1Tiberius was a patrician of good education, but he had a most peculiar nature. He never let what he desired appear in his conversation, and what he said he wanted he usually did not desire at all. On the contrary, his words indicated the exact opposite of his real purpose; he denied all interest in what he longed for, and urged the claims of what he hated. He would exhibit anger over matters that were very far from arousing his wrath, and make a show of affability where he was most vexed. 2He would pretend to pity those whom he severely punished, and would retain a grudge against those whom he pardoned. Sometimes he would regard his bitterest foe as if he were his most intimate companion, and again he would treat his dearest friend like the veriest stranger. In short, he thought it bad policy for the sovereign to reveal his thoughts; this was often the cause, he said, of great failures, whereas by the opposite course far more and greater successes were attained. 3Now if he had merely followed this method quite consistently, it would have been easy for those who had once come to know him to be on their guard against him; for they would have taken everything by exact contraries, regarding his seeming indifference to anything as equivalent to his ardently desiring it, and his eagerness for anything as equivalent to his not caring for it. But, as it was, he became angry if anyone gave evidence of understanding him, and he put many to death for no other offence than that of having comprehended him. 4While it was a dangerous matter, then, to fail to understand him,—for people often came to grief by approving what he said instead of what he wished,—it was still more dangerous to understand him, since people were then suspected of discovering his practice and consequently of being displeased with it. 5Practically the only sort of man, therefore, that could maintain himself,—and such persons were very rare,—was one who neither misunderstood his nature nor exposed it to others; for under these conditions men were neither deceived by believing him nor hated for showing that they understood his motives. He certainly gave people a vast amount of trouble whether they opposed what he said or agreed with him; 6for inasmuch as he really wished one thing to be done but wanted to appear to desire something different, he was bound to find men opposing him from either point of view, and therefore was hostile to the one class because of his real feelings, and to the other for the sake of appearances.
2It was due to this characteristic, that, as emperor, he immediately sent a dispatch from Nola to all the legions and provinces, though he did not claim to be emperor; for he would not accept this name, which was voted to him along with the others, and though taking the inheritance left him by Augustus, he would not adopt the title “Augustus.” 2At a time when he was already surrounded by the bodyguards, he actually asked the senate to lend him assistance so that he might not meet with any violence at the burial of the emperor; for he pretended to be afraid that people might catch up the body and burn it in the Forum, as they had done with that of Caesar. 3When somebody thereupon facetiously proposed that he be given a guard, as if he had none, he saw through the man’s irony and answered: “The soldiers do not belong to me, but to the State.” Such was his action in this matter; and similarly he was administering in reality all the business of the empire while declaring that he did not want it at all. 4At first he kept saying he would give up the rule entirely on account of his age (he was fifty-six) and of his near-sightedness (for although he saw extremely well in the dark, his sight was very poor in the daytime); but later he asked for some associates and colleagues, though not with the intention that they should jointly rule the whole empire, as in an oligarchy, but rather dividing it into three parts, one of which he would retain himself, while giving up the remaining two to others. 5One of these portions consisted of Rome and the rest of Italy, the second of the legions, and the third of the subject peoples outside. When now he became very urgent, most of the senators still opposed his expressed purpose, and begged him to govern the whole realm; but Asinius Gallus, who always employed the blunt speech of his father more than was good for him, replied: “Choose whichever portion you wish.” 6Tiberius rejoined: “How can the same man both make the division and choose?” Gallus, then, perceiving into what a plight he had fallen, tried to find words to please him and answered: “It was not with the idea that you should have only a third, but rather to show the impossibility of the empire’s being divided, that I made this suggestion to you.” 7As a matter of fact, however, he did not mollify Tiberius, but after first undergoing many dire sufferings he was at length murdered. For Gallus had married the former wife of Tiberius and claimed Drusus as his son, and he was consequently hated by the other even before this incident.
3Tiberius acted in this way at that time, chiefly because it was his nature to do so and because he had determined upon that policy, but partly also because he was suspicious of both the Pannonian and Germanic legions and feared Germanicus, then governor of the province of Germany and beloved by them. 2For he had previously made sure of the soldiers in Italy by means of the oaths of allegiance established by Augustus; but as he was suspicious of the others, he was ready for either alternative, intending to save himself by retiring to private life in case the legions should revolt and prevail. For this reason he often feigned illness and remained at home, so as not to be compelled to say or do anything definite. 3I have even heard that when it began to be said that Livia had secured the rule for him contrary to the will of Augustus, he took steps to let it appear that he had not received it from her, whom he cordially hated, but under compulsion from the senators by reason of his surpassing them in excellence. 4Another story I have heard is to the effect that when he saw that people were cool toward him, he waited and delayed until he had become complete master of the empire, lest in the hope of his voluntarily resigning it they should rebel before he was ready for them. 5Still, I do not mean to record these stories as giving the true causes of his behaviour, which was due rather to his regular disposition and to the unrest among the soldiers. Indeed, he immediately sent from Nola and caused Agrippa to be put to death. He declared, to be sure, that this had not been done by his orders and made threats against the perpetrator of the deed; 6yet he did not punish him at all, but allowed men to invent their own versions of the affair, some to the effect that Augustus had put Agrippa out of the way just before his death, others that the centurion who was guarding him had slain him on his own responsibility for some revolutionary dealings, and still others that Livia instead of Tiberius had ordered his death.
