The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

FCP SLTC titleBy C. Suetonius Tranquillus;

To which are added,

The Translation of
Alexander Thomson, M.D.

revised and corrected by
T.Forester, Esq., A.M.

C. Suetonius Tranquillus was the son of a Roman knight who commanded a
legion, on the side of Otho, at the battle which decided the fate of the
empire in favour of Vitellius. From incidental notices in the following
History, we learn that he was born towards the close of the reign of
Vespasian, who died in the year 79 of the Christian era. He lived till
the time of Hadrian, under whose administration he filled the office of
secretary; until, with several others, he was dismissed for presuming on
familiarities with the empress Sabina, of which we have no further
account than that they were unbecoming his position in the imperial
court. How long he survived this disgrace, which appears to have
befallen him in the year 121, we are not informed; but we find that the
leisure afforded him by his retirement, was employed in the composition
of numerous works, of which the only portions now extant are collected in
the present volume.

Several of the younger Pliny’s letters are addressed to Suetonius, with
whom he lived in the closest friendship. They afford some brief, but
generally pleasant, glimpses of his habits and career; and in a letter,
in which Pliny makes application on behalf of his friend to the emperor
Trajan, for a mark of favour, he speaks of him as “a most excellent,
honourable, and learned man, whom he had the pleasure of entertaining
under his own roof, and with whom the nearer he was brought into
communion, the more he loved him.” [1]

The plan adopted by Suetonius in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, led him
to be more diffuse on their personal conduct and habits than on public
events. He writes Memoirs rather than History. He neither dwells on the
civil wars which sealed the fall of the Republic, nor on the military
expeditions which extended the frontiers of the empire; nor does he
attempt to develop the causes of the great political changes which marked
the period of which he treats.

When we stop to gaze in a museum or gallery on the antique busts of the
Caesars, we perhaps endeavour to trace in their sculptured physiognomy
the characteristics of those princes, who, for good or evil, were in
their times masters of the destinies of a large portion of the human
race. The pages of Suetonius will amply gratify this natural curiosity.
In them we find a series of individual portraits sketched to the life,
with perfect truth and rigorous impartiality. La Harpe remarks of
Suetonius, “He is scrupulously exact, and strictly methodical. He omits
nothing which concerns the person whose life he is writing; he relates
everything, but paints nothing. His work is, in some sense, a collection
of anecdotes, but it is very curious to read and consult.” [2]

Combining as it does amusement and information, Suetonius’s “Lives of the
Caesars” was held in such estimation, that, so soon after the invention
of printing as the year 1500, no fewer than eighteen editions had been
published, and nearly one hundred have since been added to the number.
Critics of the highest rank have devoted themselves to the task of
correcting and commenting on the text, and the work has been translated
into most European languages. Of the English translations, that of Dr.
Alexander Thomson, published in 1796, has been made the basis of the
present. He informs us in his Preface, that a version of Suetonius was
with him only a secondary object, his principal design being to form a
just estimate of Roman literature, and to elucidate the state of
government, and the manners of the times; for which the work of Suetonius
seemed a fitting vehicle. Dr. Thomson’s remarks appended to each
successive reign, are reprinted nearly verbatim in the present edition.
His translation, however, was very diffuse, and retained most of the
inaccuracies of that of Clarke, on which it was founded; considerable
care therefore has been bestowed in correcting it, with the view of
producing, as far as possible, a literal and faithful version.

To render the works of Suetonius, as far as they are extant, complete,
his Lives of eminent Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Poets, of which a
translation has not before appeared in English, are added. These Lives
abound with anecdote and curious information connected with learning and
literary men during the period of which the author treats.
T. F.

1. Julius Caesar
2. Augustus
3. Tiberius
4. Caligula
5. Claudius
6. Nero
7. Galba
8. Otho
9. Vitellius
10. Vespasian
11. Titus
12. Domitian



Julius Caesar, the Divine [3], lost his father [4] when he was in the
sixteenth year of his age [5]; and the year following, being nominated to
the office of high-priest of Jupiter [6], he repudiated Cossutia, who was
very wealthy, although her family belonged only to the equestrian order,
and to whom he had been contracted when he was a mere boy. He then
married (2) Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna, who was four times consul;
and had by her, shortly afterwards, a daughter named Julia. Resisting
all the efforts of the dictator Sylla to induce him to divorce Cornelia,
he suffered the penalty of being stripped of his sacerdotal office, his
wife’s dowry, and his own patrimonial estates; and, being identified with
the adverse faction [7], was compelled to withdraw from Rome. After
changing his place of concealment nearly every night [8], although he was
suffering from a quartan ague, and having effected his release by bribing
the officers who had tracked his footsteps, he at length obtained a
pardon through the intercession of the vestal virgins, and of Mamercus
Aemilius and Aurelius Cotta, his near relatives. We are assured that
when Sylla, having withstood for a while the entreaties of his own best
friends, persons of distinguished rank, at last yielded to their
importunity, he exclaimed–either by a divine impulse, or from a shrewd
conjecture: “Your suit is granted, and you may take him among you; but
know,” he added, “that this man, for whose safety you are so extremely
anxious, will, some day or other, be the ruin of the party of the nobles,
in defence of which you are leagued with me; for in this one Caesar, you
will find many a Marius.”

II. His first campaign was served in Asia, on the staff of the praetor,
M. Thermus; and being dispatched into Bithynia [9], to bring thence a
fleet, he loitered so long at the court of Nicomedes, as to give occasion
to reports of a criminal intercourse between him and that prince; which
received additional credit from his hasty return to Bithynia, under the
pretext of recovering a debt due to a freed-man, his client. The rest of
his service was more favourable to his reputation; and (3) when Mitylene
[10] was taken by storm, he was presented by Thermus with the civic
crown. [11]

III. He served also in Cilicia [12], under Servilius Isauricus, but only
for a short time; as upon receiving intelligence of Sylla’s death, he
returned with all speed to Rome, in expectation of what might follow from
a fresh agitation set on foot by Marcus Lepidus. Distrusting, however,
the abilities of this leader, and finding the times less favourable for
the execution of this project than he had at first imagined, he abandoned
all thoughts of joining Lepidus, although he received the most tempting

IV. Soon after this civil discord was composed, he preferred a charge of
extortion against Cornelius Dolabella, a man of consular dignity, who had
obtained the honour of a triumph. On the acquittal of the accused, he
resolved to retire to Rhodes [13], with the view not only of avoiding the
public odium (4) which he had incurred, but of prosecuting his studies
with leisure and tranquillity, under Apollonius, the son of Molon, at
that time the most celebrated master of rhetoric. While on his voyage
thither, in the winter season, he was taken by pirates near the island of
Pharmacusa [14], and detained by them, burning with indignation, for
nearly forty days; his only attendants being a physician and two
chamberlains. For he had instantly dispatched his other servants and the
friends who accompanied him, to raise money for his ransom [15]. Fifty
talents having been paid down, he was landed on the coast, when, having
collected some ships [16], he lost no time in putting to sea in pursuit
of the pirates, and having captured them, inflicted upon them the
punishment with which he had often threatened them in jest. At that time
Mithridates was ravaging the neighbouring districts, and on Caesar’s
arrival at Rhodes, that he might not appear to lie idle while danger
threatened the allies of Rome, he passed over into Asia, and having
collected some auxiliary forces, and driven the king’s governor out of
the province, retained in their allegiance the cities which were
wavering, and ready to revolt.

V. Having been elected military tribune, the first honour he received
from the suffrages of the people after his return to Rome, he zealously
assisted those who took measures for restoring the tribunitian authority,
which had been greatly diminished during the usurpation of Sylla. He
likewise, by an act, which Plotius at his suggestion propounded to the
people, obtained the recall of Lucius Cinna, his wife’s brother, and
others with him, who having been the adherents of Lepidus in the civil
disturbances, had after that consul’s death fled to Sertorius [17]; which
law he supported by a speech.

VI. During his quaestorship he pronounced funeral orations from the
rostra, according to custom, in praise of his aunt (5) Julia, and his
wife Cornelia. In the panegyric on his aunt, he gives the following
account of her own and his father’s genealogy, on both sides: “My aunt
Julia derived her descent, by the mother, from a race of kings, and by
her father, from the Immortal Gods. For the Marcii Reges [18], her
mother’s family, deduce their pedigree from Ancus Marcius, and the Julii,
her father’s, from Venus; of which stock we are a branch. We therefore
unite in our descent the sacred majesty of kings, the chiefest among men,
and the divine majesty of Gods, to whom kings themselves are subject.”
To supply the place of Cornelia, he married Pompeia, the daughter of
Quintus Pompeius, and grand-daughter of Lucius Sylla; but he afterwards
divorced her, upon suspicion of her having been debauched by Publius
Clodius. For so current was the report, that Clodius had found access to
her disguised as a woman, during the celebration of a religious solemnity
[19], that the senate instituted an enquiry respecting the profanation of
the sacred rites.

VII. Farther-Spain [20] fell to his lot as quaestor; when there, as he
was going the circuit of the province, by commission from the praetor,
for the administration of justice, and had reached Gades, seeing a statue
of Alexander the Great in the temple of Hercules, he sighed deeply, as if
weary of his sluggish life, for having performed no memorable actions at
an age [21] at which Alexander had already conquered the world. He,
therefore, immediately sued for his discharge, with the view of embracing
the first opportunity, which might present itself in The City, of
entering upon a more exalted career. In the stillness of the night
following, he dreamt that he lay with his own mother; but his confusion
was relieved, and his hopes were raised to the highest pitch, by the
interpreters of his dream, who expounded it as an omen that he should
possess universal empire; for (6) that the mother who in his sleep he had
found submissive to his embraces, was no other than the earth, the common
parent of all mankind.

VIII. Quitting therefore the province before the expiration of the usual
term, he betook himself to the Latin colonies, which were then eagerly
agitating the design of obtaining the freedom of Rome; and he would have
stirred them up to some bold attempt, had not the consuls, to prevent any
commotion, detained for some time the legions which had been raised for
service in Cilicia. But this did not deter him from making, soon
afterwards, a still greater effort within the precincts of the city

IX. For, only a few days before he entered upon the aedileship, he
incurred a suspicion of having engaged in a conspiracy with Marcus
Crassus, a man of consular rank; to whom were joined Publius Sylla and
Lucius Autronius, who, after they had been chosen consuls, were convicted
of bribery. The plan of the conspirators was to fall upon the senate at
the opening of the new year, and murder as many of them as should be
thought necessary; upon which, Crassus was to assume the office of
dictator, and appoint Caesar his master of the horse [22]. When the
commonwealth had been thus ordered according to their pleasure, the
consulship was to have been restored to Sylla and Autronius. Mention is
made of this plot by Tanusius Geminus [23] in his history, by Marcus
Bibulus in his edicts [24], and by Curio, the father, in his orations
[25]. Cicero likewise seems to hint at this in a letter to Axius, where
he says, that Caesar (7) had in his consulship secured to himself that
arbitrary power [26] to which he had aspired when he was edile. Tanusius
adds, that Crassus, from remorse or fear, did not appear upon the day
appointed for the massacre of the senate; for which reason Caesar omitted
to give the signal, which, according to the plan concerted between them,
he was to have made. The agreement, Curio says, was that he should shake
off the toga from his shoulder. We have the authority of the same Curio,
and of M. Actorius Naso, for his having been likewise concerned in
another conspiracy with young Cneius Piso; to whom, upon a suspicion of
some mischief being meditated in the city, the province of Spain was
decreed out of the regular course [27]. It is said to have been agreed
between them, that Piso should head a revolt in the provinces, whilst the
other should attempt to stir up an insurrection at Rome, using as their
instruments the Lambrani, and the tribes beyond the Po. But the
execution of this design was frustrated in both quarters by the death of

X. In his aedileship, he not only embellished the Comitium, and the rest
of the Forum [28], with the adjoining halls [29], but adorned the Capitol
also, with temporary piazzas, constructed for the purpose of displaying
some part of the superabundant collections (8) he had made for the
amusement of the people [30]. He entertained them with the hunting of
wild beasts, and with games, both alone and in conjunction with his
colleague. On this account, he obtained the whole credit of the expense
to which they had jointly contributed; insomuch that his colleague,
Marcus Bibulus, could not forbear remarking, that he was served in the
manner of Pollux. For as the temple [31] erected in the Forum to the two
brothers, went by the name of Castor alone, so his and Caesar’s joint
munificence was imputed to the latter only. To the other public
spectacles exhibited to the people, Caesar added a fight of gladiators,
but with fewer pairs of combatants than he had intended. For he had
collected from all parts so great a company of them, that his enemies
became alarmed; and a decree was made, restricting the number of
gladiators which any one was allowed to retain at Rome.

XI. Having thus conciliated popular favour, he endeavoured, through his
interest with some of the tribunes, to get Egypt assigned to him as a
province, by an act of the people. The pretext alleged for the creation
of this extraordinary government, was, that the Alexandrians had
violently expelled their king [32], whom the senate had complimented with
the title of an ally and friend of the Roman people. This was generally
resented; but, notwithstanding, there was so much opposition from the
faction of the nobles, that he could not carry his point. In order,
therefore, to diminish their influence by every means in his power, he
restored the trophies erected in honour of Caius Marius, on account of
his victories over Jugurtha, the Cimbri, and the Teutoni, which had been
demolished by Sylla; and when sitting in judgment upon murderers, he
treated those as assassins, who, in the late proscription, had received
money from the treasury, for bringing in the heads of Roman citizens,
although they were expressly excepted in the Cornelian laws.

XII. He likewise suborned some one to prefer an impeachment (9) for
treason against Caius Rabirius, by whose especial assistance the senate
had, a few years before, put down Lucius Saturninus, the seditious
tribune; and being drawn by lot a judge on the trial, he condemned him
with so much animosity, that upon his appealing to the people, no
circumstance availed him so much as the extraordinary bitterness of his

XIII. Having renounced all hope of obtaining Egypt for his province, he
stood candidate for the office of chief pontiff, to secure which, he had
recourse to the most profuse bribery. Calculating, on this occasion, the
enormous amount of the debts he had contracted, he is reported to have
said to his mother, when she kissed him at his going out in the morning
to the assembly of the people, “I will never return home unless I am
elected pontiff.” In effect, he left so far behind him two most powerful
competitors, who were much his superiors both in age and rank, that he
had more votes in their own tribes, than they both had in all the tribes

XIV. After he was chosen praetor, the conspiracy of Catiline was
discovered; and while every other member of the senate voted for
inflicting capital punishment on the accomplices in that crime [33], he
alone proposed that the delinquents should be distributed for safe
custody among the towns of Italy, their property being confiscated. He
even struck such terror into those who were advocates for greater
severity, by representing to them what universal odium would be attached
to their memories by the Roman people, that Decius Silanus, consul elect,
did not hesitate to qualify his proposal, it not being very honourable to
change it, by a lenient interpretation; as if it had been understood in a
harsher sense than he intended, and Caesar would certainly have carried
his point, having brought over to his side a great number of the
senators, among whom was Cicero, the consul’s brother, had not a speech
by Marcus Cato infused new vigour into the resolutions of the senate. He
persisted, however, in obstructing the measure, until a body of the Roman
knights, who stood under arms as a guard, threatened him with instant
death, if he continued his determined opposition. They even thrust at
him with their drawn swords, so that those who sat next him moved away;
(10) and a few friends, with no small difficulty, protected him, by
throwing their arms round him, and covering him with their togas. At
last, deterred by this violence, he not only gave way, but absented
himself from the senate-house during the remainder of that year.

XV. Upon the first day of his praetorship, he summoned Quintus Catulus
to render an account to the people respecting the repairs of the Capitol
[34]; proposing a decree for transferring the office of curator to
another person [35]. But being unable to withstand the strong opposition
made by the aristocratical party, whom he perceived quitting, in great
numbers, their attendance upon the new consuls [36], and fully resolved
to resist his proposal, he dropped the design.

XVI. He afterwards approved himself a most resolute supporter of
Caecilius Metullus, tribune of the people, who, in spite of all
opposition from his colleagues, had proposed some laws of a violent
tendency [37], until they were both dismissed from office by a vote of
the senate. He ventured, notwithstanding, to retain his post and
continue in the administration of justice; but finding that preparations
were made to obstruct him by force of arms, he dismissed the lictors,
threw off his gown, and betook himself privately to his own house, with
the resolution of being quiet, in a time so unfavourable to his
interests. He likewise pacified the mob, which two days afterwards
flocked about him, and in a riotous manner made a voluntary tender of
their assistance in the vindication of his (11) honour. This happening
contrary to expectation, the senate, who met in haste, on account of the
tumult, gave him their thanks by some of the leading members of the
house, and sending for him, after high commendation of his conduct,
cancelled their former vote, and restored him to his office.

XVII. But he soon got into fresh trouble, being named amongst the
accomplices of Catiline, both before Novius Niger the quaestor, by Lucius
Vettius the informer, and in the senate by Quintus Curius; to whom a
reward had been voted, for having first discovered the designs of the
conspirators. Curius affirmed that he had received his information from
Catiline. Vettius even engaged to produce in evidence against him his
own hand-writing, given to Catiline. Caesar, feeling that this treatment
was not to be borne, appealed to Cicero himself, whether he had not
voluntarily made a discovery to him of some particulars of the
conspiracy; and so baulked Curius of his expected reward. He, therefore,
obliged Vettius to give pledges for his behaviour, seized his goods, and
after heavily fining him, and seeing him almost torn in pieces before the
rostra, threw him into prison; to which he likewise sent Novius the
quaestor, for having presumed to take an information against a magistrate
of superior authority.

XVIII. At the expiration of his praetorship he obtained by lot the
Farther-Spain [38], and pacified his creditors, who were for detaining
him, by finding sureties for his debts [39]. Contrary, however, to both
law and custom, he took his departure before the usual equipage and
outfit were prepared. It is uncertain whether this precipitancy arose
from the apprehension of an impeachment, with which he was threatened on
the expiration of his former office, or from his anxiety to lose no time
in relieving the allies, who implored him to come to their aid. He had
no (12) sooner established tranquillity in the province, than, without
waiting for the arrival of his successor, he returned to Rome, with equal
haste, to sue for a triumph [40], and the consulship. The day of
election, however, being already fixed by proclamation, he could not
legally be admitted a candidate, unless he entered the city as a private
person [41]. On this emergency he solicited a suspension of the laws in
his favour; but such an indulgence being strongly opposed, he found
himself under the necessity of abandoning all thoughts of a triumph, lest
he should be disappointed of the consulship.

XIX. Of the two other competitors for the consulship, Lucius Luceius and
Marcus Bibulus, he joined with the former, upon condition that Luceius,
being a man of less interest but greater affluence, should promise money
to the electors, in their joint names. Upon which the party of the
nobles, dreading how far he might carry matters in that high office, with
a colleague disposed to concur in and second his measures, advised
Bibulus to promise the voters as much as the other; and most of them
contributed towards the expense, Cato himself admitting that bribery;
under such circumstances, was for the public good [42]. He was
accordingly elected consul jointly with Bibulus. Actuated still by the
same motives, the prevailing party took care to assign provinces of small
importance to the new consuls, such as the care of the woods and roads.
Caesar, incensed at this indignity, endeavoured by the most assiduous and
flattering attentions to gain to his side Cneius Pompey, at that time
dissatisfied with the senate for the backwardness they shewed to confirm
his acts, after his victories over Mithridates. He likewise brought
about a reconciliation between Pompey and Marcus Crassus, who had been at
variance from (13) the time of their joint consulship, in which office
they were continually clashing; and he entered into an agreement with
both, that nothing should be transacted in the government, which was
displeasing to any of the three.

XX. Having entered upon his office [43], he introduced a new regulation,
that the daily acts both of the senate and people should be committed to
writing, and published [44]. He also revived an old custom, that an
officer [45] should precede him, and his lictors follow him, on the
alternate months when the fasces were not carried before him. Upon
preferring a bill to the people for the division of some public lands, he
was opposed by his colleague, whom he violently drove out of the forum.
Next day the insulted consul made a complaint in the senate of this
treatment; but such was the consternation, that no one having the courage
to bring the matter forward or move a censure, which had been often done
under outrages of less importance, he was so much dispirited, that until
the expiration of his office he never stirred from home, and did nothing
but issue edicts to obstruct his colleague’s proceedings. From that
time, therefore, Caesar had the sole management of public affairs;
insomuch that some wags, when they signed any instrument as witnesses,
did not add “in the consulship of Caesar and Bibulus,” but, “of Julius
and Caesar;” putting the same person down twice, under his name and
surname. The following verses likewise were currently repeated on this

Non Bibulo quidquam nuper, sed Caesare factum est;
Nam Bibulo fieri consule nil memini.

Nothing was done in Bibulus’s year:
No; Caesar only then was consul here.

(14) The land of Stellas, consecrated by our ancestors to the gods, with
some other lands in Campania left subject to tribute, for the support of
the expenses of the government, he divided, but not by lot, among upwards
of twenty thousand freemen, who had each of them three or more children.
He eased the publicans, upon their petition, of a third part of the sum
which they had engaged to pay into the public treasury; and openly
admonished them not to bid so extravagantly upon the next occasion. He
made various profuse grants to meet the wishes of others, no one opposing
him; or if any such attempt was made, it was soon suppressed. Marcus
Cato, who interrupted him in his proceedings, he ordered to be dragged
out of the senate-house by a lictor, and carried to prison. Lucius
Lucullus, likewise, for opposing him with some warmth, he so terrified
with the apprehension of being criminated, that, to deprecate the
consul’s resentment, he fell on his knees. And upon Cicero’s lamenting
in some trial the miserable condition of the times, he the very same day,
by nine o’clock, transferred his enemy, Publius Clodius, from a patrician
to a plebeian family; a change which he had long solicited in vain [46].
At last, effectually to intimidate all those of the opposite party, he by
great rewards prevailed upon Vettius to declare, that he had been
solicited by certain persons to assassinate Pompey; and when he was
brought before the rostra to name those who had been concerted between
them, after naming one or two to no purpose, not without great suspicion
of subornation, Caesar, despairing of success in this rash stratagem, is
supposed to have taken off his informer by poison.

XXI. About the same time he married Calpurnia, the daughter of Lucius
Piso, who was to succeed him in the consulship, and gave his own daughter
Julia to Cneius Pompey; rejecting Servilius Caepio, to whom she had been
contracted, and by whose means chiefly he had but a little before baffled
Bibulus. After this new alliance, he began, upon any debates in the
senate, to ask Pompey’s opinion first, whereas he used before to give
that distinction to Marcus Crassus; and it was (15) the usual practice
for the consul to observe throughout the year the method of consulting
the senate which he had adopted on the calends (the first) of January.

XXII. Being, therefore, now supported by the interest of his father-in-
law and son-in-law, of all the provinces he made choice of Gaul, as most
likely to furnish him with matter and occasion for triumphs. At first
indeed he received only Cisalpine-Gaul, with the addition of Illyricum,
by a decree proposed by Vatinius to the people; but soon afterwards
obtained from the senate Gallia-Comata [47] also, the senators being
apprehensive, that if they should refuse it him, that province, also,
would be granted him by the people. Elated now with his success, he
could not refrain from boasting, a few days afterwards, in a full senate-
house, that he had, in spite of his enemies, and to their great
mortification, obtained all he desired, and that for the future he would
make them, to their shame, submissive to his pleasure. One of the
senators observing, sarcastically: “That will not be very easy for a
woman [48] to do,” he jocosely replied, “Semiramis formerly reigned in
Assyria, and the Amazons possessed great part of Asia.”

XXIII. When the term of his consulship had expired, upon a motion being
made in the senate by Caius Memmius and Lucius Domitius, the praetors,
respecting the transactions of the year past, he offered to refer himself
to the house; but (16) they declining the business, after three days
spent in vain altercation, he set out for his province. Immediately,
however, his quaestor was charged with several misdemeanors, for the
purpose of implicating Caesar himself. Indeed, an accusation was soon
after preferred against him by Lucius Antistius, tribune of the people;
but by making an appeal to the tribune’s colleagues, he succeeded in
having the prosecution suspended during his absence in the service of the
state. To secure himself, therefore, for the time to come, he was
particularly careful to secure the good-will of the magistrates at the
annual elections, assisting none of the candidates with his interest, nor
suffering any persons to be advanced to any office, who would not
positively undertake to defend him in his absence for which purpose he
made no scruple to require of some of them an oath, and even a written

XXIV. But when Lucius Domitius became a candidate for the consulship,
and openly threatened that, upon his being elected consul, he would
effect that which he could not accomplish when he was praetor, and divest
him of the command of the armies, he sent for Crassus and Pompey to
Lucca, a city in his province, and pressed them, for the purpose of
disappointing Domitius, to sue again for the consulship, and to continue
him in his command for five years longer; with both which requisitions
they complied. Presumptuous now from his success, he added, at his own
private charge, more legions to those which he had received from the
republic; among the former of which was one levied in Transalpine Gaul,
and called by a Gallic name, Alauda [49], which he trained and armed in
the Roman fashion, and afterwards conferred on it the freedom of the
city. From this period he declined no occasion of war, however unjust
and dangerous; attacking, without any provocation, as well the allies of
Rome as the barbarous nations which were its enemies: insomuch, that the
senate passed a decree for sending commissioners to examine into the
condition of Gaul; and some members even proposed that he should be
delivered up to the enemy. But so great had been the success of his
enterprises, that he had the honour of obtaining more days [50] (17) of
supplication, and those more frequently, than had ever before been
decreed to any commander.

XXV. During nine years in which he held the government of the province,
his achievements were as follows: he reduced all Gaul, bounded by the
Pyrenean forest, the Alps, mount Gebenna, and the two rivers, the Rhine
and the Rhone, and being about three thousand two hundred miles in
compass, into the form of a province, excepting only the nations in
alliance with the republic, and such as had merited his favour; imposing
upon this new acquisition an annual tribute of forty millions of
sesterces. He was the first of the Romans who, crossing the Rhine by a
bridge, attacked the Germanic tribes inhabiting the country beyond that
river, whom he defeated in several engagements. He also invaded the
Britons, a people formerly unknown, and having vanquished them, exacted
from them contributions and hostages. Amidst such a series of successes,
he experienced thrice only any signal disaster; once in Britain, when his
fleet was nearly wrecked in a storm; in Gaul, at Gergovia, where one of
his legions was put to the rout; and in the territory of the Germans, his
lieutenants Titurius and Aurunculeius were cut off by an ambuscade.

XXVI. During this period [51] he lost his mother [52], whose death was
followed by that of his daughter [53], and, not long afterwards, of his
granddaughter. Meanwhile, the republic being in consternation at the
murder of Publius Clodius, and the senate passing a vote that only one
consul, namely, Cneius Pompeius, should be chosen for the ensuing year,
he prevailed with the tribunes of the people, who intended joining him in
nomination with Pompey, to propose to the people a bill, enabling him,
though absent, to become a candidate for his second consulship, when the
term of his command should be near expiring, that he might not be obliged
on that account to quit his province too soon, and before the conclusion
of the war. Having attained this object, carrying his views still
higher, and animated with the hopes of success, he omitted no (18)
opportunity of gaining universal favour, by acts of liberality and
kindness to individuals, both in public and private. With money raised
from the spoils of the war, he began to construct a new forum, the
ground-plot of which cost him above a hundred millions of sesterces [54].
He promised the people a public entertainment of gladiators, and a feast
in memory of his daughter, such as no one before him had ever given. The
more to raise their expectations on this occasion, although he had agreed
with victuallers of all denominations for his feast, he made yet farther
preparations in private houses. He issued an order, that the most
celebrated gladiators, if at any time during the combat they incurred the
displeasure of the public, should be immediately carried off by force,
and reserved for some future occasion. Young gladiators he trained up,
not in the school, and by the masters, of defence, but in the houses of
Roman knights, and even senators, skilled in the use of arms, earnestly
requesting them, as appears from his letters, to undertake the discipline
of those novitiates, and to give them the word during their exercises.
He doubled the pay of the legions in perpetuity; allowing them likewise
corn, when it was in plenty, without any restriction; and sometimes
distributing to every soldier in his army a slave, and a portion of land.

XXVII. To maintain his alliance and good understanding with Pompey, he
offered him in marriage his sister’s grand-daughter Octavia, who had been
married to Caius Marcellus; and requested for himself his daughter,
lately contracted to Faustus Sylla. Every person about him, and a great
part likewise of the senate, he secured by loans of money at low
interest, or none at all; and to all others who came to wait upon him,
either by invitation or of their own accord, he made liberal presents;
not neglecting even the freed-men and slaves, who were favourites with
their masters and patrons. He offered also singular and ready aid to all
who were under prosecution, or in debt, and to prodigal youths; excluding
from (19) his bounty those only who were so deeply plunged in guilt,
poverty, or luxury, that it was impossible effectually to relieve them.
These, he openly declared, could derive no benefit from any other means
than a civil war.

XXVIII. He endeavoured with equal assiduity to engage in his interest
princes and provinces in every part of the world; presenting some with
thousands of captives, and sending to others the assistance of troops, at
whatever time and place they desired, without any authority from either
the senate or people of Rome. He likewise embellished with magnificent
public buildings the most powerful cities not only of Italy, Gaul, and
Spain, but of Greece and Asia; until all people being now astonished, and
speculating on the obvious tendency of these proceedings, Claudius
Marcellus, the consul, declaring first by proclamation, that he intended
to propose a measure of the utmost importance to the state, made a motion
in the senate that some person should be appointed to succeed Caesar in
his province, before the term of his command was expired; because the war
being brought to a conclusion, peace was restored, and the victorious
army ought to be disbanded. He further moved, that Caesar being absent,
his claims to be a candidate at the next election of consuls should not
be admitted, as Pompey himself had afterwards abrogated that privilege by
a decree of the people. The fact was, that Pompey, in his law relating
to the choice of chief magistrates, had forgot to except Caesar, in the
article in which he declared all such as were not present incapable of
being candidates for any office; but soon afterwards, when the law was
inscribed on brass, and deposited in the treasury, he corrected his
mistake. Marcellus, not content with depriving Caesar of his provinces,
and the privilege intended him by Pompey, likewise moved the senate, that
the freedom of the city should be taken from those colonists whom, by the
Vatinian law, he had settled at New Como [55]; because it had been
conferred upon them with ambitious views, and by a stretch of the laws.

(20) XXIX. Roused by these proceedings, and thinking, as he was often
heard to say, that it would be a more difficult enterprise to reduce him,
now that he was the chief man in the state, from the first rank of
citizens to the second, than from the second to the lowest of all, Caesar
made a vigorous opposition to the measure, partly by means of the
tribunes, who interposed in his behalf, and partly through Servius
Sulpicius, the other consul. The following year likewise, when Caius
Marcellus, who succeeded his cousin Marcus in the consulship, pursued the
same course, Caesar, by means of an immense bribe, engaged in his defence
Aemilius Paulus, the other consul, and Caius Curio, the most violent of
the tribunes. But finding the opposition obstinately bent against him,
and that the consuls-elect were also of that party, he wrote a letter to
the senate, requesting that they would not deprive him of the privilege
kindly granted him by the people; or else that the other generals should
resign the command of their armies as well as himself; fully persuaded,
as it is thought, that he could more easily collect his veteran soldiers,
whenever he pleased, than Pompey could his new-raised troops. At the
same time, he made his adversaries an offer to disband eight of his
legions and give up Transalpine-Gaul, upon condition that he might retain
two legions, with the Cisalpine province, or but one legion with
Illyricum, until he should be elected consul.

XXX. But as the senate declined to interpose in the business, and his
enemies declared that they would enter into no compromise where the
safety of the republic was at stake, he advanced into Hither-Gaul [56],
and, having gone the circuit for the administration of justice, made a
halt at Ravenna, resolved to have recourse to arms if the senate should
proceed to extremity against the tribunes of the people who had espoused
his cause. This was indeed his pretext for the civil war; but it is
supposed that there were other motives for his conduct. Cneius Pompey
used frequently to say, that he sought to throw every thing into
confusion, because he was unable, with all his private wealth, to
complete the works he had begun, and answer, at his return, the vast
expectations which he had excited in the people. Others pretend that he
was apprehensive of being (21) called to account for what he had done in
his first consulship, contrary to the auspices, laws, and the protests of
the tribunes; Marcus Cato having sometimes declared, and that, too, with
an oath, that he would prefer an impeachment against him, as soon as he
disbanded his army. A report likewise prevailed, that if he returned as
a private person, he would, like Milo, have to plead his cause before the
judges, surrounded by armed men. This conjecture is rendered highly
probable by Asinius Pollio, who informs us that Caesar, upon viewing the
vanquished and slaughtered enemy in the field of Pharsalia, expressed
himself in these very words: “This was their intention: I, Caius Caesar,
after all the great achievements I had performed, must have been
condemned, had I not summoned the army to my aid!” Some think, that
having contracted from long habit an extraordinary love of power, and
having weighed his own and his enemies’ strength, he embraced that
occasion of usurping the supreme power; which indeed he had coveted from
the time of his youth. This seems to have been the opinion entertained
by Cicero, who tells us, in the third book of his Offices, that Caesar
used to have frequently in his mouth two verses of Euripides, which he
thus translates:

Nam si violandum est jus, regnandi gratia
Violandum est: aliis rebus pietatem colas.

Be just, unless a kingdom tempts to break the laws,
For sovereign power alone can justify the cause. [57]

XXXI. When intelligence, therefore, was received, that the interposition
of the tribunes in his favour had been utterly rejected, and that they
themselves had fled from the city, he immediately sent forward some
cohorts, but privately, to prevent any suspicion of his design; and, to
keep up appearances, attended at a public spectacle, examined the model
of a fencing-school which he proposed to build, and, as usual, sat down
to table with a numerous party of his friends. But after sun-set, mules
being put to his carriage from a neighbouring mill, he set forward on his
journey with all possible privacy, and a small retinue. The lights going
out, he lost his way, and (22) wandered about a long time, until at
length, by the help of a guide, whom he found towards day-break, he
proceeded on foot through some narrow paths, and again reached the road.
Coming up with his troops on the banks of the Rubicon, which was the
boundary of his province [58], he halted for a while, and, revolving in
his mind the importance of the step he was on the point of taking, he
turned to those about him, and said: “We may still retreat; but if we
pass this little bridge, nothing is left for us but to fight it out in

XXXII. While he was thus hesitating, the following incident occurred. A
person remarkable for his noble mien and graceful aspect, appeared close
at hand, sitting and playing upon a pipe. When, not only the shepherds,
but a number of soldiers also flocked from their posts to listen to him,
and some trumpeters among them, he snatched a trumpet from one of them,
ran to the river with it, and sounding the advance with a piercing blast,
crossed to the other side. Upon this, Caesar exclaimed, “Let us go
whither the omens of the Gods and the iniquity of our enemies call us.
The die is now cast.”

XXXIII. Accordingly, having marched his army over the river, he shewed
them the tribunes of the people, who, upon their being driven from the
city, had come to meet him; and, in the presence of that assembly, called
upon the troops to pledge him their fidelity, with tears in his eyes, and
his garment rent from his bosom. It has been supposed, that upon this
occasion he promised to every soldier a knight’s estate; but that opinion
is founded on a mistake. For when, in his harangue to them, he
frequently held out a finger of his left hand, and declared, that to
recompense those who should support him in the defence of his honour, he
would willingly part even with his ring; the soldiers at a distance, who
could more easily see than hear him while he spoke, formed their
conception of what he said, by the eye, not by the ear; and accordingly
gave out, that he had promised to each of them the privilege (23) of
wearing the gold ring, and an estate of four hundred thousand sesterces.

XXXIV. Of his subsequent proceedings I shall give a cursory detail, in
the order in which they occurred [61]. He took possession of Picenum,
Umbria, and Etruria; and having obliged Lucius Domitius, who had been
tumultuously nominated his successor, and held Corsinium with a garrison,
to surrender, and dismissed him, he marched along the coast of the Upper
Sea, to Brundusium, to which place the consuls and Pompey were fled with
the intention of crossing the sea as soon as possible. After vain
attempts, by all the obstacles he could oppose, to prevent their leaving
the harbour, he turned his steps towards Rome, where he appealed to the
senate on the present state of public affairs; and then set out for
Spain, in which province Pompey had a numerous army, under the command of
three lieutenants, Marcus Petreius, Lucius Afranius, and Marcus Varro;
declaring amongst his friends, before he set forward, “That he was going
against an army without a general, and should return thence against a
general without an army.” Though his progress was retarded both by the
siege of Marseilles, which shut her gates against him, and a very great
scarcity of corn, yet in a short time he bore down all before him.

XXXV. Thence he returned to Rome, and crossing the sea to Macedonia,
blocked up Pompey during almost four months, within a line of ramparts of
prodigious extent; and at last defeated him in the battle of Pharsalia.
Pursuing him in his flight to Alexandria, where he was informed of his
murder, he presently found himself also engaged, under all the
disadvantages of time and place, in a very dangerous war, with king
Ptolemy, who, he saw, had treacherous designs upon his life. It was
winter, and he, within the walls of a well-provided and subtle enemy, was
destitute of every thing, and wholly unprepared (24) for such a conflict.
He succeeded, however, in his enterprise, and put the kingdom of Egypt
into the hands of Cleopatra and her younger brother; being afraid to make
it a province, lest, under an aspiring prefect, it might become the
centre of revolt. From Alexandria he went into Syria, and thence to
Pontus, induced by intelligence which be had received respecting
Pharnaces. This prince, who was son of the great Mithridates, had seized
the opportunity which the distraction of the times offered for making war
upon his neighbours, and his insolence and fierceness had grown with his
success. Caesar, however, within five days after entering his country,
and four hours after coming in sight of him, overthrew him in one
decisive battle. Upon which, he frequently remarked to those about him
the good fortune of Pompey, who had obtained his military reputation,
chiefly, by victory over so feeble an enemy. He afterwards defeated
Scipio and Juba, who were rallying the remains of the party in Africa,
and Pompey’s sons in Spain.

XXXVI. During the whole course of the civil war, he never once suffered
any defeat, except in the case of his lieutenants; of whom Caius Curio
fell in Africa, Caius Antonius was made prisoner in Illyricum, Publius
Dolabella lost a fleet in the same Illyricum, and Cneius Domitius
Culvinus, an army in Pontus. In every encounter with the enemy where he
himself commanded, he came off with complete success; nor was the issue
ever doubtful, except on two occasions: once at Dyrrachium, when, being
obliged to give ground, and Pompey not pursuing his advantage, he said
that “Pompey knew not how to conquer;” the other instance occurred in his
last battle in Spain, when, despairing of the event, he even had thoughts
of killing himself.

XXXVII. For the victories obtained in the several wars, he triumphed
five different times; after the defeat of Scipio: four times in one
month, each triumph succeeding the former by an interval of a few days;
and once again after the conquest of Pompey’s sons. His first and most
glorious triumph was for the victories he gained in Gaul; the next for
that of Alexandria, the third for the reduction of Pontus, the fourth for
his African victory, and the last for that in Spain; and (25) they all
differed from each other in their varied pomp and pageantry. On the day
of the Gallic triumph, as he was proceeding along the street called
Velabrum, after narrowly escaping a fall from his chariot by the breaking
of the axle-tree, he ascended the Capitol by torch-light, forty elephants
[62] carrying torches on his right and left. Amongst the pageantry of
the Pontic triumph, a tablet with this inscription was carried before
him: I CAME, I SAW, I CONQUERED [63]; not signifying, as other mottos on
the like occasion, what was done, so much as the dispatch with which it
was done.

XXXVIII. To every foot-soldier in his veteran legions, besides the two
thousand sesterces paid him in the beginning of the civil war, he gave
twenty thousand more, in the shape of prize-money. He likewise allotted
them lands, but not in contiguity, that the former owners might not be
entirely dispossessed. To the people of Rome, besides ten modii of corn,
and as many pounds of oil, he gave three hundred sesterces a man, which
he had formerly promised them, and a hundred more to each for the delay
in fulfilling his engagement. He likewise remitted a year’s rent due to
the treasury, for such houses in Rome as did not pay above two thousand
sesterces a year; and through the rest of Italy, for all such as did not
exceed in yearly rent five hundred sesterces. To all this he added a
public entertainment, and a distribution of meat, and, after his Spanish
victory [64], two public dinners. For, considering the first he had
given as too sparing, and unsuited to his profuse liberality, he, five
days afterwards, added another, which was most plentiful.

XXXIX. The spectacles he exhibited to the people were of various kinds;
namely, a combat of gladiators [65], and stage-plays in the several wards
of the city, and in different languages; likewise Circensian games [66],
wrestlers, and the representation of a sea-fight. In the conflict of
gladiators presented in the Forum, Furius Leptinus, a man of praetorian
family, entered the lists as a combatant, as did also Quintus Calpenus,
formerly a senator, and a pleader of causes. The Pyrrhic dance was
performed by some youths, who were sons to persons of the first
distinction in Asia and Bithynia. In the plays, Decimus Laberius, who
had been a Roman knight, acted in his own piece; and being presented on
the spot with five hundred thousand sesterces, and a gold ring, he went
from the stage, through the orchestra, and resumed his place in the seats
(27) allotted for the equestrian order. In the Circensisn games; the
circus being enlarged at each end, and a canal sunk round it, several of
the young nobility drove chariots, drawn, some by four, and others by two
horses, and likewise rode races on single horses. The Trojan game was
acted by two distinct companies of boys, one differing from the other in
age and rank. The hunting of wild beasts was presented for five days
successively; and on the last day a battle was fought by five hundred
foot, twenty elephants, and thirty horse on each side. To afford room
for this engagement, the goals were removed, and in their space two camps
were pitched, directly opposite to each other. Wrestlers likewise
performed for three days successively, in a stadium provided for the
purpose in the Campus Martius. A lake having been dug in the little
Codeta [67], ships of the Tyrian and Egyptian fleets, containing two,
three, and four banks of oars, with a number of men on board, afforded an
animated representation of a sea-fight. To these various diversions
there flocked such crowds of spectators from all parts, that most of the
strangers were obliged to lodge in tents erected in the streets, or along
the roads near the city. Several in the throng were squeezed to death,
amongst whom were two senators.

XL. Turning afterwards his attention to the regulation of the
commonwealth, he corrected the calendar [68], which had for (28) some
time become extremely confused, through the unwarrantable liberty which
the pontiffs had taken in the article of intercalation. To such a height
had this abuse proceeded, that neither the festivals designed for the
harvest fell in summer, nor those for the vintage in autumn. He
accommodated the year to the course of the sun, ordaining that in future
it should consist of three hundred and sixty-five days without any
intercalary month; and that every fourth year an intercalary day should
be inserted. That the year might thenceforth commence regularly with the
calends, or first of January, he inserted two months between November and
December; so that the year in which this regulation was made consisted of
fifteen months, including the month of intercalation, which, according to
the division of time then in use, happened that year.

XLI. He filled up the vacancies in the senate, by advancing several
plebeians to the rank of patricians, and also increased the number of
praetors, aediles, quaestors, and inferior magistrates; restoring, at the
same time, such as had been degraded by the censors, or convicted of
bribery at elections. The choice of magistrates he so divided with the
people, that, excepting only the candidates for the consulship, they
nominated one half of them, and he the other. The method which he
practised in those cases was, to recommend such persons as he had pitched
upon, by bills dispersed through the several tribes to this effect:
“Caesar the dictator to such a tribe (naming it). I recommend to you
(naming likewise the persons), that by the favour of your votes they may
attain to the honours for which they sue.” He likewise admitted to
offices the sons of those who had been proscribed. The trial of causes
he restricted to two orders of judges, the equestrian and senatorial;
excluding the tribunes of the treasury who had before made a third class.
The revised census of the people he ordered to be taken neither in the
usual manner or place, but street by street, by the principal inhabitants
of the several quarters of the city; and he reduced the number of those
who received corn at the public cost, from three hundred and twenty, to a
hundred and fifty, thousand. To prevent any tumults on account of the
census, he ordered that the praetor should every year fill up by lot the
vacancies occasioned by death, from those who were not enrolled for the
receipt of corn.

(29) XLII. Eighty thousand citizens having been distributed into foreign
colonies [69], he enacted, in order to stop the drain on the population,
that no freeman of the city above twenty, and under forty, years of age,
who was not in the military service, should absent himself from Italy for
more than three years at a time; that no senator’s son should go abroad,
unless in the retinue of some high officer; and as to those whose pursuit
was tending flocks and herds, that no less than a third of the number of
their shepherds free-born should be youths. He likewise made all those
who practised physic in Rome, and all teachers of the liberal arts, free
of the city, in order to fix them in it, and induce others to settle
there. With respect to debts, he disappointed the expectation which was
generally entertained, that they would be totally cancelled; and ordered
that the debtors should satisfy their creditors, according to the
valuation of their estates, at the rate at which they were purchased
before the commencement of the civil war; deducting from the debt what
had been paid for interest either in money or by bonds; by virtue of
which provision about a fourth part of the debt was lost. He dissolved
all the guilds, except such as were of ancient foundation. Crimes were
punished with greater severity; and the rich being more easily induced to
commit them because they were only liable to banishment, without the
forfeiture of their property, he stripped murderers, as Cicero observes,
of their whole estates, and other offenders of one half.

XLIII. He was extremely assiduous and strict in the administration of
justice. He expelled from the senate such members as were convicted of
bribery; and he dissolved the marriage of a man of pretorian rank, who
had married a lady two days after her divorce from a former husband,
although there was no suspicion that they had been guilty of any illicit
connection. He imposed duties on the importation of foreign goods. The
use of litters for travelling, purple robes, and jewels, he permitted
only to persons of a certain age and station, and on particular days. He
enforced a rigid execution of the sumptuary laws; placing officers about
the markets, to seize upon all meats exposed to sale contrary to the
rules, and bring them to him; sometimes sending his lictors and soldiers
to (30) carry away such victuals as had escaped the notice of the
officers, even when they were upon the table.

XLIV. His thoughts were now fully employed from day to day on a variety
of great projects for the embellishment and improvement of the city, as
well as for guarding and extending the bounds of the empire. In the
first place, he meditated the construction of a temple to Mars, which
should exceed in grandeur every thing of that kind in the world. For
this purpose, he intended to fill up the lake on which he had entertained
the people with the spectacle of a sea-fight. He also projected a most
spacious theatre adjacent to the Tarpeian mount; and also proposed to
reduce the civil law to a reasonable compass, and out of that immense and
undigested mass of statutes to extract the best and most necessary parts
into a few books; to make as large a collection as possible of works in
the Greek and Latin languages, for the public use; the province of
providing and putting them in proper order being assigned to Marcus
Varro. He intended likewise to drain the Pomptine marshes, to cut a
channel for the discharge of the waters of the lake Fucinus, to form a
road from the Upper Sea through the ridge of the Appenine to the Tiber;
to make a cut through the isthmus of Corinth, to reduce the Dacians, who
had over-run Pontus and Thrace, within their proper limits, and then to
make war upon the Parthians, through the Lesser Armenia, but not to risk
a general engagement with them, until he had made some trial of their
prowess in war. But in the midst of all his undertakings and projects,
he was carried off by death; before I speak of which, it may not be
improper to give an account of his person, dress, and manners; together
with what relates to his pursuits, both civil and military.

XLV. It is said that he was tall, of a fair complexion, round limbed,
rather full faced, with eyes black and piercing; and that he enjoyed
excellent health, except towards the close of his life, when he was
subject to sudden fainting-fits, and disturbance in his sleep. He was
likewise twice seized with the falling sickness while engaged in active
service. He was so nice in the care of his person, that he not only kept
the hair of his head closely cut and had his face smoothly shaved, but
(31) even caused the hair on other parts of the body to be plucked out by
the roots, a practice for which some persons rallied him. His baldness
gave him much uneasiness, having often found himself upon that account
exposed to the jibes of his enemies. He therefore used to bring forward
the hair from the crown of his head; and of all the honours conferred
upon him by the senate and people, there was none which he either
accepted or used with greater pleasure, than the right of wearing
constantly a laurel crown. It is said that he was particular in his
dress. For he used the Latus Clavus [70] with fringes about the wrists,
and always had it girded about him, but rather loosely. This
circumstance gave origin to the expression of Sylla, who often advised
the nobles to beware of “the ill-girt boy.”

XLVI. He first inhabited a small house in the Suburra [71], but after
his advancement to the pontificate, he occupied a palace belonging to the
state in the Via Sacra. Many writers say that he liked his residence to
be elegant, and his entertainments sumptuous; and that he entirely took
down a villa near the grove of Aricia, which he had built from the
foundation and finished at a vast expense, because it did not exactly
suit his taste, although he had at that time but slender means, and was
in debt; and that he carried about in his expeditions tesselated and
marble slabs for the floor of his tent.

XLVII. They likewise report that he invaded Britain in hopes of finding
pearls [72], the size of which he would compare together, and ascertain
the weight by poising them in his hand; that he would purchase, at any
cost, gems, carved works, statues, and pictures, executed by the eminent
masters of antiquity; and that he would give for young and handy slaves a
price so extravagant, that he forbad its being entered in the diary of
his expenses.

XLVIII. We are also told, that in the provinces he constantly maintained
two tables, one for the officers of the army, and the gentry of the
country, and the other for Romans of the highest rank, and provincials of
the first distinction. He was so very exact in the management of his
domestic affairs, both little and great, that he once threw a baker into
prison, for serving him with a finer sort of bread than his guests; and
put to death a freed-man, who was a particular favourite, for debauching
the lady of a Roman knight, although no complaint had been made to him of
the affair.

XLIX. The only stain upon his chastity was his having cohabited with
Nicomedes; and that indeed stuck to him all the days of his life, and
exposed him to much bitter raillery. I will not dwell upon those well-
known verses of Calvus Licinius:

Whate’er Bithynia and her lord possess’d,
Her lord who Caesar in his lust caress’d. [73]

I pass over the speeches of Dolabella, and Curio, the father, in which
the former calls him “the queen’s rival, and the inner-side of the royal
couch,” and the latter, “the brothel of Nicomedes, and the Bithynian
stew.” I would likewise say nothing of the edicts of Bibulus, in which
he proclaimed his colleague under the name of “the queen of Bithynia;”
adding, that “he had formerly been in love with a king, but now coveted a
kingdom.” At which time, as Marcus Brutus relates, one Octavius, a man
of a crazy brain, and therefore the more free in his raillery, after he
had in a crowded assembly saluted Pompey by the title of king, addressed
Caesar by that of queen. Caius Memmius likewise upbraided him with
serving the king at table, among the rest of his catamites, in the
presence of a large company, in which were some merchants from Rome, the
names of whom he mentions. But Cicero was not content with writing in
some of his letters, that he was conducted by the royal attendants into
the king’s bed-chamber, lay upon a bed of gold with a covering of purple,
and that the youthful bloom of this scion of Venus had been tainted in
Bithynia–but upon Caesar’s pleading the cause of Nysa, the daughter of
(32) Nicomedes before the senate, and recounting the king’s kindnesses to
him, replied, “Pray tell us no more of that; for it is well known what he
gave you, and you gave him.” To conclude, his soldiers in the Gallic
triumph, amongst other verses, such as they jocularly sung on those
occasions, following the general’s chariot, recited these, which since
that time have become extremely common:

The Gauls to Caesar yield, Caesar to Nicomede,
Lo! Caesar triumphs for his glorious deed,
But Caesar’s conqueror gains no victor’s meed. [74]

L. It is admitted by all that he was much addicted to women, as well as
very expensive in his intrigues with them, and that he debauched many
ladies of the highest quality; among whom were Posthumia, the wife of
Servius Sulpicius; Lollia, the wife of Aulus Gabinius; Tertulla, the wife
of Marcus Crassus; and Mucia, the wife of Cneius Pompey. For it is
certain that the Curios, both father and son, and many others, made it a
reproach to Pompey, “That to gratify his ambition, he married the
daughter of a man, upon whose account he had divorced his wife, after
having had three children by her; and whom he used, with a deep sigh, to
call Aegisthus.” [75] But the mistress he most loved, was Servilia, the
mother of Marcus Brutus, for whom he purchased, in his first consulship
after the commencement of their intrigue, a pearl which cost him six
millions of sesterces; and in the civil war, besides other presents,
assigned to her, for a trifling consideration, some valuable farms when
they were exposed to public auction. Many persons expressing their
surprise at the lowness of the price, Cicero wittily remarked, “To let
you know the real value of the purchase, between ourselves, Tertia was
deducted:” for Servilia was supposed to have prostituted her daughter
Tertia to Caesar. [76]

(34) LI. That he had intrigues likewise with married women in the
provinces, appears from this distich, which was as much repeated in the
Gallic Triumph as the former:–

Watch well your wives, ye cits, we bring a blade,
A bald-pate master of the wenching trade.
Thy gold was spent on many a Gallic w—e;
Exhausted now, thou com’st to borrow more. [77]

LII. In the number of his mistresses were also some queens; such as
Eunoe, a Moor, the wife of Bogudes, to whom and her husband he made, as
Naso reports, many large presents. But his greatest favourite was
Cleopatra, with whom he often revelled all night until the dawn of day,
and would have gone with her through Egypt in dalliance, as far as
Aethiopia, in her luxurious yacht, had not the army refused to follow
him. He afterwards invited her to Rome, whence he sent her back loaded
with honours and presents, and gave her permission to call by his name a
son, who, according to the testimony of some Greek historians, resembled
Caesar both in person and gait. Mark Antony declared in the senate, that
Caesar had acknowledged the child as his own; and that Caius Matias,
Caius Oppius, and the rest of Caesar’s friends knew it to be true. On
which occasion, Oppius, as if it had been an imputation which he was
called upon to refute, published a book to shew, “that the child which
Cleopatra fathered upon Caesar, was not his.” Helvius Cinna, tribune of
the people, admitted to several persons the fact, that he had a bill
ready drawn, which Caesar had ordered him to get enacted in his absence,
allowing him, with the hope of leaving issue, to take any wife he chose,
and as many of them as he pleased; and to leave no room for doubt of his
infamous character for unnatural lewdness and adultery, Curio, the
father, says, in one of his speeches, “He was every woman’s man, and
every man’s woman.”

LIII. It is acknowledged even by his enemies, that in regard to wine, he
was abstemious. A remark is ascribed to Marcus Cato, “that Caesar was
the only sober man amongst all those who were engaged in the design to
subvert (35) the government.” In the matter of diet, Caius Oppius
informs us, “that he was so indifferent, that when a person in whose
house he was entertained, had served him with stale, instead of fresh,
oil [78], and the rest of the company would not touch it, he alone ate
very heartily of it, that he might not seem to tax the master of the
house with rusticity or want of attention.”

LIV. But his abstinence did not extend to pecuniary advantages, either
in his military commands, or civil offices; for we have the testimony of
some writers, that he took money from the proconsul, who was his
predecessor in Spain, and from the Roman allies in that quarter, for the
discharge of his debts; and plundered at the point of the sword some
towns of the Lusitanians, notwithstanding they attempted no resistance,
and opened their gates to him upon his arrival before them. In Gaul, he
rifled the chapels and temples of the gods, which were filled with rich
offerings, and demolished cities oftener for the sake of their spoil,
than for any ill they had done. By this means gold became so plentiful
with him, that he exchanged it through Italy and the provinces of the
empire for three thousand sesterces the pound. In his first consulship
he purloined from the Capitol three thousand pounds’ weight of gold, and
substituted for it the same quantity of gilt brass. He bartered likewise
to foreign nations and princes, for gold, the titles of allies and kings;
and squeezed out of Ptolemy alone near six thousand talents, in the name
of himself and Pompey. He afterwards supported the expense of the civil
wars, and of his triumphs and public spectacles, by the most flagrant
rapine and sacrilege.

LV. In eloquence and warlike achievements, he equalled at least, if he
did not surpass, the greatest of men. After his prosecution of
Dolabella, he was indisputably reckoned one of the most distinguished
advocates. Cicero, in recounting to Brutus the famous orators, declares,
“that he does not see that Caesar was inferior to any one of them;” and
says, “that he (36) had an elegant, splendid, noble, and magnificent vein
of eloquence.” And in a letter to Cornelius Nepos, he writes of him in
the following terms: “What! Of all the orators, who, during the whole
course of their lives, have done nothing else, which can you prefer to
him? Which of them is more pointed or terse in his periods, or employs
more polished and elegant language?” In his youth, he seems to have
chosen Strabo Caesar for his model; from whose oration in behalf of the
Sardinians he has transcribed some passages literally into his
Divination. In his delivery he is said to have had a shrill voice, and
his action was animated, but not ungraceful. He has left behind him some
speeches, among which are ranked a few that are not genuine, such as that
on behalf of Quintus Metellus. These Augustus supposes, with reason, to
be rather the production of blundering short-hand writers, who were not
able to keep pace with him in the delivery, than publications of his own.
For I find in some copies that the title is not “For Metellus,” but “What
he wrote to Metellus;” whereas the speech is delivered in the name of
Caesar, vindicating Metellus and himself from the aspersions cast upon
them by their common defamers. The speech addressed “To his soldiers in
Spain,” Augustus considers likewise as spurious. We meet with two under
this title; one made, as is pretended, in the first battle, and the other
in the last; at which time, Asinius Pollio says, he had not leisure to
address the soldiers, on account of the suddenness of the enemy’s attack.

LVI. He has likewise left Commentaries of his own actions both in the
war in Gaul, and in the civil war with Pompey; for the author of the
Alexandrian, African, and Spanish wars is not known with any certainty.
Some think they are the production of Oppius, and some of Hirtius; the
latter of whom composed the last book, which is imperfect, of the Gallic
war. Of Caesar’s Commentaries, Cicero, in his Brutus, speaks thus: “He
wrote his Commentaries in a manner deserving of great approbation: they
are plain, precise, and elegant, without any affectation of rhetorical
ornament. In having thus prepared materials for others who might be
inclined to write his history, he may perhaps have encouraged some silly
creatures to enter upon such a work, who will needs be dressing up his
actions in all the extravagance a (37) bombast; but he has discouraged
wise men from ever attempting the subject.” Hirtius delivers his opinion
of these Commentaries in the following terms: “So great is the
approbation with which they are universally perused, that, instead of
rousing, he seems to have precluded, the efforts of any future historian.
Yet, with respect to this work, we have more reason to admire him than
others; for they only know how well and correctly he has written, but we
know, likewise, how easily and quickly he did it.” Pollio Asinius thinks
that they were not drawn up with much care, or with a due regard to
truth; for he insinuates that Caesar was too hasty of belief in regard to
what was performed by others under his orders; and that, he has not given
a very faithful account of his own acts, either by design, or through
defect of memory; expressing at the same time an opinion that Caesar
intended a new and more correct edition. He has left behind him likewise
two books on Analogy, with the same number under the title of Anti-Cato,
and a poem entitled The Itinerary. Of these books, he composed the first
two in his passage over the Alps, as he was returning to the army after
making his circuit in Hither-Gaul; the second work about the time of the
battle of Munda; and the last during the four-and-twenty days he employed
in his journey from Rome to Farther-Spain. There are extant some letters
of his to the senate, written in a manner never practised by any before
him; for they are distinguished into pages in the form of a memorandum
book whereas the consuls and commanders till then, used constantly in
their letters to continue the line quite across the sheet, without any
folding or distinction of pages. There are extant likewise some letters
from him to Cicero, and others to his friends, concerning his domestic
affairs; in which, if there was occasion for secrecy, he wrote in
cyphers; that is, he used the alphabet in such a manner, that not a
single word could be made out. The way to decipher those epistles was to
substitute the fourth for the first letter, as d for a, and so for the
other letters respectively. Some things likewise pass under his name,
said to have been written by him when a boy, or a very young man; as the
Encomium of Hercules, a tragedy entitled Oedipus, and a collection of
Apophthegms; all which Augustus forbad to be published, in a short and
plain letter to Pompeius Macer, who was employed by him in the
arrangement of his libraries.

(38) LVII. He was perfect in the use of arms, an accomplished rider, and
able to endure fatigue beyond all belief. On a march, he used to go at
the head of his troops, sometimes on horseback, but oftener on foot, with
his head bare in all kinds of weather. He would travel post in a light
carriage [79] without baggage, at the rate of a hundred miles a day; and
if he was stopped by floods in the rivers, he swam across, or floated on
skins inflated with wind, so that he often anticipated intelligence of
his movements. [80]

LVIII. In his expeditions, it is difficult to say whether his caution or
his daring was most conspicuous. He never marched his army by roads
which were exposed to ambuscades, without having previously examined the
nature of the ground by his scouts. Nor did he cross over to Britain,
before he had carefully examined, in person [81], the navigation, the
harbours, and the most convenient point of landing in the island. When
intelligence was brought to him of the siege of his camp in Germany, he
made his way to his troops, through the enemy’s stations, in a Gaulish
dress. He crossed the sea from Brundisium and Dyrrachium, in the winter,
through the midst of the enemy’s fleets; and the troops, under orders to
join him, being slow in their movements, notwithstanding repeated
messages to hurry them, but to no purpose, he at last went privately, and
alone, aboard a small vessel in the night time, with his head muffled up;
nor did he make himself known, or suffer the master to put about,
although the wind blew strong against them, until they were ready to

LIX. He was never deterred from any enterprise, nor retarded in the
prosecution of it, by superstition [82]. When a victim, which he was
about to offer in sacrifice, made its (39) escape, he did not therefore
defer his expedition against Scipio and Juba. And happening to fall,
upon stepping out of the ship, he gave a lucky turn to the omen, by
exclaiming, “I hold thee fast, Africa.” To chide the prophecies which
were spread abroad, that the name of the Scipios was, by the decrees of
fate, fortunate and invincible in that province, he retained in the camp
a profligate wretch, of the family of the Cornelii, who, on account of
his scandalous life, was surnamed Salutio.

LX. He not only fought pitched battles, but made sudden attacks when an
opportunity offered; often at the end of a march, and sometimes during
the most violent storms, when nobody could imagine he would stir. Nor
was he ever backward in fighting, until towards the end of his life. He
then was of opinion, that the oftener he had been crowned with success,
the less he ought to expose himself to new hazards; and that nothing he
could gain by a victory would compensate for what he might lose by a
miscarriage. He never defeated the enemy without driving them from their
camp; and giving them no time to rally their forces. When the issue of a
battle was doubtful, he sent away all the horses, and his own first, that
having no means of flight, they might be under the greater necessity of
standing their ground.

LXI. He rode a very remarkable horse, with feet almost like those of a
man, the hoofs being divided in such a manner as to have some resemblance
to toes. This horse he had bred himself, and the soothsayers having
interpreted these circumstances into an omen that its owner would be
master of the world, he brought him up with particular care, and broke
him in himself, as the horse would suffer no one else to mount him. A
statue of this horse was afterwards erected by Caesar’s order before the
temple of Venus Genitrix.

LXII. He often rallied his troops, when they were giving way, by his
personal efforts; stopping those who fled, keeping others in their ranks,
and seizing them by their throat turned them towards the enemy; although
numbers were so terrified, that an eagle-bearer [83], thus stopped, made
a thrust at him with (40) the spear-head; and another, upon a similar
occasion, left the standard in his hand.

LXIII. The following instances of his resolution are equally, and even
more remarkable. After the battle of Pharsalia, having sent his troops
before him into Asia, as he was passing the straits of the Hellespont in
a ferry-boat, he met with Lucius Cassius, one of the opposite party, with
ten ships of war; and so far from endeavouring to escape, he went
alongside his ship, and calling upon him to surrender, Cassius humbly
gave him his submission.

LXIV. At Alexandria, in the attack of a bridge, being forced by a sudden
sally of the enemy into a boat, and several others hurrying in with him,
he leaped into the sea, and saved himself by swimming to the next ship,
which lay at the distance of two hundred paces; holding up his left hand
out of the water, for fear of wetting some papers which he held in it;
and pulling his general’s cloak after him with his teeth, lest it should
fall into the hands of the enemy.

LXV. He never valued a soldier for his moral conduct or his means, but
for his courage only; and treated his troops with a mixture of severity
and indulgence; for he did not always keep a strict hand over them, but
only when the enemy was near. Then indeed he was so strict a
disciplinarian, that he would give no notice of a march or a battle until
the moment of action, in order that the troops might hold themselves in
readiness for any sudden movement; and he would frequently draw them out
of the camp without any necessity for it, especially in rainy weather,
and upon holy-days. Sometimes, giving them orders not to lose sight of
him, he would suddenly depart by day or by night, and lengthen the
marches in order to tire them out, as they followed him at a distance.

LXVI. When at any time his troops were dispirited by reports of the
great force of the enemy, he rallied their courage; not by denying the
truth of what was said, or by diminishing the facts, but, on the
contrary, by exaggerating every particular. (41) Accordingly, when his
troops were in great alarm at the expected arrival of king Juba, he
called them together, and said, “I have to inform you that in a very few
days the king will be here, with ten legions, thirty thousand horse, a
hundred thousand light-armed foot, and three hundred elephants. Let none
of you, therefore, presume to make further enquiry, or indulge in
conjectures, but take my word for what I tell you, which I have from
undoubted intelligence; otherwise I shall put them aboard an old crazy
vessel, and leave them exposed to the mercy of the winds, to be
transported to some other country.”

LXVII. He neither noticed all their transgressions, nor punished them
according to strict rule. But for deserters and mutineers he made the
most diligent enquiry, and their punishment was most severe: other
delinquencies he would connive at. Sometimes, after a great battle
ending in victory, he would grant them a relaxation from all kinds of
duty, and leave them to revel at pleasure; being used to boast, “that his
soldiers fought nothing the worse for being well oiled.” In his
speeches, he never addressed them by the title of “Soldiers,” but by the
kinder phrase of “Fellow-soldiers;” and kept them in such splendid order,
that their arms were ornamented with silver and gold, not merely for
parade, but to render the soldiers more resolute to save them in battle,
and fearful of losing them. He loved his troops to such a degree, that
when he heard of the defeat of those under Titurius, he neither cut his
hair nor shaved his beard, until he had revenged it upon the enemy; by
which means he engaged their devoted affection, and raised their valour
to the highest pitch.

LXVIII. Upon his entering on the civil war, the centurions of every
legion offered, each of them, to maintain a horseman at his own expense,
and the whole army agreed to serve gratis, without either corn or pay;
those amongst them who were rich, charging themselves with the
maintenance of the poor. No one of them, during the whole course of the
war, deserted to the enemy; and many of those who were made prisoners,
though they were offered their lives, upon condition of bearing arms
against him, refused to accept the terms. They endured want, and other
hardships, not only (42) when they were besieged themselves, but when
they besieged others, to such a degree, that Pompey, when blocked up in
the neighbourhood of Dyrrachium, upon seeing a sort of bread made of an
herb, which they lived upon, said, “I have to do with wild beasts,” and
ordered it immediately to be taken away; because, if his troops should
see it, their spirit might be broken by perceiving the endurance and
determined resolution of the enemy. With what bravery they fought, one
instance affords sufficient proof; which is, that after an unsuccessful
engagement at Dyrrachium, they called for punishment; insomuch that their
general found it more necessary to comfort than to punish them. In other
battles, in different quarters, they defeated with ease immense armies of
the enemy, although they were much inferior to them in number. In short,
one cohort of the sixth legion held out a fort against four legions
belonging to Pompey, during several hours; being almost every one of them
wounded by the vast number of arrows discharged against them, and of
which there were found within the ramparts a hundred and thirty thousand.
This is no way surprising, when we consider the conduct of some
individuals amongst them; such as that of Cassius Scaeva, a centurion, or
Caius Acilius, a common soldier, not to speak of others. Scaeva, after
having an eye struck out, being run through the thigh and the shoulder,
and having his shield pierced in an hundred and twenty places, maintained
obstinately the guard of the gate of a fort, with the command of which he
was intrusted. Acilius, in the sea-fight at Marseilles, having seized a
ship of the enemy’s with his right hand, and that being cut off, in
imitation of that memorable instance of resolution in Cynaegirus amongst
the Greeks, boarded the enemy’s ship, bearing down all before him with
the boss of his shield.

