Ancient History & Civilisation

Tiberius and the Senate


DRUSUS left the city to resume his command, and returned soon afterwards to receive a formal ovation. A few days later his mother Vipsania died. Of Agrippa’s children, she alone died peacefully. The rest were either killed in battle or allegedly poisoned or starved to death.

In the same year Tacfarinas, whose defeat in the previous summer by Marcus Furius Camillus I have recorded, resumed hostilities. After nomad raids – too swift for reprisals – he began destroying villages and looting extensively. Finally, he encircled a Roman regular battalion near the river Pagyda. The energetic and experienced commander of the fort, Decrius, considered the siege a disgrace, and ordered his men to fight in the open, forming line in front of the camp. The battalion succumbed to the first attack, but Decrius hurled himself into the rain of missiles to bar its flight, cursing the sergeant-majors for letting Roman soldiers run away from irregulars and deserters. He turned towards the enemy, wounded in body and face (one eye was pierced), and went on fighting until he fell. His men abandoned him.

When Lucius Apronius, the successor of Camillus, heard of this, he was less worried by the enemy’s success than by the Roman disgrace. Adopting an ancient procedure, now rare, he drew lots in the discredited battalion and had every tenth man flogged to death. The severity was effective. When the same force of Tacfarinas attacked the fort of Mala, a detachment of only five hundred old soldiers routed it. In the battle a private soldier, Helvius Rufus, won the honour of saving a citizen’s life. Apronius decorated him with the honorific chain and spear, and the Citize’s Oak-wreath was added by Tiberius. The emperor pretended to deplore that Apronius, as governor and commander-in-chief, had not made this award, like the others, on his own initiative.

Since the Numidians were demoralized and impatient of siege warfare, Tacfarinas conducted a guerrilla campaign, giving way under pressure and then attacking from the rear. The tired Romans, frustrated and ridiculed by these tactics, could not retaliate. But finally Tacfarinas turned aside to the coast and, immobilized by all the plunder he had collected, kept close to a stationary base; and then the Roman governor’s son, Lucius Apronius Caesianus, sent against him with cavalry, auxiliary infantry, and the most mobile Roman regulars, won a victory and drove the Numidians into the desert.

Aemilia Lepida (II) was now indicted. In addition to her glorious Aemilian lineage, she was great-granddaughter of both Sulla and Pompey. She was accused of falsely claiming to bear a son to the rich and childless Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. There were additional charges of adultery, poisoning, and consultation of astrologers regarding the imperial house. She was defended by her brother Manius Aemilius Lepidus. Though disreputable and guilty, she attracted compassion since Quirinius, even after their divorce, had treated her vindictively.

The emperor’s attitude during the trial is not easy to reconstruct Alternately, or simultaneously, both anger and indulgence were perceptible. First he asked the senate not to consider the charges of treason. Then he enticed from a former consul, Marcus Servilius Nonianus (I) and other witnesses precisely the evidence which he had ostensibly wanted to exclude. He also handed over to the consuls Lepida’s slaves (who were under army guard); but he forbade their interrogation under torture on any question concerning their own household. Again, he exempted Drusus, the consul-elect, from speaking first in the matter. This was variously interpreted as a non-autocratic step, relieving other speakers from the obligation to agree with Drusus, or as an ominous sign, since only a vote of condemnation would need such a postponement.

The trial was interrupted by Games. While they were on, Aemilia Lepida, accompanied by other distinguished ladies, entered the theatre and with loud lamentations called upon her ancestors, including Pompey himself whose memorials and statues stood before everyone’s eyes. The crowd was sympathetic and tearful, and howled savage curses upon Quirinius as a childless, low-class old man to whom a woman once destined to be Augustus’ daughter-in-law (for she had been engaged to Lucius Caesar) was being sacrificed. But then the torture of her slaves disclosed her misconduct. On the proposal of Gaius Rubellius Blandus she was condemned as an outlaw; and, though others had favoured greater leniency, Drusus supported the penalty. However, at the appeal of a senator, Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus, to whom she had given a son, confiscation of her property was waived. It was only now that Tiberius revealed his discovery from Quirinius’ slaves that Lepida had tried to poison their master.

So within a short time the Calpurnii had lost Piso, and the Aemilii had lost Lepida. Among these catastrophes to great families the return of Decimus Silanus to the Junii was consoling. His history was briefly this. For all the divine Augustus’ good fortune in public affairs, his home life had been unhappy owing to the immorality of his daughter and granddaughter. He expelled them from the city, and executed or banished their lovers. For he used the solemn names of sacrilege and treason for the common offence of misconduct between the sexes. This was inconsistent with traditional tolerance and even with his own legislation. The fates of the other victims I hope to record as part of a general history of the period, if I fulfil my present aim and live to undertake further labours. As for Decimus Junius Silanus, his adultery with Augustus’ granddaughter had only been punished by the withdrawal of the emperor’s friendship. But he had realized that this meant exile.

It was not until Tiberius became emperor that Decimus Junius Silanus ventured to appeal to him and the senate. He employed as intermediary his powerful brother Marcus Silanus (I), conspicuous nobleman and speaker. Marcus was thanking the senate for its indulgence when Tiberius intervened. He too, he intimated, was glad that Marcus’ brother had returned from his distant travels, as he was entitled to since he had not been banished by the senate or by law; he himself however still felt, unabated, his father’s aversion to Decimus – his return had not annulled the wishes of Augustus. Subsequently Decimus lived in Rome, without office.

It was next proposed to mitigate the Papian-Poppaean law.1 This had been authorized by Augustus in his later years, as a supplement to the Julian legislation, to tighten the sanctions against celibacy, and to increase revenue. It had failed, however, to popularize marriage and the raising of families – childlessness was too attractive. But increasingly many people were liable to penalties, since every household was exposed to informers’ technicalities. The danger was now not so much misbehaviour as the law itself.

This prompts me to go into some detail about the origins of law, and the ways in which it developed into our endless and complicated statute-list. Primitive man had no evil desires. Being blameless and innocent, his life was free of compulsions or penalities. He also needed no rewards; for he was naturally good. Likewise, where no wrong desires existed, fear imposed no prohibitions. But when men ceased to be equal, egotism replaced fellow-feeling and decency succumbed to violence. The result was despotism – in many countries, permanently. Some communities, however, either immediately or when autocratic government palled, preferred the rule of law. Laws were at first the simple inventions of simple men. The most famous laws are those designed for Crete by Minos, for Sparta by Lycurgus, and then the more extensive and sophisticated code which Solon gave Athens.

