1Claudius became emperor on this wise. After the murder of Gaius the consuls despatched guards to every part of the city and convened the senate on the Capitol, where many and diverse opinions were expressed; for some favoured a democracy, some a monarchy, and some were for choosing one man, and some another. 2In consequence they spent the rest of the day and the whole night without accomplishing anything. Meanwhile some soldiers who had entered the palace for the purpose of plundering found Claudius hidden away in a dark corner somewhere. 3He had been with Gaius when he came out of the theatre, and now, fearing the tumult, was crouching down out of the way. At first the soldiers, supposing that he was some one else or perhaps had something worth taking, dragged him forth; and then, on recognizing him, they hailed him emperor and conducted him to the camp. Afterwards they together with their comrades entrusted to him the supreme power, inasmuch as he was of the imperial family and was regarded as suitable.
4The consuls for a time sent tribunes and others forbidding him to do anything of the sort, but to submit to the authority of the people and of the senate and of the laws; when, however, the soldiers who were with them deserted them, then at last they, too, yielded and voted him all the remaining prerogatives pertaining to the sovereignty.
2Thus it was that Tiberius Claudius Nero Germanicus, the son of Drusus the son of Livia, obtained the imperial power without having been previously tested at all in any position of authority, except for the fact that he had been consul. He was in his fiftieth year.
In mental ability he was by no means inferior, as his faculties had been in constant training (in fact, he had actually written some historical treatises); but he was sickly in body, so that his head and hands shook slightly. 2Because of this his voice was also faltering, and he did not himself read all the measures that he introduced before the senate, but would give them to the quaestor to read, though at first, at least, he was generally present. Whatever he did read himself, he usually delivered sitting down. 3Furthermore, he was the first of the Romans to use a covered chair, and it is due to his example that to -day not only the emperors but we ex-consuls as well are carried in chairs; of course, even before his time Augustus, Tiberius, and some others had been carried in litters such as women still affect even at the present day. 4It was not these infirmities, however, that caused the deterioration in Claudius so much as it was the freedmen and the women with whom he associated; for he, more conspicuously than any of his peers, was ruled by slaves and by women. From a child he had been reared a constant prey to illness and great terror, and for that reason had feigned a stupidity greater than was really the case (a fact that he himself admitted in the senate); 5and he had lived for a long time with his grandmother Livia and for another long period with his mother Antonia and with the freedmen, and moreover he had had many amours with women. Hence he had acquired none of the qualities befitting a freeman, but, though ruler of all the Romans and their subjects, had become himself a slave. They would take advantage of him particularly when he was inclined to drink or to sexual intercourse, 6since he applied himself to both these vices insatiably and when so employed was exceedingly easy to master. Moreover, he was afflicted by cowardice, which often so overpowered him that he could not reason out anything as he ought. They seized upon this failing of his, too, to accomplish many of their purposes; 7for by frightening him they could use him fully for their own ends, and could at the same time inspire the rest with great terror. To give but a single example, once, when a large number of persons were invited to dinner on the same day by Claudius and by these associates, the guests neglected Claudius on one pretence or another, and flocked around the others.
3Though, generally speaking, he was such as I have described, still he did not a few things in a proper manner whenever he was free from the aforesaid weaknesses and was master of himself. I shall now take up his acts in detail.
2He promptly accepted all the honours that were voted to him, except the title of Father, and this he afterwards took; however, he did not enter the senate at once, but waited until the thirtieth day. For, seeing how Gaius had perished and learning that some others had been proposed by that body for the throne as being better men than he, he was disposed to be timid. Therefore he exercised great caution in everything; 3he caused all who came near him, men and women alike, to be searched, for fear they might have a dagger, and at banquets he was sure to have some soldiers present. The latter practice, thus established by him, continues to this day; but the indiscriminate searching of everybody came to an end under Vespasian. 4He put Chaerea and some others to death, in spite of his pleasure at the death of Gaius. For he was looking far ahead to insure his own safety, and so, instead of feeling grateful toward the man through whose deed he had gained the throne, he was displeased with him for having dared to slay an emperor. He acted in this matter, not as the avenger of Gaius, but as though he had caught Chaerea plotting against himself. 5And soon after Chaerea’s death Sabinus took his own life, not desiring to live after his comrade had been executed.
As for the others, however, who had openly shown their eagerness for a democracy or had been regarded as eligible for the throne, Claudius, far from bearing malice toward them, actually gave them honours and offices. In plainer terms than any ruler that ever lived he promised them immunity, therein imitating the example of the Athenians, as he said, and it was no mere promise, but he afforded it in actual fact. 6He abolished the charge of maiestas not only in the case of writings but in the case of overt acts as well, and punished no one on this ground for offences committed either before this time or later. 7As for those who had wronged or insulted him when he was a private citizen,—and there were many who had behaved thus toward him, both because he had been held in no esteem, and also, more especially, in order to please either Tiberius or Gaius,—he did not prosecute them on any fictitious charge, but if he found them guilty of some other crime, he would take vengeance on them at the same time for their former abuse. 4The taxes introduced in the reign of Gaius and any other measures that had led to denunciation of that ruler’s acts were abolished by Claudius,—not all at once, to be sure, but as opportunity offered in each case. He also brought back those whom Gaius had unjustly exiled, including the latter’s sisters Agrippina and Julia, and restored to them their property. 2Of the persons in prison—and a very large number were thus confined—he liberated those who had been put there for maiestas and similar charges, but punished those who were guilty of actual wrongdoing. For he investigated all the cases very carefully, in order that those who had committed crimes should not be released along with those who had been falsely accused, nor the latter, on the other hand, perish along with the former. 3Almost every day, either in company with the whole senate or alone, he would sit on a tribunal trying cases, usually in the Forum, but sometimes elsewhere; for he renewed the practice of having advisers sit with him, a practice that had been abandoned from the time that Tiberius withdrew to his island. 4He also frequently joined the consuls and the praetors, especially those who had the oversight of the finances, in their investigations, and very few, indeed, were the cases that he turned over to the other courts. 5He destroyed the poisons which were found in abundance in the residence of Gaius; and the books of Protogenes (who was put to death), together with the papers which Gaius pretended he had burned, but which were actually found in the palace, he first showed to the senators and then gave them to the very men most concerned, both those who had written them and those against whom they had been written, to be read by them, after which he burned them up. And yet, when the senate desired to dishonour Gaius, he personally prevented the passage of the measure, but on his own responsibility caused all his predecessor’s images to disappear by night. 6Hence the name of Gaius does not occur in the list of emperors whom we mention in our oaths and prayers any more than does that of Tiberius; and yet neither one of them suffered disgrace by official decree.