LXIX. They never once mutinied during all the ten years of the Gallic
war, but were sometimes refractory in the course of the civil war.
However, they always returned quickly to their duty, and that not through
the indulgence, but in submission to the authority, of their general; for
he never yielded to them when they were insubordinate, but constantly
resisted their demands. He disbanded the whole ninth legion with
ignominy at Placentia, although Pompey was still in arms, and would (43)
not receive them again into his service, until they had not only made
repeated and humble entreaties, but until the ringleaders in the mutiny
were punished.

LXX. When the soldiers of the tenth legion at Rome demanded their
discharge and rewards for their service, with violent threats and no
small danger to the city, although the war was then raging in Africa, he
did not hesitate, contrary to the advice of his friends, to meet the
legion, and disband it. But addressing them by the title of “Quirites,”
instead of “Soldiers,” he by this single word so thoroughly brought them
round and changed their determination, that they immediately cried out,
they were his “soldiers,” and followed him to Africa, although he had
refused their service. He nevertheless punished the most mutinous among
them, with the loss of a third of their share in the plunder, and the
land destined for them.

LXXI. In the service of his clients, while yet a young man, he evinced
great zeal and fidelity. He defended the cause of a noble youth,
Masintha, against king Hiempsal, so strenuously, that in a scuffle which
took place upon the occasion, he seized by the beard the son of king
Juba; and upon Masintha’s being declared tributary to Hiempsal, while the
friends of the adverse party were violently carrying him off, he
immediately rescued him by force, kept him concealed in his house a long
time, and when, at the expiration of his praetorship, he went to Spain,
he took him away in his litter, in the midst of his lictors bearing the
fasces, and others who had come to attend and take leave of him.

LXXII. He always treated his friends with such kindness and good-nature,
that when Caius Oppius, in travelling with him through a forest, was
suddenly taken ill, he resigned to him the only place there was to
shelter them at night, and lay upon the ground in the open air. When he
had placed himself at the head of affairs, he advanced some of his
faithful adherents, though of mean extraction, to the highest offices;
and when he was censured for this partiality, he openly said, “Had I been
assisted by robbers and cut-throats in the defence of my honour, I should
have made them the same recompense.”

(44) LXXIII. The resentment he entertained against any one was never so
implacable that he did not very willingly renounce it when opportunity
offered. Although Caius Memmius had published some extremely virulent
speeches against him, and he had answered him with equal acrimony, yet he
afterwards assisted him with his vote and interest, when he stood
candidate for the consulship. When C. Calvus, after publishing some
scandalous epigrams upon him, endeavoured to effect a reconciliation by
the intercession of friends, he wrote to him, of his own accord, the
first letter. And when Valerius Catullus, who had, as he himself
observed, fixed such a stain upon his character in his verses upon
Mamurra as never could be obliterated, he begged his pardon, invited him
to supper the same day; and continued to take up his lodging with his
father occasionally, as he had been accustomed to do.

LXXIV. His temper was also naturally averse to severity in retaliation.
After he had captured the pirates, by whom he had been taken, having
sworn that he would crucify them, he did so indeed; but he first ordered
their throats to be cut [84]. He could never bear the thought of doing
any harm to Cornelius Phagitas, who had dogged him in the night when he
was sick and a fugitive, with the design of carrying him to Sylla, and
from whose hands he had escaped with some difficulty by giving him a
bribe. Philemon, his amanuensis, who had promised his enemies to poison
him, he put to death without torture. When he was summoned as a witness
against Publicus Clodius, his wife Pompeia’s gallant, who was prosecuted
for the profanation of religious ceremonies, he declared he knew nothing
of the affair, although his mother Aurelia, and his sister Julia, gave
the court an exact and full account of the circumstances. And being
asked why then he had divorced his wife? “Because,” he said, “my family
should not only be free from guilt, but even from the suspicion of it.”

LXXV. Both in his administration and his conduct towards the vanquished
party in the civil war, he showed a wonderful moderation and clemency.
For while Pompey declared that he would consider those as enemies who did
not take arms in defence of the republic, he desired it to be understood,
that he (45) should regard those who remained neuter as his friends.
With regard to all those to whom he had, on Pompey’s recommendation,
given any command in the army, he left them at perfect liberty to go over
to him, if they pleased. When some proposals were made at Ileria [85]
for a surrender, which gave rise to a free communication between the two
camps, and Afranius and Petreius, upon a sudden change of resolution, had
put to the sword all Caesar’s men who were found in the camp, he scorned
to imitate the base treachery which they had practised against himself.
On the field of Pharsalia, he called out to the soldiers “to spare their
fellow-citizens,” and afterwards gave permission to every man in his army
to save an enemy. None of them, so far as appears, lost their lives but
in battle, excepting only Afranius, Faustus, and young Lucius Caesar; and
it is thought that even they were put to death without his consent.
Afranius and Faustus had borne arms against him, after obtaining their
pardon; and Lucius Caesar had not only in the most cruel manner destroyed
with fire and sword his freed-men and slaves, but cut to pieces the wild
beasts which he had prepared for the entertainment of the people. And
finally, a little before his death, he permitted all whom he had not
before pardoned, to return into Italy, and to bear offices both civil and
military. He even replaced the statues of Sylla and Pompey, which had
been thrown down by the populace. And after this, whatever was devised
or uttered, he chose rather to check than to punish it. Accordingly,
having detected certain conspiracies and nocturnal assemblies, he went no
farther than to intimate by a proclamation that he knew of them; and as
to those who indulged themselves in the liberty of reflecting severely
upon him, he only warned them in a public speech not to persist in their
offence. He bore with great moderation a virulent libel written against
him by Aulus Caecinna, and the abusive lampoons of Pitholaus, most highly
reflecting on his reputation.

LXXVI. His other words and actions, however, so far outweigh all his
good qualities, that it is thought he abused his power, and was justly
cut off. For he not only obtained excessive honours, such as the
consulship every year, the dictatorship for life, and the censorship, but
also the title of emperor [86], (46) and the surname of FATHER OF HIS
COUNTRY [87], besides having his statue amongst the kings [88], and a
lofty couch in the theatre. He even suffered some honours to be decreed
to him, which were unbefitting the most exalted of mankind; such as a
gilded chair of state in the senate-house and on his tribunal, a
consecrated chariot, and banners in the Circensian procession, temples,
altars, statues among the gods, a bed of state in the temples, a priest,
and a college of priests dedicated to himself, like those of Pan; and
that one of the months should be called by his name. There were, indeed,
no honours which he did not either assume himself, or grant to others, at
his will and pleasure. In his third and fourth consulship, he used only
the title of the office, being content with the power of dictator, which
was conferred upon him with the consulship; and in both years he
substituted other consuls in his room, during the three last months; so
that in the intervals he held no assemblies of the people, for the
election of magistrates, excepting only tribunes and ediles of the
people; and appointed officers, under the name of praefects, instead of
the praetors, to administer the affairs of the city during his absence.
The office of consul having become vacant, by the sudden death of one of
the consuls the day before the calends of January [the 1st Jan.], he
conferred it on a person who requested it of him, for a few hours.
Assuming the same licence, and regardless of the customs of his country,
he appointed magistrates to hold their offices for terms of years. He
granted the insignia of the consular dignity to ten persons of pretorian
rank. He admitted into the senate some men who had been made free of the
city, and even natives of Gaul, who were semi-barbarians. (47) He
likewise appointed to the management of the mint, and the public revenue
of the state, some servants of his own household; and entrusted the
command of three legions, which he left at Alexandria, to an old catamite
of his, the son of his freed-man Rufinus.

LXXVII. He was guilty of the same extravagance in the language he
publicly used, as Titus Ampius informs us; according to whom he said,
“The republic is nothing but a name, without substance or reality. Sylla
was an ignorant fellow to abdicate the dictatorship. Men ought to
consider what is becoming when they talk with me, and look upon what I
say as a law.” To such a pitch of arrogance did he proceed, that when a
soothsayer announced to him the unfavourable omen, that the entrails of a
victim offered for sacrifice were without a heart, he said, “The entrails
will be more favourable when I please; and it ought not to be regarded as
a prodigy that a beast should be found wanting a heart.”

LXXVIII. But what brought upon him the greatest odium, and was thought
an unpardonable insult, was his receiving the whole body of the conscript
fathers sitting, before the temple of Venus Genitrix, when they waited
upon him with a number of decrees, conferring on him the highest
dignities. Some say that, on his attempting to rise, he was held down by
Cornelius Balbus; others, that he did not attempt to rise at all, but
frowned on Caius Trebatius, who suggested to him that he should stand up
to receive the senate. This behaviour appeared the more intolerable in
him, because, when one of the tribunes of the people, Pontius Aquila,
would not rise up to him, as he passed by the tribunes’ seat during his
triumph, he was so much offended, that he cried out, “Well then, you
tribune, Aquila, oust me from the government.” And for some days
afterwards, he never promised a favour to any person, without this
proviso, “if Pontus Aquila will give me leave.”

LXXIX. To this extraordinary mark of contempt for the senate, he added
another affront still more outrageous. For when, after the sacred rites
of the Latin festival, he was returning home, amidst the immoderate and
unusual acclamations (48) of the people, a man in the crowd put a laurel
crown, encircled with a white fillet [89], on one of his statues; upon
which, the tribunes of the people, Epidius Marullus, and Caesetius
Flavus, ordered the fillet to be removed from the crown, and the man to
be taken to prison. Caesar, being much concerned either that the idea of
royalty had been suggested to so little purpose, or, as was said, that he
was thus deprived of the merit of refusing it, reprimanded the tribunes
very severely, and dismissed them from their office. From that day
forward, he was never able to wipe off the scandal of affecting the name
of king, although he replied to the populace, when they saluted him by
that title, “I am Caesar, and no king.” And at the feast of the
Lupercalia [90], when the consul Antony placed a crown upon his head in
the rostra several times, he as often put it away, and sent it to the
Capitol for Jupiter, the Best and the Greatest. A report was very
current, that he had a design of withdrawing to Alexandria or Ilium,
whither he proposed to transfer the imperial power, to drain Italy by new
levies, and to leave the government of the city to be administered by his
friends. To this report it was added, that in the next meeting of the
senate, Lucius Cotta, one of the fifteen [91], would make a motion, that
as there was in the Sibylline books a prophecy, that the Parthians would
never be subdued but by a king, Caesar should have that title conferred
upon him.

LXXX. For this reason the conspirators precipitated the execution of
their design [92], that they might not be obliged to give their assent to
the proposal. Instead, therefore, of caballing any longer separately, in
small parties, they now united their counsels; the people themselves
being dissatisfied with the present state of affairs, both privately and
publicly (49) condemning the tyranny under which they lived, and calling
on patriots to assert their cause against the usurper. Upon the
admission of foreigners into the senate, a hand-bill was posted up in
these words: “A good deed! let no one shew a new senator the way to the
house.” These verses were likewise currently repeated:

The Gauls he dragged in triumph through the town,
Caesar has brought into the senate-house,
And changed their plaids [93] for the patrician gown.

Gallos Caesar in triumphum ducit: iidem in curiam
Galli braccas deposuerunt, latum clavum sumpserunt.

When Quintus Maximus, who had been his deputy in the consulship for the
last three months, entered the theatre, and the lictor, according to
custom, bid the people take notice who was coming, they all cried out,
“He is no consul.” After the removal of Caesetius and Marullus from
their office, they were found to have a great many votes at the next
election of consuls. Some one wrote under the statue of Lucius Brutus,
“Would you were now alive!” and under the statue of Caesar himself these

Because he drove from Rome the royal race,
Brutus was first made consul in their place.
This man, because he put the consuls down,
Has been rewarded with a royal crown.

Brutus, quia reges ejecit, consul primus factus est:
Hic, quia consules ejecit, rex postremo factus est.

About sixty persons were engaged in the conspiracy against him, of whom
Caius Cassius, and Marcus and Decimus Brutus were the chief. It was at
first debated amongst them, whether they should attack him in the Campus
Martius when he was taking the votes of the tribes, and some of them
should throw him off the bridge, whilst others should be ready to stab
him upon his fall; or else in the Via Sacra, or at the entrance of the
theatre. But after public notice had been given by proclamation for the
senate to assemble upon the ides of March [15th March], in the senate-
house built by Pompey, they approved both of the time and place, as most
fitting for their purpose.

LXXXI. Caesar had warning given him of his fate by indubitable (50)
omens. A few months before, when the colonists settled at Capua, by
virtue of the Julian law, were demolishing some old sepulchres, in
building country-houses, and were the more eager at the work, because
they discovered certain vessels of antique workmanship, a tablet of brass
was found in a tomb, in which Capys, the founder of Capua, was said to
have been buried, with an inscription in the Greek language to this
effect “Whenever the bones of Capys come to be discovered, a descendant
of Iulus will be slain by the hands of his kinsmen, and his death
revenged by fearful disasters throughout Italy.” Lest any person should
regard this anecdote as a fabulous or silly invention, it was circulated
upon the authority of Caius Balbus, an intimate friend of Caesar’s. A
few days likewise before his death, he was informed that the horses,
which, upon his crossing the Rubicon, he had consecrated, and turned
loose to graze without a keeper, abstained entirely from eating, and shed
floods of tears. The soothsayer Spurinna, observing certain ominous
appearances in a sacrifice which he was offering, advised him to beware
of some danger, which threatened to befall him before the ides of March
were past. The day before the ides, birds of various kinds from a
neighbouring grove, pursuing a wren which flew into Pompey’s senate-house
[94], with a sprig of laurel in its beak, tore it in pieces. Also, in
the night on which the day of his murder dawned, he dreamt at one time
that he was soaring above the clouds, and, at another, that he had joined
hands with Jupiter. His wife Calpurnia fancied in her sleep that the
pediment of the house was falling down, and her husband stabbed on her
bosom; immediately upon which the chamber doors flew open. On account of
these omens, as well as his infirm health, he was in some doubt whether
he should not remain at home, and defer to some other opportunity the
business which he intended to propose to the senate; but Decimus Brutus
advising him not to disappoint the senators, who were numerously
assembled, and waited his coming, he was prevailed upon to go, and
accordingly (51) set forward about the fifth hour. In his way, some
person having thrust into his hand a paper, warning him against the plot,
he mixed it with some other documents which he held in his left hand,
intending to read it at leisure. Victim after victim was slain, without
any favourable appearances in the entrails; but still, disregarding all
omens, he entered the senate-house, laughing at Spurinna as a false
prophet, because the ides of March were come, without any mischief having
befallen him. To which the soothsayer replied, “They are come, indeed,
but not past.”

LXXXII. When he had taken his seat, the conspirators stood round him,
under colour of paying their compliments; and immediately Tullius Cimber,
who had engaged to commence the assault, advancing nearer than the rest,
as if he had some favour to request, Caesar made signs that he should
defer his petition to some other time. Tullius immediately seized him by
the toga, on both shoulders; at which Caesar crying out, “Violence is
meant!” one of the Cassii wounded him a little below the throat. Caesar
seized him by the arm, and ran it through with his style [95]; and
endeavouring to rush forward was stopped by another wound. Finding
himself now attacked on all hands with naked poniards, he wrapped the
toga [96] about his head, and at the same moment drew the skirt round his
legs with his left hand, that he might fall more decently with the lower
part of his body covered. He was stabbed with three and twenty wounds,
uttering a groan only, but no cry, at the first wound; although some
authors relate, that when Marcus Brutus fell upon him, he exclaimed,
“What! art thou, too, one of them? Thou, my son!” [97] The whole
assembly instantly (52) dispersing, he lay for some time after he
expired, until three of his slaves laid the body on a litter, and carried
it home, with one arm hanging down over the side. Among so many wounds,
there was none that was mortal, in the opinion of the surgeon Antistius,
except the second, which he received in the breast. The conspirators
meant to drag his body into the Tiber as soon as they had killed him; to
confiscate his estate, and rescind all his enactments; but they were
deterred by fear of Mark Antony, and Lepidus, Caesar’s master of the
horse, and abandoned their intentions.

LXXXIII. At the instance of Lucius Piso, his father-in-law, his will was
opened and read in Mark Antony’s house. He had made it on the ides
[13th] of the preceding September, at his Lavican villa, and committed it
to the custody of the chief of the Vestal Virgins. Quintus Tubero
informs us, that in all the wills he had signed, from the time of his
first consulship to the breaking out of the civil war, Cneius Pompey was
appointed his heir, and that this had been publicly notified to the army.
But in his last will, he named three heirs, the grandsons of his sisters;
namely, Caius Octavius for three fourths of his estate, and Lucius
Pinarius and Quintus Pedius for the remaining fourth. Other heirs [in
remainder] were named at the close of the will, in which he also adopted
Caius Octavius, who was to assume his name, into his family; and
nominated most of those who were concerned in his death among the
guardians of his son, if he should have any; as well as Decimus Brutus
amongst his heirs of the second order. Be bequeathed to the Roman people
his gardens near the Tiber, and three hundred sesterces each man.

LXXXIV. Notice of his funeral having been solemnly proclaimed, a pile
was erected in the Campus Martius, near the tomb of his daughter Julia;
and before the Rostra was placed a gilded tabernacle, on the model of the
temple of Venus Genitrix; within which was an ivory bed, covered with
purple and cloth of gold. At the head was a trophy, with the
[bloodstained] robe in which he was slain. It being considered that the
whole day would not suffice for carrying the funeral oblations in solemn
procession before the corpse, directions were given for every one,
without regard to order, to carry them from the city into the Campus
Martius, by what way they pleased. To raise pity and indignation for his
murder, in the plays acted at the funeral, a passage was sung from
Pacuvius’s tragedy, entitled, “The Trial for Arms:”

That ever I, unhappy man, should save
Wretches, who thus have brought me to the grave! [98]

And some lines also from Attilius’s tragedy of “Electra,” to the same
effect. Instead of a funeral panegyric, the consul Antony ordered a
herald to proclaim to the people the decree of the senate, in which they
had bestowed upon him all honours, divine and human; with the oath by
which they had engaged themselves for the defence of his person; and to
these he added only a few words of his own. The magistrates and others
who had formerly filled the highest offices, carried the bier from the
Rostra into the Forum. While some proposed that the body should be burnt
in the sanctuary of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and others in
Pompey’s senate-house; on a sudden, two men, with swords by their sides,
and spears in their hands, set fire to the bier with lighted torches.
The throng around immediately heaped upon it dry faggots, the tribunals
and benches of the adjoining courts, and whatever else came to hand.
Then the musicians and players stripped off the dresses they wore on the
present occasion, taken from the wardrobe of his triumph at spectacles,
rent them, and threw them into the flames. The legionaries, also, of his
(54) veteran bands, cast in their armour, which they had put on in honour
of his funeral. Most of the ladies did the same by their ornaments, with
the bullae [99], and mantles of their children. In this public mourning
there joined a multitude of foreigners, expressing their sorrow according
to the fashion of their respective countries; but especially the Jews
[100], who for several nights together frequented the spot where the body
was burnt.

LXXXV. The populace ran from the funeral, with torches in their hands,
to the houses of Brutus and Cassius, and were repelled with difficulty.
Going in quest of Cornelius Cinna, who had in a speech, the day before,
reflected severely upon Caesar, and mistaking for him Helvius Cinna, who
happened to fall into their hands, they murdered the latter, and carried
his head about the city on the point of a spear. They afterwards erected
in the Forum a column of Numidian marble, formed of one stone nearly
twenty feet high, and inscribed upon it these words, TO THE FATHER OF HIS
COUNTRY. At this column they continued for a long time to offer
sacrifices, make vows, and decide controversies, in which they swore by

LXXXVI. Some of Caesar’s friends entertained a suspicion, that he
neither desired nor cared to live any longer, on account of his declining
health; and for that reason slighted all the omens of religion, and the
warnings of his friends. Others are of opinion, that thinking himself
secure in the late decree of the senate, and their oaths, he dismissed
his Spanish guards who attended him with drawn swords. Others again
suppose, that he chose rather to face at once the dangers which
threatened him on all sides, than to be for ever on the watch against
them. Some tell us that he used to say, the commonwealth was more
interested in the safety of his person than himself: for that he had for
some time been satiated with power and glory; but that the commonwealth,
if any thing should befall him, would have no rest, and, involved in
another civil war, would be in a worse state than before.

(55) LXXXVII. This, however, was generally admitted, that his death was
in many respects such as he would have chosen. For, upon reading the
account delivered by Xenophon, how Cyrus in his last illness gave
instructions respecting his funeral, Caesar deprecated a lingering death,
and wished that his own might be sudden and speedy. And the day before
he died, the conversation at supper, in the house of Marcus Lepidus,
turning upon what was the most eligible way of dying, he gave his opinion
in favour of a death that is sudden and unexpected.

LXXXVIII. He died in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and was ranked
amongst the Gods, not only by a formal decree, but in the belief of the
vulgar. For during the first games which Augustus, his heir, consecrated
to his memory, a comet blazed for seven days together, rising always
about eleven o’clock; and it was supposed to be the soul of Caesar, now
received into heaven: for which reason, likewise, he is represented on
his statue with a star on his brow. The senate-house in which he was
slain, was ordered to be shut up [101], and a decree made that the ides
of March should be called parricidal, and the senate should never more
assemble on that day.

LXXXIX. Scarcely any of those who were accessary to his murder, survived
him more than three years, or died a natural death [102]. They were all
condemned by the senate: some were taken off by one accident, some by
another. Part of them perished at sea, others fell in battle; and some
slew themselves with the same poniard with which they had stabbed Caesar

(56) [104] The termination of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey
forms a new epoch in the Roman History, at which a Republic, which had
subsisted with unrivalled glory during a period of about four hundred and
sixty years, relapsed into a state of despotism, whence it never more
could emerge. So sudden a transition from prosperity to the ruin of
public freedom, without the intervention of any foreign enemy, excites a
reasonable conjecture, that the constitution in which it could take
place, however vigorous in appearance, must have lost that soundness of
political health which had enabled it to endure through so many ages. A
short view of its preceding state, and of that in which it was at the
time of the revolution now mentioned, will best ascertain the foundation
of such a conjecture.

Though the Romans, upon the expulsion of Tarquin, made an essential
change in the political form of the state, they did not carry their
detestation of regal authority so far as to abolish the religious
institutions of Numa Pompilius, the second of their kings, according to
which, the priesthood, with all the influence annexed to that order, was
placed in the hands of the aristocracy. By this wise policy a restraint
was put upon the fickleness and violence of the people in matters of
government, and a decided superiority given to the Senate both in the
deliberative and executive parts of administration. This advantage was
afterwards indeed diminished by the creation of Tribunes of the people; a
set of men whose ambition often embroiled the Republic in civil
dissensions, and who at last abused their authority to such a degree,
that they became instruments of aggrandizement to any leading men in the
state who could purchase their friendship. In general, however, the
majority of the Tribunes being actuated by views which comprehended the
interests of the multitude, rather than those of individuals, they did
not so much endanger the liberty, as they interrupted the tranquillity,
of the public; and when the occasional commotions subsided, there
remained no permanent ground for the establishment of personal

In every government, an object of the last importance to the peace and
welfare of society is the morals of the people; and in proportion as a
community is enlarged by propagation, or the accession of a multitude of
new members, a more strict attention is requisite to guard against that
dissolution of manners to which a crowded and extensive capital has a
natural tendency. Of this (57) the Romans became sensible in the growing
state of the Republic. In the year of the City 312, two magistrates were
first created for taking an account of the number of the people, and the
value of their estates; and soon after, they were invested with the
authority not only of inspecting the morals of individuals, but of
inflicting public censure for any licentiousness of conduct, or violation
of decency. Thus both the civil and religious institutions concurred to
restrain the people within the bounds of good order and obedience to the
laws; at the same time that the frugal life of the ancient Romans proved
a strong security against those vices which operate most effectually
towards sapping the foundations of a state.

But in the time of Julius Caesar the barriers of public liberty were
become too weak to restrain the audacious efforts of ambitious and
desperate men. The veneration for the constitution, usually a powerful
check to treasonable designs, had been lately violated by the usurpations
of Marius and Sylla. The salutary terrors of religion no longer
predominated over the consciences of men. The shame of public censure
was extinguished in general depravity. An eminent historian, who lived
at that time, informs us, that venality universally prevailed amongst the
Romans; and a writer who flourished soon after, observes, that luxury and
dissipation had encumbered almost all so much with debt, that they beheld
with a degree of complacency the prospect of civil war and confusion.

The extreme degree of profligacy at which the Romans were now arrived is
in nothing more evident, than that this age gave birth to the most
horrible conspiracy which occurs in the annals of humankind, viz. that of
Catiline. This was not the project of a few desperate and abandoned
individuals, but of a number of men of the most illustrious rank in the
state; and it appears beyond doubt, that Julius Caesar was accessary to
the design, which was no less than to extirpate the Senate, divide
amongst themselves both the public and private treasures, and set Rome on
fire. The causes which prompted to this tremendous project, it is
generally admitted, were luxury, prodigality, irreligion, a total
corruption of manners, and above all, as the immediate cause, the
pressing necessity in which the conspirators were involved by their
extreme dissipation.

The enormous debt in which Caesar himself was early involved,
countenances an opinion that his anxiety to procure the province of Gaul
proceeded chiefly from this cause. But during nine years in which he
held that province, he acquired such riches as must have rendered him,
without competition, the most opulent person in the state. If nothing
more, therefore, than a (58) splendid establishment had been the object
of his pursuit, he had attained to the summit of his wishes. But when we
find him persevering in a plan of aggrandizement beyond this period of
his fortunes, we can ascribe his conduct to no other motive than that of
outrageous ambition. He projected the building of a new Forum at Rome,
for the ground only of which he was to pay 800,000 pounds; he raised
legions in Gaul at his own charges: he promised such entertainments to
the people as had never been known at Rome from the foundation of the
city. All these circumstances evince some latent design of procuring
such a popularity as might give him an uncontrolled influence in the
management of public affairs. Pompey, we are told, was wont to say, that
Caesar not being able, with all his riches, to fulfil the promises which
he had made, wished to throw everything into confusion. There may have
been some foundation for this remark: but the opinion of Cicero is more
probable, that Caesar’s mind was seduced with the temptations of
chimerical glory. It is observable that neither Cicero nor Pompey
intimates any suspicion that Caesar was apprehensive of being impeached
for his conduct, had he returned to Rome in a private station. Yet, that
there was reason for such an apprehension, the positive declaration of L.
Domitius leaves little room to doubt: especially when we consider the
number of enemies that Caesar had in the Senate, and the coolness of his
former friend Pompey ever after the death of Julia. The proposed
impeachment was founded upon a notorious charge of prosecuting measures
destructive of the interests of the commonwealth, and tending ultimately
to an object incompatible with public freedom. Indeed, considering the
extreme corruption which prevailed amongst the Romans at this time, it is
more than probable that Caesar would have been acquitted of the charge,
but at such an expense as must have stripped him of all his riches, and
placed him again in a situation ready to attempt a disturbance of the
public tranquillity. For it is said, that he purchased the friendship of
Curio, at the commencement of the civil war, with a bribe little short of
half a million sterling.

Whatever Caesar’s private motive may have been for taking arms against
his country, he embarked in an enterprise of a nature the most dangerous:
and had Pompey conducted himself in any degree suitable to the reputation
which he had formerly acquired, the contest would in all probability have
terminated in favour of public freedom. But by dilatory measures in the
beginning, by imprudently withdrawing his army from Italy into a distant
province, and by not pursuing the advantage he had gained by the vigorous
repulse of Caesar’s troops in their attack upon his camp, this commander
lost every opportunity of extinguishing a war which was to determine the
fate, and even the existence, of the Republic. It was accordingly
determined on the plains of Pharsalia, where Caesar obtained a victory
which was not more decisive than unexpected. He was now no longer
amenable either to the tribunal of the Senate or the power of the laws,
but triumphed at once over his enemies and the constitution of his

It is to the honour of Caesar, that when he had obtained the supreme
power, he exercised it with a degree of moderation beyond what was
generally expected by those who had fought on the side of the Republic.
Of his private life either before or after this period, little is
transmitted in history. Henceforth, however, he seems to have lived
chiefly at Rome, near which he had a small villa, upon an eminence,
commanding a beautiful prospect. His time was almost entirely occupied
with public affairs, in the management of which, though he employed many
agents, he appears to have had none in the character of actual minister.
He was in general easy of access: but Cicero, in a letter to a friend,
complains of having been treated with the indignity of waiting a
considerable time amongst a crowd in an anti-chamber, before he could
have an audience. The elevation of Caesar placed him not above
discharging reciprocally the social duties in the intercourse of life.
He returned the visits of those who waited upon him, and would sup at
their houses. At table, and in the use of wine, he was habitually
temperate. Upon the whole, he added nothing to his own happiness by all
the dangers, the fatigues, and the perpetual anxiety which he had
incurred in the pursuit of unlimited power. His health was greatly
impaired: his former cheerfulness of temper, though not his magnanimity,
appears to have forsaken him; and we behold in his fate a memorable
example of illustrious talents rendered, by inordinate ambition,
destructive to himself, and irretrievably pernicious to his country.

From beholding the ruin of the Roman Republic, after intestine divisions,
and the distractions of civil war, it will afford some relief to take a
view of the progress of literature, which flourished even during those

The commencement of literature in Rome is to be dated from the reduction
of the Grecian States, when the conquerors imported into their own
country the valuable productions of the Greek language, and the first
essay of Roman genius was in dramatic composition. Livius Andronicus,
who flourished about 240 years before the Christian aera, formed the
Fescennine verses into a kind of regular drama, upon the model of the
Greeks. He was followed some time after by Ennius, who, besides dramatic
and other compositions, (60) wrote the annals of the Roman Republic in
heroic verse. His style, like that of Andronicus, was rough and
unpolished, in conformity to the language of those times; but for
grandeur of sentiment and energy of expression, he was admired by the
greatest poets in the subsequent ages. Other writers of distinguished
reputation in the dramatic department were Naevius, Pacuvius, Plautus,
Afranius, Caecilius, Terence, Accius, etc. Accius and Pacuvius are
mentioned by Quintilian as writers of extraordinary merit. Of twenty-
five comedies written by Plautus, the number transmitted to posterity is
nineteen; and of a hundred and eight which Terence is said to have
translated from Menander, there now remain only six. Excepting a few
inconsiderable fragments, the writings of all the other authors have
perished. The early period of Roman literature was distinguished for the
introduction of satire by Lucilius, an author celebrated for writing with
remarkable ease, but whose compositions, in the opinion of Horace, though
Quintilian thinks otherwise, were debased with a mixture of feculency.
Whatever may have been their merit, they also have perished, with the
works of a number of orators, who adorned the advancing state of letters
in the Roman Republic. It is observable, that during this whole period,
of near two centuries and a half, there appeared not one historian of
eminence sufficient to preserve his name from oblivion.

Julius Caesar himself is one of the most eminent writers of the age in
which he lived. His commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars are
written with a purity, precision, and perspicuity, which command
approbation. They are elegant without affectation, and beautiful without
ornament. Of the two books which he composed on Analogy, and those under
the title of Anti-Cato, scarcely any fragment is preserved; but we may be
assured of the justness of the observations on language, which were made
by an author so much distinguished by the excellence of his own
compositions. His poem entitled The Journey, which was probably an
entertaining narrative, is likewise totally lost.

The most illustrious prose writer of this or any other age is M. Tullius
Cicero; and as his life is copiously related in biographical works, it
will be sufficient to mention his writings. From his earliest years, he
applied himself with unremitting assiduity to the cultivation of
literature, and, whilst he was yet a boy, wrote a poem, called Glaucus
Pontius, which was extant in Plutarch’s time. Amongst his juvenile
productions was a translation into Latin verse, of Aratus on the
Phaenomena of the Heavens; of which many fragments are still extant. He
also published a poem of the heroic kind, in honour of his countryman C.
Marius, who was born at Arpinum, the birth-place of Cicero. (61) This
production was greatly admired by Atticus; and old Scaevola was so much
pleased with it, that in an epigram written on the subject, he declares
that it would live as long as the Roman name and learning subsisted.
From a little specimen which remains of it, describing a memorable omen
given to Marina from an oak at Arpinum, there is reason to believe that
his poetical genius was scarcely inferior to his oratorical, had it been
cultivated with equal industry. He published another poem called Limon,
of which Donatus has preserved four lines in the life of Terence, in
praise of the elegance and purity of that poet’s style. He composed in
the Greek language, and in the style and manner of Isocrates, a
Commentary or Memoirs of the Transactions of his Consulship. This he
sent to Atticus, with a desire, if he approved it, to publish it in
Athens and the cities of Greece. He sent a copy of it likewise to
Posidonius of Rhodes, and requested of him to undertake the same subject
in a more elegant and masterly manner. But the latter returned for
answer, that, instead of being encouraged to write by the perusal of his
tract, he was quite deterred from attempting it.

Upon the plan of those Memoirs, he afterwards composed a Latin poem in
three books, in which he carried down the history to the end of his
exile, but did not publish it for several years, from motives of
delicacy. The three books were severally inscribed to the three Muses;
but of this work there now remain only a few fragments, scattered in
different parts of his other writings. He published, about the same
time, a collection of the principal speeches which he had made in his
consulship, under the title of his Consular Orations. They consisted
originally of twelve; but four are entirely lost, and some of the rest
are imperfect. He now published also, in Latin verse, a translation of
the Prognostics of Aratus, of which work no more than two or three small
fragments now remain. A few years after, he put the last hand to his
Dialogues upon the Character and Idea of the perfect Orator. This
admirable work remains entire; a monument both of the astonishing
industry and transcendent abilities of its author. At his Cuman villa,
he next began a Treatise on Politics, or on the best State of a City, and
the Duties of a Citizen. He calls it a great and a laborious work, yet
worthy of his pains, if he could succeed in it. This likewise was
written in the form of a dialogue, in which the speakers were Scipio,
Laelius, Philus, Manilius, and other great persons in the former times of
the Republic. It was comprised in six books, and survived him for
several ages, though it is now unfortunately lost. From the fragments
which remain, it appears to have been a masterly production, in which all
the important questions in politics and morality were discussed with
elegance and accuracy.

(62) Amidst all the anxiety for the interests of the Republic, which
occupied the thoughts of this celebrated personage, he yet found leisure
to write several philosophical tracts, which still subsist, to the
gratification of the literary world. He composed a treatise on the
Nature of the Gods, in three books, containing a comprehensive view of
religion, faith, oaths, ceremonies, etc. In elucidating this important
subject, he not only delivers the opinions of all the philosophers who
had written anything concerning it, but weighs and compares attentively
all the arguments with each other; forming upon the whole such a rational
and perfect system of natural religion, as never before was presented to
the consideration of mankind, and approaching nearly to revelation. He
now likewise composed in two books, a discourse on Divination, in which
he discusses at large all the arguments that may be advanced for and
against the actual existence of such a species of knowledge. Like the
preceding works, it is written in the form of dialogue, and in which the
chief speaker is Laelius. The same period gave birth to his treatise on
Old Age, called Cato Major; and to that on Friendship, written also in
dialogue, and in which the chief speaker is Laelius. This book,
considered merely as an essay, is one of the most entertaining
productions of ancient times; but, beheld as a picture drawn from life,
exhibiting the real characters and sentiments of men of the first
distinction for virtue and wisdom in the Roman Republic, it becomes
doubly interesting to every reader of observation and taste. Cicero now
also wrote his discourse on Fate, which was the subject of a conversation
with Hirtius, in his villa near Puteoli; and he executed about the same
time a translation of Plato’s celebrated Dialogue, called Timaeus, on the
nature and origin of the universe. He was employing himself also on a
history of his own times, or rather of his own conduct; full of free and
severe reflections on those who had abused their power to the oppression
of the Republic. Dion Cassius says, that he delivered this book sealed
up to his son, with strict orders not to read or publish it till after
his death; but from this time he never saw his son, and it is probable
that he left the work unfinished. Afterwards, however, some copies of it
were circulated; from which his commentator, Asconius, has quoted several

During a voyage which he undertook to Sicily, he wrote his treatise on
Topics, or the Art of finding Arguments on any Question. This was an
abstract from Aristotle’s treatise on the same subject; and though he had
neither Aristotle nor any other book to assist him, he drew it up from
his memory, and finished it as he sailed along the coast of Calabria.
The last (63) work composed by Cicero appears to have been his Offices,
written for the use of his son, to whom it is addressed. This treatise
contains a system of moral conduct, founded upon the noblest principles
of human action, and recommended by arguments drawn from the purest
sources of philosophy.

Such are the literary productions of this extraordinary man, whose
comprehensive understanding enabled him to conduct with superior ability
the most abstruse disquisitions into moral and metaphysical science.
Born in an age posterior to Socrates and Plato, he could not anticipate
the principles inculcated by those divine philosophers, but he is justly
entitled to the praise, not only of having prosecuted with unerring
judgment the steps which they trod before him, but of carrying his
researches to greater extent into the most difficult regions of
philosophy. This too he had the merit to perform, neither in the station
of a private citizen, nor in the leisure of academic retirement, but in
the bustle of public life, amidst the almost constant exertions of the
bar, the employment of the magistrate, the duty of the senator, and the
incessant cares of the statesman; through a period likewise chequered
with domestic afflictions and fatal commotions in the Republic. As a
philosopher, his mind appears to have been clear, capacious, penetrating,
and insatiable of knowledge. As a writer, he was endowed with every
talent that could captivate either the judgment or taste. His researches
were continually employed on subjects of the greatest utility to mankind,
and those often such as extended beyond the narrow bounds of temporal
existence. The being of a God, the immortality of the soul, a future
state of rewards and punishments, and the eternal distinction of good and
evil; these were in general the great objects of his philosophical
enquiries, and he has placed them in a more convincing point of view than
they ever were before exhibited to the pagan world. The variety and
force of the arguments which he advances, the splendour of his diction,
and the zeal with which he endeavours to excite the love and admiration
of virtue, all conspire to place his character, as a philosophical
writer, including likewise his incomparable eloquence, on the summit of
human celebrity.

The form of dialogue, so much used by Cicero, he doubtless adopted in
imitation of Plato, who probably took the hint of it from the colloquial
method of instruction practised by Socrates. In the early stage of
philosophical enquiry, this mode of composition was well adapted, if not
to the discovery, at least to the confirmation of moral truth; especially
as the practice was then not uncommon, for speculative men to converse
together on important subjects, for mutual information. In treating of
any subject respecting which the different sects of philosophers differed
(64) from each other in point of sentiment, no kind of composition could
be more happily suited than dialogue, as it gave alternately full scope
to the arguments of the various disputants. It required, however, that
the writer should exert his understanding with equal impartiality and
acuteness on the different sides of the question; as otherwise he might
betray a cause under the appearance of defending it. In all the
dialogues of Cicero, he manages the arguments of the several disputants
in a manner not only the most fair and interesting, but also such as
leads to the most probable and rational conclusion.

After enumerating the various tracts composed and published by Cicero, we
have now to mention his Letters, which, though not written for
publication, deserve to be ranked among the most interesting remains of
Roman literature. The number of such as are addressed to different
correspondents is considerable, but those to Atticus alone, his
confidential friend, amount to upwards of four hundred; among which are
many of great length. They are all written in the genuine spirit of the
most approved epistolary composition; uniting familiarity with elevation,
and ease with elegance. They display in a beautiful light the author’s
character in the social relations of life; as a warm friend, a zealous
patron, a tender husband, an affectionate brother, an indulgent father,
and a kind master. Beholding them in a more extensive view, they exhibit
an ardent love of liberty and the constitution of his country: they
discover a mind strongly actuated with the principles of virtue and
reason; and while they abound in sentiments the most judicious and
philosophical, they are occasionally blended with the charms of wit, and
agreeable effusions of pleasantry. What is likewise no small addition to
their merit, they contain much interesting description of private life,
with a variety of information relative to public transactions and
characters of that age. It appears from Cicero’s correspondence, that
there was at that time such a number of illustrious Romans, as never
before existed in any one period of the Republic. If ever, therefore,
the authority of men the most respectable for virtue, rank, and
abilities, could have availed to overawe the first attempts at a
violation of public liberty, it must have been at this period; for the
dignity of the Roman senate was now in the zenith of its splendour.

Cicero has been accused of excessive vanity, and of arrogating to himself
an invidious superiority, from his extraordinary talents but whoever
peruses his letters to Atticus, must readily acknowledge, that this
imputation appears to be destitute of truth. In those excellent
productions, though he adduces the strongest arguments for and against
any object of consideration, that the (65) most penetrating understanding
can suggest, weighs them with each other, and draws from them the most
rational conclusions, he yet discovers such a diffidence in his own
opinion, that he resigns himself implicitly to the judgment and direction
of his friend; a modesty not very compatible with the disposition of the
arrogant, who are commonly tenacious of their own opinion, particularly
in what relates to any decision of the understanding.

It is difficult to say, whether Cicero appears in his letters more great
or amiable: but that he was regarded by his contemporaries in both these
lights, and that too in the highest degree, is sufficiently evident. We
may thence infer, that the great poets in the subsequent age must have
done violence to their own liberality and discernment, when, in
compliment to Augustus, whose sensibility would have been wounded by the
praises of Cicero, and even by the mention of his name, they have so
industriously avoided the subject, as not to afford the most distant
intimation that this immortal orator and philosopher had ever existed.
Livy however, there is reason to think, did some justice to his memory:
but it was not until the race of the Caesars had become extinct, that he
received the free and unanimous applause of impartial posterity. Such
was the admiration which Quintilian entertained of his writings, that he
considered the circumstance or being delighted with them, as an
indubitable proof of judgment and taste in literature. Ille se
profecisse sciat, cui Cicero valde placebit. [105]

In this period is likewise to be placed M. Terentius Varro, the
celebrated Roman grammarian, and the Nestor of ancient learning. The
first mention made of him is, that he was lieutenant to Pompey in his
piratical wars, and obtained in that service a naval crown. In the civil
wars he joined the side of the Republic, and was taken by Caesar; by whom
he was likewise proscribed, but obtained a remission of the sentence. Of
all the ancients, he has acquired the greatest fame for his extensive
erudition; and we may add, that he displayed the same industry in
communicating, as he had done in collecting it. His works originally
amounted to no less than five hundred volumes, which have all perished,
except a treatise De Lingua Latina, and one De Re Rustica. Of the former
of these, which is addressed to Cicero, three books at the beginning are
also lost. It appears from the introduction of the fourth book, that
they all related to etymology. The first contained such observations as
might be made against it; the second, such as might be made in its
favour; and the third, observations upon it. He next proceeds to
investigate the origin of (66) Latin words. In the fourth book, he
traces those which relate to place; in the fifth, those connected with
the idea of time; and in the sixth, the origin of both these classes, as
they appear in the writings of the poets. The seventh book is employed
on declension; in which the author enters upon a minute and extensive
enquiry, comprehending a variety of acute and profound observations on
the formation of Latin nouns, and their respective natural declinations
from the nominative case. In the eighth, he examines the nature and
limits of usage and analogy in language; and in the ninth and last book
on the subject, takes a general view of what is the reverse of analogy,
viz. anomaly. The precision and perspicuity which Varro displays in this
work merit the highest encomiums, and justify the character given him in
his own time, of being the most learned of the Latin grammarians. To the
loss of the first three books, are to be added several chasms in the
others; but fortunately they happen in such places as not to affect the
coherency of the author’s doctrine, though they interrupt the
illustration of it. It is observable that this great grammarian makes
use of quom for quum, heis for his, and generally queis for quibus. This
practice having become rather obsolete at the time in which he wrote, we
must impute his continuance of it to his opinion of its propriety, upon
its established principles of grammar, and not to any prejudice of
education, or an affectation of singularity. As Varro makes no mention
of Caesar’s treatise on Analogy, and had commenced author long before
him, it is probable that Caesar’s production was of a much later date;
and thence we may infer, that those two writers differed from each other,
at least with respect to some particulars on that subject.

This author’s treatise De Re Rustica was undertaken at the desire of a
friend, who, having purchased some lands, requested of Varro the favour
of his instructions relative to farming, and the economy of a country
life, in its various departments. Though Varro was at this time in his
eightieth year, he writes with all the vivacity, though without the
levity, of youth, and sets out with invoking, not the Muses, like Homer
and Ennius, as he observes, but the twelve deities supposed to be chiefly
concerned in the operations of agriculture. It appears from the account
which he gives, that upwards of fifty Greek authors had treated of this
subject in prose, besides Hesiod and Menecrates the Ephesian, who both
wrote in verse; exclusive likewise of many Roman writers, and of Mago the
Carthaginian, who wrote in the Punic language. Varro’s work is divided
into three books, the first of which treats of agriculture; the second,
of rearing of cattle; and the third, of feeding animals for the use of
the table. (67) In the last of these, we meet with a remarkable instance
of the prevalence of habit and fashion over human sentiment, where the
author delivers instructions relative to the best method of fattening

We find from Quintilian, that Varro likewise composed satires in various
kinds of verse. It is impossible to behold the numerous fragments of
this venerable author without feeling the strongest regret for the loss
of that vast collection of information which he had compiled, and of
judicious observations which he had made on a variety of subjects, during
a life of eighty-eight years, almost entirely devoted to literature. The
remark of St. Augustine is well founded, That it is astonishing how
Varro, who read such a number of books, could find time to compose so
many volumes; and how he who composed so many volumes, could be at
leisure to peruse such a variety of books, and to gain so much literary

Catullus is said to have been born at Verona, of respectable parents; his
father and himself being in the habit of intimacy with Julius Caesar. He
was brought to Rome by Mallius, to whom several of his epigrams are
addressed. The gentleness of his manners, and his application to study,
we are told, recommended him to general esteem; and he had the good
fortune to obtain the patronage of Cicero. When he came to be known as a
poet, all these circumstances would naturally contribute to increase his
reputation for ingenuity; and accordingly we find his genius applauded by
several of his contemporaries. It appears that his works are not
transmitted entire to posterity; but there remain sufficient specimens by
which we may be enabled to appreciate his poetical talents.

Quintilian, and Diomed the grammarian, have ranked Catullus amongst the
iambic writers, while others have placed him amongst the lyric. He has
properly a claim to each of these stations; but his versification being
chiefly iambic, the former of the arrangements seems to be the most
suitable. The principal merit of Catullus’s Iambics consists in a
simplicity of thought and expression. The thoughts, however, are often
frivolous, and, what is yet more reprehensible, the author gives way to
gross obscenity: in vindication of which, he produces the following
couplet, declaring that a good poet ought to be chaste in his own person,
but that his verses need not be so.

Nam castum esse decet pium poetam
Ipsum: versiculos nihil necesse est.

This sentiment has been frequently cited by those who were inclined to
follow the example of Catullus; but if such a practice be in any case
admissible, it is only where the poet personates (68) a profligate
character; and the instances in which it is adopted by Catullus are not
of that description. It had perhaps been a better apology, to have
pleaded the manners of the times; for even Horace, who wrote only a few
years after, has suffered his compositions to be occasionally debased by
the same kind of blemish.

Much has been said of this poet’s invective against Caesar, which
produced no other effect than an invitation to sup at the dictator’s
house. It was indeed scarcely entitled to the honour of the smallest
resentment. If any could be shewn, it must have been for the freedom
used by the author, and not for any novelty in his lampoon. There are
two poems on this subject, viz. the twenty-ninth and fifty-seventh, in
each of which Caesar is joined with Mamurra, a Roman knight, who had
acquired great riches in the Gallic war. For the honour of Catullus’s
gratitude, we should suppose that the latter is the one to which
historians allude: but, as poetical compositions, they are equally
unworthy of regard. The fifty seventh is nothing more than a broad
repetition of the raillery, whether well or ill founded, with which
Caesar was attacked on various occasions, and even in the senate, after
his return from Bithynia. Caesar had been taunted with this subject for
upwards of thirty years; and after so long a familiarity with reproach,
his sensibility to the scandalous imputation must now have been much
diminished, if not entirely extinguished. The other poem is partly in
the same strain, but extended to greater length, by a mixture of common
jocular ribaldry of the Roman soldiers, expressed nearly in the same
terms which Caesar’s legions, though strongly attached to his person,
scrupled not to sport publicly in the streets of Rome, against their
general, during the celebration of his triumph. In a word, it deserves
to be regarded as an effusion of Saturnalian licentiousness, rather than
of poetry. With respect to the Iambics of Catullus, we may observe in
general, that the sarcasm is indebted for its force, not so much to
ingenuity of sentiment, as to the indelicate nature of the subject, or
coarseness of expression.

The descriptive poems of Catullus are superior to the others, and
discover a lively imagination. Amongst the best of his productions, is a
translation of the celebrated ode of Sappho:

Ille mi par esse Deo videtur,
me, etc.

This ode is executed both with spirit and elegance; it is, however,
imperfect; and the last stanza seems to be spurious. Catullus’s epigrams
are entitled to little praise, with regard either to sentiment or point;
and on the whole, his merit, as a poet, appears to have been magnified
beyond its real extent. He is said to have died about the thirtieth year
of his age.

(69) Lucretius is the author of a celebrated poem, in six books, De Rerum
Natura; a subject which had been treated many ages before by Empedocles,
a philosopher and poet of Agrigentum. Lucretius was a zealous partizan
of Democritus, and the sect of Epicurus, whose principles concerning the
eternity of matter, the materiality of the soul, and the non-existence of
a future state of rewards and punishments, he affects to maintain with a
certainty equal to that of mathematical demonstration. Strongly
prepossessed with the hypothetical doctrines of his master, and ignorant
of the physical system of the universe, he endeavours to deduce from the
phenomena of the material world conclusions not only unsupported by
legitimate theory, but repugnant to the principles of the highest
authority in metaphysical disquisition. But while we condemn his
speculative notions as degrading to human nature, and subversive of the
most important interests of mankind, we must admit that he has prosecuted
his visionary hypothesis with uncommon ingenuity. Abstracting from it
the rhapsodical nature of this production, and its obscurity in some
parts, it has great merit as a poem. The style is elevated, and the
versification in general harmonious. By the mixture of obsolete words,
it possesses an air of solemnity well adapted to abstruse researches; at
the same time that by the frequent resolution of diphthongs, it instils
into the Latin the sonorous and melodious powers of the Greek language.

While Lucretius was engaged in this work, he fell into a state of
insanity, occasioned, as is supposed, by a philtre, or love-potion, given
him by his wife Lucilia. The complaint, however, having lucid intervals,
he employed them in the execution of his plan, and, soon after it was
finished, laid violent hands upon himself, in the forty-third year of his
age. This fatal termination of his life, which perhaps proceeded from
insanity, was ascribed by his friends and admirers to his concern for the
banishment of one Memmius, with whom he was intimately connected, and for
the distracted state of the republic. It was, however, a catastrophe
which the principles of Epicurus, equally erroneous and irreconcilable to
resignation and fortitude, authorized in particular circumstances. Even
Atticus, the celebrated correspondent of Cicero, a few years after this
period, had recourse to the same desperate expedient, by refusing all
sustenance, while he laboured under a lingering disease.

It is said that Cicero revised the poem of Lucretius after the death of
the author, and this circumstance is urged by the abettors of atheism, as
a proof that the principles contained in the work had the sanction of his
authority. But no inference in favour of Lucretius’s doctrine can justly
be drawn from this circumstance. (70) Cicero, though already
sufficiently acquainted with the principles of the Epicurean sect, might
not be averse to the perusal of a production, which collected and
enforced them in a nervous strain of poetry; especially as the work was
likely to prove interesting to his friend Atticus, and would perhaps
afford subject for some letters or conversation between them. It can
have been only with reference to composition that the poem was submitted
to Cicero’s revisal: for had he been required to exercise his judgment
upon its principles, he must undoubtedly have so much mutilated the work,
as to destroy the coherency of the system. He might be gratified with
the shew of elaborate research, and confident declamation, which it
exhibited, but he must have utterly disapproved of the conclusions which
the author endeavoured to establish. According to the best information,
Lucretius died in the year from the building of Rome 701, when Pompey was
the third time consul. Cicero lived several years beyond this period,
and in the two last years of his life, he composed those valuable works
which contain sentiments diametrically repugnant to the visionary system
of Epicurus. The argument, therefore, drawn from Cicero’s revisal, so
far from confirming the principle of Lucretius, affords the strongest
tacit declaration against their validity; because a period sufficient for
mature consideration had elapsed, before Cicero published his own
admirable system of philosophy. The poem of Lucretius, nevertheless, has
been regarded as the bulwark of atheism–of atheism, which, while it
impiously arrogates the support of reason, both reason and nature

Many more writers flourished in this period, but their works have totally
perished. Sallust was now engaged in historical productions; but as they
were not yet completed, they will be noticed in the next division of the



I. That the family of the Octavii was of the first distinction in
Velitrae [106], is rendered evident by many circumstances. For in the
most frequented part of the town, there was, not long since, a street
named the Octavian; and an altar was to be seen, consecrated to one
Octavius, who being chosen general in a war with some neighbouring
people, the enemy making a sudden attack, while he was sacrificing to
Mars, he immediately snatched the entrails of the victim from off the
fire, and offered them half raw upon the altar; after which, marching out
to battle, he returned victorious. This incident gave rise to a law, by
which it was enacted, that in all future times the entrails should be
offered to Mars in the same manner; and the rest of the victim be carried
to the Octavii.

II. This family, as well as several in Rome, was admitted into the
senate by Tarquinius Priscus, and soon afterwards placed by Servius
Tullius among the patricians; but in process of time it transferred
itself to the plebeian order, and, after the lapse of a long interval,
was restored by Julius Caesar to the rank of patricians. The first
person of the family raised by the suffrages of the people to the
magistracy, was Caius Rufus. He obtained the quaestorship, and had two
sons, Cneius and Caius; from whom are descended the two branches of the
Octavian family, which have had very different fortunes. For Cneius, and
his descendants in uninterrupted succession, held all the highest offices
of the state; whilst Caius and his posterity, whether from their
circumstances or their choice, remained in the equestrian order until the
father of Augustus. The great-grandfather of Augustus served as a
military tribune in the second Punic war in Sicily, under the command of
Aemilius Pappus. His grandfather contented himself with bearing the
public offices of his own municipality, and grew old in the tranquil
enjoyment of an ample patrimony. Such is the account given (72) by
different authors. Augustus himself, however, tells us nothing more than
that he was descended of an equestrian family, both ancient and rich, of
which his father was the first who obtained the rank of senator. Mark
Antony upbraidingly tells him that his great-grandfather was a freedman
of the territory of Thurium [107], and a rope-maker, and his grandfather
a usurer. This is all the information I have any where met with,
respecting the ancestors of Augustus by the father’s side.

III. His father Caius Octavius was, from his earliest years, a person
both of opulence and distinction: for which reason I am surprised at
those who say that he was a money-dealer [108], and was employed in
scattering bribes, and canvassing for the candidates at elections, in the
Campus Martius. For being bred up in all the affluence of a great
estate, he attained with ease to honourable posts, and discharged the
duties of them with much distinction. After his praetorship, he obtained
by lot the province of Macedonia; in his way to which he cut off some
banditti, the relics of the armies of Spartacus and Catiline, who had
possessed themselves of the territory of Thurium; having received from
the senate an extraordinary commission for that purpose. In his
government of the province, he conducted himself with equal justice and
resolution; for he defeated the Bessians and Thracians in a great battle,
and treated the allies of the republic in such a manner, that there are
extant letters from M. Tullius Cicero, in which he advises and exhorts
his brother Quintus, who then held the proconsulship of Asia with no
great reputation, to imitate the example of his neighbour Octavius, in
gaining the affections of the allies of Rome.

IV. After quitting Macedonia, before he could declare himself a
candidate for the consulship, he died suddenly, leaving behind him a
daughter, the elder Octavia, by Ancharia; and another daughter, Octavia
the younger, as well as Augustus, by Atia, who was the daughter of Marcus
Atius Balbus, and Julia, sister to Caius Julius Caesar. Balbus was, by
the father’s (73) side, of a family who were natives of Aricia [109], and
many of whom had been in the senate. By the mother’s side he was nearly
related to Pompey the Great; and after he had borne the office of
praetor, was one of the twenty commissioners appointed by the Julian law
to divide the land in Campania among the people. But Mark Antony,
treating with contempt Augustus’s descent even by the mother’s side, says
that his great grand-father was of African descent, and at one time kept
a perfumer’s shop, and at another, a bake-house, in Aricia. And Cassius
of Parma, in a letter, taxes Augustus with being the son not only of a
baker, but a usurer. These are his words: “Thou art a lump of thy
mother’s meal, which a money-changer of Nerulum taking from the newest
bake-house of Aricia, kneaded into some shape, with his hands all
discoloured by the fingering of money.”

V. Augustus was born in the consulship of Marcus Tullius Cicero and
Caius Antonius [110], upon the ninth of the calends of October [the 23rd
September], a little before sunrise, in the quarter of the Palatine Hill
[111], and the street called The Ox-Heads [112], where now stands a
chapel dedicated to him, and built a little after his death. For, as it
is recorded in the proceedings of the senate, when Caius Laetorius, a
young man of a patrician family, in pleading before the senators for a
lighter sentence, upon his being convicted of adultery, alleged, besides
his youth and quality, that he was the possessor, and as it were the
guardian, of the ground which the Divine Augustus first touched upon his
coming into the world; and entreated that (74) he might find favour, for
the sake of that deity, who was in a peculiar manner his; an act of the
senate was passed, for the consecration of that part of his house in
which Augustus was born.

VI. His nursery is shewn to this day, in a villa belonging to the
family, in the suburbs of Velitrae; being a very small place, and much
like a pantry. An opinion prevails in the neighbourhood, that he was
also born there. Into this place no person presumes to enter, unless
upon necessity, and with great devotion, from a belief, for a long time
prevalent, that such as rashly enter it are seized with great horror and
consternation, which a short while since was confirmed by a remarkable
incident. For when a new inhabitant of the house had, either by mere
chance, or to try the truth of the report, taken up his lodging in that
apartment, in the course of the night, a few hours afterwards, he was
thrown out by some sudden violence, he knew not how, and was found in a
state of stupefaction, with the coverlid of his bed, before the door of
the chamber.

VII. While he was yet an infant, the surname of Thurinus was given him,
in memory of the birth-place of his family, or because, soon after he was
born, his father Octavius had been successful against the fugitive
slaves, in the country near Thurium. That he was surnamed Thurinus, I
can affirm upon good foundation, for when a boy, I had a small bronze
statue of him, with that name upon it in iron letters, nearly effaced by
age, which I presented to the emperor [113], by whom it is now revered
amongst the other tutelary deities in his chamber. He is also often
called Thurinus contemptuously, by Mark Antony in his letters; to which
he makes only this reply: “I am surprised that my former name should be
made a subject of reproach.” He afterwards assumed the name of Caius
Caesar, and then of Augustus; the former in compliance with the will of
his great-uncle, and the latter upon a motion of Munatius Plancus in the
senate. For when some proposed to confer upon him the name of Romulus,
as being, in a manner, a second founder of the city, it was resolved that
he should rather be called Augustus, a surname not only new, but of more
dignity, because places devoted to religion, and those in which anything
(75) is consecrated by augury, are denominated august, either from the
word auctus, signifying augmentation, or ab avium gestu, gustuve, from
the flight and feeding of birds; as appears from this verse of Ennius:

When glorious Rome by august augury was built. [114]

VIII. He lost his father when he was only four years of age; and, in his
twelfth year, pronounced a funeral oration in praise of his grand-mother
Julia. Four years afterwards, having assumed the robe of manhood, he was
honoured with several military rewards by Caesar in his African triumph,
although he took no part in the war, on account of his youth. Upon his
uncle’s expedition to Spain against the sons of Pompey, he was followed
by his nephew, although he was scarcely recovered from a dangerous
sickness; and after being shipwrecked at sea, and travelling with very
few attendants through roads that were infested with the enemy, he at
last came up with him. This activity gave great satisfaction to his
uncle, who soon conceived an increasing affection for him, on account of
such indications of character. After the subjugation of Spain, while
Caesar was meditating an expedition against the Dacians and Parthians, he
was sent before him to Apollonia, where he applied himself to his
studies; until receiving intelligence that his uncle was murdered, and
that he was appointed his heir, he hesitated for some time whether he
should call to his aid the legions stationed in the neighbourhood; but he
abandoned the design as rash and premature. However, returning to Rome,
he took possession of his inheritance, although his mother was
apprehensive that such a measure might be attended with danger, and his
step-father, Marcius Philippus, a man of consular rank, very earnestly
dissuaded him from it. From this time, collecting together a strong
military force, he first held the government in conjunction with Mark
Antony and Marcus Lepidus, then with Antony only, for nearly twelve
years, and at last in his own hands during a period of four and forty.

IX. Having thus given a very short summary of his life, I shall
prosecute the several parts of it, not in order of time, but arranging
his acts into distinct classes, for the sake of (76) perspicuity. He was
engaged in five civil wars, namely those of Modena, Philippi, Perugia,
Sicily, and Actium; the first and last of which were against Antony, and
the second against Brutus and Cassius; the third against Lucius Antonius,
the triumvir’s brother, and the fourth against Sextus Pompeius, the son
of Cneius Pompeius.

X. The motive which gave rise to all these wars was the opinion he
entertained that both his honour and interest were concerned in revenging
the murder of his uncle, and maintaining the state of affairs he had
established. Immediately after his return from Apollonia, he formed the
design of taking forcible and unexpected measures against Brutus and
Cassius; but they having foreseen the danger and made their escape, he
resolved to proceed against them by an appeal to the laws in their
absence, and impeach them for the murder. In the mean time, those whose
province it was to prepare the sports in honour of Caesar’s last victory
in the civil war, not daring to do it, he undertook it himself. And that
he might carry into effect his other designs with greater authority, he
declared himself a candidate in the room of a tribune of the people who
happened to die at that time, although he was of a patrician family, and
had not yet been in the senate. But the consul, Mark Antony, from whom
he had expected the greatest assistance, opposing him in his suit, and
even refusing to do him so much as common justice, unless gratified with
a large bribe, he went over to the party of the nobles, to whom he
perceived Sylla to be odious, chiefly for endeavouring to drive Decius
Brutus, whom he besieged in the town of Modena, out of the province,
which had been given him by Caesar, and confirmed to him by the senate.
At the instigation of persons about him, he engaged some ruffians to
murder his antagonist; but the plot being discovered, and dreading a
similar attempt upon himself, he gained over Caesar’s veteran soldiers,
by distributing among them all the money he could collect. Being now
commissioned by the senate to command the troops he had gathered, with
the rank of praetor, and in conjunction with Hirtius and Pansa, who had
accepted the consulship, to carry assistance to Decius Brutus, he put an
end to the war by two battles in three months. Antony writes, that in
the former of these he ran away, and two days afterwards made his
appearance (77) without his general’s cloak and his horse. In the last
battle, however, it is certain that he performed the part not only of a
general, but a soldier; for, in the heat of the battle; when the
standard-bearer of his legion was severely wounded, he took the eagle
upon his shoulders, and carried it a long time.

XI. In this war [115], Hirtius being slain in battle, and Pansa dying a
short time afterwards of a wound, a report was circulated that they both
were killed through his means, in order that, when Antony fled, the
republic having lost its consuls, he might have the victorious armies
entirely at his own command. The death of Pansa was so fully believed to
have been caused by undue means, that Glyco, his surgeon, was placed in
custody, on a suspicion of having poisoned his wound. And to this,
Aquilius Niger adds, that he killed Hirtius, the other consul, in the
confusion of the battle, with his own hands.

XII. But upon intelligence that Antony, after his defeat, had been
received by Marcus Lepidus, and that the rest of the generals and armies
had all declared for the senate, he, without any hesitation, deserted
from the party of the nobles; alleging as an excuse for his conduct, the
actions and sayings of several amongst them; for some said, “he was a
mere boy,” and others threw out, “that he ought to be promoted to
honours, and cut off,” to avoid the making any suitable acknowledgment
either to him or the veteran legions. And the more to testify his regret
for having before attached himself to the other faction, he fined the
Nursini in a large sum of money, which they were unable to pay, and then
expelled them from the town, for having inscribed upon a monument,
erected at the public charge to their countrymen who were slain in the
battle of Modena, “That they fell in the cause of liberty.”

XIII. Having entered into a confederacy with Antony and Lepidus, he
brought the war at Philippi to an end in two battles, although he was at
that time weak, and suffering from sickness [116]. In the first battle
he was driven from his camp, (78) and with some difficulty made his
escape to the wing of the army commanded by Antony. And now, intoxicated
with success, he sent the head of Brutus [117] to be cast at the foot of
Caesar’s statue, and treated the most illustrious of the prisoners not
only with cruelty, but with abusive language; insomuch that he is said to
have answered one of them who humbly intreated that at least he might not
remain unburied, “That will be in the power of the birds.” Two others,
father and son, who begged for their lives, he ordered to cast lots which
of them should live, or settle it between themselves by the sword; and
was a spectator of both their deaths: for the father offering his life to
save his son, and being accordingly executed, the son likewise killed
himself upon the spot. On this account, the rest of the prisoners, and
amongst them Marcus Favonius, Cato’s rival, being led up in fetters,
after they had saluted Antony, the general, with much respect, reviled
Octavius in the foulest language. After this victory, dividing between
them the offices of the state, Mark Antony [118] undertook to restore
order in the east, while Caesar conducted the veteran soldiers back to
Italy, and settled them in colonies on the lands belonging to the
municipalities. But he had the misfortune to please neither the soldiers
nor the owners of the lands; one party complaining of the injustice done
them, in being violently ejected from their possessions, and the other,
that they were not rewarded according to their merit. [119]

XIV. At this time he obliged Lucius Antony, who, presuming upon his own
authority as consul, and his brother’s power, was raising new commotions,
to fly to Perugia, and forced him, by famine, to surrender at last,
although not without having been exposed to great hazards, both before
the war and during its continuance. For a common soldier having got into
the seats of the equestrian order in the theatre, at the public
spectacles, Caesar ordered him to be removed by an officer; and a rumour
being thence spread by his enemies, that he had (79) put the man to death
by torture, the soldiers flocked together so much enraged, that he
narrowly escaped with his life. The only thing that saved him, was the
sudden appearance of the man, safe and sound, no violence having been
offered him. And whilst he was sacrificing under the walls of Perugia,
he nearly fell into the hands of a body of gladiators, who sallied out of
the town.