We ourselves, when Romulus’ autocratic régime ended, were subordinated by Numa to a religious code, to which Tullus Hostilius and Ancus Marcius introduced adjustments. But our outstanding maker of laws – binding even on kings – was Servius Tullius. After Tarquin’s expulsion the community took many measures against the ruling class in the interests of freedom and unity. A new Council of Ten, by incorporating the finest elements from all sources, drew up the Twelve Tables. That was the last equitable legislation. For subsequent laws, other than those directed against specific current offences, were forcible creations of class-warfare, designed to grant unconstitutional powers, or banish leading citizens, or fulfil some other deplorable purpose.

Hence arose demagogues like the Gracchi and Lucius Appuleius Saturninus – and the senate’s partisans such as Marcus Livius Drusus with their equally comprehensive offers. By these, Italian hopes were raised, only to be dashed by tribunes’ vetoes. Even duringthe Social and Civil Wars, contradictory legislation continued. Then the dictator Sulla repealed or altered earlier laws, and passed more himself. A pause followed; but not for long, since disorder quickly returned owing to the legislation of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (II), and the tribunes soon regained their power of unlimited popular agitation. Thenceforward measures were concerned with personal instead of national issues. Corruption reached its climax, and legislation abounded.

Pompey, in his third consulship, was chosen to reform public life. But his cures were worse than the abuses; and he broke his own laws. Force was the means of his control, and by force he lost it. During the twenty years of strife that followed, morality and law were nonexistent, criminality went unpunished, decency was often fatal. Finally Caesar Augustus, when consul for the sixth time, felt sure enough of his position to cancel all that he had decreed as Triumvir, in favour of a new order: peace and the Principate.1

From then onwards restraints were stricter. There were spies, encouraged by inducements from the Papian-Poppaean law, under which failure to earn the advantages of parenthood meant loss of property to the State as universal parent. The spreading encroachments of these informers grievously affected all citizens, whether in Rome, Italy, or elsewhere, and caused widespread ruin and universal panic. To rectify the situation, Tiberius appointed a Commission consisting of five former consuls, five former praetors, and five other senators, chosen by lot. It disentangled numerous legal complexities, and temporarily produced a slight alleviation.

At about the same time the emperor commended to the senate Germanicus’ son Nero Caesar, now approaching manhood. Mirth was caused by Tiberius’ proposal that Nero Caesar be permitted to stand for the quaestorship five years ahead of the legal age, with exemption from service on the Board of Twenty. The emperor argued that at Augustus’ request he himself and his brother had obtained the same concessions. But even at that time, I feel, such applications must have earned secret ridicule. And yet those had been the earliest days of imperial power, when ancient custom had counted for more: besides, Tiberius as grandfather of his candidate, Nero, was a closer connection than Augustus as stepfather of his.

Nero Caesar was also admitted to the Pontifical Order, and on the occasion of his official début there was a free distribution to the public. Their delight to see a son of Germanicus already growing up was increased by his marriage with Drusus’ daughter Livia Julia. But that good news was counterbalanced by their dissatisfaction at the betrothal of Claudius’ son to the daughter of Sejanus. This was felt to depreciate the nobility of the imperial house, while exalting Sejanus even beyond the excessive hopes which suspicion attributed to him.

At the end of the year two notable Romans died, Lucius Volusius Saturninus (I) and Gaius Sallustius Crispus. Volusius’ family, though ancient, had previously never risen above the praetorship, but he contributed a consulship and held censorial functions for the selection of knights as members of the judicature. He was also the first to amass the wealth for which his family became so greatly conspicuous. Crispus was a knight by birth. He took his name from his grandmother’s brother, the eminent historian Sallust, who had adopted him. So he had easy access to an official career. But he followed the example of Maecenas and, without senatorial rank, exceeded in power many ex-consuls and winners of Triumphs. Elegant and refined – the antithesis of traditional simplicity – he carried elaborate opulence almost to the point of decadence. Yet underneath was a vigorous mind fit for great affairs, all the keener for its indolent, sleepy mask. So, as a repository of imperial secrets, he was second only to Maecenas during the latter’s lifetime, and thereafter second to none. Sallustius was privy to the murder of Agrippa Postumus. But in his later years his friendship with Tiberius was impressive rather than active. It had been the same with Maecenas. Influence is rarely lasting. Such is its fate. Or perhaps both parties become satiated, when the ruler has nothing more to give, the collaborator nothing more to ask.

The following year witnessed the fourth consulship of Tiberius and the second of Drusus – a noteworthy partnership of father and son. Three years earlier, Germanicus had shared the same position with Tiberius. But they had not been such close relatives, and the association had brought the emperor no pleasure. Now, at the beginning of the year, he withdrew to Campania, ostensibly for his health. Perhaps he was, by degrees, rehearsing for a prolonged, unbroken absence. Or he may have wished by his retirement to leave Drusus as sole consul. Indeed, a small matter which turned into a serious dispute happened to give the prince a chance of popularity. A former praetor Cnaeus Domitius Corbulo (I) complained to the senate that a young nobleman, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, had refused to give up his seat to him at a gladiatorial display. Corbulo had on his side age, traditional custom, and the sympathies of the older men. Sulla was supported by his connections, including Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus and Lucius Arrun-tius. There was a vigorous exchange, and much talk of our ancestors’ strict decrees censuring youthful disrespect. Finally Drusus uttered some conciliatory words, which were transmitted to Corbulo by Mamercus Scaurus, Sulla’s uncle and stepfather and the most fluent speaker of the day. So Corbulo received satisfaction. However, he then complained about another matter. Many Italian roads, he said, were breached and impassable owing to contractors’ dishonesty and slackness among officials. He expressed willingness to initiate prosecutions. But the resulting convictions and compulsory sales destroyed many reputations and fortunes, without corresponding benefit to the public.

A little later, Tiberius wrote to the senate reporting that an incursion by Tacfarinas had again broken the peace in Africa. He requested them to choose a governor who was an experienced commander and physically fit for active service. Sextus Pompeius (II) seized the opportunity of ventilating his dislike of Manius Aemilius Lepidus, whom he described as a lazy degenerate pauper who ought to be excluded from the ballot both for Africa and for Asia.1 The senate objected, since it regarded Lepidus as mild rather than lazy, and his irreproachable bearing of an illustrious name – despite inherited poverty – as praiseworthy rather than discreditable. So Lepidus was appointed to Asia. With regard to Africa it was decided to let the emperor choose.

