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the Rhine, revisited the scene of tee slaughter of Varus, and
paid funeral honors to the remains of the fallen Romans.
But the campaigns were barren of results, although attended
with great expenses. No fortresses were erected to check
the return of the barbarians from the places where they had
been dislodged, and no roads were made to expedite future
The cam- expeditions. Germanicus carried on war in sav-

pnign of x . . , ,

Germauicus. age and barbarous tracts, amid, innumerable
obstacles, which tasked his resources to the utmost. Tibe-



Chap, xliii.] Germanicus. 575

rius was dissatisfied with these results, and vented his
ill-humor in murmurs against his nephew. The Roman
people were offended at this jealousy, and clamored for
his recall. Germanicus, however, embarked on a third cam-
paign, a. d. 15, with renewed forces, and confronted the Ger-
mans on the Weser, and crossed the river in the face of the
enemy. There the Romans obtained a great victory over
Arminius, leader of the barbaric hosts, who retreated be-
youd the Elbe. The great German confederacy was, for a
time, dispersed. Germanicus himself retired to the banks of
the Rhine — which became the final boundary of the empire
on the side of Germany. The hero who had persevered
against innumerable obstacles, in overcoming which the dis-
cipline and force of the Roman legions were never more
apparent, not even under Julius Caesar, was now recalled to
Rome, and a triumph was given him, amid the wildest enthu-
siasm of the Roman people. The young hero was Trlu hof
the great object of attraction, as he was borne Germanicus.
along in his triumphal chariot, surrounded by the five male
descendants of his union with Agrippina — his faithful and
heroic wife. Tiberius, in the name of his adopted son,
bestowed three hundred sesterces apiece upon all the citizens,
and the Senate chose the popular favorite as consul for the
ensuing year, in conjunction with the emperor himself.

Troubles in the East induced Tiberius to send Germanicus
to Asia Minor, while Drusus was sent to Illyricum. This
prince was the son of Tiberius by his first wife,
Vipsania, and was the cousin of Germanicus. He
was disgraced by the vices of debauchery and cruelty, and
was finally poisoned by his wife, Livilla, at the instance of
Sejanus. So long as Germanicus lived, the court was divided
between the parties of Drusus and Germanicus, and Tiberius
artfully held the balance of favor between them, taking care
not to declare which should be his successor. But Drusus
was, probably, the favorite of the emperor, although greatly
inferior to the elder prince in every noble quality. Tiberius,
in sending him to Illyricum, wished to remove him from the



576 The First Six Ccesars. [Chap, xliit.

dissipations of the capital, and also, to place a man in that
important post who should be loyal to his authority.

In appointing Germanicus to the chief command of the
provinces beyond the iEgean, Tiberius also gave the prov-
ince of Syria to Cnfeus Piso, of the illustrious Calpurnian
house, one of the proudest and most powerful of
the Roman nobles. His wife, Plancina, was the
favorite of Livia, — the empress-mother, — and he believed
himself appointed to the government of Syria for the purpose
of checking the ambitious designs which were imputed to Ger-
manicus, while his wife was instructed to set up herself as a
rival to Agrippina. The moment Piso quitted Italy, he
began to thwart his superior, and to bring his authority into
contempt. Yet he was treated by Germanicus with marked
kindness. After visiting the famous cities of Greece, Ger-
manicus marched to the frontiers of Armenia to settle its
affairs with the empire — the direct object of his mission. He
crowned a prince, called Zeno, as monarch of that country,
reduced Cappadocia, and visited Egypt, appai*ently to exam-
ine the political affairs of the province, but really to study
its antiquities, even as Scipio had visited Sicily in the heat
of the Punic war. For thus going out of his way, he was
rebuked by the emperor. He then retraced his steps, and
shaped his course to Syria, where he found his regulations
and appointments had been overruled by Piso, between whom
and himself bitter altercations ensued. While in Syria, he
Death or fr^ s i c k anc ^ died, and his illness was attributed to
Germanicus. p i son administered by Piso, although there was
little evidence to support the chai'ge.