XV. After the taking of Perugia [120], he sentenced a great number of
the prisoners to death, making only one reply to all who implored pardon,
or endeavoured to excuse themselves, “You must die.” Some authors write,
that three hundred of the two orders, selected from the rest, were
slaughtered, like victims, before an altar raised to Julius Caesar, upon
the ides of March [15th April] [121]. Nay, there are some who relate,
that he entered upon the war with no other view, than that his secret
enemies, and those whom fear more than affection kept quiet, might be
detected, by declaring themselves, now they had an opportunity, with
Lucius Antony at their head; and that having defeated them, and
confiscated their estates, he might be enabled to fulfil his promises to
the veteran soldiers.

XVI. He soon commenced the Sicilian war, but it was protracted by
various delays during a long period [122]; at one time for the purpose of
repairing his fleets, which he lost twice by storm, even in the summer;
at another, while patching up a peace, to which he was forced by the
clamours of the people, in consequence of a famine occasioned by Pompey’s
cutting off the supply of corn by sea. But at last, having built a new
fleet, and obtained twenty thousand manumitted slaves [123], who were
given him for the oar, he formed the Julian harbour at Baiae, by letting
the sea into the Lucrine and Avernian lakes; and having exercised his
forces there during the whole winter, he defeated Pompey betwixt Mylae
and Naulochus; although (80) just as the engagement commenced, he
suddenly fell into such a profound sleep, that his friends were obliged
to wake him to give the signal. This, I suppose, gave occasion for
Antony’s reproach: “You were not able to take a clear view of the fleet,
when drawn up in line of battle, but lay stupidly upon your back, gazing
at the sky; nor did you get up and let your men see you, until Marcus
Agrippa had forced the enemies’ ships to sheer off.” Others imputed to
him both a saying and an action which were indefensible; for, upon the
loss of his fleets by storm, he is reported to have said: “I will conquer
in spite of Neptune;” and at the next Circensian games, he would not
suffer the statue of that God to be carried in procession as usual.
Indeed he scarcely ever ran more or greater risks in any of his wars than
in this. Having transported part of his army to Sicily, and being on his
return for the rest, he was unexpectedly attacked by Demochares and
Apollophanes, Pompey’s admirals, from whom he escaped with great
difficulty, and with one ship only. Likewise, as he was travelling on
foot through the Locrian territory to Rhegium, seeing two of Pompey’s
vessels passing by that coast, and supposing them to be his own, he went
down to the shore, and was very nearly taken prisoner. On this occasion,
as he was making his escape by some bye-ways, a slave belonging to
Aemilius Paulus, who accompanied him, owing him a grudge for the
proscription of Paulus, the father of Aemilius, and thinking he had now
an opportunity of revenging it, attempted to assassinate him. After the
defeat of Pompey, one of his colleagues [124], Marcus Lepidus, whom he
had summoned to his aid from Africa, affecting great superiority, because
he was at the head of twenty legions, and claiming for himself the
principal management of affairs in a threatening manner, he divested him
of his command, but, upon his humble submission, granted him his life,
but banished him for life to Circeii.

XVII. The alliance between him and Antony, which had always been
precarious, often interrupted, and ill cemented by repeated
reconciliations, he at last entirely dissolved. And to make it known to
the world how far Antony had degenerated from patriotic feelings, he
caused a will of his, which had been left at Rome, and in which he had
nominated Cleopatra’s children, amongst others, as his heirs, to be
opened and read in an assembly of the people. Yet upon his being
declared an enemy, he sent to him all his relations and friends, among
whom were Caius Sosius and Titus Domitius, at that time consuls. He
likewise spoke favourably in public of the people of Bologna, for joining
in the association with the rest of Italy to support his cause, because
they had, in former times, been under the protection of the family of the
Antonii. And not long afterwards he defeated him in a naval engagement
near Actium, which was prolonged to so late an hour, that, after the
victory, he was obliged to sleep on board his ship. From Actium he went
to the isle of Samoa to winter; but being alarmed with the accounts of a
mutiny amongst the soldiers he had selected from the main body of his
army sent to Brundisium after the victory, who insisted on their being
rewarded for their service and discharged, he returned to Italy. In his
passage thither, he encountered two violent storms, the first between the
promontories of Peloponnesus and Aetolia, and the other about the
Ceraunian mountains; in both which a part of his Liburnian squadron was
sunk, the spars and rigging of his own ship carried away, and the rudder
broken in pieces. He remained only twenty-seven days at Brundisium,
until the demands of the soldiers were settled, and then went, by way of
Asia and Syria, to Egypt, where laying siege to Alexandria, whither
Antony had fled with Cleopatra, he made himself master of it in a short
time. He drove Antony to kill himself, after he had used every effort to
obtain conditions of peace, and he saw his corpse [126]. Cleopatra he
anxiously wished to save for his triumph; and when she was supposed to
have been bit to death by an asp, he sent for the Psylli [127] to (82)
endeavour to suck out the poison. He allowed them to be buried together
in the same grave, and ordered a mausoleum, begun by themselves, to be
completed. The eldest of Antony’s two sons by Fulvia he commanded to be
taken by force from the statue of Julius Caesar, to which he had fled,
after many fruitless supplications for his life, and put him to death.
The same fate attended Caesario, Cleopatra’s son by Caesar, as he
pretended, who had fled for his life, but was retaken. The children
which Antony had by Cleopatra he saved, and brought up and cherished in a
manner suitable to their rank, just as if they had been his own

XVIII. At this time he had a desire to see the sarcophagus and body of
Alexander the Great, which, for that purpose, were taken out of the cell
in which they rested [128]; and after viewing them for some time, he paid
honours to the memory of that prince, by offering a golden crown, and
scattering flowers upon the body [129]. Being asked if he wished to see
the tombs of the Ptolemies also; he replied, “I wish to see a king, not
dead men.” [130] He reduced Egypt into the form of a province and to
render it more fertile, and more capable of supplying Rome with corn, he
employed his army to scour the canals, into which the Nile, upon its
rise, discharges itself; but which during a long series of years had
become nearly choked up with mud. To perpetuate the glory of his victory
at Actium, he built the city of Nicopolis on that part of the coast, and
established games to be celebrated there every five years; enlarging
likewise an old temple of Apollo, he ornamented with naval trophies [131]
the spot on which he had pitched his camp, and consecrated it to Neptune
and Mars.

(83) XIX. He afterwards [132] quashed several tumults and insurrections,
as well as several conspiracies against his life, which were discovered,
by the confession of accomplices, before they were ripe for execution;
and others subsequently. Such were those of the younger Lepidus, of
Varro Muraena, and Fannius Caepio; then that of Marcus Egnatius,
afterwards that of Plautius Rufus, and of Lucius Paulus, his grand-
daughter’s husband; and besides these, another of Lucius Audasius, an old
feeble man, who was under prosecution for forgery; as also of Asinius
Epicadus, a Parthinian mongrel [133], and at last that of Telephus, a
lady’s prompter [134]; for he was in danger of his life from the plots
and conspiracies of some of the lowest of the people against him.
Audasius and Epicadus had formed the design of carrying off to the armies
his daughter Julia, and his grandson Agrippa, from the islands in which
they were confined. Telephus, wildly dreaming that the government was
destined to him by the fates, proposed to fall both upon Octavius and the
senate. Nay, once, a soldier’s servant belonging to the army in
Illyricum, having passed the porters unobserved, was found in the night-
time standing before his chamber-door, armed with a hunting-dagger.
Whether the person was really disordered in the head, or only
counterfeited madness, is uncertain; for no confession was obtained from
him by torture.

XX. He conducted in person only two foreign wars; the Dalmatian, whilst
he was yet but a youth; and, after Antony’s final defeat, the Cantabrian.
He was wounded in the former of these wars; in one battle he received a
contusion in the right knee from a stone–and in another, he was much
hurt in (84) one leg and both arms, by the fall of a fridge [135]. His
other wars he carried on by his lieutenants; but occasionally visited the
army, in some of the wars of Pannonia and Germany, or remained at no
great distance, proceeding from Rome as far as Ravenna, Milan, or

XXI. He conquered, however, partly in person, and partly by his
lieutenants, Cantabria [136], Aquitania and Pannonia [137], Dalmatia,
with all Illyricum and Rhaetia [138], besides the two Alpine nations, the
Vindelici and the Salassii [139]. He also checked the incursions of the
Dacians, by cutting off three of their generals with vast armies, and
drove the Germans beyond the river Elbe; removing two other tribes who
submitted, the Ubii and Sicambri, into Gaul, and settling them in the
country bordering on the Rhine. Other nations also, which broke into
revolt, he reduced to submission. But he never made war upon any nation
without just and necessary cause; and was so far from being ambitious
either to extend the empire, or advance his own military glory, that he
obliged the chiefs of some barbarous tribes to swear in the temple of
Mars the Avenger [140], that they would faithfully observe their
engagements, and not violate the peace which they had implored. Of some
he demanded a new description of hostages, their women, having found from
experience that they cared little for their men when given as hostages;
but he always afforded them the means of getting back their hostages
whenever they wished it. Even those who engaged most frequently and with
the greatest perfidy in their rebellion, he never punished more severely
than by selling their captives, on the terms (85) of their not serving in
any neighbouring country, nor being released from their slavery before
the expiration of thirty years. By the character which he thus acquired,
for virtue and moderation, he induced even the Indians and Scythians,
nations before known to the Romans by report only, to solicit his
friendship, and that of the Roman people, by ambassadors. The Parthians
readily allowed his claim to Armenia; restoring at his demand, the
standards which they had taken from Marcus Crassus and Mark Antony, and
offering him hostages besides. Afterwards, when a contest arose between
several pretenders to the crown of that kingdom, they refused to
acknowledge any one who was not chosen by him.

XXII. The temple of Janus Quirinus, which had been shut twice only, from
the era of the building of the city to his own time, he closed thrice in
a much shorter period, having established universal peace both by sea and
land. He twice entered the city with the honours of an Ovation [141],
namely, after the war of Philippi, and again after that of Sicily. He
had also three curule triumphs [142] for his several victories in (86)
Dalmatia, at Actium, and Alexandria; each of which lasted three days.

XXIII. In all his wars, he never received any signal or ignominious
defeat, except twice in Germany, under his lieutenants Lollius and Varus.
The former indeed had in it more of dishonour than disaster; but that of
Varus threatened the security of the empire itself; three legions, with
the commander, his lieutenants, and all the auxiliaries, being cut off.
Upon receiving intelligence of this disaster, he gave orders for keeping
a strict watch over the city, to prevent any public disturbance, and
prolonged the appointments of the prefects in the provinces, that the
allies might be kept in order by experience of persons to whom they were
used. He made a vow to celebrate the great games in honour of Jupiter,
Optimus, Maximus, “if he would be pleased to restore the state to more
prosperous circumstances.” This had formerly been resorted to in the
Cimbrian and Marsian wars. In short, we are informed that he was in such
consternation at this event, that he let the hair of his head and beard
grow for several months, and sometimes knocked his head against the door-
posts, crying out, “O, Quintilius Varus! Give me back my legions!” And
(87) ever after, he observed the anniversary of this calamity, as a day
of sorrow and mourning.

XXIV. In military affairs he made many alterations, introducing some
practices entirely new, and reviving others, which had become obsolete.
He maintained the strictest discipline among the troops; and would not
allow even his lieutenants the liberty to visit their wives, except
reluctantly, and in the winter season only. A Roman knight having cut
off the thumbs of his two young sons, to render them incapable of serving
in the wars, he exposed both him and his estate to public sale. But upon
observing the farmers of the revenue very greedy for the purchase, he
assigned him to a freedman of his own, that he might send him into the
country, and suffer him to retain his freedom. The tenth legion becoming
mutinous, he disbanded it with ignominy; and did the same by some others
which petulantly demanded their discharge; withholding from them the
rewards usually bestowed on those who had served their stated time in the
wars. The cohorts which yielded their ground in time of action, he
decimated, and fed with barley. Centurions, as well as common sentinels,
who deserted their posts when on guard, he punished with death. For
other misdemeanors he inflicted upon them various kinds of disgrace; such
as obliging them to stand all day before the praetorium, sometimes in
their tunics only, and without their belts, sometimes to carry poles ten
feet long, or sods of turf.

XXV. After the conclusion of the civil wars, he never, in any of his
military harangues, or proclamations, addressed them by the title of
“Fellow-soldiers,” but as “Soldiers” only. Nor would he suffer them to
be otherwise called by his sons or step-sons, when they were in command;
judging the former epithet to convey the idea of a degree of
condescension inconsistent with military discipline, the maintenance of
order, and his own majesty, and that of his house. Unless at Rome, in
case of incendiary fires, or under the apprehension of public
disturbances during a scarcity of provisions, he never employed in his
army slaves who had been made freedmen, except upon two occasions; on
one, for the security of the colonies bordering upon Illyricum, and on
the other, to guard (88) the banks of the river Rhine. Although he
obliged persons of fortune, both male and female, to give up their
slaves, and they received their manumission at once, yet he kept them
together under their own standard, unmixed with soldiers who were better
born, and armed likewise after different fashion. Military rewards, such
as trappings, collars, and other decorations of gold and silver, he
distributed more readily than camp or mural crowns, which were reckoned
more honourable than the former. These he bestowed sparingly, without
partiality, and frequently even on common soldiers. He presented M.
Agrippa, after the naval engagement in the Sicilian war, with a sea-green
banner. Those who shared in the honours of a triumph, although they had
attended him in his expeditions, and taken part in his victories, he
judged it improper to distinguish by the usual rewards for service,
because they had a right themselves to grant such rewards to whom they
pleased. He thought nothing more derogatory to the character of an
accomplished general than precipitancy and rashness; on which account he
had frequently in his mouth those proverbs:

Speude bradeos,
Hasten slowly,


‘Asphalaes gar est’ ameinon, hae erasus strataelataes.
The cautious captain’s better than the bold.

And “That is done fast enough, which is done well enough.”

He was wont to say also, that “a battle or a war ought never to be
undertaken, unless the prospect of gain overbalanced the fear of loss.
For,” said he, “men who pursue small advantages with no small hazard,
resemble those who fish with a golden hook, the loss of which, if the
line should happen to break, could never be compensated by all the fish
they might take.”

XXVI. He was advanced to public offices before the age at which he was
legally qualified for them; and to some, also, of a new kind, and for
life. He seized the consulship in the twentieth year of his age,
quartering his legions in a threatening manner near the city, and sending
deputies to demand it for him in the name of the army. When the senate
demurred, (89) a centurion, named Cornelius, who was at the head of the
chief deputation, throwing back his cloak, and shewing the hilt of his
sword, had the presumption to say in the senate-house, “This will make
him consul, if ye will not.” His second consulship he filled nine years
afterwards; his third, after the interval of only one year, and held the
same office every year successively until the eleventh. From this
period, although the consulship was frequently offered him, he always
declined it, until, after a long interval, not less than seventeen years,
he voluntarily stood for the twelfth, and two years after that, for a
thirteenth; that he might successively introduce into the forum, on their
entering public life, his two sons, Caius and Lucius, while he was
invested with the highest office in the state. In his five consulships
from the sixth to the eleventh, he continued in office throughout the
year; but in the rest, during only nine, six, four, or three months, and
in his second no more than a few hours. For having sat for a short time
in the morning, upon the calends of January [1st January], in his curule
chair [143], before the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, he abdicated the
office, and substituted another in his room. Nor did he enter upon them
all at Rome, but upon the fourth in Asia, the fifth in the Isle of Samos,
and the eighth and ninth at Tarragona. [144]

XXVII. During ten years he acted as one of the triumvirate for settling
the commonwealth, in which office he for some time opposed his colleagues
in their design of a proscription; but after it was begun, he prosecuted
it with more determined rigour than either of them. For whilst they were
often prevailed upon, by the interest and intercession of friends, to
shew mercy, he alone strongly insisted that no one should be spared, and
even proscribed Caius Toranius [145], his guardian; who had (90) been
formerly the colleague of his father Octavius in the aedileship. Junius
Saturnius adds this farther account of him: that when, after the
proscription was over, Marcus Lepidus made an apology in the senate for
their past proceedings, and gave them hopes of a more mild administration
for the future, because they had now sufficiently crushed their enemies;
he, on the other hand, declared that the only limit he had fixed to the
proscription was, that he should be free to act as he pleased.
Afterwards, however, repenting of his severity, he advanced T. Vinius
Philopoemen to the equestrian rank, for having concealed his patron at
the time he was proscribed. In this same office he incurred great odium
upon many accounts. For as he was one day making an harangue, observing
among the soldiers Pinarius, a Roman knight, admit some private citizens,
and engaged in taking notes, he ordered him to be stabbed before his
eyes, as a busy-body and a spy upon him. He so terrified with his
menaces Tedius Afer, the consul elect [146], for having reflected upon
some action of his, that he threw himself from a great height, and died
on the spot. And when Quintus Gallius, the praetor, came to compliment
him with a double tablet under his cloak, suspecting that it was a sword
he had concealed, and yet not venturing to make a search, lest it should
be found to be something else, he caused him to be dragged from his
tribunal by centurions and soldiers, and tortured like a slave: and
although he made no confession, ordered him to be put to death, after he
had, with his own hands, plucked out his eyes. His own account of the
matter, however, is, that Quintus Gallius sought a private conference
with him, for the purpose of assassinating him; that he therefore put him
in prison, but afterwards released him, and banished him the city; when
he perished either in a storm at sea, or by falling into the hands of

He accepted of the tribunitian power for life, but more than once chose a
colleague in that office for two lustra [147] successively. He also had
the supervision of morality and observance of the laws, for life, but
without the title of censor; yet he thrice (91) took a census of the
people, the first and third time with a colleague, but the second by

XXVIII. He twice entertained thoughts of restoring the republic [148];
first, immediately after he had crushed Antony, remembering that he had
often charged him with being the obstacle to its restoration. The second
time was in consequence of a long illness, when he sent for the
magistrates and the senate to his own house, and delivered them a
particular account of the state of the empire. But reflecting at the
same time that it would be both hazardous to himself to return to the
condition of a private person, and might be dangerous to the public to
have the government placed again under the control of the people, he
resolved to keep it in his own hands, whether with the better event or
intention, is hard to say. His good intentions he often affirmed in
private discourse, and also published an edict, in which it was declared
in the following terms: “May it be permitted me to have the happiness of
establishing the commonwealth on a safe and sound basis, and thus enjoy
the reward of which I am ambitious, that of being celebrated for moulding
it into the form best adapted to present circumstances; so that, on my
leaving the world, I may carry with me the hope that the foundations
which I have laid for its future government, will stand firm and stable.”

XXIX. The city, which was not built in a manner suitable to the grandeur
of the empire, and was liable to inundations of the Tiber [149], as well
as to fires, was so much improved under his administration, that he
boasted, not without reason, that he “found it of brick, but left it of
marble.” [150] He also rendered (92) it secure for the time to come
against such disasters, as far as could be effected by human foresight.
A great number of public buildings were erected by him, the most
considerable of which were a forum [151], containing the temple of Mars
the Avenger, the temple of Apollo on the Palatine hill, and the temple of
Jupiter Tonans in the Capitol. The reason of his building a new forum
was the vast increase in the population, and the number of causes to be
tried in the courts, for which, the two already existing not affording
sufficient space, it was thought necessary to have a third. It was
therefore opened for public use before the temple of Mars was completely
finished; and a law was passed, that causes should be tried, and judges
chosen by lot, in that place. The temple of Mars was built in fulfilment
of a vow made during the war of Philippi, undertaken by him to avenge his
father’s murder. He ordained that the senate should always assemble
there when they met to deliberate respecting wars and triumphs; that
thence should be despatched all those who were sent into the provinces in
the command of armies; and that in it those who returned victorious from
the wars, should lodge the trophies of their triumphs. He erected the
temple of Apollo [152] in that part of his house on the Palatine hill
which had been struck with lightning, and which, on that account, the
soothsayers declared the God to have chosen. He added porticos to it,
with a library of Latin and Greek authors [153]; and when advanced in
years, (93) used frequently there to hold the senate, and examine the
rolls of the judges.

He dedicated the temple to Apollo Tonans [154], in acknowledgment of his
escape from a great danger in his Cantabrian expedition; when, as he was
travelling in the night, his litter was struck by lightning, which killed
the slave who carried a torch before him. He likewise constructed some
public buildings in the name of others; for instance, his grandsons, his
wife, and sister. Thus he built the portico and basilica of Lucius and
Caius, and the porticos of Livia and Octavia [155], and the theatre of
Marcellus [156]. He also often exhorted other persons of rank to
embellish the city by new buildings, or repairing and improving the old,
according to their means. In consequence of this recommendation, many
were raised; such as the temple of Hercules and the Muses, by Marcius
Philippus; a temple of Diana by Lucius Cornificius; the Court of Freedom
by Asinius Pollio; a temple of Saturn by Munatius Plancus; a theatre by
Cornelius Balbus [157]; an amphitheatre by Statilius Taurus; and several
other noble edifices by Marcus Agrippa. [158]

(94) XXX. He divided the city into regions and districts, ordaining that
the annual magistrates should take by lot the charge of the former; and
that the latter should be superintended by wardens chosen out of the
people of each neighbourhood. He appointed a nightly watch to be on
their guard against accidents from fire; and, to prevent the frequent
inundations, he widened and cleansed the bed of the Tiber, which had in
the course of years been almost dammed up with rubbish, and the channel
narrowed by the ruins of houses [159]. To render the approaches to the
city more commodious, he took upon himself the charge of repairing the
Flaminian way as far as Ariminum [160], and distributed the repairs of
the other roads amongst several persons who had obtained the honour of a
triumph; to be defrayed out of the money arising from the spoils of war.
Temples decayed by time, or destroyed by fire, he either repaired or
rebuilt; and enriched them, as well as many others, with splendid
offerings. On a single occasion, he deposited in the cell of the temple
of Jupiter Capitolinus, sixteen thousand pounds of gold, with jewels and
pearls to the amount of fifty millions of sesterces.

XXXI. The office of Pontifex Maximus, of which he could (95) not
decently deprive Lepidus as long as he lived [161], he assumed as soon as
he was dead. He then caused all prophetical books, both in Latin and
Greek, the authors of which were either unknown, or of no great
authority, to be brought in; and the whole collection, amounting to
upwards of two thousand volumes, he committed to the flames, preserving
only the Sibylline oracles; but not even those without a strict
examination, to ascertain which were genuine. This being done, he
deposited them in two gilt coffers, under the pedestal of the statue of
the Palatine Apollo. He restored the calendar, which had been corrected
by Julius Caesar, but through negligence was again fallen into confusion
[162], to its former regularity; and upon that occasion, called the month
Sextilis [163], by his own name, August, rather than September, in which
he was born; because in it he had obtained his first consulship, and all
his most considerable victories [164]. He increased the number, dignity,
and revenues of the priests, and especially those of the Vestal Virgins.
And when, upon the death of one of them, a new one was to be taken [165],
and many persons made interest that their daughters’ names might be
omitted in the lists for election, he replied with an oath, “If either of
my own grand-daughters were old enough, I would have proposed her.”

He likewise revived some old religious customs, which had become
obsolete; as the augury of public health [166], the office of (96) high
priest of Jupiter, the religious solemnity of the Lupercalia, with the
Secular, and Compitalian games. He prohibited young boys from running in
the Lupercalia; and in respect of the Secular games, issued an order,
that no young persons of either sex should appear at any public
diversions in the night-time, unless in the company of some elderly
relation. He ordered the household gods to be decked twice a year with
spring and summer flowers [167], in the Compitalian festival.

Next to the immortal gods, he paid the highest honours to the memory of
those generals who had raised the Roman state from its low origin to the
highest pitch of grandeur. He accordingly repaired or rebuilt the public
edifices erected by them; preserving the former inscriptions, and placing
statues of them all, with triumphal emblems, in both the porticos of his
forum, issuing an edict on the occasion, in which he made the following
declaration: “My design in so doing is, that the Roman people may require
from me, and all succeeding princes, a conformity to those illustrious
examples.” He likewise removed the statue of Pompey from the senate-
house, in which Caius Caesar had been killed, and placed it under a
marble arch, fronting the palace attached to Pompey’s theatre.

XXXII. He corrected many ill practices, which, to the detriment of the
public, had either survived the licentious habits of the late civil wars,
or else originated in the long peace. Bands of robbers showed themselves
openly, completely armed, under colour of self-defence; and in different
parts of the country, travellers, freemen and slaves without distinction,
were forcibly carried off, and kept to work in the houses of correction
[168]. Several associations were formed under the specious (97) name of
a new college, which banded together for the perpetration of all kinds of
villany. The banditti he quelled by establishing posts of soldiers in
suitable stations for the purpose; the houses of correction were
subjected to a strict superintendence; all associations, those only
excepted which were of ancient standing, and recognised by the laws, were
dissolved. He burnt all the notes of those who had been a long time in
arrear with the treasury, as being the principal source of vexatious
suits and prosecutions. Places in the city claimed by the public, where
the right was doubtful, he adjudged to the actual possessors. He struck
out of the list of criminals the names of those over whom prosecutions
had been long impending, where nothing further was intended by the
informers than to gratify their own malice, by seeing their enemies
humiliated; laying it down as a rule, that if any one chose to renew a
prosecution, he should incur the risk of the punishment which he sought
to inflict. And that crimes might not escape punishment, nor business be
neglected by delay, he ordered the courts to sit during the thirty days
which were spent in celebrating honorary games. To the three classes of
judges then existing, he added a fourth, consisting of persons of
inferior order, who were called Ducenarii, and decided all litigations
about trifling sums. He chose judges from the age of thirty years and
upwards; that is five years younger than had been usual before. And a
great many declining the office, he was with much difficulty prevailed
upon to allow each class of judges a twelve-month’s vacation in turn; and
the courts to be shut during the months of November and December. [169]

XXXIII. He was himself assiduous in his functions as a judge, and would
sometimes prolong his sittings even into the night [170]: if he were
indisposed, his litter was placed before (98) the tribunal, or he
administered justice reclining on his couch at home; displaying always
not only the greatest attention, but extreme lenity. To save a culprit,
who evidently appeared guilty of parricide, from the extreme penalty of
being sewn up in a sack, because none were punished in that manner but
such as confessed the fact, he is said to have interrogated him thus:
“Surely you did not kill your father, did you?” And when, in a trial of
a cause about a forged will, all those who had signed it were liable to
the penalty of the Cornelian law, he ordered that his colleagues on the
tribunal should not only be furnished with the two tablets by which they
decided, “guilty or not guilty,” but with a third likewise, ignoring the
offence of those who should appear to have given their signatures through
any deception or mistake. All appeals in causes between inhabitants of
Rome, he assigned every year to the praetor of the city; and where
provincials were concerned, to men of consular rank, to one of whom the
business of each province was referred.

XXXIV. Some laws he abrogated, and he made some new ones; such as the
sumptuary law, that relating to adultery and the violation of chastity,
the law against bribery in elections, and likewise that for the
encouragement of marriage. Having been more severe in his reform of this
law than the rest, he found the people utterly averse to submit to it,
unless the penalties were abolished or mitigated, besides allowing an
interval of three years after a wife’s death, and increasing the premiums
on marriage. The equestrian order clamoured loudly, at a spectacle in
the theatre, for its total repeal; whereupon he sent for the children of
Germanicus, and shewed them partly sitting upon his own lap, and partly
on their father’s; intimating by his looks and gestures, that they ought
not to think it a grievance to follow the example of that young man. But
finding that the force of the law was eluded, by marrying girls under the
age of puberty, and by frequent change of wives, he limited the time for
consummation after espousals, and imposed restrictions on divorce.

XXXV. By two separate scrutinies he reduced to their former number and
splendour the senate, which had been swamped by a disorderly crowd; for
they were now more than a (99) thousand, and some of them very mean
persons, who, after Caesar’s death, had been chosen by dint of interest
and bribery, so that they had the nickname of Orcini among the people
[171]. The first of these scrutinies was left to themselves, each
senator naming another; but the last was conducted by himself and
Agrippa. On this occasion he is believed to have taken his seat as he
presided, with a coat of mail under his tunic, and a sword by his side,
and with ten of the stoutest men of senatorial rank, who were his
friends, standing round his chair. Cordus Cremutius [172] relates that
no senator was suffered to approach him, except singly, and after having
his bosom searched [for secreted daggers]. Some he obliged to have the
grace of declining the office; these he allowed to retain the privileges
of wearing the distinguishing dress, occupying the seats at the solemn
spectacles, and of feasting publicly, reserved to the senatorial order
[173]. That those who were chosen and approved of, might perform their
functions under more solemn obligations, and with less inconvenience, he
ordered that every senator, before he took his seat in the house, should
pay his devotions, with an offering of frankincense and wine, at the
altar of that God in whose temple the senate then assembled [174], and
that their stated meetings should be only twice in the month, namely, on
the calends and ides; and that in the months of September and October
[175], a certain number only, chosen by lot, such as the law required to
give validity to a decree, should be required to attend. For himself, he
resolved to choose every six (100) months a new council, with whom he
might consult previously upon such affairs as he judged proper at any
time to lay before the full senate. He also took the votes of the
senators upon any subject of importance, not according to custom, nor in
regular order, but as he pleased; that every one might hold himself ready
to give his opinion, rather than a mere vote of assent.

XXXVI. He also made several other alterations in the management of
public affairs, among which were these following: that the acts of the
senate should not be published [176]; that the magistrates should not be
sent into the provinces immediately after the expiration of their office;
that the proconsuls should have a certain sum assigned them out of the
treasury for mules and tents, which used before to be contracted for by
the government with private persons; that the management of the treasury
should be transferred from the city-quaestors to the praetors, or those
who had already served in the latter office; and that the decemviri
should call together the court of One hundred, which had been formerly
summoned by those who had filled the office of quaestor.

XXXVII. To augment the number of persons employed in the administration
of the state, he devised several new offices; such as surveyors of the
public buildings, of the roads, the aqueducts, and the bed of the Tiber;
for the distribution of corn to the people; the praefecture of the city;
a triumvirate for the election of the senators; and another for
inspecting the several troops of the equestrian order, as often as it was
necessary. He revived the office of censor [177], which had been long
disused, and increased the number of praetors. He likewise required that
whenever the consulship was conferred on him, he should have two
colleagues instead of one; but his proposal (101) was rejected, all the
senators declaring by acclamation that he abated his high majesty quite
enough in not filling the office alone, and consenting to share it with

XXXVIII. He was unsparing in the reward of military merit, having
granted to above thirty generals the honour of the greater triumph;
besides which, he took care to have triamphal decorations voted by the
senate for more than that number. That the sons of senators might become
early acquainted with the administration of affairs, he permitted them,
at the age when they took the garb of manhood [178], to assume also the
distinction of the senatorian robe, with its broad border, and to be
present at the debates in the senate-house. When they entered the
military service, he not only gave them the rank of military tribunes in
the legions, but likewise the command of the auxiliary horse. And that
all might have an opportunity of acquiring military experience, he
commonly joined two sons of senators in command of each troop of horse.
He frequently reviewed the troops of the equestrian order, reviving the
ancient custom of a cavalcade [179], which had been long laid aside. But
he did not suffer any one to be obliged by an accuser to dismount while
he passed in review, as had formerly been the practice. As for such as
were infirm with age, or (102) any way deformed, he allowed them to send
their horses before them, coming on foot to answer to their names, when
the muster roll was called over soon afterwards. He permitted those who
had attained the age of thirty-five years, and desired not to keep their
horse any longer, to have the privilege of giving it up.

XXXIX. With the assistance of ten senators, he obliged each of the Roman
knights to give an account of his life: in regard to those who fell under
his displeasure, some were punished; others had a mark of infamy set
against their names. The most part he only reprimanded, but not in the
same terms. The mildest mode of reproof was by delivering them tablets
[180], the contents of which, confined to themselves, they were to read
on the spot. Some he disgraced for borrowing money at low interest, and
letting it out again upon usurious profit.

XL. In the election of tribunes of the people, if there was not a
sufficient number of senatorian candidates, he nominated others from the
equestrian order; granting them the liberty, after the expiration of
their office, to continue in whichsoever of the two orders they pleased.
As most of the knights had been much reduced in their estates by the
civil wars, and therefore durst not sit to see the public games in the
theatre in the seats allotted to their order, for fear of the penalty
provided by the law in that case, he enacted, that none were liable to
it, who had themselves, or whose parents had ever, possessed a knight’s
estate. He took the census of the Roman people street by street: and
that the people might not be too often taken from their business to
receive the distribution of corn, it was his intention to deliver tickets
three times a year for four months respectively; but at their request, he
continued the former regulation, that they should receive their (103)
share monthly. He revived the former law of elections, endeavouring, by
various penalties, to suppress the practice of bribery. Upon the day of
election, he distributed to the freemen of the Fabian and Scaptian
tribes, in which he himself was enrolled, a thousand sesterces each, that
they might look for nothing from any of the candidates. Considering it
of extreme importance to preserve the Roman people pure, and untainted
with a mixture of foreign or servile blood, he not only bestowed the
freedom of the city with a sparing hand, but laid some restriction upon
the practice of manumitting slaves. When Tiberius interceded with him
for the freedom of Rome in behalf of a Greek client of his, he wrote to
him for answer, “I shall not grant it, unless he comes himself, and
satisfies me that he has just grounds for the application.” And when
Livia begged the freedom of the city for a tributary Gaul, he refused it,
but offered to release him from payment of taxes, saying, “I shall sooner
suffer some loss in my exchequer, than that the citizenship of Rome be
rendered too common.” Not content with interposing many obstacles to
either the partial or complete emancipation of slaves, by quibbles
respecting the number, condition and difference of those who were to be
manumitted; he likewise enacted that none who had been put in chains or
tortured, should ever obtain the freedom of the city in any degree. He
endeavoured also to restore the old habit and dress of the Romans; and
upon seeing once, in an assembly of the people, a crowd in grey cloaks
[181], he exclaimed with indignation, “See there,

Romanos rerum dominos, gentemque togatem.” [182]

Rome’s conquering sons, lords of the wide-spread globe,
Stalk proudly in the toga’s graceful robe.

And he gave orders to the ediles not to permit, in future, any Roman to
be present in the forum or circus unless they took off their short coats,
and wore the toga.

(104) XLI. He displayed his munificence to all ranks of the people on
various occasions. Moreover, upon his bringing the treasure belonging to
the kings of Egypt into the city, in his Alexandrian triumph, he made
money so plentiful, that interest fell, and the price of land rose
considerably. And afterwards, as often as large sums of money came into
his possession by means of confiscations, he would lend it free of
interest, for a fixed term, to such as could give security for the double
of what was borrowed. The estate necessary to qualify a senator, instead
of eight hundred thousand sesterces, the former standard, he ordered, for
the future, to be twelve hundred thousand; and to those who had not so
much, he made good the deficiency. He often made donations to the
people, but generally of different sums; sometimes four hundred,
sometimes three hundred, or two hundred and fifty sesterces upon which
occasions, he extended his bounty even to young boys, who before were not
used to receive anything, until they arrived at eleven years of age. In
a scarcity of corn, he would frequently let them have it at a very low
price, or none at all; and doubled the number of the money tickets.

XLII. But to show that he was a prince who regarded more the good of his
people than their applause, he reprimanded them very severely, upon their
complaining of the scarcity and dearness of wine. “My son-in-law,
Agrippa,” he said, “has sufficiently provided for quenching your thirst,
by the great plenty of water with which he has supplied the town.” Upon
their demanding a gift which he had promised them, he said, “I am a man
of my word.” But upon their importuning him for one which he had not
promised, he issued a proclamation upbraiding them for their scandalous
impudence; at the same time telling them, “I shall now give you nothing,
whatever I may have intended to do.” With the same strict firmness,
when, upon a promise he had made of a donative, he found many slaves had
been emancipated and enrolled amongst the citizens, he declared that no
one should receive anything who was not included in the promise, and he
gave the rest less than he had promised them, in order that the amount he
had set apart might hold out. On one occasion, in a season of great
scarcity, which it was difficult to remedy, he ordered out of the city
the troops of slaves brought for sale, the gladiators (105) belonging to
the masters of defence, and all foreigners, excepting physicians and the
teachers of the liberal sciences. Part of the domestic slaves were
likewise ordered to be dismissed. When, at last, plenty was restored, he
writes thus “I was much inclined to abolish for ever the practice of
allowing the people corn at the public expense, because they trust so
much to it, that they are too lazy to till their lands; but I did not
persevere in my design, as I felt sure that the practice would some time
or other be revived by some one ambitious of popular favour.” However,
he so managed the affair ever afterwards, that as much account was taken
of husbandmen and traders, as of the idle populace. [183]

XLIII. In the number, variety, and magnificence of his public
spectacles, he surpassed all former example. Four-and-twenty times, he
says, he treated the people with games upon his own account, and three-
and-twenty times for such magistrates as were either absent, or not able
to afford the expense. The performances took place sometimes in the
different streets of the city, and upon several stages, by players in all
languages. The same he did not only in the forum and amphitheatre, but
in the circus likewise, and in the septa [184]: and sometimes he
exhibited only the hunting of wild beasts. He entertained the people
with wrestlers in the Campus Martius, where wooden seats were erected for
the purpose; and also with a naval fight, for which he excavated the
ground near the Tiber, where there is now the grove of the Caesars.
During these two entertainments he stationed guards in the city, lest, by
robbers taking advantage of the small number of people left at home, it
might be exposed to depredations. In the circus he exhibited chariot and
foot races, and combats with wild beasts, in which the performers were
often youths of the highest rank. His favourite spectacle was the Trojan
game, acted by a select number of boys, in parties differing in age and
station; thinking (106) that it was a practice both excellent in itself,
and sanctioned by ancient usage, that the spirit of the young nobles
should be displayed in such exercises. Caius Nonius Asprenas, who was
lamed by a fall in this diversion, he presented with a gold collar, and
allowed him and his posterity to bear the surname of Torquati. But soon
afterwards he gave up the exhibition of this game, in consequence of a
severe and bitter speech made in the senate by Asinius Pollio, the
orator, in which he complained bitterly of the misfortune of Aeserninus,
his grandson, who likewise broke his leg in the same diversion.

Sometimes he engaged Roman knights to act upon the stage, or to fight as
gladiators; but only before the practice was prohibited by a decree of
the senate. Thenceforth, the only exhibition he made of that kind, was
that of a young man named Lucius, of a good family, who was not quite two
feet in height, and weighed only seventeen pounds, but had a stentorian
voice. In one of his public spectacles, he brought the hostages of the
Parthians, the first ever sent to Rome from that nation, through the
middle of the amphitheatre, and placed them in the second tier of seats
above him. He used likewise, at times when there were no public
entertainments, if any thing was brought to Rome which was uncommon, and
might gratify curiosity, to expose it to public view, in any place
whatever; as he did a rhinoceros in the Septa, a tiger upon a stage, and
a snake fifty cubits lung in the Comitium. It happened in the Circensian
games, which he performed in consequence of a vow, that he was taken ill,
and obliged to attend the Thensae [185], reclining on a litter. Another
time, in the games celebrated for the opening of the theatre of
Marcellus, the joints of his curule chair happening to give way, he fell
on his back. And in the games exhibited by his (107) grandsons, when the
people were in such consternation, by an alarm raised that the theatre
was falling, that all his efforts to re-assure them and keep them quiet,
failed, he moved from his place, and seated himself in that part of the
theatre which was thought to be exposed to most danger.

XLIV. He corrected the confusion and disorder with which the spectators
took their seats at the public games, after an affront which was offered
to a senator at Puteoli, for whom, in a crowded theatre, no one would
make room. He therefore procured a decree of the senate, that in all
public spectacles of any sort, and in any place whatever, the first tier
of benches should be left empty for the accommodation of senators. He
would not even permit the ambassadors of free nations, nor of those which
were allies of Rome, to sit in the orchestra; having found that some
manumitted slaves had been sent under that character. He separated the
soldiery from the rest of the people, and assigned to married plebeians
their particular rows of seats. To the boys he assigned their own
benches, and to their tutors the seats which were nearest it; ordering
that none clothed in black should sit in the centre of the circle [186].
Nor would he allow any women to witness the combats of gladiators, except
from the upper part of the theatre, although they formerly used to take
their places promiscuously with the rest of the spectators. To the
vestal virgins he granted seats in the theatre, reserved for them only,
opposite the praetor’s bench. He excluded, however, the whole female sex
from seeing the wrestlers: so that in the games which he exhibited upon
his accession to the office of high-priest, he deferred producing a pair
of combatants which the people called for, until the next morning; and
intimated by proclamation, “his pleasure that no woman should appear in
the theatre before five o’clock.”

XLV. He generally viewed the Circensian games himself, from the upper
rooms of the houses of his friends or freedmen; sometimes from the place
appointed for the statues of the gods, and sitting in company with his
wife and children. He (108) occasionally absented himself from the
spectacles for several hours, and sometimes for whole days; but not
without first making an apology, and appointing substitutes to preside in
his stead. When present, he never attended to anything else either to
avoid the reflections which he used to say were commonly made upon his
father, Caesar, for perusing letters and memorials, and making rescripts
during the spectacles; or from the real pleasure he took in attending
those exhibitions; of which he made no secret, he often candidly owning
it. This he manifested frequently by presenting honorary crowns and
handsome rewards to the best performers, in the games exhibited by
others; and he never was present at any performance of the Greeks,
without rewarding the most deserving, according to their merit. He took
particular pleasure in witnessing pugilistic contests, especially those
of the Latins, not only between combatants who had been trained
scientifically, whom he used often to match with the Greek champions; but
even between mobs of the lower classes fighting in streets, and tilting
at random, without any knowledge of the art. In short, he honoured with
his patronage all sorts of people who contributed in any way to the
success of the public entertainments. He not only maintained, but
enlarged, the privileges of the wrestlers. He prohibited combats of
gladiators where no quarter was given. He deprived the magistrates of
the power of correcting the stage-players, which by an ancient law was
allowed them at all times, and in all places; restricting their
jurisdiction entirely to the time of performance and misdemeanours in the
theatres. He would, however, admit, of no abatement, and exacted with
the utmost rigour the greatest exertions of the wrestlers and gladiators
in their several encounters. He went so far in restraining the
licentiousness of stage-players, that upon discovering that Stephanio, a
performer of the highest class, had a married woman with her hair
cropped, and dressed in boy’s clothes, to wait upon him at table, he
ordered him to be whipped through all the three theatres, and then
banished him. Hylas, an actor of pantomimes, upon a complaint against
him by the praetor, he commanded to be scourged in the court of his own
house, which, however, was open to the public. And Pylades he not only
banished from the city, but from Italy also, for pointing with his finger
at a spectator by whom he was hissed, and turning the eyes of the
audience upon him.

(109) XLVI. Having thus regulated the city and its concerns, he
augmented the population of Italy by planting in it no less than twenty-
eight colonies [187], and greatly improved it by public works, and a
beneficial application of the revenues. In rights and privileges, he
rendered it in a measure equal to the city itself, by inventing a new
kind of suffrage, which the principal officers and magistrates of the
colonies might take at home, and forward under seal to the city, against
the time of the elections. To increase the number of persons of
condition, and of children among the lower ranks, he granted the
petitions of all those who requested the honour of doing military service
on horseback as knights, provided their demands were seconded by the
recommendation of the town in which they lived; and when he visited the
several districts of Italy, he distributed a thousand sesterces a head to
such of the lower class as presented him with sons or daughters.

XLVII. The more important provinces, which could not with ease or safety
be entrusted to the government of annual magistrates, he reserved for his
own administration: the rest he distributed by lot amongst the
proconsuls: but sometimes he made exchanges, and frequently visited most
of both kinds in person. Some cities in alliance with Rome, but which by
their great licentiousness were hastening to ruin, he deprived of their
independence. Others, which were much in debt, he relieved, and rebuilt
such as had been destroyed by earthquakes. To those that could produce
any instance of their having deserved well of the Roman people, he
presented the freedom of Latium, or even that of the City. There is not,
I believe, a province, except Africa and Sardinia, which he did not
visit. After forcing Sextus Pompeius to take refuge in those provinces,
he was indeed preparing to cross over from Sicily to them, but was
prevented by continual and violent storms, and afterwards there was no
occasion or call for such a voyage.

XLVIII. Kingdoms, of which he had made himself master by the right of
conquest, a few only excepted, he either restored to their former
possessors [188], or conferred upon aliens. Between (110) kings of
alliance with Rome, he encouraged most intimate union; being always ready
to promote or favour any proposal of marriage or friendship amongst them;
and, indeed, treated them all with the same consideration, as if they
were members and parts of the empire. To such of them as were minors or
lunatics he appointed guardians, until they arrived at age, or recovered
their senses; and the sons of many of them he brought up and educated
with his own.

XLIX. With respect to the army, he distributed the legions and auxiliary
troops throughout the several provinces, he stationed a fleet at Misenum,
and another at Ravenna, for the protection of the Upper and Lower Seas
[189]. A certain number of the forces were selected, to occupy the posts
in the city, and partly for his own body-guard; but he dismissed the
Spanish guard, which he retained about him till the fall of Antony; and
also the Germans, whom he had amongst his guards, until the defeat of
Varus. Yet he never permitted a greater force than three cohorts in the
city, and had no (pretorian) camps [190]. The rest he quartered in the
neighbourhood of the nearest towns, in winter and summer camps. All the
troops throughout the empire he reduced to one fixed model with regard to
their pay and their pensions; determining these according to their rank
in the army, the time they had served, and their private means; so that
after their discharge, they might not be tempted by age or necessities to
join the agitators for a revolution. For the purpose of providing a fund
always ready to meet their pay and pensions, he instituted a military
exchequer, and appropriated new taxes to that object. In order to obtain
the earliest intelligence of what was passing in the provinces, he
established posts, consisting at first of young men stationed at moderate
distances along the military roads, and afterwards of regular couriers
with fast vehicles; which appeared to him the most commodious, because
the persons who were the bearers of dispatches, written on the spot,
might then be questioned about the business, as occasion occurred.

L. In sealing letters-patent, rescripts, or epistles, he at first used
the figure of a sphinx, afterwards the head of Alexander (111) the Great,
and at last his own, engraved by the hand of Dioscorides; which practice
was retained by the succeeding emperors. He was extremely precise in
dating his letters, putting down exactly the time of the day or night at
which they were dispatched.

LI. Of his clemency and moderation there are abundant and signal
instances. For, not to enumerate how many and what persons of the
adverse party he pardoned, received into favour, and suffered to rise to
the highest eminence in the state; he thought it sufficient to punish
Junius Novatus and Cassius Patavinus, who were both plebeians, one of
them with a fine, and the other with an easy banishment; although the
former had published, in the name of young Agrippa, a very scurrilous
letter against him, and the other declared openly, at an entertainment
where there was a great deal of company, “that he neither wanted
inclination nor courage to stab him.” In the trial of Aemilius Aelianus,
of Cordova, when, among other charges exhibited against him, it was
particularly insisted upon, that he used to calumniate Caesar, he turned
round to the accuser, and said, with an air and tone of passion, “I wish
you could make that appear; I shall let Aelianus know that I have a
tongue too, and shall speak sharper of him than he ever did of me.” Nor
did he, either then or afterwards, make any farther inquiry into the
affair. And when Tiberius, in a letter, complained of the affront with
great earnestness, he returned him an answer in the following terms: “Do
not, my dear Tiberius, give way to the ardour of youth in this affair;
nor be so indignant that any person should speak ill of me. It is
enough, for us, if we can prevent any one from really doing us mischief.”

LII. Although he knew that it had been customary to decree temples in
honour of the proconsuls, yet he would not permit them to be erected in
any of the provinces, unless in the joint names of himself and Rome.
Within the limits of the city, he positively refused any honour of that
kind. He melted down all the silver statues which had been erected to
him, and converted the whole into tripods, which he consecrated to the
Palatine Apollo. And when the people importuned him to accept the
dictatorship, he bent down on one knee, with his toga thrown over his
shoulders, and his breast exposed to view, begging to be excused.

(112) LIII. He always abhorred the title of Lord [191], as ill-omened
and offensive. And when, in a play, performed at the theatre, at which
he was present, these words were introduced, “O just and gracious lord,”
and the whole company, with joyful acclamations, testified their
approbation of them, as applied to him, he instantly put a stop to their
indecent flattery, by waving his hand, and frowning sternly, and next day
publicly declared his displeasure, in a proclamation. He never
afterwards would suffer himself to be addressed in that manner, even by
his own children or grand-children, either in jest or earnest and forbad
them the use of all such complimentary expressions to one another. He
rarely entered any city or town, or departed from it, except in the
evening or the night, to avoid giving any person the trouble of
complimenting him. During his consulships, he commonly walked the
streets on foot; but at other times, rode in a close carriage. He
admitted to court even plebeians, in common with people of the higher
ranks; receiving the petitions of those who approached him with so much
affability, that he once jocosely rebuked a man, by telling him, “You
present your memorial with as much hesitation as if you were offering
money to an elephant.” On senate days, he used to pay his respects to
the Conscript Fathers only in the house, addressing them each by name as
they sat, without any prompter; and on his departure, he bade each of
them farewell, while they retained their seats. In the same manner, he
maintained with many of them a constant intercourse of mutual civilities,
giving them his company upon occasions of any particular festivity in
their families; until he became advanced in years, and was incommoded by
the crowd at a wedding. Being informed that Gallus Terrinius, a senator,
with whom he had only a slight acquaintance, had suddenly lost his sight,
and under that privation had resolved to starve himself to death, he paid
him a visit, and by his consolatory admonitions diverted him from his

LIV. On his speaking in the senate, he has been told by (113) one of the
members, “I did not understand you,” and by another, “I would contradict
you, could I do it with safety.” And sometimes, upon his being so much
offended at the heat with which the debates were conducted in the senate,
as to quit the house in anger, some of the members have repeatedly
exclaimed: “Surely, the senators ought to have liberty of speech on
matters of government.” Antistius Labeo, in the election of a new
senate, when each, as he was named, chose another, nominated Marcus
Lepidus, who had formerly been Augustus’s enemy, and was then in
banishment; and being asked by the latter, “Is there no other person more
deserving?” he replied, “Every man has his own opinion.” Nor was any one
ever molested for his freedom of speech, although it was carried to the
extent of insolence.

LV. Even when some infamous libels against him were dispersed in the
senate-house, he was neither disturbed, nor did he give himself much
trouble to refute them. He would not so much as order an enquiry to be
made after the authors; but only proposed, that, for the future, those
who published libels or lampoons, in a borrowed name, against any person,
should be called to account.

LVI. Being provoked by some petulant jests, which were designed to
render him odious, he answered them by a proclamation; and yet he
prevented the senate from passing an act, to restrain the liberties which
were taken with others in people’s wills. Whenever he attended at the
election of magistrates, he went round the tribes, with the candidates of
his nomination, and begged the votes of the people in the usual manner.
He likewise gave his own vote in his tribe, as one of the people. He
suffered himself to be summoned as a witness upon trials, and not only to
be questioned, but to be cross-examined, with the utmost patience. In
building his Forum, he restricted himself in the site, not presuming to
compel the owners of the neighbouring houses to give up their property.
He never recommended his sons to the people, without adding these words,
“If they deserve it.” And upon the audience rising on their entering the
theatre, while they were yet minors, and giving them applause in a
standing position, he made it a matter of serious complaint.

(114) He was desirous that his friends should be great and powerful in
the state, but have no exclusive privileges, or be exempt from the laws
which governed others. When Asprenas Nonius, an intimate friend of his,
was tried upon a charge of administering poison at the instance of
Cassius Severus, he consulted the senate for their opinion what was his
duty under the circumstances: “For,” said he, “I am afraid, lest, if I
should stand by him in the cause, I may be supposed to screen a guilty
man; and if I do not, to desert and prejudge a friend.” With the
unanimous concurrence, therefore, of the senate, he took his seat amongst
his advocates for several hours, but without giving him the benefit of
speaking to character, as was usual. He likewise appeared for his
clients; as on behalf of Scutarius, an old soldier of his, who brought an
action for slander. He never relieved any one from prosecution but in a
single instance, in the case of a man who had given information of the
conspiracy of Muraena; and that he did only by prevailing upon the
accuser, in open court, to drop his prosecution.

LVII. How much he was beloved for his worthy conduct in all these
respects, it is easy to imagine. I say nothing of the decrees of the
senate in his honour, which may seem to have resulted from compulsion or
deference. The Roman knights voluntarily, and with one accord, always
celebrated his birth for two days together; and all ranks of the people,
yearly, in performance of a vow they had made, threw a piece of money
into the Curtian lake [192], as an offering for his welfare. They
likewise, on the calends [first] of January, presented for his acceptance
new-year’s gifts in the Capitol, though he was not present with which
donations he purchased some costly images of the Gods, which he erected
in several streets of the city; as that of Apollo Sandaliarius, Jupiter
Tragoedus [193], and others. When his house on the Palatine hill was
accidentally destroyed by fire, the veteran soldiers, the judges, the
tribes, and even the people, individually, contributed, according to the
ability of each, for rebuilding it; but he would (115) accept only of
some small portion out of the several sums collected, and refused to take
from any one person more than a single denarius [194]. Upon his return
home from any of the provinces, they attended him not only with joyful
acclamations, but with songs. It is also remarked, that as often as he
entered the city, the infliction of punishment was suspended for the

LVIII. The whole body of the people, upon a sudden impulse, and with
unanimous consent, offered him the title of FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY. It
was announced to him first at Antium, by a deputation from the people,
and upon his declining the honour, they repeated their offer on his
return to Rome, in a full theatre, when they were crowned with laurel.
The senate soon afterwards adopted the proposal, not in the way of
acclamation or decree, but by commissioning M. Messala, in an unanimous
vote, to compliment him with it in the following terms: “With hearty
wishes for the happiness and prosperity of yourself and your family,
Caesar Augustus, (for we think we thus most effectually pray for the
lasting welfare of the state), the senate, in agreement with the Roman
people, salute you by the title of FATHER OF YOUR COUNTRY.” To this
compliment Augustus replied, with tears in his eyes, in these words (for
I give them exactly as I have done those of Messala): “Having now arrived
at the summit of my wishes, O Conscript Fathers [195], what else have I
to beg of the Immortal (116) Gods, but the continuance of this your
affection for me to the last moments of my life?”

LIX. To the physician Antonius Musa [196], who had cured him of a
dangerous illness, they erected a statue near that of Aesculapius, by a
general subscription. Some heads of families ordered in their wills,
that their heirs should lead victims to the Capitol, with a tablet
carried before them, and pay their vows, “Because Augustus still
survived.” Some Italian cities appointed the day upon which he first
visited them, to be thenceforth the beginning of their year. And most of
the provinces, besides erecting temples and altars, instituted games, to
be celebrated to his honour, in most towns, every five years.

LX. The kings, his friends and allies, built cities in their respective
kingdoms, to which they gave the name of Caesarea; and all with one
consent resolved to finish, at their common expense, the temple of
Jupiter Olympius, at Athens, which had been begun long before, and
consecrate it to his Genius. They frequently also left their kingdoms,
laid aside the badges of royalty, and assuming the toga, attended and
paid their respects to him daily, in the manner of clients to their
patrons; not only at Rome, but when he was travelling through the

LXI. Having thus given an account of the manner in which he filled his
public offices both civil and military, and his conduct in the government
of the empire, both in peace and war; I shall now describe his private
and domestic life, his habits at home and among his friends and
dependents, and the fortune attending him in those scenes of retirement,
from his youth to the day of his death. He lost his mother in his first
consulship, and his sister Octavia, when he was in the fifty-fourth year
of his age [197]. He behaved towards them both with the utmost kindness
whilst living, and after their decease paid the highest honours to their

(117) LXII. He was contracted when very young to the daughter of Publius
Servilius Isauricus; but upon his reconciliation with Antony after their
first rupture [198], the armies on both sides insisting on a family
alliance between them, he married Antony’s step-daughter Claudia, the
daughter of Fulvia by Publius Claudius, although at that time she was
scarcely marriageable; and upon a difference arising with his mother-in-
law Fulvia, he divorced her untouched, and a pure virgin. Soon
afterwards he took to wife Scribonia, who had before been twice married
to men of consular rank [199], and was a mother by one of them. With her
likewise he parted [200], being quite tired out, as he himself writes,
with the perverseness of her temper; and immediately took Livia Drusilla,
though then pregnant, from her husband Tiberius Nero; and she had never
any rival in his love and esteem.

LXIII. By Scribonia he had a daughter named Julia, but no children by
Livia, although extremely desirous of issue. She, indeed, conceived
once, but miscarried. He gave his daughter Julia in the first instance
to Marcellus, his sister’s son, who had just completed his minority; and,
after his death, to Marcus Agrippa, having prevailed with his sister to
yield her son-in-law to his wishes; for at that time Agrippa was married
to one of the Marcellas, and had children by her. Agrippa dying also, he
for a long time thought of several matches for Julia in even the
equestrian order, and at last resolved upon selecting Tiberius for his
step-son; and he obliged him to part with his wife at that time pregnant,
and who had already brought him a child. Mark Antony writes, “That he
first contracted Julia to his son, and afterwards to Cotiso, king of the
Getae [201], demanding at the same time the king’s daughter in marriage
for himself.”

(118) LXIV. He had three grandsons by Agrippa and Julia, namely, Caius,
Lucius, and Agrippa; and two grand-daughters, Julia and Agrippina. Julia
he married to Lucius Paulus, the censor’s son, and Agrippina to
Germanicus, his sister’s grandson. Caius and Lucius he adopted at home,
by the ceremony of purchase [202] from their father, advanced them, while
yet very young, to offices in the state, and when they were consuls-
elect, sent them to visit the provinces and armies. In bringing up his
daughter and grand-daughters, he accustomed them to domestic employments,
and even spinning, and obliged them to speak and act every thing openly
before the family, that it might be put down in the diary. He so
strictly prohibited them from all converse with strangers, that he once
wrote a letter to Lucius Vinicius, a handsome young man of a good family,
in which he told him, “You have not behaved very modestly, in making a
visit to my daughter at Baiae.” He usually instructed his grandsons
himself in reading, swimming, and other rudiments of knowledge; and he
laboured nothing more than to perfect them in the imitation of his hand-
writing. He never supped but he had them sitting at the foot of his
couch; nor ever travelled but with them in a chariot before him, or
riding beside him.

LXV. But in the midst of all his joy and hopes in his numerous and well-
regulated family, his fortune failed him. The two Julias, his daughter
and grand-daughter, abandoned themselves to such courses of lewdness and
debauchery, that he banished them both. Caius and Lucius he lost within
the space of eighteen months; the former dying in Lycia, and the latter
at Marseilles. His third grandson Agrippa, with his step-son Tiberius,
he adopted in the forum, by a law passed for the purpose by the Sections
[203]; but he soon afterwards discarded Agrippa for his coarse and unruly
temper, and confined him at Surrentum. He bore the death of his
relations with more patience than he did their disgrace; for he was not
overwhelmed by the loss of Caius and Lucius; but in the case of his
daughter, he stated the facts to the senate in a message read to them by
(119) the quaestor, not having the heart to be present himself; indeed,
he was so much ashamed of her infamous conduct, that for some time he
avoided all company, and had thoughts of putting her to death. It is
certain that when one Phoebe, a freed-woman and confidant of hers, hanged
herself about the same time, he said, “I had rather be the father of
Phoebe than of Julia.” In her banishment he would not allow her the use
of wine, nor any luxury in dress; nor would he suffer her to be waited
upon by any male servant, either freeman or slave, without his
permission, and having received an exact account of his age, stature,
complexion, and what marks or scars he had about him. At the end of five
years he removed her from the island [where she was confined] to the
continent [204], and treated her with less severity, but could never be
prevailed upon to recall her. When the Roman people interposed on her
behalf several times with much importunity, all the reply he gave was: “I
wish you had all such daughters and wives as she is.” He likewise forbad
a child, of which his grand-daughter Julia was delivered after sentence
had passed against her, to be either owned as a relation, or brought up.
Agrippa, who was equally intractable, and whose folly increased every
day, he transported to an island [205], and placed a guard of soldiers
about him; procuring at the same time an act of the senate for his
confinement there during life. Upon any mention of him and the two
Julias, he would say, with a heavy sigh,

Aith’ ophelon agamos t’ emenai, agonos t’ apoletai.

Would I were wifeless, or had childless died! [206]

nor did he usually call them by any other name than that of his “three
imposthumes or cancers.”

LXVI. He was cautious in forming friendships, but clung to them with
great constancy; not only rewarding the virtues and merits of his friends
according to their deserts, but bearing likewise with their faults and
vices, provided that they were (120) of a venial kind. For amongst all
his friends, we scarcely find any who fell into disgrace with him, except
Salvidienus Rufus, whom he raised to the consulship, and Cornelius
Gallus, whom he made prefect of Egypt; both of them men of the lowest
extraction. One of these, being engaged in plotting a rebellion, he
delivered over to the senate, for condemnation; and the other, on account
of his ungrateful and malicious temper, he forbad his house, and his
living in any of the provinces. When, however, Gallus, being denounced
by his accusers, and sentenced by the senate, was driven to the desperate
extremity of laying violent hands upon himself, he commended, indeed, the
attachment to his person of those who manifested so much indignation, but
he shed tears, and lamented his unhappy condition, “That I alone,” said
he, “cannot be allowed to resent the misconduct of my friends in such a
way only as I would wish.” The rest of his friends of all orders
flourished during their whole lives, both in power and wealth, in the
highest ranks of their several orders, notwithstanding some occasional
lapses. For, to say nothing of others, he sometimes complained that
Agrippa was hasty, and Mecaenas a tattler; the former having thrown up
all his employments and retired to Mitylene, on suspicion of some slight
coolness, and from jealousy that Marcellus received greater marks of
favour; and the latter having confidentially imparted to his wife
Terentia the discovery of Muraena’s conspiracy.

He likewise expected from his friends, at their deaths as well as during
their lives, some proofs of their reciprocal attachment. For though he
was far from coveting their property, and indeed would never accept of
any legacy left him by a stranger, yet he pondered in a melancholy mood
over their last words; not being able to conceal his chagrin, if in their
wills they made but a slight, or no very honourable mention of him, nor
his joy, on the other hand, if they expressed a grateful sense of his
favours, and a hearty affection for him. And whatever legacies or shares
of their property were left him by such as were parents, he used to
restore to their children, either immediately, or if they were under age,
upon the day of their assuming the manly dress, or of their marriage;
with interest.

LXVII. As a patron and master, his behaviour in general was mild and
conciliating; but when occasion required it, he (121) could be severe.
He advanced many of his freedmen to posts of honour and great importance,
as Licinus, Enceladus, and others; and when his slave, Cosmus, had
reflected bitterly upon him, he resented the injury no further than by
putting him in fetters. When his steward, Diomedes, left him to the
mercy of a wild boar, which suddenly attacked them while they were
walking together, he considered it rather a cowardice than a breach of
duty; and turned an occurrence of no small hazard into a jest, because
there was no knavery in his steward’s conduct. He put to death Proculus,
one of his most favourite freedmen, for maintaining a criminal commerce
with other men’s wives. He broke the legs of his secretary, Thallus, for
taking a bribe of five hundred denarii to discover the contents of one of
his letters. And the tutor and other attendants of his son Caius, having
taken advantage of his sickness and death, to give loose to their
insolence and rapacity in the province he governed, he caused heavy
weights to be tied about their necks, and had them thrown into a river.

LXVIII. In his early youth various aspersions of an infamous character
were heaped upon him. Sextus Pompey reproached him with being an
effeminate fellow; and M. Antony, with earning his adoption from his
uncle by prostitution. Lucius Antony, likewise Mark’s brother, charges
him with pollution by Caesar; and that, for a gratification of three
hundred thousand sesterces, he had submitted to Aulus Hirtius in the same
way, in Spain; adding, that he used to singe his legs with burnt nut-
shells, to make the hair become softer [207]. Nay, the whole concourse
of the people, at some public diversions in the theatre, when the
following sentence was recited, alluding to the Gallic priest of the
mother of the gods [208], beating a drum [209],

Videsne ut cinaedus orbem digito temperet?
See with his orb the wanton’s finger play!

applied the passage to him, with great applause.

(122) LXIX. That he was guilty of various acts of adultery, is not
denied even by his friends; but they allege in excuse for it, that he
engaged in those intrigues not from lewdness, but from policy, in order
to discover more easily the designs of his enemies, through their wives.
Mark Antony, besides the precipitate marriage of Livia, charges him with
taking the wife of a man of consular rank from table, in the presence of
her husband, into a bed-chamber, and bringing her again to the
entertainment, with her ears very red, and her hair in great disorder:
that he had divorced Scribonia, for resenting too freely the excessive
influence which one of his mistresses had gained over him: that his
friends were employed to pimp for him, and accordingly obliged both
matrons and ripe virgins to strip, for a complete examination of their
persons, in the same manner as if Thoranius, the dealer in slaves, had
them under sale. And before they came to an open rupture, he writes to
him in a familiar manner, thus: “Why are you changed towards me? Because
I lie with a queen? She is my wife. Is this a new thing with me, or
have I not done so for these nine years? And do you take freedoms with
Drusilla only? May health and happiness so attend you, as when you read
this letter, you are not in dalliance with Tertulla, Terentilla, Rufilla
[210], or Salvia Titiscenia, or all of them. What matters it to you
where, or upon whom, you spend your manly vigour?”

LXX. A private entertainment which he gave, commonly called the Supper
of the Twelve Gods [211], and at which the guests (123) were dressed in
the habit of gods and goddesses, while he personated Apollo himself,
afforded subject of much conversation, and was imputed to him not only by
Antony in his letters, who likewise names all the parties concerned, but
in the following well-known anonymous verses:

Cum primum istorum conduxit mensa choragum,
Sexque deos vidit Mallia, sexque deas
Impia dum Phoebi Caesar mendacia ludit,
Dum nova divorum coenat adulteria:
Omnia se a terris tunc numina declinarunt:
Fugit et auratos Jupiter ipse thronos.

When Mallia late beheld, in mingled train,
Twelve mortals ape twelve deities in vain;
Caesar assumed what was Apollo’s due,
And wine and lust inflamed the motley crew.
At the foul sight the gods avert their eyes,
And from his throne great Jove indignant flies.

What rendered this supper more obnoxious to public censure, was that it
happened at a time when there was a great scarcity, and almost a famine,
in the city. The day after, there was a cry current among the people,
“that the gods had eaten up all the corn; and that Caesar was indeed
Apollo, but Apollo the Tormentor;” under which title that god was
worshipped in some quarter of the city [212]. He was likewise charged
with being excessively fond of fine furniture, and Corinthian vessels, as
well as with being addicted to gaming. For, during the time of the
proscription, the following line was written upon his statue:–

Pater argentarius, ego Corinthiarius;
My father was a silversmith [213], my dealings are in brass;

because it was believed, that he had put some persons upon the list of
the proscribed, only to obtain the Corinthian vessels in (124) their
possession. And afterwards, in the Sicilian war, the following epigram
was published:–

Postquam bis classe victus naves perdidit,
Aliquando ut vincat, ludit assidue aleam.