During the debate Aulus Caecina Severus proposed that no one appointed to a governorship should be allowed to take his wife. ‘My wife and I are good friends’, he said, ‘and have produced six children. But I have practised what I preach, by keeping her at home in Italy during all my forty years of service in various provinces! The rule which forbade women to be taken to provinces or foreign countries was salutary. A female entourage stimulates extravagance in peacetime and timidity in war. It makes a Roman army resemble an oriental progress. Women are not only frail and easily tired. Relax control, and they become ferocious, ambitious schemers, circulating among the soldiers, ordering company-commanders about. Recently a woman conducted battalion parades and brigade exercises! Remember that whenever officials are tried for extortion most of the charges are against their wives. The wives attract every rascal in a province. It is they who initiate and transact business. Two escorts are necessary, two centres of government – and the women give the more wilful and despotic orders. They have burst through the old legal restrictions of the Oppian1 and other laws, and are rulers everywhere – at home, in the courts, and now in the army.’

This speech pleased only a few people. There was a chorus of interruptions, questioning both its relevance to the current discussion and Caecin’s fitness to be censor in so important a matter. He was answered by Marcus Valerius Messalla Messallinus (I), who possessed some shadow of the eloquence of his father, Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus (I). ‘Old-fashioned austerity has been satisfactorily mitigated in many ways,’ he declared. ‘For the city is no longer beleaguered, the provinces no longer hostile. So we make, nowadays, a few concessions to women’s requirements – but not the sort to upset their husbands’ households, much less the provincials. In all else wives fare like their husbands. And why not, in peace-time? Certainly men must travel light in war. But when they return from their labours they are surely entitled to relax with their wives. Some women, we hear, are schemers or money-grubbers. But officials themselves often show every sort of imperfection: yet governorships are filled. Granted that husbands are often corrupted by bad wives – is bachelorhood the ideal, then?

‘The Oppian laws were once accepted because the national situation then required them. Later, they were relaxed and alleviated as expediency suggested. Let us avoid euphemisms for our own slackness. If a woman misbehaves, it is her husband’s fault. Besides, the weakness of one or two husbands is no reason to deprive all of them of their wives’ partnership in good times and bad. Moreover, that would mean abandoning and exposing the weaker sex to its own temptations and to masculine sensuality. Marriages scarcely survive with the keeper on the spot – whatever would happen with some years of virtual divorce to efface them? When reforming abuses elsewhere, remember the immorality of the capital.’

Drusus added a short speech about his own marriage, pointing out that the imperial family often had to visit remote provinces. The divine Augustus, he recalled, had frequently travelled with his wife, to east and west – and he himself had been to Illyricum and if need be would go elsewhere, but not always happily if severed from his beloved wife and all their children. So Caecina’s proposal was evaded.

At its next meeting, the senate heard a letter from Tiberius blaming them (by implication) for referring all their difficulties to him, and nominating two men from whom they were to choose the governor of Africa – Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (IV) and Quintus Junius Blaesus. Both then addressed the senate. Lepidus emphatically asked to be excused, pleading ill-health, young children, and a marriageable daughter. He did not mention what was in their thoughts – that Blaesus was beyond competition, being Sejanus’ uncle. Blaesus, too, pretended to decline – but less convincingly, and with many flatterers to contradict him.

Next a practice causing widespread secret discontent was made public. Bad characters were increasingly slandering and insulting respectable people and escaping punishment by grasping an effigy of the emperor. Thereby even ex-slaves and slaves had intimidated their patrons and masters with threatening words and gestures. The junior senator Gaius Cestius Gallus (I) raised the matter. Emperors were certainly godlike, he said, but even gods only listened to virtuous petitioners; the Capitol and other Roman temples were not sanctuaries to encourage crime; and it was the height of illegality when Annia Rufilla, convicted for fraud by his agency, should menace and abuse him in the Forum, actually outside the senate, while he could not risk legal proceedings because she clutched an image of the emperor. Similar stories, some more serious, came from all sides. Drusus was begged to inflict exemplary punishment; and summoning Annia, he had her convicted and gaoled in the State prison.

Next, two knights, Considius Aequus and Caelius Cursor, who had made fictitious accusations of treason against the praetor Magius Caecilianus, were punished at the emperor’s instigation by a senatorial decree. Both decisions improved Drusus’ reputation. Living sociably in Rome, he seemed a moderating influence on his father’s solitary designs. Even his youthful extravagances were not unpopular. Better to spend the day enjoying shows and the night banqueting than to lead the emperor’s isolated, joyless life of gloomy watchfulness and sinister machinations.

For Tiberius and the accusers were untiring. Ancharius Priscus had impeached the governor of Crete and Cyrene, Caesius Cordus, for extortion – to which was added a charge of treason, now the complement of every prosecution. Again, when a prominent man in Macedonia, Antistius Vetus, was acquitted of adultery, Tiberius rebuked the judges and haled the defendant back to be tried for treason as a seditious accomplice of the anti-Roman intentions of Rhescuporis, who had murdered his fellow-monarch Cotys IV. Antistius was outlawed, and banished to an island without access to Macedonia or Thrace.

Meanwhile Thrace, divided between Rhoemetalces II and the children of Cotys IV – with a Roman regent, Titus Trebellenus Rufus, during their minority – was in disorder. The country was unfamiliar with Roman rule; and Rhoemetalces was as forcibly criticized as the regent, for not avenging his people’s wrong. Three strong tribes, the Coelaletae, Odrysae, and Dii, opened hostilities. But their leaders did not join forces, and were individually insignificant, so a coalition involving serious war was averted. One contingent plundered its own neighbourhood, another crossed the Balkan mountains to raise the outlying tribes, while the largest and best organized blockaded the king in Philippopolis, a city founded by King Philip II of Macedonia.

When the commander of the nearest Roman army, Publius Vellacus, heard this news, he sent auxiliary cavalry and infantry against the marauding and recruiting forces, and himself took the main Roman infantry to raise the siege. Each operation was successful. The marauders were annihilated; quarrels broke out in the besieging force, and as the Roman brigade moved up Rhoemetalces made a timely sortie. What followed was not a battle or even a fight, but a massacre of half-armed stragglers, without Roman bloodshed.

In the same year heavy debts drove Gallic communities into rebellion. Its keenest instigators were Julius Floras among the Treviri and Julius Sacrovir among the Aedui – both noblemen, whose ancestors’ services to Rome had earned them citizenship in days when this was scarce and conferred for merit. Secret conferences were attended by desperate characters and penniless, frightened men driven to crime by their evil records. It was agreed that Florus should raise the Belgae and Sacrovir the tribes farther south. There were treasonable gatherings and discussions about endless taxation, crushing rates of interest, and the brutality and arrogance of governors. ‘Germanicus’ death has demoralized the Roman army!’ they cried. ‘Besides, look at the contrast between your strength and Italy’s weakness. Think of the unwarlike population of Rome. How the army needs us provincials! This is an ideal opportunity to regain independence.’

