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Cassius Dio Cocceianus.

Dio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form online

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Online LibraryCassius Dio CocceianusDio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form → online text (page 4 of 24)
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Hero, reettiving Tiiidatet with impoang itate, placet a crown
upon hit head (chapten 1-7).

He jonmeys to Greece in order to become Periodonikes (chap-
ten 8-10).

With the help of Tigillinns and Crispinilla he lays Greece
waste: Eelini and Polydetni perform the flame office for Borne
and Italy (chapten 11, 12).

Kero'f marriagefl and abominationfl with Sponu and Pythag-
oras (chapter IS).

Eifl victories and proclamation: frenzy against Apollo: hatred
toward the senaton (diapten 14, 15).

Digging a canal through th« Isthmns (chapter 16).

Demise of the Scribonii, of Corbnlo, of Paris, of the Snlpicii
(chapten 17, 18).

At the solicitation of Eelins, Kero returning conducts an
Iselasticum triumph (chapten 19-21).

Vindez's conspiracy against Kero, and his extinction (chap-
ten 22-24).

Buf us, saluted as Csesar and Augustus, refuses the sovereignty
(chapter 25).

Hero's flight and demise (chapten 26-29).

DURATION OF TIME.

C. Lucius Telesinufl, C. Suetonius Paulinus. ( A. D. 66 = a. u.
819 = Thirteenth of Kero, from Oct. 18th.)

Ponteius Capito, lunius Buf us. (A. D. 67 = a. u. 820 =
Pourteenth of Kero.)

C. Silius Italicus, Oalerius Trachalus Tnrpilianus. (A* D.
68 = a. u. 821^ to Tune 9th.)



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In the consulship of Gains Telesinns and Suetonius ^^ "^e
Paulinus one event of great glory and another of deep <<*• ^- ^^^^
disgrace took place. For one thing Nero contended
among the zither-players, and after Menecrates/ the
teacher of this art, had celebrated a triumph for him
in the hippodrome, he appeared as a charioteer. For
the other, Tiridates presented himself in Eome, bring-
ing with him not only his own children but those of
VologsBSus, of Pacorus, and of Monobazus. They were
the objects of interest in a quasi-triumphal procession
through the whole country west from the Euphrates.
Tiridates himself was in the prime of life, a notable — 2—
figure by reason of his youth, beauty, family, and in-
telligence: and his whole train of servants together
with the entourage of a royal court accompanied the
advance. Three thousand Parthian horsemen and be-
sides them numerous Bomans followed his train. They
were received by gaily decorated cities and by peoples
who shouted their compliments aloud. Provisions were
furnished them free of cost, an expenditure of twenty
myriads for their daily support being thus charged to
the public treasury. This went on without change for
the nine montiis occupied in their journey. The prince
covered the whole distance to the confines of Italy on
horseback and beside him rode his wife, wearing a
golden helmet in place of a veil, so as not to defy the
traditions of her country by letting her face be seen.
In Italy he was conveyed in a two-horse carriage sent
by Nero and met the emi)eror at Naples, which he

1 This proper name is the result of an emendation b^ Eeimar.

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A. D. 66 reached by way of the Picentes* He refused, how-
ever, to obey the order to put down his dagger when
he approached the Roman monarch, and he nailed it
firmly to the scabbard. Yet he knelt upon the ground,
and with arms crossed called him master and did obei-

—3— sance. Nero manifested his approbation of this act
and entertained him in many ways, one of which was
a gladiatorial show at Puteoli. The person who di-
rected tiie contests was Patrobius, one of his f reedmen.
He managed to make it a brilliant and costly affair, as
is shown by the fact that on one of the days not a per-
son but Ethiopians, men, women, and children, ap-
peared in the theatre. By way of showing Patrobius
some proper honor Tiridates shot at beasts from his
elevated seat. !And, if we may trust the report, he
transfixed and killed two bulls together with one
arrow.