5Claudius, accordingly, undid the unjust acts performed by Gaius and by others at his instigation. To his father Drusus and to his mother Antonia he granted games in the Circus on their birthdays, postponing to different days the festivals which normally occurred at the same time, in order that there should not be two celebrations at once. 2His grandmother Livia he not only honoured with equestrian contests but also deified; and he set up a statue to her in the temple of Augustus, charging the Vestal Virgins with the duty of offering the proper sacrifices, and he ordered that women should use her name in taking oaths. 3But, though he paid such reverence to his ancestors, he would accept nothing for himself beyond the titles belonging to his office. It is true that on the first day of August, which was his birthday, there were equestrian contests, but they were not given on his account; it was rather because the temple of Mars had been dedicated on that day and this event had been celebrated thereafter by annual contests. 4Besides his moderation in this respect, he further forbade any one to worship him or to offer him any sacrifice; he checked the many excessive acclamations accorded him; and he accepted, at first, only one image, and that a silver one, and two statues, of bronze and marble, that had been voted to him. 5All such expenditures, he declared, were useless and furthermore caused great loss and embarrassment to the city. In fact, all the temples and all the other public buildings had become filled with statues and votive offerings, so that he said he would consider what to do even with them. 6He ordered the praetors not to give the customary gladiatorial exhibitions, and also commanded that if any one else gave them in any place whatsoever, it should at least not be recorded or reported that they were being given for the emperor’s preservation. He became so used to settling all these matters by his judgment, and not by precedent, that he arranged other affairs in this manner. 7For example, when in this same year he betrothed one of his daughters to Lucius Junius Silanus and gave the other in marriage to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, he did nothing out of the ordinary to celebrate either event; on the contrary, he himself held court on those days and the senate met as usual. 8He ordered his sons-in -law to hold office for the time being among the Vigintiviri and later to act as prefects of the city at the Feriae; and it was not until much later that he gave them permission to stand for the other offices five years earlier than was customary. Gaius had taken away from this Pompeius his title of Magnus 9and, indeed, had come very near killing him because he was so named; yet out of contempt for him, since he was still but a boy, he did not go to that length, but merely abolished his cognomen, saying that it was not safe for him that any one should be called Magnus. Claudius now not only restored to him his former title but also gave him his daughter to wife.
6In all this, then, his course was satisfactory. Furthermore, when in the senate the consuls once came down from their seats to talk with him, he rose in his turn and went to meet them. And, for that matter, in Neapolis he lived altogether like an ordinary citizen; 2for both he and his associates adopted the Greek manner of life in all respects, wearing a cloak and high boots, for example, at the musical exhibitions, and a purple mantle and golden crown at the gymnastic contests. 3Moreover, his attitude toward money was remarkable. For he forbade any one to bring him contributions, as had been the practice under Augustus and Gaius, and ordered that no one who had any relatives at all should name him as his heir; he furthermore gave back the sums that had previously been confiscated under Tiberius and Gaius, either to the victims themselves, if they still survived, or otherwise to their children.
4It had been the custom that if any detail whatsoever in connexion with the festivals was carried out contrary to precedent, they should be given over again, as I have stated. But since such repetitions were frequent, occurring a third, fourth, fifth, and sometimes a tenth time, partly, to be sure, as the result of accident, but generally by deliberate intent on the part of those who were benefited by these repetitions, 5Claudius enacted a law that the equestrian contests in case of a second exhibition should occupy only one day; and in actual practice he usually prevented any repetition at all. For the schemers were not so ready to commit irregularities now that they gained very little by doing so.
6As for the Jews, who had again increased so greatly that by reason of their multitude it would have been hard without raising a tumult to bar them from the city, he did not drive them out, but ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings. He also disbanded the clubs, which had been reintroduced by Gaius. 7Moreover, seeing that there was no use in forbidding the populace to do certain things unless their daily life should be reformed, he abolished the taverns where they were wont to gather and drink, and commanded that no boiled meat or hot water should be sold; and he punished some who disobeyed in this matter.
8He restored to the various cities the statues which Gaius had ordered them to send to Rome, and he also restored to Castor and Pollux their temple, and placed Pompey’s name once more upon his theatre. On the stage of the latter he inscribed also the name of Tiberius, because that emperor had rebuilt the structure after it had been burned. 9His own name also he carved on the stage (not because he had built it, but because he had dedicated it), but on no other building. Furthermore, he did not wear the triumphal dress throughout the entire festival, though permission to do so had been voted, but appeared in it merely when offering the sacrifice; the rest of the festival he superintended clad in the purple-bordered toga.