These seeds of rebellion were sown in almost every Gallic community. But the outbreak started among the Andecavi and Turoni. The imperial governor of Lugdunese Gaul, Acilius Aviola, suppressed both, the former with the city-police battalion which garrisoned Lug-dunum, and the latter with regular troops sent by his colleague in Lower Germany, Gaius Visellius Varro. To hide their rebellious aims – for which the time was not yet ripe – certain Gallic chiefs supported the disciplinary measures. Sacrovir himself was to be seen encouraging the fighters – on the Roman side. He was bare-headed, ostensibly to attract attention to his valour; but prisoners said it was to show his identity and so avoid being aimed at. Tiberius received this information but disregarded it: his indecision did no good to the war.

Floras, pursuing his plans, tempted a cavalry regiment – raised among the Treviri but serving with us in Roman fashion – to begin hostilities by massacring our business-men. The majority remained loyal, but a few went over. A crowd of debtors and dependants also took up arms. Making for the Arduenna Forest, they were intercepted by brigades sent from opposite directions by the imperial governors of Lower and Upper Germany. The Romans sent ahead a man of rebel nationality, Julius Indus by name, whose loyalty was stimulated by hatred for Floras. This man dispersed the still undisciplined crowd. But Floras escaped in the rout, and his hiding-place proved untraceable. Finally, however, seeing soldiers blocking every exit, he killed himself. So the rebellion among the Treviri ended.

The revolt of the Aedui was more formidable; for they were a richer nation, and less accessible to counter-measures. Sacrovir with an armed force occupied the capital, Augustodunum, and seized the youthful Gallic noblemen who were being educated there. Holding them as pledges to win over their parents and relations, he distributed among them secretly manufactured weapons. His army was forty thousand strong; one-fifth were equipped like Roman soldiers, the rest with hunters’ spears, knives, and other such arms. There was also a party of slaves training to be gladiators. Completely encased in iron in the national fashion, these Crupellarii, as they were called, were too clumsy for offensive purposes but impregnable in defence. Reinforcements came in. The neighbouring communities had not yet openly joined, but supplied keen volunters. And the Roman generals were quarrelling; both claimed to control operations. Finally the aged and infirm governor of Lower Germany yielded to his Upper German colleague of more active years, Gaius Silius (I).

At Rome it was said that not the Treviri and Aedui alone but all the sixty-four peoples of Gaul had revolted, that the Germans had joined them, and the Spanish provinces were wavering. As usual, rumour magnified everything. Every respectable Roman citizen deplored his country’s difficulties. But many disliked the existing régime and hoped for change so greatly that they even welcomed danger for themselves. They criticized Tiberius for devoting attention to accusers’ reports during so dangerous a rebellion. ‘Was Sacrovir too’, they inquired, ‘going to appear before the senate for treason? Here at last are men to put a forcible stop to these bloodthirsty imperial letters – and even war is a welcome change from the miseries of peace!’ The emperor, however, took all the more pains to appear unperturbed. Profoundly secretive, he allowed neither gesture nor expression to show he was concerned. Or perhaps he knew that the gravity of the trouble had been exaggerated.

Silius sent auxiliaries ahead to ravage villages of the Sequani (a frontier people who were allies and neighbours of the Aedui). Then he himself, with two brigades, moved rapidly against Augustodunum. There was much rivalry among Roman sergeant-majors to reach it first. Indeed, even the ordinary soldiers protested against the usual halts and rests at night. They felt that, once they and the enemy saw each other face to face, victory was as good as won.

On the open ground twelve miles from the town Sacrovir and his forces came into sight. He had stationed his heavily armoured men in front, the fully armed battalions on the wings, and half-armed supporters in the rear. He himself, finely mounted and accompanied by his chiefs, rode round and addressed his men, recalling the ancient triumphs of the Gauls and their successes against the Romans, and contrasting the glorious independence that victory would bring with the even more oppressive servitude that would await defeat.

His words were gloomily received – and cut short. For the Roman army was advancing in line. The Gallic townsmen lacked discipline and battle experience; their eyes and ears were no use to them. The Romans’ confidence made exhortations unnecessary. However, Silius spoke. It was an affront to the conquerors of Germany, he suggested, to have to march against Gauls – a single battalion had recently suppressed the rebel Turoni, a single cavalry regiment the Treviri, a few troops from this very army the Sequani. ‘The wealthy, luxurious Aedui look unwarlike enough’, he said. ‘Youprove that they are what they look! And then when they run, you can spare their lives.’

There was a mighty shout in reply. Our cavalry enveloped the enemy’s flanks, while the infantry made a frontal attack. The Gallic flanks were driven in. The iron-clad contingent caused some delay as their casing resisted javelins and swords. However, the Romans used axes and mattocks, and struck at their plating and its wearers like men demolishing a wall. Others knocked down the immobile gladiators with poles or pitchforks, and, lacking the power to rise, they were left for dead. Sacrovir and his closest associates fled first to Augustodunum and then, fearing betrayal, to a house nearby. There he killed himself; and his companions killed each other. The house was set on fire, and the bodies burnt inside it.

At this late stage Tiberius wrote informing the senate simultaneously of the outbreak of the war and its termination. He neither exaggerated nor minimized the facts, commenting that victory was due to the loyal courage of his generals and to his own policy. To explain why he and Drusus had not gone to the war, he stressed the size of the empire and the inadvisability of a ruler leaving the centre of government merely because of disturbances in one community or another. Now however (he added) that the motive for his going could not be ascribed to anxiety, he would go – to study the situation, and deal with it.

The senate decreed vows and prayers for his return, and other honours. Only Publius Cornelis Dolabella (I), determined to outshine everybody in ridiculous flattery, proposed that Tiberius should enter the city from Campania with an official ovation. This elicited a letter from Tiberius suggesting that, after conquering the most formidable nations and receiving or declining so many Triumphs in his youth, the emperor was not undistinguished enough to hanker after the empty honour of a suburban parade in his old age.

A little later, Tiberius asked the senate to award a public funeral to Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. He came from Lanuvium, and had no connection with the ancient patrician Sulpician family. But he was a fine soldier, whose zealous services had earned him a consulship and honorary Triumph from the divine Augustus for capturing the fortresses of the Homonadenses on the Cilician borders. Later, appointed adviser to Gaius Caesar during the latter’s Armenian commission, Quirinius had treated Tiberius, then living at Rhodes, with respect – as the emperor now told the senate; and he coupled this praise of Quirinius’ attentiveness with an attack on Marcus Lollius (I), whom he blamed for Gaius Caesar’s perverse quarrelsomeness on that occasion. But others had less agreeable memories of Quirinius, who was a mean, over-influential old man, and (as I have mentioned) had persecuted Aemilia Lepida (II).

