1These are the stories, then, that have been handed down about Tiberius. His successor was Gaius, the son of Germanicus and Agrippina, who was also known, as I have stated, by the names of Germanicus and Caligula. Tiberius, to be sure, had left the empire to his grandson Tiberius as well; 2but Gaius sent his will to the senate by Macro and caused it to be declared null and void by the consuls and the others with whom he had arranged matters beforehand, on the ground that the testator had not been of sound mind, as shown by the fact that he had permitted a mere boy to rule over them, who did not yet possess the right even to enter the senate. 3Thus Gaius at the time promptly deprived the lad of the throne, and later, in spite of having adopted him, he put him to death. It availed naught that Tiberius in his will had expressed the same purpose in a number of ways, as if this would lend it some force, nor yet that it had all been read at this time by Macro in the senate. But, of course, no injunction can have any weight against the ingratitude or the might of one’s successors. 4Thus Tiberius suffered the same treatment that he had accorded to his mother, with this difference only, that, whereas he had discharged none of the obligations imposed by her will in the case of anybody, his bequests were paid to all the beneficiaries except his grandson. This, in particular, made it perfectly plain that the whole fault found with the will had been invented on account of the lad. 5Gaius, it is true, need not have published it, as he surely was not unacquainted with the contents; but inasmuch as many knew what was in it, and it seemed probable that he himself in the one case or the senate in the other would be blamed for its suppression, he chose rather to have it overthrown by the senators than to keep it concealed. 2At the same time, by paying all the bequests of Tiberius, as if they were his own, to every one else, he gained with the multitude a certain reputation for generosity. Thus, in company with the senate, he inspected the Pretorians at drill and distributed to them the money that had been bequeathed them, amounting to a thousand sesterces apiece; and he added as much more on his own account. 2To the people he paid over the forty-five millions bequeathed to them, and, in addition, the two hundred and forty sesterces apiece which they had failed to receive on the occasion of his assuming the toga virilis, together with interest amounting to sixty sesterces. 3He also paid the bequests to the city troops, to the night-watch, to those of the regular army outside of Italy, and to any other army of citizens that was in the smaller forts, the city guard receiving five hundred sesterces per man, and all the others three hundred. 4He behaved in this same way also in regard to Livia’s will, executing all its provisions. And if he had only spent the rest of the money in a fitting manner, he would have been regarded as a generous and munificent ruler. It was, to be sure, his fear of the people and the soldiers that in some instances led him to make these gifts, but in general they were made on principle; for he paid the bequests not only of Tiberius but also of his great-grandmother, as well those left to private citizens as the public ones. 5As it was, however, he lavished boundless sums upon actors (whose recall he at once brought about), upon horses, upon gladiators, and everything of the sort; and thus in the briefest space of time he exhausted the large sums of money that had accumulated in the treasury and at the same time convicted himself of having made the earlier gifts, also, as the result of an easy-going temper and lack of judgment. 6At all events he had found in the treasury 2,300,000,000 or, according to others, 3,300,000,000 sesterces, and yet did not make any part of it last into the third year, but in his very second year found himself in need of vast sums in addition.
3He went through this same process of deterioration, too, in almost all other respects. Thus, he had seemed at first most democratic, to such a degree, in fact, that he would send no letters either to the people or to the senate nor assume any of the imperial titles; yet he became most autocratic, 2so that he took in one day all the honours which Augustus had with difficulty been induced to accept, and then only as they were voted to him one at a time during the long extent of his reign, some of which indeed Tiberius had refused to accept at all. Indeed, he postponed none of them except the title of Father, and even that he acquired after no long time. 3Though he had proved himself the most libidinous of men, had seized one woman at the very moment of her marriage, and had dragged others from their husbands, he afterwards came to hate them all save one; and he would certainly have detested her, had he lived longer. Towards his mother, his sisters, and his grandmother Antonia he conducted himself at first in the most dutiful manner possible. 4His grandmother he immediately saluted as Augusta, and appointed her to be priestess of Augustus, granting to her at once all the privileges of the Vestal Virgins. To his sisters he assigned these privileges of the Vestal Virgins, also that of witnessing the games in the Circus with him from the imperial seats, and the right to have uttered in their behalf, also, not only the prayers annually offered by the magistrates and priests for his welfare and that of the State, but also the oaths of allegiance that were sworn to his rule. 5He himself sailed across the sea, and with his own hands collected and brought back the bones of his mother and of his brothers who had died; and wearing the purple-bordered toga and attended by lictors, as at a triumph, he deposited their remains in the tomb of Augustus. 6He annulled all the measures that had been voted against them, punished all who had plotted against them, and recalled such as were in exile on their account. Yet, after doing all this, he showed himself the most impious of men toward both his grandmother and his sisters. For he forced the former to seek death by her own hand, because she had rebuked him for something; and as for his sisters, after ravishing them all he confined two of them on an island, the third having already died. 7He even demanded that Tiberius, whom he called grandfather, should receive from the senate the same honours as Augustus; but when these were not immediately voted (for the senators could not, on the one hand, bring themselves to honour him, nor yet, on the other hand, make bold to dishonour him, because they were not yet clearly acquainted with the character of their young master, and were consequently postponing all action until he should be present), he bestowed upon him no mark of distinction other than a public funeral, after causing the body to be brought into the city by night and laid out at daybreak. 8And though he delivered a speech over it, he did not say so much in praise of Tiberius as he did to remind the people of Augustus and Germanicus and incidentally to commend himself to them.
4For Gaius invariably went so by contraries in every matter, that he not only emulated but even surpassed his predecessor’s licentiousness and bloodthirstiness, for which he used to censure him, whereas of the qualities he praised in the other he imitated not one. 2Though he had been the first to insult him and the first to abuse him, so that others, thinking to please him in this way, indulged in rather reckless freedom of speech, he later lauded and magnified Tiberius, even going so far as to punish some for what they had said. These, as enemies of the former emperor, he hated for their abusive remarks; and he hated equally those who in any way praised Tiberius, as being the other’s friends. 3Though he put an end to the charges of maiestas, he nevertheless made these the cause of a great many persons’ downfall. Again, though, according to his own account, he had given up his anger against those who had conspired against his father and mother and brothers, and even burned their letters, he yet put to death great numbers of them on the strength of those letters. He did, it is true, actually destroy some letters, but they were not the originals containing the absolute proof, but rather copies that he had made. 4Furthermore, though he at first forbade any one to set up images of him, he even went on to manufacture statues himself; and though he once requested the annulment of a decree ordering sacrifices to be offered to his Fortune, and even caused this action of his to be inscribed on a tablet, he afterwards ordered temples to be erected and sacrifices to be offered to himself as to a god. 5He delighted by turns in vast throngs of men and in solitude; he grew angry if requests were preferred, and again if they were not preferred. He would display the keenest enthusiasm about various projects, and then carry out certain of them in the most indolent fashion. He would spend money most unsparingly, and at the same time show a most sordid spirit in exacting it. He was alike irritated and pleased, both with those who flattered him and with those who spoke their mind frankly. 6Many who were guilty of great crimes he neglected to punish, and many who had not even incurred any suspicion of wrong-doing he slew. His associates he either flattered to excess or abused to excess. As a result, no one knew either what to say or how to act toward him, but all who met with any success in this respect gained it as the result of chance rather than of shrewd judgment.