7He forced to appear on the stage any knights and others, together with women of similar rank, who had been accustomed to do so in the reign of Gaius, but he did this, not because he took any pleasure in their performance, but to expose and reprove their conduct in the past; certain it is at least that none of them appeared again on the stage during the reign of Claudius. 2The Pyrrhic dance, which the boys sent for by Gaius were practising, was performed by them once, after which they were rewarded with citizenship for it and then sent back home; but others, chosen from among his retinue, later gave exhibitions. 3So much for what took place in the theatre. In the Circus there was one contest with camels and twelve with horses, and three hundred bears and the same number of Libyan beasts were slain. Previously to this each of the three classes, senatorial, equestrian, and the populace, had sat apart by itself while watching the games; this had long been the practice, and yet no definite positions had been assigned to them. 4But Claudius now set apart for the senators the section which still belongs to them, and he furthermore permitted any members who so desired to sit elsewhere and even to appear in citizen’s dress. After this he banqueted the senators and their wives, the knights, and also the tribes.
8Next he restored Commagene to Antiochus, since Gaius, though he had himself given him the district, had taken it away again; and Mithridates the Iberian, whom Gaius had summoned and imprisoned, was sent home again to resume his throne. 2To another Mithridates, a lineal descendant of Mithridates the Great, he granted Bosporus, giving to Polemon some land in Cilicia in place of it. He enlarged the domain of Agrippa of Palestine, who, happening to be in Rome, had helped him to become emperor, and bestowed on him the rank of consul; 3and to his brother Herod he gave the rank of praetor and a principality. And he permitted them to enter the senate and to express their thanks to him in Greek.
4The acts I have named, now, were the acts of Claudius himself, and they were praised by everybody; but certain other things were done at this time of quite a different nature by his freedmen and by his wife Valeria Messalina. 5The latter became enraged at her niece Julia because she neither paid her honour nor flattered her; and she was also jealous because the girl was extremely beautiful and was often alone with Claudius. Accordingly, she secured her banishment by trumping up various charges against her, including that of adultery (for which Annaeus Seneca was also exiled), and not long afterward even compassed her death. 6The freedmen, on their part, persuaded Claudius to accept the ornamenta triumphalia for his exploits in Mauretania, though he had not gained any success and had not yet come to the throne when the war was finished. 7This same year, however, Sulpicius Galba overcame the Chatti, and Publius Gabinius conquered the Cauchi and as a crowning achievement recovered a military eagle, the only one that still remained in the hands of the enemy from Varus’ disaster. Thanks to the exploits of these two men Claudius now received the well-merited title of imperator.
9The next year the same Moors again made war and were subdued. Suetonius Paulinus, one of the ex-praetors, overran their country in turn as far as Mount Atlas, and after him Gnaeus Hosidius Geta, a man of the same rank, made a campaign, marching at once against their general Salabus and defeating him on two different occasions. 2When Salabus thereupon left a few soldiers near the frontier to hold back any pursuers and took refuge himself in the desert, Geta ventured to follow him. First stationing a part of his army opposite the detachment that was lying in wait, he pushed forward after providing himself with all the water possible. 3But when this began to give out and no more was to be had, he found himself in the direst straits. For the barbarians, on their part, could hold out a long time anyway against thirst as the result of habit, and moreover could always get at least some water by reason of their familiarity with the country, and so they managed to get along; whereas the Romans, for the opposite reasons, found it impossible to advance and difficult even to retreat. 4While Geta, then, was in a quandary as to what he should do, one of the natives who were at peace with the invaders persuaded him to try some incantations and enchantments, telling him that as the result of such rites abundant water had often been given to his people. No sooner had Geta followed this advice than so much rain fell from the sky as to allay the soldiers’ thirst completely and at the same time to alarm the enemy, who thought that Heaven was coming to the assistance of the Roman general. 5Consequently they came to terms voluntarily and ended their warfare. After these events Claudius divided the subject Moors into two districts, the first embracing the region around Tingis and the other that around Caesarea, from which cities the districts are named; and he appointed two knights as governors over them. 6At this same period certain parts of Numidia also were attacked by the neighbouring barbarians, and then, when the latter had been defeated in battle, became quiet once more.
10Claudius was now consul with Gaius Largus. He allowed his colleague to serve for the whole year, but he himself retained the office for only two months at this time also. He made the others swear to uphold the acts of Augustus and took the oath himself, but with respect to his own acts he permitted nothing of the sort on the part of any of them; and on leaving office he again took the oath after the manner of the rest. 2This was always his practice every time that he was consul. He now abolished the custom, established by decree, of reading certain speeches of Augustus and Tiberius on New Year’s day; for this procedure had kept the senators occupied until evening, and he declared that it was enough that the speeches were engraved on tablets. 3When some of the praetors who were entrusted with the financial administration incurred charges, he did not prosecute them, but visited them when they were making sales and executing leases and corrected whatever he regarded as an abuse; and he also took the same course in numerous other instances. 4The number of praetors appointed was not uniform; for now there would be fourteen and now eighteen, and again some number in between, just as it happened. Besides his action in the matter of the finances, he established a board of three ex-praetors to collect debts owed to the government, granting them lictors and the other customary assistants.
11On the occasion of a severe famine he considered the problem of providing an abundant food-supply, not only for that particular crisis but for all future time. 2For practically all the grain used by the Romans was imported, and yet the region near the mouth of the Tiber had no safe landing-places or suitable harbours, so that their mastery of the sea was rendered useless to them. Except for the cargoes brought in during the summer season and stored in warehouses, they had no supplies for the winter; for if any one ever risked a voyage at that season, he was sure to meet with disaster. 3In view of this situation, Claudius undertook to construct a harbour, and would not be deterred even when the architects, upon his enquiring how great the cost would be, answered, “You don’t want to do it!” so confident were they that the huge expenditures necessary would shake him from his purpose, if he should learn the cost beforehand. He, however, conceived an undertaking worthy of the dignity and greatness of Rome, and he brought it to accomplishment. 4In the first place, he excavated a very considerable tract of land, built retaining walls on every side of the excavation, and then let the sea into it; secondly, in the sea itself he constructed huge moles on both sides of the entrance and thus enclosed a large body of water, in the midst of which he reared an island and placed on it a tower with a beacon light. 5This harbour, then, as it is still called in local parlance, was created by him at this time. He furthermore desired to make an outlet into the Liris for the Fucine Lake in the Marsian country, in order not only that the land around it might be tilled but also that the river might be made more navigable. But the money was expended in vain.