—4— After this affair Nero took him up to Rome and set
the diadem upon his head. The entire city had been
decorated with lights and garlands, and great crowds
of people were to be seen everywhere, the Forum,
however, being especially full. The center was occupied
by the populace, arranged according to rank, clad in
white and carrying laurel branches: everywhere else
were the soldiers, arrayed in shining armor, their
weapons and standards reflecting back the sunbeams.
The very roof tiles of the buildings in this vicinity
were completely hidden from view by the spectators
who had ascended to these points of vantage. Every-
thing was in readiness by the time night drew to a

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close and at daybreak Nero, wearing the triumphal -^- ^- ^,^.
garb and accompanied by the senate and the Pretor-
ianSy entered the Formn. He ascended the rostra and
seated himself upon the chair of state. Next Tiri-
dates and his suite passed through rows of heavy-
armed men drawn up on each side, took their stand
close to the rostra, and did obeisance to the emperor
as they had done before. At this a great roar went — 6 —
up which so alarmed Tiridates that for some moments
he stood speechless, in terror of his life. Then, silence
having been proclaimed, he recovered courage and
quelling his pride made himself subservient to the
occasion and to his need, caring little how humbly he
spoke, in view of tiie prize he hoped to obtain. These
were his words: ** Master, I am the descendant of
Arsaces, brother of the princes Vologaesus and Pa-
corus, and thy slave. And I have come to thee, my
deity, to worship thee as I do Mithra. The destiny
thou spinnest for me shall be mine : for thou art my
Fortune and my Fate.*^

Nero replied to him as follows: ** Well hast thou
done to come hither in person, that present in my
presence tiiou mayest enjoy my benefits. For what
neither thy father left thee nor thy brothers gave and
preserved for thee, this do I grant thee. King of
Armenia I now declare tiiee, that both thou and they
may understand that I have power to take away king-
doms and to bestow them. ' ' At the end of these words
he bade him come up the inclined plane built for this
very purpose in front of the rostra, and Tiridates

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A. D. 66
(a. u. 819)



having been made to sit beneath his feet he placed the
diadem npon his head. At this there was no end of
—6— shonts of all sorts. According to decree there also
took place a celebration in the theatre. Not merely
the stage bnt the whole interior of the theatre round
about had been gilded, and all properties brought in
had been adorned with gold, so that people came to
refer to the very day as ** golden.** The curtains
stretched across the sky-opening to keep off the sun
were of purple and in the centre of them was an em-
broidered figure of Nero driving a chariot, with golden
stars gleaming all about him. So much for the setting :
and of course they had a costly banquet.

Afterward Nero sang publicly with zither accompani-
ment and drove a chariot, clad in the costume of the
Greens and wearing a charioteer's helmet. This
made Tiridates disgusted with him; but for Corbulo
the visitor had only praise and deemed the one thing
against him to be that he would put up with such a
master. Indeed, he made no concealment of his views
to Nero's face, but one day said to him: ** Master, you
have in Corbulo a good slave. ' ' The person addressed,
however, did not comprehend his speech. — In all other
matters he flattered the emperor and ingratiated him-
self most skillfully, with the result that he received
all kinds of gifts, said to have possessed in the ag-
gregate a value of five thousand myriads, and obtained
permission to rebuild Artaxata. Moreover, he took
with him from Bome many artisans, some of whom he
got from Nero, and some whom he persuaded by of-

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fers of high wages. Corbnlo, however, would not let ^ ^- ^,

{a. u. 819)

them all cross into Armenia, but only the ones whom
Nero had given him. That caused Tiridates to ad-
mire him all the more and to despise his chief.

The return was made not by the same route as he — 7 —
followed in coming,— through Ulyricum and north of
the Ionian Gulf,— but instead he sailed from Brun-
dusium to Dyrrachium. He viewed also the cities of
Asia, which helped to increase his amazement at the
strength and beauty of the Roman empire.

f Tiridates one day viewed an exhibition of pancratium. One of the
eontestante fell to the ground and was being pummeled by his oppo-
Bent. When the prince saw it, he exclaimed: "That's an unfair con-
test It isn't fair that a man who has fallen should be beaten."

On rebuilding Artaxata Tiridates named it Neronia.
But VologsBsus though often summoned refused to
come to Nero, and finally, when the latter 's invitations
became burdensome to him, sent back a despatch to
this effect: ** It is far easier for you than for me to
traverse so great a body of water. Therefore, if you
will come to Asia, we can then arrange [where we
shall be able] to meet each other." [Such was the
message which the Parthian wrote at last.]