At the end of the year an informer attacked the knight Clutorius Priscus, who had been subsidized by Tiberius for writing a well-known poem about Germanicus’ death. Clutorius was now accused of composing another poem while Drusus was ill, for even more lucrative publication if the prince died. Clutorius had bragged of this in the house of Publius Petronius, before his host’s mother-in-law Vitellia and many leading women. When the accuser came forward, the other women were intimidated into admitting this. Vitellia alone said she had heard nothing. However, the damning evidence was more widely believed, and the consul-elect Decimus Haterius Agrippa moved for the death penalty.

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (IV) opposed this motion. ‘If, senators,’ he argued, ‘we only consider the outrageous utterance with which Clutorius Priscus has degraded himself and his hearers, prison and the noose – or even the tortures reserved for slaves – are not enough for him. Yet, however deplorable and outrageous the offence, the em­peror’s moderation and your own ancient and modern precedents indicate the mitigation of penalties. Besides, folly is distinguished from crime – and words from deeds. For these reasons, it is legitimate to propose a punishment which will cause us to regret neither over-leniency nor harshness. I have often heard our emperor deploring suicides, since they prevent the exercise of his clemency. Clutorius is still alive. His survival will not endanger the State; and his death will convey no lesson. His compositions are senseless, but they are insignificant and ephemeral. A man who betrays his own outrages to impress not men but mere females is no very great danger. I propose, therefore, that we expel him from the city, outlaw him, and confiscate his property, as if he were guilty under the treason law.’

A single ex-consul, Gaius Rubellius Blandus, agreed. But the rest supported Haterius. So Clutorius Priscus was imprisoned and immediately executed.

This drew from Tiberius a characteristically cryptic reproof of the senate. While praising their loyalty in so vigorously avenging even minor offences against the emperor, he deprecated so hasty a punishment of a mere verbal lapse. He commended Lepidus – but refrained from criticizing Haterius. The result was a decision that no senatorial decree should be registered at the Treasury for nine days, executions to be delayed for that period. But the senate lacked the freedom to reconsider. And the intervals never softened Tiberius.

The consuls of the following year were Gaius Sulpicius Galba and Decimus Haterius Agrippa. The year was peaceful abroad. But the capital was nervous – for it anticipated stern measures against the current extravagance, which extended unrestrainedly to every sort of outlay. Most of this, however enormous, could be concealed by suppressing prices. But the sums spent on gluttonous eating were widely discussed; and the emperor’s old-fashioned austerity inspired fears of rigorous action. On the initiative of Gaius Calpurnius Bibulus, the aediles had argued that the law restricting expenditure was being ignored, that prohibited food prices were increasing daily, and that ordinary measures were helpless against this situation. When the matter was raised in the senate, it was referred without discussion to the emperor. Tiberius often privately doubted whether restraint of these immoderate appetites would be either practicable or beneficial. He knew how undignified it would be to start something which he could not maintain, or could only maintain by humiliating and disgracing eminent men. Finally, he wrote the senate a letter to this effect:

‘On all other public questions, senators, it may be desirable for me to be asked, and express, my opinions in your presence. But in regard to this matter, it is well that my eyes are elsewhere. Otherwise, if you indicated the apprehensive faces of men guilty of shameful extravagance, I too might see them, and so find them out. If our energetic aediles had consulted me earlier, I should perhaps have advised them not to tackle such deep-set, flagrant evils – so as not to publish our helplessness against them.

‘Yet they have done what I expect from every official, their duty. For me, however, although silence is unfitting, speech is not easy. For I am neither aedile, nor praetor, nor consul. Some grander, more impressive utterance is expected from the emperor. People praise themselves for their good actions but all blame their failings on a single man. And where should I begin my prohibitions and attempted reversions to antique standards? With the vast mansions, or the cosmopolitan hordes of slaves? Or with the ponderous gold and silver plate, the wonderful pictures and bronze-work, the men’s clothes indistinguishable from women’s? Or the feminine speciality – the export of our currency to foreign or enemy countries for precious stones?

‘I know that at social gatherings these practices are criticized, and their limitation is demanded. But if they were penalized by a law, their present critics themselves would cry that it was a national disaster, a death-blow to distinction, and the conversion of everyone into a potential criminal. Yet the human body, when it has a long and persistently worsening illness, needs a vigorous, radical treatment. And the mind’s feverish ailments, too, can only be relieved by remedies as severe as the infection. All our laws – those of our ancestors which are forgotten, those of the divine Augustus which are neglected (and that is worse) – have merely conferred immunity on extravagance. For when you want something that is not prohibited, you fear prohibition. But once you safely ignore a prohibition, fear and shame vanish. Frugality used to prevail because people had self-control – and because we were citizens of one city. Even our domination of Italy did not bring the same temptations. But victories abroad taught us to spend other people’s money. Then civil wars showed how to spend our own.

‘Besides, the matter to which the aediles’ warning relates is inessential – relatively insignificant. Italy’s dependence on external resources, Rome’s subsistence continually at the mercy of sea and storm – those are problems about which there are no speeches. Yet without provincial resources to support master and slave, and supplement our agriculture, our woods and country-houses could not feed us. That, senators, is the emperor’s anxiety. Its neglect would mean national ruin. For other troubles, the remedy lies with the individual. If we are decent, we shall behave well – the rich when they are surfeited, the poor because they have to.

‘Nevertheless, any officials who can offer enough severity and energy may, with my compliments, relieve me of part of my burdens. But if they want to denounce misbehaviour, take the credit for it, and then leave me the enmities they have created, I intimate to you, senators, that I also do not want to make enemies. When national necessity demands I will face hostility, formidable and often unjust though it may be. But when it is useless and unprofitable – to you as well as myself – I have good reason to decline.’ When the emperor’s letter had been read, the aediles were excused from the task.

Since then, however, extravagant eating, which reached fantastic heights during the century between Actium and the disturbances which brought Galba to the throne,1 has gradually become unfashionable. The reasons for the change are worth examining. Old rich families, noble and illustrious, were often ruined by their sumptuous tastes. For, in those days, to court (and be courted by) the public in Rome and the provinces, and by foreign monarchs, was allowed. Fortunes, palaces, and their contents dictated the size of dependent hordes and of reputations. But the reign of terror, when distinction meant death, induced prudence in survivors. At the same time too, the numerous self-made men admitted into the senate from Italian towns (and even from the provinces) brought frugal domestic habits, and, though by good fortune or hard work many of them were rich in later life, they did not change their ideas. No one promoted simplicity more than Vespasian, with his own old-fashioned way of life. For deference to the emperor and the wish to imitate him were more effective than legal penalties and threats.