4This rival, then, he got rid of at once, but of Germanicus he stood in great fear. For the troops in Pannonia had mutinied as soon as they learned of the death of Augustus, and coming together into one camp and strengthening it, they committed many rebellious acts. 2Among other things they attempted to kill their commander, Junius Blaesus, and arrested and tortured his slaves. Their demands were, in brief, that their term of service should be limited to sixteen years, that they should be paid a denarius per day, and that they should receive their prizes then and there in the camp; and they threatened, in case they did not obtain these demands, to cause the province to revolt and then to march upon Rome. 3However, they were at this time finally and with no little difficulty won over by Blaesus, and sent envoys to Tiberius at Rome in their behalf; for they hoped in connexion with the change in the government to gain all their desires, either by frightening Tiberius or by giving the supreme power to another. 4Later, when Drusus came against them with the Pretorians, they fell to rioting when no definite answer was given them, and they wounded some of his followers and placed a guard round about him in the night to prevent his escape. But when the moon suffered eclipse, they took the omen to heart and their spirit abated, so that they did no further harm to this detachment and dispatched envoys again to Tiberius. 5Meanwhile a great storm came up; and when in consequence all had retired to their own quarters, the boldest spirits were put out of the way in one manner or another, either by Drusus himself in his own tent, whither they had been summoned as if for some other purpose, or else by his followers; and the rest were reduced to submission, and even surrendered for punishment some of their number whom they represented to have been responsible for the mutiny.
5These troops, then, were reduced to quiet in the manner described; but the soldiers in the province of Germany, where many had been assembled on account of the war, would not hear of moderation, since they saw that Germanicus was at once a Caesar and far superior to Tiberius, but putting forward the same demands as the others, they heaped abuse upon Tiberius and saluted Germanicus as emperor. 2When the latter after much pleading found himself unable to reduce them to order, he finally drew his sword as if to slay himself; at this they jeeringly shouted their approval, and one of them proffered his own sword, saying: “Take this; this is sharper.” 3Germanicus, accordingly, seeing to what lengths the matter had gone, did not venture to kill himself, particularly as he did not believe they would stop their disturbance in any case. Instead, he composed a letter purporting to have been sent by Tiberius and then gave them twice the amount of the gift bequeathed them by Augustus, pretending it was the emperor who did this, and discharged those who were beyond the military age; 4for most of them belonged to the city troops that Augustus had enrolled as an extra force after the disaster to Varus. As a result of this they ceased their seditious behaviour for the time. Later on came senators as envoys from Tiberius, to whom he had secretly communicated only so much as he wished Germanicus to know; 5for he well understood that they would surely tell Germanicus all his own plans, and he did not wish that either they or that leader should busy themselves about anything beyond the instructions given, which were supposed to comprise everything. Now when these men arrived and the soldiers learned about the ruse of Germanicus, they suspected that the senators had come to overthrow their leader’s measures, and so they fell to rioting once more. 6They almost killed some of the envoys and became very insistent with Germanicus, even seizing his wife Agrippina and his son, both of whom had been sent away by him to some place of refuge. Agrippina was the daughter of Agrippa and Julia, Augustus’ daughter; the boy Gaius was called by them Caligula, because, having been reared largely in the camp, he wore military boots instead of the sandals usual in the city. 7Then at Germanicus’ request they released Agrippina, who was pregnant, but retained Gaius. On this occasion, also, as they accomplished nothing, they grew quiet after a time. In fact, they experienced such a change of heart that of their own accord they arrested the boldest of their number, putting some of them to death privately and bringing the rest before an assembly, after which they either slew them or released them in accordance with the wishes of the majority. 6But Germanicus, being afraid even so that they would fall to rioting again, invaded the enemy’s country and tarried there, giving the troops plenty of work and food in abundance at the expense of aliens.
2Thus, though Germanicus might have obtained the imperial power,—for he had the good will of absolutely all the Romans as well as of their subjects,—he refused it. For this Tiberius praised him and sent many pleasing messages both to him and to Agrippina; and yet he was not pleased with his conduct, but feared him all the more because he had won the attachment of the legions. 3For he assumed, from his own consciousness of saying one thing and doing another, that Germanicus’ real sentiments were not what they seemed, and hence he was suspicious of Germanicus and suspicious likewise of his wife, who was possessed of an ambition commensurate with her lofty lineage. 4Yet he displayed no sign of irritation toward them, but delivered many eulogies of Germanicus in the senate and also proposed that sacrifices should be offered in honour of the achievements of Germanicus just as in the case of those of Drusus. Also he bestowed upon the soldiers in Pannonia the same rewards as Germanicus had granted to his troops. 5For the future, however, he refused to release soldiers in the service outside of Italy until they had served the full twenty years.