Twice having lost a fleet in luckless fight,
To win at last, he games both day and night.

LXXI. With respect to the charge or imputation of loathsome impurity
before-mentioned, he very easily refuted it by the chastity of his life,
at the very time when it was made, as well as ever afterwards. His
conduct likewise gave the lie to that of luxurious extravagance in his
furniture, when, upon the taking of Alexandria, he reserved for himself
nothing of the royal treasures but a porcelain cup, and soon afterwards
melted down all the vessels of gold, even such as were intended for
common use. But his amorous propensities never left him, and, as he grew
older, as is reported, he was in the habit of debauching young girls, who
were procured for him, from all quarters, even by his own wife. To the
observations on his gaming, he paid not the smallest regard; but played
in public, but purely for his diversion, even when he was advanced in
years; and not only in the month of December [214], but at other times,
and upon all days, whether festivals or not. This evidently appears from
a letter under his own hand, in which he says, “I supped, my dear
Tiberius, with the same company. We had, besides, Vinicius, and Silvius
the father. We gamed at supper like old fellows, both yesterday and
today. And as any one threw upon the tali [215] aces or sixes, he put
down for every talus a denarius; all which was gained by him who threw a
Venus.” [216] In another letter, he says: “We had, my dear Tiberius, a
pleasant time of it during the festival of Minerva: for we played every
day, and kept the gaming-board warm. Your brother uttered many
exclamations at a desperate run of ill-fortune; but recovering by
degrees, and unexpectedly, he in the end lost not much. I lost twenty
thousand sesterces for my part; but then I was profusely (125) generous
in my play, as I commonly am; for had I insisted upon the stakes which I
declined, or kept what I gave away, I should have won about fifty
thousand. But this I like better for it will raise my character for
generosity to the skies.” In a letter to his daughter, he writes thus:
“I have sent you two hundred and fifty denarii, which I gave to every one
of my guests; in case they were inclined at supper to divert themselves
with the Tali, or at the game of Even-or-Odd.”

LXXII. In other matters, it appears that he was moderate in his habits,
and free from suspicion of any kind of vice. He lived at first near the
Roman Forum, above the Ring-maker’s Stairs, in a house which had once
been occupied by Calvus the orator. He afterwards moved to the Palatine
Hill, where he resided in a small house [217] belonging to Hortensius, no
way remarkable either for size or ornament; the piazzas being but small,
the pillars of Alban stone [218], and the rooms without any thing of
marble, or fine paving. He continued to use the same bed-chamber, both
winter and summer, during forty years [219]: for though he was sensible
that the city did not agree with his health in the winter, he
nevertheless resided constantly in it during that season. If at any time
he wished to be perfectly retired, and secure from interruption, he shut
himself up in an apartment at the top of his house, which he called his
Syracuse or Technophuon [220], or he went to some villa belonging to his
freedmen near the city. But when he was indisposed, he commonly took up
his residence in the house of Mecaenas [221]. Of all the places of
retirement from the city, he (126) chiefly frequented those upon the sea-
coast, and the islands of Campania [222], or the towns nearest the city,
such as Lanuvium, Praeneste, and Tibur [223], where he often used to sit
for the administration of justice, in the porticos of the temple of
Hercules. He had a particular aversion to large and sumptuous palaces;
and some which had been raised at a vast expense by his grand-daughter,
Julia, he levelled to the ground. Those of his own, which were far from
being spacious, he adorned, not so much with statues and pictures, as
with walks and groves, and things which were curious either for their
antiquity or rarity; such as, at Capri, the huge limbs of sea-monsters
and wild beasts, which some affect to call the bones of giants; and also
the arms of ancient heroes.

LXXIII. His frugality in the furniture of his house appears even at this
day, from some beds and tables still remaining, most of which are
scarcely elegant enough for a private family. It is reported that he
never lay upon a bed, but such as was low, and meanly furnished. He
seldom wore any garment but what was made by the hands of his wife,
sister, daughter, and grand-daughters. His togas [224] were neither
scanty nor full; (127) and the clavus was neither remarkably broad or
narrow. His shoes were a little higher than common, to make him appear
taller than he was. He had always clothes and shoes, fit to appear in
public, ready in his bed-chamber for any sudden occasion.

LXXIV. At his table, which was always plentiful and elegant, he
constantly entertained company; but was very scrupulous in the choice of
them, both as to rank and character. Valerius Messala informs us, that
he never admitted any freedman to his table, except Menas, when rewarded
with the privilege of citizenship, for betraying Pompey’s fleet. He
writes, himself, that he invited to his table a person in whose villa he
lodged, and who had formerly been employed by him as a spy. He often
came late to table, and withdrew early; so that the company began supper
before his arrival, and continued at table after his departure. His
entertainments consisted of three entries, or at most of only six. But
if his fare was moderate, his courtesy was extreme. For those who were
silent, or talked in whispers, he encouraged to join in the general
conversation; and introduced buffoons and stage players, or even low
performers from the circus, and very often itinerant humourists, to
enliven the company.

LXXV. Festivals and holidays he usually celebrated very expensively, but
sometimes only with merriment. In the Saturnalia, or at any other time
when the fancy took him, he distributed to his company clothes, gold, and
silver; sometimes coins of all sorts, even of the ancient kings of Rome
and of foreign nations; sometimes nothing but towels, sponges, rakes, and
tweezers, and other things of that kind, with tickets on them, which were
enigmatical, and had a double meaning [225]. He used likewise to sell by
lot among his guests articles of very unequal value, and pictures with
their fronts reversed; and so, by the unknown quality of the lot,
disappoint or gratify the expectation of the purchasers. This sort of
traffic (128) went round the whole company, every one being obliged to
buy something, and to run the chance of loss or gain wits the rest.

LXXVI. He ate sparingly (for I must not omit even this), and commonly
used a plain diet. He was particularly fond of coarse bread, small
fishes, new cheese made of cow’s milk [226], and green figs of the sort
which bear fruit twice a year [227]. He did not wait for supper, but
took food at any time, and in any place, when he had an appetite. The
following passages relative to this subject, I have transcribed from his
letters. “I ate a little bread and some small dates, in my carriage.”
Again. “In returning home from the palace in my litter, I ate an ounce
of bread, and a few raisins.” Again. “No Jew, my dear Tiberius, ever
keeps such strict fast upon the Sabbath [228], as I have to-day; for
while in the bath, and after the first hour of the night, I only ate two
biscuits, before I began to be rubbed with oil.” From this great
indifference about his diet, he sometimes supped by himself, before his
company began, or after they had finished, and would not touch a morsel
at table with his guests.

LXXVII. He was by nature extremely sparing in the use of wine.
Cornelius Nepos says, that he used to drink only three times at supper in
the camp at Modena; and when he indulged himself the most, he never
exceeded a pint; or if he did, his stomach rejected it. Of all wines, he
gave the (129) preference to the Rhaetian [229], but scarcely ever drank
any in the day-time. Instead of drinking, he used to take a piece of
bread dipped in cold water, or a slice of cucumber, or some leaves of
lettuce, or a green, sharp, juicy apple.

LXXVIII. After a slight repast at noon, he used to seek repose [230],
dressed as he was, and with his shoes on, his feet covered, and his hand
held before his eyes. After supper he commonly withdrew to his study, a
small closet, where he sat late, until he had put down in his diary all
or most of the remaining transactions of the day, which he had not before
registered. He would then go to bed, but never slept above seven hours
at most, and that not without interruption; for he would wake three or
four times during that time. If he could not again fall asleep, as
sometimes happened, he called for some one to read or tell stories to
him, until he became drowsy, and then his sleep was usually protracted
till after day-break. He never liked to lie awake in the dark, without
somebody to sit by him. Very early rising was apt to disagree with him.
On which account, if he was obliged to rise betimes, for any civil or
religious functions, in order to guard as much as possible against the
inconvenience resulting from it, he used to lodge in some apartment near
the spot, belonging to any of his attendants. If at any time a fit of
drowsiness seized him in passing along the streets, his litter was set
down while he snatched a few moments’ sleep.

LXXIX. In person he was handsome and graceful, through every period of
his life. But he was negligent in his dress; and so careless about
dressing his hair, that he usually had it done in great haste, by several
barbers at a time. His beard he sometimes clipped, and sometimes shaved;
and either read or wrote during the operation. His countenance, either
when discoursing or silent, was so calm and serene, that a (130) Gaul of
the first rank declared amongst his friends, that he was so softened by
it, as to be restrained from throwing him down a precipice, in his
passage over the Alps, when he had been admitted to approach him, under
pretence of conferring with him. His eyes were bright and piercing; and
he was willing it should be thought that there was something of a divine
vigour in them. He was likewise not a little pleased to see people, upon
his looking steadfastly at them, lower their countenances, as if the sun
shone in their eyes. But in his old age, he saw very imperfectly with
his left eye. His teeth were thin set, small and scaly, his hair a
little curled, and inclining to a yellow colour. His eye-brows met; his
ears were small, and he had an aquiline nose. His complexion was betwixt
brown and fair; his stature but low; though Julius Marathus, his
freedman, says he was five feet and nine inches in height. This,
however, was so much concealed by the just proportion of his limbs, that
it was only perceivable upon comparison with some taller person standing
by him.

LXXX. He is said to have been born with many spots upon his breast and
belly, answering to the figure, order, and number of the stars in the
constellation of the Bear. He had besides several callosities resembling
scars, occasioned by an itching in his body, and the constant and violent
use of the strigil [231] in being rubbed. He had a weakness in his left
hip, thigh, and leg, insomuch that he often halted on that side; but he
received much benefit from the use of sand and reeds. He likewise
sometimes found the fore-finger of his right hand so weak, that when it
was benumbed and contracted with cold, to use it in writing, he was
obliged to have recourse to a circular piece of horn. He had
occasionally a complaint in the bladder; but upon voiding some stones in
his urine, he was relieved from that pain.

LXXXI. During the whole course of his life, he suffered, at times,
dangerous fits of sickness, especially after the conquest of Cantabria;
when his liver being injured by a defluxion (131) upon it, he was reduced
to such a condition, that he was obliged to undergo a desperate and
doubtful method of cure: for warm applications having no effect, Antonius
Musa [232] directed the use of those which were cold. He was likewise
subject to fits of sickness at stated times every year; for about his
birth-day [233] he was commonly a little indisposed. In the beginning of
spring, he was attacked with an inflation of the midriff; and when the
wind was southerly, with a cold in his head. By all these complaints,
his constitution was so shattered, that he could not easily bear either
heat or cold.

LXXXII. In winter, he was protected against the inclemency of the
weather by a thick toga, four tunics, a shirt, a flannel stomacher, and
swathings upon his legs and thighs [234]. In summer, he lay with the
doors of his bedchamber open, and frequently in a piazza, refreshed by a
bubbling fountain, and a person standing by to fan him. He could not
bear even the winter’s sun; and at home, never walked in the open air
without a broad-brimmed hat on his head. He usually travelled in a
litter, and by night: and so slow, that he was two days in going to
Praeneste or Tibur. And if he could go to any place by sea, he preferred
that mode of travelling. He carefully nourished his health against his
many infirmities, avoiding chiefly the free use of the bath; but he was
often rubbed with oil, and sweated in a stove; after which he was washed
with tepid water, warmed either by a fire, or by being exposed to the
heat of the sun. When, upon account of his nerves, he was obliged to
have recourse to sea-water, or the waters of Albula [235], he was
contented with sitting over a wooden tub, which he called by a Spanish
name (132) Dureta, and plunging his hands and feet in the water by turns.

LXXXIII. As soon as the civil wars were ended, he gave up riding and
other military exercises in the Campus Martius, and took to playing at
ball, or foot-ball; but soon afterwards used no other exercise than that
of going abroad in his litter, or walking. Towards the end of his walk,
he would run leaping, wrapped up in a short cloak or cape. For amusement
he would sometimes angle, or play with dice, pebbles, or nuts, with
little boys, collected from various countries, and particularly Moors and
Syrians, for their beauty or amusing talk. But dwarfs, and such as were
in any way deformed, he held in abhorrence, as lusus naturae (nature’s
abortions), and of evil omen.

LXXXIV. From early youth he devoted himself with great diligence and
application to the study of eloquence, and the other liberal arts. In
the war of Modena, notwithstanding the weighty affairs in which he was
engaged, he is said to have read, written, and declaimed every day. He
never addressed the senate, the people, or the army, but in a
premeditated speech, though he did not want the talent of speaking
extempore on the spur of the occasion. And lest his memory should fail
him, as well as to prevent the loss of time in getting up his speeches,
it was his general practice to recite them. In his intercourse with
individuals, and even with his wife Livia, upon subjects of importance he
wrote on his tablets all he wished to express, lest, if he spoke
extempore, he should say more or less than was proper. He delivered
himself in a sweet and peculiar tone, in which he was diligently
instructed by a master of elocution. But when he had a cold, he
sometimes employed a herald to deliver his speeches to the people.

LXXXV. He composed many tracts in prose on various subjects, some of
which he read occasionally in the circle of his friends, as to an
auditory. Among these was his “Rescript to Brutus respecting Cato.”
Most of the pages he read himself, although he was advanced in years, but
becoming fatigued, he gave the rest to Tiberius to finish. He likewise
read over to (133) his friends his “Exhortations to Philosophy,” and the
“History of his own Life,” which he continued in thirteen books, as far
as the Cantabrian war, but no farther. He likewise made some attempts at
poetry. There is extant one book written by him in hexameter verse, of
which both the subject and title is “Sicily.” There is also a book of
Epigrams, no larger than the last, which he composed almost entirely
while he was in the bath. These are all his poetical compositions for
though he begun a tragedy with great zest, becoming dissatisfied with the
style, he obliterated the whole; and his friends saying to him, “What is
your Ajax doing?” he answered, “My Ajax has met with a sponge.” [236]

LXXXVI. He cultivated a style which was neat and chaste, avoiding
frivolous or harsh language, as well as obsolete words, which he calls
disgusting. His chief object was to deliver his thoughts with all
possible perspicuity. To attain this end, and that he might nowhere
perplex, or retard the reader or hearer, he made no scruple to add
prepositions to his verbs, or to repeat the same conjunction several
times; which, when omitted, occasion some little obscurity, but give a
grace to the style. Those who used affected language, or adopted
obsolete words, he despised, as equally faulty, though in different ways.
He sometimes indulged himself in jesting, particularly with his friend
Mecaenas, whom he rallied upon all occasions for his fine phrases [237],
and bantered by imitating his way of talking. Nor did he spare Tiberius,
who was fond of obsolete and far-fetched expressions. He charges Mark
Antony with insanity, writing rather to make men stare, than to be
understood; and by way of sarcasm upon his depraved and fickle taste in
the choice of words, he writes to him thus: “And are you yet in doubt,
whether Cimber Annius or Veranius Flaccus be more proper for your
imitation? Whether you will adopt words which Sallustius Crispus has
borrowed from the ‘Origines’ of Cato? Or do you think that the verbose
empty bombast of Asiatic orators is fit to be transfused into (134) our
language?” And in a letter where he commends the talent of his grand-
daughter, Agrippina, he says, “But you must be particularly careful, both
in writing and speaking, to avoid affectation.”

LXXXVII. In ordinary conversation, he made use of several peculiar
expressions, as appears from letters in his own hand-writing; in which,
now and then, when he means to intimate that some persons would never pay
their debts, he says, “They will pay at the Greek Calends.” And when he
advised patience in the present posture of affairs, he would say, “Let us
be content with our Cato.” To describe anything in haste, he said, “It
was sooner done than asparagus is cooked.” He constantly puts baceolus
for stultus, pullejaceus for pullus, vacerrosus for cerritus, vapide se
habere for male, and betizare for languere, which is commonly called
lachanizare. Likewise simus for sumus, domos for domus in the genitive
singular [238]. With respect to the last two peculiarities, lest any
person should imagine that they were only slips of his pen, and not
customary with him, he never varies. I have likewise remarked this
singularity in his hand-writing; he never divides his words, so as to
carry the letters which cannot be inserted at the end of a line to the
next, but puts them below the other, enclosed by a bracket.

LXXXVIII. He did not adhere strictly to orthography as laid down by the
grammarians, but seems to have been of the opinion of those who think,
that we ought to write as we speak; for as to his changing and omitting
not only letters but whole syllables, it is a vulgar mistake. Nor should
I have taken notice of it, but that it appears strange to me, that any
person should have told us, that he sent a successor to a consular
lieutenant of a province, as an ignorant, illiterate fellow, upon his
observing that he had written ixi for ipsi. When he had occasion to
write in cypher, he put b for a, c for b, and so forth; and instead
of z, aa.

LXXXIX. He was no less fond of the Greek literature, in which he made
considerable proficiency; having had Apollodorus (135) of Pergamus, for
his master in rhetoric; whom, though much advanced in years, he took with
him from The City, when he was himself very young, to Apollonia.
Afterwards, being instructed in philology by Sephaerus, he received into
his family Areus the philosopher, and his sons Dionysius and Nicanor; but
he never could speak the Greek tongue readily, nor ever ventured to
compose in it. For if there was occasion for him to deliver his
sentiments in that language, he always expressed what he had to say in
Latin, and gave it another to translate. He was evidently not
unacquainted with the poetry of the Greeks, and had a great taste for the
ancient comedy, which he often brought upon the stage, in his public
spectacles. In reading the Greek and Latin authors, he paid particular
attention to precepts and examples which might be useful in public or
private life. Those he used to extract verbatim, and gave to his
domestics, or send to the commanders of the armies, the governors of the
provinces, or the magistrates of the city, when any of them seemed to
stand in need of admonition. He likewise read whole books to the senate,
and frequently made them known to the people by his edicts; such as the
orations of Quintus Metellus “for the Encouragement of Marriage,” and
those of Rutilius “On the Style of Building;” [239] to shew the people
that he was not the first who had promoted those objects, but that the
ancients likewise had thought them worthy their attention. He patronised
the men of genius of that age in every possible way. He would hear them
read their works with a great deal of patience and good nature; and not
only poetry [240] and history, but orations and dialogues. He was
displeased, however, that anything should be written upon himself, except
in a grave manner, and by men of the most eminent abilities: and he
enjoined the praetors not to suffer his name to be made too common in the
contests amongst orators and poets in the theatres.

XC. We have the following account of him respecting his (136) belief in
omens and such like. He had so great a dread of thunder and lightning
that he always carried about him a seal’s skin, by way of preservation.
And upon any apprehension of a violent storm, he would retire to some
place of concealment in a vault under ground; having formerly been
terrified by a flash of lightning, while travelling in the night, as we
have already mentioned. [241]

XCI. He neither slighted his own dreams nor those of other people
relating to himself. At the battle of Philippi, although he had resolved
not to stir out of his tent, on account of his being indisposed, yet,
being warned by a dream of one of his friends, he changed his mind; and
well it was that he did so, for in the enemy’s attack, his couch was
pierced and cut to pieces, on the supposition of his being in it. He had
many frivolous and frightful dreams during the spring; but in the other
parts of the year, they were less frequent and more significative. Upon
his frequently visiting a temple near the Capitol, which he had dedicated
to Jupiter Tonans, he dreamt that Jupiter Capitolinus complained that his
worshippers were taken from him, and that upon this he replied, he had
only given him The Thunderer for his porter [242]. He therefore
immediately suspended little bells round the summit of the temple;
because such commonly hung at the gates of great houses. In consequence
of a dream, too, he always, on a certain day of the year, begged alms of
the people, reaching out his hand to receive the dole which they offered

XCII. Some signs and omens he regarded as infallible. If in the morning
his shoe was put on wrong, the left instead of the right, that boded some
disaster. If when he commenced a long journey, by sea or land, there
happened to fall a mizzling rain, he held it to be a good sign of a
speedy and happy return. He was much affected likewise with any thing
out of the common course of nature. A palm-tree [243] which (137)
chanced to grow up between some stone’s in the court of his house, he
transplanted into a court where the images of the Household Gods were
placed, and took all possible care to make it thrive. in the island of
Capri, some decayed branches of an old ilex, which hung drooping to the
ground, recovered themselves upon his arrival; at which he was so
delighted, that he made an exchange with the Republic [244] of Naples, of
the island of Oenaria [Ischia], for that of Capri. He likewise observed
certain days; as never to go from home the day after the Nundiae [245],
nor to begin any serious business upon the nones [246]; avoiding nothing
else in it, as he writes to Tiberius, than its unlucky name.

XCIII. With regard to the religious ceremonies of foreign nations, he
was a strict observer of those which had been established by ancient
custom; but others he held in no esteem. For, having been initiated at
Athens, and coming afterwards to hear a cause at Rome, relative to the
privileges of the priests of the Attic Ceres, when some of the mysteries
of their sacred rites were to be introduced in the pleadings, he
dismissed those who sat upon the bench as judges with him, as well as the
by-standers, and beard the argument upon those points himself. But, on
the other hand, he not only declined, in his progress through Egypt, to
go out of his way to pay a visit to Apis, but he likewise commended his
grandson Caius (138) for not paying his devotions at Jerusalem in his
passage through Judaea. [247]

XCIV. Since we are upon this subject, it may not be improper to give an
account of the omens, before and at his birth, as well as afterwards,
which gave hopes of his future greatness, and the good fortune that
constantly attended him. A part of the wall of Velletri having in former
times been struck with thunder, the response of the soothsayers was, that
a native of that town would some time or other arrive at supreme power;
relying on which prediction, the Velletrians both then, and several times
afterwards, made war upon the Roman people, to their own ruin. At last
it appeared by the event, that the omen had portended the elevation of

Julius Marathus informs us, that a few months before his birth, there
happened at Rome a prodigy, by which was signified that Nature was in
travail with a king for the Roman people; and that the senate, in alarm,
came to the resolution that no child born that year should be brought up;
but that those amongst them, whose wives were pregnant, to secure to
themselves a chance of that dignity, took care that the decree of the
senate should not be registered in the treasury.

I find in the theological books of Asclepiades the Mendesian [248], that
Atia, upon attending at midnight a religious solemnity in honour of
Apollo, when the rest of the matrons retired home, fell asleep on her
couch in the temple, and that a serpent immediately crept to her, and
soon after withdrew. She awaking upon it, purified herself, as usual
after the embraces of her husband; and instantly there appeared upon her
body a mark in the form of a serpent, which she never after could efface,
and which obliged her, during the subsequent part of her life, to decline
the use of the public baths. Augustus, it was added, was born in the
tenth month after, and for that reason was thought to be the son of
Apollo. The (139) same Atia, before her delivery, dreamed that her
bowels stretched to the stars, and expanded through the whole circuit of
heaven and earth. His father Octavius, likewise, dreamt that a sun-beam
issued from his wife’s womb.

Upon the day he was born, the senate being engaged in a debate on
Catiline’s conspiracy, and Octavius, in consequence of his wife’s being
in childbirth, coming late into the house, it is a well-known fact, that
Publius Nigidius, upon hearing the occasion of his coming so late, and
the hour of his wife’s delivery, declared that the world had got a
master. Afterwards, when Octavius, upon marching with his army through
the deserts of Thrace, consulted the oracle in the grove of father
Bacchus, with barbarous rites, concerning his son, he received from the
priests an answer to the same purpose; because, when they poured wine
upon the altar, there burst out so prodigious a flame, that it ascended
above the roof of the temple, and reached up to the heavens; a
circumstance which had never happened to any one but Alexander the Great,
upon his sacrificing at the same altars. And next night he dreamt that
he saw his son under a more than human appearance, with thunder and a
sceptre, and the other insignia of Jupiter, Optimus, Maximus, having on
his head a radiant crown, mounted upon a chariot decked with laurel, and
drawn by six pair of milk-white horses.

Whilst he was yet an infant, as Caius Drusus relates, being laid in his
cradle by his nurse, and in a low place, the next day he was not to be
found, and after he had been sought for a long time, he was at last
discovered upon a lofty tower, lying with his face towards the rising sun
[249]. When he first began to speak, he ordered the frogs that happened
to make a troublesome noise, upon an estate belonging to the family near
the town, to be silent; and there goes a report that frogs never croaked
there since that time. As he was dining in a grove at the fourth mile-
stone on the Campanian road, an eagle suddenly snatched a piece of bread
out of his hand, and, soaring to a prodigious height, after hovering,
came down most unexpectedly, and returned it to him.

Quintus Catulus had a dream, for two nights successively after his
dedication of the Capitol. The first night he dreamt (140) that Jupiter,
out of several boys of the order of the nobility who were playing about
his altar, selected one, into whose bosom he put the public seal of the
commonwealth, which he held in his hand; but in his vision the next
night, he saw in the bosom of Jupiter Capitolinus, the same boy; whom he
ordered to be removed, but it was forbidden by the God, who declared that
it must be brought up to become the guardian of the state. The next day,
meeting Augustus, with whom till that hour he had not the least
acquaintance, and looking at him with admiration, he said he was
extremely like the boy he had seen in his dream. Some give a different
account of Catulus’s first dream, namely, that Jupiter, upon several
noble lads requesting of him that they might have a guardian, had pointed
to one amongst them, to whom they were to prefer their requests; and
putting his fingers to the boy’s mouth to kiss, he afterwards applied
them to his own.

Marcus Cicero, as he was attending Caius Caesar to the Capitol, happened
to be telling some of his friends a dream which he had the preceding
night, in which he saw a comely youth, let down from heaven by a golden
chain, who stood at the door of the Capitol, and had a whip put into his
hands by Jupiter. And immediately upon sight of Augustus, who had been
sent for by his uncle Caesar to the sacrifice, and was as yet perfectly
unknown to most of the company, he affirmed that it was the very boy he
had seen in his dream. When he assumed the manly toga, his senatorian
tunic becoming loose in the seam on each side, fell at his feet. Some
would have this to forbode, that the order, of which that was the badge
of distinction, would some time or other be subject to him.

Julius Caesar, in cutting down a wood to make room for his camp near
Munda [250], happened to light upon a palm-tree, and ordered it to be
preserved as an omen of victory. From the root of this tree there put
out immediately a sucker, which, in a few days, grew to such a height as
not only to equal, but overshadow it, and afford room for many nests of
wild pigeons which built in it, though that species of bird particularly
avoids a hard and rough leaf. It is likewise reported, that Caesar was
chiefly influenced by this prodigy, to prefer his sister’s grandson
before all others for his successor.

(141) In his retirement at Apollonia, he went with his friend Agrippa to
visit Theogenes, the astrologer, in his gallery on the roof. Agrippa,
who first consulted the fates, having great and almost incredible
fortunes predicted of him, Augustus did not choose to make known his
nativity, and persisted for some time in the refusal, from a mixture of
shame and fear, lest his fortunes should be predicted as inferior to
those of Agrippa. Being persuaded, however, after much importunity, to
declare it, Theogenes started up from his seat, and paid him adoration.
Not long afterwards, Augustus was so confident of the greatness of his
destiny, that he published his horoscope, and struck a silver coin,
bearing upon it the sign of Capricorn, under the influence of which he
was born.

XCV. After the death of Caesar, upon his return from Apollonia, as he
was entering the city, on a sudden, in a clear and bright sky, a circle
resembling the rainbow surrounded the body of the sun; and, immediately
afterwards, the tomb of Julia, Caesar’s daughter, was struck by
lightning. In his first consulship, whilst he was observing the
auguries, twelve vultures presented themselves, as they had done to
Romulus. And when he offered sacrifice, the livers of all the victims
were folded inward in the lower part; a circumstance which was regarded
by those present, who had skill in things of that nature, as an
indubitable prognostic of great and wonderful fortune.

XCVI. He certainly had a presentiment of the issue of all his wars.
When the troops of the Triumviri were collected about Bolognia, an eagle,
which sat upon his tent, and was attacked by two crows, beat them both,
and struck them to the ground, in the view of the whole army; who thence
inferred that discord would arise between the three colleagues, which
would be attended with the like event: and it accordingly happened. At
Philippi, he was assured of success by a Thessalian, upon the authority,
as he pretended, of the Divine Caesar himself, who had appeared to him
while he was travelling in a bye-road. At Perugia, the sacrifice not
presenting any favourable intimations, but the contrary, he ordered fresh
victims; the enemy, however, carrying off the sacred things in a sudden
sally, it was agreed amongst the augurs, that all the (142) dangers and
misfortunes which had threatened the sacrificer, would fall upon the
heads of those who had got possession of the entrails. And, accordingly,
so it happened. The day before the sea-fight near Sicily, as he was
walking upon the shore, a fish leaped out of the sea, and laid itself at
his feet. At Actium, while he was going down to his fleet to engage the
enemy, he was met by an ass with a fellow driving it. The name of the
man was Eutychus, and that of the animal, Nichon [251]. After the
victory, he erected a brazen statue to each, in a temple built upon the
spot where he had encamped.

XCVII. His death, of which I shall now speak, and his subsequent
deification, were intimated by divers manifest prodigies. As he was
finishing the census amidst a great crowd of people in the Campus
Martius, an eagle hovered round him several times, and then directed its
course to a neighbouring temple, where it settled upon the name of
Agrippa, and at the first letter. Upon observing this, he ordered his
colleague Tiberius to put up the vows, which it is usual to make on such
occasions, for the succeeding Lustrum. For he declared he would not
meddle with what it was probable he should never accomplish, though the
tables were ready drawn for it. About the same time, the first letter of
his name, in an inscription upon one of his statues, was struck out by
lightning; which was interpreted as a presage that he would live only a
hundred days longer, the letter C denoting that number; and that he would
be placed amongst the Gods, as Aesar, which is the remaining part of the
word Caesar, signifies, in the Tuscan language, a God [252]. Being,
therefore, about dispatching Tiberius to Illyricum, and designing to go
with him as far as Beneventum, but being detained by several persons who
applied to him respecting causes they had depending, he cried out, (and
it was afterwards regarded as an omen of his death), “Not all the
business in the world, shall detain me at home one moment longer;” and
setting out upon his journey, he went (143) as far as Astura [253];
whence, contrary to his custom, he put to sea in the night-time, as there
was a favourable wind.

XCVIII. His malady proceeded from diarrhoea; notwithstanding which, he
went round the coast of Campania, and the adjacent islands, and spent
four days in that of Capri; where he gave himself up entirely to repose
and relaxation. Happening to sail by the bay of Puteoli, the passengers
and mariners aboard a ship of Alexandria [254], just then arrived, clad
all in white, with chaplets upon their heads, and offering incense,
loaded him with praises and joyful acclamations, crying out, “By you we
live, by you we sail securely, by you enjoy our liberty and our
fortunes.” At which being greatly pleased, he distributed to each of
those who attended him, forty gold pieces, requiring from them an
assurance on oath, not to employ the sum given them in any other way,
than the purchase of Alexandrian merchandize. And during several days
afterwards, he distributed Togae [255] and Pallia, among other gifts, on
condition that the Romans should use the Greek, and the Greeks the Roman
dress and language. He likewise constantly attended to see the boys
perform their exercises, according to an ancient custom still continued
at Capri. He gave them likewise an entertainment in his presence, and
not only permitted, but required from them the utmost freedom in jesting,
and scrambling for fruit, victuals, and other things which he threw
amongst them. In a word, he indulged himself in all the ways of
amusement he could contrive.

He called an island near Capri, Apragopolis, “The City of the Do-
littles,” from the indolent life which several of his party led there. A
favourite of his, one Masgabas [256], he used (144) to call Ktistaes. as
if he had been the planter of the island. And observing from his room a
great company of people with torches, assembled at the tomb of this
Masgabas, who died the year before, he uttered very distinctly this
verse, which he made extempore.

Ktistou de tumbo, eisoro pyroumenon.
Blazing with lights I see the founder’s tomb.

Then turning to Thrasyllus, a companion of Tiberius, who reclined on the
other side of the table, he asked him, who knew nothing about the matter,
what poet he thought was the author of that verse; and on his hesitating
to reply, he added another:

Oras phaessi Masgaban timomenon.
Honor’d with torches Masgabas you see;

and put the same question to him concerning that likewise. The latter
replying, that, whoever might be the author, they were excellent verses
[257], he set up a great laugh, and fell into an extraordinary vein of
jesting upon it. Soon afterwards, passing over to Naples, although at
that time greatly disordered in his bowels by the frequent returns of his
disease, he sat out the exhibition of the gymnastic games which were
performed in his honour every five years, and proceeded with Tiberius to
the place intended. But on his return, his disorder increasing, he
stopped at Nola, sent for Tiberius back again, and had a long discourse
with him in private; after which, he gave no further attention to
business of any importance.

XCIX. Upon the day of his death, he now and then enquired, if there was
any disturbance in the town on his account; and calling for a mirror, he
ordered his hair to be combed, and his shrunk cheeks to be adjusted.
Then asking his friends who were admitted into the room, “Do ye think
that I have acted my part on the stage of life well?” he immediately

Ei de pan echei kalos, to paignio
Dote kroton, kai pantes umeis meta charas ktupaesate.

If all be right, with joy your voices raise,
In loud applauses to the actor’s praise.

(145) After which, having dismissed them all, whilst he was inquiring of
some persons who were just arrived from Rome, concerning Drusus’s
daughter, who was in a bad state of health, he expired suddenly, amidst
the kisses of Livia, and with these words: “Livia! live mindful of our
union; and now, farewell!” dying a very easy death, and such as he
himself had always wished for. For as often as he heard that any person
had died quickly and without pain, he wished for himself and his friends
the like euthanasian (an easy death), for that was the word he made use
of. He betrayed but one symptom, before he breathed his last, of being
delirious, which was this: he was all on a sudden much frightened, and
complained that he was carried away by forty men. But this was rather a
presage, than any delirium: for precisely that number of soldiers
belonging to the pretorian cohort, carried out his corpse.

C. He expired in the same room in which his father Octavius had died,
when the two Sextus’s, Pompey and Apuleius, were consuls, upon the
fourteenth of the calends of September [the 19th August], at the ninth
hour of the day, being seventy-six years of age, wanting only thirty-five
days [258]. His remains were carried by the magistrates of the municipal
[259] towns and colonies, from Nola to Bovillae [260], and in the
nighttime, because of the season of the year. During the intervals, the
body lay in some basilica, or great temple, of each town. At Bovillae it
was met by the Equestrian Order, who carried it to the city, and
deposited it in the vestibule of his own house. The senate proceeded
with so much zeal in the arrangement of his funeral, and paying honour to
his memory, that, amongst several other proposals, some were for having
the funeral procession made through the triumphal gate, preceded by the
image of Victory which is in the senate-house, and the children of
highest rank and of both sexes singing the funeral (146) dirge. Others
proposed, that on the day of the funeral, they should lay aside their
gold rings, and wear rings of iron; and others, that his bones should be
collected by the priests of the principal colleges. One likewise
proposed to transfer the name of August to September, because he was born
in the latter, but died in the former. Another moved, that the whole
period of time, from his birth to his death, should be called the
Augustan age, and be inserted in the calendar under that title. But at
last it was judged proper to be moderate in the honours paid to his
memory. Two funeral orations were pronounced in his praise, one before
the temple of Julius, by Tiberius; and the other before the rostra, under
the old shops, by Drusus, Tiberius’s son. The body was then carried upon
the shoulders of senators into the Campus Martius, and there burnt. A
man of pretorian rank affirmed upon oath, that he saw his spirit ascend
from the funeral pile to heaven. The most distinguished persons of the
equestrian order, bare-footed, and with their tunics loose, gathered up
his relics [261], and deposited them in the mausoleum, which had been
built in his sixth consulship between the Flaminian Way and the bank of
the Tiber [262]; at which time likewise he gave the groves and walks
about it for the use of the people.

CI. He had made a will a year and four months before his death, upon the
third of the nones of April [the 11th of April], in the consulship of
Lucius Plancus, and Caius Silius. It consisted of two skins of
parchment, written partly in his own hand, and partly by his freedmen
Polybius and Hilarian; and had been committed to the custody of the
Vestal Virgins, by whom it was now produced, with three codicils under
seal, as well as the will: all these were opened and read in the senate.
He appointed as his direct heirs, Tiberius for two (147) thirds of his
estate, and Livia for the other third, both of whom he desired to assume
his name. The heirs in remainder were Drusus, Tiberius’s son, for one
third, and Germanicus with his three sons for the residue. In the third
place, failing them, were his relations, and several of his friends. He
left in legacies to the Roman people forty millions of sesterces; to the
tribes [263] three millions five hundred thousand; to the pretorian
troops a thousand each man; to the city cohorts five hundred; and to the
legions and soldiers three hundred each; which several sums he ordered to
be paid immediately after his death, having taken due care that the money
should be ready in his exchequer. For the rest he ordered different
times of payment. In some of his bequests he went as far as twenty
thousand sesterces, for the payment of which he allowed a twelvemonth;
alleging for this procrastination the scantiness of his estate; and
declaring that not more than a hundred and fifty millions of sesterces
would come to his heirs: notwithstanding that during the twenty preceding
years, he had received, in legacies from his friends, the sum of fourteen
hundred millions; almost the whole of which, with his two paternal
estates [264], and others which had been left him, he had spent in the
service of the state. He left orders that the two Julias, his daughter
and grand-daughter, if anything happened to them, should not be buried in
his tomb [265]. With regard to the three codicils before-mentioned, in
one of them he gave orders about his funeral; another contained a summary
of his acts, which he intended should be inscribed on brazen plates, and
placed in front of his mausoleum; in the third he had drawn up a concise
account of the state of the empire; the number of troops enrolled, what
money there was in the treasury, the revenue, and arrears of taxes; to
which were added the names of the freedmen and slaves from whom the
several accounts might be taken.

* * * * * *

(148) OCTAVIUS CAESAR, afterwards Augustus, had now attained to the same
position in the state which had formerly been occupied by Julius Caesar;
and though he entered upon it by violence, he continued to enjoy it
through life with almost uninterrupted tranquillity. By the long
duration of the late civil war, with its concomitant train of public
calamities, the minds of men were become less averse to the prospect of
an absolute government; at the same time that the new emperor, naturally
prudent and politic, had learned from the fate of Julius the art of
preserving supreme power, without arrogating to himself any invidious
mark of distinction. He affected to decline public honours, disclaimed
every idea of personal superiority, and in all his behaviour displayed a
degree of moderation which prognosticated the most happy effects, in
restoring peace and prosperity to the harassed empire. The tenor of his
future conduct was suitable to this auspicious commencement. While he
endeavoured to conciliate the affections of the people by lending money
to those who stood in need of it, at low interest, or without any at all,
and by the exhibition of public shows, of which the Romans were
remarkably fond; he was attentive to the preservation of a becoming
dignity in the government, and to the correction of morals. The senate,
which, in the time of Sylla, had increased to upwards of four hundred,
and, during the civil war, to a thousand, members, by the admission of
improper persons, he reduced to six hundred; and being invested with
the ancient office of censor, which had for some time been disused, he
exercised an arbitrary but legal authority over the conduct of every rank
in the state; by which he could degrade senators and knights, and inflict
upon all citizens an ignominious sentence for any immoral or indecent
behaviour. But nothing contributed more to render the new form of
government acceptable to the people, than the frequent distribution of
corn, and sometimes largesses, amongst the commonalty: for an occasional
scarcity of provisions had always been the chief cause of discontents
and tumults in the capital. To the interests of the army he likewise
paid particular attention. It was by the assistance of the legions that
he had risen to power; and they were the men who, in the last resort,
if such an emergency should ever occur, could alone enable him to
preserve it.

History relates, that after the overthrow of Antony, Augustus held a
consultation with Agrippa and Mecaenas about restoring the republican
form of government; when Agrippa gave his opinion in favour of that
measure, and Mecaenas opposed it. (149) The object of this consultation,
in respect to its future consequences on society, is perhaps the most
important ever agitated in any cabinet, and required, for the mature
discussion of it, the whole collective wisdom of the ablest men in the
empire. But this was a resource which could scarcely be adopted, either
with security to the public quiet, or with unbiassed judgment in the
determination of the question. The bare agitation of such a point would
have excited immediate and strong anxiety for its final result; while the
friends of a republican government, who were still far more numerous than
those of the other party, would have strained every nerve to procure a
determination in their own favour; and the pretorian guards, the surest
protection of Augustus, finding their situation rendered precarious by
such an unexpected occurrence, would have readily listened to the secret
propositions and intrigues of the republicans for securing their
acquiescence to the decision on the popular side. If, when the subject
came into debate, Augustus should be sincere in the declaration to abide
by the resolution of the council, it is beyond all doubt, that the
restoration of a republican government would have been voted by a great
majority of the assembly. If, on the contrary, he should not be sincere,
which is the more probable supposition, and should incur the suspicion of
practising secretly with members for a decision according to his wish, he
would have rendered himself obnoxious to the public odium, and given rise
to discontents which might have endangered his future security.

But to submit this important question to the free and unbiassed decision
of a numerous assembly, it is probable, neither suited the inclination of
Augustus, nor perhaps, in his opinion, consisted with his personal
safety. With a view to the attainment of unconstitutional power, he had
formerly deserted the cause of the republic when its affairs were in a
prosperous situation; and now, when his end was accomplished, there could
be little ground to expect, that he should voluntarily relinquish the
prize for which he had spilt the best blood of Rome, and contended for so
many years. Ever since the final defeat of Antony in the battle of
Actium, he had governed the Roman state with uncontrolled authority; and
though there is in the nature of unlimited power an intoxicating quality,
injurious both to public and private virtue, yet all history contradicts
the supposition of its being endued with any which is unpalatable to the
general taste of mankind.

There were two chief motives by which Augustus would naturally be
influenced in a deliberation on this important subject; namely, the love
of power, and the personal danger which (150) he might incur from
relinquishing it. Either of these motives might have been a sufficient
inducement for retaining his authority; but when they both concurred, as
they seem to have done upon this occasion, their united force was
irresistible. The argument, so far as relates to the love of power,
rests upon a ground, concerning the solidity of which, little doubt can
be entertained: but it may be proper to inquire, in a few words, into the
foundation of that personal danger which he dreaded to incur, on
returning to the station of a private citizen.

Augustus, as has been already observed, had formerly sided with the party
which had attempted to restore public liberty after the death of Julius
Caesar: but he afterwards abandoned the popular cause, and joined in the
ambitious plans of Antony and Lepidus to usurp amongst themselves the
entire dominion of the state. By this change of conduct, he turned his
arms against the supporters of a form of government which he had
virtually recognized as the legal constitution of Rome; and it involved a
direct implication of treason against the sacred representatives of that
government, the consuls, formally and duly elected. Upon such a charge
he might be amenable to the capital laws of his country. This, however,
was a danger which might be fully obviated, by procuring from the senate
and people an act of oblivion, previously to his abdication of the
supreme power; and this was a preliminary which doubtless they would have
admitted and ratified with unanimous approbation. It therefore appears
that he could be exposed to no inevitable danger on this account: but
there was another quarter where his person was vulnerable, and where even
the laws might not be sufficient to protect him against the efforts of
private resentment. The bloody proscription of the Triumvirate no act of
amnesty could ever erase from the minds of those who had been deprived by
it of their nearest and dearest relations; and amidst the numerous
connections of the illustrious men sacrificed on that horrible occasion,
there might arise some desperate avenger, whose indelible resentment
nothing less would satisfy than the blood of the surviving delinquent.
Though Augustus, therefore, might not, like his great predecessor, be
stabbed in the senate-house, he might perish by the sword or the poniard
in a less conspicuous situation. After all, there seems to have been
little danger from this quarter likewise for Sylla, who in the preceding
age had been guilty of equal enormities, was permitted, on relinquishing
the place of perpetual dictator, to end his days in quiet retirement; and
the undisturbed security which Augustus ever afterwards enjoyed, affords
sufficient proof, that all apprehension of danger to his person was
merely chimerical.

(151) We have hitherto considered this grand consultation as it might be
influenced by the passions or prejudices of the emperor: we shall now
take a short view of the subject in the light in which it is connected
with considerations of a political nature, and with public utility. The
arguments handed down by history respecting this consultation are few,
and imperfectly delivered; but they may be extended upon the general
principles maintained on each side of the question.

For the restoration of the republican government, it might be contended,
that from the expulsion of the kings to the dictatorship of Julius
Caesar, through a period of upwards of four hundred and sixty years, the
Roman state, with the exception only of a short interval, had flourished
and increased with a degree of prosperity unexampled in the annals of
humankind: that the republican form of government was not only best
adapted to the improvement of national grandeur, but to the security of
general freedom, the great object of all political association: that
public virtue, by which alone nations could subsist in vigour, was
cherished and protected by no mode of administration so much as by that
which connected, in the strongest bonds of union, the private interests
of individuals with those of the community: that the habits and
prejudices of the Roman people were unalterably attached to the form of
government established by so long a prescription, and they would never
submit, for any length of time, to the rule of one person, without making
every possible effort to recover their liberty: that though despotism,
under a mild and wise prince, might in some respects be regarded as
preferable to a constitution which was occasionally exposed to the
inconvenience of faction and popular tumults, yet it was a dangerous
experiment to abandon the government of the nation to the contingency of
such a variety of characters as usually occurs in the succession of
princes; and, upon the whole, that the interests of the people were more
safely entrusted in the hands of annual magistrates elected by
themselves, than in those of any individual whose power was permanent,
and subject to no legal control.

In favour of despotic government it might be urged, that though Rome had
subsisted long and gloriously under a republican form of government, yet
she had often experienced such violent shocks from popular tumults or the
factions of the great, as had threatened her with imminent destruction:
that a republican government was only accommodated to a people amongst
whom the division of property gave to no class of citizens such a degree
of pre-eminence as might prove dangerous to public freedom: that there
was required in that form of political constitution, a simplicity (152)
of life and strictness of manners which are never observed to accompany a
high degree of public prosperity: that in respect of all these
considerations, such a form of government was utterly incompatible with
the present circumstances of the Romans that by the conquest of so many
foreign nations, by the lucrative governments of provinces, the spoils of
the enemy in war, and the rapine too often practised in time of peace, so
great had been the aggrandizement of particular families in the preceding
age, that though the form of the ancient constitution should still remain
inviolate, the people would no longer live under a free republic, but an
aristocratical usurpation, which was always productive of tyranny: that
nothing could preserve the commonwealth from becoming a prey to some
daring confederacy, but the firm and vigorous administration of one
person, invested with the whole executive power of the state, unlimited
and uncontrolled: in fine, that as Rome had been nursed to maturity by
the government of six princes successively, so it was only by a similar
form of political constitution that she could now be saved from
aristocratical tyranny on one hand, or, on the other, from absolute

On whichever side of the question the force of argument may be thought to
preponderate, there is reason to believe that Augustus was guided in his
resolution more by inclination and prejudice than by reason. It is
related, however, that hesitating between the opposite opinions of his
two counsellors, he had recourse to that of Virgil, who joined with
Mecaenas in advising him to retain the imperial power, as being the form
of government most suitable to the circumstances of the times.

It is proper in this place to give some account of the two ministers
above-mentioned, Agrippa and Mecaenas, who composed the cabinet of
Augustus at the settlement of his government, and seem to be the only
persons employed by him in a ministerial capacity during his whole reign.

M. Vipsanius Agrippa was of obscure extraction, but rendered himself
conspicuous by his military talents. He obtained a victory over Sextus
Pompey; and in the battles of Philippi and Actium, where he displayed
great valour, he contributed not a little to establish the subsequent
power of Augustus. In his expeditions afterwards into Gaul and Germany,
he performed many signal achievements, for which he refused the honours
of a triumph. The expenses which others would have lavished on that
frivolous spectacle, he applied to the more laudable purpose of
embellishing Rome with magnificent buildings, one of which, the Pantheon,
still remains. In consequence of a dispute with Marcellus, the nephew of
Augustus, he retired to Mitylene, (153) whence, after an absence of two
years, he was recalled by the emperor. He first married Pomponia, the
daughter of the celebrated Atticus, and afterwards one of the Marcellas,
the nieces of Augustus. While this lady, by whom he had children, was
still living, the emperor prevailed upon his sister Octavia to resign to
him her son-in-law, and gave him in marriage his own daughter Julia; so
strong was the desire of Augustus to be united with him in the closest
alliance. The high degree of favour in which he stood with the emperor
was soon after evinced by a farther mark of esteem: for during a visit to
the Roman provinces of Greece and Asia, in which Augustus was absent two
years, he left the government of the empire to the care of Agrippa.
While this minister enjoyed, and indeed seems to have merited, all the
partiality of Augustus, he was likewise a favourite with the people. He
died at Rome, in the sixty-first year of his age, universally lamented;
and his remains were deposited in the tomb which Augustus had prepared
for himself. Agrippa left by Julia three sons, Caius, Lucius, and
Posthumus Agrippa, with two daughters, Agrippina and Julia.

C. Cilnius Mecaenas was of Tuscan extraction, and derived his descent
from the ancient kings of that country. Though in the highest degree of
favour with Augustus, he never aspired beyond the rank of the equestrian
order; and though he might have held the government of extensive
provinces by deputies, he was content with enjoying the praefecture of
the city and Italy; a situation, however, which must have been attended
with extensive patronage. He was of a gay and social disposition. In
principle he is said to have been of the Epicurean sect, and in his dress
and manners to have bordered on effeminacy. With respect to his
political talents, we can only speak from conjecture; but from his being
the confidential minister of a prince of so much discernment as Augustus,
during the infancy of a new form of government in an extensive empire, we
may presume that he was endowed with no common abilities for that
important station. The liberal patronage which he displayed towards men
of genius and talents, will render his name for ever celebrated in the
annals of learning. It is to be regretted that history has transmitted
no particulars of this extraordinary personage, of whom all we know is
derived chiefly from the writings of Virgil and Horace; but from the
manner in which they address him, amidst the familiarity of their
intercourse, there is the strongest reason to suppose, that he was not
less amiable and respectable in private life, than illustrious in public
situation. “O my glory!” is the emphatic expression employed by them

(154) O decus, O famae merito pars maxima nostrae. Vir. Georg. ii.
Light of my life, my glory, and my guide!
O et praesidium et dulce decus meum. Hor. Ode I.
My glory and my patron thou!

One would be inclined to think, that there was a nicety in the sense and
application of the word decus, amongst the Romans, with which we are
unacquainted, and that, in the passages now adduced, it was understood to
refer to the honour of the emperor’s patronage, obtained through the
means of Mecaenas; otherwise, such language to the minister might have
excited the jealousy of Augustus. But whatever foundation there may be
for this conjecture, the compliment was compensated by the superior
adulation which the poets appropriated to the emperor, whose deification
is more than insinuated, in sublime intimations, by Virgil.

Tuque adeo quem mox quae sint habitura deorum
Concilia, incertum est; urbisne invisere, Caesar,
Terrarumque velis curam; et te maximus orbis
Auctorem frugum, tempestatumque potentem
Accipiat, cingens materna tempora myrto:
An Deus immensi venias maris, ac tua nautae
Numina sola colant: tibi serviat ultima Thule;
Teque sibi generum Tethys emat omnibus undis. Geor. i. 1. 25, vi.

Thou Caesar, chief where’er thy voice ordain
To fix midst gods thy yet unchosen reign–
Wilt thou o’er cities fix thy guardian sway,
While earth and all her realms thy nod obey?
The world’s vast orb shall own thy genial power,
Giver of fruits, fair sun, and favouring shower;
Before thy altar grateful nations bow,
And with maternal myrtle wreathe thy brow;
O’er boundless ocean shall thy power prevail,
Thee her sole lord the world of waters hail,
Rule where the sea remotest Thule laves,
While Tethys dowers thy bride with all her waves. Sotheby.

Horace has elegantly adopted the same strain of compliment.

Te multa prece, te prosequitur mero
Defuso pateris; et Laribus tuum
Miscet numen, uti Graecia Castoris
Et magni memor Herculis. Carm. IV. 5.

To thee he chants the sacred song,
To thee the rich libation pours;
Thee placed his household gods among,
With solemn daily prayer adores
So Castor and great Hercules of old,
Were with her gods by grateful Greece enrolled.

(155) The panegyric bestowed upon Augustus by the great poets of that
time, appears to have had a farther object than the mere gratification of
vanity. It was the ambition of this emperor to reign in the hearts as
well as over the persons of his subjects; and with this view he was
desirous of endearing himself to their imagination. Both he and Mecaenas
had a delicate sensibility to the beauties of poetical composition; and
judging from their own feelings, they attached a high degree of influence
to the charms of poetry. Impressed with these sentiments, it became an
object of importance, in their opinion, to engage the Muses in the
service of the imperial authority; on which account, we find Mecaenas
tampering with Propertius, and we may presume, likewise with every other
rising genius in poetry, to undertake an heroic poem, of which Augustus
should be the hero. As the application to Propertius cannot have taken
place until after Augustus had been amply celebrated by the superior
abilities of Virgil and Horace, there seems to be some reason for
ascribing Mecaenas’s request to a political motive. Caius and Lucius,
the emperor’s grandsons by his daughter Julia, were still living, and
both young. As one of them, doubtless, was intended to succeed to the
government of the empire, prudence justified the adoption of every
expedient that might tend to secure a quiet succession to the heir, upon
the demise of Augustus. As a subsidiary resource, therefore, the
expedient above mentioned was judged highly plausible; and the Roman
cabinet indulged the idea of endeavouring to confirm imperial authority
by the support of poetical renown. Lampoons against the government were
not uncommon even in the time of Augustus; and elegant panegyric on the
emperor served to counteract their influence upon the minds of the
people. The idea was, perhaps, novel in the time of Augustus; but the
history of later ages affords examples of its having been adopted, under
different forms of government, with success.

The Roman empire, in the time of Augustus, had attained to a prodigious
magnitude; and, in his testament, he recommended to his successors never
to exceed the limits which he had prescribed to its extent. On the East
it stretched to the Euphrates; on the South to the cataracts of the Nile,
the deserts of Africa, and Mount Atlas; on the West to the Atlantic
Ocean; and on the North to the Danube and the Rhine; including the best
part of the then known world. The Romans, therefore, were not improperly
called rerum domini [266], and Rome, pulcherrima rerum [267], maxima
rerum [268]. Even the historians, Livy and Tacitus, (156) actuated
likewise with admiration, bestow magnificent epithets on the capital of
their country. The succeeding emperors, in conformity to the advice of
Augustus, made few additions to the empire. Trajan, however, subdued
Mesopotamia and Armenia, east of the Euphrates, with Dacia, north of the
Danube; and after this period the Roman dominion was extended over
Britain, as far as the Frith of Forth and the Clyde.

It would be an object of curiosity to ascertain the amount of the Roman
revenue in the reign of Augustus; but such a problem, even with respect
to contemporary nations, cannot be elucidated without access to the
public registers of their governments; and in regard to an ancient
monarchy, the investigation is impracticable. We can only be assured
that the revenue must have been immense, which arose from the accumulated
contribution of such a number of nations, that had supported their own
civil establishments with great splendour, and many of which were
celebrated for their extraordinary riches and commerce. The tribute paid
by the Romans themselves, towards the support of the government, was very
considerable during the latter ages of the republic, and it received an
increase after the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa. The establishments,
both civil and military, in the different provinces, were supported at
their own expense; the emperor required but a small naval force, an arm
which adds much to the public expenditure of maritime nations in modern
times; and the state was burdened with no diplomatic charges. The vast
treasure accruing from the various taxes centered in Rome, and the whole
was at the disposal of the emperor, without any control. We may
therefore justly conclude that, in the amount of taxes, customs, and
every kind of financial resources, Augustus exceeded all sovereigns who
had hitherto ever swayed the sceptre of imperial dominion; a noble
acquisition, had it been judiciously employed by his successors, in
promoting public happiness, with half the profusion in which it was
lavished in disgracing human nature, and violating the rights of mankind.

The reign of Augustus is distinguished by the most extraordinary event
recorded in history, either sacred or profane, the nativity of the
Saviour of mankind; which has since introduced a new epoch into the
chronology of all Christian nations. The commencement of the new aera
being the most flourishing period of the Roman empire, a general view of
the state of knowledge and taste at this period, may here not be

Civilization was at this time extended farther over the world than it had
ever been in any preceding period; but polytheism rather increased than
diminished with the advancement of commercial (157) intercourse between
the nations of Europe, Asia, and Africa; and, though philosophy had been
cultivated during several ages, at Athens, Cyrene, Rome, and other seats
of learning, yet the morals of mankind were little improved by the
diffusion of speculative knowledge. Socrates had laid an admirable
foundation for the improvement of human nature, by the exertion of reason
through the whole economy of life; but succeeding inquirers, forsaking
the true path of ethic investigation, deviated into specious discussions,
rather ingenious than useful; and some of them, by gratuitously adopting
principles, which, so far from being supported by reason, were repugnant
to its dictates, endeavoured to erect upon the basis of their respective
doctrines a system peculiar to themselves. The doctrines of the Stoics
and Epicureans were, in fact, pernicious to society; and those of the
different academies, though more intimately connected with reason than
the two former, were of a nature too abstract to have any immediate or
useful influence on life and manners. General discussions of truth and
probability, with magnificent declamations on the to kalon, and the
summum bonum, constituted the chief objects of attention amongst those
who cultivated moral science in the shades of academical retirement.
Cicero endeavoured to bring back philosophy from speculation to practice,
and clearly evinced the social duties to be founded in the unalterable
dictates of virtue; but it was easier to demonstrate the truth of the
principles which he maintained, than to enforce their observance, while
the morals of mankind were little actuated by the exercise of reason

The science chiefly cultivated at this period was rhetoric, which appears
to have differed considerably from what now passes under the same name.
The object of it was not so much justness of sentiment and propriety of
expression, as the art of declaiming, or speaking copiously upon any
subject. It is mentioned by Varro as the reverse of logic; and they are
distinguished from each other by a simile, that the former resembles the
palm of the hand expanded, and the latter, contracted into the fist. It
is observable that logic, though a part of education in modern times,
seems not to have been cultivated amongst the Romans. Perhaps they were
apprehensive, lest a science which concentered the force of argument,
might obstruct the cultivation of that which was meant to dilate it.
Astronomy was long before known in the eastern nations; but there is
reason to believe, from a passage in Virgil [269], that it was little
cultivated by the Romans; and it is certain, that in the reformation of
the calendar, Julius Caesar was chiefly indebted to the scientific
knowledge of (158) Sosigenes, a mathematician of Alexandria. The laws of
the solar system were still but imperfectly known; the popular belief,
that the sun moved round the earth, was universally maintained, and
continued until the sixteenth century, when the contrary was proved by
Copernicus. There existed many celebrated tracts on mathematics; and
several of the mechanical powers, particularly that of the lever, were
cultivated with success. The more necessary and useful rules of
arithmetic were generally known. The use of the load-stone not being as
yet discovered, navigation was conducted in the day-time by the sun, and
in the night, by the observation of certain stars. Geography was
cultivated during the present period by Strabo and Mela. In natural
philosophy little progress was made; but a strong desire of its
improvement was entertained, particularly by Virgil. Human anatomy being
not yet introduced, physiology was imperfect. Chemistry, as a science,
was utterly unknown. In medicine, the writings of Hippocrates, and other
Greek physicians, were in general the standard of practice; but the
Materia Medica contained few remedies of approved quality, and abounded
with useless substances, as well as with many which stood upon no other
foundation than the whimsical notions of those who first introduced them.
Architecture flourished, through the elegant taste of Vitruvius, and the
patronage of the emperor. Painting, statuary, and music, were
cultivated, but not with that degree of perfection which they had
obtained in the Grecian states. The musical instruments of this period
were the flute and the lyre, to which may be added the sistrum, lately
imported from Egypt. But the chief glory of the period is its
literature, of which we proceed to give some account.

At the head of the writers of this age, stands the emperor himself, with
his minister Mecaenas; but the works of both have almost totally
perished. It appears from the historian now translated, that Augustus
was the author of several productions in prose, besides some in verse.
He wrote Answers to Brutus in relation to Cato, Exhortations to
Philosophy, and the History of his own Life, which he continued, in
thirteen books, down to the war of Cantabria. A book of his, written in
hexameter verse, under the title of Sicily, was extant in the time of
Suetonius, as was likewise a book of Epigrams. He began a tragedy on the
subject of Ajax, but, being dissatisfied with the composition, destroyed
it. Whatever the merits of Augustus may have been as an author, of which
no judgment can be formed, his attachment to learning and eminent writers
affords a strong presumption that he was not destitute of taste.
Mecaenas is said to have written two tragedies, Octavia and Prometheus; a
History of (159) Animals; a Treatise on Precious Stones; a Journal of the
Life of Augustus; and other productions. Curiosity is strongly
interested to discover the literary talents of a man so much
distinguished for the esteem and patronage of them in others; but while
we regret the impossibility of such a development, we scarcely can
suppose the proficiency to have been small, where the love and admiration
were so great.

History was cultivated amongst the Romans during the present period, with
uncommon success. This species of composition is calculated both for
information and entertainment; but the chief design of it is to record
all transactions relative to the public, for the purpose of enabling
mankind to draw from past events a probable conjecture concerning the
future; and, by knowing the steps which have led either to prosperity or
misfortune, to ascertain the best means of promoting the former, and
avoiding the latter of those objects. This useful kind of narrative was
introduced about five hundred years before by Herodotus, who has thence
received the appellation of the Father of History. His style, in
conformity to the habits of thinking, and the simplicity of language, in
an uncultivated age, is plain and unadorned; yet, by the happy modulation
of the Ionic dialect, it gratified the ear, and afforded to the states of
Greece a pleasing mixture of entertainment, enriched not only with
various information, often indeed fabulous or unauthentic, but with the
rudiments, indirectly interspersed, of political wisdom. This writer,
after a long interval, was succeeded by Thucydides and Xenophon, the
former of whom carried historical narrative to the highest degree of
improvement it ever attained among the States of Greece. The plan of
Thucydides seems to have continued to be the model of historical
narrative to the writers of Rome; but the circumstances of the times,
aided perhaps by the splendid exertion of genius in other departments of
literature, suggested a new resource, which promised not only to animate,
but embellish the future productions of the historic Muse. This
innovation consisted in an attempt to penetrate the human heart, and
explore in its innermost recesses the sentiments and secret motives which
actuate the conduct of men. By connecting moral effects with their
probable internal and external causes, it tended to establish a
systematic consistency in the concatenation of transactions apparently
anomalous, accidental, or totally independent of each other.

The author of this improvement in history was SALLUST, who likewise
introduced the method of enlivening narrative with the occasional aid of
rhetorical declamation, particularly in his account of the Catilinian
conspiracy. The notorious (160) characters and motives of the principal
persons concerned in that horrible plot, afforded the most favourable
opportunity for exemplifying the former; while the latter, there is
reason to infer from the facts which must have been at that time publicly
known, were founded upon documents of unquestionable authority. Nay, it
is probable that Sallust was present in the senate during the debate
respecting the punishment of the Catilinian conspirators; his detail of
which is agreeable to the characters of the several speakers: but in
detracting, by invidious silence, or too faint representation, from the
merits of Cicero on that important occasion, he exhibits a glaring
instance of the partiality which too often debases the narratives of
those who record the transactions of their own time. He had married
Terentia, the divorced wife of Cicero; and there subsisted between the
two husbands a kind of rivalship from that cause, to which was probably
added some degree of animosity, on account of their difference in
politics, during the late dictatorship of Julius Caesar, by whom Sallust
was restored to the senate, whence he had been expelled for
licentiousness, and was appointed governor of Numidia. Excepting the
injustice with which Sallust treats Cicero, he is entitled to high
commendation. In both his remaining works, the Conspiracy of Catiline,
and the War of Jugurtha, there is a peculiar air of philosophical
sentiment, which, joined to the elegant conciseness of style, and
animated description of characters, gives to his writings a degree of
interest, superior to that which is excited in any preceding work of the
historical kind. In the occasional use of obsolete words, and in
laboured exordiums to both his histories, he is liable to the charge of
affectation; but it is an affectation of language which supports
solemnity without exciting disgust; and of sentiment which not only
exalts human nature, but animates to virtuous exertions. It seems to be
the desire of Sallust to atone for the dissipation of his youth by a
total change of conduct; and whoever peruses his exordiums with the
attention which they deserve, must feel a strong persuasion of the
justness of his remarks, if not the incentives of a resolution to be
governed by his example. It seems to be certain, that from the first
moment of his reformation, he incessantly practised the industry which he
so warmly recommends. He composed a History of Rome, of which nothing
remains but a few fragments. Sallust, during his administration of
Numidia, is said to have exercised great oppression. On his return to
Rome he built a magnificent house, and bought delightful gardens, the
name of which, with his own, is to this day perpetuated on the spot which
they formerly occupied. Sallust was born at Amiternum, in the country of
the Sabines, and (161) received his education at Rome. He incurred great
scandal by an amour with Fausta, the daughter of Sylla, and wife of Milo;
who detecting the criminal intercourse, is said to have beat him with
stripes, and extorted from him a large sum of money. He died, according
to tradition, in the fifty-first year of his age.

CORNELIUS NEPOS was born at Hostilia, near the banks of the Po. Of his
parentage we meet with no account; but from his respectable connections
early in life, it is probable that he was of good extraction. Among his
most intimate friends were Cicero and Atticus. Some authors relate that
he composed three books of Chronicles, with a biographical account of all
the most celebrated sovereigns, generals, and writers of antiquity.

The language of Cornelius Nepos is pure, his style perspicuous, and he
holds a middle and agreeable course between diffuseness and brevity. He
has not observed the same rule with respect to the treatment of every
subject; for the account of some of the lives is so short, that we might
suspect them to be mutilated, did they not contain evident marks of their
being completed in miniature. The great extent of his plan induced him,
as he informs us, to adopt this expedient. “Sed plura persequi, tum
magnitudo voluminis prohibet, tum festinatio, ut ea explicem, quae
exorsus sum.” [270]

Of his numerous biographical works, twenty-two lives only remain, which
are all of Greeks, except two Carthaginians, Hamilcar and Hannibal; and
two Romans, M. Porcius Cato and T. Pomponius Atticus. Of his own life,–
of him who had written the lives of so many, no account is transmitted;
but from the multiplicity of his productions, we may conclude that it was
devoted to literature.