Or perhaps not only the seasons but everything else, social history included, moves in cycles. Not, however, that earlier times were better than ours in every way – our own epoch too has produced moral and intellectual achievements for our descendants to copy. And such honourable rivalry with the past is a fine thing.

Tiberius utilized the credit his resistance to the tyranny of informers had gained him by writing to ask the senate to grant Drusus a tribune’s authority.1 This was a designation of supremacy invented by Augustus, who had wanted some title other than ‘king’ or ‘dictator’ which would place him above other officials. In due course Augustus had chosen associates in this power – Marcus Agrippa, and on his death Tiberius. That was how he designated his successor, calculating that this would damp misguided aspirations in others. He was confident of Tiberius’ unpretentiousness, and his own pre-eminence.

While Germanicus lived Tiberius had not decided between him and Drusus. But now he brought Drusus to the top. His letter began with a prayer that heaven might prosper his plans for the national advantage. Then he wrote in moderate, unexaggerated terms about his son’s character, pointing out that Drusus was a married man with three children and had reached the age at which he himself had been called to the same responsibilities by the divine Augustus. Drusus’ promotion, he added, was not premature – after eight years’ probation, including the repression of mutinies, completion of wars, a Triumph and two consulships, the prince knew the work he was to share.

The senators, who had foreseen this request, had their complimentary reaction planned. Yet they could think of nothing better than statues of the Caesars, altars to the gods, temples, arches, and other hackneyed gestures. Marcus Junius Silanus (I) was the only exception. For his proposal was that all monuments, public and private, should no longer be dated by names of consuls, but by those of holders of this tribune’s authority – to honour the rulers, he degraded the consulship. Quintus Haterius moved that the day’s decrees should be engraved in the senate-house in gold lettering. His disgusting sycophancy caused laughter. And since he was so old, it would earn him nothing – except dishonour.

Quintus Junius Blaesus’ governorship of Africa was now prolonged. Servius Cornelius Lentulus Maluginensis, the priest of Jupiter, requested the governorship of Asia. It was a common fallacy, he said, that holders of his priesthood could not leave Italy; their legal position was identical with that of the priests of Mars and Quirinus, who were allowed provinces: so why should the priests of Jupiter not have them too? ‘There is no law against it,’ he said, ‘and nothing in the religious archives. Ordinary priests have often performed the worship of Jupiter when his own priest has been unavailable owing to illness or public business. Moreover, for seventy-five years – after the suicide of Lucius Cornelius Merula1 – the priesthood was unoccupied. Yet the ceremonies continued without interruption. If the post could remain vacant for so long without detriment to the rites, surely it is easier still for me to be away for one year’s governorship! The Chief Priests used to deny governorships to the priests of Jupiter because of personal rivalries. But today the gods have given us a Chief Priest who is also chief citizen, superior to jealousy, ill-will, or personal considerations.’ Various objections, however, were raised by Cnaeus Cornelius Lentulus (II) – the augur – and others, and it was decided to await the view of the imperial Chief Priest. He, however, postponed his investigation of the matter.

Meanwhile he wrote to the senate modifying the compliments to Drusus in honour of his tribunician power. Tiberius specifically censured the preposterous, un-Roman suggestion of golden lettering. A letter from Drusus also was read. Despite calculated modesty it gave an arrogant impression. Things had come to a pretty pass when a mere youth, awarded so great a distinction, stayed away from Rome’s gods and the senate, and did not assume his duties on his native soil. ‘He must be fighting or visiting distant countries.’ But he was only touring the Campanian lakes and coasts. So this was the first lesson he learnt from his father – a fine training for the ruler of the world! It was felt that whereas an elderly emperor might shrink from the public gaze, pleading weariness and past labours, Drusus’ motive could only be conceit.

Tiberius, while he tightened his control by this conferment on Drusus, allowed the senate a shadow of its ancient power by inviting it to discuss provincial petitions. In Greek cities criminals were increasingly escaping punishment owing to over-lavish rights of sanctuary. Delinquent slaves filled temples. Asylum was granted indiscriminately – to debtors escaping their creditors, even to men suspected of capital offences. Protecting religious observance, these communities were protecting crime itself; and interventions provoked outbreaks which no authority could control. So the cities were requested to submit their charters and their representatives to investigation at Rome.

Some cities then voluntarily abandoned their unfounded claims. Many however persisted, on the strength of ancient religious myths or their services to Rome. It was a splendid sight, that day, to see the senate investigating privileges conferred by its ancestors, treaties with allies, edicts of kings who had reigned before Rome was a power, even divine cults; and it was free, as of old, to confirm or amend.

The Ephesians were the first to arrive. They asserted that Apollo and Diana were not, as commonly believed, born at Delos: at Ephesus there was a river Cenchrius, with an Ortygian grove – it was here that me pregnant Latona, leaning upon an olive-tree which was still standing, had given birth to the twin deities. The grove, they said, had been consecrated by divine order, and there Apollo himself, after killing the Cyclops, had taken refuge from Jupiter’s anger. Later Bacchus, after defeating the Amazons, had pardoned those who begged for mercy at the altar, and the temple’s sanctity had been further enhanced by permission of Hercules, during his conquest of Lydia. Its privileges had been respected by the Persian governors, Macedonians, and Romans, in turn.

Magnesia on the Maeander – the next delegation – based its claims on the pronouncements of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus and Sulla.1 After their victories over Antiochus III and Mithridates VI respectively, they had rewarded the Magnesians for their loyalty and bravery by granting inviolable right of asylum to the temple of Diana Leucophryene. Then Aphrodisias on behalf of its cult of Venus produced a decree of Julius Caesar, commending its long-standing loyalty to his cause. Stratonicea, too, in support of its shrine of Jupiter and Diana of the Crossroads, quoted a later ordinance of Augustus praising the unshakable devotion to Rome with which they had resisted the Parthian invasion.1

The representatives of Hierocaesarea had earlier stories of their Persian Diana and her shrine dedicated in the reign of Cyrus I.2 They recalled that many Roman generals, including Marcus Perperna and Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus,3 had recognized the sanctity, not only of the temple, but of the land for two miles round. Then the people of Cyprus made claims for three shrines, the oldest built by Aerias to Venus of Paphos, the next by his son Amathus to Venus of Amathus, and the third by Teucer – fleeing from his father Telamon’s anger4 – to Jupiter of Salamis. Delegations from other cities also were heard.