The death of Germanicus was received with great grief by
the Roman people, and the general sorrow of the Roman
world, and his praises were pronounced in every quartei*.
He was even fondly compared to Alexander the Great. His
character was embellished by the greatest master of pathos
, , anions the Roman authors, and invested with a

Funeral of «=>

Germanicus. gleam of mournful splendor. His remains were
brought to Rome by his devoted wife, and the most splendid



Chap. XLIIL] Funeral of Gennanicus. 577

funeral honors were accorded to him. Drusus, with the
younger brother and children of Germanicus, went forth to
meet the remains, and the consuls, the Senate, and a large
concourse of people, swelled the procession, as it neared the
city. The precious ashes were deposited in the Caesarian
mausoleum, and the memory of the departed prince was
cherished in the hearts of the people. Whether he would
have realized the expectations formed of him, had he lived
to succeed Tiberius, can not be known. He, doubtless, had
most amiable traits of character, while his talents were
undoubted. But he might have succumbed to the tempta-
tions incident to the most august situation in the world, or
have been borne down by its pressing cares, or have
shown less talent for administration than men disgraced
by private vices. Had Tiberius died before Au- Abie admin-

' , . , , , . , . , istration of

gustus, his character would have appeared in the Tiberius.
most favorable light, for he was a man of great abilities,
and was devoted to the interests of the empire. He became
moody, suspicious, and cruel, and yielded to the pleasures so
lavishly given to the master of the world. When we remem-
ber the atmosphere of lies in which he lived, — as is the case
with all absolute monarchs, especially in venal and corrupt
times, — the unbounded temptations, the servile and syco-
phantic attentions of his courtiers, the perpetual vexations and
cares incident to such overgrown and unlimited powers, and
the disgust, satiety, and contempt which his experiences en-
gendered, we can not wonder that his character should change
for the worse. And when we see a man rendered uninterest-
ing and unamiable by cares, temptations, and bursts of pas-
sion or folly, yet who still governs vigilantly and ably, our
indignation should be modified, when the lower propensities
are indulged. It is not pleasant to palliate injustices,, tyran-
nies, and lusts. But human nature, at the best, is weak. Of
all men, absolute princes claim a charitable judgment, and
our eyes should be directed to their services, rather than to
their defects. These remarks not only pertain to Tiberius,
but to Augustus, and many other emperors who have been
37



578 The First Six Ccesars. [Chap, xliii.

harshly estimated, but whose general ability and devotion
to the interests of the empire are undoubted. How few mon-
archs have been free from the stains of occasional excesses,
and that arbitrary and tyrannical character which unlimited
powers develop ! Even the crimes of monsters, whom we
execrate, are to be traced to madness and intoxication, more
than to natural fierceness and wickedness. But when mon-
Exceiience archs do reiam in iustice, and conquer the tempta-

of the iinpe- . . . _ ° \ , ' . ,., , A .

rial rule. tions incident to their station, like the Antonmes,
then our reverence becomes profound. " Heavy is the head,
that wears a crown." Kings are objects of our sympathy, as
well as of our envy. Their burdens are as heavy as their
temptations are great ; and frivolous or wicked princes are
almost certain to yield, like Nero or Caligula, to the evils
with which they are peculiarly surrounded.

But to return to our narrative of the leading events con-
nected with the reign' of Tiberius, one of the ablest of all the
emperors, so far as administrative talents are concerned.
After the death of Germanicus, which was probably natural,
the vengeance of the people and the court was directed to
his supposed murderer, Piso. He was arraigned and tried by
the Senate, not only for the crime of which he was accused
by the family of Germanicus, who thought himself poisoned,
but for exceeding his powers as governor of Syria, which
province he continued unwisely to claim. Tiberius abstained
from all interference with the great tribunal which sat in
judgment. He even checked the flow of popular feeling.
Cold and hard, he allowed the trial to take its course, with-
out betraying sympathy or aversion, and acted with great
impartiality. Piso found no favor from the Senate or the
emperor, and killed himself when his condemnation was
certain.