TITUS LIVIUS may be ranked among the most celebrated historians the world
has ever produced. He composed a history of Rome from the foundation of
the city, to the conclusion of the German war conducted by Drusus in the
time of the emperor Augustus. This great work consisted, originally, of
one hundred and forty books; of which there now remain only thirty-five,
viz., the first decade, and the whole from book twenty-one to book forty-
five, both inclusive. Of the other hundred and five books, nothing more
has survived the ravages of time and barbarians than their general
contents. In a perspicuous arrangement of his subject, in a full and
circumstantial account of transactions, in the delineation of characters
and other objects of description, to justness and aptitude of sentiment,
and in an air of majesty (162) pervading the whole composition, this
author may be regarded as one of the best models extant of historical
narrative. His style is splendid without meretricious ornament, and
copious without being redundant; a fluency to which Quintilian gives the
expressive appellation of “lactea ubertas.” Amongst the beauties which
we admire in his writings, besides the animated speeches frequently
interspersed, are those concise and peculiarly applicable eulogiums, with
which he characterises every eminent person mentioned, at the close of
their life. Of his industry in collating, and his judgment in deciding
upon the preference due to, dissentient authorities, in matters of
testimony, the work affords numberless proofs. Of the freedom and
impartiality with which he treated even of the recent periods of history,
there cannot be more convincing evidence, than that he was rallied by
Augustus as a favourer of Pompey; and that, under the same emperor, he
not only bestowed upon Cicero the tribute of warm approbation, but dared
to ascribe, in an age when their names were obnoxious, even to Brutus and
Cassius the virtues of consistency and patriotism. If in any thing the
conduct of Livy violates our sentiments of historical dignity, it is the
apparent complacency and reverence with which he every where mentions the
popular belief in omens and prodigies; but this was the general
superstition of the times; and totally to renounce the prejudices of
superstitious education, is the last heroic sacrifice to philosophical
scepticism. In general, however, the credulity of Livy appears to be
rather affected than real; and his account of the exit of Romulus, in the
following passage, may be adduced as an instance in confirmation of this

“His immortalibus editis operibus, quum ad exercitum recensendum
concionem in campo ad Caprae paludem haberet, subita coorta tempestate
cum magno fragore tonitribusque tam denso regem operuit nimbo, ut
conspectum ejus concioni abstulerit; nec deinde in terris Romulus fuit.
Romana pubes, sedato tandem pavore, postquam ex tam turbido die serena,
et tranquilla lux rediit, ubi vacuam sedem regiam vidit; etsi satis
credebat Patribus, qui proximi steterant, sublimem raptum procella; tamen
veluti orbitatis metu icta, maestum aliquamdiu silentium obtinuit.
Deinde a paucis initio facto, Deum, Deo natum, regem parentemque urbis
Romanae, salvere universi Romulum jubent; pacem precibus exposcunt, uti
volens propitius suam semper sospitet progeniem. Fuisse credo tum quoque
aliquos, qui discerptum regem Patrum manibus taciti arguerent; manavit
enim haec quoque, et perobscura, fama. Illam alteram admiratio viri, et
pavor praesens nobilitavit. Consilio etiam unius hominis addita rei
dicitur fides; namque Proculus Julius sollicita civitate desiderio (163)
regis, et infensa Patribus, gravis, ut traditur, quamvis magnae rei
auctor, in concionem prodit. ‘Romulus, inquit, Quirites, parens urbis
hujus, prima hodierna luce coelo repente delapsus, se mihi obvium dedit;
quam profusus horrore venerabundusque astitissem, petens precibus, ut
contra intueri fas esset; Abi, nuncia, inquit, Romanis, Coelestes ita
velle, ut mea Roma caput orbis terrarum sit; proinde rem militarem
colant; sciantque, et ita posteris tradant, nullas opes humanas armis
Romanis resistere posse.’ Haec, inquit, locutus, sublimis abiit. Mirum,
quantum illi viro nuncianti haec fidei fuerit; quamque desiderium Romuli
apud plebem exercitumque, facta fide immortalitatis, lenitum sit.” [271]

Scarcely any incident in ancient history savours more of the (164)
marvellous than the account above delivered respecting the first Roman
king; and amidst all the solemnity with which it is related, we may
perceive that the historian was not the dupe of credulity. There is more
implied than the author thought proper to avow, in the sentence, Fuisse
credo, etc. In whatever light this anecdote be viewed, it is involved in
perplexity. That Romulus affected a despotic power, is not only highly
probable, from his aspiring disposition, but seems to be confirmed by his
recent appointment of the Celeres, as a guard to his person. He might,
therefore, naturally incur the odium of the patricians, whose importance
was diminished, and their institution rendered abortive, by the increase
of his power. But that they should choose the opportunity of a military
review, for the purpose of removing the tyrant by a violent death, seems
not very consistent with the dictates even of common prudence; and it is
the more incredible, as the circumstance which favoured the execution of
the plot is represented to have been entirely a fortuitous occurrence.
The tempest which is said to have happened, is not easily reconcilable
with our knowledge of that phenomenon. Such a cloud, or mist, as could
have enveloped Romulus from the eyes of the assembly, is not a natural
concomitant of a thunder-storm. There is some reason to suspect that
both the noise and cloud, if they actually existed, were artificial; the
former intended to divert the attention of the spectators, and the latter
to conceal the transaction. The word fragor, a noise or crash, appears
to be an unnecessary addition where thunder is expressed, though
sometimes so used by the poets, and may therefore, perhaps, imply such a
noise from some other cause. If Romulus was killed by any pointed or
sharp-edged weapon, his blood might have been discovered on the spot; or,
if by other means, still the body was equally an object for public
observation. If the people suspected the patricians to be guilty of
murder, why did they not endeavour to trace the fact by this evidence?
And if the patricians were really innocent, why did they not urge the
examination? But the body, without doubt, was secreted, to favour the
imposture. The whole narrative is strongly marked with circumstances
calculated to affect credulity with ideas of national importance; and, to
countenance the design, there is evidently a chasm in the Roman history
immediately preceding this transaction and intimately connected with it.

Livy was born at Patavium [272], and has been charged by Asinius Pollio
and others with the provincial dialect of his country. The objections to
his Pativinity, as it is called, relate chiefly to the (165) spelling of
some words; in which, however, there seems to be nothing so peculiar, as
either to occasion any obscurity or merit reprehension.

Livy and Sallust being the only two existing rivals in Roman history, it
may not be improper to draw a short comparison between them, in respect
of their principal qualities, as writers. With regard to language, there
is less apparent affectation in Livy than in Sallust. The narrative of
both is distinguished by an elevation of style: the elevation of Sallust
seems to be often supported by the dignity of assumed virtue; that of
Livy by a majestic air of historical, and sometimes national, importance.
In delineating characters, Sallust infuses more expression, and Livy more
fulness, into the features. In the speeches ascribed to particular
persons, these writers are equally elegant and animated.

So great was the fame of Livy in his own life-time, that people came from
the extremity of Spain and Gaul, for the purpose only of beholding so
celebrated a historian, who was regarded, for his abilities, as a
prodigy. This affords a strong proof, not only of the literary taste
which then prevailed over the most extensive of the Roman provinces, but
of the extraordinary pains with which so great a work must have been
propagated, when the art of printing was unknown. In the fifteenth
century, on the revival of learning in Europe, the name of this great
writer recovered its ancient veneration; and Alphonso of Arragon, with a
superstition characteristic of that age, requested of the people of
Padua, where Livy was born, and is said to have been buried, to be
favoured by them with the hand which had written so admirable a work.—-

The celebrity of VIRGIL has proved the means of ascertaining his birth
with more exactness than is common in the biographical memoirs of ancient
writers. He was born at Andes, a village in the neighbourhood of Mantua,
on the 15th of October, seventy years before the Christian aera. His
parents were of moderate condition; but by their industry acquired some
territorial possessions, which descended to their son. The first seven
years of his life was spent at Cremona, whence he went to Mediolanum, now
Milan, at that time the seat of the liberal arts, denominated, as we
learn from Pliny the younger, Novae Athenae. From this place he
afterwards moved to Naples, where he applied himself with great assiduity
to Greek and Roman literature, particularly to the physical and
mathematical sciences; for which he expressed a strong predilection in
the second book of his Georgics.

Me vero primum dulces ante omnia Musae,
Quarum sacra fero ingenti perculsus amore,
(166) Accipiant; coelique vias et sidera monstrent;
Defectus Solis varios, Lunaeque labores:
Unde tremor terris: qua vi maria alta tumescant
Obicibus ruptis, rursusque in seipsa residant:
Quid tantum Oceano properent se tingere soles
Hiberni: vel quae tardis mora noctibus obstet.
Geor. ii. 1. 591, etc.

But most beloved, ye Muses, at whose fane,
Led by pure zeal, I consecrate my strain,
Me first accept! And to my search unfold,
Heaven and her host in beauteous order rolled,
The eclipse that dims the golden orb of day,
And changeful labour of the lunar ray;
Whence rocks the earth, by what vast force the main
Now bursts its barriers, now subsides again;
Why wintry suns in ocean swiftly fade,
Or what delays night’s slow-descending shade. Sotheby.

When, by a proscription of the Triumvirate, the lands of Cremona and
Mantua were distributed amongst the veteran soldiers, Virgil had the good
fortune to recover his possessions, through the favour of Asinius Pollio,
the deputy of Augustus in those parts; to whom, as well as to the
emperor, he has testified his gratitude in beautiful eclogues.

The first production of Virgil was his Bucolics, consisting of ten
eclogues, written in imitation of the Idyllia or pastoral poems of
Theocritus. It may be questioned whether any language which has its
provincial dialects, but is brought to perfection, can ever be well
adapted, in that state, to the use of pastoral poetry. There is such an
apparent incongruity between the simple ideas of the rural swain and the
polished language of the courtier, that it seems impossible to reconcile
them together by the utmost art of composition. The Doric dialect of
Theocritus, therefore, abstractedly from all consideration of simplicity
of sentiment, must ever give to the Sicilian bard a pre-eminence in this
species of poetry. The greater part of the Bucolics of Virgil may be
regarded as poems of a peculiar nature, into which the author has happily
transfused, in elegant versification, the native manners and ideas,
without any mixture of the rusticity of pastoral life. With respect to
the fourth eclogue, addressed to Pollio, it is avowedly of a nature
superior to that of pastoral subjects:

Sicelides Musae, paullo majora canamus.
Sicilian Muse, be ours a loftier strain.

Virgil engaged in bucolic poetry at the request of Asinius Pollio, whom
he highly esteemed, and for one of whose sons in particular, (167) with
Cornelius Gallus, a poet likewise, he entertained the warmest affection.
He has celebrated them all in these poems, which were begun, we are told,
in the twenty-ninth year of his age, and completed in three years. They
were held in so great esteem amongst the Romans, immediately after their
publication, that it is said they were frequently recited upon the stage
for the entertainment of the audience. Cicero, upon hearing some lines
of them, perceived that they were written in no common strain of poetry,
and desired that the whole eclogue might be recited: which being done, he
exclaimed, “Magnae spes altera Romae.” Another hope of mighty Rome!

Virgil’s next work was the Georgics, the idea of which is taken from the
Erga kai Hmerai, the Works and Days of Hesiod, the poet of Ascra. But
between the productions of the two poets, there is no other similarity
than that of their common subject. The precepts of Hesiod, in respect of
agriculture, are delivered with all the simplicity of an unlettered
cultivator of the fields, intermixed with plain moral reflections,
natural and apposite; while those of Virgil, equally precise and
important, are embellished with all the dignity of sublime versification.
The work is addressed to Mecaenas, at whose request it appears to have
been undertaken. It is divided into four books. The first treats of
ploughing; the second, of planting; the third, of cattle, horses, sheep,
goats, dogs, and of things which are hurtful to cattle; the fourth is
employed on bees, their proper habitations, food, polity, the diseases to
which they are liable, and the remedies of them, with the method of
making honey, and a variety of other considerations connected with the
subject. The Georgics (168) were written at Naples, and employed the
author during a period of seven years. It is said that Virgil had
concluded the Georgics with a laboured eulogium on his poetical friend
Gallus; but the latter incurring about this time the displeasure of
Augustus, he was induced to cancel it, and substitute the charming
episode of Astaeus and Eurydice.

These beautiful poems, considered merely as didactic, have the justest
claim to utility. In what relates to agriculture in particular, the
precepts were judiciously adapted to the climate of Italy, and must have
conveyed much valuable information to those who were desirous of
cultivating that important art, which was held in great honour amongst
the Romans. The same remark may be made, with greater latitude of
application, in respect of the other subjects. But when we examine the
Georgics as poetical compositions, when we attend to the elevated style
in which they are written, the beauty of the similes, the emphatic
sentiments interspersed, the elegance of diction, the animated strain of
the whole, and the harmony of the versification, our admiration is
excited, at beholding subjects, so common in their nature, embellished
with the most magnificent decorations of poetry.

During four days which Augustus passed at Atella, to refresh himself from
fatigue, in his return to Rome, after the battle of Actium, the Georgics,
just then finished, were read to him by the author, who was occasionally
relieved in the task by his friend Mecaenas. We may easily conceive the
satisfaction enjoyed by the emperor, at finding that while he himself had
been gathering laurels in the achievements of war, another glorious
wreath was prepared by the Muses to adorn his temples; and that an
intimation was given of his being afterwards celebrated in a work more
congenial to the subject of heroic renown.

It is generally supposed that the Aeneid was written at the particular
desire of Augustus, who was ambitious of having the Julian family
represented as lineal descendants of the Trojan Aeneas. In this
celebrated poem, Virgil has happily united the characteristics of the
Iliad and Odyssey, and blended them so judiciously together, that they
mutually contribute to the general effect of the whole. By the esteem
and sympathy excited for the filial piety and misfortunes of Aeneas at
the catastrophe of Troy, the reader is strongly interested in his
subsequent adventures; and every obstacle to the establishment of the
Trojans in the promised land of Hesperia produces fresh sensations of
increased admiration and attachment. The episodes, characters, and
incidents, all concur to give beauty or grandeur to the poem. The
picture of Troy in flames can never be sufficiently (169) admired! The
incomparable portrait of Priam, in Homer, is admirably accommodated to a
different situation, in the character of Anchises, in the Aeneid. The
prophetic rage of the Cumaean Sibyl displays in the strongest colours the
enthusiasm of the poet. For sentiment, passion, and interesting
description, the episode of Dido is a master-piece in poetry. But Virgil
is not more conspicuous for strength of description than propriety of
sentiment; and wherever he takes a hint from the Grecian bard, he
prosecutes the idea with a judgment peculiar to himself. It may be
sufficient to mention one instance. In the sixth book of the Iliad,
while the Greeks are making great slaughter amongst the Trojans, Hector,
by the advice of Helenus, retires into the city, to desire that his
mother would offer up prayers to the goddess Pallas, and vow to her a
noble sacrifice, if she would drive Diomede from the walls of Troy.
Immediately before his return to the field of battle, he has his last
interview with Andromache, whom he meets with his infant son Astyanax,
carried by a nurse. There occurs, upon this occasion, one of the most
beautiful scenes in the Iliad, where Hector dandles the boy in his arms,
and pours forth a prayer, that he may one day be superior in fame to his
father. In the same manner, Aeneas, having armed himself for the
decisive combat with Turnus, addresses his son Ascanius in a beautiful
speech, which, while expressive of the strongest paternal affection,
contains, instead of a prayer, a noble and emphatic admonition, suitable
to a youth who had nearly attained the period of adult age. It is as

Disce, puer, virtutem ex me, verumque laborem;
Fortunam ex aliis; nunc te mea dextera bello
Defensum dabit, et magna inter praemia ducet.
Tu facito, mox cum matura adoleverit aetas,
Sis memor: et te animo repetentem exempla tuorum,
Et pater Aeneas, et avunculus excitet Hector.–Aeneid, xii.

My son! from my example learn the war
In camps to suffer, and in feuds to dare,
But happier chance than mine attend thy care!
This day my hand thy tender age shall shield,
And crown with honours of the conquered field:
Thou when thy riper years shall send thee forth
To toils of war, be mindful of my worth;
Assert thy birthright, and in arms be known,
For Hector’s nephew and Aeneas’ son.

Virgil, though born to shine by his own intrinsic powers, certainly owed
much of his excellence to the wonderful merits of Homer. His susceptible
imagination, vivid and correct, was (170) impregnated by the Odyssey, and
warmed with the fire of the Iliad. Rivalling, or rather on some
occasions surpassing his glorious predecessor in the characters of heroes
and of gods, he sustains their dignity with so uniform a lustre, that
they seem indeed more than mortal.

Whether the Iliad or the Aeneid be the more perfect composition, is a
question which has often been agitated, but perhaps will never be
determined to general satisfaction. In comparing the genius of the two
poets, however, allowance ought to be made for the difference of
circumstances under which they composed their respective works. Homer
wrote in an age when mankind had not as yet made any great progress in
the exertion of either intellect or imagination, and he was therefore
indebted for big resources to the vast capacity of his own mind. To this
we must add, that he composed both his poems in a situation of life
extremely unfavourable to the cultivation of poetry. Virgil, on the
contrary, lived at a period when literature had attained to a high state
of improvement. He had likewise not only the advantage of finding a
model in the works of Homer, but of perusing the laws of epic poetry,
which had been digested by Aristotle, and the various observations made
on the writings of the Greek bard by critics of acuteness and taste;
amongst the chief of whom was his friend Horace, who remarks that

——–quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.–De Arte Poet.
E’en sometimes the good Homer naps.

Virgil, besides, composed his poem in a state remote from indigence,
where he was roused to exertion by the example of several contemporary
poets; and what must have animated him beyond every other consideration,
he wrote both at the desire, and under the patronage of the emperor and
his minister Mecaenas. In what time Homer composed either of his poems,
we know not; but the Aeneid, we are informed, was the employment of
Virgil during eleven years. For some years, the repeated entreaties of
Augustus could not extort from him the smallest specimen of the work; but
at length, when considerably advanced in it, he condescended to recite
three books–the second, the fourth, and the sixth–in the presence of
the emperor and his sister Octavia, to gratify the latter of whom, in
particular, the recital of the last book now mentioned, was intended.
When the poet came to the words, Tu Marcellus eris, alluding to Octavia’s
son, a youth of great hopes, who had lately died, the mother fainted.
After she had recovered from this fit, by the care of her attendants, she
ordered ten sesterces to be given to Virgil for every line relating (171)
to that subject; a gratuity which amounted to about two thousand pounds

In the composition of the Aeneid, Virgil scrupled not to introduce whole
lines of Homer, and of the Latin poet Ennius; many of whose sentences he
admired. In a few instances he has borrowed from Lucretius. He is said
to have been at extraordinary pains in polishing his numbers; and when he
was doubtful of any passage, he would read it to some of his friends,
that he might have their opinion. On such occasions, it was usual with
him to consult in particular his freedman and librarian Erotes, an old
domestic, who, it is related, supplied extempore a deficiency in two
lines, and was desired by his master to write them in the manuscript.

When this immortal work was completed, Virgil resolved on retiring into
Greece and Asia for three years, that he might devote himself entirely to
polishing it, and have leisure afterwards to pass the remainder of his
life in the cultivation of philosophy. But meeting at Athens with
Augustus, who was on his return from the East, he determined on
accompanying the emperor back to Rome. Upon a visit to Megara, a town in
the neighbourhood of Athens, he was seized with a languor, which
increased during the ensuing voyage; and he expired a few days after
landing at Brundisium, on the 22nd of September, in the fifty-second year
of his age. He desired that his body might be carried to Naples, where
he had passed many happy years; and that the following distich, written
in his last sickness, should be inscribed upon his tomb:

Mantua me genuit: Calabri rapuere: tenet nunc
Parthenope: cecini pascua, rura, duces. [274]

He was accordingly interred, by the order of Augustus, with great funeral
pomp, within two miles of Naples, near the road to Puteoli, where his
tomb still exists. Of his estate, which was very considerable by the
liberality of his friends, he left the greater part to Valerius Proculus
and his brother, a fourth to Augustus, a twelfth to Mecaenas, besides
legacies to L. Varius and Plotius Tucca, who, in consequence of his own
request, and the command of Augustus, revised and corrected the Aeneid
after his death. Their instructions from the emperor were, to expunge
whatever they thought improper, but upon no account to make any addition.
This restriction is supposed to be the cause that many lines in the
Aeneid are imperfect.

Virgil was of large stature, had a dark complexion, and his (172)
features are said to have been such as expressed no uncommon abilities.
He was subject to complaints of the stomach and throat, as well as to
head-ache, and had frequent discharges of blood upwards: but from what
part, we are not informed. He was very temperate both in food and wine.
His modesty was so great, that at Naples they commonly gave him the name
of Parthenias, “the modest man.” On the subject of his modesty; the
following anecdote is related.

Having written a distich, in which he compared Augustus to Jupiter, he
placed it in the night-time over the gate of the emperor’s palace. It
was in these words:

Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane:
Divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar habet.

All night it rained, with morn the sports appear,
Caesar and Jove between them rule the year.

By order of Augustus, an inquiry was made after the author; and Virgil
not declaring himself, the verses were claimed by Bathyllus, a
contemptible poet, but who was liberally rewarded on the occasion.
Virgil, provoked at the falsehood of the impostor, again wrote the verses
on some conspicuous part of the palace, and under them the following

Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honorem;
I wrote the verse, another filched the praise;

with the beginning of another line in these words:

Sic vos, non vobis,
Not for yourselves, you—-

repeated four times. Augustus expressing a desire that the lines should
be finished, and Bathyllus proving unequal to the task, Virgil at last
filled up the blanks in this manner:

Sic vos, non vobis, nidificatis, aves;
Sic vos, non vobis, vellera fertis, oves;
Sic vos, non vobis, mellificatis, apes;
Sic vos, non vobis, fertis aratra, boves.

Not for yourselves, ye birds, your nests ye build;
Not for yourselves, ye sheep, your fleece ye yield;
Not for yourselves, ye bees, your cells ye fill;
Not for yourselves, ye beeves, ye plough and till.

The expedient immediately evinced him to be the author of the distich,
and Bathyllus became the theme of public ridicule.

When at any time Virgil came to Rome, if the people, as was commonly the
case, crowded to gaze upon him, or pointed at him with the finger in
admiration, he blushed, and stole away (173) from them; frequently taking
refuge in some shop. When he went to the theatre, the audience
universally rose up at his entrance, as they did to Augustus, and
received him with the loudest plaudits; a compliment which, however
highly honourable, he would gladly have declined. When such was the just
respect which they paid to the author of the Bucolics and Georgics, how
would they have expressed their esteem, had they beheld him in the
effulgence of epic renown! In the beautiful episode of the Elysian
fields, in the Aeneid, where he dexterously introduced a glorious display
of their country, he had touched the most elastic springs of Roman
enthusiasm. The passion would have rebounded upon himself, and they
would, in the heat of admiration, have idolized him.

HORACE was born at Venusia, on the tenth of December, in the consulship
of L. Cotta and L. Torquatus. According to his own acknowledgment, his
father was a freedman; by some it is said that he was a collector of the
revenue, and by others, a fishmonger, or a dealer in salted meat.
Whatever he was, he paid particular attention to the education of his
son, for, after receiving instruction from the best masters in Rome, he
sent him to Athens to study philosophy. From this place, Horace followed
Brutus, in the quality of a military tribune, to the battle of Philippi,
where, by his own confession, being seized with timidity, he abandoned
the profession of a soldier, and returning to Rome, applied himself to
the cultivation of poetry. In a short time he acquired the friendship of
Virgil and Valerius, whom he mentions in his Satires, in terms of the
most tender affection.

Postera lux oritur multo gratissima: namque
Plotius et Varius Sinuessae, Virgiliusque,
Occurrunt; animae, quales neque candidiores
Terra tulit, neque queis me sit devinctior alter.
O qui complexus, et gaudia quanta fuerunt!
Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus amico.–Sat. I. 5.

Next rising morn with double joy we greet,
For Plotius, Varius, Virgil, here we meet:
Pure spirits these; the world no purer knows,
For none my heart with more affection glows:
How oft did we embrace, our joys how great!
For sure no blessing in the power of fate
Can be compared, in sanity of mind,
To friends of such companionable kind.–Francis.

By the two friends above mentioned, he was recommended to the patronage
not only of Mecaenas, but of Augustus, with whom he, as well as Virgil,
lived on a footing of the greatest intimacy. Satisfied with the luxury
which he enjoyed at the first tables in (174) Rome, he was so unambitious
of any public employment, that when the emperor offered him the place of
his secretary, he declined it. But as he lived in an elegant manner,
having, besides his house in town, a cottage on his Sabine farm, and a
villa at Tibur, near the falls of the Anio, he enjoyed, beyond all doubt.
a handsome establishment, from the liberality of Augustus. He indulged
himself in indolence and social pleasure, but was at the same time much
devoted to reading; and enjoyed a tolerable good state of health,
although often incommoded with a fluxion of rheum upon the eyes.

Horace, in the ardour of youth, and when his bosom beat high with the
raptures of fancy, had, in the pursuit of Grecian literature, drunk
largely, at the source, of the delicious springs of Castalia; and it
seems to have been ever after his chief ambition, to transplant into the
plains of Latium the palm of lyric poetry. Nor did he fail of success:

Exegi monumentum aere perennius.–Carm. iii. 30.
More durable than brass a monument I’ve raised.

In Greece, and other countries, the Ode appears to have been the most
ancient, as well as the most popular species of literary production.
Warm in expression, and short in extent, it concentrates in narrow bounds
the fire of poetical transport: on which account, it has been generally
employed to celebrate the fervours of piety, the raptures of love, the
enthusiasm of praise; and to animate warriors to glorious exertions of

Musa dedit fidibus Divos, puerosque Deorum,
Et pugilem victorem, et equum certamine primnm,
Et juvenum curas, et libera vina referre.–Hor. De Arte Poet.

The Muse to nobler subjects tunes her lyre;
Gods, and the sons of Gods, her song inspire;
Wrestler and steed, who gained the Olympic prize,
Love’s pleasing cares, and wine’s unbounded joys.–Francis.

Misenum Aeoliden, quo non praestantior alter
Aere ciere viros, Martemque accendere cnatu. [275]
Virgil, Aeneid, vi.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Sed tum forte cava dum personat aequora concha
Demens, et canto vocat in certamina Divos.–Ibid.

Misenus, son of Oeolus, renowned
The warrior trumpet in the field to sound;
With breathing brass to kindle fierce alarms,
And rouse to dare their fate in honourable arms.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

(175) Swollen with applause, and aiming still at more,
He now provokes the sea-gods from the shore.–Dryden

There arose in this department, among the Greeks, nine eminent poets,
viz. Alcaeus, Alcman, Anacreon, Bacchylides, Ibicus, Sappho, Stesichorus,
Simonides, and Pindar. The greater number of this distinguished class
are now known only by name. They seem all to have differed from one
another, no less in the kind of measure which they chiefly or solely
employed, than in the strength or softness, the beauty or grandeur, the
animated rapidity or the graceful ease of their various compositions. Of
the amorous effusions of the lyre, we yet have examples in the odes of
Anacreon, and the incomparable ode of Sappho: the lyric strains which
animated to battle, have sunk into oblivion; but the victors in the
public games of Greece have their fame perpetuated in the admirable
productions of Pindar.

Horace, by adopting, in the multiplicity of his subjects, almost all the
various measures of the different Greek poets, and frequently combining
different measures in the same composition, has compensated for the
dialects of that tongue, so happily suited to poetry, and given to a
language less distinguished for soft inflexions, all the tender and
delicate modulations of the Eastern song. While he moves in the measures
of the Greeks with an ease and gracefulness which rivals their own
acknowledged excellence, he has enriched the fund of lyric harmony with a
stanza peculiar to himself. In the artificial construction of the Ode,
he may justly be regarded as the first of lyric poets. In beautiful
imagery, he is inferior to none: in variety of sentiment and felicity of
expression, superior to every existing competitor in Greek or Roman
poetry. He is elegant without affectation; and what is more remarkable,
in the midst of gaiety he is moral. We seldom meet in his Odes with the
abrupt apostrophes of passionate excursion; but his transitions are
conducted with ease, and every subject introduced with propriety.

The Carmen Seculare was written at the express desire of Augustus, for
the celebration of the Secular Games, performed once in a hundred years,
and which continued during three days and three nights, whilst all Rome
resounded with the mingled effusions of choral addresses to gods and
goddesses, and of festive joy. An occasion which so much interested the
ambition of the poet, called into exertion the most vigorous efforts of
his genius. More concise in mythological attributes than the hymns
ascribed to Homer, this beautiful production, in variety and grandeur of
invocation, and in pomp of numbers, surpasses all that Greece, (176)
melodious but simple in the service of the altar, ever poured forth from
her vocal groves in solemn adoration. By the force of native genius, the
ancients elevated their heroes to a pitch of sublimity that excites
admiration, but to soar beyond which they could derive no aid from
mythology; and it was reserved for a bard, inspired with nobler
sentiments than the Muses could supply, to sing the praises of that Being
whose ineffable perfections transcend all human imagination. Of the
praises of gods and heroes, there is not now extant a more beautiful
composition, than the 12th Ode of the first book of Horace:

Quem virum aut heroa lyra vel acri
Tibia sumes celebrare, Clio?
Quem Deum? cujus recinet jocosa
Nomen imago,
Aut in umbrosis Heliconis oris, etc.

What man, what hero, on the tuneful lyre,
Or sharp-toned flute, will Clio choose to raise,
Deathless, to fame? What God? whose hallowed name
The sportive image of the voice
Shall in the shades of Helicon repeat, etc.

The Satires of Horace are far from being remarkable for poetical harmony,
as he himself acknowledges. Indeed, according to the plan upon which
several of them are written, it could scarcely be otherwise. They are
frequently colloquial, sometimes interrogatory, the transitions quick,
and the apostrophes abrupt. It was not his object in those compositions,
to soothe the ear with the melody of polished numbers, but to rally the
frailties of the heart, to convince the understanding by argument, and
thence to put to shame both the vices and follies of mankind. Satire is
a species of composition, of which the Greeks furnished no model; and the
preceding Roman writers of this class, though they had much improved it
from its original rudeness and licentiousness, had still not brought it
to that degree of perfection which might answer the purpose of moral
reform in a polished state of society. It received the most essential
improvement from Horace, who has dexterously combined wit and argument,
raillery and sarcasm, on the side of morality and virtue, of happiness
and truth.

The Epistles of this author may be reckoned amongst the most valuable
productions of antiquity. Except those of the second book, and one or
two in the first, they are in general of the familiar kind; abounding in
moral sentiments, and judicious observations on life and manners.

The poem De Arte Poetica comprises a system of criticism, in justness of
principle and extent of application, correspondent to the various
exertions of genius on subjects of invention and taste. (177) That in
composing this excellent production, he availed himself of the most
approved works of Grecian original, we may conclude from the advice which
he there recommends:

————Vos exemplaria Graeca
Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.

Make the Greek authors your supreme delight;
Read them by day, and study them by night.–Francis.

In the writings of Horace there appears a fund of good sense, enlivened
with pleasantry, and refined by philosophical reflection. He had
cultivated his judgment with great application, and his taste was guided
by intuitive perception of moral beauty, aptitude, and propriety. The
few instances of indelicacy which occur in his compositions, we may
ascribe rather to the manners of the times, than to any blameable
propensity in the author. Horace died in the fifty-seventh year of his
age, surviving his beloved Mecaenas only three weeks; a circumstance
which, added to the declaration in an ode [276] to that personage,
supposed to have been written in Mecaenas’s last illness, has given rise
to a conjecture, that Horace ended his days by a violent death, to
accompany his friend. But it is more natural to conclude that he died of
excessive grief, as, had he literally adhered to the affirmation
contained in the ode, he would have followed his patron more closely.
This seems to be confirmed by a fact immediately preceding his death; for
though he declared Augustus heir to his whole estate, he was not able, on
account of weakness, to put his signature to the will; a failure which it
is probable that he would have taken care to obviate, had his death been
premeditated. He was interred, at his own desire, near the tomb of

OVID was born of an equestrian family, at Sulmo, a town of the Peligni,
on the 21st of March, in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa. His father
intended him for the bar; and after passing him through the usual course
of instruction at Rome, he was sent to Athens, the emporium of learning,
to complete his education. On his return to Rome, in obedience to the
desire of his father, he entered upon the offices of public life in the
forum, and declaimed with great applause. But this was the effect of
paternal authority, not of choice: for, from his earliest years, he
discovered an extreme attachment to poetry; and no sooner was his father
dead, than, renouncing the bar, he devoted himself entirely to the
cultivation of that fascinating art, his propensity to which was
invincible. His productions, all written either in heroic or pentameter
verse, are numerous, and on various subjects. It will be sufficient to
mention them briefly.

(178) The Heroides consist of twenty-one Epistles, all which, except
three, are feigned to be written from celebrated women of antiquity, to
their husbands or lovers, such as Penelope to Ulysses, Dido to Aeneas,
Sappho to Phaon, etc. These compositions are nervous, animated and
elegant: they discover a high degree of poetic enthusiasm, but blended
with that lascivious turn of thought, which pervades all the amorous
productions of this celebrated author.

The elegies on subjects of love, particularly the Ars Amandi, or Ars
Amatoria, though not all uniform in versification, possess the same
general character, of warmth of passion, and luscious description, as the

The Fasti were divided into twelve books, of which only the first six now
remain. The design of them was to deliver an account of the Roman
festivals in every month of the year, with a description of the rites and
ceremonies, as well as the sacrifices on those occasions. It is to be
regretted, that, on a subject so interesting, this valuable work should
not have been transmitted entire: but in the part which remains, we are
furnished with a beautiful description of the ceremonial transactions in
the Roman calendar, from the first of January to the end of June. The
versification, as in all the compositions of this author, is easy and

The most popular production of this poet is his Metamorphoses, not less
extraordinary for the nature of the subject, than for the admirable art
with which the whole is conducted. The work is founded upon the
traditions and theogony of the ancients, which consisted of various
detached fables. Those Ovid has not only so happily arranged, that they
form a coherent series of narratives, one rising out of another; but he
describes the different changes with such an imposing plausibility, as to
give a natural appearance to the most incredible fictions. This
ingenious production, however perfect it may appear, we are told by
himself, had not received his last corrections when he was ordered into

In the Ibis, the author imitates a poem of the same name, written by
Callimachus. It is an invective against some person who publicly
traduced his character at Rome, after his banishment. A strong
sensibility, indignation, and implacable resentment, are conspicuous
through the whole.

The Tristia were composed in his exile, in which, though his vivacity
forsook him, he still retained a genius prolific in versification. In
these poems, as well as in many epistles to different persons, he bewails
his unhappy situation, and deprecates in the strongest terms the
inexorable displeasure of Augustus.

Several other productions written by Ovid are now lost, and (179) amongst
them a tragedy called Medea, of which Quintilian expresses a high
opinion. Ovidii Medea videtur mihi ostendere quantum vir ille praestare
potuerit, si ingenio suo temperare quam indulgere maluisset [277]. Lib.
x. c. 1.

It is a peculiarity in the productions of this author, that, on whatever
he employs his pen, he exhausts the subject; not with any prolixity that
fatigues the attention, but by a quick succession of new ideas, equally
brilliant and apposite, often expressed in antitheses. Void of obscenity
in expression, but lascivious in sentiment, he may be said rather to
stimulate immorally the natural passions, than to corrupt the
imagination. No poet is more guided in versification by the nature of
his subject than Ovid. In common narrative, his ideas are expressed with
almost colloquial simplicity; but when his fancy glows with sentiment, or
is animated by objects of grandeur, his style is proportionably elevated,
and he rises to a pitch of sublimity.

No point in ancient history has excited more variety of conjectures than
the banishment of Ovid; but after all the efforts of different writers to
elucidate the subject, the cause of this extraordinary transaction
remains involved in obscurity. It may therefore not be improper, in this
place, to examine the foundation of the several conjectures which have
been formed, and if they appear to be utterly imadmissible, to attempt a
solution of the question upon principles more conformable to probability,
and countenanced by historical evidence.

The ostensible reason assigned by Augustus for banishing Ovid, was his
corrupting the Roman youth by lascivious publications; but it is evident,
from various passages in the poet’s productions after this period, that
there was, besides, some secret reason, which would not admit of being
divulged. He says in his Tristia, Lib. ii. 1–

Perdiderent cum me duo crimina, carmen et errors. [278]

It appears from another passage in the same work, that this inviolable
arcanum was something which Ovid had seen, and, as he insinuates, through
his own ignorance and mistake.

Cur aliquid vidi? cur conscia lumina feci?
Cur imprudenti cognita culpa mihi est?–Ibid.
* * * * * *
(180) Inscia quod crimen viderunt lumina, plector:
Peccatumque oculos est habuisse meum. [279] De Trist. iii. 5.

It seems, therefore, to be a fact sufficiently established, that Ovid had
seen something of a very indecent nature, in which Augustus was
concerned. What this was, is the question. Some authors, conceiving it
to have been of a kind extremely atrocious, have gone so far as to
suppose, that it must have been an act of criminality between Augustus
and his own daughter Julia, who, notwithstanding the strict attention
paid to her education by her father, became a woman of the most infamous
character; suspected of incontinence during her marriage with Agrippa,
and openly profligate after her union with her next husband, Tiberius.
This supposition, however, rests entirely upon conjecture, and is not
only discredited by its own improbability, but by a yet more forcible
argument. It is certain that Julia was at this time in banishment for
her scandalous life. She was about the same age with Tiberius, who was
now forty seven, and they had not cohabited for many years. We know not
exactly the year in which Augustus sent her into exile, but we may
conclude with confidence, that it happened soon after her separation from
Tiberius; whose own interest with the emperor, as well as that of his
mother Livia, could not fail of being exerted, if any such application
was necessary, towards removing from the capital a woman, who, by the
notoriety of her prostitution, reflected disgrace upon all with whom she
was connected, either by blood or alliance. But no application from
Tiberius or his mother could be necessary, when we are assured that
Augustus even presented to the senate a narrative respecting the infamous
behaviour of his daughter, which was read by the quaestor. He was so
much ashamed of her profligacy, that he for a long time declined all
company, and had thoughts of putting her to death. She was banished to
an island on the coast of Campania for five years; at the expiration of
which period, she was removed to the continent, and the severity of her
treatment a little mitigated; but though frequent applications were made
in her behalf by the people, Augustus never could be prevailed upon to
permit her return.

(181) Other writers have conjectured, that, instead of Julia, the
daughter of Augustus, the person seen with him by Ovid may have been
Julia his grand-daughter, who inherited the vicious disposition of her
mother, and was on that account likewise banished by Augustus. The epoch
of this lady’s banishment it is impossible to ascertain; and therefore no
argument can be drawn from that source to invalidate the present
conjecture. But Augustus had shown the same solicitude for her being
trained up in virtuous habits, as he had done in respect of her mother,
though in both cases unsuccessfully; and this consideration, joined to
the enormity of the supposed crime, and the great sensibility which
Augustus had discovered with regard to the infamy of his daughter, seems
sufficient to exonerate his memory from so odious a charge. Besides, is
it possible that he could have sent her into banishment for the infamy of
her prostitution, while (upon the supposition of incest) she was mistress
of so important a secret, as that he himself had been more criminal with
her than any other man in the empire?

Some writers, giving a wider scope to conjecture, have supposed the
transaction to be of a nature still more detestable, and have even
dragged Mecaenas, the minister, into a participation of the crime.
Fortunately, however, for the reputation of the illustrious patron of
polite learning, as well as for that of the emperor, this crude
conjecture may be refuted upon the evidence of chronology. The
commencement of Ovid’s exile happened in the ninth year of the Christian
aera, and the death of Mecaenas, eight years before that period. Between
this and other calculations, we find a difference of three or four years;
but allowing the utmost latitude of variation, there intervened, from the
death of Mecaenas to the banishment of Ovid, a period of eleven years; an
observation which fully invalidates the conjecture above-mentioned.

Having now refuted, as it is presumed, the opinions of the different
commentators on this subject, we shall proceed to offer a new conjecture,
which seems to have a greater claim to probability than any that has
hitherto been suggested.

Suetonius informs us, that Augustus, in the latter part of his life,
contracted a vicious inclination for the enjoyment of young virgins, who
were procured for him from all parts, not only with the connivance, but
by the clandestine management of his consort Livia. It was therefore
probably with one of those victims that he was discovered by Ovid.
Augustus had for many years affected a decency of behaviour, and he
would, therefore, naturally be not a little disconcerted at the
unseasonable intrusion of the poet. That Ovid knew not of Augustus’s
being in the place, is beyond all doubt: and Augustus’s consciousness
(182) of this circumstance, together with the character of Ovid, would
suggest an unfavourable suspicion of the motive which had brought the
latter thither. Abstracted from the immorality of the emperor’s own
conduct, the incident might be regarded as ludicrous, and certainly was
more fit to excite the shame than the indignation of Augustus. But the
purpose of Ovid’s visit appears, from his own acknowledgment, to have
been not entirely free from blame, though of what nature we know not:

Non equidem totam possum defendere culpam:
Sed partem nostri criminis error habet.
De Trist. Lib. iii. Eleg. 5.

I know I cannot wholly be defended,
Yet plead ’twas chance, no ill was then intended.–Catlin.

Ovid was at this time turned of fifty, and though by a much younger man
he would not have been regarded as any object of jealousy in love, yet by
Augustus, now in his sixty-ninth year, he might be deemed a formidable
rival. This passion, therefore, concurring with that which arose from
the interruption or disappointment of gratification, inflamed the
emperor’s resentment, and he resolved on banishing to a distant country a
man whom he considered as his rival, and whose presence, from what had
happened, he never more could endure.

Augustus having determined on the banishment of Ovid, could find little
difficulty in accommodating the ostensible to the secret and real cause
of this resolution.

No argument to establish the date of publication, can be drawn from the
order in which the various productions of Ovid are placed in the
collection of his works: but reasoning from probability, we should
suppose that the Ars Amandi was written during the period of his youth;
and this seems to be confirmed by the following passage in the second
book of the Fasti:

Certe ego vos habui faciles in amore ministros;
Cum lusit numeris prima juventa suis. [280]

That many years must have elapsed since its original publication, is
evident from the subsequent lines in the second book of the Tristia:

Nos quoque jam pridem scripto peccavimus uno.
Supplicium patitur non nova culpa novum.
Carminaque edideram, cum te delicta notantem
Praeterii toties jure quietus eques.
(183) Ergo, quae juveni mihi non nocitura putavi
Scripta parum prudens, nunc nocuere seni? [281]

With what show, then, of justice, it may be asked, could Augustus now
punish a fault, which, in his solemn capacity of censor, he had so long
and repeatedly overlooked? The answer is obvious: in a production so
popular as we may be assured the Ars Amandi was amongst the Roman youth,
it must have passed through several editions in the course of some years:
and one of those coinciding with the fatal discovery, afforded the
emperor a specious pretext for the execution of his purpose. The
severity exercised on this occasion, however, when the poet was suddenly
driven into exile, unaccompanied even by the partner of his bed, who had
been his companion for many years, was an act so inconsistent with the
usual moderation of Augustus, that we cannot justly ascribe it to any
other motive than personal resentment; especially as this arbitrary
punishment of the author could answer no end of public utility, while the
obnoxious production remained to affect, if it really ever did
essentially affect, the morals of society. If the sensibility of
Augustus could not thenceforth admit of any personal intercourse with
Ovid, or even of his living within the limits of Italy, there would have
been little danger from the example, in sending into honourable exile,
with every indulgence which could alleviate so distressful a necessity, a
man of respectable rank in the state, who was charged with no actual
offence against the laws, and whose genius, with all its indiscretion,
did immortal honour to his country. It may perhaps be urged, that,
considering the predicament in which Augustus stood, he discovered a
forbearance greater than might have been expected from an absolute
prince, in sparing the life of Ovid. It will readily be granted, that
Ovid, in the same circumstances, under any one of the four subsequent
emperors, would have expiated the incident with his blood. Augustus,
upon a late occasion, had shown himself equally sanguinary, for he put to
death, by the hand of Varus, a poet of Parma, named Cassius, on account
of his having written some satirical verses against him. By that recent
example, therefore, and the power of pardoning which the emperor still
retained, there was sufficient hold of the poet’s secrecy respecting the
fatal transaction, which, if divulged (184) to the world, Augustus would
reprobate as a false and infamous libel, and punish the author
accordingly. Ovid, on his part, was sensible, that, should he dare to
violate the important but tacit injunction, the imperial vengeance would
reach him even on the shores of the Euxine. It appears, however, from a
passage in the Ibis, which can apply to no other than Augustus, that Ovid
was not sent into banishment destitute of pecuniary provision:

Di melius! quorum longe mihi maximus ille,
Qui nostras inopes noluit esse vias.
Huic igitur meritas grates, ubicumque licebit,
Pro tam mansueto pectore semper agam.

The gods defend! of whom he’s far the chief,
Who lets me not, though banished, want relief.
For this his favour therefore whilst I live,
Where’er I am, deserved thanks I’ll give.

What sum the emperor bestowed, for the support of a banishment which he
was resolved should be perpetual, it is impossible to ascertain; but he
had formerly been liberal to Ovid, as well as to other poets.

If we might hazard a conjecture respecting the scene of the intrigue
which occasioned the banishment of Ovid, we should place it in some
recess in the emperor’s gardens. His house, though called Palatium, the
palace, as being built on the Palatine hill, and inhabited by the
sovereign, was only a small mansion, which had formerly belonged to
Hortensius, the orator. Adjoining to this place Augustus had built the
temple of Apollo, which he endowed with a public library, and allotted
for the use of poets, to recite their compositions to each other. Ovid
was particularly intimate with Hyginus, one of Augustus’s freedmen, who
was librarian of the temple. He might therefore have been in the
library, and spying from the window a young female secreting herself in
the gardens, he had the curiosity to follow her.

The place of Ovid’s banishment was Tomi [282], now said to be Baba, a
town of Bulgaria, towards the mouth of the Ister, where is a lake still
called by the natives Ouvidouve Jesero, the lake of Ovid. In this
retirement, and the Euxine Pontus, he passed the remainder of his life, a
melancholy period of seven years. Notwithstanding the lascivious
writings of Ovid, it does not appear that he was in his conduct a
libertine. He was three times married: his first wife, who was of mean
extraction, and (185) whom he had married when he was very young, he
divorced; the second he dismissed on account of her immodest behaviour;
and the third appears to have survived him. He had a number of
respectable friends, and seems to have been much beloved by them.—-

TIBULLUS was descended of an equestrian family, and is said, but
erroneously, as will afterwards appear, to have been born on the same day
with Ovid. His amiable accomplishments procured him the friendship of
Messala Corvinus, whom he accompanied in a military expedition to the
island of Corcyra. But an indisposition with which he was seized, and a
natural aversion to the toils of war, induced him to return to Rome,
where he seems to have resigned himself to a life of indolence and
pleasure, amidst which he devoted a part of his time to the composition
of elegies. Elegiac poetry had been cultivated by several Greek writers,
particularly Callimachus, Mimnermus, and Philetas; but, so far as we can
find, had, until the present age, been unknown to the Romans in their own
tongue. It consisted of a heroic and pentameter line alternately, and
was not, like the elegy of the moderns, usually appropriated to the
lamentation of the deceased, but employed chiefly in compositions
relative to love or friendship, and might, indeed, be used upon almost
any subject; though, from the limp in the pentameter line, it is not
suitable to sublime subjects, which require a fulness of expression, and
an expansion of sound. To this species of poetry Tibullus restricted his
application, by which he cultivated that simplicity and tenderness, and
agreeable ease of sentiment, which constitute the characteristic
perfections of the elegiac muse.

In the description of rural scenes, the peaceful occupations of the
field, the charms of domestic happiness, and the joys of reciprocal love,
scarcely any poet surpasses Tibullus. His luxuriant imagination collects
the most beautiful flowers of nature, and he displays them with all the
delicate attraction of soft and harmonious numbers. With a dexterity
peculiar to himself, in whatever subject he engages, he leads his readers
imperceptibly through devious paths of pleasure, of which, at the outset
of the poem, they could form no conception. He seems to have often
written without any previous meditation or design. Several of his
elegies may be said to have neither middle nor end: yet the transitions
are so natural, and the gradations so easy, that though we wander through
Elysian scenes of fancy, the most heterogeneous in their nature, we are
sensible of no defect in the concatenation which has joined them
together. It is, however, to be regretted that, in some instances,
Tibullus betrays that licentiousness of manners which (186) formed too
general a characteristic even of this refined age. His elegies addressed
to Messala contain a beautiful amplification of sentiments founded in
friendship and esteem, in which it is difficult to say, whether the
virtues of the patron or the genius of the poet be more conspicuous.

Valerius Messala Corvinus, whom he celebrates, was descended of a very
ancient family. In the civil wars which followed the death of Julius
Caesar he joined the republican party, and made himself master of the
camp of Octavius at Philippi; but he was afterwards reconciled to his
opponent, and lived to an advanced age in favour and esteem with
Augustus. He was distinguished not only by his military talents, but by
his eloquence, integrity, and patriotism.

From the following passage in the writings of Tibullus, commentators have
conjectured that he was deprived of his lands by the same proscription in
which those of Virgil had been involved:

Cui fuerant flavi ditantes ordine sulci
Horrea, faecundas ad deficientia messes,
Cuique pecus denso pascebant agmine colles,
Et domino satis, et nimium furique lupoque:
Nunc desiderium superest: nam cura novatur,
Cum memor anteactos semper dolor admovet annos.
Lib. iv. El. 1.

But this seems not very probable, when we consider that Horace, several
years after that period, represents him as opulent.

Dii tibi divitias dederant, artemque fruendi.
Epist. Lib. i. 4.
To thee the gods a fair estate
In bounty gave, with heart to know
How to enjoy what they bestow.–Francis.

We know not the age of Tibullus at the time of his death; but in an elegy
written by Ovid upon that occasion, he is spoken of as a young man. Were
it true, as is said by biographers, that he was born the same day with
Ovid, we must indeed assign the event to an early period: for Ovid cannot
have written the elegy after the forty-third year of his own life, and
how long before is uncertain. In the tenth elegy of the fourth book, De
Tristibus, he observes, that the fates had allowed little time for the
cultivation of his friendship with Tibullus.

Virgilium vidi tantum: nec avara Tibullo
Tempus amicitiae fata dedere meae.
Successor fuit hic tibi, Galle; Propertius illi:
Quartus ab his serie temporis ipse fui.
Utque ego majores, sic me coluere minores.

(187) Virgil I only saw, and envious fate
Did soon my friend Tibullus hence translate.
He followed Gallus, and Propertius him,
And I myself was fourth in course of time.–Catlin.

As both Ovid and Tibullus lived at Rome, were both of the equestrian
order, and of congenial dispositions, it is natural to suppose that their
acquaintance commenced at an early period; and if, after all, it was of
short duration, there would be no improbability in concluding, that
Tibullus died at the age of some years under thirty. It is evident,
however, that biographers have committed a mistake with regard to the
birth of this poet; for in the passage above cited of the Tristia, Ovid
mentions Tibullus as a writer, who, though his contemporary, was much
older than himself. From this passage we should be justified in placing
the death of Tibullus between the fortieth and fiftieth year of his age,
and rather nearer to the latter period; for, otherwise, Horace would
scarcely have mentioned him in the manner he does in one of his epistles.

Albi, nostrorum sermonum candide judex,
Quid nunc te dicam facere in regione Pedana?
Scribere quod Cassi Parmensis opuscula vincat;
An tacitum silvas inter reptare salubres,
Curantem quicquid dignam sapiente bonoque est?–Epist. i. 4.

Albius, in whom my satires find
A critic, candid, just, and kind,
Do you, while at your country seat,
Some rhyming labours meditate,
That shall in volumed bulk arise,
And e’en from Cassius bear the prize;
Or saunter through the silent wood,
Musing on what befits the good.–Francis.

This supposition is in no degree inconsistent with the authority of Ovid,
where he mentions him as a young man; for the Romans extended the period
of youth to the fiftieth year.—-

PROPERTIUS was born at Mevania, a town of Umbria, seated at the
confluence of the Tina and Clitumnus. This place was famous for its
herds of white cattle, brought up there for sacrifice, and supposed to be
impregnated with that colour by the waters of the river last mentioned.

Hinc albi, Clitumne, greges, et maxima taurus
Victima, saepe tuo perfusi fluorine sacro,
Romanos ad templa Deum duxere triumphos.–Georg. ii.

And where thy sacred streams, Clitumnus! flow,
White herds, and stateliest bulls that oft have led
Triumphant Rome, and on her altars bled.–Sotheby.

(188) His father is said by some to have been a Roman knight, and they
add, that he was one of those who, when L. Antony was starved out of
Perasia, were, by the order of Octavius, led to the altar of Julius
Caesar, and there slain. Nothing more is known with certainty, than that
Propertius lost his father at an early age, and being deprived of a great
part of his patrimony, betook himself to Rome, where his genius soon
recommended him to public notice, and he obtained the patronage of
Mecaenas. From his frequent introduction of historical and mythological
subjects into his poems, he received the appellation of “the learned.”

Of all the Latin elegiac poets, Propertius has the justest claim to
purity of thought and expression. He often draws his imagery from
reading, more than from the imagination, and abounds less in description
than sentiment. For warmth of passion he is not conspicuous, and his
tenderness is seldom marked with a great degree of sensibility; but,
without rapture, he is animated, and, like Horace, in the midst of
gaiety, he is moral. The stores with which learning supplies him
diversify as well as illustrate his subject, while delicacy every where
discovers a taste refined by the habit of reflection. His versification,
in general, is elegant, but not uniformly harmonious.

Tibullus and Propertius have each written four books of Elegies; and it
has been disputed which of them is superior in this department of poetry.
Quintilian has given his suffrage in favour of Tibullus, who, so far as
poetical merit alone is the object of consideration, seems entitled to
the preference.—-

GALLUS was a Roman knight, distinguished not only for poetical, but
military talents. Of his poetry we have only six elegies, written, in
the person of an old man, on the subject of old age, but which, there is
reason to think, were composed at an earlier part of the author’s life.
Except the fifth elegy, which is tainted with immodesty, the others,
particularly the first, are highly beautiful, and may be placed in
competition with any other productions of the elegiac kind. Gallus was,
for some time, in great favour with Augustus, who appointed him governor
of Egypt. It is said, however, that he not only oppressed the province
by extortion, but entered into a conspiracy against his benefactor, for
which he was banished. Unable to sustain such a reverse of fortune, he
fell into despair, and laid violent hands on himself. This is the Gallus
in honour of whom Virgil composed his tenth eclogue.

Such are the celebrated productions of the Augustan age, which have been
happily preserved, for the delight and admiration of mankind, and will
survive to the latest posterity. Many (189) more once existed, of
various merit, and of different authors, which have left few or no
memorials behind them, but have perished promiscuously amidst the
indiscriminate ravages of time, of accidents, and of barbarians. Amongst
the principal authors whose works are lost, are Varius and Valgius; the
former of whom, besides a panegyric upon Augustus, composed some
tragedies. According to Quintilian, his Thyestes was equal to any
composition of the Greek tragic poets.

The great number of eminent writers, poets in particular, who adorned
this age, has excited general admiration, and the phenomenon is usually
ascribed to a fortuitous occurrence, which baffles all inquiry: but we
shall endeavour to develop the various causes which seem to have produced
this effect; and should the explanation appear satisfactory, it may
favour an opinion, that under similar circumstances, if ever they should
again be combined, a period of equal glory might arise in other ages and

The Romans, whether from the influence of climate, or their mode of
living, which in general was temperate, were endowed with a lively
imagination, and, as we before observed, a spirit of enterprise. Upon
the final termination of the Punic war, and the conquest of Greece, their
ardour, which had hitherto been exercised in military achievements, was
diverted into the channel of literature; and the civil commotions which
followed, having now ceased, a fresh impulse was given to activity in the
ambitious pursuit of the laurel, which was now only to be obtained by
glorious exertions of intellect. The beautiful productions of Greece,
operating strongly upon their minds, excited them to imitation;
imitation, when roused amongst a number, produced emulation; and
emulation cherished an extraordinary thirst of fame, which, in every
exertion of the human mind, is the parent of excellence. This liberal
contention was not a little promoted by the fashion introduced at Rome,
for poets to recite their compositions in public; a practice which seems
to have been carried even to a ridiculous excess.–Such was now the rage
for poetical composition in the Roman capital, that Horace describes it
in the following terms:

Mutavit mentem populus levis, et calet uno
Scribendi studio: pueri patresque severi
Fronde comas vincti coenant, et carmina dictant.–Epist. ii. 1.
* * * * * *

Now the light people bend to other aims;
A lust of scribbling every breast inflames;
Our youth, our senators, with bays are crowned,
And rhymes eternal as our feasts go round.

(190) Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim.–Hor. Epeat. ii. 1.

But every desperate blockhead dares to write,
Verse is the trade of every living wight.–Francis.

The thirst of fame above mentioned, was a powerful incentive, and is
avowed both by Virgil and Horace. The former, in the third book of his
Georgics, announces a resolution of rendering himself celebrated, if

——–tentanda via est qua me quoque possim
Tollere humo, victorque virum volitare per ora.

I, too, will strive o’er earth my flight to raise,
And wing’d by victory, catch the gale of praise.–Sotheby.

And Horace, in the conclusion of his first Ode, expresses himself in
terms which indicate a similar purpose.

Quad si me lyricis vatibis inseres,
Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.

But if you rank me with the choir,
Who tuned with art the Grecian lyre;
Swift to the noblest heights of fame,
Shall rise thy poet’s deathless name.–Francis.

Even Sallust, a historian, in his introduction to Catiline’s Conspiracy,
scruples not to insinuate the same kind of ambition. Quo mihi rectius
videtur ingenii quam virium opibus gloriam quaerere; et quoniam vita
ipsa, qua fruimur, brevis est, memoriam nostri quam maxume longam
efficere. [283]

Another circumstance of great importance, towards the production of such
poetry as might live through every age, was the extreme attention which
the great poets of this period displayed, both in the composition, and
the polishing of their works. Virgil, when employed upon the Georgics,
usually wrote in the morning, and applied much of the subsequent part of
the day to correction and improvement. He compared himself to a bear,
that licks her cub into form. If this was his regular practice in the
Georgics, we may justly suppose that it was the same in the Aeneid. Yet,
after all this labour, he intended to devote three years entirely to its
farther amendment. Horace has gone so far in recommending careful
correction, that he figuratively mentions nine years as an adequate
period for that purpose. But whatever may be the time, there is no
precept which he urges either oftener or more forcibly, than a due
attention to this important subject.

(191) Saepe stylum vertas, iterum quae digna legi sint
Scripturus.–Sat. i. x.

Would you a reader’s just esteem engage?
Correct with frequent care the blotted page.–Francis.

——–Vos, O
Pompilius sanguis, carmen reprehendite, quod non
Multa dies et multa litura coercuit, atque
Perfectum decies non castigavit ad uuguem.
De. Art. Poet.

Sons of Pompilius, with contempt receive,
Nor let the hardy poem hope to live,
Where time and full correction don’t refine
The finished work, and polish every line.–Francis.

To the several causes above enumerated, as concurring to form the great
superiority of the Augustan age, as respects the productions of
literature, one more is to be subjoined, of a nature the most essential:
the liberal and unparalleled encouragement given to distinguished talents
by the emperor and his minister. This was a principle of the most
powerful energy: it fanned the flame of genius, invigorated every
exertion; and the poets who basked in the rays of imperial favour, and
the animating patronage of Mecaenas, experienced a poetic enthusiasm
which approached to real inspiration.

Having now finished the proposed explanation, relative to the celebrity
of the Augustan age, we shall conclude with recapitulating in a few words
the causes of this extraordinary occurrence.

The models, then, which the Romans derived from Grecian poetry, were the
finest productions of human genius; their incentives to emulation were
the strongest that could actuate the heart. With ardour, therefore, and
industry in composing, and with unwearied patience in polishing their
compositions, they attained to that glorious distinction in literature,
which no succeeding age has ever rivalled.


I. The patrician family of the Claudii (for there was a plebeian family
of the same name, no way inferior to the other either in power or
dignity) came originally from Regilli, a town of the Sabines. They
removed thence to Rome soon after the building of the city, with a great
body of their dependants, under Titus Tatius, who reigned jointly with
Romulus in the kingdom; or, perhaps, what is related upon better
authority, under Atta Claudius, the head of the family, who was admitted
by the senate into the patrician order six years after the expulsion of
the Tarquins. They likewise received from the state, lands beyond the
Anio for their followers, and a burying-place for themselves near the
capitol [284]. After this period, in process of time, the family had the
honour of twenty-eight consulships, five dictatorships, seven
censorships, seven triumphs, and two ovations. Their descendants were
distinguished by various praenomina and cognomina [285], but rejected by
common consent the praenomen of (193) Lucius, when, of the two races who
bore it, one individual had been convicted of robbery, and another of
murder. Amongst other cognomina, they assumed that of Nero, which in the
Sabine language signifies strong and valiant.

II. It appears from record, that many of the Claudii have performed
signal services to the state, as well as committed acts of delinquency.
To mention the most remarkable only, Appius Caecus dissuaded the senate
from agreeing to an alliance with Pyrrhus, as prejudicial to the republic
[286]. Claudius Candex first passed the straits of Sicily with a fleet,
and drove the Carthaginians out of the island [287]. Claudius Nero cut
off Hasdrubal with a vast army upon his arrival in Italy from Spain,
before he could form a junction with his brother Hannibal [288]. On the
other hand, Claudius Appius Regillanus, one of the Decemvirs, made a
violent attempt to have a free virgin, of whom he was enamoured, adjudged
a slave; which caused the people to secede a second time from the senate
[289]. Claudius Drusus erected a statue of himself wearing a crown at
Appii Forum [290], and endeavoured, by means of his dependants, to make
himself master of Italy. Claudius Pulcher, when, off the coast of Sicily
[291], the pullets used for taking augury would not eat, in contempt of
the omen threw them overboard, as if they should drink at least, if they
would not eat; and then engaging the enemy, was routed. After his
defeat, when he (194) was ordered by the senate to name a dictator,
making a sort of jest of the public disaster, he named Glycias, his

The women of this family, likewise, exhibited characters equally opposed
to each other. For both the Claudias belonged to it; she, who, when the
ship freighted with things sacred to the Idaean Mother of the Gods [292],
stuck fast in the shallows of the Tiber, got it off, by praying to the
Goddess with a loud voice, “Follow me, if I am chaste;” and she also,
who, contrary to the usual practice in the case of women, was brought to
trial by the people for treason; because, when her litter was stopped by
a great crowd in the streets, she openly exclaimed, “I wish my brother
Pulcher was alive now, to lose another fleet, that Rome might be less
thronged.” Besides, it is well known, that all the Claudii, except
Publius Claudius, who, to effect the banishment of Cicero, procured
himself to be adopted by a plebeian [293], and one younger than himself,
were always of the patrician party, as well as great sticklers for the
honour and power of that order; and so violent and obstinate in their
opposition to the plebeians, that not one of them, even in the case of a
trial for life by the people, would ever condescend to put on mourning,
according to custom, or make any supplication to them for favour; and
some of them in their contests, have even proceeded to lay hands on the
tribunes of the people. A Vestal Virgin likewise of the family, when her
brother was resolved to have the honour of a triumph contrary to the will
of the people, mounted the chariot with him, and attended him into the
Capitol, that it might not be lawful for any of the tribunes to interfere
and forbid it. [294]

III. From this family Tiberius Caesar is descended; indeed both by the
father and mother’s side; by the former from Tiberius Nero, and by the
latter from Appius Pulcher, who were both sons of Appius Caecus. He
likewise belonged to the family of the Livii, by the adoption of his
mother’s grandfather into it; which family, although plebeian, made a
(195) distinguished figure, having had the honour of eight consulships,
two censorships, three triumphs, one dictatorship, and the office of
master of the horse; and was famous for eminent men, particularly,
Salinator and the Drusi. Salinator, in his censorship [295], branded all
the tribes, for their inconstancy in having made him consul a second
time, as well as censor, although they had condemned him to a heavy fine
after his first consulship. Drusus procured for himself and his
posterity a new surname, by killing in single combat Drausus, the enemy’s
chief. He is likewise said to have recovered, when pro-praetor in the
province of Gaul, the gold which was formerly given to the Senones, at
the siege of the Capitol, and had not, as is reported, been forced from
them by Camillus. His great-great-grandson, who, for his extraordinary
services against the Gracchi, was styled the “Patron of the Senate,” left
a son, who, while plotting in a sedition of the same description, was
treacherously murdered by the opposite party. [296]

IV. But the father of Tiberius Caesar, being quaestor to Caius Caesar,
and commander of his fleet in the war of Alexandria, contributed greatly
to its success. He was therefore made one of the high-priests in the
room of Publius Scipio [297]; and was sent to settle some colonies in
Gaul, and amongst the rest, those of Narbonne and Arles [298]. After the
assassination of Caesar, however, when the rest of the senators, for fear
of public disturbances; were for having the affair buried in oblivion, he
proposed a resolution for rewarding those who had killed the tyrant.
Having filled the office of praetor [299], and at the end of the year a
disturbance breaking out amongst the triumviri, he kept the badges of his
office beyond the legal time; and following Lucius Antonius the consul,
brother of the triumvir, to Perusia [300], though the rest submitted, yet
he himself continued firm to the party, and escaped first to Praeneste,
and then to Naples; whence, having in vain invited the slaves to liberty,
he fled over to Sicily. But resenting (196) his not being immediately
admitted into the presence of Sextus Pompey, and being also prohibited
the use of the fasces, he went over into Achaia to Mark Antony; with
whom, upon a reconciliation soon after brought about amongst the several
contending parties, he returned to Rome; and, at the request of Augustus,
gave up to him his wife Livia Drusilla, although she was then big with
child, and had before borne him a son. He died not long after; leaving
behind him two sons, Tiberius and Drusus Nero.

V. Some have imagined that Tiberius was born at Fundi, but there is only
this trifling foundation for the conjecture, that his mother’s
grandmother was of Fundi, and that the image of Good Fortune was, by a
decree of the senate, erected in a public place in that town. But
according to the greatest number of writers, and those too of the best
authority, he was born at Rome, in the Palatine quarter, upon the
sixteenth of the calends of December [16th Nov.], when Marcus Aemilius
Lepidus was second time consul, with Lucius Munatius Plancus [301], after
the battle of Philippi; for so it is registered in the calendar, and the
public acts. According to some, however, he was born the preceding year,
in the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa; and others say, in the year
following, during the consulship of Servilius Isauricus and Antony.

VI. His infancy and childhood were spent in the midst of danger and
trouble; for he accompanied his parents everywhere in their flight, and
twice at Naples nearly betrayed them by his crying, when they were
privately hastening to a ship, as the enemy rushed into the town; once,
when he was snatched from his nurse’s breast, and again, from his
mother’s bosom, by some of the company, who on the sudden emergency
wished to relieve the women of their burden. Being carried through
Sicily and Achaia, and entrusted for some time to the care of the
Lacedaemonians, who were under the protection of the Claudian family,
upon his departure thence when travelling by night, he ran the hazard of
his life, by a fire which, suddenly bursting out of a wood on all sides,
surrounded the whole party so closely, that part of Livia’s dress and
hair was burnt. The presents which were made him (197) by Pompeia,
sister to Sextus Pompey, in Sicily, namely, a cloak, with a clasp, and
bullae of gold, are still in existence, and shewn at Baiae to this day.
After his return to the city, being adopted by Marcus Gallius, a senator,
in his will, he took possession of the estate; but soon afterwards
declined the use of his name, because Gallius had been of the party
opposed to Augustus. When only nine years of age, he pronounced a
funeral oration in praise of his father upon the rostra; and afterwards,
when he had nearly attained the age of manhood, he attended the chariot
of Augustus, in his triumph for the victory at Actium, riding on the
left-hand horse, whilst Marcellus, Octavia’s son, rode that on the right.
He likewise presided at the games celebrated on account of that victory;
and in the Trojan games intermixed with the Circensian, he commanded a
troop of the biggest boys.