7Now when no further news of any rebellious moves came and the whole Roman world had acquiesced securely in his leadership, Tiberius accepted the rule without further dissimulation, and exercised it, so long as Germanicus lived, in the way I am about to describe. 2He did little or nothing on his own responsibility, but brought all matters, even the slightest, before the senate and communicated them to that body. In the Forum a tribunal had been erected on which he sat in public to dispense justice, and he always associated with himself advisers, after the manner of Augustus; nor did he take any step of consequence without making it known to the rest. 3After setting forth his own opinion he not only granted everyone full liberty to speak against it, but even when, as sometimes happened, others voted in opposition to him, he submitted; for he often would cast a vote himself. Drusus used to act just like the rest, now speaking first, and again after some of the others. 4As for Tiberius, he would sometimes remain silent and sometimes give his opinion first, or after a few others, or even last; in some cases he would speak his mind directly, but generally, in order to avoid appearing to take away their freedom of speech, he would say: “If I had been giving my views, I should have proposed this or that.” 5This method was just as effective as the other and yet the rest were not thereby prevented from stating their views. On the contrary, he would frequently express one opinion and those who followed would prefer something different, and sometimes they actually prevailed; yet for all that he harboured anger against no one. 6He held court himself, as I have stated, but he also attended the courts presided over by the magistrates, not alone when invited by them, but also when not invited. He would allow them to sit in their regular places, while he himself took his seat on the bench facing them and as an assessor made any remarks that seemed good to him.
8In all other matters, too, he behaved in this same way. Thus, he would not allow himself to be called master by the freemen, nor imperator except by the soldiers; the title of Father of his Country he rejected absolutely; that of Augustus he did not assume,—in fact he never permitted it to be even voted to him,—but he did not object to hearing it spoken or to reading it when written, 2and whenever he sent messages to kings, he would regularly include this title in his letters. In general he was called Caesar, sometimes Germanicus (from the exploits of Germanicus), and Chief of the Senate,—the last in accordance with ancient usage and even by himself. He would often declare: “I am master of the slaves, imperator of the soldiers, and chief of the rest.” 3He would pray, as often as occasion for praying arose, that he might live and rule so long only as should be to the advantage of the State. And he was so democratic in all circumstances alike, that he would not permit any special observance to be made of his birthday and would not allow people to swear by his Fortune, and if anybody after swearing by it incurred the charge of perjury, he would not prosecute him. 4In short, he would not at first even sanction the carrying out in his own case of the custom which has regularly been followed on New Year’s day down to the present time, as a necessary observance in honour not only of Augustus but of all the rulers likewise that have followed him whom we reckon as of any account, and of such as hold the supreme power at the time—I refer to the ratification under oath of their acts both past, and, in the case of those living at the time, future as well. 5Yet as regarded the acts of Augustus, he not only required all others to take the oath but also took it himself; moreover, in order to do the latter in a more conspicuous manner, he would let New Year’s day go by without entering the senate-house or showing himself at all in the city on that day, but spending the time in some suburb, and then would come in later and pledge himself separately. 6This was one reason why he remained outside on New Year’s day; but he also wished to avoid disturbing any of the citizens while they were concerned with the new officials and the festival, as well as to avoid taking money from them. Indeed, he did not commend Augustus for his behaviour in this respect, because it occasioned much embarrassment and great expense in order to return such favours.
9Not only in the ways just related were his actions democratic, but no sacred precinct was set apart for him either by his own choice or in any other way,—at that time, I mean,—nor was anybody allowed to set up an image of him; for he promptly and expressly forbade any city or private citizen to do so. 2To this prohibition, it is true, he attached the proviso, “unless I grant permission,” but he added, “I will not grant it.” For he would not by any means have it appear that he had been insulted or impiously treated by anybody (they were already calling such conduct maiestas and were bringing many suits on that ground), and he would not hear of any such indictment being brought on his own account, though he paid tribute to the majesty of Augustus in this matter also. 3At first, to be sure, he did not punish any of those, even, that had incurred charges for their actions in regard to his predecessor, and he actually released some against whom complaint was made that they had perjured themselves after swearing by the Fortune of Augustus; but as time went on, he put great numbers to death.
10Not only did he magnify Augustus in the manner stated, but also when completing the buildings which Augustus had begun without finishing them he inscribed upon them the other’s name; and in the case of the statues and the shrines which were being erected to Augustus, whether by communities or by private individuals, he either dedicated them himself or instructed one of the pontifices to do so. 2This principle of inscribing the original builder’s name he carried out not only in the case of the buildings erected by Augustus, but in the case of all alike that needed any repairs; for, although he restored all the buildings that had suffered injury (he erected no new ones whatsoever himself except the temple of Augustus), yet he claimed none of them as his own, but restored to all of them the names of the original builders. 3While expending extremely little for himself, he laid out very large sums for the common good, either rebuilding or adorning practically all the public works and also generously assisting both cities and private individuals. He enriched numerous senators who were poor and on that account no longer wished to be members of the senate; 4yet he did not do this indiscriminately, but actually expunged the names of some for licentiousness and of others even for poverty when they could give no satisfactory reason for it. All the money that he bestowed upon people was counted out at once in his sight; for since under Augustus the officials who paid over the money had been wont to deduct large sums for themselves from such donatives, he took good care that this should not happen in his reign. 5All these expenditures, moreover, he made from the regular revenues; for he neither put anybody to death for his money nor confiscated, at this time, anybody’s property, nor did he even resort to tricky methods of obtaining funds. In fact, when Aemilius Rectus once sent him from Egypt, which he was governing, more money than was stipulated, he sent back to him the message: “I want my sheep shorn, not shaven.”