5This was the kind of emperor into whose hands the Romans were then delivered. Hence the deeds of Tiberius, though they were felt to have been very harsh, were nevertheless as far superior to those of Gaius as the deeds of Augustus were to those of his successor. 2For Tiberius always kept the power in his own hands and used others as agents for carrying out his wishes; whereas Gaius was ruled by the charioteers and gladiators, and was the slave of the actors and others connected with the stage. Indeed, he always kept Apelles, the most famous of the tragedians of that day, with him even in public. 3Thus he by himself and they by themselves did without let or hindrance all that such persons would naturally dare to do when given power. Everything that pertained to their art he arranged and settled on the slightest pretext in the most lavish manner, and he compelled the praetors and the consuls to do the same, so that almost every day some performance of the kind was sure to be given. 4At first he was but a spectator and listener at these and would take sides for or against various performers like one of the crowd; and one time, when he was vexed with those of opposing tastes, he did not go to the spectacle. But as time went on, he came to imitate, and to contend in many events, 5driving chariots, fighting as a gladiator, giving exhibitions of pantomimic dancing, and acting in tragedy. So much for his regular behaviour. And once he sent an urgent summons at night to the leading men of the senate, as if for some important deliberation, and then danced before them.
6In the year that Tiberius died and Gaius succeeded to the rule, he at first showed great deference to the senators on an occasion when knights and also some of the populace were present at their meeting. He promised to share his power with them and to do whatever would please them, calling himself their son and ward. 2He was then twenty-five years of age, lacking five months and four days. After this he freed those who were in prison, among them Quintus Pomponius, who for seven whole years after his consulship had been kept in jail and maltreated. He did away with the complaints for maiestas, which he saw were the commonest cause of the prisoners’ present plight, 3and he heaped up and burned (or so he pretended) the papers pertaining to their cases that Tiberius had left, declaring: “I have done this in order that, no matter how strongly I may some day desire to harbour malice against any one for my mother’s and my brothers’ sake, I shall nevertheless be unable to punish him.” 4For this he was commended, as it was expected that he would be truthful above all else; for by reason of his youth it was not thought possible that he could be guilty of duplicity in thought or speech. And he increased their hopes still further by ordering that the celebration of the Saturnalia should extend over five days, as well as by accepting from each of those who received the dole of grain only an as instead of the denarius that they were wont to give the emperor for the manufacture of images.
5It was voted that he should become consul at once by the removal of Proculus and Nigrinus, who were then holding the office, and that thereafter he should be consul every year. He did not accept these proposals, however, but instead waited until the actual incumbents had completed the six-months’ term for which they had been appointed, and then became consul himself, taking Claudius, his uncle, as colleague. 6The latter, who had previously belonged to the knights and after the death of Tiberius had been sent as an envoy to Gaius in behalf of that order, now for the first time, though he was forty-six years of age, became a consul and a senator—both at the same time. 7In all this, now, the conduct of Gaius appeared satisfactory, and in harmony with this was the speech which he delivered in the senate on entering upon his consulship. In it he denounced Tiberius for each and every one of the crimes of which he was commonly accused and made many promises regarding his own conduct, with the result that the senate, fearing that he might change his mind, issued a decree that this speech should be read every year.
7Soon after this, clad in the triumphal dress, he dedicated the shrine of Augustus. Boys of the noblest families, both of whose parents must be living, together with maidens similarly circumstanced, sang the hymn, the senators with their wives and also the people were banqueted, and there were spectacles of all sorts. 2For not only all kinds of musical entertainments were given, but also horse-races took place on two days, twenty heats the first day and forty the second, because the latter was the emperor’s birthday, being the last day of August. 3And he exhibited the same number of events on many other occasions, as often as it suited him; previously to this, it should be explained, not more than ten events had been usual. He also caused four hundred bears to be slain on the present occasion together with an equal number of wild beasts from Libya. 4The boys of noble birth performed the equestrian game of “Troy,” and six horses drew the triumphal car on which he rode, something that had never been done before. In the races he did not give the signals himself to the charioteers, but viewed the spectacle from a front seat with his sisters and his fellow-priests of the Augustan order. 5He was always greatly displeased if any one stayed away from the theatre or left in the middle of the performance, and so, in order that no one should have an excuse for failing to attend, he postponed all law-suits and suspended all mourning. And thus it came about that women who had lost their husbands were allowed to marry before the regular time, unless they were pregnant. 6Furthermore, in order to enable people to come without formality and to save them the trouble of greeting him (for before this all who met the emperor in the streets always greeted him), he forbade them to greet him thus in the future. 7Any who wished might come barefoot to the games; in fact, from very ancient times it had been customary for those who held court in the summer to do this, and the practice had been frequently followed by Augustus at the summer festivals, but had been abandoned by Tiberius. 8It was at this time that the senators first began sitting upon cushions instead of upon the bare boards, and that they were allowed to wear hats at the theatres in the Thessalian fashion, to avoid discomfort from the sun’s rays. And at any time that the sun was particularly hot, they used instead of the theatre the Diribitorium, which was furnished with tiers of benches. 9These were the acts of Gaius during his consulship, which he held for two months and twelve days; for he surrendered the remainder of the six-months’ period to the men previously designated for it.
8After this he fell sick, but instead of dying himself he caused the death of Tiberius, who had assumed the toga virilis, had been given the title of Princeps Iuventutis, and finally had been adopted into his family. The complaint made against the lad was that he had prayed and expected that Gaius would die; and he destroyed many others, too, on this same charge. 2Thus it came about that the same ruler who had given Antiochus, the son of Antiochus, the district of Commagene, which his father had held, and likewise the coast region of Cilicia, and had freed Agrippa, the grandson of Herod, who had been imprisoned by Tiberius, and had put him in charge of his grandfather’s domain, not only deprived his own brother, or, in fact, his son, of his paternal inheritance, but actually caused him to be murdered, and that without sending any communication about him to the senate. Later he took similar action in numerous other cases. 3So Tiberius perished on suspicion of having been watching his chance to profit from the emperor’s illness. On the other hand, Publius Afranius Potitus, a plebeian, perished, because in a burst of foolhardy servility he had promised not only of his own free will but also under oath that he would give his life if only Gaius should recover; and likewise a certain Atanius Secundus, a knight, because he had announced that in the same event he would fight as a gladiator. For these men, instead of the money which they hoped to receive from him in return for offering to give their lives in exchange for his, were compelled to keep their promises, so as not to be guilty of perjury. 4Such, then, was the cause of these men’s deaths. Again, Gaius’ father-in -law, Marcus Silanus, though he had made no promise and taken no oath, nevertheless took his own life because his virtue and his relationship made him displeasing to the emperor and subjected him to extreme insult. 5Tiberius, it seems, had held him in such honour that he always refused to try a case on an appeal from his decision and referred all such cases back to him again; but Gaius heaped all manner of abuse upon him, even though he had such a high opinion of him that he called him a “golden sheep.” 6Now Silanus on account of his age and his rank had been accorded by all the consuls the honour of casting his vote first; and to prevent his doing so any longer, Gaius abolished the custom whereby some of the ex-consuls vote first or second according to the pleasure of those who put the question, and established the principle that such persons like the rest should cast their votes in the order in which they had held office. 7He furthermore put away Silanus’ daughter and married Cornelia Orestilla, whom he had actually seized during the marriage festival which she was celebrating with her betrothed, Gaius Calpurnius Piso. Before two months had elapsed he banished them both, claiming that they were maintaining illicit relations with each other. 8He permitted Piso to take with him ten slaves, and then, when he asked for more, allowed him to employ as many as he liked, merely remarking, “You will have just so many soldiers, too, with you.”