6He introduced a number of laws, most of which I need not mention; but I will record the following. The governors who were chosen by lot were to set out before the first day of April; for they had been in the habit of tarrying a long time in the city. And he would not permit those who were directly appointed to express any thanks to him in the senate, 7as it was their custom to do, for he declared: “These men ought not to thank me, as if they had been seeking office, but I should rather thank them, because they cheerfully help me to bear the burden of government; and if they acquit themselves well in office, I shall praise them much more still.” 8Those who by reason of insufficient means were unable to be senators he permitted to resign, and he admitted some of the knights to the tribuneship; all the rest without exception he compelled to appear in the senate-chamber as often as notice should be given them. And he was so severe against those who were remiss in this regard that some killed themselves. 12In other respects, however, he was sociable and considerate in his dealings with them; he would visit them in sickness and would share in their festivities. 2When a tribune beat a slave of the emperor in public, Claudius did the offender no harm, merely depriving him of his attendants, and these he restored not long afterward. He sent another of his slaves to the Forum and caused him to be severely flogged because he had insulted a prominent man. 3In the senate the emperor would rise himself in case the others had been standing a long time; for by reason of his ill health he frequently remained seated, as I have related, and read his advice, if asked for it. He even permitted Lucius Sulla to sit on the praetors’ bench because this man, being unable at one time by reason of his age to hear something from his regular seat, had stood up. 4On the first anniversary of the day on which he had been declared emperor he did nothing out of the ordinary, except to give the Pretorians a hundred sesterces, a thing that he did every year thereafter. Some of the praetors, however, of their own free will and not because of any decree, publicly celebrated not only that day but also the birthday of Messalina. 5Not all of them did this, but only such as saw fit; so great freedom of action did they enjoy. Indeed, Claudius showed so great moderation in all such matters that when a son was born to him (called at that time Claudius Tiberius Germanicus, but later also Britannicus), he did not make the occasion in any way conspicuous and would permit neither the title of Augustus to be given to the boy nor that of Augusta to Messalina.
13He was constantly giving gladiatorial contests; for he took great pleasure in them, so that he even aroused criticism on this score. Very few wild beasts perished, but a great many human beings did, some of them fighting with one another and others being devoured by the animals. 2For the emperor cordially detested the slaves and freedmen who in the reigns of Tiberius and Gaius had conspired against their masters, as well as those who had laid information against others without cause or had borne false witness against them, and he accordingly got rid of most of them in the manner related, though he punished some in another way, and handed many over to their masters themselves for punishment. 3So great, indeed, was the number becoming of those who were publicly executed, that the statue of Augustus which stood on the spot was taken elsewhere, so that it should not either seem to be witnessing the bloodshed or else be always covered up. By this action Claudius brought ridicule upon himself, as he was gorging himself upon the very sights that he did not think it fitting for even the inanimate bronze to seem to behold. 4He used to delight especially in watching those who were cut down during the intermission in the spectacle at lunch time; and yet he had put to death a lion that had been trained to eat men and therefore greatly pleased the crowd, claiming that it was not fitting for Romans to gaze on such a sight. 5But for certain acts he was loudly praised—for mingling freely with the people at the spectacles, for providing them with all they wanted, and also because he made very little use of heralds but instead announced most events by means of notices written on boards.
14After he had become accustomed, then, to feast his fill on blood and carnage, he had recourse more readily to other kinds of murder. The imperial freedmen and Messalina were responsible for this; for whenever they desired to obtain any one’s death, they would terrify Claudius and as a result would be allowed to do everything they chose. 2Often, when in a moment of sudden alarm his immediate terror had led him to order some one’s death, he afterwards, when he recovered and came to his senses, would search for the man and on learning what had happened would be grieved and repentant. He began this series of murders with Gaius Appius Silanus. 3He had sent for this man, who was of very noble family, and governor of Spain at the time, pretending that he required a service of him, had married him to Messalina’s mother, and had for some time held him in honour among those nearest and dearest to him. Then he suddenly killed him. The reason was that Silanus had offended Messalina, the most abandoned and lustful of women, in refusing to lie with her, and by this slight shown to her had alienated Narcissus, the emperor’s freedman. 4As they had no true or even plausible charge to bring against him, Narcissus invented a dream in which he declared he had seen Claudius murdered by the hand of Silanus; then at early dawn, while the emperor was still in bed, trembling all over he related to him the dream, and Messalina, taking up the matter, exaggerated its significance.