11He was, moreover, extremely easy to approach and easy to address. For example, he bade the senators greet him in a body and thus avoid jostling one another. In fine, he showed himself so considerate, that once, 2when the magistrates of the Rhodians sent him some communication and failed to write at the end of the letter the customary formula about offering their prayers for his welfare, he summoned them in haste, as if he intended to do them some harm, but on their arrival, instead of doing anything serious to them, he caused them to supply the missing words and then sent them away. He honoured the annual magistrates as if he were living in a democracy, 3even rising in his seat at the approach of the consuls; and whenever he entertained them at dinner, he would both receive them at the door when they entered and escort them on their way when they departed. In case he was at any time being carried anywhere in his litter, he would not even allow any one of the knights who was prominent to accompany him, still less a senator. 4On the occasion of festivals or as often as anything similar was going to afford the multitude diversion, he would go the evening before to the house of some one of the imperial freedmen who lived near the place where the crowd was to gather, and would spend the night there. His purpose in doing this was, that the people might meet him with as little difficulty and trouble as possible. 5And he, too, would often watch the equestrian contests from the house of a freedman. For he attended the spectacles very frequently, in order not only to show honour to those who gave them, but also to ensure the orderliness of the multitude and to seem to be sharing in their holiday. As a matter of fact, however, he never felt the slightest enthusiasm for anything of the kind, nor had he the reputation of favouring any one of the contestants. 6In all respects he was so fair and impartial that once, when the populace wanted a certain actor manumitted, he would not approve their demand until the man’s master had given his consent and had received payment for him. 7His relations with his companions were such as he would maintain in private life: he stood by them when they were involved in law-suits and joined them in offering sacrifice on festal occasions; he visited them in their sickness, taking no guard into the room with him; and in the case of at least one of them who died he himself delivered the funeral oration.
12Moreover, he bade his mother conduct herself in a similar manner, so far as it was fitting for her to do so, partly that she might imitate him and partly to prevent her from becoming over-proud. 2For she occupied a very exalted station, far above all women of former days, so that she could at any time receive the senate and such of the people as wished to greet her in her house; and this fact was entered in the public records. The letters of Tiberius bore for a time her name, also, and communications were addressed to both alike. 3Except that she never ventured to enter the senate-chamber or the camps or the public assemblies, she undertook to manage everything as if she were sole ruler. For in the time of Augustus she had possessed the greatest influence and she always declared that it was she who had made Tiberius emperor; consequently she was not satisfied to rule on equal terms with him, but wished to take precedence over him. 4As a result, various extraordinary measures were proposed, many persons expressing the opinion that she should be called Mother of her Country, and many that she should be called Parent. Still others proposed that Tiberius should be named after her, so that, just as the Greeks were called by their father’s name, he should be called by that of his mother. 5All this vexed him, and he would neither sanction the honours voted her, with a very few exceptions, nor otherwise allow her any extravagance of conduct. For instance, she had once dedicated in her house an image to Augustus, and in honour of the event wished to give a banquet to the senate and the knights together with their wives, but he would not permit her to carry out any part of this programme until the senate had so voted, and not even then to receive the men at dinner; instead, he entertained the men and she the women. 6Finally he removed her entirely from public affairs, but allowed her to direct matters at home; then, as she was troublesome even in that capacity, he proceeded to absent himself from the city and to avoid her in every way possible; indeed, it was chiefly on her account that he removed to Capreae. Such are the reports that have been handed down about Livia.
13Tiberius, now, began to treat more harshly those who were accused of any crime, and he became angry with his son Drusus, who was most licentious and cruel (so cruel, in fact, that the sharpest swords were called Drusian after him), and he often rebuked him both privately and publicly. 2Once he said to him outright in the presence of many witnesses: “While I am alive you shall commit no deed of violence or insolence; and if you dare to try, not after I am dead, either.” 3For Tiberius lived a very temperate life for a time, and would not allow any one else to indulge in licentiousness, but punished many for it. And yet once, when the senators desired to have a penalty imposed by law upon those who were guilty of lewd living, he would make no such provision, explaining that it is better to correct them privately in some way or other than to inflict any public punishment upon them. 4For under existing conditions, he said, there was a chance that some of them would restrain themselves through fear of disgrace, in the endeavour to escape detection; but if the law should once be overcome by human nature, no one would pay any heed to it. 5Not a few men, also, were wearing a great deal of purple clothing, though this had formerly been forbidden; yet he neither rebuked nor fined any of them, but when a rain came up during a certain festival, he himself put on a dark woollen cloak. After that none of them longer dared assume any different kind of garb.
6Such was Tiberius’ behaviour in all matters as long as Germanicus lived; but after his death he changed his course in many respects. Perhaps he had been at heart from the first what he later showed himself to be, and had been merely shamming while Germanicus was alive, because he saw his rival lying in wait for the sovereignty; or perhaps he was excellent by nature, but drifted into vice when deprived of his rival. 14I will relate now in due order the various events of his reign in so far as they are worthy of record.