However, the extensive material and local rivalries proved wearisome. So the senate requested the consuls to investigate the charters for flaws and then report back to itself. Their report approved the cases I have quoted, and added to them an authentic sanctuary of Aesculapius at Pergamum, but intimated that all other stories went back to a past too dim for consideration. Smyrna, for instance, attributed its temple of Venus Stratonicis to instructions from an oracle of Apollo, and Tenos cited another pronouncement from him ordering the dedication of a statue and shrine to Neptune. The deputation from Sardis, recalling more recent history, ascribed their privilege to the victorious Alexander, and Miletus with equal confidence cited King Darius I.5 In these cases the cults were of Diana and Apollo respectively. The Cretans made similar claims for a statue of the divine Augustus.

Decrees were then passed in highly honorific terms, but imposing limits. Bronze tablets, too, were to be set up inside the temples as a solemn record – and a warning not to allow religion to become a cloak for inter-city rivalries.

At about this time the Augusta fell dangerously ill; and the emperor had to return urgently to Rome. Either mother and son were still good friends or, if they were not, they concealed it. Indeed shortly beforehand, when dedicating a statue, near the Theatre of Marcellus, to the divine Augustus, she had inscribed Tiberius’ name after her own. This was believed to have given him grave, though unexpressed, offence as a slur on his imperial dignity. However, the senate now decreed national prayers and major Games, to be organized by the Pontifical Order, the augurs, and the Board of Fifteen for Religious Ceremonies, assisted by the Board of Seven for Sacrificial Banquets and the Brotherhood of Augustus. Lucius Apronius had proposed that the Fetials should also be among the organizers. But Tiberius opposed this, distinguishing between the functions of the various priesthoods and citing precedents. The Fetials, he said, had never enjoyed such dignity; the priests of Augustus had only been included because their Brotherhood was attached to the family for which the vows were being fulfilled.

The only proposals in the senate that I have seen fit to mention are particularly praiseworthy or particularly scandalous ones. It seems to me a historian’s foremost duty to ensure that merit is recorded, and to confront evil deeds and words with the fear of posterity’s denunciations. But this was a tainted, meanly obsequious age. The greatest figures had to protect their positions by subserviency; and, in addition to them, all ex-consuls, most ex-praetors, even many junior senators competed with each other’s offensively sycophantic proposals. There is a tradition that whenever Tiberius left the senate-house he exclaimed in Greek, ‘Men fit to be slaves !’ Even he, freedom’s enemy, became impatient of such abject servility.

Then, gradually, self-abasement turned into persecution. Gaius Junius Silanus, accused of extortion by the people of Asia of which he had been governor, was simultaneously assailed by the former consul Mamercus Aemilius Scaurus, the praetor Junius Otho, and the aedile Bruttedius Niger. They charged him with offences against the divinity of Augustus and the imperial majesty of Tiberius. Mamercus quoted as ancient precedents1 charges made by Scipio Africanus (II), Cato the Censor, and Marcus Aemilius Scaurus against Lucius Aurelius Cotta, Servius Sulpicius Galba (I), and Publius Rutilius Rufus respectively – as if there was any comparison with the crimes attacked by Scipio, Cato, or the famous Scaurus, whom this blot on his family, his great-grandson, was now dishonouring with his sordid activities! Junius Otho had formerly kept a school. Later, admitted to the senate by Sejanus’ influence, he disgraced even those humble origins by his impudent audacity. Bruttethus Niger was a highly cultured man who, if he had gone straight, would have attained great eminence. But impatience spurred him to outstrip first his equals, then his superiors – and finally his own former ambitions. Impatience has ruined many excellent men who, rejecting the slow, sure way, court destruction by rising too quickly.

The accusers were joined by the two senior members of Silanus’ staff in Asia, Gellius Publicola and Marcus Paconius. He was unquestionably guilty of brutality and extortion. But he was involved in circumstances which might have crushed even an innocent man. His enemies in the senate were formidable; and they were supported by the best speakers in the whole province of Asia, selected for this very purpose. Against them he stood alone, an inexperienced speaker, in mortal fear – which incapacitates even practised orators.

Tiberius’ words and looks were unrelievedly menacing. So was the persistence of his interrogations, and the impossibility of negative answers or evasions – even confession was sometimes necessary, so that the emperor should not have asked in vain. Moreover, Silanus’ slaves were sold to the Treasury Agent for examination under torture. And not one friend could help him in his peril; for supplementary charges of treason, which were preferred against him, reduced them to compulsory silence. So Silanus, after requesting a few days’ adjournment, abandoned his defence. But he ventured to write Tiberius a letter of reproachful entreaty.

The emperor, feeling that a precedent would better justify his proposed action against Silanus, ordered the reading of Augustus’ letter and the senate’s decree about an earlier governor of the same province, Lucius Valerius Messalla Volesus. Then he asked Lucius Calpurnius Piso (I) for his opinion. Beginning with a prolonged eulogy of the emperor’s mercifulness, Piso proposed that Silanus should be outlawed and banished to the island of Gyaros. There was general assent, except for one proposal by Cnaeus Cornelius Lentulus (II) – with which Tiberius concurred – that the property inherited by Silanus from his mother, Atia by name, 1 should be treated separately and allowed to his son.

Publius Cornelius Dolabella (I), elaborately sycophantic, included in a denunciation of Silanus the proposal that no one of scandalous life and evil reputation should be eligible for a governorship – the emperor to be judge. For whereas (Dolabella observed) the law punishes offences, it would be much kinder, to offenders and provincials alike, to forestall them. Tiberius, however, disagreed. ‘I am aware’, he said, ‘of the rumours about Silanus. But decisions should not be based on rumours. Many governors have belied people’s hopes and fears: important positions stimulate some natures and blunt others. An emperoi’s knowledge cannot be all-embracing, and intrigues against rivals should not influence him. The law is concerned with what has been done. What will be done is unknown. That is why our ancestors ruled that punishment should follow crime. This was wise, and has always been accepted. Do not reverse it. Emperors have enough burdens –and enough power. Strengthen the executive, and you weaken the law. When one can act by law, the use of official authority is a mistake.’

These constitutional sentiments were welcome, the more so since they were not characteristic of Tiberius. And capable, as he was, of mercy (when not impelled by anger), he proposed that, since Gyaros was a grim, uninhabited island, Silanus – as a concession to his Junian family and former membership of the senate – should be allowed to retire to Cythnos instead. This had been requested, he added, by Silanus’ sister Junia Torquata, a priestess of Vesta and a woman of old-fashioned saintliness. It was agreed without discussion.

