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586 The First Six Ccesars. [Chap, xliii.

While he executed vast engineering works to supply the
city with water, he also amused the people with gladiatorial
shows. In all things lie showed the force of the old Roman
character, in spite of bodily feebleness.

The most memorable act of his administration was the con-
Oonquestof c l uest °f South Britain. By birth a Gaul, being
Britain. born at Lugdunum, he cast his eyes across the
British channel and resolved to secure the island beyond as
the extreme frontier of his dominions, then under the
dominion of the Druids — a body of Celtic priests whom the
Romans ever detested, and whose rites all preceding emper-
ors had proscribed. Julius Caesar had pretended to impose
a tribute on the chiefs of Southern Britain, but it was never
exacted. Both Augustus and Tiberius felt but little interest
in the political affairs of that distant island, but the rapid
progress of civilization in Gaul, and the growing cities on
the banks of the Rhine, elicited a spirit of friendly inter-
course. Londinium, a city which escaped the notice of
Caesar, was a great emporium of trade in the time of Clau-
dius. But the southern chieftains were hostile, and jealous
of their independence. So Claudius sent four legions to
Britain, under Plautius, and his lieutenant, Vespasianus, to
oppose the forces under Caractacus. He even entered
Britain in person, and subdued the Trinobantes. But for
nine years Caractacus maintained an independent position.
He was finally overthrown in battle, and betrayed to the
Romans, and exhibited at Rome. The insurrection was sup-
pressed, or rather, a foothold was secured in the island,
which continued henceforth under the Roman rule.

The feeble old man, always nursed by women, had the mis-
fortune to marry, for his third wife, the most infamous
woman in Roman annals (Valeria Messalina), under
whose influence the reign, at first beneficent,
became disgraceful. Claudius was entirely ruled by her.
She amassed fortunes, sold offices, confiscated estates, and
indulged in guilty loves. She ruled like a Madame de Pom-
padour, and degraded the throne which she ought to have

Chap. XLIIL] Msssalina. 5S7

exalted. The influence of women generally was bad in
those corrupt times, but her influence was scandalous and

Claudius also was governed by his favorites, generally men
of low birth — freedmen who usurped the place of statesmen.
Narcissus and Pallus were the most confidential of the
emperor's advisers, who, in consequence, became enormously
rich, for favors flowed through them, and received the great
offices of State. The court became a scene of cabals and
crimes, disgraced by the wanton shamelessness of the
empress and the venality of courtiers. Appius Silamus, one
of the best and greatest of the nobles, was murdered through
the intrigues of Messalina, to whose progress in wickedness
history furnishes no parallel, and Valerius Asiaticus, another
great noble, also suffered the penalty of offending her, and
was destroyed ; and his magnificent gardens, which she cov-
eted, were bestowed upon her.

But Messalina was rivaled in iniquity by another princess,
between whom and herself there existed the dead-

v • • mi • * -i Agrippina.

liest animosity, lhis was Agrippina, the daugh-
ter of Germanicus, who had been married to Cn. Domitius
Ahenobardus, grandson of Octavia, and whose issue was the
future emperor Nero. The niece of Claudius occupied the
second place in the imperial household, and it became her
aim to poison the mind of her uncle against the woman she
detested, and who returned her hatred. She now leagued
with the freedmen of the palace to destroy her rival. An
opportunity to gratify her vengeance soon occurred. Mes-
salina, according to Tacitus, was guilty of the inconceivable
madness of marrying Silanus, one of her paramours, while
her husband lived, and that husband an emperor, which
story can not be believed Avithout also supposing that Clau-
dius was a perfect idiot. Such a defiance of law, of religion,
and of the feelings of mankind,. to say nothing of its folly,
is not to be supposed. Yet such was the scandal, and it
filled the imperial household with consternation. Callistus,
Pallas, and Narcissus — the favorites who ruled Claudius —