15Thus Silanus perished because of a mere vision. After his death the Romans no longer cherished fair hopes of Claudius, and Annius Vinicianus with some others straightway formed a plot against him. Annius was one of those who had been proposed for the throne after the death of Gaius, and it was partly fear inspired by this circumstance that caused him to rebel. 2As he possessed no military force, however, he sent to Furius Camillus Scribonianus, the governor of Dalmatia, who had a large body of citizen and foreign troops, and enlisted his support; for Camillus was already making his own plans for an uprising, more especially because he had been spoken of for emperor. 3When Annius had got thus far, many senators and knights flocked to him; but they were of no avail, for the soldiers, when Camillus held out to them the hope of seeing the republic restored and promised to give back to them their ancient freedom, suspected that they should have trouble and strife once more, and would therefore no longer listen to him. At this he became frightened and fled from them, and coming to the island of Issa he there took his life. 4Claudius for a time had been in great terror, and had been ready to abdicate his power voluntarily in Camillus’ favour; but he now recovered courage. He first rewarded the soldiers in various ways, especially by causing the legions composed of citizens (the seventh and the eleventh) to be named Claudian and Loyal and Patriotic by the senate. Then he sought out those who had plotted against him, and on this charge put many to death, among others a praetor, who first was made to resign his office. 5Several, indeed, including Vinicianus, committed suicide. For Messalina and Narcissus and all the latter’s fellow-freedmen seized this opportunity to wreak their direst vengeance. They employed slaves and freedmen, for instance, as informers against their own masters. 6These masters and others of the highest birth, foreigners and citizens alike, and not only plebeians, but some of the knights and senators as well, were put to the torture, in spite of the fact that Claudius at the very beginning of his reign had sworn not to torture any freeman. 16Many men, therefore, and women, too, were executed at this time, some of the latter even meeting their fate in the very prison itself. And when they were to die, the women, too, were led in chains upon a scaffold, like captives, and their bodies, also, were thrown out upon the Stairway; for in the case of those who were executed anywhere outside the city, only the heads were exhibited there. 2Some of the most guilty, nevertheless, by means of favours or bribes saved their lives with the help of Messalina and the imperial freedmen in the following of Narcissus. All the sons of those who were put to death were granted immunity and some also received money. 3The accused were tried in the senate in the presence of Claudius, the prefects and the freedmen. He would read the charge seated between the consuls on a chair of state or on a bench; then he would go to his accustomed seat and chairs would be placed for the consuls. This same procedure was followed on other occasions of great importance.
4It was at this time that Galaesus, a freedman of Camillus, upon being brought before the senate, indulged in great freedom of speech generally, and made one remark in particular that is worth reporting. 5Narcissus had taken the floor and said to him: “What would you have done, Galaesus, if Camillus had become emperor?” He replied: “I would have stood behind him and kept my mouth shut.” So he became famous for this remark, as did Arria for another. 6This woman, who was the wife of Caecina Paetus, refused to live after he had been put to death, although, being on very intimate terms with Messalina, she might have occupied a position of some honour. Moreover, when her husband displayed cowardice, she strengthened his resolution; for she took the sword and wounded herself, then? handed it to him, saying: “See, Paetus, I feel no pain.” 7These two persons, then, were accorded praise; for by reason of the long succession of woes matters had now come to such a pass, that excellence no longer meant anything else than dying nobly. But as for Claudius, he was so intent upon punishing those mentioned and others that he constantly gave to the soldiers as a watchword that verse about its being necessary “to avenge yourself upon one who first has injured you.” 8He kept throwing out many other hints of that sort in Greek both to them and to the senate, with the result that those who could understand any of them laughed at him. These were some of the events of that period. Also the tribunes upon the death of one of their number convened the senate themselves for the purpose of appointing his successor, even though the consuls were at hand.
17When Claudius now became consul again, for the third time, he abolished many days of thanksgiving and many holidays. For the greater part of the year was being given up to them, with no small detriment to the public business. 2Besides thus curtailing the holidays, he retrenched in all other ways that he could. What had been given away by Gaius without any justice or reason he demanded back from the recipients; but he gave back to the highway commissioners the amount of the fines they had paid in the reign of Gaius at the instigation of Corbulo. 3Moreover, he gave notice to the governors chosen by the lot, since they were slow even now about leaving the city, that they must begin their journey before the middle of April. He reduced the Lycians to servitude because they had revolted and slain some Romans, and he incorporated them in the prefecture of Pamphylia. 4During the investigation of this affair, which was conducted in the senate, he put a question in Latin to one of the envoys who had originally been a Lycian, but had been made a Roman citizen; and when the man failed to understand what was said, he took away his citizenship, saying that it was not proper for a man to be a Roman who had no knowledge of the Romans’ language. 5A great many other persons unworthy of citizenship were also deprived of it, whereas he granted citizenship to others quite indiscriminately, sometimes to individuals and sometimes to whole groups. For inasmuch as Romans had the advantage over foreigners in practically all respects, many sought the franchise by personal application to the emperor, and many bought it from Messalina and the imperial freedmen. 6For this reason, though the privilege was at first sold only for large sums, it later became so cheapened by the facility with which it could be obtained that it came to be a common saying, that a man could become a citizen by giving the right person some bits of broken glass. 7For his course in this matter, therefore, Claudius brought ridicule upon himself; but he was praised for his conduct in another direction. It seems that information was being laid against many of the new citizens, in some instances to the effect that they were not adopting Claudius’ name, and in others that they were not leaving him anything at their death—it being incumbent, they said, upon those who obtained citizenship from him to do both these things. Claudius now forbade that any one should be called to account on these grounds. 8Messalina and his freedmen kept offering for sale and peddling out not merely the franchise and military commands, procuratorships, and governorships, but also everything in general, to such an extent that there was a scarcity of all wares; and as a result Claudius was compelled to muster the populace in the Campus Martius, and there from a raised platform to fix the prices of the various articles. 9Claudius also gave a gladiatorial contest at the camp, on which occasion he wore a military cloak. His son’s birthday was observed by the praetors on their own initiative with a spectacle and dinners. This was also done on later occasions, at least by such of them as chose to do so.