Nero though angry at him did not sail against him, -.3^
nor yet against the Ethiopians or the Caspian PylsB,
as he had intended. [He saw that the subjugation of
these regions demanded time and labor and hoped
that they would submit to him of their own accord:]
and he sent spies to both places. But he did cross
over into Greece, not at all as Flamininus or Mum-
mius or as Agrippa and Augustus his ancestors had

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A. D. 66
(a. u. 819)



done, but for the purpose of chariot racing, of playing
and singing, of making proclamations, and of acting in
tragedies. Rome was not enough for him, nor Pom-
pey's theatre, nor the great hippodrome, but he de-
sired also a foreign tour, in order to become, as he
said, victor in all the four contests,^ And a multitude
not only of Augustans but of other persons were taken
with him, large enough, if it had been a hostile host,
to have subdued both Parthians and all other nations.
But tiiey were the kind you would have expected Nero 's
soldiers to be, and the arms they carried were zithers
and plectra, masks and buskins. The victories Nero
won were such as befitted that sort of army, and
he overcame Terpnus and Diodorus and Pammenes,
instead of Philip or Perseus or Antiochus. It is
probable that his purpose in forcing the Pammenes
referred to, who had been in his prime in the reign of
Gains, to compete in spite of his age, was that he
might overcome him and vent his dislike in abuse o£
his statues.
—9— Had he done only this, he would have been the sub-
ject of ridicule. So how could one endure to hear
about, let alone seeing, an emperor, an Augustus, listed
on the program among the contestants, training his
voice, practicing certain songs, wearing long hair on
his head but with his chin shaven, throwing his toga
over his shoulder in the races, walking about with one
or two attendants, eyeing his adversaries suspiciously

1 Literally " victor of the periodos.*' This was a name applied to an
athlete who had conquered in the P^hian, Isthmian, Nemean and
Olympian games.

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and ever and anon throwing out a word to them in the a. D. 67 ( t)
midst of a boxing match ; how he dreaded the directors
of the games and the wielders of the whip and spent
money on all of them secretly to avoid being shown up
in his true colors and whipped; and how all that he
did to make himself victor in the citharoedic contest
only contributed to his defeat in the Contest of the
CsesarsT How find words to denounce the wickedness
of this proscription in which it was not^ Sulla that
bulletined the names of others, but Nero bulletined his
own namet What victory less deserves the name than
that by which one receives the olive, the laurel, the
parsley, or the fir-tree garland, and loses the political
crown t And why should one bewail these acts of his
alone, seeing that he also by treading on the high-soled
buskins lowered himself from his eminence of power,
and by hiding behind the mask lost the dignity of his
sovereignty to beg in the guise of a runaway slave,
to be led like a blind man, to conceive, to bear chil-
dren, to go mad [to drive a chariot], as he acted out
time after time the story of CEdipus, and of Thyestes,
of Heracles and Alcmeon, and of Orestes t The masks
he wore were sometimes made to resemble the charac-
ters and sometimes had his own likeness. The wo-
men's masks were all fashioned to conform to the
features of Sabina [in order that though dead she
might still move in stately procession. All the situa-
tions that common actors simulate in their acting he,
too, would undertake to present, by speech, by action,

1 od supplied by Reiske.

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A. D. 67 ( T) by being acted upon, — save only that] golden chains
were used to bind him: apparently it was not thought
proper for a Boman emperor to be bound in iron
shackles.
— 10— All this behavior, nevertheless, the soldiers and all
the rest saw, endured, and approved. They entitled
him Pythian Victor, Olympian Victor, National Victor,
Absolute Victor, besides all the usual expressions, and
of course added to these names the honorific designa-
tions belonging to his imperial office, so that every
one of them had ** Caesar ^' and ** Augustus ^* as a tag.

f He conceived a dislike for a certain man because while he was
speaking the man frowned and was not overlavish of his praises; and
so he drove him away and would not let him come into his presence.
He persisted in his refusal to gp-ant him audience, and when the person
asked: " Where shall I go, then! " Phcebus, Nero's freedman, replied:
"To the deuce!"