588 The First Six Ccesars. [Chap, xliii.

united with Agrippina to secure her ruin. The emperor,
then absent in Ostia, was informed of the shamelessness of
his wife. It was difficult for him to believe such a fact, but
it was attested by the trusted members of his household.
His fears were excited, as well as his indignation, and he
hastened to Rome for vengeance and punishment. Messa-
lina had retired to her magnificent gardens on the Pincian,
which had once belonged to Lucullus, the price of the blood
of the murdered Asiaticus ; but, on the approach of the
emperor, of which she was informed, she advanced boldly to
confront him, with every appearance of misery and distress,
with her children Britannicus and Octavia. Claudius vacil-
lated, and Messalina retired to her gardens, hoping to con-
vince her husband of her innocence on the interview which
he promised the following day. But Narcissus, knowing
Assassina- her influence, caused her to be assassinated, and the

tion of

Messalina. emperor drowned his grief, or affection, or anger,
in wine and music, and seemingly forgot her. That Messa-
lina was a wicked and abandoned woman is most probable ;
that she was as bad as history represents her, may be
doubted, especially when we remember she was calumniated
by a rival, who succeeded in taking her place as wife. It
is easier to believe she was the victim of Agrippina and the
Mamn"e of fi' ee dmen, who feared as well as hated her, than
wither - - t0 acce P t tne authority of Tacitus and Juvenal,
pina. On the death of Messalina, Agrippina married her

uncle, and the Senate sanctioned the union, which was incest
by the Roman laws.

The fourth wife of the emperor transcended the third in
intrigue and ambition, and her marriage, at the age of
thirty-three, Avas soon followed by the betrothal of her son,
L. Domitius, a boy of twelve, with Octavia, the daughter
of Claudius and Messalina. He was adopted by the emperor,
and assumed the name of jSTero. Henceforth she labored for
the advancement of her son only. She courted the army
and the favor of the people, and founded the city on the
Rhine which we call Cologne. But she outraged the notions

Chap. XLIIL] Death cf Claudius. 589

and sentiments of the people more by her unfeminine usur-
pation of public honors, than by her cruelty or her Infamy of
dissoluteness. She seated herself by the side of Agrippina.
the emperor in military festivals. She sat by him at a sea-
fight on the Lucrine Lake, clothed in a soldier's cloak. She
took her station in front of the Roman standard, when
Caractacus, the conquered British chief, was brought in
chains to the emperor's tribunal. She caused the dismissal
of the imperial officers who incurred her displeasure. She
exercised a paramount sway over her husband, and virtually
ruled the empire. She distracted the palace with discords,
cabals, and jealousies.

How the bad influence of these women over the mind of
Claudius can be reconciled with the vigilance, and the
labors, and the beneficent measures of the emperor, as gen-
erally admitted, history does not narrate. But it was during
the ascendency of both Messalina and Agrippina, that Clau-
dius presided at the tribunals of justice with zeal and intel-
ligence, that he interested himself in works of great public
utility, and that he carried on successful war in Britain.

In the year A. D. 54, and in the fourteenth of his
reign, Claudius, exhausted by the affairs of State, and also,
it is said, by intemperance, fell sick at Rome, and sought
the medicinal waters of Sinuessa. It was there that Agrip-
pina contrived to poison him, by the aid of Lo-
custa, a professed poisoner, and Xenophon, a phy- Claudius.
sician, while she affected an excess of grief. She held his
son Britannicus in her arms, and detained him and his sisters
in the palace, while every preparation was made to secure
the accession of her own son, Nero. She was probably
prompted to this act from fear that she would be supplanted
and punished, for Claudius had said, when wine had unloosed
his secret thoughts, " that it was his fate to suffer the crim
of his wives, but at last to punish them." She also was
eager to elevate her own son to the throne, which, of right,
belonged to Britannicus, and whose rights might have been
subsequently acknowledged by the emperor, for his eyes

590 The First Six Omars. [Chap, xliii.

could not be much longer blinded to the character of his

Claudius must not be classed with either wicked or imbe-
Char. ter f c ^ e P rmces > m spite of his bodily infirmities, or
Claudius. the slanders with which his name is associated.
It is probable he indulged to excess in the pleasures of the
table, like the generality of Roman nobles, but we are to
remember that he ever sought to imitate Augustus in his
wisest measures; that he ever respected letters when litera-
ture was falling into contempt ; that his administration was
vigorous and successful, fertile in victories and generals ;
that he exceeded all his ministers in assiduous labors, and
that he partially restored the dignity and authority of the
Senate. His great weakness was in being ruled by favorites
and women ; but his favorites were men of ability, and his
women were his wives.

