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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 8 of 24)
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foremost of the Lingones, collected by his own efforts
a separate force and took the name of Caesar, declar-
ing that he was a descendant of Julius Caesar. He was
defeated in several engagements, whereupon he fled
to a field and plunged into a subterranean vault be-
neath a monument, which he first burned to the ground.
His pursuers thought he had perished in the conflagra-
tion, but as a matter of fact he hid himself there with
his wife for nine years and had two male children by
her. The troubles in (Jermany were settled by Cerialis
in the course of a number of battles, in one of which
so great a multitude of Bomans and barbarians both
were slain that the river flowing near by was held back
by the bodies of the fallen. Domitian stood in fear of
his father because of what he did and still more because
of what he intended, for his plans were on no small
scale. He happened to be spending most of his time
near the Alban Mount, devoting himself to his passion
for Domitia, the daughter of Corbulo. Her he took
away from her husband, Lucius Lamia ^lianus, and
at this time he had her for one of his mistresses, but
later he actually married her.

Titus, who was assigned to take charge of the war — 4—
with the Jews, [undertook to win them over by certain
conferences and offers; as they would not yield, he
proceeded to direct hostilities. The first battles he

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, ^ ^ .!«, fought were rather close; finally he prevailed and took

((!• H* 828)

up the siege of Jerusalem. This town had three walls,
including that surrounding the temple. The Romans
accordingly heaped up mounds against the fortifica-
tions and brought their engines to bear : then collecting
in a dense force they repulsed all sallying parties and
with their slings and arrows kept back all the defend-
ers of the wall. Many i>ersons that had been sent by
some of the barbarian kings they kept prisoners. The
Jews who came to the assistance of their countrymen
were many of them from the immediate region and
many from kindred districts, not only in this same
Boman empire but from beyond the Euphrates, and
they, too, kept directing missiles and stones with con-
siderable force on account of the higher ground, some
being flung from the hand and some hurled by means
of engines. They likewise made night and day sallies
as often as occasion offered, set fire to the engines,
slew numerous combatants, and by digging out under
the wall took away earth from beneath the mound. As
for the rams, they lassoed some of them and broke the
ends off, others they seized and pulled up with hooks,
while by means of thick boards well fastened together
and strengthened with iron, which they let down
against the face of the wall, they turned aside the as-
saults of the remainder. The Romans' chief cause of
discomfort was the lack of water; their supply was of
poor quality and had to be brought from a distance.

The Jews found their underground passages a source
of strength. They had these affairs dug from within

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the city out under the waUs to distant points in the a. d. 7o

(a. I*. 823)

country, and going out throu^ them they would attack
parties in search of water and harass scattered detach-
ments. Consequently Titus stopped them all up.

In the course of these operations many on both sides — 5 —
were wounded and killed. Titus himself was struck
on the left shoulder by a stone, and as a result of this
accident the arm was always weaker. After a time
the Bomans managed to scale the outside circle, and,
pitching their camps between the two encompassing
lines of fortification, assaulted the second walL Here,
however, they found the conditions confronting them to
be di£ferent. When all the inhabitants had retired
behind the second wall, its defence proved an easier
matter because the circuit to be guarded was so much
less. Titus, accordingly, made anew a proclamation
oflfering them immunity. They, however, even under
these circumstances held out. And the captives and
deserters from the enemy so far as they could do so
unobserved spoiled the Roman water supply and slew
many men that they could cut oflf from the main force,
so that Titus refused to receive any of them. Mean-
time some of the Bomans, too, growing disheartened,
as often happens in a prolonged siege, and furthermore
suspecting that the city was really, even as report de-
clared, impregnable, went over to the other side. The
Jews although they were short of food treated them
kindly, in order to be able to exhibit deserters to their
own ranks.