VII. After assuming the manly habit, he spent his youth, and the rest of
his life until he succeeded to the government, in the following manner:
he gave the people an entertainment of gladiators, in memory of his
father, and another for his grandfather Drusus, at different times and in
different places: the first in the forum, the second in the amphitheatre;
some gladiators who had been honourably discharged, being induced to
engage again, by a reward of a hundred thousand sesterces. He likewise
exhibited public sports, at which he was not present himself. All these
he performed with great magnificence, at the expense of his mother and
father-in-law. He married Agrippina, the daughter of Marcus Agrippa, and
grand-daughter of Caecilius Atticus, a Roman knight, the same person to
whom Cicero has addressed so many epistles. After having by her his son
Drusus, he was obliged to part with her [302], though she retained his
affection, and was again pregnant, to make way for marrying Augustus’s
daughter Julia. But this he did with extreme reluctance; for, besides
having the warmest attachment to Agrippina, he was disgusted with the
conduct of Julia, who had made indecent advances to him during the
lifetime of her former husband; and that she was a woman of loose
character, was the general opinion. At divorcing Agrippina he felt the
deepest regret; and upon meeting her afterwards, (198) he looked after
her with eyes so passionately expressive of affection, that care was
taken she should never again come in his sight. At first, however, he
lived quietly and happily with Julia; but a rupture soon ensued, which
became so violent, that after the loss of their son, the pledge of their
union, who was born at Aquileia and died in infancy [303], he never would
sleep with her more. He lost his brother Drusus in Germany, and brought
his body to Rome, travelling all the way on foot before it.

VIII. When he first applied himself to civil affairs, he defended the
several causes of king Archelaus, the Trallians, and the Thessalians,
before Augustus, who sat as judge at the trials. He addressed the senate
on behalf of the Laodiceans, the Thyatireans, and Chians, who had
suffered greatly by an earthquake, and implored relief from Rome. He
prosecuted Fannius Caepio, who had been engaged in a conspiracy with
Varro Muraena against Augustus, and procured sentence of condemnation
against him. Amidst all this, he had besides to superintend two
departments of the administration, that of supplying the city with corn,
which was then very scarce, and that of clearing the houses of correction
[304] throughout Italy, the masters of which had fallen under the odious
suspicion of seizing and keeping confined, not only travellers, but those
whom the fear of being obliged to serve in the army had driven to seek
refuge in such places.

IX. He made his first campaign, as a military tribune, in the Cantabrian
war [305]. Afterwards he led an army into the East [306], where he
restored the kingdom of Armenia to Tigranes; and seated on a tribunal,
put a crown upon his head. He likewise recovered from the Parthians the
standards which they had taken from Crassus. He next governed, for
nearly a year, the province of Gallia Comata, which was then in great
disorder, on account of the incursions of the barbarians, and the feuds
of the chiefs. He afterwards commanded in the several wars against the
Rhaetians, Vindelicians, Pannonians, and Germans. In the Rhaetian and
Vindelician wars, he subdued the nations in the Alps; and in the
Pannonian wars the Bruci, and (199) the Dalmatians. In the German war,
he transplanted into Gaul forty thousand of the enemy who had submitted,
and assigned them lands near the banks of the Rhine. For these actions,
he entered the city with an ovation, but riding in a chariot, and is said
by some to have been the first that ever was honoured with this
distinction. He filled early the principal offices of state; and passed
through the quaestorship [307], praetorship [308], and consulate [309]
almost successively. After some interval, he was chosen consul a second
time, and held the tribunitian authority during five years.

X. Surrounded by all this prosperity, in the prime of life and in
excellent health, he suddenly formed the resolution of withdrawing to a
greater distance from Rome [310]. It is uncertain whether this was the
result of disgust for his wife, whom he neither durst accuse nor divorce,
and the connection with whom became every day more intolerable; or to
prevent that indifference towards him, which his constant residence in
the city might produce; or in the hope of supporting and improving by
absence his authority in the state, if the public should have occasion
for his service. Some are of opinion, that as Augustus’s sons were now
grown up to years of maturity, he voluntarily relinquished the possession
he had long enjoyed of the second place in the government, as Agrippa had
done before him; who, when M. Marcellus was advanced to public offices,
retired to Mitylene, that he might not seem to stand in the way of his
promotion, or in any respect lessen him by his presence. The same reason
likewise Tiberius gave afterwards for his retirement; but his pretext at
this time was, that he was satiated with honours, and desirous of being
relieved from the fatigue of business; requesting therefore that he might
have leave to withdraw. And neither the earnest entreaties of his
mother, nor the complaint of his father-in-law made even in the senate,
that he was deserted by him, could prevail upon him to alter his
resolution. Upon their persisting in the design of detaining him, he
refused to take any sustenance for four days together. At last, having
obtained permission, leaving his wife and son at Rome, he proceeded (200)
to Ostia [311], without exchanging a word with those who attended him,
and having embraced but very few persons at parting.

XI. From Ostia, journeying along the coast of Campania, he halted awhile
on receiving intelligence of Augustus’s being taken ill, but this giving
rise to a rumour that he stayed with a view to something extraordinary,
he sailed with the wind almost full against him, and arrived at Rhodes,
having been struck with the pleasantness and healthiness of the island at
the time of his landing therein his return from Armenia. Here contenting
himself with a small house, and a villa not much larger, near the town,
he led entirely a private life, taking his walks sometimes about the
Gymnasia [312], without any lictor or other attendant, and returning the
civilities of the Greeks with almost as much complaisance as if he had
been upon a level with them. One morning, in settling the course of his
daily excursion, he happened to say, that he should visit all the sick
people in the town. This being not rightly understood by those about
him, the sick were brought into a public portico, and ranged in order,
according to their several distempers. Being extremely embarrassed by
this unexpected occurrence, he was for some time irresolute how he should
act; but at last he determined to go round them all, and make an apology
for the mistake even to the meanest amongst them, and such as were
entirely unknown to him. One instance only is mentioned, in which he
appeared to exercise his tribunitian authority. Being a constant
attendant upon the schools and lecture-rooms of the professors of the
liberal arts, on occasion of a quarrel amongst the wrangling (201)
sophists, in which he interposed to reconcile them, some person took the
liberty to abuse him as an intruder, and partial in the affair. Upon
this, withdrawing privately home, he suddenly returned attended by his
officers, and summoning his accuser before his tribunal, by a public
crier, ordered him to be taken to prison. Afterwards he received tidings
that his wife Julia had been condemned for her lewdness and adultery, and
that a bill of divorce had been sent to her in his name, by the authority
of Augustus. Though he secretly rejoiced at this intelligence, he
thought it incumbent upon him, in point of decency, to interpose in her
behalf by frequent letters to Augustus, and to allow her to retain the
presents which he had made her, notwithstanding the little regard she
merited from him. When the period of his tribunitian authority expired
[313], declaring at last that he had no other object in his retirement
than to avoid all suspicion of rivalship with Caius and Lucius, he
petitioned that, since he was now secure in that respect, as they were
come to the age of manhood, and would easily maintain themselves in
possession of the second place in the state, he might be permitted to
visit his friends, whom he was very desirous of seeing. But his request
was denied; and he was advised to lay aside all concern for his friends,
whom he had been so eager to greet.

XII. He therefore continued at Rhodes much against his will, obtaining,
with difficulty, through his mother, the title of Augustus’s lieutenant,
to cover his disgrace. He thenceforth lived, however, not only as a
private person, but as one suspected and under apprehension, retiring
into the interior of the country, and avoiding the visits of those who
sailed that way, which were very frequent; for no one passed to take
command of an army, or the government of a province, without touching at
Rhodes. But there were fresh reasons for increased anxiety. For
crossing over to Samos, on a visit to his step-son Caius, who had been
appointed governor of the East, he found him prepossessed against him, by
the insinuations of Marcus Lollius, his companion and director. He
likewise fell under suspicion of sending by some centurions who had been
promoted by himself, upon their return to the camp after a furlough,
mysterious messages to several persons there, intended, apparently, to
(202) tamper with them for a revolt. This jealousy respecting his
designs being intimated to him by Augustus, he begged repeatedly that
some person of any of the three Orders might be placed as a spy upon him
in every thing he either said or did.

XIII. He laid aside likewise his usual exercises of riding and arms; and
quitting the Roman habit, made use of the Pallium and Crepida [314]. In
this condition he continued almost two years, becoming daily an object of
increasing contempt and odium; insomuch that the people of Nismes pulled
down all the images and statues of him in their town; and upon mention
being made of him at table one of the company said to Caius, “I will sail
over to Rhodes immediately, if you desire me, and bring you the head of
the exile;” for that was the appellation now given him. Thus alarmed not
only by apprehensions, but real danger, he renewed his solicitations for
leave to return; and, seconded by the most urgent supplications of his
mother, he at last obtained his request; to which an accident somewhat
contributed. Augustus had resolved to determine nothing in the affair,
but with the consent of his eldest son. The latter was at that time out
of humour with Marcus Lollius, and therefore easily disposed to be
favourable to his father-in-law. Caius thus acquiescing, he was
recalled, but upon condition that he should take no concern whatever in
the administration of affairs.

XIV. He returned to Rome after an absence of nearly eight years [315],
with great and confident hopes of his future elevation, which he had
entertained from his youth, in consequence of various prodigies and
predictions. For Livia, when pregnant with him, being anxious to
discover, by different modes of divination, whether her offspring would
be a son, amongst others, took an egg from a hen that was sitting, and
kept it warm with her own hands, and those of her maids, by turns, until
a fine cock-chicken, with a large comb, was hatched. Scribonius, the
astrologer, predicted great things of him when he was a mere child. “He
will come in time,” said the prophet, “to be even a king, but without the
usual badge of royal dignity;” the rule of the Caesars being as yet
unknown. When he was (203) making his first expedition, and leading his
army through Macedonia into Syria, the altars which had been formerly
consecrated at Philippi by the victorious legions, blazed suddenly with
spontaneous fires. Soon after, as he was marching to Illyricum, he
stopped to consult the oracle of Geryon, near Padua; and having drawn a
lot by which he was desired to throw golden tali into the fountain of
Aponus [316], for an answer to his inquiries, he did so, and the highest
numbers came up. And those very tali are still to be seen at the bottom
of the fountain. A few days before his leaving Rhodes, an eagle, a bird
never before seen in that island, perched on the top of his house. And
the day before he received intelligence of the permission granted him to
return, as he was changing his dress, his tunic appeared to be all on
fire. He then likewise had a remarkable proof of the skill of
Thrasyllus, the astrologer, whom, for his proficiency in philosophical
researches, he had taken into his family. For, upon sight of the ship
which brought the intelligence, he said, good news was coming whereas
every thing going wrong before, and quite contrary to his predictions,
Tiberius had intended that very moment, when they were walking together,
to throw him into the sea, as an impostor, and one to whom he had too
hastily entrusted his secrets.

XV. Upon his return to Rome, having introduced his son Drusus into the
forum, he immediately removed from Pompey’s house, in the Carinae, to the
gardens of Mecaenas, on the Esquiline [317], and resigned himself
entirely to his ease, performing only the common offices of civility in
private life, without any preferment in the government. But Caius and
Lucius being both carried off in the space of three years, he was adopted
by Augustus, along with their brother Agrippa; being obliged in the first
place to adopt Germanicus, his brother’s son. After his adoption, he
never more acted as master of a (204) family, nor exercised, in the
smallest degree, the rights which he had lost by it. For he neither
disposed of anything in the way of gift, nor manumitted a slave; nor so
much as received any estate left him by will, nor any legacy, without
reckoning it as a part of his peculium or property held under his father.
From that day forward, nothing was omitted that might contribute to the
advancement of his grandeur, and much more, when, upon Agrippa being
discarded and banished, it was evident that the hope of succession rested
upon him alone.

XVI. The tribunitian authority was again conferred upon him for five
years [318], and a commission given him to settle the affairs of Germany.
The ambassadors of the Parthians, after having had an audience of
Augustus, were ordered to apply to him likewise in his province. But on
receiving intelligence of an insurrection in Illyricum [319], he went
over to superintend the management of that new war, which proved the most
serious of all the foreign wars since the Carthaginian. This he
conducted during three years, with fifteen legions and an equal number of
auxiliary forces, under great difficulties, and an extreme scarcity of
corn. And though he was several times recalled, he nevertheless
persisted; fearing lest an enemy so powerful, and so near, should fall
upon the army in their retreat. This resolution was attended with good
success; for he at last reduced to complete subjection all Illyricum,
lying between Italy and the kingdom of Noricum, Thrace, Macedonia, the
river Danube, and the Adriatic gulf.

XVII. The glory he acquired by these successes received an increase from
the conjuncture in which they happened. For almost about that very time
[320] Quintilius Varus was cut off with three legions in Germany; and it
was generally believed that the victorious Germans would have joined the
Pannonians, had not the war of Illyricum been previously concluded. A
triumph, therefore, besides many other great honours, was decreed him.
Some proposed that the surname of “Pannonicus,” others that of
“Invincible,” and others, of “O Pius,” should be conferred on him; but
Augustus interposed, engaging for him that he would be satisfied with
that to which he would succeed at his death. He postponed his triumph,
because (205) the state was at that time under great affliction for the
disaster of Varus and his army. Nevertheless, he entered the city in a
triumphal robe, crowned with laurel, and mounting a tribunal in the
Septa, sat with Augustus between the two consuls, whilst the senate gave
their attendance standing; whence, after he had saluted the people, he
was attended by them in procession to the several temples.

XVIII. Next year he went again to Germany, where finding that the defeat
of Varus was occasioned by the rashness and negligence of the commander,
he thought proper to be guided in everything by the advice of a council
of war; whereas, at other times, he used to follow the dictates of his
own judgment, and considered himself alone as sufficiently qualified for
the direction of affairs. He likewise used more cautions than usual.
Having to pass the Rhine, he restricted the whole convoy within certain
limits, and stationing himself on the bank of the river, would not suffer
the waggons to cross the river, until he had searched them at the water-
side, to see that they carried nothing but what was allowed or necessary.
Beyond the Rhine, such was his way of living, that he took his meals
sitting on the bare ground [321], and often passed the night without a
tent; and his regular orders for the day, as well as those upon sudden
emergencies, he gave in writing, with this injunction, that in case of
any doubt as to the meaning of them, they should apply to him for
satisfaction, even at any hour of the night.

XIX. He maintained the strictest discipline amongst the troops; reviving
many old customs relative to punishing and degrading offenders; setting a
mark of disgrace even upon the commander of a legion, for sending a few
soldiers with one of his freedmen across the river for the purpose of
hunting. Though it was his desire to leave as little as possible in the
power of fortune or accident, yet he always engaged the enemy with more
confidence when, in his night-watches, the lamp failed and went out of
itself; trusting, as he said, in an omen which had never failed him and
his ancestors (206) in all their commands. But, in the midst of victory,
he was very near being assassinated by some Bructerian, who mixing with
those about him, and being discovered by his trepidation, was put to the
torture, and confessed his intended crime.

XX. After two years, he returned from Germany to the city, and
celebrated the triumph which he had deferred, attended by his
lieutenants, for whom he had procured the honour of triumphal ornaments
[322]. Before he turned to ascend the Capitol, he alighted from his
chariot, and knelt before his father, who sat by, to superintend the
solemnity. Bato, the Pannonian chief, he sent to Ravenna, loaded with
rich presents, in gratitude for his having suffered him and his army to
retire from a position in which he had so enclosed them, that they were
entirely at his mercy. He afterwards gave the people a dinner at a
thousand tables, besides thirty sesterces to each man. He likewise
dedicated the temple of Concord [323], and that of Castor and Pollux,
which had been erected out of the spoils of the war, in his own and his
brother’s name.

XXI. A law having been not long after carried by the consuls [324] for
his being appointed a colleague with Augustus in the administration of
the provinces, and in taking the census, when that was finished he went
into Illyricum [325]. But being hastily recalled during his journey, he
found Augustus alive indeed, but past all hopes of recovery, and was with
him in private a whole day. I know, it is generally believed, that upon
Tiberius’s quitting the room, after their private conference, those who
were in waiting overheard Augustus say, “Ah! unhappy Roman people, to be
ground by the jaws of such a slow devourer!” Nor am I ignorant of its
being reported by some, that Augustus so openly and undisguisedly
condemned the sourness of his temper, that sometimes, upon his coming in,
he would break off any jocular conversation in which he was engaged; and
that he was only prevailed upon by the (207) importunity of his wife to
adopt him; or actuated by the ambitious view of recommending his own
memory from a comparison with such a successor. Yet I must hold to this
opinion, that a prince so extremely circumspect and prudent as he was,
did nothing rashly, especially in an affair of so great importance; but
that, upon weighing the vices and virtues of Tiberius with each other, he
judged the latter to preponderate; and this the rather since he swore
publicly, in an assembly of the people, that “he adopted him for the
public good.” Besides, in several of his letters, he extols him as a
consummate general, and the only security of the Roman people. Of such
declarations I subjoin the following instances: “Farewell, my dear
Tiberius, and may success attend you, whilst you are warring for me and
the Muses [326]. Farewell, my most dear, and (as I hope to prosper) most
gallant man, and accomplished general.” Again. “The disposition of your
summer quarters? In truth, my dear Tiberius, I do not think, that amidst
so many difficulties, and with an army so little disposed for action, any
one could have behaved more prudently than you have done. All those
likewise who were with you, acknowledge that this verse is applicable to

Unus homo nobis _vigilando_ restituit rem. [327]
One man by vigilance restored the state.

“Whenever,” he says, “anything happens that requires more than ordinary
consideration, or I am out of humour upon any occasion, I still, by
Hercules! long for my dear Tiberius; and those lines of Homer frequently
occur to my thoughts:”

Toutou d’ espomenoio kai ek pyros aithomenoio
Ampho nostaesuimen, epei peri oide noaesai. [328]

Bold from his prudence, I could ev’n aspire
To dare with him the burning rage of fire.

“When I hear and read that you are much impaired by the (208) continued
fatigues you undergo, may the gods confound me if my whole frame does not
tremble! So I beg you to spare yourself, lest, if we should hear of your
being ill, the news prove fatal both to me and your mother, and the Roman
people should be in peril for the safety of the empire. It matters
nothing whether I be well or no, if you be not well. I pray heaven
preserve you for us, and bless you with health both now and ever, if the
gods have any regard for the Roman people.”

XXII. He did not make the death of Augustus public, until he had taken
off young Agrippa. He was slain by a tribune who commanded his guard,
upon reading a written order for that purpose: respecting which order, it
was then a doubt, whether Augustus left it in his last moments, to
prevent any occasion of public disturbance after his decease, or Livia
issued it, in the name of Augustus; and whether with the knowledge of
Tiberius or not. When the tribune came to inform him that he had
executed his command, he replied, “I commanded you no such thing, and you
must answer for it to the senate;” avoiding, as it seems, the odium of
the act for that time. And the affair was soon buried in silence.

XXIII. Having summoned the senate to meet by virtue of his tribunitian
authority, and begun a mournful speech, he drew a deep sigh, as if unable
to support himself under his affliction; and wishing that not his voice
only, but his very breath of life, might fail him, gave his speech to his
son Drusus to read. Augustus’s will was then brought in, and read by a
freedman; none of the witnesses to it being admitted, but such as were of
the senatorian order, the rest owning their hand-writing without doors.
The will began thus: “Since my ill-fortune has deprived me of my two
sons, Caius and Lucius, let Tiberius Caesar be heir to two-thirds of my
estate.” These words countenanced the suspicion of those who were of
opinion, that Tiberius was appointed successor more out of necessity than
choice, since Augustus could not refrain from prefacing his will in that

XXIV. Though he made no scruple to assume and exercise immediately the
imperial authority, by giving orders that he (209) should be attended by
the guards, who were the security and badge of the supreme power; yet he
affected, by a most impudent piece of acting, to refuse it for a long
time; one while sharply reprehending his friends who entreated him to
accept it, as little knowing what a monster the government was; another
while keeping in suspense the senate, when they implored him and threw
themselves at his feet, by ambiguous answers, and a crafty kind of
dissimulation; insomuch that some were out of patience, and one cried
out, during the confusion, “Either let him accept it, or decline it at
once;” and a second told him to his face, “Others are slow to perform
what they promise, but you are slow to promise what you actually
perform.” At last, as if forced to it, and complaining of the miserable
and burdensome service imposed upon him, he accepted the government; not,
however, without giving hopes of his resigning it some time or other.
The exact words he used were these: “Until the time shall come, when ye
may think it reasonable to give some rest to my old age.”

XXV. The cause of his long demur was fear of the dangers which
threatened him on all hands; insomuch that he said, “I have got a wolf
by the ears.” For a slave of Agrippa’s, Clemens by name, had drawn
together a considerable force to revenge his master’s death; Lucius
Scribonius Libo, a senator of the first distinction, was secretly
fomenting a rebellion; and the troops both in Illyricum and Germany were
mutinous. Both armies insisted upon high demands, particularly that
their pay should be made equal to that of the pretorian guards. The army
in Germany absolutely refused to acknowledge a prince who was not their
own choice; and urged, with all possible importunity, Germanicus [329],
who commanded them, to take the government on himself, though he
obstinately refused it. It was Tiberius’s apprehension from this
quarter, which made him request the senate to assign him some part only
in the administration, such as they should judge proper, since no man
could be sufficient for the whole, without one or more to assist him. He
pretended likewise to be in a bad state of health, that Germanicus might
the more patiently wait in hopes of speedily succeeding him, or at least
of being (210) admitted to be a colleague in the government. When the
mutinies in the armies were suppressed, he got Clemens into his hands by
stratagem. That he might not begin his reign by an act of severity, he
did not call Libo to an account before the senate until his second year,
being content, in the mean time, with taking proper precautions for his
own security. For upon Libo’s attending a sacrifice amongst the high-
priests, instead of the usual knife, he ordered one of lead to be given
him; and when he desired a private conference with him, he would not
grant his request, but on condition that his son Drusus should be
present; and as they walked together, he held him fast by the right hand,
under the pretence of leaning upon him, until the conversation was over.

XXVI. When he was delivered from his apprehensions, his behaviour at
first was unassuming, and he did not carry himself much above the level
of a private person; and of the many and great honours offered him, he
accepted but few, and such as were very moderate. His birth-day, which
happened to fall at the time of the Plebeian Circensian games, he with
difficulty suffered to be honoured with the addition of only a single
chariot, drawn by two horses. He forbad temples, flamens, or priests to
be appointed for him, as likewise the erection of any statues or effigies
for him, without his permission; and this he granted only on condition
that they should not be placed amongst the images of the gods, but only
amongst the ornaments of houses. He also interposed to prevent the
senate from swearing to maintain his acts; and the month of September
from being called Tiberius, and October being named after Livia. The
praenomen likewise of EMPEROR, with the cognomen of FATHER OF HIS
COUNTRY, and a civic crown in the vestibule of his house, he would not
accept. He never used the name of AUGUSTUS, although he inherited it, in
any of his letters, excepting those addressed to kings and princes. Nor
had he more than three consulships; one for a few days, another for three
months, and a third, during his absence from the city, until the ides
[fifteenth] of May.

XXVII. He had such an aversion to flattery, that he would never suffer
any senator to approach his litter, as he passed the streets in it,
either to pay him a civility, or upon business. (211) And when a man of
consular rank, in begging his pardon for some offence he had given him,
attempted to fall at his feet, he started from him in such haste, that he
stumbled and fell. If any compliment was paid him, either in
conversation or a set speech, he would not scruple to interrupt and
reprimand the party, and alter what he had said. Being once called
“lord,” [330] by some person, he desired that he might no more be
affronted in that manner. When another, to excite veneration, called his
occupations “sacred,” and a third had expressed himself thus: “By your
authority I have waited upon the senate,” he obliged them to change their
phrases; in one of them adopting persuasion, instead of “authority,” and
in the other, laborious, instead of “sacred.”

XXVIII. He remained unmoved at all the aspersions, scandalous reports,
and lampoons, which were spread against him or his relations; declaring,
“In a free state, both the tongue and the mind ought to be free.” Upon
the senate’s desiring that some notice might be taken of those offences,
and the persons charged with them, he replied, “We have not so much time
upon our hands, that we ought to involve ourselves in more business. If
you once make an opening [331] for such proceedings, you will soon have
nothing else to do. All private quarrels will be brought before you
under that pretence.” There is also on record another sentence used by
him in the senate, which is far from assuming: “If he speaks otherwise of
me, I shall take care to behave in such a manner, as to be able to give a
good account both of my words and actions; and if he persists, I shall
hate him in my turn.”

XXIX. These things were so much the more remarkable in him, because, in
the respect he paid to individuals, or the whole body of the senate, he
went beyond all bounds. Upon his differing with Quintus Haterius in the
senate-house, “Pardon me, sir,” he said, “I beseech you, if I shall, as a
senator, speak my mind very freely in opposition to you.” Afterwards,
addressing the senate in general, he said: “Conscript Fathers, I have
often said it both now and at other times, that a good (212) and useful
prince, whom you have invested with so great and absolute power, ought to
be a slave to the senate, to the whole body of the people, and often to
individuals likewise: nor am I sorry that I have said it. I have always
found you good, kind, and indulgent masters, and still find you so.”

XXX. He likewise introduced a certain show of liberty, by preserving to
the senate and magistrates their former majesty and power. All affairs,
whether of great or small importance, public or private, were laid before
the senate. Taxes and monopolies, the erecting or repairing edifices,
levying and disbanding soldiers, the disposal of the legions and
auxiliary forces in the provinces, the appointment of generals for the
management of extraordinary wars, and the answers to letters from foreign
princes, were all submitted to the senate. He compelled the commander of
a troop of horse, who was accused of robbery attended with violence, to
plead his cause before the senate. He never entered the senate-house but
unattended; and being once brought thither in a litter, because he was
indisposed, he dismissed his attendants at the door.

XXXI. When some decrees were made contrary to his opinion, he did not
even make any complaint. And though he thought that no magistrates after
their nomination should be allowed to absent themselves from the city,
but reside in it constantly, to receive their honours in person, a
praetor-elect obtained liberty to depart under the honorary title of a
legate at large. Again, when he proposed to the senate, that the
Trebians might have leave granted them to divert some money which had
been left them by will for the purpose of building a new theatre, to that
of making a road, he could not prevail to have the will of the testator
set aside. And when, upon a division of the house, he went over to the
minority, nobody followed him. All other things of a public nature were
likewise transacted by the magistrates, and in the usual forms; the
authority of the consuls remaining so great, that some ambassadors from
Africa applied to them, and complained, that they could not have their
business dispatched by Caesar, to whom they had been sent. And no
wonder; since it was observed that he used to rise up as the consuls
approached, and give them the way.

(213) XXXII. He reprimanded some persons of consular rank in command of
armies, for not writing to the senate an account of their proceedings,
and for consulting him about the distribution of military rewards; as if
they themselves had not a right to bestow them as they judged proper. He
commended a praetor, who, on entering office, revived an old custom of
celebrating the memory of his ancestors, in a speech to the people. He
attended the corpses of some persons of distinction to the funeral pile.
He displayed the same moderation with regard to persons and things of
inferior consideration. The magistrates of Rhodes, having dispatched to
him a letter on public business, which was not subscribed, he sent for
them, and without giving them so much as one harsh word, desired them to
subscribe it, and so dismissed them. Diogenes, the grammarian, who used
to hold public disquisitions, at Rhodes every sabbath-day, once refused
him admittance upon his coming to hear him out of course, and sent him a
message by a servant, postponing his admission until the next seventh
day. Diogenes afterwards coming to Rome, and waiting at his door to be
allowed to pay his respects to him, he sent him word to come again at the
end of seven years. To some governors, who advised him to load the
provinces with taxes, he answered, “It is the part of a good shepherd to
shear, not flay, his sheep.”

XXXIII. He assumed the sovereignty [332] by slow degrees, and exercised
it for a long time with great variety of conduct, though generally with a
due regard to the public good. At first he only interposed to prevent
ill management. Accordingly, he rescinded some decrees of the senate;
and when the magistrates sat for the administration of justice, he
frequently offered his service as assessor, either taking his place
promiscuously amongst them, or seating himself in a corner of the
tribunal. If a rumour prevailed, that any person under prosecution was
likely to be acquitted by his interest, he would suddenly make his
appearance, and from the floor of the court, (214) or the praetor’s
bench, remind the judges of the laws, and of their oaths, and the nature
of the charge brought before them, he likewise took upon himself the
correction of public morals, where they tended to decay, either through
neglect, or evil custom.

XXXIV. He reduced the expense of the plays and public spectacles, by
diminishing the allowances to actors, and curtailing the number of
gladiators. He made grievous complaints to the senate, that the price of
Corinthian vessels was become enormous, and that three mullets had been
sold for thirty thousand sesterces: upon which he proposed that a new
sumptuary law should be enacted; that the butchers and other dealers in
viands should be subject to an assize, fixed by the senate yearly; and
the aediles commissioned to restrain eating-houses and taverns, so far as
not even to permit the sale of any kind of pastry. And to encourage
frugality in the public by his own example, he would often, at his solemn
feasts, have at his tables victuals which had been served up the day
before, and were partly eaten, and half a boar, affirming, “It has all
the same good bits that the whole had.” He published an edict against
the practice of people’s kissing each other when they met; and would not
allow new-year’s gifts [333] to be presented after the calends [the
first] of January was passed. He had been in the habit of returning
these offerings four-fold, and making them with his own hand; but being
annoyed by the continual interruption to which he was exposed during the
whole month, by those who had not the opportunity of attending him on the
festival, he returned none after that day.

XXXV. Married women guilty of adultery, though not prosecuted publicly,
he authorised the nearest relations to punish by agreement among
themselves, according to ancient custom. He discharged a Roman knight
from the obligation of an oath he had taken, never to turn away his wife;
and allowed him to divorce her, upon her being caught in criminal
intercourse with her son-in-law. Women of ill-fame, divesting themselves
of the rights and dignity of matrons, had now begun a practice of
professing themselves prostitutes, to avoid (215) the punishment of the
laws; and the most profligate young men of the senatorian and equestrian
orders, to secure themselves against a decree of the senate, which
prohibited their performing on the stage, or in the amphitheatre,
voluntarily subjected themselves to an infamous sentence, by which they
were degraded. All those he banished, that none for the future might
evade by such artifices the intention and efficacy of the law. He
stripped a senator of the broad stripes on his robe, upon information of
his having removed to his gardens before the calends [the first] of July,
in order that he might afterwards hire a house cheaper in the city. He
likewise dismissed another from the office of quaestor, for repudiating,
the day after he had been lucky in drawing his lot, a wife whom he had
married only the day before.

XXXVI. He suppressed all foreign religions, and the Egyptian [334] and
Jewish rites, obliging those who practised that kind of superstition, to
burn their vestments, and all their sacred utensils. He distributed the
Jewish youths, under the pretence of military service, among the
provinces noted for an unhealthy climate; and dismissed from the city all
the rest of that nation as well as those who were proselytes to that
religion [335], under pain of slavery for life, unless they complied. He
also expelled the astrologers; but upon their suing for pardon, and
promising to renounce their profession, he revoked his decree.

XXXVII. But, above all things, he was careful to keep the (216) public
peace against robbers, burglars, and those who were disaffected to the
government. He therefore increased the number of military stations
throughout Italy; and formed a camp at Rome for the pretorian cohorts,
which, till then, had been quartered in the city. He suppressed with
great severity all tumults of the people on their first breaking out; and
took every precaution to prevent them. Some persons having been killed
in a quarrel which happened in the theatre, he banished the leaders of
the parties, and the players about whom the disturbance had arisen; nor
could all the entreaties of the people afterwards prevail upon him to
recall them [336]. The people of Pollentia having refused to permit the
removal of the corpse of a centurion of the first rank from the forum,
until they had extorted from his heirs a sum of money for a public
exhibition of gladiators, he detached a cohort from the city, and another
from the kingdom of Cottius [337]; who concealing the cause of their
march, entered the town by different gates, with their arms suddenly
displayed, and trumpets sounding; and having seized the greatest part of
the people, and the magistrates, they were imprisoned for life. He
abolished every where the privileges of all places of refuge. The
Cyzicenians having committed an outrage upon some Romans, he deprived
them of the liberty they had obtained for their good services in the
Mithridatic war. Disturbances from foreign enemies he quelled by his
lieutenants, without ever going against them in person; nor would he even
employ his lieutenants, but with much reluctance, and when it was
absolutely necessary. Princes who were ill-affected towards him, he kept
in subjection, more by menaces and remonstrances, than by force of arms.
Some whom he induced to come to him by fair words and promises, he never
would permit to return home; as Maraboduus the German, Thrascypolis the
(217) Thracian, and Archelaus the Cappadocian, whose kingdom he even
reduced into the form of a province.

XXXVIII. He never set foot outside the gates of Rome, for two years
together, from the time he assumed the supreme power; and after that
period, went no farther from the city than to some of the neighbouring
towns; his farthest excursion being to Antium [338], and that but very
seldom, and for a few days; though he often gave out that he would visit
the provinces and armies, and made preparations for it almost every year,
by taking up carriages, and ordering provisions for his retinue in the
municipia and colonies. At last he suffered vows to be put up for his
good journey and safe return, insomuch that he was called jocosely by the
name of Callipides, who is famous in a Greek proverb, for being in a
great hurry to go forward, but without ever advancing a cubit.

XXXIX. But after the loss of his two sons, of whom Germanicus died in
Syria, and Drusus at Rome, he withdrew into Campania [339]; at which time
opinion and conversation were almost general, that he never would return,
and would die soon. And both nearly turned out to be true. For indeed
he never more came to Rome; and a few days after leaving it, when he was
at a villa of his called the Cave, near Terracina [340], during supper a
great many huge stones fell from above, which killed several of the
guests and attendants; but he almost hopelessly escaped.

XL. After he had gone round Campania, and dedicated the capitol at
Capua, and a temple to Augustus at Nola [341], which he made the pretext
of his journey, he retired to Capri; being (218) greatly delighted with
the island, because it was accessible only by a narrow beach, being on
all sides surrounded with rugged cliffs, of a stupendous height, and by a
deep sea. But immediately, the people of Rome being extremely clamorous
for his return, on account of a disaster at Fidenae [342], where upwards
of twenty thousand persons had been killed by the fall of the
amphitheatre, during a public spectacle of gladiators, he crossed over
again to the continent, and gave all people free access to him; so much
the more, because, at his departure from the city, he had caused it to be
proclaimed that no one should address him, and had declined admitting any
persons to his presence, on the journey.

XLI. Returning to the island, he so far abandoned all care of the
government, that he never filled up the decuriae of the knights, never
changed any military tribunes or prefects, or governors of provinces, and
kept Spain and Syria for several years without any consular lieutenants.
He likewise suffered Armenia to be seized by the Parthians, Moesia by the
Dacians and Sarmatians, and Gaul to be ravaged by the Germans; to the
great disgrace, and no less danger, of the empire.

XLII. But having now the advantage of privacy, and being remote from the
observation of the people of Rome, he abandoned himself to all the
vicious propensities which he had long but imperfectly concealed, and of
which I shall here give a particular account from the beginning. While a
young soldier in the camp, he was so remarkable for his excessive
inclination to wine, that, for Tiberius, they called him Biberius; for
Claudius, Caldius; and for Nero, Mero. And after he succeeded to the
empire, and was invested with the office of reforming the morality of the
people, he spent a whole night and two days together in feasting and
drinking with Pomponius Flaccus and Lucius Piso; to one of whom he
immediately gave the province of Syria, and to the other the prefecture
of the city; declaring them, in his letters-patent, to be “very pleasant
companions, and friends fit for all occasions.” He made an appointment
to sup with Sestius Gallus, a lewd and prodigal old fellow, who had been
disgraced by Augustus, and reprimanded by himself but a few days before
in the senate-house; upon condition that he should not recede in the
least from his usual method of entertainment, and that they should be
attended at table by naked girls. He preferred a very obscure candidate
for the quaestorship, before the most noble competitors, only for taking
off, in pledging him at table, an amphora of wine at a draught [343]. He
presented Asellius Sabinus with two hundred thousand sesterces, for
writing a dialogue, in the way of dispute, betwixt the truffle and the
fig-pecker, the oyster and the thrush. He likewise instituted a new
office to administer to his voluptuousness, to which he appointed Titus
Caesonius Priscus, a Roman knight.

XLIII. In his retreat at Capri [344], he also contrived an apartment
containing couches, and adapted to the secret practice of abominable
lewdness, where he entertained companies of girls and catamites, and
assembled from all quarters inventors of unnatural copulations, whom he
called Spintriae, who defiled one another in his presence, to inflame by
the exhibition the languid appetite. He had several chambers set round
with pictures and statues in the most lascivious attitudes, and furnished
with the books of Elephantis, that none might want a pattern for the
execution of any lewd project that was prescribed him. He likewise
contrived recesses in woods and groves for the gratification of lust,
where young persons of both sexes prostituted themselves in caves and
hollow rocks, in the disguise of little Pans and Nymphs [345]. So that
he was publicly and commonly called, by an abuse of the name of the
island, Caprineus. [346]

XLIV. But he was still more infamous, if possible, for an (220)
abomination not fit to be mentioned or heard, much less credited. [347]
——————When a picture, painted by Parrhasius, in which the
artist had represented Atalanta in the act of submitting to Meleager’s
lust in a most unnatural way, was bequeathed to him, with this proviso,
that if the subject was offensive to him, he might receive in lieu of it
a million of sesterces, he not only chose the picture, but hung it up in
his bed-chamber. It is also reported that, during a sacrifice, he was so
captivated with the form of a youth who held a censer, that, before the
religious rites were well over, he took him aside and abused him; as also
a brother of his who had been playing the flute; and soon afterwards
broke the legs of both of them, for upbraiding one another with their

XLV. How much he was guilty of a most foul intercourse with women even
of the first quality [348], appeared very plainly by the death of one
Mallonia, who, being brought to his bed, but resolutely refusing to
comply with his lust, he gave her up to the common informers. Even when
she was upon her trial, he frequently called out to her, and asked her,
“Do you repent?” until she, quitting the court, went home, and stabbed
herself; openly upbraiding the vile old lecher for his gross obscenity
[349]. Hence there was an allusion to him in a farce, which was acted at
the next public sports, and was received with great applause, and became
a common topic of ridicule [350]: that the old goat——–

XLVI. He was so niggardly and covetous, that he never allowed to his
attendants, in his travels and expeditions, any salary, but their diet
only. Once, indeed, he treated them liberally, at the instigation of his
step-father, when, dividing them into three classes, according to their
rank, he gave the (221) first six, the second four, and the third two,
hundred thousand sesterces, which last class he called not friends, but

XLVII. During the whole time of his government, he never erected any
noble edifice; for the only things he did undertake, namely, building the
temple of Augustus, and restoring Pompey’s Theatre, he left at last,
after many years, unfinished. Nor did he ever entertain the people with
public spectacles; and he was seldom present at those which were given by
others, lest any thing of that kind should be requested of him;
especially after he was obliged to give freedom to the comedian Actius.
Having relieved the poverty of a few senators, to avoid further demands,
he declared that he should for the future assist none, but those who gave
the senate full satisfaction as to the cause of their necessity. Upon
this, most of the needy senators, from modesty and shame, declined
troubling him. Amongst these was Hortalus, grandson to the celebrated
orator Quintus Hortensius, who [marrying], by the persuasion of Augustus,
had brought up four children upon a very small estate.

XLVIII. He displayed only two instances of public munificence. One was
an offer to lend gratis, for three years, a hundred millions of sesterces
to those who wanted to borrow; and the other, when, some large houses
being burnt down upon Mount Caelius, he indemnified the owners. To the
former of these he was compelled by the clamours of the people, in a
great scarcity of money, when he had ratified a decree of the senate
obliging all money-lenders to advance two-thirds of their capital on
land, and the debtors to pay off at once the same proportion of their
debts, and it was found insufficient to remedy the grievance. The other
he did to alleviate in some degree the pressure of the times. But his
benefaction to the sufferers by fire, he estimated at so high a rate,
that he ordered the Caelian Hill to be called, in future, the Augustan.
To the soldiery, after doubling the legacy left them by Augustus, he
never gave any thing, except a thousand denarii a man to the pretorian
guards, for not joining the party of Sejanus; and some presents to the
legions in Syria, because they alone had not paid reverence to the
effigies of Sejanus among their standards. He seldom gave discharges to
the veteran soldiers, calculating (222) on their deaths from advanced
age, and on what would be saved by thus getting rid of them, in the way
of rewards or pensions. Nor did he ever relieve the provinces by any act
of generosity, excepting Asia, where some cities had been destroyed by an

XLIX. In the course of a very short time, he turned his mind to sheer
robbery. It is certain that Cneius Lentulus, the augur, a man of vast
estate, was so terrified and worried by his threats and importunities,
that he was obliged to make him his heir; and that Lepida, a lady of a
very noble family, was condemned by him, in order to gratify Quirinus, a
man of consular rank, extremely rich, and childless, who had divorced her
twenty years before, and now charged her with an old design to poison
him. Several persons, likewise, of the first distinction in Gaul, Spain,
Syria, and Greece, had their estates confiscated upon such despicably
trifling and shameless pretences, that against some of them no other
charge was preferred, than that they held large sums of ready money as
part of their property. Old immunities, the rights of mining, and of
levying tolls, were taken from several cities and private persons. And
Vonones, king of the Parthians, who had been driven out of his dominions
by his own subjects, and fled to Antioch with a vast treasure, claiming
the protection of the Roman people, his allies, was treacherously robbed
of all his money, and afterwards murdered.

L. He first manifested hatred towards his own relations in the case of
his brother Drusus, betraying him by the production of a letter to
himself, in which Drusus proposed that Augustus should be forced to
restore the public liberty. In course of time, he shewed the same
disposition with regard to the rest of his family. So far was he from
performing any office of kindness or humanity to his wife, when she was
banished, and, by her father’s order, confined to one town, that he
forbad her to stir out of the house, or converse with any men. He even
wronged her of the dowry given her by her father, and of her yearly
allowance, by a quibble of law, because Augustus had made no provision
for them on her behalf in his will. Being harassed by his mother, Livia,
who claimed an equal share in the government with him, he frequently
avoided (223) seeing her, and all long and private conferences with her,
lest it should be thought that he was governed by her counsels, which,
notwithstanding, he sometimes sought, and was in the habit of adopting.
He was much offended at the senate, when they proposed to add to his
other titles that of the Son of Livia, as well as Augustus. He,
therefore, would not suffer her to be called “the Mother of her Country,”
nor to receive any extraordinary public distinction. Nay, he frequently
admonished her “not to meddle with weighty affairs, and such as did not
suit her sex;” especially when he found her present at a fire which broke
out near the Temple of Vesta [351], and encouraging the people and
soldiers to use their utmost exertions, as she had been used to do in the
time of her husband.

LI. He afterwards proceeded to an open rupture with her, and, as is
said, upon this occasion. She having frequently urged him to place among
the judges a person who had been made free of the city, he refused her
request, unless she would allow it to be inscribed on the roll, “That the
appointment had been extorted from him by his mother.” Enraged at this,
Livia brought forth from her chapel some letters from Augustus to her,
complaining of the sourness and insolence of Tiberius’s temper, and these
she read. So much was he offended at these letters having been kept so
long, and now produced with so much bitterness against him, that some
considered this incident as one of the causes of his going into
seclusion, if not the principal reason for his so doing. In the (224)
whole years she lived during his retirement, he saw her but once, and
that for a few hours only. When she fell sick shortly afterwards, he was
quite unconcerned about visiting her in her illness; and when she died,
after promising to attend her funeral, he deferred his coming for several
days, so that the corpse was in a state of decay and putrefaction before
the interment; and he then forbad divine honours being paid to her,
pretending that he acted according to her own directions. He likewise
annulled her will, and in a short time ruined all her friends and
acquaintance; not even sparing those to whom, on her death-bed, she had
recommended the care of her funeral, but condemning one of them, a man of
equestrian rank, to the treadmill. [352]

LII. He entertained no paternal affection either for his own son Drusus,
or his adopted son Germanicus. Offended at the vices of the former, who
was of a loose disposition and led a dissolute life, he was not much
affected at his death; but, almost immediately after the funeral, resumed
his attention to business, and prevented the courts from being longer
closed. The ambassadors from the people of Ilium coming rather late to
offer their condolence, he said to them by way of banter, as if the
affair had already faded from his memory, “And I heartily condole with
you on the loss of your renowned countryman, Hector.” He so much
affected to depreciate Germanicus, that he spoke of his achievements as
utterly insignificant, and railed at his most glorious victories as
ruinous to the state; complaining of him also to the senate for going to
Alexandria without his knowledge, upon occasion of a great and sudden
famine at Rome. It was believed that he took care to have him dispatched
by Cneius Piso, his lieutenant in Syria. This person was afterwards
tried for the murder, and would, as was supposed, have produced his
orders, had they not been contained in a private and confidential
dispatch. The following words therefore were posted up in many places,
and frequently shouted in the night: “Give us back our Germanicus.” This
suspicion was afterwards confirmed by the barbarous treatment of his wife
and children.

(225) LIII. His daughter-in-law Agrippina, after the death of her
husband, complaining upon some occasion with more than ordinary freedom,
he took her by the hand, and addressed her in a Greek verse to this
effect: “My dear child, do you think yourself injured, because you are
not empress?” Nor did he ever vouchsafe to speak to her again. Upon her
refusing once at supper to taste some fruit which he presented to her, he
declined inviting her to his table, pretending that she in effect charged
him with a design to poison her; whereas the whole was a contrivance of
his own. He was to offer the fruit, and she to be privately cautioned
against eating what would infallibly cause her death. At last, having
her accused of intending to flee for refuge to the statue of Augustus, or
to the army, he banished her to the island of Pandataria [353]. Upon her
reviling him for it, he caused a centurion to beat out one of her eyes;
and when she resolved to starve herself to death, he ordered her mouth to
be forced open, and meat to be crammed down her throat. But she
persisting in her resolution, and dying soon afterwards, he persecuted
her memory with the basest aspersions, and persuaded the senate to put
her birth-day amongst the number of unlucky days in the calendar. He
likewise took credit for not having caused her to be strangled and her
body cast upon the Gemonian Steps, and suffered a decree of the senate to
pass, thanking him for his clemency, and an offering of gold to be made
to Jupiter Capitolinus on the occasion.

LIV. He had by Germanicus three grandsons, Nero, Drusus, and Caius; and
by his son Drusus one, named Tiberius. Of these, after the loss of his
sons, he commended Nero and Drusus, the two eldest sons of Germanicus, to
the senate; and at their being solemnly introduced into the forum,
distributed money among the people. But when he found that on entering
upon the new year they were included in the public vows for his own
welfare, he told the senate, “that such honours ought not to be conferred
but upon those who had been proved, and were of more advanced years.” By
thus betraying his private feelings towards them, he exposed them to all
sorts of accusations; and after practising many artifices to provoke
(226) them to rail at and abuse him, that he might be furnished with a
pretence to destroy them, he charged them with it in a letter to the
senate; at the same time accusing them, in the bitterest terms, of the
most scandalous vices. Upon their being declared enemies by the senate,
he starved them to death; Nero in the island of Ponza, and Drusus in the
vaults of the Palatium. It is thought by some, that Nero was driven to a
voluntary death by the executioner’s shewing him some halters and hooks,
as if he had been sent to him by order of the senate. Drusus, it is
said, was so rabid with hunger, that he attempted to eat the chaff with
which his mattress was stuffed. The relics of both were so scattered,
that it was with difficulty they were collected.

LV. Besides his old friends and intimate acquaintance, he required the
assistance of twenty of the most eminent persons in the city, as
counsellors in the administration of public affairs. Out of all this
number, scarcely two or three escaped the fury of his savage disposition.
All the rest he destroyed upon one pretence or another; and among them
Aelius Sejanus, whose fall was attended with the ruin of many others. He
had advanced this minister to the highest pitch of grandeur, not so much
from any real regard for him, as that by his base and sinister
contrivances he might ruin the children of Germanicus, and thereby secure
the succession to his own grandson by Drusus.

LVI. He treated with no greater leniency the Greeks in his family, even
those with whom he was most pleased. Having asked one Zeno, upon his
using some far-fetched phrases, “What uncouth dialect is that?” he
replied, “The Doric.” For this answer he banished him to Cinara [354],
suspecting that he taunted him with his former residence at Rhodes, where
the Doric dialect is spoken. It being his custom to start questions at
supper, arising out of what he had been reading in the day, and finding
that Seleucus, the grammarian, used to inquire of his attendants what
authors he was then studying, and so came prepared for his enquiries–he
first turned him out of his family, and then drove him to the extremity
of laying violent hands upon himself.

(227) LVII. His cruel and sullen temper appeared when he was still a
boy; which Theodorus of Gadara [355], his master in rhetoric, first
discovered, and expressed by a very apposite simile, calling him
sometimes, when he chid him, “Mud mixed with blood.” But his disposition
shewed itself still more clearly on his attaining the imperial power, and
even in the beginning of his administration, when he was endeavouring to
gain the popular favour, by affecting moderation. Upon a funeral passing
by, a wag called out to the dead man, “Tell Augustus, that the legacies
he bequeathed to the people are not yet paid.” The man being brought
before him, he ordered that he should receive what was due to him, and
then be led to execution, that he might deliver the message to his father
himself. Not long afterwards, when one Pompey, a Roman knight, persisted
in his opposition to something he proposed in the senate, he threatened
to put him in prison, and told him, “Of a Pompey I shall make a Pompeian
of you;” by a bitter kind of pun playing upon the man’s name, and the
ill-fortune of his party.

LVIII. About the same time, when the praetor consulted him, whether it
was his pleasure that the tribunals should take cognizance of accusations
of treason, he replied, “The laws ought to be put in execution;” and he
did put them in execution most severely. Some person had taken off the
head of Augustus from one of his statues, and replaced it by another
[356]. The matter was brought before the senate, and because the case
was not clear, the witnesses were put to the torture. The party accused
being found guilty, and condemned, this kind of proceeding was carried so
far, that it became capital for a man to beat his slave, or change his
clothes, near the statue of Augustus; to carry his head stamped upon the
coin, or cut in the stone of a ring, into a necessary house, or the
stews; or to reflect upon anything that had been either said or done by
him. In fine, a person was condemned to death, for suffering some
honours to be decreed to him in the colony where he lived, upon the same
day on which they had formerly been decreed to Augustus.

(228) LIX. He was besides guilty of many barbarous actions, under the
pretence of strictness and reformation of manners, but more to gratify
his own savage disposition. Some verses were published, which displayed
the present calamities of his reign, and anticipated the future. [357]

Asper et immitis, breviter vis omnia dicam?
Dispeream si te mater amare potest.
Non es eques, quare? non sunt tibi millia centum?
Omnia si quaeras, et Rhodos exsilium est.
Aurea mutasti Saturni saecula, Caesar:
Incolumi nam te, ferrea semper erunt.
Fastidit vinum, quia jam sit it iste cruorem:
Tam bibit hunc avide, quam bibit ante merum.
Adspice felicem sibi, non tibi, Romule, Sullam:
Et Marium, si vis, adspice, sed reducem.
Nec non Antoni civilia bella moventis
Nec semel infectas adspice caeda manus.
Et dic, Roma perit: regnabit sanguine multo,
Ad regnum quisquis venit ab exsilio.

Obdurate wretch! too fierce, too fell to move
The least kind yearnings of a mother’s love!
No knight thou art, as having no estate;
Long suffered’st thou in Rhodes an exile’s fate,
No more the happy Golden Age we see;
The Iron’s come, and sure to last with thee.
Instead of wine he thirsted for before,
He wallows now in floods of human gore.
Reflect, ye Romans, on the dreadful times,
Made such by Marius, and by Sylla’s crimes.
Reflect how Antony’s ambitious rage
Twice scar’d with horror a distracted age,
And say, Alas! Rome’s blood in streams will flow,
When banish’d miscreants rule this world below.

At first he would have it understood, that these satirical verses were
drawn forth by the resentment of those who were impatient under the
discipline of reformation, rather than that they spoke their real
sentiments; and he would frequently say, “Let them hate me, so long as
they do but approve my conduct.” [358] At length, however, his behaviour
showed that he was sensible they were too well founded.

(229) LX. A few days after his arrival at Capri, a fisherman coming up
to him unexpectedly, when he was desirous of privacy, and presenting him
with a large mullet, he ordered the man’s face to be scrubbed with the
fish; being terrified at the thought of his having been able to creep
upon him from the back of the island, over such rugged and steep rocks.
The man, while undergoing the punishment, expressing his joy that he had
not likewise offered him a large crab which he had also taken, he ordered
his face to be farther lacerated with its claws. He put to death one of
the pretorian guards, for having stolen a peacock out of his orchard. In
one of his journeys, his litter being obstructed by some bushes, he
ordered the officer whose duty it was to ride on and examine the road, a
centurion of the first cohorts, to be laid on his face upon the ground,
and scourged almost to death.

LXI. Soon afterwards, he abandoned himself to every species of cruelty,
never wanting occasions of one kind or another, to serve as a pretext.
He first fell upon the friends and acquaintance of his mother, then those
of his grandsons, and his daughter-in-law, and lastly those of Sejanus;
after whose death he became cruel in the extreme. From this it appeared,
that he had not been so much instigated by Sejanus, as supplied with
occasions of gratifying his savage temper, when he wanted them. Though
in a short memoir which he composed of his own life, he had the
effrontery to write, “I have punished Sejanus, because I found him bent
upon the destruction of the children of my son Germanicus,” one of these
he put to death, when he began to suspect Sejanus; and another, after he
was taken off. It would be tedious to relate all the numerous instances
of his cruelty: suffice it to give a few examples, in their different
kinds. Not a day passed without the punishment of some person or other,
not excepting holidays, or those appropriated to the worship of the gods.
Some were tried even on New-Year’s-Day. Of many who were condemned,
their wives and children shared the same fate; and for those who were
sentenced to death, the relations were forbid to put on mourning.
Considerable rewards were voted for the prosecutors, and sometimes for
the witnesses also. The information of any person, without exception,
was taken; and all offences were capital, even speaking (230) a few
words, though without any ill intention. A poet was charged with abusing
Agamemnon; and a historian [359], for calling Brutus and Cassius “the
last of the Romans.” The two authors were immediately called to account,
and their writings suppressed; though they had been well received some
years before, and read in the hearing of Augustus. Some, who were thrown
into prison, were not only denied the solace of study, but debarred from
all company and conversation. Many persons, when summoned to trial,
stabbed themselves at home, to avoid the distress and ignominy of a
public condemnation, which they were certain would ensue. Others took
poison in the senate house. The wounds were bound up, and all who had
not expired, were carried, half-dead, and panting for life, to prison.
Those who were put to death, were thrown down the Gemonian stairs, and
then dragged into the Tiber. In one day, twenty were treated in this
manner; and amongst them women and boys. Because, according to an
ancient custom, it was not lawful to strangle virgins, the young girls
were first deflowered by the executioner, and afterwards strangled.
Those who were desirous to die, were forced to live. For he thought
death so slight a punishment, that upon hearing that Carnulius, one of
the accused, who was under prosecution, had killed himself, he exclaimed,
“Carnulius has escaped me.” In calling over his prisoners, when one of
them requested the favour of a speedy death, he replied, “You are not yet
restored to favour.” A man of consular rank writes in his annals, that
at table, where he himself was present with a large company, he was
suddenly asked aloud by a dwarf who stood by amongst the buffoons, why
Paconius, who was under a prosecution for treason, lived so long.
Tiberius immediately reprimanded him for his pertness; but wrote to the
senate a few days after, to proceed without delay to the punishment of

LXII. Exasperated by information he received respecting the death of his
son Drusus, he carried his cruelty still farther. He imagined that he
had died of a disease occasioned (231) by his intemperance; but finding
that he had been poisoned by the contrivance of his wife Livilla [360]
and Sejanus, he spared no one from torture and death. He was so entirely
occupied with the examination of this affair, for whole days together,
that, upon being informed that the person in whose house he had lodged at
Rhodes, and whom he had by a friendly letter invited to Rome, was
arrived, he ordered him immediately to be put to the torture, as a party
concerned in the enquiry. Upon finding his mistake, he commanded him to
be put to death, that he might not publish the injury done him. The
place of execution is still shown at Capri, where he ordered those who
were condemned to die, after long and exquisite tortures, to be thrown,
before his eyes, from a precipice into the sea. There a party of
soldiers belonging to the fleet waited for them, and broke their bones
with poles and oars, lest they should have any life left in them. Among
various kinds of torture invented by him, one was, to induce people to
drink a large quantity of wine, and then to tie up their members with
harp-strings, thus tormenting them at once by the tightness of the
ligature, and the stoppage of their urine. Had not death prevented him,
and Thrasyllus, designedly, as some say, prevailed with him to defer some
of his cruelties, in hopes of longer life, it is believed that he would
have destroyed many more: and not have spared even the rest of his
grandchildren: for he was jealous of Caius, and hated Tiberius as having
been conceived in adultery. This conjecture is indeed highly probable;
for he used often to say, “Happy Priam, who survived all his children!”

LXIII. Amidst these enormities, in how much fear and apprehension, as
well as odium and detestation, he lived, is evident from many
indications. He forbade the soothsayers to be consulted in private, and
without some witnesses being present. He attempted to suppress the
oracles in the neighbourhood of the city; but being terrified by the
divine authority of the (232) Praenestine Lots [362], he abandoned the
design. For though they were sealed up in a box, and carried to home,
yet they were not to be found in it, until it was returned to the temple.
More than one person of consular rank, appointed governors of provinces,
he never ventured to dismiss to their respective destinations, but kept
them until several years after, when he nominated their successors, while
they still remained present with him. In the meantime, they bore the
title of their office; and he frequently gave them orders, which they
took care to have executed by their deputies and assistants.

LXIV. He never removed his daughter-in-law, or grandsons [363], after
their condemnation, to any place, but in fetters and in a covered litter,
with a guard to hinder all who met them on the road, and travellers, from
stopping to gaze at them.

LXV. After Sejanus had plotted against him, though he saw that his
birth-day was solemnly kept by the public, and divine honours paid to
golden images of him in every quarter, yet it was with difficulty at
last, and more by artifice than his imperial power, that he accomplished
his death. In the first place, to remove him from about his person,
under the pretext of doing him honour, he made him his colleague in his
fifth consulship; which, although then absent from the city, he took upon
him for that purpose, long after his preceding consulship. Then, having
flattered him with the hope of an alliance by marriage with one of his
own kindred, and the prospect of the tribunitian authority, he suddenly,
while Sejanus little expected it, charged him with treason, in an abject
and pitiful address to the senate; in which, among other things, he
begged them “to send one of the consuls, to conduct himself, a poor
solitary old man, with a guard of soldiers, into their presence.” Still
distrustful, however, and apprehensive of an insurrection, he ordered his
grandson, Drusus, whom he still kept in confinement at Rome, to be set at
liberty, and if occasion required, to head the troops. He had likewise
ships in readiness to transport him to any of the legions to which he
might consider it expedient to make his escape. Meanwhile, he was upon
the (233) watch, from the summit of a lofty cliff, for the signals which
he had ordered to be made if any thing occurred, lest the messengers
should be tardy. Even when he had quite foiled the conspiracy of
Sejanus, he was still haunted as much as ever with fears and
apprehensions, insomuch that he never once stirred out of the Villa Jovis
for nine months after.

LXVI. To the extreme anxiety of mind which he now experienced, he had
the mortification to find superadded the most poignant reproaches from
all quarters. Those who were condemned to die, heaped upon him the most
opprobrious language in his presence, or by hand-bills scattered in the
senators’ seats in the theatre. These produced different effects:
sometimes he wished, out of shame, to have all smothered and concealed;
at other times he would disregard what was said, and publish it himself.
To this accumulation of scandal and open sarcasm, there is to be
subjoined a letter from Artabanus, king of the Parthians, in which he
upbraids him with his parricides, murders, cowardice, and lewdness, and
advises him to satisfy the furious rage of his own people, which he had
so justly excited, by putting an end to his life without delay.

LXVII. At last, being quite weary of himself, he acknowledged his
extreme misery, in a letter to the senate, which begun thus: “What to
write to you, Conscript Fathers, or how to write, or what not to write at
this time, may all the gods and goddesses pour upon my head a more
terrible vengeance than that under which I feel myself daily sinking, if
I can tell.” Some are of opinion that he had a foreknowledge of those
things, from his skill in the science of divination, and perceived long
before what misery and infamy would at last come upon him; and that for
this reason, at the beginning of his reign, he had absolutely refused the
title of the “Father of his Country,” and the proposal of the senate to
swear to his acts; lest he should afterwards, to his greater shame, be
found unequal to such extraordinary honours. This, indeed, may be justly
inferred from the speeches which he made upon both those occasions; as
when he says, “I shall ever be the same, and shall never change my
conduct, so long as I retain my senses; but to avoid giving a bad
precedent to posterity, the senate ought to beware of binding themselves
to the acts of (234) any person whatever, who might by some accident or
other be induced to alter them.” And again: “If ye should at any time
entertain a jealousy of my conduct, and my entire affection for you,
which heaven prevent by putting a period to my days, rather than I should
live to see such an alteration in your opinion of me, the title of Father
will add no honour to me, but be a reproach to you, for your rashness in
conferring it upon me, or inconstancy in altering your opinion of me.”

LXVIII. In person he was large and robust; of a stature somewhat above
the common size; broad in the shoulders and chest, and proportionable in
the rest of his frame. He used his left hand more readily and with more
force than his right; and his joints were so strong, that he could bore a
fresh, sound apple through with his finger, and wound the head of a boy,
or even a young man, with a fillip. He was of a fair complexion, and
wore his hair so long behind, that it covered his neck, which was
observed to be a mark of distinction affected by the family. He had a
handsome face, but it was often full of pimples. His eyes, which were
large, had a wonderful faculty of seeing in the night-time, and in the
dark, for a short time only, and immediately after awaking from sleep;
but they soon grew dim again. He walked with his neck stiff and upright:
generally with a frowning countenance, being for the most part silent:
when he spoke to those about him, it was very slowly, and usually
accompanied with a slight gesticulation of his fingers. All which, being
repulsive habits and signs of arrogance, were remarked by Augustus, who
often endeavoured to excuse them to the senate and people, declaring that
“they were natural defects, which proceeded from no viciousness of mind.”
He enjoyed a good state of health, without interruption, almost during
the whole period of his rule; though, from the thirtieth year of his age,
he treated it himself according to his own discretion, without any
medical assistance.

LXIX. In regard to the gods, and matters of religion, he discovered much
indifference; being greatly addicted to astrology, and fully persuaded
that all things were governed by fate. Yet he was extremely afraid of
lightning, and when the sky was in a disturbed state, always wore a
laurel crown on his head; because it is supposed that the leaf of that
tree is never touched by the lightning.

(235) LXX. He applied himself with great diligence to the liberal arts,
both Greek and Latin. In his Latin style, he affected to imitate Messala
Corvinus [364], a venerable man, to whom he had paid much respect in his
own early years. But he rendered his style obscure by excessive
affectation and abstruseness, so that he was thought to speak better
extempore, than in a premeditated discourse. He composed likewise a
lyric ode, under the title of “A Lamentation upon the death of Lucius
Caesar;” and also some Greek poems, in imitation of Euphorion, Rhianus,
and Parthenius [365]. These poets he greatly admired, and placed their
works and statues in the public libraries, amongst the eminent authors of
antiquity. On this account, most of the learned men of the time vied
with each other in publishing observations upon them, which they
addressed to him. His principal study, however, was the history of the
fabulous ages, inquiring even into its trifling details in a ridiculous
manner; for he used to try the grammarians, a class of men which, as I
have already observed, he much affected, with such questions as these:
“Who was Hecuba’s mother? What name did Achilles assume among the
virgins? What was it that the Sirens used to sing?” And the first day
that he entered the senate-house, after the death of Augustus, as if he
intended to pay respect at once to his father’s memory and to the gods,
he made an offering of frankincense and wine, but without any music, in
imitation of Minos, upon the death of his son.

LXXI. Though he was ready and conversant with the Greek tongue, yet he
did not use it everywhere; but chiefly he avoided it in the senate-house,
insomuch that having occasion to employ the word monopolium (monopoly),
he first begged pardon for being obliged to adopt a foreign word. And
when, in a decree of the senate, the word emblaema (emblem) was read, he
proposed to have it changed, and that a Latin word should be substituted
in its room; or, if no proper one could be found, to express the thing by
circumlocution. A soldier (236) who was examined as a witness upon a
trial, in Greek [366], he would not allow to reply, except in Latin.

LXXII. During the whole time of his seclusion at Capri, twice only he
made an effort to visit Rome. Once he came in a galley as far as the
gardens near the Naumachia, but placed guards along the banks of the
Tiber, to keep off all who should offer to come to meet him. The second
time he travelled on the Appian Way [367], as far as the seventh mile-
stone from the city, but he immediately returned, without entering it,
having only taken a view of the walls at a distance. For what reason he
did not disembark in his first excursion, is uncertain; but in the last,
he was deterred from entering the city by a prodigy. He was in the habit
of diverting himself with a snake, and upon going to feed it with his own
hand, according to custom, he found it devoured by ants: from which he
was advised to beware of the fury of the mob. On this account, returning
in all haste to Campania, he fell ill at Astura [368]; but recovering a
little, went on to Circeii [369]. And to obviate any suspicion of his
being in a bad state of health, he was not only present at the sports in
the camp, but encountered, with javelins, a wild boar, which was let
loose in the arena. Being immediately seized with a pain in the side,
and catching cold upon his over-heating himself in the exercise, he
relapsed into a worse condition than he was before. He held out,
however, for some time; and sailing as far as Misenum [370], omitted
nothing (237) in his usual mode of life, not even in his entertainments,
and other gratifications, partly from an ungovernable appetite, and
partly to conceal his condition. For Charicles, a physician, having
obtained leave of absence, on his rising from table, took his hand to
kiss it; upon which Tiberius, supposing he did it to feel his pulse,
desired him to stay and resume his place, and continued the entertainment
longer than usual. Nor did he omit his usual custom of taking his
station in the centre of the apartment, a lictor standing by him, while
he took leave of each of the party by name.