In the consulship of Drusus, his son, and of Gaius Norbanus he paid over to the people the bequests made by Augustus. But this was only after someone had approached a corpse that was being borne out through the Forum for burial and bending down had whispered something in its ear; when the spectators asked what he had said, he stated that he had sent word to Augustus that they had not received anything yet. 2Tiberius, now, put this fellow to death at once, in order, as he jokingly remarked, that he might carry his own message to Augustus; but it was not long afterwards that he discharged his debt to the rest, distributing to them two hundred and sixty sesterces apiece. 3Some, indeed, state that this payment was made in the previous year. At the time in question some knights desired to fight in single combat in the games which Drusus had arranged in his own name and in that of Germanicus; but Tiberius did not witness their combat, and when one of them was killed, he forbade the other to fight as a gladiator again. 4There were also other contests in connexion with the Circensian games given in honour of Augustus’ birthday; and a few beasts, also, were slain. This continued to be done for a number of years. At this time, too, Crete, upon the death of its governor, was entrusted to the quaestor and his assessor for the unexpired period. 5Since, also, many of those to whom provinces had been allotted were accustomed to linger a long while in Rome and other parts of Italy, so that their predecessors continued in office beyond the appointed time, Tiberius commanded that they should take their departure by the first day of June. 6Meanwhile his grandson by Drusus died, but he neglected none of his customary duties; for he did not think it right in any case that one who was governing others should neglect his care of the public interests because of his private misfortunes, and moreover he was trying to accustom the rest not to jeopardize the interests of the living on account of the dead.
7When now the river Tiber overflowed a large part of the city, so that people went about in boats, most people regarded this, also, as an omen, like the violent earthquakes which shook down a portion of the city wall and like the frequent thunderbolts which caused wine to leak even from vessels that were sound; 8the emperor, however, thinking that it was due to the great over-abundance of surface water, appointed five senators, chosen by lot, to constitute a permanent board to look after the river, so that it should neither overflow in winter nor fail in summer, but should maintain as even a flow as possible all the time.
9While Tiberius was carrying out these measures, Drusus performed the duties pertaining to the consulship equally with his colleague, just as any ordinary citizen might have done; and when he was left heir to someone’s estate, he assisted in carrying out the body. Yet he was so given to violent anger that he inflicted blows upon a distinguished knight, and for this exploit received the nickname of Castor. 10And he was becoming so heavy a drinker, that one night, when he was forced to lend aid with the Pretorians to some people whose property was on fire and they called for water, he gave the order: “Serve it to them hot.” He was so friendly with the actors, that this class raised a tumult and could not be brought to order even by the laws that Tiberius had introduced for regulating them. 15These were the events of that year.
In the consulship of Statilius Taurus and Lucius Libo, Tiberius forbade any man to wear silk clothing and also forbade anyone to use golden vessels except for sacred ceremonies. 2And when some were at a loss to know whether they were also forbidden to possess silver vessels having any inlaid work of gold, he wished to issue a decree about this, too, but would not allow the word emblema, since it was a Greek term, to be inserted in the decree, even though he could find no native word for inlaid work. 3Such was the course he took in this matter. Similarly, when a certain centurion wished to give some evidence before the senate in Greek, he would not permit it, in spite of the fact that he was wont to hear many cases tried and to examine many witnesses himself in that language in that very place. 4This was one instance of inconsistency on his part; another was seen in his treatment of Lucius Scribonius Libo, a young noble suspected of revolutionary designs. So long as this man was well, he did not bring him to trial, but when he became sick unto death, he caused him to be brought into the senate in a covered litter, such as the wives of the senators use; 5then, when there was a slight delay and Libo committed suicide before his trial could come off, he passed judgment upon him after his death, gave his money to his accusers, and caused sacrifices to be offered to commemorate the man’s death, not only on his own account, but also on that of Augustus and of the latter’s father Julius, as had been decreed in past times. 6Though he took such action in the case of Libo, he brought no charge at all against Vibius Rufus, who was using the chair on which Caesar had always been accustomed to sit and on which he had been slain. Indeed, Rufus not only made a practice of doing this, but he also had Cicero’s wife as his consort, and prided himself on both these grounds, evidently thinking that he should either become an orator because of his wife or a Caesar because of the chair. 7And yet he received no censure for this, but actually became consul.
Tiberius, moreover, was forever in the company of Thrasyllus and made some use of the art of divination every day, becoming so proficient in the subject himself, that when he was once bidden in a dream to give money to a certain man, he realized that a spirit had been called up before him by deceit, and so put the man to death. 8But as for all the other astrologers and magicians and such as practised divination in any other way whatsoever, he put to death those who were foreigners and banished all the citizens that were accused of still employing the art at this time after the previous decree by which it had been forbidden to engage in any such business in the city; but to those that obeyed immunity was granted. 9In fact, all the citizens would have been acquitted even contrary to his wish, had not a certain tribune prevented it. Here was a particularly good illustration of the democratic form of government, inasmuch as the senate, agreeing with the motion of Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, overruled Drusus and Tiberius, only to be thwarted in its turn by the tribune.
16Besides the matters just related, some of the men who had been quaestors the previous year were sent out to the provinces, since the quaestors of the current year were too few in number to fill the places. And this practice was also followed on other occasions, as often as was found necessary. 2As many of the public records had either perished completely or at least become illegible with the lapse of time, three senators were elected to copy off those that were still extant and to recover the text of the others. Assistance was rendered to the victims of various conflagrations not only by Tiberius but also by Livia.