9The next year, Marcus Julianus and Publius Nonius of those previously designated became consuls. The regular oaths to support the acts of Tiberius were not taken and for this reason are not in use nowadays, either; for no one reckons Tiberius among the emperors in connexion with this custom of the oaths. 2But as regarded the acts of Augustus and of Gaius, they took all the oaths as usual, as well as others to the effect that they would hold Gaius and his sisters in greater respect than themselves and their children; and they offered prayers for them all alike. 3On the very first day of the new year one Machaon, a slave, climbed upon the couch of Jupiter Capitolinus, and after uttering from there many dire prophecies, killed a little dog which he had brought in with him and then slew himself.
4The following good and praiseworthy acts were performed by Gaius. He published, as Augustus had done, all the accounts of the public funds, which had not been made public during the time that Tiberius was away from the city. He helped the soldiers to extinguish a conflagration and rendered assistance to those who suffered loss by it. 5As the equestrian order was becoming reduced in numbers, he summoned the foremost men in point of family and wealth from the whole empire, even from outside of Italy, and enrolled them in the order. Some of them he even permitted to wear the senatorial dress before they had held any office through which we gain admission to the senate, on the strength of their prospects of becoming members later, whereas previously only those, it appears, who had been born into the senatorial order were allowed to do this. 6These measures gave satisfaction to everybody; but when he put the elections once more in the hands of the people and the plebs, thereby rescinding the arrangements that Tiberius had made regarding them, and abolished the tax of one per cent., and when, furthermore, he scattered tickets at a gymnastic contest that he arranged and distributed a great number of gifts to those who had secured them, these actions, 7though delighting the rabble, grieved the sensible, who stopped to reflect, that if the offices should fall once more into the hands of the many, and the funds on hand should be exhausted and private sources of income fail, many disasters would result.
10The following acts of his met with the censure of everybody alike. He caused great numbers of men to fight as gladiators, forcing them to contend both singly and in groups drawn up in a kind of battle array. He had asked permission of the senate to do this, 2so that he was able to do anything he wished even contrary to what was provided by law, and thus put many people to death, among others twenty-six knights, some of whom had devoured their living, while others had merely practised gladiatorial combat. It was not the large number of those who perished that was so serious, though that was serious enough, but his excessive delight in their death and his insatiable desire for the sight of blood. 3The same trait of cruelty led him once, when there was a shortage of condemned criminals to be given to the wild beasts, to order that some of the mob standing near the benches should be seized and thrown to them; and to prevent the possibility of their making an outcry or uttering any reproaches, he first caused their tongues to be cut out. 4Moreover he compelled one of the prominent knights to fight in single combat on the charge of having insulted his mother Agrippina, and when the man proved victorious, handed him over to his accusers and caused him to be slain. And the man’s father, though guilty of no crime, he confined in a cage, as, indeed, he had treated many others, and there put an end to him. 5He held these contests at first in the Saepta, after excavating the whole site and filling it with water, to enable him to bring in a single ship, but later he transferred them to another place, where he had demolished a great many large buildings and erected wooden stands; for he despised the theatre of Taurus. 6For all this he was censured, because of the expense and also of the bloodshed involved. He was blamed likewise for compelling Macro together with Ennia to take their own lives, remembering neither the affection of the latter nor the benefits of the former, who had, among other things, assisted him to win the throne for himself alone; nor did the fact that he had appointed Macro to govern Egypt have the slightest influence. He even involved him in a scandal, in which he himself had the greatest share, by bringing against him among other charges that of playing the pander. 7Thereupon many others were executed, some after being sentenced and some even before being convicted. Nominally they were punished because of the wrongs done to his parents or to his brothers or the others who had perished on their account, but in reality it was because of their property; for the treasury had become exhausted and he never could have enough. 8Such persons were convicted on the evidence not only of the witnesses who appeared against them but also of the papers which he once declared he had burned. Others, again, owed their ruin to the emperor’s illness of the preceding year and to the death of his sister Drusilla, since, among other things, any one who had entertained or had greeted another, or even had bathed during those days, incurred punishment.
11Drusilla was married to Marcus Lepidus, at once the favourite and lover of the emperor, but Gaius also treated her as a concubine. When her death occurred at this time, her husband delivered the eulogy and her brother accorded her a public funeral. 2The Pretorians with their commander and the equestrian order by itself [ran about the pyre] and the boys of noble birth performed the equestrian exercise called “Troy” about her tomb. All the honours that had been bestowed upon Livia were voted to her, and it was further decreed that she should be deified, that a golden effigy of her should be set up in the senate-house, and that in the temple of Venus in the Forum a statue of her should be dedicated of the same size as that of the goddess and honoured by the same rites; 3also that a shrine of her own should be built for her and that she should have twenty priests, women as well as men; women, whenever they offered testimony, should swear by her name, and on her birthday a festival equal to the Ludi Megalenses should be celebrated, and the senate and the knights should be given a banquet. She accordingly now received the name Panthea, and was declared worthy of divine honours in all the cities. 4Indeed, a certain Livius Geminius, a senator, declared on oath, invoking destruction upon himself and his children if he spoke falsely, that he had seen her ascending to heaven and holding converse with the gods; and he called all the other gods and Panthea herself to witness. For this declaration he received a million sesterces. 5Besides honouring her in these ways, Gaius would not permit the festivals which were then due to take place, to be celebrated either at their appointed time, except as mere formalities, or at any later date. All persons incurred censure equally whether they took offence at anything, as being grieved, or behaved as if they were glad; for they were accused either of failing to mourn her as a mortal or of bewailing her as a goddess. 6One single incident will give the key to all that happened at that time: the emperor charged with maiestas and put to death a man who had sold hot water. 12After allowing a few days to elapse, however, he married Lollia Paulina, after compelling her husband himself, Memmius Regulus, to betroth her to him, so that he should not break the law by taking her without any betrothal. But he promptly put her away, too.
2Meanwhile he granted to Sohaemus the land of the Ituraean Arabians, to Cotys Lesser Armenia and later parts of Arabia, to Rhoemetalces the possessions of Cotys, and to Polemon, the son of Polemon, his ancestral domain, all upon vote of the senate. The ceremony took place in the Forum, where he sat upon the rostra in a chair between the consuls; some add that he used silken awnings. 3Later he caught sight of a lot of mud in an alley, and ordered it to be thrown upon the toga of Flavius Vespasian, who was then aedile and had charge of keeping the alleys clean. This action was not regarded as of any special significance at the time, but later, after Vespasian had taken over the management of affairs at a time when everything was in confusion and turmoil and had restored order everywhere, it seemed to have been due to some divine prompting, and to have signified that Gaius had entrusted the city to him outright for its improvement.