Though a breach in the wall was effected by engines, ^6—

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.•^ ^\I«. still the capture did not immediately follow: the de-

(o. I*. 823) ^ "^

fenders killed great numbers that tried to crowd
through the opening. Next they set fire to some of the
buildings near by, expecting in this way to check the
onward progress of the Romans, even should the latter
make themselves masters of the entire circuit. In this
way they damaged the wall and unintentionally burned
down the barrier encompassing their sacred precinct.
The entrance to the temple was now laid open to the
Romans. The soldiers on account of their superstition
would not immediately rush in, but at last, as Titus
forced them, they made their way inside. Then the
Jews carried on a defence much more vigorous than
before, as if they had discovered a rare and unexpected
privilege in falling near the temple, while fighting to
save it. The populace was stationed in the outer court,
the senators on the steps, and the priests in the hall of
worship itself. And though they were but a handful
fighting against a far superior force they were not sub-
dued until a section of the temple was fired. Then
they went to meet death willingly, some letting them-
selves be pierced by the swords of the Romans, some
slaughtering one another, others committing suicide,
and others leaping into the blaze. It looked to every-
body, and most of all to them, apparently, [that so far
from being ruin, it was victory and salvation and hap-
— T— piness to perish along with the temple]. Even under
these conditions many captives were taken, among
them Bargiora,^ the commander of the enemy: he was

1 Properly Simon Bar-Giora (patronymic).

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the only one punished in the course of the triumphal ^a. t).io

'^ ^ '^ {a. u, 823)

celebration.

Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of
Saturn, which even now the Jews reverence most. To
conmiemorate the event it was ordered that the con-
quered, while still preserving their own ancestral cus-
toms, should annually pay a tribute of two denarii to
Capitoline Jupiter. As a reward for this success both
generals received the title of imperator, but neither
had that of ludaicus, although all the other privileges
(including arches bearing trophies) that were proper
after so great a victory were voted to them.

Hard upon Vespasian's entrance into Alexandria — 8—
the Nile overflowed, and rose in one day a palm higher
than usual; indeed, such an occurrence, it was said,
had taken place only once before. Vespasian himself
healed two persons who had come to him because of a
vision seen in dreams. One of them, who had a weak
hand, he cured by treading upon that member, and the
other one, who was blind, by spitting upon his eyes.
His divine power herein shown gave him great repute,
yet the Alexaiidrians, far from enjoying his society, de-
tested him heartily; not only in private but in public
they were forever making fun of and abusing him.
They had expected to receive some great reward from
him because they had taken the first steps in making
him emperor, but instead of securing anything they
had additional contributions levied upon them. Large
were the sums he gathered from them, for he omitted
not a single source of revenue, no, not even the first
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A. D. 70 that might offer itself, though its character were repre-
hensible, but he sought money from everybody alike,
of secular or religious profession. As for taxes, he
renewed many that had been abolished and increased
those that were usual [and introduced still other new
ones]. And he adopted this same course later in the
rest of the subject territory, [in Italy] and in Rome
itself. Hence the Alexandrians [both for the reasons
mentioned and because most of the royal possessions
had been sold were vexed and] threw out various de-
rogatory remarks about him, one of them being : * * You
want six obols more.'^ Vespasian, consequently, al-
though the most affable of men, became indignant and
gave orders that the six obols per man should be levied,
and thought seriously about taking vengeance upon
them. [The words themselves contained an insult, and
of their many undignified and anapaestic rhythms there
was not a single one but aroused his anger.] Titus,
however, begged them off and Vespasian accordingly
spared them. Yet they would not let him alone, and
in some assembly they all together shouted at Titus
these very words : * * We forgive him. He doesn't un-
derstand being Caesar. ''

So they continued to be foolhardy, took their thor-
ough fill of that license which is always working to
their detriment, and abused the good nature of the
emperor. [Vespasian soon ceased to notice them. He
sent a despatch to Rome rescinding the disfranchise-
ment of such persons as had been condemned for so-
caUed acts of maiestas by Nero and succeeding rulers.

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His action included living and dead alike, and he more- ^ ^- Ji,

(a. If. 823)

over stopped the indictments made upon such com-
plaints.— The astrologers he banished from Rome, yet
he consulted all of them who were distinguished^ and
through the influence of Barbillus, a man of that pro-
fession, allowed the Ephesians to celebrate some sacred
games. This was a privilege he granted to no other
city.]