3The same year a certain Clemens, who had been a slave of Agrippa and resembled him to a certain extent, pretended to be Agrippa himself. He went to Gaul and won many to his cause there and many later in Italy, and finally he marched upon Rome with the avowed intention of recovering the dominion of his grandfather. 4The population of the city became excited at this, and not a few joined his cause; but Tiberius got him into his hands by a ruse with the aid of some persons who pretended to sympathize with the upstart. He thereupon tortured him, in order to learn something about his fellow-conspirators. Then, when the other would not utter a word, he asked him: “How did you come to be Agrippa?” And he replied: “In the same way as you came to be Caesar.”
17The following year Gaius Caecilius and Lucius Flaccus received the title of consuls. And when some brought Tiberius money at the beginning of the year, he would not accept it and published an edict regarding this very practice, in which he used a word that was not Latin. 2After thinking it over at night he sent for all who were experts in such matters, for he was extremely anxious to have his diction irreproachable. Thereupon one Ateius Capito declared: “Even if no one has previously used this expression, yet now because of you we shall all cite it as an example of classical usage.” But a certain Marcellus replied: “You, Caesar, can confer Roman citizenship upon men, but not upon words.” 3And the emperor did this man no harm for his remark, in spite of its extreme frankness.
His anger was aroused, however, against Archelaus, the king of Cappadocia, because this prince, after having once grovelled before him in order to gain his assistance as advocate when accused by his subjects in the time of Augustus, 4had afterwards slighted him on the occasion of his visit to Rhodes, yet had paid court to Gaius when the latter went to Asia. Therefore Tiberius now summoned him on the charge of rebellious conduct and left his fate to the decision of the senate, although the man was not only stricken in years, but also a great sufferer from gout, and was furthermore believed to be demented. 5As a matter of fact, he had once lost his mind to such an extent that a guardian was appointed over his domain by Augustus; nevertheless, at the time in question he was no longer weak-witted, but was merely feigning, in the hope of saving himself by this expedient. And he would now have been put to death, had not someone in testifying against him stated that he had once said: “When I get back home, I will show him what sort of sinews I possess.” So great a shout of laughter went up at this—for the man was not only unable to stand, but could not even sit up—that Tiberius gave up his purpose of putting him to death. 6In fact, the prince’s condition was so serious that he was carried into the senate in a covered litter (for it was customary even for men, whenever one of them came there feeling ill, to be carried in reclining, and even Tiberius sometimes did so), and he spoke a few words leaning out of the litter. 7So it was that the life of Archelaus was spared for the time being; but he died shortly afterward from some other cause. After this Cappadocia fell to the Romans and was put in charge of a knight as governor.
The cities in Asia which had been damaged by the earthquake were assigned to an ex-praetor with five lictors; and large sums of money were remitted from their taxes and large sums were also given them by Tiberius. 8For not only did he refrain scrupulously from the possessions of others—so long, that is, as he practised any virtue at all—and would not even accept the inheritances that were left to him by testators who had relatives, but he actually contributed vast sums both to cities and to private individuals, and would not accept any honour or praise for these acts. 9When embassies came from cities or provinces, he never dealt with them alone, but caused a number of others to participate in the deliberations, especially men who had once governed these peoples.
18Germanicus, having acquired a reputation by his campaign against the Germans, advanced as far as the ocean, inflicted an overwhelming defeat upon the barbarians, collected and buried the bones of those who had fallen with Varus, and won back the military standards.
2The senate urged upon Tiberius the request that the month of November, on the sixteenth day of which he had been born, should be called Tiberius; but he replied: “What will you do, then, if there are thirteen Caesars?”
3Later, when Marcus Junius and Lucius Norbanus assumed office, an omen of no little importance occurred on the very first day of the year, and it doubtless had a bearing on the fate of Germanicus. The consul Norbanus, it seems, had always been devoted to the trumpet, and as he practised on it assiduously, he wished to play the instrument on this occasion, also, at dawn, when many persons were already near his house. 4This proceeding startled them all alike, just as if the consul had given them a signal for battle; and they were also alarmed by the falling of the statue of Janus. They were furthermore disturbed not a little by an oracle, reputed to be an utterance of the Sibyl, which, although it did not fit this period of the city’s history at all, was nevertheless applied to the situation then existing. 5It ran:
“When thrice three hundred revolving years have run their course, Civil strife upon Rome destruction shall bring, and the folly, too, Of Sybaris . . .”Tiberius, now, denounced these verses as spurious and made an investigation of all the books that contained any prophecies, rejecting some as worthless and retaining others as genuine.