13Gaius now became consul again, and though he prevented the priest of Jupiter from taking the oath in the senate (for at this time they regularly took it individually, as in the days of Tiberius), he himself, both when he entered upon office and when he relinquished it, took the oath like the others from the rostra, which had been enlarged. 2He held the office for only thirty days, though he allowed his colleague, Lucius Apronius, a term of six months; and he was succeeded by Sanquinius Maximus, who was prefect of the city. During these and the following days many of the foremost men perished in fulfilment of sentences of condemnation (for not a few of those who had been released from prison were punished for the very reasons that had led to their imprisonment by Tiberius) and many others of less prominence in gladiatorial combats. 3In fact, there was nothing but slaughter; for the emperor no longer showed any favours even to the populace, but opposed absolutely everything they wished, and consequently the people on their part resisted all his desires. The talk and behaviour that might be expected at such a juncture, with an angry ruler on one side, and a hostile people on the other, were plainly in evidence. 4The contest between them, however, was not an equal one; for the people could do nothing but talk and show something of their feelings by their gestures, whereas Gaius would destroy his opponents, dragging many away even while they were witnessing the games and arresting many more after they had left the theatres. 5The chief causes of his anger were, first, that they did not show enthusiasm in attending the spectacles (for he himself used to arrive at the theatres now at one hour and now at another, regardless of previous announcement, sometimes coming before dawn and sometimes not until afternoon, so that they became tired and weary waiting for him), and again, that they did not always applaud the performers that pleased him and sometimes even showed honour to those whom he disliked. 6Furthermore, it vexed him greatly to hear them hail him as “young Augustus” in their efforts to extol him; for he felt that he was not being congratulated upon being emperor while still so young, but was rather being censured for ruling such an empire at his age. He was always doing things of the sort that I have related; and once he said, threatening the whole people: “Would that you had but a single neck.” 7At this time, when he displayed his usual exasperation, the populace in displeasure ceased to watch the show and turned against the informers, for a long time and with loud cries demanding their surrender. Gaius became angry and gave them no answer, but committing to others the conduct of the games, withdrew into Campania. 8Later he returned to celebrate the birthday of Drusilla, brought her statue into the Circus on a car drawn by elephants, and gave the people a free exhibition for two days. On the first day, besides the horse-races, five hundred bears were slain, 9and on the second day as many Libyan beasts were accounted for; also athletes competed in the pancratium in many different places at the same time. The populace was feasted and a present was given to the senators and their wives . . . .
14At the same time that he was perpetrating these murders, apparently because he was in urgent need of funds, he devised another scheme for getting money, as follows. He would sell the survivors in the gladiatorial combats at an excessive valuation to the consuls, praetors, and others, not only to willing purchasers, 2but also to others who were compelled very much against their will to give such exhibitions at the Circensian games, and in particular he sold them to the men specially chosen by lot to have charge of such contests (for he ordered that two praetors should be chosen by lot to have charge of the gladiatorial games, just as had formerly been the custom); and he himself would sit on the auctioneer’s platform and keep raising the bids. 3Many also came from outside to put in rival bids, the more so as he allowed any who so wished to employ a greater number of gladiators than the law permitted and because he frequently visited them himself. So people bought them for large sums, some because they really wanted them, 4others with the idea of gratifying Gaius, and the majority, consisting of those who had a reputation for wealth, from a desire to take advantage of this excuse to spend some of their substance and thus by becoming poorer save their lives. 5Yet after doing all this he later put the best and the most famous of these slaves out of the way by poison. He did the same also with the horses and charioteers of the rival factions; 6for he was strongly attached to the party that wore the frog-green, which from this colour was called also the Party of the Leek. Hence even to -day the place where he used to practise driving the chariots is called the Gaianum after him. 7One of the horses, which he named Incitatus, he used to invite to dinner, where he would offer him golden barley and drink his health in wine from golden goblets; he swore by the animal’s life and fortune and even promised to appoint him consul, a promise that he would certainly have carried out if he had lived longer. 15In order to provide him with funds, it had been voted earlier that all persons still living who had wished to leave anything to Tiberius should at their death bestow the same upon Gaius; for, in order to appear to have the right to accept inheritances and receive such gifts in spite of the laws (inasmuch as he had at this time neither wife nor children), he caused a decree to be issued by the senate. 2But at the time of which I am speaking he seized for himself, without any decree, absolutely all the property of those who had served as centurions and had after the triumph which his father celebrated left it to somebody else than the emperor. 3When not even this sufficed, he hit upon the following third method of raising money. There was a senator, Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, who had noticed that the roads during the reign of Tiberius were in bad condition, and was always nagging the highway commissioners about it, and furthermore kept making a nuisance of himself to the senate on the subject. 4Gaius now took him as an accomplice, and through him attacked all those, alive or dead, who had ever been highway commissioners and had received money for repairing the roads; and he fined both them and the men who had secured contracts from them, on the pretence that they had spent nothing. 5For his assistance in this matter Corbulo was at the time made consul, but later in the reign of Claudius, he was accused and punished; for Claudius not only failed to demand any sums that were still owed, but, on the contrary, took what had been paid in, partly from the public treasury and partly from Corbulo himself, and returned it to those who had been fined. 6But this took place later. At the time of my narrative not only the various classes already named, but also practically everybody else in the city, was being despoiled in one manner or another, and no one who possessed anything, whether man or woman, got off unscathed. For even if Gaius did permit some of the older people to live, yet by calling them his fathers, grandfathers, mothers, and grandmothers, he not only milked them while they lived but also inherited their property when they died.
16Up to this time Gaius had not only himself always spoken ill of Tiberius before everybody, but also, far from rebuking others when they denounced him either privately or publicly, had actually taken delight in their remarks. But now he entered the senate-chamber and eulogized his predecessor at length, besides severely rebuking the senate and the people, saying that they did wrong in finding fault with him. 2“I myself have the right to do even this,” he said, “in my capacity as emperor; but you not only do wrong but are guilty of maiestas as well, to take such a tone towards one who was once your ruler.” Thereupon he took up separately the case of each man who had lost his life, and tried to show, as people thought at least, that the senators had been responsible for the death of most of them, some by accusing them, others by testifying against them, and all by their votes of condemnation. 3The evidence of this, purporting to be derived from those very documents which he once declared he had burned, he caused to be read to them by the imperial freedmen. And he added: “If Tiberius really did do wrong, you ought not, by Jupiter, to have honoured him while he lived, and then, after repeatedly saying and voting what you did, turn about now. 4But it was not Tiberius alone that you treated in a fickle manner; Sejanus also you first puffed up with conceit and spoiled, then put him to death. Therefore I, too, ought not to expect any decent treatment from you.” After some such remarks as these he represented in his speech Tiberius himself as saying to him: 5“In all this you have spoken well and truly. Therefore show no affection for any of them and spare none of them. For they all hate you and they all pray for your death; and they will murder you if they can. Do not stop to consider, then, what acts of yours will please them nor mind it if they talk, 6but look solely to your own pleasure and safety, since that has the most just claim. In this way you will suffer no harm and will at the same time enjoy all the greatest pleasures; you will also be honoured by them, whether they wish it or not. If, however, you pursue the opposite course, it will profit you naught in reality; 7for, though in name you may win an empty reputation, you will gain no advantage, but will become the victim of plots and will perish ingloriously. For no man living is ruled of his own free will; on the contrary, only so long as a person is afraid, does he pay court to the man who is stronger, but when he gains courage, he avenges himself on the man who is weaker.”
8At the close of this address Gaius restored the charge of maiestas, ordered his commands to be inscribed at once upon a bronze tablet, and then, rushing hastily out of the senate-house, proceeded the same day to the suburbs. The senate and the people were in great fear as they recalled the denunciations that they had often uttered against Tiberius and at the same time pondered over the contrast between the words they had just heard from Gaius and his previous utterances. 9For the moment their alarm and dejection prevented them from saying a word or transacting any business; but on the next day they assembled again and bestowed lavish praise upon Gaius as a most sincere and pious ruler, for they felt very grateful to him that they had not perished like the others. 10Accordingly, they voted to offer annual sacrifices to his Clemency, both on the anniversary of the day on which he had read his address and on the days belonging to the palace; on these occasions a golden image of the emperor was to be carried up to the Capitol and hymns sung in its honour by the boys of the noblest birth. 11They also granted him the right to celebrate an ovation, as if he had defeated some enemies.