Nero, the son of Agrippina and Cn. Domitius Ahenobardus,
Ascension ^y the assistance of the praetorian guards, was now
of Nero. proclaimed imperator, a. d. 54, directly descended,
both on his paternal and maternal side, from Antonia
Major, the granddaughter of Antony and Domitius Aheno-
bardus. Through Octavia, his grandmother, he traced his
descent from the family of Caesar. The Domitii — the pater-
nal ancestors of Nero — had been illustrious for several hun-
dred years, and no one was more distinguished than Lucius
Domitius, called Ahenobardus, or Red-Beard, in the early
days of the republic. The father of Nero, who married
Agrippina, was as infamous for crimes as he was exalted for
rank. But he died when his son Nero was three years of
age. He was left to the care of his father's sister, Domitia
Lepida, the mother of Messalina, and was by her neglected.
His first tutors were a dancer and a barber. On the return
of his mother from exile his education was more in accord-
ance with his rank, as a prince of the blood, though not in
the line of succession. He was docile and affec-

Hi s early

character. tionate as a child, and was intrusted to the care
of Seneca, by whom he was taught rhetoric and moral pin-

Chap. XLIIL] Nero. 591

losophy, and who connived at his taste for singing, piping,
and dancing, the only accomplishments of which, as em-
peror, he was afterward proud. He was surrounded with
perils, in so wicked an age, as were other nobles, and, by
his adoption, was admitted a member of the imperial family
— the sacred stock of the Claudii and Julii. He was under
the influence of his mother — the woman who subverted Mes-
salina, and murdered Claudius, — who used every art and
intrigue to secure his accession.

When he mounted the throne of the Caesars, he gave
promise of a benignant reign. His first speech to the Senate
made a good impression, and his first acts were HetTives
beneficent. But he ruled only through his mother, promise of

■> a ' reigning

who aspired to play the empress, a woman who wisely.
gave answers to ambassadors, and sent dispatches to foreign
courts. Burrhus, the prefect of the imperial guard, and Seneca,
tutor and minister, through whose aid the claims of Nero
had been preferred over those of Britannicus, the son of the
late emperor, opposed her usurpations, and attempted to
counteract her influence.

The early promises of Nero were not fulfilled. He soon
gave vent to every vice, which was disguised by New el _
his ministers. One of the first acts was to dis- opmentsin

the character

grace the freedman, Pallas, — the prime minister of °fNero.
Claudius, — and to destroy Britannicus by poison, which
crimes were palliated, if not suggested, by Seneca.

The influence which Seneca and Burrhus had over the young
emperor, who screened his vices from the eyes of the people
and Senate, necessarily led to a division between „. . .

J His mmis-

Nero and Agrippina. He withdrew her guard of ters -
honor, and paid her only formal visits, which conduct led to
the desertion of her friends, and the open hostility of her
enemies. The wretched woman defended herself against the
charges they brought, with spirit, and for a time she escaped.
The influence of Seneca, at this period, was paramount, and
was exerted for the good of the empire, so that the Senate
acquiesced in the public measures of Nero, and no notice was

592 The First Six Caesars. [Chap, xliii

taken of his private irregularities. The empress mother
apparently yielded to the ascendency of the ministers, and
provoked no further trial of strength.

Thus five years passed, until Nero was twenty-two, when
Poppsca Sabina, the fairest woman of her time, appeared upon
Po ^ the stage. Among the dissolute women of imperial

sabina. Rome, she was pre-eminent. Introduced to the

intimacy of Nero, she aspired to still higher elevation, and
this was favored by the detestation with which Agrippina
was generally viewed, and the continued decline of her influ-
ence, since she had ruled by fear rather than love. Poppaea
was now found intriguing against her, and induced Nero to
murder his own mother, to whose arts and wickedness he
owed his own elevation. The murder was effected in her
villa, on the Lucrine Lake, under circumstances of utter bru-
tality. Nero came to examine her mangled body, and coolly
praised the beauty of her form. Nor were her ashes even
placed in the mausoleum of Augustus. This wicked Jezebel,
., who had poisoned her husband, and was accused

Her vile J- '

character. f every crime revolting to our nature, paid the
penalty of her varied infamies, and her name has descended
to all subsequent ages as the worst woman of antiquity.