18In the meantime Messalina was not only exhibiting her own licentiousness but was also compelling the other women to show themselves equally unchaste. 2She made many of them commit adultery in the very palace itself while their husbands were present and looked on. Such men she loved and cherished and rewarded them with honours and offices; but others, who would not offer their wives for such business, she hated and brought to destruction in every possible way. These deeds, however, though of such a nature and carried on so openly, for a long time escaped the notice of Claudius; 3for Messalina took care of him by giving him sundry housemaids to lie with, and took care of those who could give him any information by either showing them favours or inflicting punishment upon them. For example, she put out of the way at this time Catonius Justus, commander of the praetorian guard, before he could carry out his intention of telling the emperor something about these doings. 4And becoming jealous of Julia, the daughter of Drusus, Tiberius’ son, and later the wife of Nero Germanicus, just as she had been jealous of the other Julia, she caused her to be slain. Also at this time one of the knights, who was charged with having conspired against Claudius, was hurled down from the Capitoline by the tribunes and the consuls.
19While these events were happening in the city, Aulus Plautius, a senator of great renown, made a campaign against Britain; for a certain Bericus, who had been driven out of the island as the result of an uprising, had persuaded Claudius to send a force thither. 2Thus it came about that Plautius undertook this campaign; but he had difficulty in inducing his army to advance beyond Gaul. For the soldiers were indignant at the thought of carrying on a campaign outside the limits of the known world, and would not yield him obedience until Narcissus, who had been sent out by Claudius, mounted the tribunal of Plautius and attempted to address them. 3Then they became much angrier at this and would not allow Narcissus to say a word, but suddenly shouted with one accord the well-known cry, “Io Saturnalia” (for at the festival of Saturn the slaves don their masters’ dress and hold festival), and at once right willingly followed Plautius. Their delay, however, had made their departure late in the season. 4They were sent over in three divisions, in order that they should not be hindered in landing,—as might happen to a single force,—and in their voyage across they first became discouraged because they were driven back in their course, and then plucked up courage because a flash of light rising in the east shot across to the west, the direction in which they were sailing. So they put in to the island and found none to oppose them. 5For the Britons as a result of their inquiries had not expected that they would come, and had therefore not assembled beforehand. And even when they did assemble, they would not come to close quarters with the Romans, but took refuge in the swamps and the forests, hoping to wear out the invaders in fruitless effort, so that, just as in the days of Julius Caesar, they should sail back with nothing accomplished.
20Plautius, accordingly, had a deal of trouble in searching them out; but when at last he did find them, he first defeated Caratacus and then Togodumnus, the sons of Cynobellinus, who was dead. 2(The Britons were not free and independent, but were divided into groups under various kings.) After the flight of these kings he gained by capitulation a part of the Bodunni, who were ruled by a tribe of the Catuellani; and leaving a garrison there, he advanced farther and came to a river. The barbarians thought that the Romans would not be able to cross it without a bridge, and consequently bivouacked in rather careless fashion on the opposite bank; but he sent across a detachment of Germans, who were accustomed to swim easily in full armour across the most turbulent streams. 3These fell unexpectedly upon the enemy, but instead of shooting at any of the men they confined themselves to wounding the horses that drew their chariots; and in the confusion that followed not even the enemy’s mounted warriors could save themselves. Plautius thereupon sent across Flavius Vespasian also (the man who afterwards became emperor) and his brother Sabinus, who was acting as his lieutenant. 4So they, too, got across the river in some way and killed many of the foe, taking them by surprise. The survivors, however, did not take to flight, but on the next day joined issue with them again. The struggle was indecisive until Gnaeus Hosidius Geta, after narrowly missing being captured, finally managed to defeat the barbarians so soundly that he received the ornamenta triumphalia, though he had not been consul. 5Thence the Britons retired to the river Thames at a point near where it empties into the ocean and at flood-tide forms a lake. This they easily crossed because they knew where the firm ground and the easy passages in this region were to be found; 6but the Romans in attempting to follow them were not so successful. However, the Germans swam across again and some others got over by a bridge a little way up-stream, after which they assailed the barbarians from several sides at once and cut down many of them. In pursuing the remainder incautiously, they got into swamps from which it was difficult to make their way out, and so lost a number of men.
21Shortly afterwards Togodumnus perished, but the Britons, so far from yielding, united all the more firmly to avenge his death. Because of this fact and because of the difficulties he had encountered at the Thames, Plautius became afraid, and instead of advancing any farther, proceeded to guard what he had already won, and sent for Claudius. 2For he had been instructed to do this in case he met with any particularly stubborn resistance, and, in fact, extensive equipment, including elephants, had already been got together for the expedition.
When the message reached him, Claudius entrusted affairs at home, including the command of the troops, to his colleague Lucius Vitellius, whom he had caused to remain in office like himself for a whole half-year; and he himself then set out for the front. 3He sailed down the river to Ostia, and from there followed the coast to Massilia; thence, advancing partly by land and partly along the rivers, he came to the ocean and crossed over to Britain, where he joined the legions that were waiting for him near the Thames. 4Taking over the command of these, he crossed the stream, and engaging the barbarians, who had gathered at his approach, he defeated them in battle and captured Camulodunum, the capital of Cynobellinus. Thereupon he won over numerous tribes, in some cases by capitulation, in others by force, and was saluted as imperator several times, contrary to precedent; 5for no one man may receive this title more than once for one and the same war. He deprived the conquered of their arms and handed them over to Plautius, bidding him also subjugate the remaining districts. Claudius himself now hastened back to Rome, sending ahead the news of his victory by his sons-in -law Magnus and Silanus. The senate 22on learning of his achievement gave him the title of Britannicus and granted him permission to celebrate a triumph. They voted also that there should be an annual festival to commemorate the event and that two triumphal arches should be erected, one in the city and the other in Gaul, because it was from that country that he had set sail when he crossed over to Britain. 2They bestowed upon his son the same title as upon him, and, in fact, Britannicus came to be in a way the boy’s regular name. Messalina was granted the same privilege of occupying front seats that Livia had enjoyed and also that of using the carpentum.