He Boon had Egypt sabdaed and sent from there a large supply of
grain to Rome. He had left his son Titus at Jerusalem to sack the
town, and awaited its capture that he might return to Rome in his son's
company. But, as time dragged in the conduct of the si^ge, he left Titos
in Palestine and took passage himself on a merchantman; he sailed in
this manner as far as Lyda, and from that country partly by overland
journeys and partly by seafaring he came to Brundusium.

After this he came to Bome, meeting Mucianus and
other prominent men at Brundusium and Domitian at
Beneventum. In consequence of the consciousness of
his own designs and of what he had already done, Domi-
tian was ill at ease, and moreover he occasionally
feigned madness. He spent most of his time on the
Alban estate and did many ridiculous things, one of
them being to impale flies on pencils. Even though
this incident be unworthy of the dignity of history, yet
because it shows his character so well and particularly
in view of the fact that he continued the same practice
after he became emperor, I have been obliged to record
it. Hence that answer was not without wit which some
one made to a person who enquired what Domitian was
doing. ** He is living in retirement, *' he said, " with-
out so much as a fly to keep him company. ' ' Vespasian — lo —
though he humbled this upstart's pride greeted all the

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. ^ ^- JIL. J"^* i^ot like an emperor but like a private person, for

(a. u. 823) V ^ u- . • i' "»

be remembered his previons experience.

On reaching Rome he bestowed gifts upon both soldiers and populace;
he made repairs in the sacred precincts and upon those public works
which showed signs of wear and tear; such as had already crumbled to
decay he restored; and when they were completed he inscribed upon
them not his own name but the names of the persons who had origin-
ally reared them.

He immediately began to constmct the temple on
the Capitoline, being himself the first to carry away
some of the soil; and, as a matter of course, he nrged
the other most prominent men to do this same thing in
order that the rest of the populace might have no
excuse for shirking this service.

The property of his opponents who had fallen in one conflict or an-
other he delivered to their children or to other Idn of theirs; further-
more, he destroyed contracts of long standing representing sums due
and owing to the public treasury.

Though he invariably expended in munificent fashion
all that was requisite for the public welfare and ar-
ranged the festivals on a most sumptuous scale, his
own living was very far from costly, and he sanctioned
no greater outlay than was absolutely necessary.
Therefore even in the taverns he allowed nothing
cooked to be sold except pulse. Thus he made it quite
plainly evident that he was amassing riches not for his
own enjoyment but for the needs of the people.

If Vespasian got laughed at every time that he would say, when spend-
ing money: " I am making this outlay from my own purse."
He was neither of noble family nor rich.

The general routine of life that he followed was this.
He lived but little in the palace, spending most of his
time in the so-called Sallustian Gardens. There he re-

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ceived anybody who desired to see him, not only sena- a. d. 70

(a. t*. 823)

tors but people in general. With his intimate friends
he would converse also before dawn while lying in bed ;
others could greet him on the streets. The doors of
the royal residence were open all day long and no
guard was stationed at them. He was a regular visitor
in the senate, whose members he consulted in regard to
all projects, and he frequently tried cases in the
Forum. Whatever measures he was prevented by old
age from reading aloud, as well as any conmiunications
that he sent to the senate when absent, he usually
caused to be read by his sons, showing honor by this
course to the legislative body. Every day he had many
of the senators and others join him at table, and he
himself often dined at the houses of his intimate
friends. In general, his forethought for public inter- — n _
ests caused him to be regarded as a real emperor. In
his ordinary existence he was sociable and lived on a
footing of equality with his subjects. He joked in un-
conventional manner and rather liked jokes upon him-
self. In case any anonymous documents were posted,
— as happens to every emperor,— containing state-
ments insulting to himself, he showed no signs of dis-
turbance but posted in turn a suitable reply.