No one of the people ventured either to pity or to
hate the wretched creature. One of the soldiers, to be
sure, on seeing him bound, grew indignant, ran up,
and set him free. Another in reply to a question:
** What is the emperor doing t ** had to answer: ** He
is in labor pains, * ' for Nero was then acting the part of
Canace. Not one of them conducted himself in a way
at all worthy of a Boman. Instead, because so much
money fell to their share, they offered prayers that he
might give many such performances and they in this
way get still more.
_ii_ And if things had merely gone on like this, the af-
fair, while being a source of shame and of ridicule alike,
would still have been deemed free from danger. But
as a fact he devastated the whole of Greece precisely

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as if he had been despatched to some war and with- a. d. 67 ( t)
out r^ard to the fact that he had declared the country
free, also slaying great nmnbers [of men, women and
children. At first he commanded the children and
freedmen of those who were executed to leave him
half their property at their death, pnd allowed the orig-
inal victims to make wills in order to make it seem less
likely that he had killed them for their money; and he
invariably took all that was bequeathed to him, if not
more. In case any one left to him or to Tigillinus less
than they were expecting, the wills were of no avail. —
Later he deprived persons of their entire property and
banished all their children at once by one decree. Not
even this satisfied him, but he destroyed not a few of
the exiles.] For no one could begin to enumerate all
the confiscated possessions of men allowed to live and
all the votive offerings that he stole from the very
temples in Rome. [The despatch-bearers hurried
hither and thither with no piece of news other than
** kiU this man! ** or that that man was dead. No
private messages, only state documents, were deliv-
ered; for Nero had taken many of the foremost men to
Greece under pretence of needing some assistance
from them merely in order that they might perish
there. The whole population of Rome and Italy he —12—
surrendered like captives to a certain Helius, a Caesa-
rian. The latter had been given absolutely complete
authority, so that he might confiscate, banish, and put
to death (even before notifying Nero) ordinary per-
sons, knights, and senators alike.

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A. D. 67 ( T) Thus the Roman domain was at that time a slave to
two emperors at once, — Nero and Helius; and I do
not feel able to say which was the worse. In most re-
spects they behaved entirely alike, and the one point
of difference was that the descendant of Augustas was
emulating zither-players, whereas the freedman of
Claudius was emulating Caesars. I consider the acts
of Tigillinus as a part of Nero^s career because he was
constantly with him: but Polyclitus and Calvia Cris-
pinilla by themselves plundered, sacked, despoiled all
the places they could get at. The former was associ-
ated with Helius at Rome, and the latter with Sabina,
bom Sporus. Calvia had been entrusted with the care
of the boy and with the oversight of the wardrobe,
though a woman and of high rank; and she saw to it
that all were stripped of their possessions.
— 18— Now Nero called Sporus Sabina not merely on ac-
count of the fact that by reason of resemblance to her
he had been made a eunuch, but because the boy like
the mistress had been solenmly contracted to him in
Greece, with Tigillinus to give the bride away, as the
law ordained. All the Greeks held a festal celebration
of their marriage, uttering all the customary good
wishes (as they could not well help) even to the extent
of praying that legitimate children might be bom to
them. After that Nero took to himself two bedfellows,
Pythagoras to treat as a man and Sporas as a woman.
The latter, in addition to other forms of address, was
termed lady, queen, and mistress.
Yet why should one wonder at this, seeing that this

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monarch would fasten naked boys and girls to poles, a. D. 67(!)
and then putting on the hide of a wild beast would ap-
proach them and satisfy his brutal lust under the ap-
pearance of devouring parts of their bodies t Such
were the indecencies of Nero.

When he received the senators he wore a short
flowered tunic with muslin collar, for he had already
begun to transgress precedent in wearing ungirt tunics
in public. It is stated also that knights belonging to
the army used in his reign for the first time saddle-
cloths during their public review.

At the Olympic games he fell from the chariot he ~14—
was driving and came very near being crushed to
death : yet he was crowned victor. In acknowledgment
of this favor he gave to the Hellanodikai the twenty-
five myriads which Galba later demanded back from
them. [And to the Pythia he gave ten myriads for
giving some responses to suit him : this money Galba
recovered.] Again, whether from vexation at Apollo
for making some unpleasant predictions to him or be-
cause he was merely crazy, he took away from the god
the territory of Cirrha and gave it to the soldiers. In
fact, he abolished the oracle, slaying men and throwing
them into the rock fissure from which the divine a/-
llatus arose. He contended in every single city that
boasted any contest, and in all cases requiring the ser-
vices of a herald he employed for that purpose Cluvius
Bufus, an ex-consul. Athens and the Lacedaemonians
were exceptions to this rule, being the only places that
he did not visit at all. He avoided the second because