3These were the honours the senate bestowed upon the reigning family; but they hated the memory of Gaius so much that they decreed that all the bronze coinage which had his likeness stamped upon it should be melted down. And yet, though this was done, the bronze was converted to no better use, for Messalina made statues of Mnester, the actor, out of it. 4For inasmuch as he had once been on intimate terms with Gaius, she made this offering as a mark of gratitude for his consenting to lie with her. For she was desperately enamoured of him, and when she found herself unable in any way either by making him promises or by frightening him to persuade him to have intercourse with her, she had a talk with her husband and asked him that the man should be compelled to obey her, pretending that she wanted his help for some different purpose. 5Claudius accordingly told Mnester to do whatever he should be ordered to do by Messalina; and thus it came about that he lay with her, in the belief that this was the thing he had been commanded to do by her husband. Messalina also adopted this same method with various other men and committed adultery, feigning that Claudius knew what was going on and countenanced her unchastity.
23Portions of Britain, then, were captured at this time in the manner described. Later, when Gaius Crispus and Titus Statilius were consuls (the former for the second time), Claudius came to Rome after an absence of six months, of which he had spent only sixteen days in Britain, and celebrated his triumph. In this he followed precedent, even ascending the steps of the Capitol on his knees, with his sons-in -law supporting him on either side. 2To the senators who had taken part in the campaign with him he granted the ornamenta triumphalia, and this not alone to the ex-consuls but to the rest as well, a thing he was accustomed to do most lavishly on other occasions on the slightest excuse. To Rufrius Pollio, the prefect, he granted an image and a seat in the senate as often as he should go in to that body with the emperor; 3and lest he should appear to be making an innovation in this respect, he declared that Augustus had done the same thing in the case of a certain Valerius, a Ligurian. He also distinguished Laco, the former prefect of the night-watch and now procurator of the Gauls, in this same manner and also by giving him the rank of an ex-consul. 4Having attended to these matters, he held the triumphal festival, assuming a kind of consular power for the occasion. The festival was celebrated in both theatres at the same time; and in the course of the spectacles he often absented himself while others took charge in his place. 5He had announced as many horse-races as could take place in a day, yet there were not more than ten of them. For between the different races bears were slain, athletes contested, and boys summoned from Asia performed the Pyrrhic dance. 6Another festival, likewise in honour of his victory, was given by the artists of the stage with the consent of the senate. All this was done on account of the successes in Britain; and in order that other peoples should more readily come to terms, it was voted that all the agreements that Claudius or his lieutenants should make with any peoples should be binding, the same as if made by the senate and people.
24Achaia and Macedonia, which ever since the reign of Tiberius had been assigned to governors directly appointed, Claudius now made to depend upon the lot once more. He also did away with the praetors in charge of the finances, putting the business in the hands of quaestors, as it had been of old; 2these quaestors, however, were not annual magistrates, as had been the case with them previously and with the praetors subsequently, but the same two men attended to the business for three whole years. Some of these quaestors secured the praetorship immediately afterward and others drew a salary according to the estimate placed upon their administration of the office. 3The quaestors, then, were given charge of the finances in place of governorships in Italy outside of the city (for Claudius abolished all the latter positions); and to the praetors in place of their former duties were entrusted various judicial cases which the consuls had previously tried. The men serving in the army, since they could not legally have wives, were granted the privileges of married men. 4Marcus Julius Cottius received an addition to his ancestral domain, which lay in that part of the Alps that bears his family name, and he was now for the first time called king. The Rhodians were deprived of their liberty because they had impaled some Romans. 5Umbonius Silio, governor of Baetica, was summoned and expelled from the senate because he had sent too little grain to the soldiers then serving in Mauretania. At any rate, that was the accusation made against him; but it was not the true reason, for his treatment was really due to his having offended some of the freedmen. 6He accordingly brought all his furniture, which was considerable in amount and very beautiful, to the auction place, as if he were going to call for bids on all of it; but he sold only his senatorial dress, thereby indicating to them that he had suffered no great loss and could enjoy life as a private citizen. 7Besides these events of that year, the weekly market was transferred to a different day because of some religious rites; and this also happened on many other occasions.
25The next year Marcus Vinicius and Statilius Corvinus became consuls, the former for a second time. Claudius himself took all the customary oaths, but prevented the rest from taking oath individually. 2Accordingly, as in earlier times, one of the praetors, one of the tribunes, and one from each of the other groups of officials recited the oaths for their colleagues. This practice was followed for several years. In view of the fact that the city was becoming filled with a great multitude of images (for any who wished were free to have their likenesses appear in public in a painting or in bronze or marble), 3Claudius removed most of them elsewhere and for the future forbade that any private citizen should be allowed to follow the practice, except by permission of the senate or unless he should have built or repaired some public work; for he permitted such persons and their relatives to have their images set up in the places in question. 4After banishing the governor of one of the provinces for venality, the emperor confiscated to public uses all the profits which the man had made while in office. 5And in order to prevent such officials from eluding those who wished to bring them to trial, he would not give anybody an office immediately after his retirement from another. This, in fact, had been the custom in earlier days also, in order that anybody might freely institute suit against such officials in the intervening period; indeed, after their terms had expired, they were not even permitted to make trips away from the city in immediate succession, since it was intended that if they were guilty of any irregularity, they should not gain the further benefit of escaping investigation either by holding new offices or by absence from the city. This custom, however, had fallen into disuse. 6So carefully, now, did Claudius guard against both possibilities that he would not even permit one who had acted as assessor to a governor to draw lots at once for the governorship of a province that would naturally fall to him; nevertheless, he allowed some of them to govern for two years, and in some cases he sent out men appointed by himself. Those who requested the privilege of leaving Italy were given permission by Claudius on his own responsibility without action on the part of the senate; yet, in order to appear to be doing this under some form of law, he ordered that a decree should be passed sanctioning this procedure; 7and a similar vote was passed the next year also. He now celebrated the festival of thanksgiving which he had vowed for the success of his campaign. To the populace supported by public dole he gave three hundred sesterces apiece, and in some instances more, so that a few received as much as twelve hundred and fifty sesterces. 8He did not, however, distribute it all in person, but his sons-in -law assisted him, because the distribution lasted several days and he desired to hold court during this time. In the case of the Saturnalia he restored the fifth day, which had been designated by Gaius but later abolished.