These were the honours they decreed on that occasion; and later, on almost any pretext, they were sure to add others. 17Gaius, however, did not care at all for that kind of triumph, as he did not consider it any great achievement to drive a chariot on dry land; on the other hand, he was eager to drive his chariot through the sea, as it were, by bridging the waters between Puteoli and Bauli. (The latter place lies directly across the bay from the city of Puteoli, at a distance of twenty-six stades.) 2Of the ships for the bridge some were brought together there from other stations, but others were built on the spot, since the number that could be assembled there in a very brief space of time was insufficient, even though all the vessels possible were got together—with the result that a very severe famine occurred in Italy, and particularly in Rome. 3In building the bridge not merely a passageway was constructed, but also resting-places and lodging-rooms were built along its course, and these had running water suitable for drinking. When all was ready, he put on the breastplate of Alexander (or so he claimed), and over it a purple silk chlamys, adorned with much gold and many precious stones from India; moreover he girt on a sword, took a shield, and donned a garland of oak leaves. 4Then he offered sacrifice to Neptune and some other gods and to Envy (in order, as he put it, that no jealousy should attend him), and entered the bridge from the end at Bauli, taking with him a multitude of armed horsemen and foot-soldiers; and he dashed fiercely into Puteoli as if he were in pursuit of an enemy. 5There he remained during the following day, as if resting from battle; then, wearing a gold-embroidered tunic, he returned in a chariot over the same bridge, being drawn by race-horses accustomed to win the most victories. A long train of what purported to be spoils followed him, including Darius, a member of the Arsacid family, who was one of the Parthians then living in Rome as hostages. 6His friends and associates in flowered robes followed in vehicles, and then came the army and the rest of the throng, each man dressed according to his individual taste. Of course, while on such a campaign and after so magnificent a victory he had to deliver a harangue; so he ascended a platform which had likewise been erected on the ships near the centre of the bridge. 7First he extolled himself as an undertaker of great enterprises, and then he praised the soldiers as men who had undergone great hardships and perils, mentioning in particular this achievement of theirs in crossing through the sea on foot. 8For this he gave them money, and after that they feasted for the rest of the day and all through the night, he on the bridge, as though on an island, and they on other boats anchored round about. Light in abundance shone down upon them from the place itself, and abundant light besides from the mountains. 9For since the place was crescent-shaped, fires were lighted on all sides, as in a theatre, so that the darkness was not noticed at all; indeed, it was his wish to make the night day, as he had made the sea land. When he had become sated and glutted with food and strong drink, he hurled many of his companions off the bridge into the sea 10and sank many of the others by sailing about and attacking them in boats equipped with beaks. Some perished, but the majority, though drunk, managed to save themselves. This was due to the fact that the sea was extremely smooth and tranquil both while the bridge was being put together and while the other events were taking place. 11This, too, caused the emperor some elation, and he declared that even Neptune was afraid of him; as for Darius and Xerxes, he made all manner of fun of them, claiming that he had bridged a far greater expanse of sea than they had done.
18This was the end of that bridge, but it also proved a source of death to many; for, inasmuch as Gaius had exhausted his funds in constructing it, he fell to plotting against many more persons than ever because of their property. He held trials both alone and together with the entire senate. 2That body also tried some cases by itself; it did not, however, possess final authority, and there were many appeals from its verdicts. The decisions of the senate were made public in the usual way, but when any persons were condemned by Gaius, their names were published, as if he feared people might not learn of their fate otherwise. 3So these were punished, some in prison and others by being hurled down from the Capitoline; and still others killed themselves beforehand. There was no safety even for such as were banished, but many of them, too, lost their lives either on the road or while in exile. There is no need of burdening my readers unnecessarily by going into the details of most of these cases, but one or two of them call for special mention. 4Thus, Calvisius Sabinus, one of the foremost men in the senate, who had just returned from governing Pannonia, was indicted together with his wife Cornelia. The charge against her was that she had made the rounds of the sentries and had watched the soldiers at drill. These two did not stand trial but despatched themselves before the time fixed. 5The same course was taken by Titius Rufus, who was charged with having declared that the senate thought one way and voted another. Also one Junius Priscus, a praetor, was accused on various charges, but his death was really due to the supposition that he was wealthy. In this case Gaius, on learning that the man had possessed nothing to make his death worth while, made the remarkable statement: “He fooled me and perished needlessly, when he might just as well have lived.”
19One of these men tried at this time, Domitius Afer, came near losing his life for an extraordinary reason, and was saved in a still more remarkable manner. Gaius hated him in any case, because in the reign of Tiberius he had accused a woman who was related to his mother Agrippina. 2Hence Agrippina, when she afterwards met Domitius and perceived that out of embarrassment he stood aside from her path, called to him and said: “Fear not, Domitius; it isn’t you that I hold to blame, but Agamemnon.” At the time in question, Afer had set up an image of the emperor and had written an inscription for it to the effect that Gaius in his twenty-seventh year was already consul for the second time. 3This vexed Gaius, who felt that the other was reproaching him for his youth and for his illegal conduct. Hence for this action, for which Afer had looked to be honoured, the emperor brought him at once before the senate and read a long speech against him. For Gaius always claimed to surpass all the orators, and knowing that his adversary was an extremely gifted speaker, he strove on this occasion to excel him. 4And he would certainly have put Afer to death, if the latter had entered into the least competition with him. As it was, the man made no answer or defence, but pretended to be astonished and overcome by the ability of Gaius, and repeating the accusation point by point, praised it as if he were a mere listener and not himself on trial. 5When the opportunity was given him to speak, he had recourse to entreaties and lamentations; and finally he threw himself on the ground and lying there prostrate played the suppliant to his accuser, pretending to fear him more as an orator than as Caesar. Gaius, accordingly, when he saw and heard all this, was melted, believing that he had really overwhelmed Domitius by the eloquence of his speech. 6For this reason, then, as well as for the sake of Callistus, the freedman, whom he was wont to honour and whose favour Domitius had courted, he gave up his resentment. And when Callistus later blamed him for having accused the man in the first place, he answered: “It would not have been right for me to keep such a speech to myself.” 7Thus Domitius was saved by being convicted of being no longer a skilful orator. On the other hand, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, who was superior in wisdom to all the Romans of his day and to many others as well, came near being destroyed, though he had neither done any wrong nor had the appearance of doing so, but merely because he pleaded a case well in the senate while the emperor was present. 8Gaius ordered him to be put to death, but afterwards let him off because he believed the statement of one of his female associates, to the effect that Seneca had consumption in an advanced stage and would die before a great while.
20He immediately appointed Domitius consul, after removing those who were then in office because they had failed to proclaim a thanksgiving on his birthday (the praetors, it is true, had held a horse-race and had slaughtered some wild beasts, but this happened every year) and because they had celebrated a festival to commemorate the victories of Augustus over Antony, as was customary; 2for, in order to invent some ground of complaint against them, he chose to pose as a descendant of Antony rather than of Augustus. Indeed, he had announced beforehand to those with whom he regularly shared his secrets, that whichever course the consuls followed they would certainly make a mistake, whether, that is, they offered sacrifices to celebrate Antony’s overthrow or refrained from sacrificing in honour of Augustus’ victory. 3These were the reasons, then, why he summarily dismissed these officials, first breaking in pieces their fasces; whereupon one of them took it so much to heart that he killed himself. As for Domitius, he was chosen as the emperor’s colleague, nominally by the people, but actually by Gaius himself. The latter had, to be sure, restored the elections to the people, 4but they had become rather lax in the performance of their duties because for a long time they had not transacted any business in the manner of freemen; and as a rule no more candidates presented themselves than the number to be chosen, or, if ever there were more than were required, the outcome was arranged among themselves. Thus the democracy was preserved in appearance, but there was no democracy in fact; 5and this led Gaius himself to abolish the elections once more. After this matters went on in general as in the reign of Tiberius; but as regards the praetors, sometimes fifteen were chosen and sometimes one more or one less, just as it happened. Such was the action he took regarding the elections.