LXXIII. Meanwhile, finding, upon looking over the acts of the senate,
“that some person under prosecution had been discharged, without being
brought to a hearing,” for he had only written cursorily that they had
been denounced by an informer; he complained in a great rage that he was
treated with contempt, and resolved at all hazards to return to Capri;
not daring to attempt any thing until he found himself in a place of
security. But being detained by storms, and the increasing violence of
his disorder, he died shortly afterwards, at a villa formerly belonging
to Lucullus, in the seventy-eighth year of his age [371], and the twenty-
third of his reign, upon the seventeenth of the calends of April [16th
March], in the consulship of Cneius Acerronius Proculus and Caius Pontius
Niger. Some think that a slow-consuming poison was given him by Caius
[372]. Others say that during the interval of the intermittent fever
with which he happened to be seized, upon asking for food, it was denied
him. Others report, that he was stifled by a pillow thrown upon him
[373], when, on his recovering from a swoon, he called for his ring,
which had been taken from him in the fit. Seneca writes, “That finding
himself dying, he took his signet ring off his finger, and held it a
while, as if he would deliver it to somebody; but put it again upon his
finger, and lay for some time, with his left hand clenched, and without
stirring; when suddenly summoning his attendants, (238) and no one
answering the call, he rose; but his strength failing him, he fell down
at a short distance from his bed.”

LXXIV. Upon his last birth-day, he had brought a full-sized statue of
the Timenian Apollo from Syracuse, a work of exquisite art, intending to
place it in the library of the new temple [374]; but he dreamt that the
god appeared to him in the night, and assured him “that his statue could
not be erected by him.” A few days before he died, the Pharos at Capri
was thrown down by an earthquake. And at Misenum, some embers and live
coals, which were brought in to warm his apartment, went out, and after
being quite cold, burst out into a flame again towards evening, and
continued burning very brightly for several hours.

LXXV. The people were so much elated at his death, that when they first
heard the news, they ran up and down the city, some crying out, “Away
with Tiberius to the Tiber;” others exclaiming, “May the earth, the
common mother of mankind, and the infernal gods, allow him no abode in
death, but amongst the wicked.” Others threatened his body with the hook
and the Gemonian stairs, their indignation at his former cruelty being
increased by a recent atrocity. It had been provided by an act of the
senate, that the execution of condemned criminals should always be
deferred until the tenth day after the sentence. Now this fell on the
very day when the news of Tiberius’s death arrived, and in consequence of
which the unhappy men implored a reprieve, for mercy’s sake; but, as
Caius had not yet arrived, and there was no one else to whom application
could be made on their behalf, their guards, apprehensive of violating
the law, strangled them, and threw them down the Gemonian stairs. This
roused the people to a still greater abhorrence of the tyrant’s memory,
since his cruelty continued in use even after he was dead. As soon as
his corpse was begun to be moved from Misenum, many cried out for its
being carried to Atella [375], and being half burnt there (239) in the
amphitheatre. It was, however, brought to Rome, and burnt with the usual

LXXVI. He had made about two years before, duplicates of his will, one
written by his own hand, and the other by that of one of his freedmen;
and both were witnessed by some persons of very mean rank. He appointed
his two grandsons, Caius by Germanicus, and Tiberius by Drusus, joint
heirs to his estate; and upon the death of one of them, the other was to
inherit the whole. He gave likewise many legacies; amongst which were
bequests to the Vestal Virgins, to all the soldiers, and each one of the
people of Rome, and to the magistrates of the several quarters of the

* * * * * *

At the death of Augustus, there had elapsed so long a period from the
overthrow of the republic by Julius Caesar, that few were now living who
had been born under the ancient constitution of the Romans; and the mild
and prosperous administration of Augustus, during forty-four years, had
by this time reconciled the minds of the people to a despotic government.
Tiberius, the adopted son of the former sovereign, was of mature age; and
though he had hitherto lived, for the most part, abstracted from any
concern with public affairs, yet, having been brought up in the family of
Augustus, he was acquainted with his method of government, which, there
was reason to expect, he would render the model of his own. Livia, too,
his mother, and the relict of the late emperor, was still living, a woman
venerable by years, who had long been familiar with the councils of
Augustus, and from her high rank, as well as uncommon affability,
possessed an extensive influence amongst all classes of the people.

Such were the circumstances in favour of Tiberius’s succession at the
demise of Augustus; but there were others of a tendency disadvantageous
to his views. His temper was haughty and reserved: Augustus had often
apologised for the ungraciousness of his manners. He was disobedient to
his mother; and though he had not openly discovered any propensity to
vice, he enjoyed none of those qualities which usually conciliate
popularity. To these considerations it is to be added, that Postumus
Agrippa, the grandson of Augustus by Julia, was living; and if
consanguinity was to be the rule of succession, his right was
indisputably preferable to that of an adopted son. Augustus had sent
this youth into exile a few years before; but, towards the close (240) of
his life, had expressed a design of recalling him, with the view, as was
supposed, of appointing him his successor. The father of young Agrippa
had been greatly beloved by the Romans; and the fate of his mother,
Julia, though she was notorious for her profligacy, had ever been
regarded by them with peculiar sympathy and tenderness. Many, therefore,
attached to the son the partiality entertained for his parents; which was
increased not only by a strong suspicion, but a general surmise, that his
elder brothers, Caius and Lucius, had been violently taken off, to make
way for the succession of Tiberius. That an obstruction was apprehended
to Tiberius’s succession from this quarter, is put beyond all doubt, when
we find that the death of Augustus was industriously kept secret, until
young Agrippa should be removed; who, it is generally agreed, was
dispatched by an order from Livia and Tiberius conjointly, or at least
from the former. Though, by this act, there remained no rival to
Tiberius, yet the consciousness of his own want of pretensions to the
Roman throne, seems to have still rendered him distrustful of the
succession; and that he should have quietly obtained it, without the
voice of the people, the real inclination of the senate, or the support
of the army, can be imputed only to the influence of his mother, and his
own dissimulation. Ardently solicitous to attain the object, yet
affecting a total indifference; artfully prompting the senate to give him
the charge of the government, at the time that he intimated an invincible
reluctance to accept it; his absolutely declining it in perpetuity, but
fixing no time for an abdication; his deceitful insinuation of bodily
infirmities, with hints likewise of approaching old age, that he might
allay in the senate all apprehensions of any great duration of his power,
and repress in his adopted son, Germanicus, the emotions of ambition to
displace him; form altogether a scene of the most insidious policy,
inconsistency, and dissimulation.

In this period died, in the eighty-sixth year of her age, Livia Drusilla,
mother of the emperor, and the relict of Augustus, whom she survived
fifteen years. She was the daughter of L. Drusus Calidianus and married
Tiberius Claudius Nero, by whom she had two sons, Tiberius and Drusus.
The conduct of this lady seems to justify the remark of Caligula, that
“she was an Ulysses in a woman’s dress.” Octavius first saw her as she
fled from the danger which threatened her husband, who had espoused the
cause of Antony; and though she was then pregnant, he resolved to marry
her; whether with her own inclination or not, is left by Tacitus
undetermined. To pave the way for this union, he divorced his wife
Scribonia, and with the approbation of the Augurs, which he could have no
difficulty in obtaining, celebrated (241) his nuptials with Livia. There
ensued from this marriage no issue, though much desired by both parties;
but Livia retained, without interruption, an unbounded ascendancy over
the emperor, whose confidence she abused, while the uxorious husband
little suspected that he was cherishing in his bosom a viper who was to
prove the destruction of his house. She appears to have entertained a
predominant ambition of giving an heir to the Roman empire; and since it
could not be done by any fruit of her marriage with Augustus, she
resolved on accomplishing that end in the person of Tiberius, the eldest
son by her former husband. The plan which she devised for this purpose,
was to exterminate all the male offspring of Augustus by his daughter
Julia, who was married to Agrippa; a stratagem which, when executed,
would procure for Tiberius, through the means of adoption, the eventual
succession to the empire. The cool yet sanguinary policy, and the
patient perseverance of resolution, with which she prosecuted her design,
have seldom been equalled. While the sons of Julia were yet young, and
while there was still a possibility that she herself might have issue by
Augustus, she suspended her project, in the hope, perhaps, that accident
or disease might operate in its favour; but when the natural term of her
constitution had put a period to her hopes of progeny, and when the
grandsons of the emperor were risen to the years of manhood, and had been
adopted by him, she began to carry into execution what she long had
meditated. The first object devoted to destruction was C. Caesar
Agrippa, the eldest of Augustus’s grandsons. This promising youth was
sent to Armenia, upon an expedition against the Persians; and Lollius,
who had been his governor, either accompanied him thither from Rome, or
met him in the East, where he had obtained some appointment. From the
hand of this traitor, perhaps under the pretext of exercising the
authority of a preceptor, but in reality instigated by Livia, the young
prince received a fatal blow, of which he died some time after.

The manner of Caius’s death seems to have been carefully kept from the
knowledge of Augustus, who promoted Lollius to the consulship, and made
him governor of a province; but, by his rapacity in this station, he
afterwards incurred the emperor’s displeasure. The true character of
this person had escaped the keen discernment of Horace, as well as the
sagacity of the emperor; for in two epistles addressed to Lollius, he
mentions him as great and accomplished in the superlative degree; maxime
Lolli, liberrime Lolli; so imposing had been the manners and address of
this deceitful courtier.

Lucius, the second son of Julia, was banished into Campania, (242) for
using, as it is said, so litious language against his grandfather. In
the seventh year of his exile Augustus proposed to recall him; but Livia
and Tiberius, dreading the consequences of his being restored to the
emperor’s favour, put in practice the expedient of having him immediately
assassinated. Postumus Agrippa, the third son, incurred the displeasure
of his grandfather in the same way as Lucius, and was confined at
Surrentum, where he remained a prisoner until he was put to death by the
order either of Livia alone, or in conjunction with Tiberius, as was
before observed.

Such was the catastrophe, through the means of Livia, of all the
grandsons of Augustus; and reason justifies the inference, that she who
scruple not to lay violent hands upon those young men, had formerly
practised every artifice that could operate towards rendering them
obnoxious to the emperor. We may even ascribe to her dark intrigues the
dissolute conduct of Julia for the woman who could secretly act as
procuress to her own husband, would feel little restraint upon her mind
against corrupting his daughter, when such an effect might contribute to
answer the purpose which she had in view. But in the ingratitude of
Tiberius, however undutiful and reprehensible in a son towards a parent,
she at last experienced a just retribution for the crimes in which she
had trained him to procure the succession to the empire. To the disgrace
of her sex, she introduced amongst the Romans the horrible practice of
domestic murder, little known before the times when the thirst or
intoxication of unlimited power had vitiated the social affections; and
she transmitted to succeeding ages a pernicious example, by which
immoderate ambition might be gratified, at the expense of every moral
obligation, as well as of humanity.

One of the first victims in the sanguinary reign of the present emperor,
was Germanicus, the son of Drusus, Tiberius’s own brother, and who had
been adopted by his uncle himself. Under any sovereign, of a temper
different from that of Tiberius, this amiable and meritorious prince
would have been held in the highest esteem. At the death of his
grandfather Augustus, he was employed in a war in Germany, where he
greatly distinguished himself by his military achievements; and as soon
as intelligence of that event arrived, the soldiers, by whom he was
extremely beloved, unanimously saluted him emperor. Refusing, however,
to accept this mark of their partiality, he persevered in allegiance to
the government of his uncle, and prosecuted the war with success. Upon
the conclusion of this expedition, he was sent, with the title of emperor
in the East, to repress the seditions of the Armenians, in which he was
equally successful. But the (243) fame which he acquired, served only to
render him an object of jealousy to Tiberius, by whose order he was
secretly poisoned at Daphne, near Antioch, in the thirty-fourth year of
his age. The news of Germanicus’s death was received at Rome with
universal lamentation; and all ranks of the people entertained an
opinion, that, had he survived Tiberius, he would have restored the
freedom of the republic. The love and gratitude of the Romans decreed
many honours to his memory. It was ordered, that his name should be sung
in a solemn procession of the Salii; that crowns of oak, in allusion to
his victories, should be placed upon curule chairs in the hall pertaining
to the priests of Augustus; and that an effigy of him in ivory should be
drawn upon a chariot, preceding the ceremonies of the Circensian games.
Triumphal arches were erected, one at Rome, another on the banks of the
Rhine, and a third upon Mount Amanus in Syria, with inscriptions of his
achievements, and that he died for his services to the republic. [376]

His obsequies were celebrated, not with the display of images and funeral
pomp, but with the recital of his praises and the virtues which rendered
him illustrious. From a resemblance in his personal accomplishments, his
age, the manner of his death, and the vicinity of Daphne to Babylon, many
compared his fate to that of Alexander the Great. He was celebrated for
humanity and benevolence, as well as military talents, and amidst the
toils of war, found leisure to cultivate the arts of literary genius. He
composed two comedies in Greek, some epigrams, and a translation of
Aratus into Latin verse. He married Agrippina, the daughter of M.
Agrippa, by whom he had nine children. This lady, who had accompanied
her husband into the east, carried his ashes to Italy, and accused his
murderer, Piso; who, unable to bear up against the public odium incurred
by that transaction, laid violent hands upon himself. Agrippina was now
nearly in the same predicament with regard to Tiberius, that Ovid had
formerly been m respect of Augustus. He was sensible, that when she
accused Piso, she was not ignorant of the person by whom the perpetrator
of the murder had been instigated; and her presence, therefore, seeming
continually to reproach him with his guilt, he resolved to rid himself of
a person become so obnoxious to his sight, and banished her to the island
of Pandataria, where she died some time afterwards of famine.

But it was not sufficient to gratify this sanguinary tyrant, that he had,
without any cause, cut off both Germanicus and his wife Agrippina: the
distinguished merits and popularity of that prince were yet to be
revenged upon his children; and accordingly he (244) set himself to
invent a pretext for their destruction. After endeavouring in vain, by
various artifices, to provoke the resentment of Nero and Drusus against
him, he had recourse to false accusation, and not only charged them with
seditious designs, to which their tender years were ill adapted, but with
vices of a nature the most scandalous. By a sentence of the senate,
which manifested the extreme servility of that assembly, he procured them
both to be declared open enemies to their country. Nero he banished to
the island of Pontia, where, like his unfortunate mother, he miserably
perished by famine; and Drusus was doomed to the same fate, in the lower
part of the Palatium, after suffering for nine days the violence of
hunger, and having, as is related, devoured part of his bed. The
remaining son, Caius, on account of his vicious disposition, he resolved
to appoint his successor on the throne, that, after his own death, a
comparison might be made in favour of his memory, when the Romans should
be governed by a sovereign yet more vicious and more tyrannical, if
possible, than himself.

Sejanus, the minister in the present reign, imitated with success, for
some time, the hypocrisy of his master; and, had his ambitious temper,
impatient of attaining its object, allowed him to wear the mask for a
longer period, he might have gained the imperial diadem; in the pursuit
of which he was overtaken by that fate which he merited still more by his
cruelties than his perfidy to Tiberius. This man was a native of
Volsinium in Tuscany, and the son of a Roman knight. He had first
insinuated himself into the favour of Caius Caesar, the grandson of
Augustus, after whose death he courted the friendship of Tiberius, and
obtained in a short time his entire confidence, which he improved to the
best advantage. The object which he next pursued, was to gain the
attachment of the senate, and the officers of the army; besides whom,
with a new kind of policy, he endeavoured to secure in his interest every
lady of distinguished connections, by giving secretly to each of them a
promise of marriage, as soon as be should arrive at the sovereignty. The
chief obstacles in his way were the sons and grandsons of Tiberius; and
these he soon sacrificed to his ambition, under various pretences.
Drusus, the eldest of this progeny, having in a fit of passion struck the
favourite, was destined by him to destruction. For this purpose, he had
the presumption to seduce Livia, the wife of Drusus, to whom she had
borne several children; and she consented to marry her adulterer upon the
death of her husband, who was soon after poisoned, through the means of
an eunuch named Lygdus, by order of her and Sejanus.

Drusus was the son of Tiberius by Vipsania, one of Agrippa’s (245)
daughters. He displayed great intrepidity during the war in the
provinces of Illyricum and Pannonia, but appears to have been dissolute
in his morals. Horace is said to have written the Ode in praise of
Drusus at the desire of Augustus; and while the poet celebrates the
military courage of the prince, he insinuates indirectly a salutary
admonition to the cultivation of the civil virtues:

Doctrina sed vim promovet insitam,
Rectique cultus pectora roborant:
Utcunque defecere mores,
Dedecorant bene nata culpae.–Ode iv. 4.

Yet sage instructions to refine the soul
And raise the genius, wondrous aid impart,
Conveying inward, as they purely roll,
Strength to the mind and vigour to the heart:
When morals fail, the stains of vice disgrace
The fairest honours of the noblest race.–Francis.

Upon the death of Drusus, Sejanus openly avowed a desire of marrying the
widowed princess; but Tiberius opposing this measure, and at the same
time recommending Germanicus to the senate as his successor in the
empire, the mind of Sejanus was more than ever inflamed by the united,
and now furious, passions of love and ambition. He therefore urged his
demand with increased importunity; but the emperor still refusing his
consent, and things being not yet ripe for an immediate revolt, Sejanus
thought nothing so favourable for the prosecution of his designs as the
absence of Tiberius from the capital. With this view, under the pretence
of relieving his master from the cares of government, he persuaded him to
retire to a distance from Rome. The emperor, indolent and luxurious,
approved of the proposal, and retired into Campania, leaving to his
ambitious minister the whole direction of the empire. Had Sejanus now
been governed by common prudence and moderation, he might have attained
to the accomplishment of all his wishes; but a natural impetuosity of
temper, and the intoxication of power, precipitated him into measures
which soon effected his destruction. As if entirely emancipated from the
control of a master, he publicly declared himself sovereign of the Roman
empire, and that Tiberius, who had by this time retired to Capri, was
only the dependent prince of that tributary island. He even went so far
in degrading the emperor, as to have him introduced in a ridiculous light
upon the stage. Advice of Sejanus’s proceedings was soon carried to the
emperor at Capri; his indignation was immediately excited; and with a
confidence founded upon an authority exercised for several years, he sent
orders for accusing Sejanus (246) before the senate. This mandate no
sooner arrived, than the audacious minister was deserted by his
adherents; he was in a short time after seized without resistance, and
strangled in prison the same day.

Human nature recoils with horror at the cruelties of this execrable
tyrant, who, having first imbrued his hands in the blood of his own
relations, proceeded to exercise them upon the public with indiscriminate
fury. Neither age nor sex afforded any exemption from his insatiable
thirst for blood. Innocent children were condemned to death, and
butchered in the presence of their parents; virgins, without any imputed
guilt, were sacrificed to a similar destiny; but there being an ancient
custom of not strangling females in that situation, they were first
deflowered by the executioner, and afterwards strangled, as if an
atrocious addition to cruelty could sanction the exercise of it. Fathers
were constrained by violence to witness the death of their own children;
and even the tears of a mother, at the execution of her child, were
punished as a capital offence. Some extraordinary calamities, occasioned
by accident, added to the horrors of the reign. A great number of houses
on Mount Caelius were destroyed by fire; and by the fall of a temporary
building at Fidenae, erected for the purpose of exhibiting public shows,
about twenty thousand persons were either greatly hurt, or crushed to
death in the rains.

By another fire which afterwards broke out, a part of the Circus was
destroyed, with the numerous buildings on Mount Aventine. The only act
of munificence displayed by Tiberius during his reign, was upon the
occasion of those fires, when, to qualify the severity of his government,
he indemnified the most considerable sufferers for the loss they had

Through the whole of his life, Tiberius seems to have conducted himself
with a uniform repugnance to nature. Affable on a few occasions, but in
general averse to society, he indulged, from his earliest years, a
moroseness of disposition, which counterfeited the appearance of austere
virtue; and in the decline of life, when it is common to reform from
juvenile indiscretions, he launched forth into excesses, of a kind the
most unnatural and most detestable. Considering the vicious passions
which had ever brooded in his heart, it may seem surprising that he
restrained himself within the bounds of decency during so many years
after his accession; but though utterly destitute of reverence or
affection for his mother, he still felt, during her life, a filial awe
upon his mind: and after her death, he was actuated by a slavish fear of
Sejanus, until at last political necessity absolved him likewise from
this restraint. These checks being both removed, (247) he rioted without
any control, either from sentiment or authority.

Pliny relates, that the art of making glass malleable was actually
discovered under the reign of Tiberius, and that the shop and tools of
the artist were destroyed, lest, by the establishment of this invention,
gold and silver should lose their value. Dion adds, that the author of
the discovery was put to death.

The gloom which darkened the Roman capital during this melancholy period,
shed a baleful influence on the progress of science throughout the
empire, and literature languished during the present reign, in the same
proportion as it had flourished in the preceding. It is doubtful whether
such a change might not have happened in some degree, even had the
government of Tiberius been equally mild with that of his predecessor.
The prodigious fame of the writers of the Augustan age, by repressing
emulation, tended to a general diminution of the efforts of genius for
some time; while the banishment of Ovid, it is probable, and the capital
punishment of a subsequent poet, for censuring the character of
Agamemnon, operated towards the farther discouragement of poetical
exertions. There now existed no circumstance to counterbalance these
disadvantages. Genius no longer found a patron either in the emperor or
his minister; and the gates of the palace were shut against all who
cultivated the elegant pursuits of the Muses. Panders, catamites,
assassins, wretches stained with every crime, were the constant
attendants, as the only fit companions, of the tyrant who now occupied
the throne. We are informed, however, that even this emperor had a taste
for the liberal arts, and that he composed a lyric poem upon the death of
Lucius Caesar, with some Greek poems in imitation of Euphorion, Rhianus,
and Parthenius. But none of these has been transmitted to posterity: and
if we should form an opinion of them upon the principle of Catullus, that
to be a good poet one ought to be a good man, there is little reason to
regret that they have perished.

We meet with no poetical production in this reign; and of prose writers
the number is inconsiderable, as will appear from the following account
of them.—-

VELLEIUS PATERCULUS was born of an equestrian family in Campania, and
served as a military tribune under Tiberius, in his expeditions in Gaul
and Germany. He composed an Epitome of the History of Greece and Rome,
with that of other nations of remote antiquity: but of this work there
only remain fragments of the history of Greece and Rome, from the
conquest of Perseus to the seventeenth year of the reign of Tiberius. It
is written in two books, addressed to Marcus Vinicius, who had (248) the
office of consul. Rapid in the narrative, and concise as well as elegant
in style, this production exhibits a pleasing epitome of ancient
transactions, enlivened occasionally with anecdotes, and an expressive
description of characters. In treating of the family of Augustus,
Paterculus is justly liable to the imputation of partiality, which he
incurs still more in the latter period of his history, by the praise
which is lavished on Tiberius and his minister Sejanus. He intimates a
design of giving a more full account of the civil war which followed the
death of Julius Caesar; but this, if he ever accomplished it, has not
been transmitted to posterity. Candid, but decided in his judgment of
motives and actions, if we except his invectives against Pompey, he shows
little propensity to censure; but in awarding praise, he is not equally
parsimonious, and, on some occasions, risks the imputation of hyperbole.
The grace, however, and the apparent sincerity with which it is bestowed,
reconcile us to the compliment. This author concludes his history with a
prayer for the prosperity of the Roman empire.—-

VALERIUS MAXIMUS was descended of a Patrician family; but we learn
nothing more concerning him, than that for some time he followed a
military life under Sextus Pompey. He afterwards betook himself to
writing, and has left an account, in nine books, of the memorable
apophthegms and actions of eminent persons; first of the Romans, and
afterwards of foreign nations. The subjects are of various kinds,
political, moral, and natural, ranged into distinct classes. His
transitions from one subject to another are often performed with
gracefulness; and where he offers any remarks, they generally show the
author to be a man of judgment and observation. Valerius Maximus is
chargeable with no affectation of style, but is sometimes deficient in
that purity of language which might be expected in the age of Tiberius,
to whom the work is addressed. What inducement the author had to this
dedication, we know not; but as it is evident from a passage in the ninth
book, that the compliment was paid after the death of Sejanus, and
consequently in the most shameful period of Tiberius’s reign, we cannot
entertain any high opinion of the independent spirit of Valerius Maximus,
who could submit to flatter a tyrant, in the zenith of infamy and
detestation. But we cannot ascribe the cause to any delicate artifice,
of conveying to Tiberius, indirectly, an admonition to reform his
conduct. Such an expedient would have only provoked the severest
resentment from his jealousy.—-

PHAEDRUS was a native of Thrace, and was brought to Rome as a slave. He
had the good fortune to come into the service of Augustus, where,
improving his talents by reading, he obtained (249) the favour of the
emperor, and was made one of his freedmen. In the reign of Tiberius, he
translated into Iambic verse the Fables of Aesop. They are divided into
five books, and are not less conspicuous for precision and simplicity of
thought, than for purity and elegance of style; conveying moral
sentiments with unaffected ease and impressive energy. Phaedrus
underwent, for some time, a persecution from Sejanus, who, conscious of
his own delinquency, suspected that he was obliquely satirised in the
commendations bestowed on virtue by the poet. The work of Phaedrus is
one of the latest which have been brought to light since the revival of
learning. It remained in obscurity until two hundred years ago, when it
was discovered in a library at Rheims.—-

HYGINUS is said to have been a native of Alexandria, or, according to
others, a Spaniard. He was, like Phaedrus, a freedman of Augustus; but,
though industrious, he seems not to have improved himself so much as his
companion, in the art of composition. He wrote, however, a mythological
history, under the title of Fables, a work called Poeticon Astronomicon,
with a treatise on agriculture, commentaries on Virgil, the lives of
eminent men, and some other productions now lost. His remaining works
are much mutilated, and, if genuine, afford an unfavourable specimen of
his elegance and correctness as a writer.

CELSUS was a physician in the time of Tiberius, and has written eight
books, De Medicina, in which he has collected and digested into order all
that is valuable on the subject, in the Greek and Roman authors. The
professors of Medicine were at that time divided into three sects, viz.,
the Dogmatists, Empirics, and Methodists; the first of whom deviated less
than the others from the plan of Hippocrates; but they were in general
irreconcilable to each other, in respect both of their opinions and
practice. Celsus, with great judgment, has occasionally adopted
particular doctrines from each of them; and whatever he admits into his
system, he not only establishes by the most rational observations, but
confirms by its practical utility. In justness of remark, in force of
argument, in precision and perspicuity, as well as in elegance of
expression, he deservedly occupies the most distinguished rank amongst
the medical writers of antiquity. It appears that Celsus likewise wrote
on agriculture, rhetoric, and military affairs; but of those several
treatises no fragments now remain.

To the writers of this reign we must add APICIUS COELIUS, who has left a
book De Re Coquinaria [of Cookery]. There were three Romans of the name
of Apicius, all remarkable for their (250) gluttony. The first lived in
the time of the Republic, the last in that of Trajan, and the
intermediate Apicius under the emperors Augustus and Tiberius. This man,
as Seneca informs us, wasted on luxurious living, sexcenties sestertium,
a sum equal to 484,375 pounds sterling. Upon examining the state of his
affairs, he found that there remained no more of his estate than centies
sestertium, 80,729l. 3s. 4d., which seeming to him too small to live
upon, he ended his days by poison.

I. Germanicus, the father of Caius Caesar, and son of Drusus and the
younger Antonia, was, after his adoption by Tiberius, his uncle,
preferred to the quaestorship [377] five years before he had attained the
legal age, and immediately upon the expiration of that office, to the
consulship [378]. Having been sent to the army in Germany, he restored
order among the legions, who, upon the news of Augustus’s death,
obstinately refused to acknowledge Tiberius as emperor [379], and offered
to place him at the head of the state. In which affair it is difficult
to say, whether his regard to filial duty, or the firmness of his
resolution, was most conspicuous. Soon afterwards he defeated the enemy,
and obtained the honours of a triumph. Being then made consul for the
second time [380], before he could enter upon his office he was obliged
to set out suddenly for the east, where, after he had conquered the king
of Armenia, and reduced Cappadocia into the form of a province, he died
at Antioch, of a lingering distemper, in the thirty-fourth year of his
age [381], not without the suspicion of being poisoned. For besides the
livid spots which appeared all over his body, and a foaming at the mouth;
when his corpse was burnt, the heart was found entire among the bones;
its nature being such, as it is supposed, that when tainted by poison, it
is indestructible by fire. [382]

II. It was a prevailing opinion, that he was taken off by the
contrivance of Tiberius, and through the means of Cneius Piso. This
person, who was about the same time prefect of Syria, and made no secret
of his position being such, that (252) he must either offend the father
or the son, loaded Germanicus, even during his sickness, with the most
unbounded and scurrilous abuse, both by word and deed; for which, upon
his return to Rome, he narrowly escaped being torn to pieces by the
people, and was condemned to death by the senate.

III. It is generally agreed, that Germanicus possessed all the noblest
endowments of body and mind in a higher degree than had ever before
fallen to the lot of any man; a handsome person, extraordinary courage,
great proficiency in eloquence and other branches of learning, both Greek
and Roman; besides a singular humanity, and a behaviour so engaging, as
to captivate the affections of all about him. The slenderness of his
legs did not correspond with the symmetry and beauty of his person in
other respects; but this defect was at length corrected by his habit of
riding after meals. In battle, he often engaged and slew an enemy in
single combat. He pleaded causes, even after he had the honour of a
triumph. Among other fruits of his studies, he left behind him some
Greek comedies. Both at home and abroad he always conducted himself in a
manner the most unassuming. On entering any free and confederate town,
he never would be attended by his lictors. Whenever he heard, in his
travels, of the tombs of illustrious men, he made offerings over them to
the infernal deities. He gave a common grave, under a mound of earth, to
the scattered relics of the legionaries slain under Varus, and was the
first to put his hand to the work of collecting and bringing them to the
place of burial. He was so extremely mild and gentle to his enemies,
whoever they were, or on what account soever they bore him enmity, that,
although Piso rescinded his decrees, and for a long time severely
harassed his dependents, he never showed the smallest resentment, until
he found himself attacked by magical charms and imprecations; and even
then the only steps he took was to renounce all friendship with him,
according to ancient custom, and to exhort his servants to avenge his
death, if any thing untoward should befall him.

IV. He reaped the fruit of his noble qualities in abundance, being so
much esteemed and beloved by his friends, that Augustus (to say nothing
of his other relations) being a long time in doubt, whether he should not
appoint him his successor, at last ordered Tiberius to adopt him. He was
so extremely popular, that many authors tell us, the crowds of those who
went to meet him upon his coming to any place, or to attend him at his
departure, were so prodigious, that he was sometimes in danger of his
life; and that upon his return from Germany, after he had quelled the
mutiny in the army there, all the cohorts of the pretorian guards marched
out to meet him, notwithstanding the order that only two should go; and
that all the people of Rome, both men and women, of every age, sex, and
rank, flocked as far as the twentieth milestone to attend his entrance.

V. At the time of his death, however, and afterwards, they displayed
still greater and stronger proofs of their extraordinary attachment to
him. The day on which he died, stones were thrown at the temples, the
altars of the gods demolished, the household gods, in some cases, thrown
into the streets, and new-born infants exposed. It is even said that
barbarous nations, both those engaged in intestine wars, and those in
hostilities against us, all agreed to a cessation of arms, as if they had
been mourning for some very near and common friend; that some petty kings
shaved their beards and their wives’ heads, in token of their extreme
sorrow; and that the king of kings [383] forbore his exercise of hunting
and feasting with his nobles, which, amongst the Parthians, is equivalent
to a cessation of all business in a time of public mourning with us.

VI. At Rome, upon the first news of his sickness, the city was thrown
into great consternation and grief, waiting impatiently for farther
intelligence; when suddenly, in the evening, a report, without any
certain author, was spread, that he was recovered; upon which the people
flocked with torches (254) and victims to the Capitol, and were in such
haste to pay the vows they had made for his recovery, that they almost
broke open the doors. Tiberius was roused from out of his sleep with the
noise of the people congratulating one another, and singing about the

Salva Roma, salva patria, salvus est Germanicus.
Rome is safe, our country safe, for our Germanicus is safe.

But when certain intelligence of his death arrived, the mourning of the
people could neither be assuaged by consolation, nor restrained by
edicts, and it continued during the holidays in the month of December.
The atrocities of the subsequent times contributed much to the glory of
Germanicus, and the endearment of his memory; all people supposing, and
with reason, that the fear and awe of him had laid a restraint upon the
cruelty of Tiberius, which broke out soon afterwards.

VII. Germanicus married Agrippina, the daughter of Marcus Agrippa and
Julia, by whom he had nine children, two of whom died in their infancy,
and another a few years after; a sprightly boy, whose effigy, in the
character of a Cupid, Livia set up in the temple of Venus in the Capitol.
Augustus also placed another statue of him in his bed-chamber, and used
to kiss it as often as he entered the apartment. The rest survived their
father; three daughters, Agrippina, Drusilla, and Livilla, who were born
in three successive years; and as many sons, Nero, Drusus, and Caius
Caesar. Nero and Drusus, at the accusation of Tiberius, were declared
public enemies.

VIII. Caius Caesar was born on the day before the calends [31st August]
of September, at the time his father and Caius Fonteius Capito were
consuls [384]. But where he was born, is rendered uncertain from the
number of places which are said to have given him birth. Cneius Lentulus
Gaetulicus [385] says that he was born at Tibur; Pliny the younger, in
the country of the Treviri, at a village called Ambiatinus, above
Confluentes [386]; and he alleges, as a proof of it, that altars are
there shown with this inscription: “For Agrippina’s child-birth.” Some
verses which were published in his reign, intimate that he was born in
the winter quarters of the legions,

In castris natus, patriis nutritius in armis,
Jam designati principis omen erat.

Born in the camp, and train’d in every toil
Which taught his sire the haughtiest foes to foil;
Destin’d he seem’d by fate to raise his name,
And rule the empire with Augustan fame.

I find in the public registers that he was born at Antium. Pliny charges
Gaetulicus as guilty of an arrant forgery, merely to soothe the vanity of
a conceited young prince, by giving him the lustre of being born in a
city sacred to Hercules; and says that he advanced this false assertion
with the more assurance, because, the year before the birth of Caius,
Germanicus had a son of the same name born at Tibur; concerning whose
amiable childhood and premature death I have already spoken [387]. Dates
clearly prove that Pliny is mistaken; for the writers of Augustus’s
history all agree, that Germanicus, at the expiration of his consulship,
was sent into Gaul, after the birth of Caius. Nor will the inscription
upon the altar serve to establish Pliny’s opinion; because Agrippina was
delivered of two daughters in that country, and any child-birth, without
regard to sex, is called puerperium, as the ancients were used to call
girls puerae, and boys puelli. There is also extant a letter written by
Augustus, a few months before his death, to his granddaughter Agrippina,
about the same Caius (for there was then no other child of hers living
under that name). He writes as follows: “I gave orders yesterday for
Talarius and Asellius to set out on their journey towards you, if the
gods permit, with your child Caius, upon the fifteenth of the calends of
June [18th May]. I also send with him a physician of mine, and I wrote
to Germanicus that he may retain him if he pleases. Farewell, my dear
Agrippina, and take what care you can to (256) come safe and well to your
Germanicus.” I imagine it is sufficiently evident that Caius could not
be born at a place to which he was carried from The City when almost two
years old. The same considerations must likewise invalidate the evidence
of the verses, and the rather, because the author is unknown. The only
authority, therefore, upon which we can depend in this matter, is that of
the acts, and the public register; especially as he always preferred
Antium to every other place of retirement, and entertained for it all
that fondness which is commonly attached to one’s native soil. It is
said, too, that, upon his growing weary of the city, he designed to have
transferred thither the seat of empire.

IX. It was to the jokes of the soldiers in the camp that he owed the
name of Caligula [388], he having been brought up among them in the dress
of a common soldier. How much his education amongst them recommended him
to their favour and affection, was sufficiently apparent in the mutiny
upon the death of Augustus, when the mere sight of him appeased their
fury, though it had risen to a great height. For they persisted in it,
until they observed that he was sent away to a neighbouring city [389],
to secure him against all danger. Then, at last, they began to relent,
and, stopping the chariot in which he was conveyed, earnestly deprecated
the odium to which such a proceeding would expose them.

X. He likewise attended his father in his expedition to Syria. After
his return, he lived first with his mother, and, when she was banished,
with his great-grandmother, Livia Augusta, in praise of whom, after her
decease, though then only a boy, he pronounced a funeral oration in the
Rostra. He was then transferred to the family of his grandmother,
Antonia, and afterwards, in the twentieth year of his age, being called
by Tiberius to Capri, he in one and the same day assumed the manly habit,
and shaved his beard, but without receiving any of the honours which had
been paid to his brothers on a similar (257) occasion. While he remained
in that island, many insidious artifices were practised, to extort from
him complaints against Tiberius, but by his circumspection he avoided
falling into the snare [390]. He affected to take no more notice of the
ill-treatment of his relations, than if nothing had befallen them. With
regard to his own sufferings, he seemed utterly insensible of them, and
behaved with such obsequiousness to his grandfather [391] and all about
him, that it was justly said of him, “There never was a better servant,
nor a worse master.”

XI. But he could not even then conceal his natural disposition to
cruelty and lewdness. He delighted in witnessing the infliction of
punishments, and frequented taverns and bawdy-houses in the night-time,
disguised in a periwig and a long coat; and was passionately addicted to
the theatrical arts of singing and dancing. All these levities Tiberius
readily connived at, in hopes that they might perhaps correct the
roughness of his temper, which the sagacious old man so well understood,
that he often said, “That Caius was destined to be the ruin of himself
and all mankind; and that he was rearing a hydra [392] for the people of
Rome, and a Phaeton for all the world.” [393]

XII. Not long afterwards, he married Junia Claudilla, the daughter of
Marcus Silanus, a man of the highest rank. Being then chosen augur in
the room of his brother Drusus, before he could be inaugurated he was
advanced to the pontificate, with no small commendation of his dutiful
behaviour, and great capacity. The situation of the court likewise was
at this time favourable to his fortunes, as it was now left destitute of
support, Sejanus being suspected, and soon afterwards taken off; and he
was by degrees flattered with the hope of succeeding Tiberius in the
empire. In order more effectually to secure this object, upon Junia’s
dying in child-bed, he engaged in a criminal commerce with Ennia Naevia,
the wife (258) of Macro, at that time prefect of the pretorian cohorts;
promising to marry her if he became emperor, to which he bound himself,
not only by an oath, but by a written obligation under his hand. Having
by her means insinuated himself into Macro’s favour, some are of opinion
that he attempted to poison Tiberius, and ordered his ring to be taken
from him, before the breath was out of his body; and that, because he
seemed to hold it fast, he caused a pillow to be thrown upon him [394],
squeezing him by the throat, at the same time, with his own hand. One of
his freedmen crying out at this horrid barbarity, he was immediately
crucified. These circumstances are far from being improbable, as some
authors relate that, afterwards, though he did not acknowledge his having
a hand in the death of Tiberius, yet he frankly declared that he had
formerly entertained such a design; and as a proof of his affection for
his relations, he would frequently boast, “That, to revenge the death of
his mother and brothers, he had entered the chamber of Tiberius, when he
was asleep, with a poniard, but being seized with a fit of compassion,
threw it away, and retired; and that Tiberius, though aware of his
intention, durst not make any inquiries, or attempt revenge.”

XIII. Having thus secured the imperial power, he fulfilled by his
elevation the wish of the Roman people, I may venture to say, of all
mankind; for he had long been the object of expectation and desire to the
greater part of the provincials and soldiers, who had known him when a
child; and to the whole people of Rome, from their affection for the
memory of Germanicus, his father, and compassion for the family almost
entirely destroyed. Upon his moving from Misenum, therefore, although he
was in mourning, and following the corpse of Tiberius, he had to walk
amidst altars, victims, and lighted torches, with prodigious crowds of
people everywhere attending him, in transports of joy, and calling him,
besides other auspicious names, by those of “their star,” “their chick,”
“their pretty puppet,” and “bantling.”

XIV. Immediately on his entering the city, by the joint acclamations of
the senate, and people, who broke into the senate-house, Tiberius’s will
was set aside, it having left his (259) other grandson [395], then a
minor, coheir with him, the whole government and administration of
affairs was placed in his hands; so much to the joy and satisfaction of
the public, that, in less than three months after, above a hundred and
sixty thousand victims are said to have been offered in sacrifice. Upon
his going, a few days afterwards, to the nearest islands on the coast of
Campania [396], vows were made for his safe return; every person
emulously testifying their care and concern for his safety. And when he
fell ill, the people hung about the Palatium all night long; some vowed,
in public handbills, to risk their lives in the combats of the
amphitheatre, and others to lay them down, for his recovery. To this
extraordinary love entertained for him by his countrymen, was added an
uncommon regard by foreign nations. Even Artabanus, king of the
Parthians, who had always manifested hatred and contempt for Tiberius,
solicited his friendship; came to hold a conference with his consular
lieutenant, and passing the Euphrates, paid the highest honours to the
eagles, the Roman standards, and the images of the Caesars. [397]

XV. Caligula himself inflamed this devotion, by practising all the arts
of popularity. After he had delivered, with floods of tears, a speech in
praise of Tiberius, and buried him with the utmost pomp, he immediately
hastened over to Pandataria and the Pontian islands [398], to bring
thence the ashes of his mother and brother; and, to testify the great
regard he had for their memory, he performed the voyage in a very
tempestuous season. He approached their remains with profound
veneration, and deposited them in the urns with his own hands. Having
brought them in grand solemnity to Ostia [399], with an ensign flying in
the stern of the galley, and thence up the Tiber to Rome, they were borne
by persons of the first distinction in the equestrian order, on two
biers, into the mausoleum [400], (260) at noon-day. He appointed yearly
offerings to be solemnly and publicly celebrated to their memory, besides
Circensian games to that of his mother, and a chariot with her image to
be included in the procession [401]. The month of September he called
Germanicus, in honour of his father. By a single decree of the senate,
he heaped upon his grandmother, Antonia, all the honours which had been
ever conferred on the empress Livia. His uncle, Claudius, who till then
continued in the equestrian order, he took for his colleague in the
consulship. He adopted his brother, Tiberius [402], on the day he took
upon him the manly habit, and conferred upon him the title of “Prince of
the Youths.” As for his sisters, he ordered these words to be added to
the oaths of allegiance to himself: “Nor will I hold myself or my own
children more dear than I do Caius and his sisters:” [403] and commanded
all resolutions proposed by the consuls in the senate to be prefaced
thus: “May what we are going to do, prove fortunate and happy to Caius
Caesar and his sisters.” With the like popularity he restored all those
who had been condemned and banished, and granted an act of indemnity
against all impeachments and past offences. To relieve the informers and
witnesses against his mother and brothers from all apprehension, he
brought the records of their trials into the forum, and there burnt them,
calling loudly on the gods to witness that he had not read or handled
them. A memorial which was offered him relative to his own security, he
would not receive, declaring, “that he had done nothing to make any one
his enemy:” and said, at the same time, “he had no ears for informers.”

XVI. The Spintriae, those panderers to unnatural lusts [404], he
banished from the city, being prevailed upon not to throw them (261) into
the sea, as he had intended. The writings of Titus Labienus, Cordus
Cremutius, and Cassius Severus, which had been suppressed by an act of
the senate, he permitted to be drawn from obscurity, and universally
read; observing, “that it would be for his own advantage to have the
transactions of former times delivered to posterity.” He published
accounts of the proceedings of the government–a practice which had been
introduced by Augustus, but discontinued by Tiberius [405]. He granted
the magistrates a full and free jurisdiction, without any appeal to
himself. He made a very strict and exact review of the Roman knights,
but conducted it with moderation; publicly depriving of his horse every
knight who lay under the stigma of any thing base and dishonourable; but
passing over the names of those knights who were only guilty of venial
faults, in calling over the list of the order. To lighten the labours of
the judges, he added a fifth class to the former four. He attempted
likewise to restore to the people their ancient right of voting in the
choice of magistrates [406]. He paid very honourably, and without any
dispute, the legacies left by Tiberius in his will, though it had been
set aside; as likewise those left by the will of Livia Augusta, which
Tiberius had annulled. He remitted the hundredth penny, due to the
government in all auctions throughout Italy. He made up to many their
losses sustained by fire; and when he restored their kingdoms to any
princes, he likewise allowed them all the arrears of the taxes and
revenues which had accrued in the interval; as in the case of Antiochus
of Comagene, where the confiscation would have amounted to a hundred
millions of sesterces. To prove to the world that he was ready to
encourage good examples of every kind, he gave to a freed-woman eighty
thousand sesterces, for not discovering a crime committed by her patron,
though she had been put to exquisite torture for that purpose. For all
these acts of beneficence, amongst other honours, a golden shield was
decreed to him, which the colleges of priests were to carry annually,
upon a fixed day, into the Capitol, with the senate attending, and the
youth of the nobility, of both sexes, celebrating the praise of his
virtues in (262) songs. It was likewise ordained, that the day on which
he succeeded to the empire should be called Palilia, in token of the
city’s being at that time, as it were, new founded. [407]

XVII. He held the consulship four times; the first [408], from the
calends [the first] of July for two months: the second [409], from the
calends of January for thirty days; the third [410], until the ides [the
13th] of January; and the fourth [411], until the seventh of the same
ides [7th January]. Of these, the two last he held successively. The
third he assumed by his sole authority at Lyons; not, as some are of
opinion, from arrogance or neglect of rules; but because, at that
distance, it was impossible for him to know that his colleague had died a
little before the beginning of the new year. He twice distributed to the
people a bounty of three hundred sesterces a man, and as often gave a
splendid feast to the senate and the equestrian order, with their wives
and children. In the latter, he presented to the men forensic garments,
and to the women and children purple scarfs. To make a perpetual
addition to the public joy for ever, he added to the Saturnalia [412] one
day, which he called Juvenalis [the juvenile feast].

XVIII. He exhibited some combats of gladiators, either in the
amphitheatre of Taurus [413], or in the Septa, with which he intermingled
troops of the best pugilists from Campania and Africa. He did not always
preside in person upon those occasions, but sometimes gave a commission
to magistrates or friends to supply his place. He frequently entertained
the people with stage-plays (263) of various kinds, and in several parts
of the city, and sometimes by night, when he caused the whole city to be
lighted. He likewise gave various things to be scrambled for among the
people, and distributed to every man a basket of bread with other
victuals. Upon this occasion, he sent his own share to a Roman knight,
who was seated opposite to him, and was enjoying himself by eating
heartily. To a senator, who was doing the same, he sent an appointment
of praetor-extraordinary. He likewise exhibited a great number of
Circensian games from morning until night; intermixed with the hunting of
wild beasts from Africa, or the Trojan exhibition. Some of these games
were celebrated with peculiar circumstances; the Circus being overspread
with vermilion and chrysolite; and none drove in the chariot races who
were not of the senatorian order. For some of these he suddenly gave the
signal, when, upon his viewing from the Gelotiana [414] the preparations
in the Circus, he was asked to do so by a few persons in the neighbouring

XIX. He invented besides a new kind of spectacle, such as had never been
heard of before. For he made a bridge, of about three miles and a half
in length, from Baiae to the mole of Puteoli [415], collecting trading
vessels from all quarters, mooring them in two rows by their anchors, and
spreading earth upon them to form a viaduct, after the fashion of the
Appian Way [416]. This bridge he crossed and recrossed for two days
together; the first day mounted on a horse richly caparisoned, wearing on
his head a crown of oak leaves, armed with a battle-axe, a Spanish
buckler and a sword, and in a cloak made of cloth of gold; the day
following, in the habit of a charioteer, standing in a chariot, drawn by
two high-bred horses, having with him a young boy, Darius by name, one of
the Parthian hostages, with a cohort of the pretorian guards attending
him, and a (264) party of his friends in cars of Gaulish make [417].
Most people, I know, are of opinion, that this bridge was designed by
Caius, in imitation of Xerxes, who, to the astonishment of the world,
laid a bridge over the Hellespont, which is somewhat narrower than the
distance betwixt Baiae and Puteoli. Others, however, thought that he did
it to strike terror in Germany and Britain, which he was upon the point
of invading, by the fame of some prodigious work. But for myself, when I
was a boy, I heard my grandfather say [418], that the reason assigned by
some courtiers who were in habits of the greatest intimacy with him, was
this; when Tiberius was in some anxiety about the nomination of a
successor, and rather inclined to pitch upon his grandson, Thrasyllus the
astrologer had assured him, “That Caius would no more be emperor, than he
would ride on horseback across the gulf of Baiae.”

XX. He likewise exhibited public diversions in Sicily, Grecian games at
Syracuse, and Attic plays at Lyons in Gaul besides a contest for pre-
eminence in the Grecian and Roman eloquence; in which we are told that
such as were baffled bestowed rewards upon the best performers, and were
obliged to compose speeches in their praise: but that those who performed
the worst, were forced to blot out what they had written with a sponge or
their tongue, unless they preferred to be beaten with a rod, or plunged
over head and ears into the nearest river.

XXI. He completed the works which were left unfinished by Tiberius,
namely, the temple of Augustus, and the theatre (265) of Pompey [419].
He began, likewise, the aqueduct from the neighbourhood of Tibur [420],
and an amphitheatre near the Septa [421]; of which works, one was
completed by his successor Claudius, and the other remained as he left
it. The walls of Syracuse, which had fallen to decay by length of time,
he repaired, as he likewise did the temples of the gods. He formed plans
for rebuilding the palace of Polycrates at Samos, finishing the temple of
the Didymaean Apollo at Miletus, and building a town on a ridge of the
Alps; but, above all, for cutting through the isthmus in Achaia [422];
and even sent a centurion of the first rank to measure out the work.

XXII. Thus far we have spoken of him as a prince. What remains to be
said of him, bespeaks him rather a monster than a man. He assumed a
variety of titles, such as “Dutiful,” “The (266) Pious,” “The Child of
the Camp, the Father of the Armies,” and “The Greatest and Best Caesar.”
Upon hearing some kings, who came to the city to pay him court,
conversing together at supper, about their illustrious descent, he

Eis koiranos eto, eis basileus.
Let there be but one prince, one king.

He was strongly inclined to assume the diadem, and change the form of
government, from imperial to regal; but being told that he far exceeded
the grandeur of kings and princes, he began to arrogate to himself a
divine majesty. He ordered all the images of the gods, which were famous
either for their beauty, or the veneration paid them, among which was
that of Jupiter Olympius, to be brought from Greece, that he might take
the heads off, and put on his own. Having continued part of the Palatium
as far as the Forum, and the temple of Castor and Pollux being converted
into a kind of vestibule to his house, he often stationed himself between
the twin brothers, and so presented himself to be worshipped by all
votaries; some of whom saluted him by the name of Jupiter Latialis. He
also instituted a temple and priests, with choicest victims, in honour of
his own divinity. In his temple stood a statue of gold, the exact image
of himself, which was daily dressed in garments corresponding with those
he wore himself. The most opulent persons in the city offered themselves
as candidates for the honour of being his priests, and purchased it
successively at an immense price. The victims were flamingos, peacocks,
bustards, guinea-fowls, turkey and pheasant hens, each sacrificed on
their respective days. On nights when the moon was full, he was in the
constant habit of inviting her to his embraces and his bed. In the day-
time he talked in private to Jupiter Capitolinus; one while whispering to
him, and another turning his ear to him: sometimes he spoke aloud, and in
railing language. For he was overheard to threaten the god thus:

Hae em’ anaeir’, hae ego se; [423]
Raise thou me up, or I’ll–

(267) until being at last prevailed upon by the entreaties of the god, as
he said, to take up his abode with him, he built a bridge over the temple
of the Deified Augustus, by which he joined the Palatium to the Capitol.
Afterwards, that he might be still nearer, he laid the foundations of a
new palace in the very court of the Capitol.

XXIII. He was unwilling to be thought or called the grandson of Agrippa,
because of the obscurity of his birth; and he was offended if any one,
either in prose or verse, ranked him amongst the Caesars. He said that
his mother was the fruit of an incestuous commerce, maintained by
Augustus with his daughter Julia. And not content with this vile
reflection upon the memory of Augustus, he forbad his victories at
Actium, and on the coast of Sicily, to be celebrated, as usual; affirming
that they had been most pernicious and fatal to the Roman people. He
called his grandmother Livia Augusta “Ulysses in a woman’s dress,” and
had the indecency to reflect upon her in a letter to the senate, as of
mean birth, and descended, by the mother’s side, from a grandfather who
was only one of the municipal magistrates of Fondi; whereas it is
certain, from the public records, that Aufidius Lurco held high offices
at Rome. His grandmother Antonia desiring a private conference with him,
he refused to grant it, unless Macro, the prefect of the pretorian
guards, were present. Indignities of this kind, and ill usage, were the
cause of her death; but some think he also gave her poison. Nor did he
pay the smallest respect to her memory after her death, but witnessed the
burning from his private apartment. His brother Tiberius, who had no
expectation of any violence, was suddenly dispatched by a military
tribune sent by his order for that purpose. He forced Silanus, his
father-in-law, to kill himself, by cutting his throat with a razor. The
pretext he alleged for these murders was, that the latter had not
followed him upon his putting to sea in stormy weather, but stayed behind
with the view of seizing the city, if he should perish. The other, he
said, smelt of an antidote, which he had taken to prevent his being
poisoned by him; whereas Silanus was only afraid of being sea-sick, and
the disagreeableness of a voyage; and Tiberius had merely taken a
medicine for an habitual cough, (268) which was continually growing
worse. As for his successor Claudius, he only saved him for a laughing-

XXIV. He lived in the habit of incest with all his sisters; and at
table, when much company was present, he placed each of them in turns
below him, whilst his wife reclined above him. It is believed, that he
deflowered one of them, Drusilla, before he had assumed the robe of
manhood; and was even caught in her embraces by his grandmother Antonia,
with whom they were educated together. When she was afterwards married
to Cassius Longinus, a man of consular rank, he took her from him, and
kept her constantly as if she were his lawful wife. In a fit of
sickness, he by his will appointed her heiress both of his estate and the
empire. After her death, he ordered a public mourning for her; during
which it was capital for any person to laugh, use the bath, or sup with
his parents, wife, or children. Being inconsolable under his affliction,
he went hastily, and in the night-time, from the City; going through
Campania to Syracuse, and then suddenly returned without shaving his
beard, or trimming his hair. Nor did he ever afterwards, in matters of
the greatest importance, not even in the assemblies of the people or
before the soldiers, swear any otherwise, than “By the divinity of
Drusilla.” The rest of his sisters he did not treat with so much
fondness or regard; but frequently prostituted them to his catamites. He
therefore the more readily condemned them in the case of Aemilius
Lepidus, as guilty of adultery, and privy to that conspiracy against him.
Nor did he only divulge their own hand-writing relative to the affair,
which he procured by base and lewd means, but likewise consecrated to
Mars the Avenger three swords which had been prepared to stab him, with
an inscription, setting forth the occasion of their consecration.

XXV. Whether in the marriage of his wives, in repudiating them, or
retaining them, he acted with greater infamy, it is difficult to say.
Being at the wedding of Caius Piso with Livia Orestilla, he ordered the
bride to be carried to his own house, but within a few days divorced her,
and two years after banished her; because it was thought, that upon her
divorce she returned to the embraces of her former husband. (269) Some
say, that being invited to the wedding-supper, he sent a messenger to
Piso, who sat opposite to him, in these words: “Do not be too fond with
my wife,” and that he immediately carried her off. Next day he published
a proclamation, importing, “That he had got a wife as Romulus and
Augustus had done.” [424] Lollia Paulina, who was married to a man of
consular rank in command of an army, he suddenly called from the province
where she was with her husband, upon mention being made that her
grandmother was formerly very beautiful, and married her; but he soon
afterwards parted with her, interdicting her from having ever afterwards
any commerce with man. He loved with a most passionate and constant
affection Caesonia, who was neither handsome nor young; and was besides
the mother of three daughters by another man; but a wanton of unbounded
lasciviousness. Her he would frequently exhibit to the soldiers, dressed
in a military cloak, with shield and helmet, and riding by his side. To
his friends he even showed her naked. After she had a child, he honoured
her with the title of wife; in one and the same day, declaring himself
her husband, and father of the child of which she was delivered. He
named it Julia Drusilla, and carrying it round the temples of all the
goddesses, laid it on the lap of Minerva; to whom he recommended the care
of bringing up and instructing her. He considered her as his own child
for no better reason than her savage temper, which was such even in her
infancy, that she would attack with her nails the face and eyes of the
children at play with her.

XXVI. It would be of little importance, as well as disgusting, to add to
all this an account of the manner in which he treated his relations and
friends; as Ptolemy, king Juba’s son, his cousin (for he was the grandson
of Mark Antony by his daughter Selene) [425], and especially Macro
himself, and Ennia likewise [426], by whose assistance he had obtained
the empire; all of whom, for their alliance and eminent services, he
rewarded with violent deaths. Nor was he more mild or respectful in his
behaviour towards the senate. Some who had borne the (270) highest
offices in the government, he suffered to run by his litter in their
togas for several miles together, and to attend him at supper, sometimes
at the head of his couch, sometimes at his feet, with napkins. Others of
them, after he had privately put them to death, he nevertheless continued
to send for, as if they were still alive, and after a few days pretended
that they had laid violent hands upon themselves. The consuls having
forgotten to give public notice of his birth-day, he displaced them; and
the republic was three days without any one in that high office. A
quaestor who was said to be concerned in a conspiracy against him, he
scourged severely, having first stripped off his clothes, and spread them
under the feet of the soldiers employed in the work, that they might
stand the more firm. The other orders likewise he treated with the same
insolence and violence. Being disturbed by the noise of people taking
their places at midnight in the circus, as they were to have free
admission, he drove them all away with clubs. In this tumult, above
twenty Roman knights were squeezed to death, with as many matrons, with a
great crowd besides. When stage-plays were acted, to occasion disputes
between the people and the knights, he distributed the money-tickets
sooner than usual, that the seats assigned to the knights might be all
occupied by the mob. In the spectacles of gladiators, sometimes, when
the sun was violently hot, he would order the curtains, which covered the
amphitheatre, to be drawn aside [427], and forbad any person to be let
out; withdrawing at the same time the usual apparatus for the
entertainment, and presenting wild beasts almost pined to death, the most
sorry gladiators, decrepit with age, and fit only to work the machinery,
and decent house-keepers, who were remarkable for some bodily infirmity.
Sometimes shutting up the public granaries, he would oblige the people to
starve for a while.

XXVII. He evinced the savage barbarity of his temper chiefly by the
following indications. When flesh was only to be had at a high price for
feeding his wild beasts reserved for the spectacles, he ordered that
criminals should be given them (271) to be devoured; and upon inspecting
them in a row, while he stood in the middle of the portico, without
troubling himself to examine their cases he ordered them to be dragged
away, from “bald-pate to bald-pate.” [428] Of one person who had made a
vow for his recovery to combat with a gladiator, he exacted its
performance; nor would he allow him to desist until he came off
conqueror, and after many entreaties. Another, who had vowed to give his
life for the same cause, having shrunk from the sacrifice, he delivered,
adorned as a victim, with garlands and fillets, to boys, who were to
drive him through the streets, calling on him to fulfil his vow, until he
was thrown headlong from the ramparts. After disfiguring many persons of
honourable rank, by branding them in the face with hot irons, he
condemned them to the mines, to work in repairing the high-ways, or to
fight with wild beasts; or tying them by the neck and heels, in the
manner of beasts carried to slaughter, would shut them up in cages, or
saw them asunder. Nor were these severities merely inflicted for crimes
of great enormity, but for making remarks on his public games, or for not
having sworn by the Genius of the emperor. He compelled parents to be
present at the execution of their sons; and to one who excused himself on
account of indisposition, he sent his own litter. Another he invited to
his table immediately after he had witnessed the spectacle, and coolly
challenged him to jest and be merry. He ordered the overseer of the
spectacles and wild beasts to be scourged in fetters, during several days
successively, in his own presence, and did not put him to death until he
was disgusted with the stench of his putrefied brain. He burned alive,
in the centre of the arena of the amphitheatre, the writer of a farce,
for some witty verse, which had a double meaning. A Roman knight, who
had been exposed to the wild beasts, crying out that he was innocent, he
called him back, and having had his tongue cut out, remanded him to the

XXVIII. Asking a certain person, whom he recalled after a long exile,
how he used to spend his time, he replied, with flattery, “I was always
praying the gods for what has happened, that Tiberius might die, and you
be emperor.” Concluding, therefore, that those he had himself banished
also (272) prayed for his death, he sent orders round the islands [429]
to have them all put to death. Being very desirous to have a senator
torn to pieces, he employed some persons to call him a public enemy, fall
upon him as he entered the senate-house, stab him with their styles, and
deliver him to the rest to tear asunder. Nor was he satisfied, until he
saw the limbs and bowels of the man, after they had been dragged through
the streets, piled up in a heap before him.

XXIX. He aggravated his barbarous actions by language equally
outrageous. “There is nothing in my nature,” said he, “that I commend or
approve so much, as my adiatrepsia (inflexible rigour).” Upon his
grandmother Antonia’s giving him some advice, as if it was a small matter
to pay no regard to it, he said to her, “Remember that all things are
lawful for me.” When about to murder his brother, whom he suspected of
taking antidotes against poison, he said, “See then an antidote against
Caesar!” And when he banished his sisters, he told them in a menacing
tone, that he had not only islands at command, but likewise swords. One
of pretorian rank having sent several times from Anticyra [430], whither
he had gone for his health, to have his leave of absence prolonged, he
ordered him to be put to death; adding these words “Bleeding is necessary
for one that has taken hellebore so long, and found no benefit.” It was
his custom every tenth day to sign the lists of prisoners appointed for
execution; and this he called “clearing his accounts.” And having
condemned several Gauls and Greeks at one time, he exclaimed in triumph,
“I have conquered Gallograecia.” [431]

XXX. He generally prolonged the sufferings of his victims by causing
them to be inflicted by slight and frequently repeated strokes; this
being his well-known and constant order: (273) “Strike so that he may
feel himself die.” Having punished one person for another, by mistaking
his name, he said, “he deserved it quite as much.” He had frequently in
his mouth these words of the tragedian,

Oderint dum metuant. [432]
I scorn their hatred, if they do but fear me.

He would often inveigh against all the senators without exception, as
clients of Sejanus, and informers against his mother and brothers,
producing the memorials which he had pretended to burn, and excusing the
cruelty of Tiberius as necessary, since it was impossible to question the
veracity of such a number of accusers [433]. He continually reproached
the whole equestrian order, as devoting themselves to nothing but acting
on the stage, and fighting as gladiators. Being incensed at the people’s
applauding a party at the Circensian games in opposition to him, he
exclaimed, “I wish the Roman people had but one neck.” [434] When
Tetrinius, the highwayman, was denounced, he said his persecutors too
were all Tetrinius’s. Five Retiarii [435], in tunics, fighting in a
company, yielded without a struggle to the same number of opponents; and
being ordered to be slain, one of them taking up his lance again, killed
all the conquerors. This he lamented in a proclamation as a most cruel
butchery, and cursed all those who had borne the sight of it.

XXXI. He used also to complain aloud of the state of the times, because
it was not rendered remarkable by any public (274) calamities; for, while
the reign of Augustus had been made memorable to posterity by the
disaster of Varus [436], and that of Tiberius by the fall of the theatre
at Fidenae [437], his was likely to pass into oblivion, from an
uninterrupted series of prosperity. And, at times, he wished for some
terrible slaughter of his troops, a famine, a pestilence, conflagrations,
or an earthquake.

XXXII. Even in the midst of his diversions, while gaming or feasting,
this savage ferocity, both in his language and actions, never forsook
him. Persons were often put to the torture in his presence, whilst he
was dining or carousing. A soldier, who was an adept in the art of
beheading, used at such times to take off the heads of prisoners, who
were brought in for that purpose. At Puteoli, at the dedication of the
bridge which he planned, as already mentioned [438], he invited a number
of people to come to him from the shore, and then suddenly, threw them
headlong into the sea; thrusting down with poles and oars those who, to
save themselves, had got hold of the rudders of the ships. At Rome, in a
public feast, a slave having stolen some thin plates of silver with which
the couches were inlaid, he delivered him immediately to an executioner,
with orders to cut off his hands, and lead him round the guests, with
them hanging from his neck before his breast, and a label, signifying the
cause of his punishment. A gladiator who was practising with him, and
voluntarily threw himself at his feet, he stabbed with a poniard, and
then ran about with a palm branch in his hand, after the manner of those
who are victorious in the games. When a victim was to be offered upon an
altar, he, clad in the habit of the Popae [439], and holding the axe
aloft for a while, at last, instead of the animal, slaughtered an officer
who attended to cut up the sacrifice. And at a sumptuous entertainment,
he fell suddenly into a violent fit of laughter, and upon the consuls,
who reclined next to him, respectfully asking him the occasion,
“Nothing,” replied he, “but that, upon a single nod of mine, you might
both have your throats cut.”

(275) XXXIII. Among many other jests, this was one: As he stood by the
statue of Jupiter, he asked Apelles, the tragedian, which of them he
thought was biggest? Upon his demurring about it, he lashed him most
severely, now and then commending his voice, whilst he entreated for
mercy, as being well modulated even when he was venting his grief. As
often as he kissed the neck of his wife or mistress, he would say, “So
beautiful a throat must be cut whenever I please;” and now and then he
would threaten to put his dear Caesonia to the torture, that he might
discover why he loved her so passionately.

XXXIV. In his behaviour towards men of almost all ages, he discovered a
degree of jealousy and malignity equal to that of his cruelty and pride.
He so demolished and dispersed the statues of several illustrious
persons, which had been removed by Augustus, for want of room, from the
court of the Capitol into the Campus Martius, that it was impossible to
set them up again with their inscriptions entire. And, for the future,
he forbad any statue whatever to be erected without his knowledge and
leave. He had thoughts too of suppressing Homer’s poems: “For why,” said
he, “may not I do what Plato has done before me, who excluded him from
his commonwealth?” [440] He was likewise very near banishing the
writings and the busts of Virgil and Livy from all libraries; censuring
one of them as “a man of no genius and very little learning;” and the
other as “a verbose and careless historian.” He often talked of the
lawyers as if he intended to abolish their profession. “By Hercules!”
he would say, “I shall put it out of their power to answer any questions
in law, otherwise than by referring to me!”

XXXV. He took from the noblest persons in the city the ancient marks of
distinction used by their families; as the collar from Torquatus [441];
from Cincinnatus the curl of (276) hair [442]; and from Cneius Pompey,
the surname of Great, belonging to that ancient family. Ptolemy,
mentioned before, whom he invited from his kingdom, and received with
great honours, he suddenly put to death, for no other reason, but because
he observed that upon entering the theatre, at a public exhibition, he
attracted the eyes of all the spectators, by the splendour of his purple
robe. As often as he met with handsome men, who had fine heads of hair,
he would order the back of their heads to be shaved, to make them appear
ridiculous. There was one Esius Proculus, the son of a centurion of the
first rank, who, for his great stature and fine proportions, was called
the Colossal. Him he ordered to be dragged from his seat in the arena,
and matched with a gladiator in light armour, and afterwards with another
completely armed; and upon his worsting them both, commanded him
forthwith to be bound, to be led clothed in rags up and down the streets
of the city, and, after being exhibited in that plight to the women, to
be then butchered. There was no man of so abject or mean condition,
whose excellency in any kind he did not envy. The Rex Nemorensis [443]
having many years enjoyed the honour of the priesthood, he procured a
still stronger antagonist to oppose him. One Porius, who fought in a
chariot [444], having been victorious in an exhibition, and in his joy
given freedom to a slave, was applauded so vehemently, that Caligula rose
in such haste from his seat, that, treading upon the hem of his toga, he
tumbled down the steps, full of indignation, (277) and crying out, “A
people who are masters of the world, pay greater respect to a gladiator
for a trifle, than to princes admitted amongst the gods, or to my own
majesty here present amongst them.”