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A, D. 67 ( T) ^f th9 la^g Qf Lycurgus, which stood in the way of his
designs, and the former because of the story about the
Furies. — The prodamation ran: ** Nero Caesar wins
this contest and crowns the Boman people and his
world/* Possessing according to his own statement
a world, he went on singing and playing, making proc-
lamations, and acting tragedies.
^15— His hatred for the senate was so fierce that he took
particular pleasure in Vatinius, who kept always say-
ing to him: " I hate you, Caesar, for being of sena-
torial rank.*' — I have used the exact expression that
he uttered. — Both the senators and all others were
constantly subjected to the closest scrutiny in their
entrances, their exits, their attitudes, their gestures,
their outcries. The men that stuck constantly by Nero,
listened attentively, made their applause distinct, were
commended and honored: the rest were both degraded
and punished, so that some, when they could endure it
no longer (for they were frequently expected to be on
the qui vive from early morning until evening), would
feign to swoon and would be carried out of the theatres
as if dead.
— 16— As an incidental labor connected with his sojourn in
Greece he conceived a desire to dig a canal across the
isthmus of the Peloponnesus, and he did begin the
task. Men shrank from it, however, because, when Uie
first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it,
groans and bellowings were heard, and many phan-
toms appeared. Nero himself thereupon grasped a
mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly

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compelled the rest to imitate him. For this work he ^' ^- ^7 ( t)

sent for a large nmnber of men from other nations as

well.

For this and other purposes he needed great sums of — 17 —
money; and as he was a promoter of great enterprises
and a liberal giver and at the same time feared an at-
tack from the persons of most influence while he was
thus engaged, he destroyed many excellent men. Of
most of these I shall omit any mention, merely saying
that the stock complaint under which all of them were
brought before him was uprightness, wealth, and
family: all of them either killed themselves or were
slaughtered by others. I shall pause to consider only
Corbulo and (of the Sulpicii Scribonii) Rufus and
Proculus. These two deserve attention because they
were in a way brothers and contemporaries, never do-
ing anything separately but united in purpose and in
property as they were in family : they had for a long
time administered the affairs of the Germanics and
had come to Greece at the summons of Nero, who af-
fected to want something from them. A complaint of
the kind which that period so prodigally afforded was
lodged against them. They could obtain no hearing on
the matter nor even get within sight of Nero; and as
this caused them to be slighted by all persons without
exception, they began to long for death and so met
their end by slitting open their veins. — And I notice
Corbulo, because the emperor, after giving Tn'm also a
most courteous summons and invariably calling him
(among other names) ** father *' and ** benefactor,^'
then, as this general approached Cenchrea, commanded

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A. D. 67 ( T) j}^g^i }^Q l30 slain before he had even entered his presence.
Some explain this by saying that Nero was about to
sing with zither accompaniment and could not endure
the idea of being seen by Corbulo while he wore the
long ungirded tunic. The condemned man, as soon as
he understood the import of the order, seized a sword,
and dealing himself a lusty blow exclaimed: ** Your
due! ^^ Now for the first time in his career was he
ready to believe that he had done ill both in sparing the
zither-player and in going to him unarmed.
— 18— This is the substance of what took place in Greece.
Does it add much to mention that Nero ordered Paris
the dancer killed because he wished to learn dancing
from him and was disappointed? Or that he banished
Caecina Tuscus, governor of Egypt, for bathing in the
tub that had been specially constructed for his coming
visit to Alexandria T

In Bome about this same time Helius committed
many acts of outrage. One of these was his killing of
a distinguished man, Sulpicius Camerinus, together
with his son; the complaint against them was that
whereas they were called Pythici after some of their
ancestors they would not abandon possession of this
name, thus blaspheming Nero^s Pythian victories by
the use of a similar title. — And when the Augustans
offered to build a shrine to the emperor worth a thou-
sand librae, the whole equestrian order was compelled
to help defray the expense they had undertaken. — As
for the doings of the senate, it would be a task to de-
scribe them all in detail. For so many sacrifices and
days of thanksgiving were announced that the whole
year would not hold them all.



Online LibraryCassius Dio CocceianusDio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form → online text (page 4 of 24)