With the murder of Agrippina, the madness and atrocities
of Nero gained new force. He now appears as a monster,
The infa- and was only tolerated for the amusements with

mies ot m J

Nero. which he appeased the Roman people. He dis-

graced the imperial dignity by descending upon the stage,
which was always infamous ; he instituted demoralizing
games ; he was utterly insensible to national sentiments and
feelings; he exceeded all his predecessors in extravagance
and follies ; he was suspected of poisoning Burrhus, by whom
he was advanced to power; he executed men of the highest
rank, whose crime was their riches ; he destroyed the mem-
bers of the imperial family; he murdered Doryphorus and
Pallas, because they were averse to his marriage with Pop-
pa?a; he drove his chariot in the Circus Maximus, pleased
with the acclamations of two hundred thousand spectators ;

Chap. XLIIL] Infamies and Death of Nero. 593

he gave banquets in which the utmost excesses of bacchana-
lian debauchery were openly displayed; he is said to have
kindled the conflagration of his own capital ; he levied
oppressive taxes to build his golden palace, and support his
varied extravagance ; he even destroyed his tutor and min-
ister, Seneca, that he might be free from his expostulations,
and take possession of the vast fortune which this philosopher
had accumulated in his service ; and he finally kicked his
wife so savagely that she died from the violence he inflicted.
If it were possible to add to his enormities, his persecution of
the Christians swelled the measure of his infamies — the first
to which they had been subjected in Rome, and in which Paul
himself was a victim. But his government was supported
by the cruelty and voluptuousness of the age, and which has
never been painted in more vivid colors than by St. Paul
himself. The corrupt morality of the age tolerated all these
crimes, and excesses, and follies — an age which saw no great
writers except Seneca, Lucan, Perseus, and Martial, two of
whom were murdered by the emperor.

But the hour of retribution was at hand. The provinces
were discontented, and the city filled with cabals and con-
spiracies. Though one of them, instigated by Piso, Cotlspiracie3
was unsuccessful, and its authors punished, a revolt "samst him.
in Gaul, headed by Galba — an old veteran of seventy-two, and
assisted by Vindex and Virginius, was fatal to Nero. The
Senate and the praetorian guards favored the revolution.
The emperor was no longer safe in his capital. Terrified by
dreams, and stung by desertion, the wretched tyrant Fli „ ht of
fled to the Servilian Gardens, and from thence to Jsrer0 -
the villa of one of his freedmen, near which he committed
suicide, at the age of thirty-six, and in the fourteenth year of
his inglorious reign, during which there are scarcely other
events to chronicle than his own personal infamies. " In him
perished the last scion of the stock of the Julii, refreshed in
vain by grafts from the Octavii, the Claudii, and Death of
the Domitii." Though the first of the emperors Nero.
had married four wives, the second three, the third two,

594- The First Six Ccesars. [Chap, xliii.

the fourth three, the fifth six, and the sixth three, yet Nero
was the last of the Caesars. None of the five successors of
Julius were truly his natural heirs. They trace their lineage
to his sister Julia, but the three last had in their veins the
blood of Antony as well as Octavia, and thus the descendants
of the triumvir reigned at Rome as well as those of his rival
Octavius. We have only to remark that it is strange that
the Julian line should have been extinguished in the sixth
generation, with so many marriages.


C. Julius Caesar •= Aurelia.

C. Julius Cvesur.

Julia = M. Atius Balbua.

Julia a Cn. Pompeius. C»sarion.

iribonia — C. Julius Octavianus = I
Augustus, 2d Emperor.

tDrusilla = TLbn-iu^ Claudius Nero.

C. Claudius Marc

M. Claudius Miircellii

: Julia = M. V. Agrippa.

i . r I'lrui.liii- Dr



Caius Ciesar Caligula,
4th Emperor.

Agrippina = Ou. Domitius Ahenobai

Lucius Domitius Ahenokirdus,
yy adoption, Nero, 6th Emperor.

Augustus, grand-nephew of -Julius Cmsftr, and son by adoption.
Tiberius, step-son of Augustus, and son by adoption, son of Livia and T. C. Nero.

Cuius Caligula, son of Agrippina and Gcnnanicus— grandson of Julia and Agrippa, also of Drusus and Antonia-great-grandson of Augustus and Antony.
Claudius Drusus, son of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor— grandson of Livia and Tiberius Claudius Nero, also of Octaria and Antony
Lucius Domitius Ahenobardus, and Nero by adoption, son of Agrippina No. 2 and On. Domitius Ahenobnrdus. grandson of Agrippii
Antonia Major and L. Domitius Ahemibaidus, great-grandson of Octavia and Antony, and great-great-grandson of Augustus.

Nc. 1 and Germanicus, also of



Oisr the extinction of the Julian line, a new class of emper-
ors succeeded, by whom the prosperity of the empire was
greatly advanced. We have now to fall hack on Niebuhr,
Gibbon, and the Roman historians, and also make more use
of Smith's digest of these authors. But so much ground still
remains to go over, that we can only allude to salient points,
and our notice of succeeding emperors must be brief.