One day Phoebus approached him to make an apol-
ogy. It seemed that once, during Nero's reign, Ves-
pasian when in the theatre in Greece had frowned at
the misconduct of the emperor (of which he was a wit-
ness), whereupon Phoebus had angrily bidden him
** Go! *' And upon Vespasian's enquiring ** Where

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A. D. 70 tof the other had responded '' to the devil/' ^ Now

(a. w. 823)

when Phoebns apologized for this speech the monarch
did him no harm, in fact vouchsafed him no answer at
all, save a curt ** Go to the devil yourself! *' — Again,
when VologsBSus forwarded a letter to the emperor ad-
dressed as follows: *'Arsaces, King of Kings, to
Flavins Vespasian, Greeting, '^ the recipient did not
rebuke him but wrote a reply couched in the same terms
and added none of his imperial titles.
_12— Helvidius Priscus, the son-in-law of Thrasea, had
been brought up in the doctrines of the Stoics and
imitated Thrasea 's bluntness, though there was no oc-
casion for it. He was at this time prsetor and instead
of doing aught to increase the honor due to the em-
-peroT he would not cease reviling him. Therefore the
tribunes once arrested him and gave him in charge of
their assistants, at which procedure Vespasian was
overcome by emotion and went out of the senate-house
in tears, uttering this single exclamation only: "A
son shall be my successor or no one at all."

A. D. 71 After Jerusalem had been captured Titus returned to Italy and eele-

(a. u. 824) brated a triumph, both he and his father riding in a chariot. Domitian,

now in his consulship, also took part in the festivities, mounted upon

a charger. Vespasian next established in Rome teachers of both Latin

and Qreek learning, who drew their pay from the public treasury.

X^dTi Before long many others who followed the so-called

(a. u. 824) stoic system made themselves prominent, among whom

was Demetrius the cynic. These men, abusing the title

of philosophy, kept teaching their disciples publicly

many pernicious doctrines, and in this way were grad-

1 This sentiment is expressed in the Greek by '' to the crows."

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uaUy corrupting* some. Under these circumstances a. d. 71
MucianuSy influenced more by anger than by fondness
for speaking^ uttered many charges against them and
persuaded Vespasian to expel all such persons from
the city.

II Mucianus desired to be honored by all and beyond (—2—)
all, so that he was displeased not merely if a man in-
sulted him but even if any one failed to extol him
greatly. Hence, just as he was never tired of honor-
ing those who assisted him to even the slightest ex-
tent, so his hatred was most cruel for all who did not
so conduct themselves.

T Mucianus made a great number of remarkable statements to Ves-
pasian against the Stoics, as, for instance, that they are full of empty
boasting, and if one of them lets his beard grow long, elevates his eye-
brows, wears his fustian cape thrown carelessly back and goes barefoot,
he straightway postulates wisdom, bravery, righteousness as his own.
He gives himself great airs, even though he may not understand (as
the proverb says) either letters or swimming. They view everybody
with contempt and call the man of good family a mollycoddle, the ill-
bom a dwarfed intellect, a handsome person licentious, an ugly person
comely, the rich man an apostle of greed, and the poor man a servile
groveler.

And Vespasian did immediately expel from Rome
all the philosophers except Musonius : Demetrius and
Hostilianus he confined upon islands. Hostilianus
would not stop, to be sure, — he happened to be convers-
ing with somebody when he heard about the sentence of
exile against him and merely inveighed all the more
strongly against monarchy, — yet he straightway with-
drew. Demetrius even now would not yield, and Ves-
pasian bade it be told him: ** You are working every

1 Beading OnoM^etpov (Dindorf).

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(^ J^'824) ^^^ ^ ^^^ °^® ^^ ^^^^ ^^* ^ ^"^ ^^* slaughtering
barking dogs/'

(— 1«— ) It became strikmgly clear that Vespasian hated
Helvidins Priscus not so much for personal aflfronts
or on account of the friends that the man had abused
as because he was a turbulent fellow that cultivated
the favor of the rabble, was forever denouncing royalty
and praising democracy. Helvidius's behavior, more-
over, was consistent with his principles; he banded
various men together, as if it were, the function of
philosophy to insult those in power, to stir up the multi-
tudes, to overthrow the established order of things,
and to incite people to revolution. He was a son-in-
law of Thrasea and affected to emulate the latter 's
conduct: his failure to do so was striking. Thrasea
lived in Nero's time and disliked the tyrant. Even so,
however, he never spoke or behaved toward him in any
insulting way: he merely refused to share in his prac-
tices. But Helvidius had a grudge against Vespasian
and would not let him alone either in private or in
public. By what he did he invited death and for his
meddlesome interference he was destined ultimately to
pay the penalty.]