6In general his attitude was one of envy and suspicion toward everything alike. Thus he banished Carrinas Secundus, an orator, for delivering a speech against tyrants as a rhetorical exercise. 7Again, when the lot fell upon Lucius Piso, the son of Plancina and Gnaeus Piso, to become governor of Africa, he feared that arrogance might lead him to revolt, especially as he was to have a large force made up of both citizens and foreigners; hence he divided the province into two parts, assigning the military force together with the Numidians in its vicinity to another official, an arrangement that has continued from that time down to the present.
21Gaius had now spent practically all the money in Rome and the rest of Italy, gathered from every source from which he could in any way get it, and as no source of revenue in considerable amount or practicable to collect could be found there, and his expenses were pressing him hard, 2he set out for Gaul, ostensibly because the hostile Germans were stirring up trouble, but in reality with the purpose of exploiting both Gaul with its abounding wealth and Spain also. However, he did not openly announce his expedition beforehand, but went first to one of the suburbs and then suddenly set out on the journey, taking with him many actors, many gladiators, horses, women, and all the other trappings of luxury. 3When he reached his destination, he did no harm to any of the enemy—in fact, as soon as he had proceeded a short distance beyond the Rhine, he returned, and then set out as if to conduct a campaign against Britain, but turned back from the ocean’s edge, showing no little vexation at his lieutenants who won some slight success—but upon the subject peoples, the allies, and the citizens he inflicted vast and innumerable ills. 4In the first place, he despoiled those who possessed anything, on any and every excuse; and secondly, both private citizens and cities brought him large gifts voluntarily, as it was made to appear. He murdered some men on the ground that they were rebelling, and others on the ground that they were conspiring against him; but the real complaint was one and the same for the whole people—the fact that they were rich. 5By selling their possessions himself, he realized far greater sums than would otherwise have been the case; for everybody was compelled to buy them at any price and for much more than their value, for the reasons I have mentioned. Accordingly, he sent also for the finest and most precious heirlooms of the monarchy and sold them off by auction, selling with them the fame of the persons who had once used them. 6Thus he would make some comment on each one, such as, “this belonged to my father,” “this to my mother,” “this to my grandfather,” “this to my great-grandfather,” “this Egyptian piece was Antony’s, the prize of victory for Augustus.” At the same time he also explained the necessity of selling them, so that no one could persist in pretending to be poor; and thus he made them buy the reputation of each article along with the thing itself.
22In spite of all this he did not secure any surplus, but kept up his customary expenditures, not only for other objects that interested him—exhibiting, for example, some games at Lugdunum—but especially for the legions. 2For he had gathered together two hundred thousand troops, or, as some say, two hundred and fifty thousand. He was acclaimed imperator by them seven times, as his whim directed, though he had won no battle and slain no enemy. To be sure, he did once by a ruse seize and bind a few of the foe, whereas he used up a large part of his own force, striking some of them down one at a time and butchering others en masse. 3Thus, on one occasion, when he saw a crowd of prisoners or some other persons, he gave orders, in the famous phrase, that they should all be slain “from baldhead to baldhead.” At another time he was playing at dice, and finding that he had no money, he called for the census lists of the Gauls and ordered the wealthiest of them to be put to death; 4then, returning to his fellow-gamesters, he said: “Here you are playing for a few denarii, while I have taken in a good hundred and fifty millions.” So these men perished without any consideration. Indeed, one of them, Julius Sacerdos, who was fairly well off, yet not so extremely wealthy as to become the object of attack on that account, was slain simply because of a similarity of names. This shows how carelessly everything was done. 5As for the others who perished, there is no need of my naming over most of them, but I will mention those of whom history requires some record. In the first place, then, he put to death Lentulus Gaetulicus, who had an excellent reputation in every way and had been governor of Germany for ten years, for the reason that he was endeared to the soldiers. 6Another of his victims was Lepidus, that lover and favourite of his, the husband of Drusilla, the man who had together with Gaius maintained improper relations with the emperor’s other sisters, Agrippina and Julia, the man whom he had allowed to stand for office five years earlier than was permitted by law 7and whom he kept declaring he would leave as his successor to the throne. To celebrate this man’s death he gave the soldiers money, as though he had defeated some enemies, and sent three daggers to Mars Ultor in Rome. 8He deported his sisters to the Pontian Islands because of their relations with Lepidus, having first accused them in a communication to the senate of many impious and immoral actions. Agrippina was given Lepidus’ bones in an urn and bidden to carry it back to Rome, keeping it in her bosom during the whole journey. 9Also, since many honours had been voted earlier to his sisters manifestly on his account, he forbade the awarding of any distinction to any of his relatives.
23He sent a report about these matters to the senate at the time, just as if he had escaped some great plot; for he was always pretending to be in danger and to be leading a miserable existence. 2The senators, on being apprised of it, voted him an ovation among other things, and they sent envoys to announce their action, choosing some of them by lot, but directly appointing Claudius. This also displeased Gaius, to such an extent that he again forbade the bestowing of anything involving praise or honour upon his relatives; and he felt, besides, that he had not been honoured as he deserved. 3For that matter, he always counted as naught all the honours that were granted to him. It irritated him to have small distinctions voted, since that implied a slight, and greater distinctions irritated him also, since thus the possibility of further honours seemed to be taken from him. For he did not for a moment wish it to appear that anything that brought him honour was in the power of the senators, since that would imply that they were his superiors and could grant him favours as if he were their inferior. 4For this reason he frequently found fault with various honours conferred upon him, on the ground that they did not increase his splendour but rather destroyed his power. And yet, though he felt thus, he used to become angry with them if it ever seemed that they had voted to him less than he deserved. So capricious was he; and no one could easily suit him. 5Accordingly, he would not, for these reasons, receive all the above-mentioned envoys, affecting to mistrust them as spies, but chose a few, and sent the rest back before they reached Gaul. And even those whom he admitted to his presence he did not deign to treat with any respect; indeed, he would have killed Claudius, had he not felt contempt for him, inasmuch as the latter, partly by his nature and partly by deliberate intent, gave the impression of great stupidity. 6But when another embassy was sent out larger than before (for he had complained among other things of the small size of the first) and brought word that many marks of distinction had been voted to him, he received them gladly, even going forth to meet them, and for this very action he received fresh honours at their hands; but this happened later.
7Gaius now divorced Paulina, on the pretext that she was barren, but really because he had got tired of her, and married Milonia Caesonia. This woman had formerly been his mistress, but now, since she was pregnant, he desired to make her his wife, so that she should bear him a one-month’s child. 8The people of Rome were disturbed by this behaviour, and disturbed also because many trials were being brought against them, as a result of the friendship they had shown toward his sisters and toward the men who had been murdered; even some aediles and praetors were compelled to resign their offices and stand trial. 9Meanwhile they also suffered from the hot weather, which became so extremely severe that awnings were stretched across the Forum. Among the men exiled at this time Ofonius Tigellinus was banished on the charge of having had improper relations with Agrippina.