Relieved by the death of Germanicus and Piso, Tiberius
Tiberius began to reign more despotically, and incurred the

becomes a ■ , " .

tyrant. hatred oi the people, to which he was apparently

insensible. He was greatly influenced by his mother, Livia,
an artful and ambitious princess, and by Sejanus, Ills favor-



Chap. XLIIL] Policy of Tiberius. 579

ite, a man of rare energy and ability, who was prefect of the
praetorian . guards. This office, unknown to the republic,
became the most important and influential under the emper-
ors. The prefect was virtually the vizier, or prime minister,
since it was his care to watch over the personal safety of a
monarch whose power rested on the military. The instru-=
ments of his government, however, were the Sen- instruments
ate, which he controlled especially by his power of tJ1, ™ y "
as censor, and the law of majestas, which was virtually a
great system of espionage and public accusation, which the
emperor encouraged. But his general administration was
marked by prudence, equity, and mildness. Under him the
Roman dominion was greatly consolidated, and it was his
policy to guard rather than extend the limits of the empire.
The legions were stationed in those provinces which were
most likely to be assailed by external dangers, especially on
the banks of the Rhine, in Illyricum, and Dalmatia. But
they were scattered in all the provinces. The city of Rome
was kept in order by the praetorian guards. Their discipline
was strenuously maintained. Governors ot provinces were
kept several years in office, which policy was jus- Provincial
tified by the apologue he was accustomed to use, s overnors -
founded on the same principle as that which is recognized in
all corrupt times by great administrators, whether of States,
or factories, or railroads. " A number of flies had settled on
a soldier's wound, and a compassionate passer-by was about
to scare them away. The sufferer begged him to refrain.
' These flies,' he said, ' have nearly sucked their full, and are
beginning to be tolerable ; if you drive them away, they will
be immediately succeeded by fresh-comers with keener
appetites.' " The emperor saw the abuses which existed,
but despaired to remedy them, since he distrusted human
nature. But there is no doubt that the government of the
provinces was improved under this prince, and the governors
were made responsible. The emperor also was assiduous to
free Italy from robbers and banditti, and in stimulating the
diligence of the police, so that riots seldom occurred, and



580 The First Six Ccesars. [Chap, xliii.

were severely punished. There was greater security of life and
property throughout the empire, and the laws were wise and
Reforms of effective. Tiberius limited the number of the gladi-
Tibenus. ators, expelled the soothsayers from Italy, and sup-
pressed the Egyptian rites. The habits of the peojde, even
among the higher classes, were so generally disgraceful and
immoral, — the dissipation was so widely spread, that Tibe-
rius despaired to check it by sumptuary laws, but he restrain-
ed it all in his power, lie was indefatigable in his vigilance.
For several years he did not quit the din and dust of the city
for a single day, and he lived with great simplicity, appar-
ently anxious to exhibit the ancient ideal of a Roman states-
man. He took no pleasure in the sports of the circus or
theatre, and was absorbed in the cares of office, as Augustus
had been before him. Augustus, however, was a man. of
genius, while he was only a man of ability, and his great
defect was jealousy of the family of Germanicus, and the
favor he lavished on Sejanus, who even demanded the hand
of Livilla, the widow of Drusus, — a suit which Tiberius
rejected.

Weariness of the cares of State, and the desire of repose,
at last induced Tiberius to retire from the city. He had
neither happiness nor rest. He quarreled with Agrippina,
the widow of Germanicus, and his temper was exasperated
by the imputations and slanders from which no monarch can
escape. His enemies, however, declared that he had no
higher wish than to exercise in secret the cruelty and libidi-
nousness to which he was abandoned. For eleven years he
Tiberius ruled in the retirement of his guarded fortress, and
Wmseinn never again re-entered the city he had left in dis-
CapreiB. gust. But in this retirement, he did not relax his
vigilance in the administration of affairs, although his gov-
ernment was exceedingly unpopular, and was doubtless
stained by many acts of cruelty. At Caprea?, a small island
near Naples, barren and desolate, but beautiful in climate
and scenery, the master of the world spent his latter years,
surrounded with literary men and soothsayers. I do not



Chap, xliil] Last Days of Tiberius. 581

believe the calumnies which have been heaped on this impe-
rial misanthrope. And yet, the eleven years he spent in his
retreat were marked by great complaints against him, and
by many revolting crimes and needless cruelties. He perse-
cuted the family of Germanicus, banished Agrippina, and
imprisoned her son, Drusus. Sejanus, however,

. . -, , -,. -i i \ , Sejanus.

instigated these proceedings, and worked upon the
jealousy of the emperor. This favorite was affianced to Li v.
ilia, the widow of Drusus, and was made consul conjointly
with Tiberius.

Tiberius penetrated, at last, the character of this ambitious
officer, and circumvented his ruin with that profound dissim-
ulation which was one of his most marked traits. Sejanus
conspired against his life, but the emperor shrank His conspir-
from openly denouncing him to the Senate. He death.
used consummate craft in securing his arrest and execution,
the instrument of which was Macro, an officer of his body-
guard, and his death was followed by the ruin of his accom-
plices and friends.