6At the death of Germanicus Tiberius and Livia were thoroughly pleased, but everybody else was deeply grieved. He was a man of the most striking physical beauty and likewise of the noblest spirit, and was conspicuous alike for his culture and for his strength. Though the bravest of men against the foe, he showed himself most gentle with his countrymen; 7and though as a Caesar he had the greatest power, he kept his ambitions on the same plane as weaker men. He never conducted himself oppressively toward his subjects or with jealousy toward Drusus or in any reprehensible way toward Tiberius. 8In a word, he was one of the few men of all time who have neither sinned against the fortune allotted to them nor been destroyed by it. Although on several occasions he might have obtained the imperial power, with the free consent not only of the soldiers but of the people and senate as well, he refused to do so. 9His death occurred at Antioch as the result of a plot formed by Piso and Plancina. For bones of men that had been buried in the house where he dwelt and sheets of lead containing curses together with his name were found while he was yet alive; and that poison was the means of his carrying off was revealed by the condition of his body, which was brought into the Forum and exhibited to all who were present. 10Piso later returned to Rome and was brought before the senate on the charge of murder by Tiberius himself, who thus endeavoured to clear himself of the suspicion of having destroyed Germanicus; but Piso secured a postponement of his trial and committed suicide.
11Germanicus at his death left three sons, whom Augustus in his will had named Caesars. The eldest of these, Nero, assumed the toga virilis about this time.
19Up to this time, as we have seen, Tiberius had done a great many excellent things and had made but few errors; but now, when he no longer had a rival biding his chance, he changed to precisely the reverse of his previous conduct, which had included much that was good. Among other ways in which his rule became cruel, he pushed to the bitter end the trials for maiestas, in cases where complaint was made against anyone for committing any improper act, or uttering any improper speech, not only against Augustus but also against Tiberius himself and against his mother.
2Not only were slaves tortured to make them testify against their own masters, but freemen and citizens as well. Those who had accused or testified against persons divided by lot the property of the convicted and received in addition both offices and honours. 3In the case of many, he took care to ascertain the day and hour of their birth, and on the basis of their character and fortune as thus disclosed would put them to death; for if he discovered any unusual ability or promise of power in anyone, he was sure to slay him. 4In fact, so thoroughly did he investigate and understand the destiny in store for every one of the more prominent men, that on meeting Galba (the later emperor), when the latter had had a wife betrothed to him, he remarked: “You also shall one day taste of the sovereignty.” He spared him, as I conjecture, because this was settled as his fate, but, as he explained it himself, because Galba would reign only in old age and long after his own death.
5He was most enthusiastically aided and abetted in all his undertakings by Lucius Aelius Sejanus, the son of Strabo, and formerly a favourite of Marcus Gabius Apicius—that Apicius who so far surpassed all mankind in prodigality that, when he wished one day to know how much he had already spent and how much he still had left, and learned that ten millions still remained to him, became grief-stricken, feeling that he was destined to die of hunger, and took his own life. 6This Sejanus, now, had shared for a time his father’s command of the Pretorians; but when his father had been sent to Egypt and he had obtained sole command over them, he strengthened his authority in many ways, especially by bringing together into a single camp the various cohorts which had been separate and distinct from one another like those of the night-watch. In this way the entire force could receive its orders promptly, and would inspire everybody with fear because all were together in one camp. 7This was the man whom Tiberius, because of the similarity of their characters, attached to himself, elevating him to the rank of praetor, an honour that had never yet been accorded to one of like station; and he made him his adviser and assistant in all matters.
8In fine, Tiberius changed so much after the death of Germanicus that, whereas previously he had been highly praised, he now caused even greater amazement.
20When Tiberius held the consulship with Drusus, men immediately began to prophesy destruction for Drusus from this very circumstance. For not one of the men who had ever been consul with Tiberius failed to meet a violent death; 2but in the first place there was Quintilius Varus, and next Gnaeus Piso, and then Germanicus himself, all of whom died violent and miserable deaths. Tiberius was evidently doomed to exert some such fatal influence throughout his life; at all events, not only Drusus, his colleague at this time, but also Sejanus, who later shared the office with him, came to destruction.
3While Tiberius was out of town, Gaius Lutorius Priscus, a knight, who took great pride in his poetic talents and had written a notable ode on the occasion of Germanicus’ death, for which he had received a considerable sum of money, was charged with having composed a poem about Drusus, also, during the latter’s illness. For this he was tried in the senate, condemned, and put to death. 4Tiberius was vexed at this, not because the man had been executed, but because the senators had inflicted the death penalty upon a person without his approval. He therefore rebuked them, and ordered a decree to be issued to the effect that no person condemned by them should be executed within ten days and that the decree in such a person’s case should not be made public within that time. The purpose of this was to ensure his learning their decisions in season, even while absent, and of reviewing them.
21After this, when his consulship had expired, he came to Rome and prevented the consuls from acting as advocates for some persons in court, remarking: “If I were consul, I should not have done so.” 2One of the praetors was accused of having made some impious remark or of having committed some offence against him, whereupon the man left the senate and having taken off his robe of office returned, demanding as a private citizen to have the complaint lodged at once; at this the emperor was greatly grieved and molested him no further. 3He banished the actors from Rome and would allow them no place in which to practise their profession, because they kept debauching the women and stirring up tumults. He honoured many men after their death with statues and public funerals, but for Sejanus he erected a bronze statue in the theatre during his lifetime. As a result, numerous images of Sejanus were made by many different persons, and many eulogies were delivered in his honour, both before the people and before the senate. 4The leading citizens, including the consuls themselves, regularly resorted to his house at dawn, and communicated to him not only all the private requests that any of them wished to make of Tiberius, but also the public business which required to be taken up. In a word, no business of this sort was transacted henceforth without his knowledge.