24All this, however, did not distress the people so much as did their expectation that Gaius’ cruelty and licentiousness would go to still greater lengths. And they were particularly troubled on ascertaining that King Agrippa and King Antiochus were with him, like two tyrant-trainers. 2Consequently, while he was consul for the third time none of the tribunes or praetors ventured to convene the senate. (He had no colleague, though this was not, as some think, intentional, but rather due to the fact that the consul designate died and no one else could be appointed in his stead on such short notice in the emperor’s absence.) 3Of course the praetors, whose office it is to perform the duties of the consuls in their absence from the city, ought to have attended to all the necessary business; but, fearing it might appear that they had acted in the emperor’s place, they performed none of those duties. 4The senators, nevertheless, went up to the Capitol in a body, offered the regular sacrifices, and did obeisance to the chair of Gaius that was in the temple; furthermore, in accordance with the custom prevailing in the time of Augustus, they left money, acting as though they were giving it to the emperor himself. 5The same course was followed the next year also; but at the time of the events just narrated they assembled in the senate-house after these ceremonies, though no one had convened them, and yet transacted no business, but merely wasted the whole day in laudations of Gaius and prayers in his behalf. 6For since they had no love for him nor any wish that he should survive, they went to greater lengths in simulating both these feelings, as if hoping in this way to disguise their real sentiments. On the third day, which was the day devoted to prayers, they came together in response to an announcement of a meeting made by all the praetors in a joint notice; nevertheless, they transacted no business on this occasion or later, until, on the twelfth day, word was brought that Gaius had resigned his office. 7Then the men who had been elected for the second portion of the year succeeded to the position and administered the duties of their office. Among other votes passed was one providing that the birthdays of Tiberius and Drusilla should be celebrated in the same manner as that of Augustus. The people connected with the stage also exhibited a festival, furnished a spectacle, and set up and dedicated images of Gaius and Drusilla. 8All this was done, of course, in response to a message from Gaius; for whenever he wished any business brought up, he communicated a small portion of it in writing to all the senators, but most of it to the consuls, and then sometimes ordered this to be read in the senate.
25While the senators were passing these decrees, Gaius sent for Ptolemy, the son of Juba, and on learning that he was wealthy put him to death and . . .
And when he reached the ocean, as if he were going to conduct a campaign in Britain, and had drawn up all the soldiers on the beach, 2he embarked on a trireme, and then, after putting out a little from the land, sailed back again. Next he took his seat on a lofty platform and gave the soldiers the signal as if for battle, bidding the trumpeters urge them on; then of a sudden he ordered them to gather up the shells. 3Having secured these spoils (for he needed booty, of course, for his triumphal procession), he became greatly elated, as if he had enslaved the very ocean; and he gave his soldiers many presents. The shells he took back to Rome for the purpose of exhibiting the booty to the people there as well. 4The senate knew not how it could remain indifferent to these doings, since it learned that he was in an exalted frame of mind, nor yet again how it could praise him. For, if anybody bestows great praise or extraordinary honours for some trivial exploit or none at all, he is suspected of making a hissing and a mockery of the affair. 5Nevertheless, when Gaius entered the city, he came very near destroying the whole senate because it had not voted him divine honours. He assembled the populace, however, and showered quantities of silver and gold upon them from a lofty station, and many perished in their efforts to grab it; for, as some say, he had mixed small pieces of iron in with the coins.
6When he had ordered Betilinus Bassus to be slain, he compelled Capito, the man’s father, to be present at his son’s execution, though Capito was not guilty of any crime and had received no court summons. When the father inquired if he would permit him to close his eyes, Gaius ordered him to be slain, too. 7Then Capito, finding his life in danger, pretended to have been one of the conspirators and promised to disclose the names of all the rest; and he named the companions of Gaius and those who abetted his licentiousness and cruelty. Indeed, he would have brought many to destruction, had he not gone on to accuse the prefects and Callistus and Caesonia, and so aroused distrust. He was accordingly put to death, but this very deed paved the way for Gaius’ own destruction. 8For the emperor privately summoned the prefects and Callistus and said to them: “I am but one, and you are three; and I am defenceless, whereas you are armed. If, therefore, you hate me and desire to kill me, slay me.” As a result of this affair, he believed that he was hated and that they were vexed at his behaviour, and so he suspected them and wore a sword at his side when in the city; and to forestall any harmony of action on their part he attempted to embroil them with one another, by pretending to make a confidant of each one separately and talking to him about the others, until they understood his purpose and abandoned him to the conspirators.
9He also ordered the senate to meet and pretended to grant its members amnesty, saying that there were only a very few against whom he still retained his anger. This statement doubled the anxiety of every one of them, for each was thinking of himself.
26Now there was a certain Protogenes, who assisted the emperor in all his harshest measures, and was always carrying around two books, one of which he called his sword and the other his dagger. 2This Protogenes entered the senate one day as if on some other business, and when all the members, as was natural, saluted him, and were extending their greetings, he darted a sinister glance at Scribonius Proculus and said: “Do you, too, greet me, when you hate the emperor so?” On hearing this, all who were present surrounded their fellow-senator and tore him to pieces.
3When Gaius showed pleasure at this and declared that he had become reconciled with them, they voted various festivals and also decreed that the emperor should sit on a high platform even in the very senate-house, to prevent any one from approaching him, and should have a military guard even there; they likewise voted that his statues should be guarded. 4Because of these decrees Gaius put aside his anger against them, and with youthful impetuosity did a few excellent things. For instance, he released Pomponius, who was said to have plotted against him, inasmuch as he had been betrayed by a friend; and when the man’s mistress, upon being tortured, would not utter a word, he not only did her no harm but even honoured her with a gift of money. 5Gaius was praised for this, partly out of fear and partly with sincerity, and when some called him a demigod and others a god, he fairly lost his head. Indeed, even before this he had been demanding that he be regarded as more than a human being, and was wont to claim that he had intercourse with the Moon, that Victory put a crown upon him, and to pretend that he was Jupiter, and he made this a pretext for seducing numerous women, particularly his sisters; again, he would pose as Neptune, 6because he had bridged so great an expanse of sea; he also impersonated Hercules, Bacchus, Apollo, and all the other divinities, not merely males but also females, often taking the rôle of Juno, Diana, or Venus. Indeed, to match the change of name he would assume all the rest of the attributes that belonged to the various gods, so that he might seem really to resemble them. 7Now he would be seen as a woman, holding a wine-bowl and thyrsus, and again he would appear as a man equipped with a club and lion’s skin or perhaps a helmet and shield. He would be seen at one time with a smooth chin and later with a full beard. Sometimes he wielded a trident and again he brandished a thunderbolt. Now he would impersonate a maiden equipped for hunting or for war, and a little later would play the married woman. 8Thus by varying the style of his dress, and by the use of accessories and wigs, he achieved accuracy in many diverse parts; and he was eager to appear to be anything rather than a human being and an emperor. Once a Gaul, seeing him uttering oracles from a lofty platform in the guise of Jupiter, was moved to laughter, 9whereupon Gaius summoned him and inquired, “What do I seem to you to be?” And the other answered (I give his exact words): “A big humbug.” Yet the man met with no harm, for he was only a shoemaker. Thus it is, apparently, that persons of such rank as Gaius can bear the frankness of the common herd more easily than that of those who hold high position. 10The attire, now, that I have described was what he would assume whenever he pretended to be a god; and suitable supplications, prayers, and sacrifices would then be offered to him. At other times he usually appeared in public in silk or in triumphal dress. 27He used to kiss very few; for to most of the senators, even, he merely extended his hand or foot for homage. Consequently the men who were kissed by him thanked him for it even in the senate, and this in spite of the fact that he kissed actors every day in plain sight of everybody. 2And yet these honours paid to him as a god came not only from the multitude, accustomed at all times to flattering somebody, but from those also who stood in high repute.