The people of Cyrene were heard next, and Caesius Cordus, accused by Ancharius Priscus, was condemned for extortion. A knight called Lucius Ennius was charged with treason for melting down a silver statue of the emperor for use as plate. Tiberius forbade the prosecution. But Gaius Ateius Capito made a show of independence by openly objecting. He argued that the decision ought not to be taken away from the senate, that so grave a misdeed must not go unpunished, and that the emperor’s generosity concerning his personal wrongs should not be extended to condoning offences against the State. But Tiberius understood the sinister implications of this attitude and persisted in his veto. Capito’s degradation was especially conspicuous: for he was a learned secular and religious lawyer whose words disgraced his personal talents as well as his official distinction.

A religious problem next arose. In what temple were the knights to lodge the gift vowed by them to Fortune-on-Horseback for the Augusta’s recovery from illness? Rome had many temples of Fortune but none with this title. It was discovered, however, that a temple at Antium had the designation – and that all rites, temples, and statues of the gods in Italian towns were under Roman jurisdiction and control. So the gift was deposited at Antium.

Since religious matters were being discussed, Tiberius now produced his deferred answer to the application of Servius Cornelius Lentulus Maluginensis, priest of Jupiter, for the governorship of Asia. Tiberius read a priestly ordinance decreeing that whenever the priest of Jupiter was ill he might at the Chief Priest’s discretion stay away for a period exceeding two nights, provided that it was not on days of public sacrifice or oftener than twice in one year. This ruling – formulated under Augustus – showed that priests of Jupiter were ineligible for provincial governorships, since these involved a year’s absence: the precedent was the ban on the departure of Aulus Postumius1 by the Chief Priest Lucius Caecilius Metellus. So Asia was allotted to the ex-consul next after Maluginensis.

At about this time Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (IV) asked the senate’s leave to strengthen and beautify, at his own expense, the Hall that was the family monument of the Aemilii, built by Lucius Aemilius Paullus (II).2 For public munificence was still fashionable. Augustus had allowed enemy spoils, or great resources, to be devoted by Titus Statilius Taurus (I), Lucius Marcius Philippus, and Lucius Cornelius Balbus (II) to the adornment of Rome for the applause of posterity.3 Now Lepidus, though of moderate means, followed their example by repairing his family memorial. When, however, the Theatre of Pom­pey was accidentally burnt down, Tiberius undertook to rebuild it himself on the grounds that no Pompeius had the means to do so; but its name was to remain unchanged.

Tiberius commended Sejanus’ energy and watchfulness in preventing the fire from spreading beyond Pompey’s Theatre; and the senate voted that his statue be erected there. Again, shortly afterwards, when Tiberius awarded an honorary Triumph to Quintus Junius Blaesus, governor of Africa, the emperor indicated that this was a compliment to the latter’s nephew Sejanus. Yet Blaesus’ achievements had earned the distinction. For Tacfarinas, despite frequent defeats, had raised reinforcements in the interior and was insolent enough to send representatives to Tiberius demanding land for himself and his army. As the alternative, he offered endless war. No personal or national slur, it is said, ever provoked the emperor more than the sight of this deserter and brigand behaving like a hostile sovereign. Even Spartacus (reflected Tiberius), burning Italy unavenged – at a time when he had destroyed consuls’ armies and the nation was convulsed by terrible wars overseas against Quintus Sertorius and Mithridates VI of Pontus –had not been allowed conditions for his surrender.1 And now, with Roman power at its height, was this bandit Tacfarinas to be bought off by a treaty granting lands?

Tiberius entrusted the matter to the governor Quintus Junius Blaesus. By promising pardon he was to induce the rebels to lay down arms – except the leader, who was to be captured by any means possible. The amnesty brought many over. Moreover, Tacfarinas was now confronted by methods like his own. Since his army was inferior in fighting power but superior in raiding capacity, he operated with independent groups, avoiding engagements and setting traps. So the Romans, too, attacked with three separate formations. Each had a target of its own. One, under the divisional commander Publius Cornelius Lentulus Scipio (I), blocked the route by which the enemy had raided Lepcis, with the Garamantes to fall back upon. On the other flank, a detachment commanded by Blaesus’ son protected the communities of Cirta against raids. In the centre was the governor and Commander-in-chief himself with selected troops. By planting forts and defences at appropriate spots, he cramped and harassed the enemy. In whatever direction they moved, they found part of the Roman army on front, flanks, and often rear. By these methods many rebels were killed and taken prisoner.

Then Blaesus split up his three formations into smaller bodies, each under a company-commander of distinguished record. It had been customary to withdraw the troops when summer was over, and quarter them in winter camps in Africa proper.1 Blaesus abolished this custom. Instead he established a chain of forts – the usual procedure at the beginning, not the end, of a campaigning season. Then, employing mobile columns with desert training, he kept Tacfarinas in a continual state of movement.

Finally, Blaesus captured the rebel leader’s brother. Then, however, he withdrew – too soon for the interests of the province, since enough of the enemy were left to revive hostilities. Nevertheless Tiberius treated the war as ended, and even allowed Blaesus the honour of being hailed victor by his army, a traditional distinction granted to successful generals by the spontaneous acclamation of their victorious troops. The distinction was not limited to one commander at a time, and did not confer precedence over others. It had been granted on certain occasions by Augustus. After this award by Tiberius to Blaesus it was never conferred again.

Two eminent men died this year. One was Asinius Saloninus,2 noteworthy as grandson of Marcus Agrippa and Gaius Asinius Pollio (I), half-brother of Drusus, and intended husband of one of Tiberius’ granddaughters. The other death that occurred was of Gaius Ateius Capito, whom I have mentioned already. By his distinction as a jurist he had achieved national eminence. Yet his grandfather had only been a company-commander of Sulla, and his father a praetor. Augustus had made him consul before age to give him precedence over another distinguished lawyer, Marcus Antistius Labeo.3 For these two paragons of the arts of peace were the simultaneous products of a single generation. Labeo’s incorruptible independence gave him the finer reputation; Capito’s obedience secured him the greater imperial favour. Labeo stopped short at the praetorship. This seemed unfair – and increased his popularity. Capito’s consulship, on the other hand, earned him jealousy and dislike. Another death was that of Junia Tertulla, niece of Cato, wife of Gaius Cassius, sister of Brutus – a full sixty-three years after Philippi. Her will caused much discussion, because although she was very rich and included complimentary references to almost every leading Roman she omitted the emperor. However, he showed no autocratic resentment, and did not refuse her a ceremonial funeral, including a eulogy from the official dais. The effigies of twenty highly distinguished families, Manlii, Quinctii, and others equally aristocratic, headed the procession. But Cassius and Brutus were the most gloriously conspicuous – precisely because their statues were not to be seen.

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