The empire was now to be the prize of successful soldiers,
and Galba, at the age of seventy-three, was saluted impera-
tor by the legions before the death of Nero, a. d. 68, and
acknowledged by the Senate soon after. There is nothing
memorable in his short reign of a few months, and he was
succeeded by Otho, who only reigned three months, and he
was succeded by Vitellius, who was removed by violent
death, like Galba and Otho. These three emperors
left no mark, and were gluttons and sensualists,
who excited nothing but contempt; soldiers of fortune —
only respectable in inferior rank.

On the first of July, a. d. 69, Titus Flavius Vespasianus,
of humble family, arose, as general, to the highest honors of
the State, and was first proclaimed emperor at Alexandria,
at the close of the Jewish war, which he conducted to a
successful issue. A brief contest with Vitellius secured
his recognition by the Senate, and the first of the Flavian
line began to reign — a man of great talents and virtues.
On the fall of Jerusalem, his son Titus returned to Vespasian

' v . proclaimed

Rome, and celebrated a joint triumph with his emperor.
father, and the gates of the temple of Janus were shut, — the

596 Climax of the Roman Empire. [Chap. xliy.

first time since Augustus, — and universal peace was pro-

One of the first acts of the new emperor was to purify the
His first Senate, reduced to two hundred members, soon fol-
acts. lowed by the restoration of the finances. He

rebuilt the capitol, erected the temple of Peace, the new
forum, the baths of Titus, and the Coliseum. He extended
a generous patronage to letters, and under his reign Quin-
tilian, the great rhetorician, and Pliny, the naturalist,
flourished. It was in the ninth year of his reign that an
eruption of Vesuvius occurred, when Herculaneum and
Pompeii were destroyed, to witness which Pliny lost his life.
Vespasian had associated with himself his son Titus in the
government, and died, after a reign of ten years, exhausted
by the cares of empire ; and Titus quietly succeeded him, but
reigned only for two years and a quarter, and was
succeeded by his brother, Domitian, a man of some
ability, but cruel, like Nero. He was ten years younger than
Titus, and was thirty years of age when proclaimed emperor
by the praetorians, and accepted by the Senate, a. d. 81. At
first he was a reformer, but soon was stained by the most
odious vices. He continued the vast architectural works of
his father and brother, and patronized learning.

It was durinsc the reism of Domitian that Britain was
finally conquered by Agricola, who was recalled

Domitian. -,,.■, n , ■, o

by the jealousy of the emperor, after a series
of successes which gave him immortality. The reduction of
this island did not seriously commence until the reign of
Claudius. By Nero, Suetonius Paulinus was sent to Britain,
and under him Agricola took his first lessons of soldiership.
Under Vespasian he commanded the twentieth legion in
Britain, and was the twelfth Roman general sent to the
. . island. On his return to Rome he was made eon-

Conquest of

Briiain. su \^ and Britain was assigned to him as his province,

where he remained seven years, until he had extended his
conquests to the Grampian Hills. He taught the Britons the
arts and luxuries of civilized life, to settle in towns, and to

Chap, xliv.] Agricola. 597

build houses and temples. Among the foes he encountered,
the most celebrated was Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, on
the eastern coast, who led the incredible number of two
hundred and forty thousand against the Roman legions, but
was defeated, with the loss of eighty thousand, — some atone-
ment for the seventy thousand Romans, and their allies, who
had been slain at Londinium, when Suetonius Paulinus com-

The year of Agricola's recall, a. d. 84, forms the epoch of
the undisguised tyranny which Domitian subsequently exer-
cised. The reign of informers and proscriptions recom-
menced, and many illustrious men were executed _

' J ^ Persecution

for insufficient reasons. The Christians were of Christians.
persecuted, and the philosophers were banished, and
yet he received the most fulsome flattery from the poet
Martial. The tyrant lived in seclusion, in his Alban villa,
and was finally assassinated, after a reign of fifteen years,
A. d. 96.

On his death a new era of prosperity and glory was
inaugurated, by the election of Nerva, and for five Nerva
successive reigns the Roman world was goveimed
with virtue and ability. It is the golden era of Roman
history, praised by Gibbon and admired by all historians,
during which the eyes of contemporaries saw nothing but to

Marcus Cocceius Nerva was the great-grandson of a minister
of Octavius, and was born in Urnbria. He was consul with
Vespasian, a. d. 71, and with Domitian, in a. d. 90, and was

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