam muliebrem nimiasque spes eius arguens.

58. In the consulship of Didius Junius and Quintus Haterius, Nero, now sixteen years of age, married Octavia, the emperor's daughter. Anxious to distinguish himself by noble pursuits, and the reputation of an orator, he advocated the cause of the people of Ilium, and having eloquently recounted how Rome was the offspring of Troy, and Aeneas the founder of the Julian line, with other old traditions akin to myths, he gained for his clients exemption from all public burdens. His pleading too procured for the colony of Bononia, which had been ruined by a fire, a subvention of ten million sesterces. The Rhodians also had their freedom restored to them, which had often been taken away, or confirmed, according to their services to us in our foreign wars, or their seditious misdeeds at home. Apamea, too, which had been shaken by an earthquake, had its tribute remitted for five years.

58. D. Iunio Q. Haterio consulibus sedecim annos natus Nero Octaviam Caesaris filiam in matrimonium accepit. utque studiis honestis [et] eloquentiae gloria enitesceret, causa Iliensium suscepta Romanum Troia demissum et Iuliae stirpis auctorem Aeneam aliaque haud procul fabulis vetera facunde executus perpetrat, ut Ilienses omni publico munere solverentur. eodem oratore Bononiensi coloniae igni haustae subventum centies sestertii largitione. reddita Rhodiis libertas, adempta saepe aut firmata, prout bellis externis meruerant aut domi seditione deliquerant; tributumque Apamensibus terrae motu convulsis in quinquennium remissum.

59. Claudius, on the other hand, was being prompted to exhibit the worst cruelty by the artifices of the same Agrippina. On the accusation of Tarquitius Priscus, she ruined Statilius Taurus, who was famous for his wealth, and at whose gardens she cast a greedy eye. Priscus had served under Taurus in his proconsular government of Africa, and after their return charged him with a few acts of extortion, but particularly with magical and superstitious practices. Taurus, no longer able to endure a false accusation and an undeserved humiliation, put a violent end to his life before the Senate's decision was pronounced. Tarquitius was however expelled from the Senate, a point which the senators carried, out of hatred for the accuser, notwithstanding the intrigues of Agrippina.

59. At Claudius saevissima quaeque promere adigebatur eiusdem Agrippinae artibus, quae Statilium Taurum opibus inlustrem hortis eius inhians pervertit accusante Tarquitio Prisco. legatus is Tauri Africam imperio proconsulari regentis, postquam revenerant, pauca repetundarum crimina, ceterum magicas superstitiones obiectabat. nec ille diutius falsum accusatorem, indignas sordis perpessus vim vitae suae attulit ante sententiam senatus. Tarquitius tamen curia exactus est; quod patres odio delatoris contra ambitum Agrippinae pervicere.

Next: Book 12 [60]