26Since there was to be an eclipse of the sun on his birthday, he feared that there might be some disturbance in consequence, inasmuch as some other portents had already occurred; he therefore issued a proclamation in which he stated not only the fact that there was to be an eclipse, and when, and for how long, but also the reasons for which this was bound to happen. 2These reasons I will now give. The moon, which revolves in its orbit below the sun (or so it is believed), either directly below it or perhaps with Mercury and Venus intervening, has a longitudinal motion, just as the sun has, and a vertical motion, as the other perhaps likewise has, but it has also a latitudinal motion such as the sun never shows under any conditions. 3When, therefore, the moon gets in a direct line with the sun over our heads and passes under its blazing orb, it obscures the rays from that body that extend toward the earth. To some of the earth’s inhabitants this obscuration lasts for a longer and to others for a shorter time, whereas to still others it does not occur for even the briefest moment. 4For since the sun always has a light of its own, it is never deprived of it, and consequently to all those between whom and the sun the moon does not pass, so as to throw a shadow over it, it always appears entire. This, then, is what happens to the sun, and it was made public by Claudius at that time. 5But now that I have once touched upon this subject, it will not be out of place to give the explanation of a lunar eclipse also. Whenever, then, the moon gets directly opposite the sun (for it is eclipsed only at full moon, just as the sun is eclipsed at the time of new moon) and runs into the cone-shaped shadow of the earth, a thing that happens whenever it passes through the mean point in its latitudinal motion, it is then deprived of the sun’s light and appears by itself just as it really is. Such is the explanation of these phenomena.
27At the close of that year Valerius Asiaticus and Marcus Silanus became consuls, the former for a second time. Silanus held office for the period for which he had been elected; but Asiaticus, though chosen to serve for the whole year (as happened in the case of others, too) failed to finish his term, but resigned the office voluntarily. 2Some others, indeed, had done this also, but only by reason of poverty; for the expenses connected with the Circensian games had greatly increased, since there were usually twenty-four races. Asiaticus, however, resigned because of his very wealth, which also proved his destruction. 3For inasmuch as he was extremely well-to -do and by being consul a second time had aroused the dislike and jealousy of many, he desired to overthrow himself, so to speak, feeling that by so doing he would incur less danger; but in this he was deceived. 4Vinicius, on the other hand, though he suffered no harm from Claudius (for though a distinguished man, he was contriving to save his life by keeping quiet and minding his own business), did perish at the hands of Messalina, who suspected that he had killed his wife Julia and was angry because he refused to have intercourse with her, and therefore poisoned him. And yet even so he was held to deserve a public funeral and eulogies; for these honours were granted to many. 5Asinius Gallus, half-brother of Drusus by the same mother, conspired against Claudius, but instead of being put to death was banished. One reason for this, perhaps, was the fact that he had not got ready an army or collected any funds beforehand but was emboldened merely by his extreme folly, which led him to think that the Romans would submit to his ruling them on account of his family; but the chief reason was that he was a very small and ugly man and so, being held in contempt, incurred ridicule rather than peril.
28People were loud in their praise of Claudius for his moderation in this matter; and especially did they praise his action in showing displeasure when a certain freedman appealed to the tribunes against the man who had freed him, thus asking and securing an assistant against his former master. Claudius punished not only this fellow but also his associates, and at the same time he forbade any one in future to render assistance to persons of this sort against their former masters, on pain of being deprived of the right to bring suit against others. 2But people were vexed at seeing him the slave of his wife and the freedmen. This feeling was especially strong on an occasion when Claudius himself and all the rest were eager to see Sabinus, the former prefect of the German bodyguard in the time of Gaius, killed in a gladiatorial combat, and Messalina saved him; for he had been one of her paramours. 3They were also vexed because she had taken Mnester away from the theatre and was keeping him with her; but whenever there was any talk among the people about Mnester’s failure to dance, Claudius would appear surprised and would make various apologies, swearing that he was not at his house. 4The people, believing that he was really ignorant of what was taking place, were grieved to think that he alone failed to realize what was going on in the palace—behaviour so notorious, in fact, that news of it had already travelled to the enemy. They were unwilling, however, to reveal to him the true state of affairs, partly through awe of Messalina and partly to spare Mnester. 5For the latter pleased them as much by his skill as he did the empress by his good looks. Indeed, he was such a clever actor that once, when the crowd with great enthusiasm begged him to perform a famous pantomime, he put his head out from behind the stage and said: “I cannot comply, for I am abed with Orestes.” This was the way Claudius dealt with these matters.
6As the number of law-suits was now beyond all reckoning and those who expected to lose their cases would no longer put in an appearance, he issued a proclamation announcing that he would decide the cases against them by a given day even in their absence; and he strictly enforced this rule.
7Mithridates, king of the Iberians, undertook to rebel and was making his preparations for war against the Romans. His mother, however, opposed him, and when she could not persuade him to desist, determined to take flight. He then desired to conceal his project and accordingly, while still continuing his preparations himself, he sent his brother Cotys as an envoy to convey a friendly message to Claudius. But Cotys proved a treacherous ambassador and told the emperor everything; thus he was made king of Iberia in place of Mithridates.