5About this time one of the largest porticos in Rome began to lean to one side, and was set upright in a remarkable way by an architect whose name no one knows, because Tiberius, jealous of his wonderful achievement, would not permit it to be entered in the records. This architect, then, whatever his name may have been, first strengthened the foundations round about, so that they should not collapse, 6and wrapped all the rest of the structure in fleeces and thick garments, binding it firmly together on all sides by means of ropes; then with the aid of many men and windlasses he raised it back to its original position. At the time Tiberius both admired and envied him; for the former reason he honoured him with a present of money, and for the latter he expelled him from the city. 7Later the exile approached him to crave pardon, and while doing so purposely let fall a crystal goblet; and though it was bruised in some way or shattered, yet by passing his hands over it he promptly exhibited it whole once more. For this he hoped to obtain pardon, but instead the emperor put him to death.
22Drusus, the son of Tiberius, perished by poison. It appears that Sejanus, puffed up by his power and rank, in addition to his other overweening behaviour, finally turned against Drusus and once struck him a blow with his fist. 2As this gave him reason to fear both Drusus and Tiberius, and as he felt sure at the same time that if he could once get the young man out of the way, he could handle the other very easily, he administered poison to the son through the agency of those in attendance upon him and of Drusus’ wife, whom some call Livilla; for Sejanus was her paramour. 3The guilt was imputed to Tiberius, because he altered none of his accustomed habits either during the illness of Drusus or at his death, and would not allow others to alter theirs. But the story is not credible. For this was his regular practice, as a matter of principle, in every case alike, and besides he was greatly attached to Drusus, the only legitimate son he had; 4furthermore, he punished those who had compassed his death, some at once and some later. At the time he entered the senate, delivered the appropriate eulogy over his son, and returned home.
5Tiberius forbade those who were debarred from fire and water to make any will, a custom that is still observed. He brought Aelius Saturninus before the senate for trial on the charge of having recited some improper verses about him, and upon his conviction caused him to be hurled down from the Capitol. 23And I might narrate many other such occurrences, were I to go into everything in detail. Suffice it, then, to state, briefly, that many were put to death by him for such offences, and furthermore that while investigating carefully, case by case, all the slighting remarks that any persons were accused of having uttered about him, he was really calling himself all the evil names that men had invented. 2For even if a man made some remark secretly to a single companion, he would publish this, too, by having it entered in the public records; and often he falsely added, from his own consciousness of his defects, what no one had ever said, as if it had really been uttered, in order that he might appear to have every justification for his anger. 3Consequently it came to pass that he heaped upon himself all the abuse for which he was wont to punish others on the charge of maiestas, and incurred ridicule besides. For, when persons denied having uttered certain remarks, he, by insisting and swearing that they had been uttered, was more truly wronging himself. On this very account some suspected that he was bereft of his senses. 4Yet he was not believed to be really insane because of this behaviour, since he handled all other matters in a thoroughly competent manner. For example, he appointed a guardian over a certain senator who lived licentiously, as he would have done in the case of an orphan. Again, he brought Capito, who had been procurator of Asia, before the senate, and after charging him with employing soldiers and acting in other ways as if he had held supreme command, he banished him. 5For in those days officials administering the imperial funds were not allowed to do anything more than to collect the customary revenues, and in case of disputes, they must stand trial in the Forum and according to the laws, on an equal footing with ordinary citizens.
So great was the contrast between Tiberius’ various acts. 24When the ten years of his rule had expired, he did not ask any vote for its renewal, for he had no desire to receive it piecemeal, as Augustus had done; nevertheless, the decennial festival was held.
2Cremutius Cordus was forced to take his own life because he had come into collision with Sejanus. He was on the threshold of old age and had lived most irreproachably, so much so, in fact, that no serious charge could be brought against him, and he was therefore tried for his history 3of the achievements of Augustus which he had written long before, and which Augustus himself had read. He was accused of having praised Cassius and Brutus, and of having assailed the people and the senate; as regarded Caesar and Augustus, while he had spoken no ill of them, he had not, on the other hand, shown any unusual respect for them. 4This was the complaint made against him, and this it was that caused his death as well as the burning of his writings; those found in the city at the time were destroyed by the aediles, and those elsewhere by the magistrates of each place. Later they were republished, for his daughter Marcia as well as others had hidden some copies; and they aroused much greater interest by very reason of Cordus’ unhappy fate.
5About this time Tiberius gave to the senators an exhibition of the pretorian guard at drill, as if they were ignorant of the power of these troops; his purpose was to make them more afraid of him, when they saw his defenders to be so numerous and so strong. 6There were other events, also, at this time worthy of a place in history. The people of Cyzicus were once more deprived of their freedom, because they had imprisoned some Romans and because they had not completed the shrine to Augustus which they had begun to build. 7A man who had sold the emperor’s statue along with his house was brought to trial for doing this, and would certainly have been put to death by Tiberius, had not the consul called upon the emperor himself to give his vote first; for in this way Tiberius, being ashamed to appear to be favouring himself, cast his vote for acquittal. 8A senator, also, Lentulus, a man of mild disposition and now far advanced in years, was accused of having plotted against the emperor. Lentulus himself was present and burst out laughing. At this the senate was in an uproar, and Tiberius declared: “I am no longer worthy to live, if Lentulus, too, hates me.”