Shortly after the execution of Sejanus, Drusus, the son of
Agrippina, was starved to death in prison, and Death of
many cruelties were inflicted on the friends of Se- DrUbUS -
janus. Tiberius now began to show signs of insanity, and
his life henceforth was that of a miserable tyrant. His
career began to draw to a close, and he found himself, in his
fits of despair and wretchedness, supported by only three sur-
viving members of the lineage of Caesar: Tiberius Claudius
Drusus, the last of the sons of Drusus, and nephew of the
emperor, infirm in health and weak in mind, and had been
excluded from public affaire ; Caius, the younger son of
Germanicus, and Tiberius, the son of the second Drusus,
— the one, grand-nephew, and the other, grandson of the
emperor. Both were young; one twenty-five, the other
eighteen. The failing old man failed to designate either as
his successor, but the voice of the public pointed out the son
of Germanicus, nicknamed Caligula. At the age of seventy-
eight, the tyrant died, unable in his last sickness to restrain



582 The First Six Ccesars. [Chap, xliii.

his ajDpetite. He died at Misenum, on his way to Capreae,
Death of which he had quitted for a time, to the joy of the
Tibenus. w h le empire; for his reign, in his latter years,
was one of terror, which caused a deep gloom to settle upon
the face of the higher society at Rome, a. d. 37. The body
was carried to Rome with great pomp, and its

His funeral. . . „

ashes were deposited in the mausoleum or the
Caesars. Cains was recognized as his successor without op-
position, and he commenced his reign by issuing a general
pardon to all State prisoners, and scattering, with promiscu-
ous munificence, the vast treasures which Tiberius had
accumulated. He assumed the collective honors of the
empire with modesty, and great expectations were formed
of a peaceful and honorable reign.

Caligula was the heir of the Drusi, grandson of Julia and
Agrippa, great-grandson of Octavius, of Livia, and of An-
tony. In him the lines of Julia and Livia were united. His
defects and vices were unknown to the people, and he made
grand promises to the Senate. He commenced his reign by
assiduous labors, and equitable measures, and professed to
restore the golden age of Augustus. His popularity with
the people was unbounded, from his lavish expenditure for
shows and festivals, by the consecration of temples, and the
distribution of corn and wine.

But it was not long before he abandoned himself to the
most extravagant debauchery. His brain reeled
on the giddy eminence to which he had been ele-
vated without previous training and experience. Augustus
fought his own way to power, and Tiberius had spent the
best years of his life in the public service before his elevation.
Yet even he, with all his experience and ability, could not
resist the blandishments of power. How, then, could a giddy
and weak young man, without redeeming qualities ? He fell
His infamous in ^° tne vortex of pleasures, and reeling in the
pleasures. madness which excesses caused, was soon guilty of
the wildest caprices, and the most cruel atrocities. He was
corrupted by flattery as well as pleasure. He even de-



Chap. XLIIL] Caligula. 583

scended into the arena of the circus as a charioteer, and the
races became a State institution. In a few months he
squandered the savings of the previous reign, swept away
the wholesome restraints which Augustus and Tiberius had
imposed upon gladiators, and carried on the sports of the
amphitheatre with utter disregard of human life. His ex-
travagance and his necessities led to the most cruelty of
wanton murders of senators and nobles whose Cali s ula -
crime was their wealth. The most redeeming features of the
first year of his reign were his grief at the death of his sister,
his friendship with Herod Agrippa, to whom he gave a
sovereignty in Palestine, and the activity he displayed in the
management of his vast inheritance. He had a great passion
for building, and completed the temple of Augustus, pro-
jected the grandest of the Roman aqueducts, enlarged the
imperial palace, and carried a viaduct from the Palatine to
the Capitoline over the lofty houses of the Velabrum. But
his prodigalities led to a most oppressive taxation, which
soon alienated the people, while his senseless debaucheries,
especially his costly banquets, disgusted the more contem-
plative of the nobles. He Avas also disgraced by needless
cruelties, and it was his exclamation : " Would that the
people of Rome had but one neck !" His vanity was pre-
posterous. He fancied himself divine, and insisted on divine
honors being rendered to him. He systematically persecuted
the nobles, and exacted contributions. He fancied himself,
at one time an orator, and at another a general; and abso-
lutely led an army to the Rhine, when there was no enemy
to attack. He married several wives, but divorced them
with the most fickle inconstancy.