»14» This period saw also the demise of Vespasian's con-
cubine, Csenis. I have mentioned her because she was
exceedingly faithful and possessed naturally a most
excellent memory. For instance, her mistress An-
tonia, the mother of Claudius, had had her write se-
cretly to Tiberius about Sejanus and later had ordered
the message erased, that no trace of the same might be

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left. Thereupon she replied : * * It is in vain, mistress, ^- i>- ^i
that yon have issned this oommand. All of this and
whatever else yon dictate to me I always carry with me
in my sonl and it can never be erased." This is one
thing I have admired about her and a second is that
Vespasian should have been so much pleased with her.
This fact gave her the greatest influence, and she col-
lected untold wealth, so that it was even thought that
she obtained money by her independent efforts. She
received vast sums from all sources and sold to some
persons offices, to others procuratorships, the command
of campaigns, priesthoods, and to some actually im*
perial decisions. For Vespasian killed no one to get
his money and took care to preserve large numbers of
those who freely gave it. The person who secured the
funds was his concubine, but it was suspected that Ves-
pasian willingly allowed her to do as she did; and this
belief was strengthened by his other acts, a few of
which, for the sake of illustration, I shall relate. [When
certain persons voted to erect to him a statue costing
twenty-five myriads, he stretched out his hand and
said: ** Give me the money; this^ will serve as its
pedestal. '* — And to Titus, who was angry at the tax
on urinating^, which was appointed along with the rest,
he replied, as he picked up some gold pieces that were
the product of it : * * See, my child, if they smell at all. ' '
In the sixth year of Vespasian as magistrate and
the fourth of Titus the precinct of Peace was dedicated X ixTs
and the so-called Colossus was set up on the Sacred (»• <*• ^^)
.Way. It is said to have been one hundred feet high,

1 1, e., the hollowed hand (compare Suetoniua Vespasian, chapter 23).
3 This refers to conyeniences in the public streets.

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.^' ^nlov aiid to have had — according to one account — the

(a. u. 828) °

figore of Nero, according to others that of Titus. Ves-
pasian would often have beasts slain in the theatres.
He did not particularly enjoy gladiatorial combats of
men^ although Titus during the youthful sports which
were celebrated in his own land had once had a sham
fight in heavy armor with Alienus. The Parthians, who
fell into a war with some peoples, asked for an alliance
with him, but he did not go to their aid, saying that it
was not proper for him to interfere in other persons'
business.

Berenice was at the height of her power and conse-
quently came to Rome along with her brother
Agrippa.^ The latter was accorded pretorial honors,
while she dwelt in the Palace and cohabited with Titus.
She expected to be married to him and behaved in all
respects as if his wife. But when he perceived that the
Romaics were displeased at the situation he sent her
away; for various reports were in circulation. At this
time, too, certain sophists of the cynic school managed
somehow to slip into the city: first, Diogenes entered
the theatre when it was full of men and denounced
them in a long, abusive speech, for which he was
flogged ; after him Heras, who showed no greater dis-
position to be obedient, gave vent to many senseless
bawlings in the true cynic (dog-like) manner, — and
for this behavior was beheaded.

About the same period that these events took place

iThis Agrippa, known also as Herodes II, was an intimate friend
of the Jewish historian Josephus and a companion of Titus at the
siege of Jerusalem. It was before him, moreover, that the apostle Paul
made his defence in A. D. 60.

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it happened that at a certain inn such a quantity of ^' ^-^^^^
wine overflowed the vessels that it ran out into the
street. Moreover, Sabinus the Gaul, already mentioned,
the person who had once named himself Caesar, had
later taken up arms, had been defeated and had hidden
himself in the monument, was discovered^ and brought
to Rome. With him perished also his wife Peponila,
who had previously saved his life. She had presented
her children before Vespasian and had delivered a most



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 8 of 24)