The case of Lucius Vitellius is in point. This man was neither of low birth nor lacking in intelligence, but, on the contrary, had made a name for himself by his governorship of Syria. For, in addition to his other brilliant achievements during his term of office, 3he forestalled Artabanus, who was planning an attack on that province also, since he had suffered no punishment for his invasion of Armenia. He terrified the Parthian by coming upon him suddenly when he was already close to the Euphrates, and then induced him to come to a conference, compelled him to sacrifice to the images of Augustus and Gaius, and made a peace with him that was advantageous to the Romans, even securing his sons as hostages. 4This Vitellius, now, was summoned by Gaius to be put to death. The complaint against him was the same as the Parthians had against their king when they expelled him; for jealousy made him the object of hatred, and fear the object of plots. Gaius, of course, hated all who were stronger than himself, and he was suspicious of all who were successful, feeling sure that they would attack him. Yet Vitellius managed to save his life. 5He arrayed himself in a manner beneath his rank, then fell at the emperor’s feet with tears and lamentations, all the while calling him many divine names and paying him worship; and at last he vowed that if he were allowed to live he would offer sacrifice to him. 6By this behaviour he so mollified and soothed Gaius, that he not only managed to survive but even came to be regarded as one of Gaius’ most intimate friends. On one occasion, when Gaius claimed to be enjoying converse with the Moon, and asked Vitellius if he could see the goddess with him, the other, trembling as in awe, kept his eyes fixed on the ground and answered in a half whisper: “Only you gods, master, may behold one another.” So Vitellius, from this beginning, came later to surpass all others in adulation.
28Gaius ordered that a sacred precinct should be set apart for his worship at Miletus in the province of Asia. The reason he gave for choosing this city was that Diana had pre-empted Ephesus, Augustus Pergamum and Tiberius Smyrna; but the truth of the matter was that he desired to appropriate to his own use the large and exceedingly beautiful temple which the Milesians were building to Apollo. 2Thereupon he went to still greater lengths, and actually built in Rome itself two temples of his own, one that had been granted him by vote of the senate and another at his own expense on the Palatine. It seems that he had constructed a sort of lodge on the Capitoline, in order, as he said, that he might dwell with Jupiter; 3but disdaining to take second place in this union of households, and blaming the god for occupying the Capitoline ahead of him, he hastened to erect another temple on the Palatine, and wished to transfer to it the statue of the Olympian Zeus after remodelling it to resemble himself. 4But he found this to be impossible, for the ship built to bring it was shattered by thunderbolts, and loud laughter was heard every time that anybody approached as if to take hold of the pedestal; accordingly, after uttering threats against the statue, he set up a new one of himself. 5He cut in two the temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum and made through it an approach to the palace running directly between the two statues, in order, as he was wont to say, that he might have the Dioscuri for gate-keepers. Styling himself Jupiter Latiaris, he attached to his service as priests his wife Caesonia, Claudius, and other persons who were wealthy, receiving ten million sesterces from each of them in return for this honour. 6He also consecrated himself to his own service and appointed his horse a fellow-priest; and dainty and expensive birds were sacrificed to him daily. He had a contrivance by which he gave answering peals when it thundered and sent return flashes when it lightened. Likewise, whenever a bolt fell, he would in turn hurl a javelin at a rock, repeating each time the words of Homer, “Either lift me or I will thee.” 7When Caesonia bore a daughter only a month after her marriage, he pretended that this had come about through supernatural means, and gave himself airs over the fact that in so few days after becoming a husband he was now a father. He named the girl Drusilla, and taking her up to the Capitol placed her on the knees of Jupiter, thereby hinting that she was his child, and put her in charge of Minerva to be suckled.
8This god, now, this Jupiter (for he was called by these names so much at the last that they even found their way into documents) at the same time that he was doing all this was also collecting money in most shameful and dreadful ways. One might, indeed, pass over in silence the wares and the taverns, the prostitutes and the courts, the artisans and the wage-earning slaves, and other such sources, from which he collected every conceivable tribute; 9but how could one keep silent about the rooms set apart in the very palace, and the wives of the foremost men as well as the children of the most aristocratic families that he shut up in those rooms and subjected to outrage, using them as a means of milking everybody alike? Some of those who thus contributed to his need did so willingly, but others very much against their will, lest they should be thought to be vexed. 10The multitude, however, was not greatly displeased by these proceedings, but actually rejoiced with him in his licentiousness and in the fact that he used to throw himself each time on the gold and silver collected from these sources and roll in it. 11But when, after enacting severe laws in regard to the taxes, he inscribed them in exceedingly small letters on a tablet which he then hung up in a high place, so that it should be read by as few as possible and that many through ignorance of what was bidden or forbidden should lay themselves liable to the penalties provided, they straightway rushed together excitedly into the Circus and raised a terrible outcry.
Once when the people had come together in the Circus and were objecting to his conduct, he had them slain by the soldiers; after this all kept quiet.
29As he continued to play the madman in every way, a plot was formed against him by Cassius Chaerea and Cornelius Sabinus, though they were tribunes in the pretorian guard. There were a good many, of course, in the conspiracy and privy to what was being done, among them Callistus and the prefect.
2But the men who actually killed Gaius were those I have named. Chaerea was an old-fashioned sort of man to begin with, and he had his own special cause for resentment. For Gaius was in the habit of calling him a wench, though he was the hardiest of men, and whenever it was Chaerea’s turn to command the guard, would give him some such watchword as “Love” or “Venus.” 3Now an oracle had come to Gaius a short time before warning him to beware of Cassius, and, supposing that it had reference to Gaius Cassius, governor of Asia at the time, because he was a descendant of the Gaius Cassius who had slain Caesar, he caused him to be brought back as a prisoner; but the man whom Heaven was really indicating to Gaius was this Cassius Chaerea. 4Likewise an Egyptian, Apollonius, foretold in his native land the actual fate of Gaius; for this he was sent to Rome and was brought before the emperor the very day on which the latter was destined to die, but his punishment was postponed until a little later, and in this way his life was saved.
The deed was done on this wise. Gaius was celebrating a festival in the palace and was producing a spectacle. 5In the course of this he was both eating and drinking himself and was feasting the rest of the company. Even Pomponius Secundus, consul at the time, was taking his fill of food as he sat by the emperor’s feet, and at the same time kept bending over continually to shower kisses upon them.
For Chaerea and Sabinus, pained as they were by the disgraceful proceedings, nevertheless restrained themselves for five days. 6But when Gaius himself wished to dance and act a tragedy and for this purpose announced three more days of the entertainment, the followers of Chaerea could endure it no longer, but waiting merely till he went out of the theatre to see the boys of exalted birth whom he had summoned from Greece and Ionia ostensibly to sing the hymn composed in his honour, they intercepted him in a narrow passage and killed him. 7When he had fallen, none of the men present kept hands off him, but all fell to stabbing him savagely, even though he was dead; and some even tasted of his flesh. His wife and daughter were also promptly slain.
30Thus Gaius, after doing in three years, nine months, and twenty-eight days all that has been related, learned by actual experience that he was not a god.
2And when the pretorian guard became excited and began running about and inquiring who had slain Gaius, Valerius Asiaticus, an ex-consul, quieted them in a remarkable manner; he climbed up to a conspicuous place and cried: “Would that I had killed him!” This alarmed them so much that they stopped their outcry.
3All those who in any way acknowledged the authority of the senate, were true to their oaths and became quiet. While the scenes just described were being enacted around Gaius, the consuls, Sentius and Secundus, immediately transferred the funds from the treasuries to the Capitol. They stationed most of the senators and plenty of soldiers as guards over it to prevent any plundering from being done by the populace. So these men together with the prefects and the followers of Sabinus and Chaerea were deliberating what should be done.