It is needless to repeat the wanton follies of this young
man who so outrageously disgraced the imperial His madness
station. The most charitable construction to be and to117,
placed upon acts which made his name infamous among the
ancients is that his brain was turned by his elevation to a
dignity for which he was not trained or disciplined — that
unbounded power, united with the most extravagant aban-



584 Tlie First Six CcBsars. [Chap. XLIII.

donment to sensual pleasures, undermined his intellect.
His caprices and extravagance can only be explained by
partial madness. He had reigned but four years, and all
Hisassassi- expectations of good government were dispelled,
nation. rp] ae ma jesty of the empire was insulted, and assas-

sination, the only way by which he could be removed, freed
the world from a madman, if not a monster.

There was great confusion after the assassination of Caius
Caesar, and ill-concerted efforts to recover a freedom which
had fled forever, ending, as was to be expected, by military
power. The consuls convened the Senate for deliberation
(for the forms of the republic were still kept up), but no
settled principles prevailed. Various forms of government
were proposed and rejected. While the Senate deliberated,
the praetorian guards acted.

Among the inmates of the palace, in that hour of fear,
among slaves and freedmen, half hidden behind a curtain in
an obscure corner, was a timid old man, who was
dragged forth with brutal violence. He was no
less a personage than Claudius, the neglected uncle of the
emperor, the son of Drusus and Antonia, and nephew of
Tiberius, and brother of Germanicus. Instead of slaying the
old man, the soldiers, respecting the family of Caesar, hailed
him, partly in jest, as imperator, and carried him to their
camp. Claudius, heretofore thought to be imbecile, and
therefore despised, was not unwilling to accept the dignity,
and promised the prsetoriansjif they would swear allegiance
to him, a donation of fifteen thousand sesterces apiece. The
Senate, at the dictation of the praetorians, accepted Claudius
as emperor.

He commenced his reign, a. d. 41, by proclaiming a gene-
His efforts ra ^ amnesty. He restored confiscated estates,
at reform. recalled the wretched sisters of Caius, sent back to
Greece and Asia the plundered statues of temples which
Caius had transported to Rome, and inaugurated a regime
of moderation and justice. His life had been one of sickness,
neglect, and obscurity, but he was suffered to live because he



Chap, xliil] Claudius. 585

■was harmless. His mother was ashamed of him, and his
grandmother, Livia, despised him, and his sister, Livilla,
ridiculed .him. He was withheld from public life, and he
devoted himself to literary pursuits, and even wrote a history
of Roman affairs from the battle of Actium, but it gained
him no consideration. Tiberius treated him with contumely,
and his friends deserted him. All this neglect and contempt
were the effects of a weak constitution, a paralytic gait, and
an imperfect utterance.

Claudius took Augustus as his model, and at once a great
change in the administration was observable. The aWe
There Avas a renewed activity of the armies on the ^ J,™ 1 "^ stra *
frontiers, and gi-eat generals arose who were des- Claudms -
tined to be future emperors. The colonies were strengthen-
ed and protected, and foreign affairs were conducted with
ability. Herod Agrippa, the favorite of Caius, was confirmed
in his government of Galilee, and received in addition the
dominions of Samaria and Judsea. Antiochus was restored
to the throne of Commagene, and Mithridates received a
district of Cilicia. The members of the Senate were made
responsible for the discharge of their magistracies, and
vacancies to this still august body were filled up from the
wealthy and powerful families. He opened an honorable
career to the Gauls, revised the lists of the knights, and took
an accurate census of Roman citizens. He conserved the
national religion, and regulated holidays and festivals. His
industry and patience were unwearied, and the administra-
tion of justice extorted universal admiration. His person
was accessible to all petitioners, and he relieved distress
wherever he found it. He relinquished the most grievous
exactions of his predecessors, and tenderly guarded neglected
slaves. He also constructed great architectural works,
especially those of utility, completed the vast aqueduct
which Caius commenced, and provided the city with provi-
sions. He built the port of Ostia, to facilitate commerce,
and drained marshes and lakes. The draining of the Lake
Fucinus occupied thirty thousand men for eleven years.



Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 49 of 55)