XXXVI. He never had the least regard either to the chastity of his own
person, or that of others. He is said to have been inflamed with an
unnatural passion for Marcus Lepidus Mnester, an actor in pantomimes, and
for certain hostages; and to have engaged with them in the practice of
mutual pollution. Valerius Catullus, a young man of a consular family,
bawled aloud in public that he had been exhausted by him in that
abominable act. Besides his incest with his sisters, and his notorious
passion for Pyrallis, the prostitute, there was hardly any lady of
distinction with whom he did not make free. He used commonly to invite
them with their husbands to supper, and as they passed by the couch on
which he reclined at table, examine them very closely, like those who
traffic in slaves; and if any one from modesty held down her face, he
raised it up with his hand. Afterwards, as often as he was in the
humour, he would quit the room, send for her he liked best, and in a
short time return with marks of recent disorder about them. He would
then commend or disparage her in the presence of the company, recounting
the charms or defects of her person and behaviour in private. To some he
sent a divorce in the name of their absent husbands, and ordered it to be
registered in the public acts.

XXXVII. In the devices of his profuse expenditure, he surpassed all the
prodigals that ever lived; inventing a new kind of bath, with strange
dishes and suppers, washing in precious unguents, both warm and cold,
drinking pearls of immense value dissolved in vinegar, and serving up for
his guests loaves and other victuals modelled in gold; often saying,
“that a man ought either to be a good economist or an emperor.” Besides,
he scattered money to a prodigious amount among the people, from the top
of the Julian Basilica [445], during several days successively. He built
two ships with ten banks of oars, after the Liburnian fashion, the poops
of which blazed with jewels, and the sails were of various parti-colours.
They were fitted up with ample baths, galleries, and saloons, and
supplied with a great variety of vines and other fruit-trees. In these
he would sail in the day-time along the coast of Campania, feasting (278)
amidst dancing and concerts of music. In building his palaces and
villas, there was nothing he desired to effect so much, in defiance of
all reason, as what was considered impossible. Accordingly, moles were
formed in the deep and adverse sea [446], rocks of the hardest stone cut
away, plains raised to the height of mountains with a vast mass of earth,
and the tops of mountains levelled by digging; and all these were to be
executed with incredible speed, for the least remissness was a capital
offence. Not to mention particulars, he spent enormous sums, and the
whole treasures which had been amassed by Tiberius Caesar, amounting to
two thousand seven hundred millions of sesterces, within less than a

XXXVIII. Having therefore quite exhausted these funds, and being in want
of money, he had recourse to plundering the people, by every mode of
false accusation, confiscation, and taxation, that could be invented. He
declared that no one had any right to the freedom of Rome, although their
ancestors had acquired it for themselves and their posterity, unless they
were sons; for that none beyond that degree ought to be considered as
posterity. When the grants of the Divine Julius and Augustus were
produced to him, he only said, that he was very sorry they were obsolete
and out of date. He also charged all those with making false returns,
who, after the taking of the census, had by any means whatever increased
their property. He annulled the wills of all who had been centurions of
the first rank, as testimonies of their base ingratitude, if from the
beginning of Tiberius’s reign they had not left either that prince or
himself their heir. He also set aside the wills of all others, if any
person only pretended to say, that they designed at their death to leave
Caesar their heir. The public becoming terrified at this proceeding, he
was now appointed joint-heir with their friends, and in the case of
parents with their children, by persons unknown to him. Those who lived
any considerable time after making such a will, he said, were only making
game of him; and accordingly he sent many of them poisoned cakes. He
used to try such causes himself; fixing previously the sum he proposed to
raise during the sitting, and, after he had secured it, quitting the
tribunal. Impatient of the least delay, he condemned by a single
sentence forty (279) persons, against whom there were different charges;
boasting to Caesonia when she awoke, “how much business he had dispatched
while she was taking her mid-day sleep.” He exposed to sale by auction,
the remains of the apparatus used in the public spectacles; and exacted
such biddings, and raised the prices so high, that some of the purchasers
were ruined, and bled themselves to death. There is a well-known story
told of Aponius Saturninus, who happening to fall asleep as he sat on a
bench at the sale, Caius called out to the auctioneer, not to overlook
the praetorian personage who nodded to him so often; and accordingly the
salesman went on, pretending to take the nods for tokens of assent, until
thirteen gladiators were knocked down to him at the sum of nine millions
of sesterces [447], he being in total ignorance of what was doing.

XXXIX. Having also sold in Gaul all the clothes, furniture, slaves, and
even freedmen belonging to his sisters, at prodigious prices, after their
condemnation, he was so much delighted with his gains, that he sent to
Rome for all the furniture of the old palace [448]; pressing for its
conveyance all the carriages let to hire in the city, with the horses and
mules belonging to the bakers, so that they often wanted bread at Rome;
and many who had suits at law in progress, lost their causes, because
they could not make their appearance in due time according to their
recognizances. In the sale of this furniture, every artifice of fraud
and imposition was employed. Sometimes he would rail at the bidders for
being niggardly, and ask them “if they were not ashamed to be richer than
he was?” at another, he would affect to be sorry that the property of
princes should be passing into the hands of private persons. He had
found out that a rich provincial had given two hundred thousand sesterces
to his chamberlains for an underhand invitation to his table, and he was
much pleased to find that honour valued at so high a rate. The day
following, as the same person was sitting at the sale, he sent him some
bauble, for which he told him he must pay two hundred thousand sesterces,
and “that he should sup with Caesar upon his own invitation.”

(280) XL. He levied new taxes, and such as were never before known, at
first by the publicans, but afterwards, because their profit was
enormous, by centurions and tribunes of the pretorian guards; no
description of property or persons being exempted from some kind of tax
or other. For all eatables brought into the city, a certain excise was
exacted: for all law-suits or trials in whatever court, the fortieth part
of the sum in dispute; and such as were convicted of compromising
litigations, were made liable to a penalty. Out of the daily wages of
the porters, he received an eighth, and from the gains of common
prostitutes, what they received for one favour granted. There was a
clause in the law, that all bawds who kept women for prostitution or
sale, should be liable to pay, and that marriage itself should not be

XLI. These taxes being imposed, but the act by which they were levied
never submitted to public inspection, great grievances were experienced
from the want of sufficient knowledge of the law. At length, on the
urgent demands of the Roman people, he published the law, but it was
written in a very small hand, and posted up in a corner, so that no one
could make a copy of it. To leave no sort of gain untried, he opened
brothels in the Palatium, with a number of cells, furnished suitably to
the dignity of the place; in which married women and free-born youths
were ready for the reception of visitors. He sent likewise his
nomenclators about the forums and courts, to invite people of all ages,
the old as well as the young, to his brothel, to come and satisfy their
lusts; and he was ready to lend his customers money upon interest; clerks
attending to take down their names in public, as persons who contributed
to the emperor’s revenue. Another method of raising money, which he
thought not below his notice, was gaming; which, by the help of lying and
perjury, he turned to considerable account. Leaving once the management
of his play to his partner in the game, he stepped into the court, and
observing two rich Roman knights passing by, he ordered them immediately
to be seized, and their estates confiscated. Then returning, in great
glee, he boasted that he had never made a better throw in his life.

XLII. After the birth of his daughter, complaining of his (281) poverty,
and the burdens to which he was subjected, not only as an emperor, but a
father, he made a general collection for her maintenance and fortune. He
likewise gave public notice, that he would receive new-year’s gifts on
the calends of January following; and accordingly stood in the vestibule
of his house, to clutch the presents which people of all ranks threw down
before him by handfuls and lapfuls. At last, being seized with an
invincible desire of feeling money, taking off his slippers, he
repeatedly walked over great heaps of gold coin spread upon the spacious
floor, and then laying himself down, rolled his whole body in gold over
and over again.

XLIII. Only once in his life did he take an active part in military
affairs, and then not from any set purpose, but during his journey to
Mevania, to see the grove and river of Clitumnus [449]. Being
recommended to recruit a body of Batavians, who attended him, he resolved
upon an expedition into Germany. Immediately he drew together several
legions, and auxiliary forces from all quarters, and made every where new
levies with the utmost rigour. Collecting supplies of all kinds, such as
never had been assembled upon the like occasion, he set forward on his
march, and pursued it sometimes with so much haste and precipitation,
that the pretorian cohorts were obliged, contrary to custom, to pack
their standards on horses or mules, and so follow him. At other times,
he would march so slow and luxuriously, that he was carried in a litter
by eight men; ordering the roads to be swept by the people of the
neighbouring towns, and sprinkled with water to lay the dust.

XLIV. On arriving at the camp, in order to show himself an active
general, and severe disciplinarian, he cashiered the lieutenants who came
up late with the auxiliary forces from different quarters. In reviewing
the army, he deprived of their companies most of the centurions of the
first rank, who had now served their legal time in the wars, and some
whose time would have expired in a few days; alleging against them their
age and infirmity; and railing at the covetous disposition (282) of the
rest of them, he reduced the bounty due to those who had served out their
time to the sum of six thousand sesterces. Though he only received the
submission of Adminius, the son of Cunobeline, a British king, who being
driven from his native country by his father, came over to him with a
small body of troops [450], yet, as if the whole island had been
surrendered to him, he dispatched magnificent letters to Rome, ordering
the bearers to proceed in their carriages directly up to the forum and
the senate-house, and not to deliver the letters but to the consuls in
the temple of Mars, and in the presence of a full assembly of the

XLV. Soon after this, there being no hostilities, he ordered a few
Germans of his guard to be carried over and placed in concealment on the
other side of the Rhine, and word to be brought him after dinner, that an
enemy was advancing with great impetuosity. This being accordingly done,
he immediately threw himself, with his friends, and a party of the
pretorian knights, into the adjoining wood, where lopping branches from
the trees, and forming trophies of them, he returned by torch-light,
upbraiding those who did not follow him, with timorousness and cowardice;
but he presented the companions, and sharers of his victory with crowns
of a new form, and under a new name, having the sun, moon, and stars
represented on them, and which he called Exploratoriae. Again, some
hostages were by his order taken from the school, and privately sent off;
upon notice of which he immediately rose from table, pursued them with
the cavalry, as if they had run away, and coming up with them, brought
them back in fetters; proceeding to an extravagant pitch of ostentation
likewise in this military comedy. Upon his again sitting down to table,
it being reported to him that the troops were all reassembled, he ordered
them to sit down as they were, in their armour, animating them in the
words of that well-known verse of Virgil:

(283) Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.–Aen. 1.
Bear up, and save yourselves for better days.

In the mean time, he reprimanded the senate and people of Rome in a very
severe proclamation, “For revelling and frequenting the diversions of the
circus and theatre, and enjoying themselves at their villas, whilst their
emperor was fighting, and exposing himself to the greatest dangers.”

XLVI. At last, as if resolved to make war in earnest, he drew up his
army upon the shore of the ocean, with his balistae and other engines of
war, and while no one could imagine what he intended to do, on a sudden
commanded them to gather up the sea shells, and fill their helmets, and
the folds of their dress with them, calling them “the spoils of the ocean
due to the Capitol and the Palatium.” As a monument of his success, he
raised a lofty tower, upon which, as at Pharos [451], he ordered lights
to be burnt in the night-time, for the direction of ships at sea; and
then promising the soldiers a donative of a hundred denarii [452] a man,
as if he had surpassed the most eminent examples of generosity, “Go your
ways,” said he, “and be merry: go, ye are rich.”

XLVII. In making preparations for his triumph, besides the prisoners and
deserters from the barbarian armies, he picked out the men of greatest
stature in all Gaul, such as he said were fittest to grace a triumph,
with some of the chiefs, and reserved them to appear in the procession;
obliging them not only to dye their hair yellow, and let it grow long,
but to learn the German language, and assume the names commonly used in
that country. He ordered likewise the gallies in which he had entered
the ocean, to be conveyed to Rome a great part of the way by land, and
wrote to his comptrollers in the city, “to make proper preparations for a
triumph against (284) his arrival, at as small expense as possible; but
on a scale such as had never been seen before, since they had full power
over the property of every one.”

XLVIII. Before he left the province, he formed a design of the most
horrid cruelty–to massacre the legions which had mutinied upon the death
of Augustus, for seizing and detaining by force his father, Germanicus,
their commander, and himself, then an infant, in the camp. Though he was
with great difficulty dissuaded from this rash attempt, yet neither the
most urgent entreaties nor representations could prevent him from
persisting in the design of decimating these legions. Accordingly, he
ordered them to assemble unarmed, without so much as their swords; and
then surrounded them with armed horse. But finding that many of them,
suspecting that violence was intended, were making off, to arm in their
own defence, he quitted the assembly as fast as he could, and immediately
marched for Rome; bending now all his fury against the senate, whom he
publicly threatened, to divert the general attention from the clamour
excited by his disgraceful conduct. Amongst other pretexts of offence,
he complained that he was defrauded of a triumph, which was justly his
due, though he had just before forbidden, upon pain of death, any honour
to be decreed him.

XLIX. In his march he was waited upon by deputies from the senatorian
order, entreating him to hasten his return. He replied to them, “I will
come, I will come, and this with me,” striking at the same time the hilt
of his sword. He issued likewise this proclamation: “I am coming, but
for those only who wish for me, the equestrian order and the people; for
I shall no longer treat the senate as their fellow-citizen or prince.”
He forbad any of the senators to come to meet him; and either abandoning
or deferring his triumph, he entered the city in ovation on his birth-
day. Within four months from this period he was slain, after he had
perpetrated enormous crimes, and while he was meditating the execution,
if possible, of still greater. He had entertained a design of removing
to Antium, and afterwards to Alexandria; having first cut off the flower
of the equestrian and senatorian orders. This is placed beyond all
question, by two books which were found in his cabinet (285) under
different titles; one being called the sword, and the other, the dagger.
They both contained private marks, and the names of those who were
devoted to death. There was also found a large chest, filled with a
variety of poisons which being afterwards thrown into the sea by order of
Claudius, are said to have so infected the waters, that the fish were
poisoned, and cast dead by the tide upon the neighbouring shores.

L. He was tall, of a pale complexion, ill-shaped, his neck and legs very
slender, his eyes and temples hollow, his brows broad and knit, his hair
thin, and the crown of the head bald. The other parts of his body were
much covered with hair. On this account, it was reckoned a capital crime
for any person to look down from above, as he was passing by, or so much
as to name a goat. His countenance, which was naturally hideous and
frightful, he purposely rendered more so, forming it before a mirror into
the most horrible contortions. He was crazy both in body and mind, being
subject, when a boy, to the falling sickness. When he arrived at the age
of manhood, he endured fatigue tolerably well; but still, occasionally,
he was liable to a faintness, during which he remained incapable of any
effort. He was not insensible of the disorder of his mind, and sometimes
had thoughts of retiring to clear his brain [453]. It is believed that
his wife Caesonia administered to him a love potion which threw him into
a frenzy. What most of all disordered him, was want of sleep, for he
seldom had more than three or four hours’ rest in a night; and even then
his sleep was not sound, but disturbed by strange dreams; fancying, among
other things, that a form representing the ocean spoke to him. Being
therefore often weary with lying awake so long, sometimes he sat up in
his bed, at others, walked in the longest porticos about the house, and
from time to time, invoked and looked out for the approach of day.

LI. To this crazy constitution of his mind may, I think, very justly be
ascribed two faults which he had, of a nature directly repugnant one to
the other, namely, an excessive confidence and the most abject timidity.
For he, who affected so (286) much to despise the gods, was ready to shut
his eyes, and wrap up his head in his cloak at the slightest storm of
thunder and lightning; and if it was violent, he got up and hid himself
under his bed. In his visit to Sicily, after ridiculing many strange
objects which that country affords, he ran away suddenly in the night
from Messini, terrified by the smoke and rumbling at the summit of Mount
Aetna. And though in words he was very valiant against the barbarians,
yet upon passing a narrow defile in Germany in his light car, surrounded
by a strong body of his troops, some one happening to say, “There would
be no small consternation amongst us, if an enemy were to appear,” he
immediately mounted his horse, and rode towards the bridges in great
haste; but finding them blocked up with camp-followers and baggage-
waggons, he was in such a hurry, that he caused himself to be carried in
men’s hands over the heads of the crowd. Soon afterwards, upon hearing
that the Germans were again in rebellion, he prepared to quit Rome, and
equipped a fleet; comforting himself with this consideration, that if the
enemy should prove victorious, and possess themselves of the heights of
the Alps, as the Cimbri [454] had done, or of the city, as the Senones
[455] formerly did, he should still have in reserve the transmarine
provinces [456]. Hence it was, I suppose, that it occurred to his
assassins, to invent the story intended to pacify the troops who mutinied
at his death, that he had laid violent hands upon himself, in a fit of
terror occasioned by the news brought him of the defeat of his army.

LII. In the fashion of his clothes, shoes, and all the rest of his
dress, he did not wear what was either national, or properly civic, or
peculiar to the male sex, or appropriate to mere mortals. He often
appeared abroad in a short coat of stout cloth, richly embroidered and
blazing with jewels, in a tunic with sleeves, and with bracelets upon his
arms; sometimes all in silks and (287) habited like a woman; at other
times in the crepidae or buskins; sometimes in the sort of shoes used by
the light-armed soldiers, or in the sock used by women, and commonly with
a golden beard fixed to his chin, holding in his hand a thunderbolt, a
trident, or a caduceus, marks of distinction belonging to the gods only.
Sometimes, too, he appeared in the habit of Venus. He wore very commonly
the triumphal ornaments, even before his expedition, and sometimes the
breast-plate of Alexander the Great, taken out of his coffin. [457]

LIII. With regard to the liberal sciences, he was little conversant in
philology, but applied himself with assiduity to the study of eloquence,
being indeed in point of enunciation tolerably elegant and ready; and in
his perorations, when he was moved to anger, there was an abundant flow
of words and periods. In speaking, his action was vehement, and his
voice so strong, that he was heard at a great distance. When winding up
an harangue, he threatened to draw “the sword of his lucubration,”
holding a loose and smooth style in such contempt, that he said Seneca,
who was then much admired, “wrote only detached essays,” and that “his
language was nothing but sand without lime.” He often wrote answers to
the speeches of successful orators; and employed himself in composing
accusations or vindications of eminent persons, who were impeached before
the senate; and gave his vote for or against the party accused, according
to his success in speaking, inviting the equestrian order, by
proclamation, to hear him.

LIV. He also zealously applied himself to the practice of several other
arts of different kinds, such as fencing, charioteering, singing, and
dancing. In the first of these, he practised with the weapons used in
war; and drove the chariot in circuses built in several places. He was
so extremely fond of singing and dancing, that he could not refrain in
the theatre from singing with the tragedians, and imitating the gestures
of the actors, either by way of applause or correction. A night
exhibition which he had ordered the day he was slain, was thought to be
intended for no other reason, than to take the opportunity afforded by
the licentiousness of the season, to make his first appearance upon the
stage. Sometimes, also, (288) he danced in the night. Summoning once to
the Palatium, in the second watch of the night [458], three men of
consular rank, who feared the words from the message, he placed them on
the proscenium of the stage, and then suddenly came bursting out, with a
loud noise of flutes and castanets [459], dressed in a mantle and tunic
reaching down to his heels. Having danced out a song, he retired. Yet
he who had acquired such dexterity in other exercises, never learnt to

LV. Those for whom he once conceived a regard, he favoured even to
madness. He used to kiss Mnester, the pantomimic actor, publicly in the
theatre; and if any person made the least noise while he was dancing, he
would order him to be dragged from his seat, and scourged him with his
own hand. A Roman knight once making some bustle, he sent him, by a
centurion, an order to depart forthwith for Ostia [460], and carry a
letter from him to king Ptolemy in Mauritania. The letter was comprised
in these words: “Do neither good nor harm to the bearer.” He made some
gladiators captains of his German guards. He deprived the gladiators
called Mirmillones of some of their arms. One Columbus coming off with
victory in a combat, but being slightly wounded, he ordered some poison
to be infused in the wound, which he thence called Columbinum. For thus
it was certainly named with his own hand in a list of other poisons. He
was so extravagantly fond of the party of charioteers whose colours were
green [461], that he supped and lodged for some time constantly in the
stable where their horses were kept. At a certain revel, he made a
present of two millions of sesterces to one Cythicus, a driver of a
chariot. The day before the Circensian games, he used to send his
soldiers to enjoin silence in the (289) neighbourhood, that the repose of
his horse Incitatus [462] might not be disturbed. For this favourite
animal, besides a marble stable, an ivory manger, purple housings, and a
jewelled frontlet, he appointed a house, with a retinue of slaves, and
fine furniture, for the reception of such as were invited in the horse’s
name to sup with him. It is even said that he intended to make him

LVI. In this frantic and savage career, numbers had formed designs for
cutting him off; but one or two conspiracies being discovered, and others
postponed for want of opportunity, at last two men concerted a plan
together, and accomplished their purpose; not without the privity of some
of the greatest favourites amongst his freedmen, and the prefects of the
pretorian guards; because, having been named, though falsely, as
concerned in one conspiracy against him, they perceived that they were
suspected and become objects of his hatred. For he had immediately
endeavoured to render them obnoxious to the soldiery, drawing his sword,
and declaring, “That he would kill himself if they thought him worthy of
death;” and ever after he was continually accusing them to one another,
and setting them all mutually at variance. The conspirators having
resolved to fall upon him as he returned at noon from the Palatine games,
Cassius Chaerea, tribune of the pretorian guards, claimed the part of
making the onset. This Chaerea was now an elderly man, and had been
often reproached by Caius for effeminacy. When he came for the
watchword, the latter would give “Priapus,” or “Venus;” and if on any
occasion he returned thanks, would offer him his hand to kiss, making
with his fingers an obscene gesture.

LVII. His approaching fate was indicated by many prodigies. The statue
of Jupiter at Olympia, which he had ordered to be taken down and brought
to Rome, suddenly burst out into such a violent fit of laughter, that,
the machines employed in the work giving way, the workmen took to their
heels. When this accident happened, there came up a man named Cassius,
who said that he was commanded in a dream to sacrifice a bull to Jupiter.
The Capitol at Capua was (290) struck with lightning upon the ides of
March [15th March] as was also, at Rome, the apartment of the chief
porter of the Palatium. Some construed the latter into a presage that
the master of the place was in danger from his own guards; and the other
they regarded as a sign, that an illustrious person would be cut off, as
had happened before on that day. Sylla, the astrologer, being, consulted
by him respecting his nativity, assured him, “That death would
unavoidably and speedily befall him.” The oracle of Fortune at Antium
likewise forewarned him of Cassius; on which account he had given orders
for putting to death Cassius Longinus, at that time proconsul of Asia,
not considering that Chaerea bore also that name. The day preceding his
death he dreamt that he was standing in heaven near the throne of
Jupiter, who giving him a push with the great toe of his right foot, he
fell headlong upon the earth. Some things which happened the very day of
his death, and only a little before it, were likewise considered as
ominous presages of that event. Whilst he was at sacrifice, he was
bespattered with the blood of a flamingo. And Mnester, the pantomimic
actor, performed in a play, which the tragedian Neoptolemus had formerly
acted at the games in which Philip, the king of Macedon, was slain. And
in the piece called Laureolus, in which the principal actor, running out
in a hurry, and falling, vomited blood, several of the inferior actors
vying with each other to give the best specimen of their art, made the
whole stage flow with blood. A spectacle had been purposed to be
performed that night, in which the fables of the infernal regions were to
be represented by Egyptians and Ethiopians.

LVIII. On the ninth of the calends of February [24th January], and about
the seventh hour of the day, after hesitating whether he should rise to
dinner, as his stomach was disordered by what he had eaten the day
before, at last, by the advice of his friends, he came forth. In the
vaulted passage through which he had to pass, were some boys of noble
extraction, who had been brought from Asia to act upon the stage, waiting
for him in a private corridor, and he stopped to see and speak to them;
and had not the leader of the party said that he was suffering from cold,
he would have gone back, and made them act immediately. Respecting what
followed, (291) two different accounts are given. Some say, that, whilst
he was speaking to the boys, Chaerea came behind him, and gave him a
heavy blow on the neck with his sword, first crying out, “Take this:”
that then a tribune, by name Cornelius Sabinus, another of the
conspirators, ran him through the breast. Others say, that the crowd
being kept at a distance by some centurions who were in the plot, Sabinus
came, according to custom, for the word, and that Caius gave him
“Jupiter,” upon which Chaerea cried out, “Be it so!” and then, on his
looking round, clove one of his jaws with a blow. As he lay on the
ground, crying out that he was still alive [463], the rest dispatched him
with thirty wounds. For the word agreed upon among them all was, “Strike
again.” Some likewise ran their swords through his privy parts. Upon
the first bustle, the litter bearers came running in with their poles to
his assistance, and, immediately afterwards, his German body guards, who
killed some of the assassins, and also some senators who had no concern
in the affair.

LIX. He lived twenty-nine years, and reigned three years, ten months,
and eight days. His body was carried privately into the Lamian Gardens
[464], where it was half burnt upon a pile hastily raised, and then had
some earth carelessly thrown over it. It was afterwards disinterred by
his sisters, on their return from banishment, burnt to ashes, and buried.
Before this was done, it is well known that the keepers of the gardens
were greatly disturbed by apparitions; and that not a night passed
without some terrible alarm or other in the house where he was slain,
until it was destroyed by fire. His wife Caesonia was killed with him,
being stabbed by a centurion; and his daughter had her brains knocked out
against a wall.

LX. Of the miserable condition of those times, any person (292) may
easily form an estimate from the following circumstances. When his death
was made public, it was not immediately credited. People entertained a
suspicion that a report of his being killed had been contrived and spread
by himself, with the view of discovering how they stood affected towards
him. Nor had the conspirators fixed upon any one to succeed him. The
senators were so unanimous in their resolution to assert the liberty of
their country, that the consuls assembled them at first not in the usual
place of meeting, because it was named after Julius Caesar, but in the
Capitol. Some proposed to abolish the memory of the Caesars, and level
their temples with the ground. It was particularly remarked on this
occasion, that all the Caesars, who had the praenomen of Caius, died by
the sword, from the Caius Caesar who was slain in the times of Cinna.

* * * * * *

Unfortunately, a great chasm in the Annals of Tacitus, at this period,
precludes all information from that historian respecting the reign of
Caligula; but from what he mentions towards the close of the preceding
chapter, it is evident that Caligula was forward to seize the reins of
government, upon the death of Tiberius, whom, though he rivalled him in
his vices, he was far from imitating in his dissimulation. Amongst the
people, the remembrance of Germanicus’ virtues cherished for his family
an attachment which was probably, increased by its misfortunes; and they
were anxious to see revived in the son the popularity of the father.
Considering, however, that Caligula’s vicious disposition was already
known, and that it had even been an inducement with Tiberius to procure
his succession, in order that it might prove a foil to his own memory; it
is surprising that no effort was made at this juncture to shake off the
despotism which had been so intolerable in the last reign, and restore
the ancient liberty of the republic. Since the commencement of the
imperial dominion, there never had been any period so favourable for a
counter-revolution as the present crisis. There existed now no Livia, to
influence the minds of the senate and people in respect of the
government; nor was there any other person allied to the family of
Germanicus, whose countenance or intrigues could promote the views of
Caligula. He himself was now only in the twenty-fifth year of his age,
was totally inexperienced in the administration of public affairs, had
never performed even the smallest service to his country, and was
generally known to be of a character which (293) disgraced his
illustrious descent. Yet, in spite of all these circumstances, such was
the destiny of Rome, that his accession afforded joy to the soldiers, who
had known him in his childhood, and to the populace in the capital, as
well as the people in the provinces, who were flattered with the delusive
expectation of receiving a prince who should adorn the throne with the
amiable virtues of Germanicus.

It is difficult to say, whether weakness of understanding, or corruption
of morals, were more conspicuous in the character of Caligula. He seems
to have discovered from his earliest years an innate depravity of mind,
which was undoubtedly much increased by defect of education. He had lost
both his parents at an early period of life; and from Tiberius’ own
character, as well as his views in training the person who should succeed
him on the throne, there is reason to think, that if any attention
whatever was paid to the education of Caligula, it was directed to
vitiate all his faculties and passions, rather than to correct and
improve them. If such was really the object, it was indeed prosecuted
with success.

The commencement, however, of his reign was such as by no means
prognosticated its subsequent transition. The sudden change of his
conduct, the astonishing mixture of imbecility and presumption, of moral
turpitude and frantic extravagance, which he afterwards evinced; such as
rolling himself over heaps of gold, his treatment of his horse Incitatus,
and his design of making him consul, seem to justify a suspicion that his
brain had actually been affected, either by the potion, said to have been
given him by his wife Caesonia, or otherwise. Philtres, or love-potions,
as they were called, were frequent in those times; and the people
believed that they operated upon the mind by a mysterious and sympathetic
power. It is, however, beyond a doubt, that their effects were produced
entirely by the action of their physical qualities upon the organs of the
body. They were usually made of the satyrion, which, according to Pliny,
was a provocative. They were generally given by women to their husbands
at bed-time; and it was necessary towards their successful operation,
that the parties should sleep together. This circumstance explains the
whole mystery. The philtres were nothing more than medicines of a
stimulating quality, which, after exciting violent, but temporary
effects, enfeebled the constitution, and occasioned nervous disorders, by
which the mental faculties, as well as the corporeal, might be injured.
That this was really the case with Caligula, seems probable, not only
from the falling sickness, to which he was subject, but from the habitual
wakefulness of which he complained.

(294) The profusion of this emperor, during his short reign of three
years and ten months, is unexampled in history. In the midst of profound
peace, without any extraordinary charges either civil or military, he
expended, in less than one year, besides the current revenue of the
empire, the sum of 21,796,875 pounds sterling, which had been left by
Tiberius at his death. To supply the extravagance of future years, new
and exorbitant taxes were imposed upon the people, and those too on the
necessaries of life. There existed now amongst the Romans every motive
that could excite a general indignation against the government; yet such
was still the dread of imperial power, though vested in the hands of so
weak and despicable a sovereign, that no insurrection was attempted, nor
any extensive conspiracy formed; but the obnoxious emperor fell at last a
sacrifice to a few centurions of his own guard.

This reign was of too short duration to afford any new productions in
literature; but, had it been extended to a much longer period, the
effects would probably have been the same. Polite learning never could
flourish under an emperor who entertained a design of destroying the
writings of Virgil and Livy. It is fortunate that these, and other
valuable productions of antiquity, were too widely diffused over the
world, and too carefully preserved, to be in danger of perishing through
the frenzy of this capricious barbarian.

Retrato de JULIO CÉSAR DRUSO, llamado DRUSO EL MENOR. Siglo I d.C. Mármol. En el Museo del Prado (Madrid, España). Procedente de la Colección Real.
Retrato de JULIO CÉSAR DRUSO, llamado DRUSO EL MENOR. Siglo I d.C. Mármol. En el Museo del Prado (Madrid, España). Procedente de la Colección Real.

I. Livia, having married Augustus when she was pregnant, was within
three months afterwards delivered of Drusus, the father of Claudius
Caesar, who had at first the praenomen of Decimus, but afterwards that of
Nero; and it was suspected that he was begotten in adultery by his
father-in-law. The following verse, however, was immediately in every
one’s mouth:

Tois eutychousi kai primaena paidia.

Nine months for common births the fates decree;
But, for the great, reduce the term to three.

This Drusus, during the time of his being quaestor and praetor, commanded
in the Rhaetian and German wars, and was the first of all the Roman
generals who navigated the Northern Ocean [466]. He made likewise some
prodigious trenches beyond the Rhine [467], which to this day are called
by his name. He overthrew the enemy in several battles, and drove them
far back into the depths of the desert. Nor did he desist from pursuing
them, until an apparition, in the form of a barbarian woman, of more than
human size, appeared to him, and, in the Latin tongue, forbad him to
proceed any farther. For these achievements he had the honour of an
ovation, and the triumphal ornaments. After his praetorship, he
immediately entered on the office of consul, and returning again to
Germany, died of disease, in the summer encampment, which thence obtained
the name of “The Unlucky Camp.” His corpse was carried to Rome by the
principal persons of the several municipalities and colonies upon the
road, being met and received by the recorders of each place, and buried
in the Campus Martius. In honour of his (296) memory, the army erected a
monument, round which the soldiers used, annually, upon a certain day, to
march in solemn procession, and persons deputed from the several cities
of Gaul performed religious rites. The senate likewise, among various
other honours, decreed for him a triumphal arch of marble, with trophies,
in the Appian Way, and gave the cognomen of Germanicus to him and his
posterity. In him the civil and military virtues were equally displayed;
for, besides his victories, he gained from the enemy the Spolia Opima
[468], and frequently marked out the German chiefs in the midst of their
army, and encountered them in single combat, at the utmost hazard of his
life. He likewise often declared that he would, some time or other, if
possible, restore the ancient government. In this account, I suppose,
some have ventured to affirm that Augustus was jealous of him, and
recalled him; and because he made no haste to comply with the order, took
him off by poison. This I mention, that I may not be guilty of any
omission, more than because I think it either true or probable; since
Augustus loved him so much when living, that he always, in his wills,
made him joint-heir with his sons, as he once declared in the senate; and
upon his decease, extolled him in a speech to the people, to that degree,
that he prayed the gods “to make his Caesars like him, and to grant
himself as honourable an exit out of this world as they had given him.”
And not satisfied with inscribing upon his tomb an epitaph in verse
composed by himself, he wrote likewise the history of his life in prose.
He had by the younger Antonia several children, but left behind him only
three, namely, Germanicus, Livilla, and Claudius.

II. Claudius was born at Lyons, in the consulship of Julius Antonius,
and Fabius Africanus, upon the first of August [469], the very day upon
which an altar was first dedicated there to Augustus. He was named
Tiberius Claudius Drusus, but soon afterwards, (297) upon the adoption of
his elder brother into the Julian family, he assumed the cognomen of
Germanicus. He was left an infant by his father, and during almost the
whole of his minority, and for some time after he attained the age of
manhood, was afflicted with a variety of obstinate disorders, insomuch
that his mind and body being greatly impaired, he was, even after his
arrival at years of maturity, never thought sufficiently qualified for
any public or private employment. He was, therefore, during a long time,
and even after the expiration of his minority, under the direction of a
pedagogue, who, he complains in a certain memoir, “was a barbarous
wretch, and formerly superintendent of the mule-drivers, who was selected
for his governor, on purpose to correct him severely on every trifling
occasion.” On account of this crazy constitution of body and mind, at
the spectacle of gladiators, which he gave the people, jointly with his
brother, in honour of his father’s memory, he presided, muffled up in a
pallium–a new fashion. When he assumed the manly habit, he was carried
in a litter, at midnight, to the Capitol, without the usual ceremony.

III. He applied himself, however, from an early age, with great
assiduity to the study of the liberal sciences, and frequently published
specimens of his skill in each of them. But never, with all his
endeavours, could he attain to any public post in the government, or
afford any hope of arriving at distinction thereafter. His mother,
Antonia, frequently called him “an abortion of a man, that had been only
begun, but never finished, by nature.” And when she would upbraid any
one with dulness, she said, “He was a greater fool than her son,
Claudius.” His grandmother, Augusta, always treated him with the utmost
contempt, very rarely spoke to him, and when she did admonish him upon
any occasion, it was in writing, very briefly and severely, or by
messengers. His sister, Livilla, upon hearing that he was about to be
created emperor, openly and loudly expressed her indignation that the
Roman people should experience a fate so severe and so much below their
grandeur. To exhibit the opinion, both favourable and otherwise,
entertained concerning him by Augustus, his great-uncle, I have here
subjoined some extracts from the letters of that emperor.

IV. “I have had some conversation with Tiberius, according (298) to your
desire, my dear Livia, as to what must be done with your grandson,
Tiberius, at the games of Mars. We are both agreed in this, that, once
for all, we ought to determine what course to take with him. For if he
be really sound and, so to speak, quite right in his intellects [470],
why should we hesitate to promote him by the same steps and degrees we
did his brother? But if we find him below par, and deficient both in
body and mind, we must beware of giving occasion for him and ourselves to
be laughed at by the world, which is ready enough to make such things the
subject of mirth and derision. For we never shall be easy, if we are
always to be debating upon every occasion of this kind, without settling,
in the first instance, whether he be really capable of public offices or
not. With regard to what you consult me about at the present moment, I
am not against his superintending the feast of the priests, in the games
of Mars, if he will suffer himself to be governed by his kinsman,
Silanus’s son, that he may do nothing to make the people stare and laugh
at him. But I do not approve of his witnessing the Circensian games from
the Pulvinar. He will be there exposed to view in the very front of the
theatre. Nor do I like that he should go to the Alban Mount [471], or be
at Rome during the Latin festivals. For if he be capable of attending
his brother to the mount, why is he not made prefect of the city? Thus,
my dear Livia, you have my thoughts upon the matter. In my opinion, we
ought to (299) settle this affair once for all, that we may not be always
in suspense between hope and fear. You may, if you think proper, give
your kinsman Antonia this part of my letter to read.” In another letter,
he writes as follows: “I shall invite: the youth, Tiberius, every day
during your absence, to supper, that he may not sup alone with his
friends Sulpicius and Athenodorus. I wish the poor creature was more
cautious and attentive in the choice of some one, whose manners, air, and
gait might be proper for his imitation:

Atuchei panu en tois spoudaiois lian.
In things of consequence he sadly fails.

Where his mind does not run astray, he discovers a noble disposition.”
In a third letter, he says, “Let me die, my dear Livia, if I am not
astonished, that the declamation of your grandson, Tiberius, should
please me; for how he who talks so ill, should be able to declaim so
clearly and properly, I cannot imagine.” There is no doubt but Augustus,
after this, came to a resolution upon the subject, and, accordingly, left
him invested with no other honour than that of the Augural priesthood;
naming him amongst the heirs of the third degree, who were but distantly
allied to his family, for a sixth part of his estate only, with a legacy
of no more than eight hundred thousand sesterces.

V. Upon his requesting some office in the state, Tiberius granted him
the honorary appendages of the consulship, and when he pressed for a
legitimate appointment, the emperor wrote word back, that “he sent him
forty gold pieces for his expenses, during the festivals of the
Saturnalia and Sigillaria.” Upon this, laying aside all hope of
advancement, he resigned himself entirely to an indolent life; living in
great privacy, one while in his gardens, or a villa which he had near the
city; another while in Campania, where he passed his time in the lowest
society; by which means, besides his former character of a dull, heavy
fellow, he acquired that of a drunkard and gamester.

VI. Notwithstanding this sort of life, much respect was shown him both
in public and private. The equestrian (300) order twice made choice of
him to intercede on their behalf; once to obtain from the consuls the
favour of bearing on their shoulders the corpse of Augustus to Rome, and
a second time to congratulate him upon the death of Sejanus. When he
entered the theatre, they used to rise, and put off their cloaks. The
senate likewise decreed, that he should be added to the number of the
Augustal college of priests, who were chosen by lot; and soon afterwards,
when his house was burnt down, that it should be rebuilt at the public
charge; and that he should have the privilege of giving his vote amongst
the men of consular rank. This decree was, however, repealed; Tiberius
insisting to have him excused on account of his imbecility, and promising
to make good his loss at his own expense. But at his death, he named him
in his will, amongst his third heirs, for a third part of his estate;
leaving him besides a legacy of two millions of sesterces, and expressly
recommending him to the armies, the senate and people of Rome, amongst
his other relations.

VII. At last, Caius [473], his brother’s son, upon his advancement to
the empire, endeavouring to gain the affections of the public by all the
arts of popularity, Claudius also was admitted to public offices, and
held the consulship jointly with his nephew for two months. As he was
entering the Forum for the first time with the fasces, an eagle which was
flying that way; alighted upon his right shoulder. A second consulship
was also allotted him, to commence at the expiration of the fourth year.
He sometimes presided at the public spectacles, as the representative of
Caius; being always, on those occasions, complimented with the
acclamations of the people, wishing him all happiness, sometimes under
the title of the emperor’s uncle, and sometimes under that of
Germanicus’s brother.

VIII. Still he was subjected to many slights. If at any time he came in
late to supper, he was obliged to walk round the room some time before he
could get a place at table. When he indulged himself with sleep after
eating, which was a common practice with him, the company used to throw
olive-stones and dates at him. And the buffoons who attended would wake
him, as if it were only in jest, with a cane or a whip. Sometimes they
would put slippers upon his hands; as he lay snoring, that he might, upon
awaking, rub his face with them.

IX. He was not only exposed to contempt, but sometimes likewise to
considerable danger: first, in his consulship; for, having been too
remiss in providing and erecting the statues of Caius’s brothers, Nero
and Drusus, he was very near being deprived of his office; and afterwards
he was continually harassed with informations against him by one or
other, sometimes even by his own domestics. When the conspiracy of
Lepidus and Gaetulicus was discovered, being sent with some other
deputies into Germany [474], to congratulate the emperor upon the
occasion, he was in danger of his life; Caius being greatly enraged, and
loudly complaining, that his uncle was sent to him, as if he was a boy
who wanted a governor. Some even say, that he was thrown into a river,
in his travelling dress. From this period, he voted in the senate always
the last of the members of consular rank; being called upon after the
rest, on purpose to disgrace him. A charge for the forgery of a will was
also allowed to be prosecuted, though he had only signed it as a witness.
At last, being obliged to pay eight millions of sesterces on entering
upon a new office of priesthood, he was reduced to such straits in his
private affairs, that in order to discharge his bond to the treasury, he
was under the necessity of exposing to sale his whole estate, by an order
of the prefects.

X. Having spent the greater part of his life under these and the like
circumstances, he came at last to the empire in the fiftieth year of his
age [475], by a very surprising turn of fortune. Being, as well as the
rest, prevented from approaching Caius by the conspirators, who dispersed
the crowd, under the pretext of his desiring to be private, he retired
into an apartment called the Hermaeum [476]; and soon afterwards,
terrified by the report of Caius being slain, he crept into an adjoining
balcony, where he hid himself behind the hangings of (302) the door. A
common soldier, who happened to pass that way, spying his feet, and
desirous to discover who he was, pulled him out; when immediately
recognizing him, he threw himself in a great fright at his feet, and
saluted him by the title of emperor. He then conducted him to his
fellow-soldiers, who were all in a great rage, and irresolute what they
should do. They put him into a litter, and as the slaves of the palace
had all fled, took their turns in carrying him on their shoulders, and
brought him into the camp, sad and trembling; the people who met him
lamenting his situation, as if the poor innocent was being carried to
execution. Being received within the ramparts [477], he continued all
night with the sentries on guard, recovered somewhat from his fright, but
in no great hopes of the succession. For the consuls, with the senate
and civic troops, had possessed themselves of the Forum and Capitol, with
the determination to assert the public liberty; and he being sent for
likewise, by a tribune of the people, to the senate-house, to give his
advice upon the present juncture of affairs, returned answer, “I am under
constraint, and cannot possibly come.” The day afterwards, the senate
being dilatory in their proceedings, and worn out by divisions amongst
themselves, while the people who surrounded the senate-house shouted that
they would have one master, naming Claudius, he suffered the soldiers
assembled under arms to swear allegiance to him, promising them fifteen
thousand sesterces a man; he being the first of the Caesars who purchased
the submission of the soldiers with money. [478]

XI. Having thus established himself in power, his first object was to
abolish all remembrance of the two preceding days, in which a revolution
in the state had been canvassed. Accordingly, he passed an act of
perpetual oblivion and pardon for every thing said or done during that
time; and this he faithfully observed, with the exception only of putting
to death a few tribunes and centurions concerned in the conspiracy
against Caius, both as an example, and because he understood that they
had also planned his own death. He now turned (303) his thoughts towards
paying respect to the memory of his relations. His most solemn and usual
oath was, “By Augustus.” He prevailed upon the senate to decree divine
honours to his grandmother Livia, with a chariot in the Circensian
procession drawn by elephants, as had been appointed for Augustus [479];
and public offerings to the shades of his parents. Besides which, he
instituted Circensian games for his father, to be celebrated every year,
upon his birth-day, and, for his mother, a chariot to be drawn through
the circus; with the title of Augusta, which had been refused by his
grandmother [480]. To the memory of his brother [481], to which, upon
all occasions, he showed a great regard, he gave a Greek comedy, to be
exhibited in the public diversions at Naples [482], and awarded the crown
for it, according to the sentence of the judges in that solemnity. Nor
did he omit to make honourable and grateful mention of Mark Antony;
declaring by a proclamation, “That he the more earnestly insisted upon
the observation of his father Drusus’s birth-day, because it was likewise
that of his grandfather Antony.” He completed the marble arch near
Pompey’s theatre, which had formerly been decreed by the senate in honour
of Tiberius, but which had been neglected [483]. And though he cancelled
all the acts of Caius, yet he forbad the day of his assassination,
notwithstanding it was that of his own accession to the empire, to be
reckoned amongst the festivals.

XII. But with regard to his own aggrandisement, he was sparing and
modest, declining the title of emperor, and refusing all excessive
honours. He celebrated the marriage of his daughter and the birth-day of
a grandson with great privacy, at home. He recalled none of those who
had been banished, without a decree of the senate: and requested of them
permission for the prefect of the military tribunes and pretorian guards
to attend him in the senate-house [484]; and (304) also that they would
be pleased to bestow upon his procurators judicial authority in the
provinces [485]. He asked of the consuls likewise the privilege of
holding fairs upon his private estate. He frequently assisted the
magistrates in the trial of causes, as one of their assessors. And when
they gave public spectacles, he would rise up with the rest of the
spectators, and salute them both by words and gestures. When the
tribunes of the people came to him while he was on the tribunal, he
excused himself, because, on account of the crowd, he could not hear them
unless they stood. In a short time, by this conduct, he wrought himself
so much into the favour and affection of the public, that when, upon his
going to Ostia, a report was spread in the city that he had been way-laid
and slain, the people never ceased cursing the soldiers for traitors, and
the senate as parricides, until one or two persons, and presently after
several others, were brought by the magistrates upon the rostra, who
assured them that he was alive, and not far from the city, on his way

XIII. Conspiracies, however, were formed against him, not only by
individuals separately, but by a faction; and at last his government was
disturbed with a civil war. A low fellow was found with a poniard about
him, near his chamber, at midnight. Two men of the equestrian order were
discovered waiting for him in the streets, armed with a tuck and a
huntsman’s dagger; one of them intending to attack him as he came out of
the theatre, and the other as he was sacrificing in the temple of Mars.
Gallus Asinius and Statilius Corvinus, grandsons of the two orators,
Pollio and Messala [486], formed a conspiracy against him, in which they
engaged many of his freedmen and slaves. Furius Camillus Scribonianus,
his lieutenant in Dalmatia, broke into rebellion, but was reduced in
(305) the space of five days; the legions which he had seduced from their
oath of fidelity relinquishing their purpose, upon an alarm occasioned by
ill omens. For when orders were given them to march, to meet their new
emperor, the eagles could not be decorated, nor the standards pulled out
of the ground, whether it was by accident, or a divine interposition.

XIV. Besides his former consulship, he held the office afterwards four
times; the first two successively [487], but the following, after an
interval of four years each [488]; the last for six months, the others
for two; and the third, upon his being chosen in the room of a consul who
died; which had never been done by any of the emperors before him.
Whether he was consul or out of office, he constantly attended the courts
for the administration of justice, even upon such days as were solemnly
observed as days of rejoicing in his family, or by his friends; and
sometimes upon the public festivals of ancient institution. Nor did he
always adhere strictly to the letter of the laws, but overruled the
rigour or lenity of many of their enactments, according to his sentiments
of justice and equity. For where persons lost their suits by insisting
upon more than appeared to be their due, before the judges of private
causes, he granted them the indulgence of a second trial. And with
regard to such as were convicted of any great delinquency, he even
exceeded the punishment appointed by law, and condemned them to be
exposed to wild beasts. [489]

XV. But in hearing and determining causes, he exhibited a strange
inconsistency of temper, being at one time circumspect and sagacious, at
another inconsiderate and rash, and sometimes frivolous, and like one out
of his mind. In correcting the roll of judges, he struck off the name of
one who, concealing the privilege his children gave him to be excused
from serving, had answered to his name, as too eager for the office.
Another who was summoned before him in a cause of his own, but alleged
that the affair did not properly come under the (306) emperor’s
cognizance, but that of the ordinary judges, he ordered to plead the
cause himself immediately before him, and show in a case of his own, how
equitable a judge he would prove in that of other persons. A woman
refusing to acknowledge her own son, and there being no clear proof on
either side, he obliged her to confess the truth, by ordering her to
marry the young man [490]. He was much inclined to determine causes in
favour of the parties who appeared, against those who did not, without
inquiring whether their absence was occasioned by their own fault, or by
real necessity. On proclamation of a man’s being convicted of forgery,
and that he ought to have his hand cut off, he insisted that an
executioner should be immediately sent for, with a Spanish sword and a
block. A person being prosecuted for falsely assuming the freedom of
Rome, and a frivolous dispute arising between the advocates in the cause,
whether he ought to make his appearance in the Roman or Grecian dress, to
show his impartiality, he commanded him to change his clothes several
times according to the character he assumed in the accusation or defence.
An anecdote is related of him, and believed to be true, that, in a
particular cause, he delivered his sentence in writing thus: “I am in
favour of those who have spoken the truth.” [491] By this he so much
forfeited the good opinion of the world, that he was everywhere and
openly despised. A person making an excuse for the non-appearance of a
witness whom he had sent for from the provinces, declared it was
impossible for him to appear, concealing the reason for some time: at
last, after several interrogatories were put to him on the subject, he
answered, “The man is dead;” to which Claudius replied, “I think that is
a sufficient excuse.” Another thanking him for suffering a person who
was prosecuted to make his defence by counsel, added, “And yet it is no
more than what is usual.” I have likewise heard some old men say [492],
that the advocates used to abuse his patience so grossly, that they would
not only (307) call him back, as he was quitting the tribunal, but would
seize him by the lap of his coat, and sometimes catch him by the heels,
to make him stay. That such behaviour, however strange, is not
incredible, will appear from this anecdote. Some obscure Greek, who was
a litigant, had an altercation with him, in which he called out, “You are
an old fool.” [493] It is certain that a Roman knight, who was
prosecuted by an impotent device of his enemies on a false charge of
abominable obscenity with women, observing that common strumpets were
summoned against him and allowed to give evidence, upbraided Claudius in
very harsh and severe terms with his folly and cruelty, and threw his
style, and some books which he had in his hands, in his face, with such
violence as to wound him severely in the cheek.

XVI. He likewise assumed the censorship [494], which had been
discontinued since the time that Paulus and Plancus had jointly held it.
But this also he administered very unequally, and with a strange variety
of humour and conduct. In his review of the knights, he passed over,
without any mark of disgrace, a profligate young man, only because his
father spoke of him in the highest terms; “for,” said he, “his father is
his proper censor.” Another, who was infamous for debauching youths and
for adultery, he only admonished “to indulge his youthful inclinations
more sparingly, or at least more cautiously;” [495] adding, “why must I
know what mistress you keep?” When, at the request of his friends, he
had taken off a mark of infamy which he had set upon one knight’s name,
he said, “Let the blot, however, remain.” He not only struck out of the
list of judges, but likewise deprived of the freedom of Rome, an
illustrious man of the highest provincial rank in Greece, only because he
was ignorant of the Latin language. Nor in this review did he suffer any
one to give an account of his conduct by an advocate, but obliged each
man to speak for himself in the best way he could. He disgraced many,
and some that little expected it, and for a reason entirely new, namely,
for going out of Italy without his license; (308) and one likewise, for
having in his province been the familiar companion of a king; observing,
that, in former times, Rabirius Posthumus had been prosecuted for
treason, although he only went after Ptolemy to Alexandria for the
purpose of securing payment of a debt [496]. Having tried to brand with
disgrace several others, he, to his own greater shame, found them
generally innocent, through the negligence of the persons employed to
inquire into their characters; those whom he charged with living in
celibacy, with want of children, or estate, proving themselves to be
husbands, parents, and in affluent circumstances. One of the knights who
was charged with stabbing himself, laid his bosom bare, to show that
there was not the least mark of violence upon his body. The following
incidents were remarkable in his censorship. He ordered a car, plated
with silver, and of very sumptuous workmanship, which was exposed for
sale in the Sigillaria [497], to be purchased, and broken in pieces
before his eyes. He published twenty proclamations in one day, in one of
which he advised the people, “Since the vintage was very plentiful, to
have their casks well secured at the bung with pitch:” and in another, he
told them, “that nothing would sooner cure the bite of a viper, than the
sap of the yew-tree.”

XVII. He undertook only one expedition, and that was of short duration.
The triumphal ornaments decreed him by the senate, he considered as
beneath the imperial dignity, and was therefore resolved to have the
honour of a real triumph. For this purpose, he selected Britain, which
had never been attempted by any one since Julius Caesar [498], and was
then chafing (309) with rage, because the Romans would not give up some
deserters. Accordingly, he set sail from Ostia, but was twice very near
being wrecked by the boisterous wind called Circius [499], upon the coast
of Liguria, and near the islands called Stoechades [500]. Having marched
by land from Marseilles to Gessoriacum [501], he thence passed over to
Britain, and part of the island submitting to him, within a few days
after his arrival, without battle or bloodshed, he returned to Rome in
less than six months from the time of his departure, and triumphed in the
most solemn manner [502]; to witness which, he not only (310) gave leave
to governors of provinces to come to Rome, but even to some of the
exiles. Among the spoils taken from the enemy, he fixed upon the
pediment of his house in the Palatium, a naval crown, in token of his
having passed, and, as it were, conquered the Ocean, and had it suspended
near the civic crown which was there before. Messalina, his wife,
followed his chariot in a covered litter [503]. Those who had attained
the honour of triumphal ornaments in the same war, rode behind; the rest
followed on foot, wearing the robe with the broad stripes. Crassus Frugi
was mounted upon a horse richly caparisoned, in a robe embroidered with
palm leaves, because this was the second time of his obtaining that

XVIII. He paid particular attention to the care of the city, and to have
it well supplied with provisions. A dreadful fire happening in the
Aemiliana [504], which lasted some time, he passed two nights in the
Diribitorium [505], and the soldiers and gladiators not being in
sufficient numbers to extinguish it, he caused the magistrates to summon
the people out of all the streets in the city, to their assistance.
Placing bags of money before him, he encouraged them to do their utmost,
declaring, that he would reward every one on the spot, according to their

XIX. During a scarcity of provisions, occasioned by bad crops for
several successive years, he was stopped in the middle of the Forum by
the mob, who so abused him, at the same time pelting him with fragments
of bread, that he had some (311) difficulty in escaping into the palace
by a back door. He therefore used all possible means to bring provisions
to the city, even in the winter. He proposed to the merchants a sure
profit, by indemnifying them against any loss that might befall them by
storms at sea; and granted great privileges to those who built ships for
that traffic. To a citizen of Rome he gave an exemption from the penalty
of the Papia-Poppaean law [506]; to one who had only the privilege of
Latium, the freedom of the city; and to women the rights which by law
belonged to those who had four children: which enactments are in force to
this day.

XX. He completed some important public works, which, though not
numerous, were very useful. The principal were an aqueduct, which had
been begun by Caius; an emissary for the discharge of the waters of the
Fucine lake [507], and the harbour of Ostia; although he knew that
Augustus had refused to comply with the repeated application of the
Marsians for one of these; and that the other had been several times
intended by Julius Caesar, but as often abandoned on account of the
difficulty of its execution. He brought to the city the cool and
plentiful springs of the Claudian water, one of which is called
Caeruleus, and the other Curtius and Albudinus, as likewise the river of
the New Anio, in a stone canal; and distributed them into many
magnificent reservoirs. The canal from the Fucine lake was undertaken as
much for the sake of profit, as for the honour of the enterprise; for
there were parties who offered to drain it at their own expense, on
condition of their having a grant of the land laid dry. With great
difficulty he completed a canal three miles in length, partly by cutting
through, and partly by tunnelling, a mountain; thirty thousand men being
constantly employed in the work for eleven years [508]. He formed the
harbour at Ostia, by carrying out circular piers on the right and on the
left, with (312) a mole protecting, in deep water, the entrance of the
port [509]. To secure the foundation of this mole, he sunk the vessel in
which the great obelisk [510] had been brought from Egypt [511]; and
built upon piles a very lofty tower, in imitation of the Pharos at
Alexandria, on which lights were burnt to direct mariners in the night.

XXI. He often distributed largesses of corn and money among the people,
and entertained them with a great variety of public magnificent
spectacles, not only such as were usual, and in the accustomed places,
but some of new invention, and others revived from ancient models, and
exhibited in places where nothing of the kind had been ever before
attempted. In the games which he presented at the dedication of Pompey’s
theatre [512], which had been burnt down, and was rebuilt by him, he
presided upon a tribunal erected for him in the orchestra; having first
paid his devotions, in the temple above, and then coming down through the
centre of the circle, while all the people kept their seats in profound
silence [513]. He likewise (313) exhibited the secular games [514],
giving out that Augustus had anticipated the regular period; though he
himself says in his history, “That they had been omitted before the age
of Augustus, who had calculated the years with great exactness, and again
brought them to their regular period.” [515] The crier was therefore
ridiculed, when he invited people in the usual form, “to games which no
person had ever before seen, nor ever would again;” when many were still
living who had already seen them; and some of the performers who had
formerly acted in them, were now again brought upon the stage. He
likewise frequently celebrated the Circensian games in the Vatican [516],
sometimes exhibiting a hunt of wild beasts, after every five courses. He
embellished the Circus Maximus with marble barriers, and gilded goals,
which before were of common stone [517] and wood, and assigned proper
places for the senators, who were used to sit promiscuously with the
other spectators. Besides the chariot-races, he exhibited there the
Trojan game, and wild beasts from Africa, which were encountered by a
troop of pretorian knights, with their tribunes, and even the prefect at
the head of them; besides Thessalian horse, who drive fierce bulls round
the circus, leap upon their backs when they have exhausted their fury,
and drag them by the horns to the ground. He gave exhibitions of
gladiators in several places, and of various kinds; one yearly on the
anniversary of his accession in the pretorian camp [518], but without any
hunting, or the usual apparatus; another in the Septa as usual; and in
the same place, another out of the common way, and of a few days’
continuance only, which he called Sportula; because when he was going to
present it, he informed the people by proclamation, “that he invited them
to a late supper, got up in haste, and without ceremony.” Nor did he
lend himself to any kind of public diversion with more freedom and
hilarity; insomuch that he would hold out his left hand, and (314) joined
by the common people, count upon his fingers aloud the gold pieces
presented to those who came off conquerors. He would earnestly invite
the company to be merry; sometimes calling them his “masters,” with a
mixture of insipid, far-fetched jests. Thus, when the people called for
Palumbus [519], he said, “He would give them one when he could catch it.”
The following was well-intended, and well-timed; having, amidst great
applause, spared a gladiator, on the intercession of his four sons, he
sent a billet immediately round the theatre, to remind the people, “how
much it behoved them to get children, since they had before them an
example how useful they had been in procuring favour and security for a
gladiator.” He likewise represented in the Campus Martius, the assault
and sacking of a town, and the surrender of the British kings [520],
presiding in his general’s cloak. Immediately before he drew off the
waters from the Fucine lake, he exhibited upon it a naval fight. But the
combatants on board the fleets crying out, “Health attend you, noble
emperor! We, who are about to peril our lives, salute you;” and he
replying, “Health attend you too,” they all refused to fight, as if by
that response he had meant to excuse them. Upon this, he hesitated for a
time, whether he should not destroy them all with fire and sword. At
last, leaping from his seat, and running along the shore of the lake with
tottering steps, the result of his foul excesses, he, partly by fair
words, and partly by threats, persuaded them to engage. This spectacle
represented an engagement between the fleets of Sicily and Rhodes;
consisting each of twelve ships of war, of three banks of oars. The
signal for the encounter was given by a silver Triton, raised by
machinery from the middle of the lake.

XXII. With regard to religious ceremonies, the administration of affairs
both civil and military, and the condition of all orders of the people at
home and abroad, some practices he corrected, others which had been laid
aside he revived; and some regulations he introduced which were entirely
new. In appointing new priests for the several colleges, he made no
appointments without being sworn. When an earthquake (315) happened in
the city, he never failed to summon the people together by the praetor,
and appoint holidays for sacred rites. And upon the sight of any ominous
bird in the City or Capitol, he issued an order for a supplication, the
words of which, by virtue of his office of high priest, after an
exhortation from the rostra, he recited in the presence of the people,
who repeated them after him; all workmen and slaves being first ordered
to withdraw.

XXIII. The courts of judicature, whose sittings had been formerly
divided between the summer and winter months, he ordered, for the
dispatch of business, to sit the whole year round. The jurisdiction in
matters of trust, which used to be granted annually by special commission
to certain magistrates, and in the city only, he made permanent, and
extended to the provincial judges likewise. He altered a clause added by
Tiberius to the Papia-Poppaean law [521], which inferred that men of
sixty years of age were incapable of begetting children. He ordered
that, out of the ordinary course of proceeding, orphans might have
guardians appointed them by the consuls; and that those who were banished
from any province by the chief magistrate, should be debarred from coming
into the City, or any part of Italy. He inflicted on certain persons a
new sort of banishment, by forbidding them to depart further than three
miles from Rome. When any affair of importance came before the senate,
he used to sit between the two consuls upon the seats of the tribunes.
He reserved to himself the power of granting license to travel out of
Italy, which before had belonged to the senate.

XXIV. He likewise granted the consular ornaments to his Ducenarian
procurators. From those who declined the senatorian dignity, he took
away the equestrian. Although he had in the beginning of his reign
declared, that he would admit no man into the senate who was not the
great-grandson of a Roman citizen, yet he gave the “broad hem” to the son
of a freedman, on condition that he should be adopted by a Roman knight.
Being afraid, however, of incurring censure by such an act, he informed
the public, that his ancestor Appius Caecus, the censor, had elected the
sons of freedmen into (316) the senate; for he was ignorant, it seems,
that in the times of Appius, and a long while afterwards, persons
manumitted were not called freedmen, but only their sons who were free-
born. Instead of the expense which the college of quaestors was obliged
to incur in paving the high-ways, he ordered them to give the people an
exhibition of gladiators; and relieving them of the provinces of Ostia
and [Cisalpine] Gaul, he reinstated them in the charge of the treasury,
which, since it was taken from them, had been managed by the praetors, or
those who had formerly filled that office. He gave the triumphal
ornaments to Silanus, who was betrothed to his daughter, though he was
under age; and in other cases, he bestowed them on so many, and with so
little reserve, that there is extant a letter unanimously addressed to
him by all the legions, begging him “to grant his consular lieutenants
the triumphal ornaments at the time of their appointment to commands, in
order to prevent their seeking occasion to engage in unnecessary wars.”
He decreed to Aulus Plautius the honour of an ovation [522], going to
meet him at his entering the city, and walking with him in the procession
to the Capitol, and back, in which he took the left side, giving him the
post of honour. He allowed Gabinius Secundus, upon his conquest of the
Chauci, a German tribe, to assume the cognomen of Chaucius. [523]

XXV. His military organization of the equestrian order was this. After
having the command of a cohort, they were promoted to a wing of auxiliary
horse, and subsequently received the commission of tribune of a legion.
He raised a body of militia, who were called Supernumeraries, who, though
they were a sort of soldiers, and kept in reserve, yet received pay. He
procured an act of the senate to prohibit all soldiers from attending
senators at their houses, in the way of respect and compliment. He
confiscated the estates of all freedmen who presumed to take upon
themselves the equestrian rank. Such of them as were ungrateful to their
patrons, and were complained of by them, he reduced to their former
condition of (317) slavery; and declared to their advocates, that he
would always give judgment against the freedmen, in any suit at law which
the masters might happen to have with them. Some persons having exposed
their sick slaves, in a languishing condition, on the island of
Aesculapius [524], because of the tediousness of their cure; he declared
all who were so exposed perfectly free, never more to return, if they
should recover, to their former servitude; and that if any one chose to
kill at once, rather than expose, a slave, he should be liable for
murder. He published a proclamation, forbidding all travellers to pass
through the towns of Italy any otherwise than on foot, or in a litter or
chair [525]. He quartered a cohort of soldiers at Puteoli, and another
at Ostia, to be in readiness against any accidents from fire. He
prohibited foreigners from adopting Roman names, especially those which
belonged to families [526]. Those who falsely pretended to the freedom
of Rome, he beheaded on the Esquiline. He gave up to the senate the
provinces of Achaia and Macedonia, which Tiberius had transferred to his
own administration. He deprived the Lycians of their liberties, as a
punishment for their fatal dissensions; but restored to the Rhodians
their freedom, upon their repenting of their former misdemeanors. He
exonerated for ever the people of Ilium from the payment of taxes, as
being the founders of the Roman race; reciting upon the occasion a letter
in Greek, (318) from the senate and people of Rome to king Seleucus
[527], on which they promised him their friendship and alliance, provided
that he would grant their kinsmen the Iliensians immunity from all

He banished from Rome all the Jews, who were continually making
disturbances at the instigation of one Chrestus [528]. He allowed the
ambassadors of the Germans to sit at the public spectacles in the seats
assigned to the senators, being induced to grant them favours by their
frank and honourable conduct. For, having been seated in the rows of
benches which were common to the people, on observing the Parthian and
Armenian ambassadors sitting among the senators, they took upon
themselves to cross over into the same seats, as being, they said, no way
inferior to the others, in point either, of merit or rank. The religious
rites of the Druids, solemnized with such horrid cruelties, which had
only been forbidden the citizens of Rome during the reign of Augustus, he
utterly abolished among the Gauls [529]. On the other hand, he attempted
(319) to transfer the Eleusinian mysteries from Attica to Rome [530]. He
likewise ordered the temple of Venus Erycina in Sicily, which was old and
in a ruinous condition, to be repaired at the expense of the Roman
people. He concluded treaties with foreign princes in the forum, with
the sacrifice of a sow, and the form of words used by the heralds in
former times. But in these and other things, and indeed the greater part
of his administration, he was directed not so much by his own judgment,
as by the influence of his wives and freedmen; for the most part acting
in conformity to what their interests or fancies dictated.

XXVI. He was twice married at a very early age, first to Aemilia Lepida,
the grand-daughter of Augustus, and afterwards to Livia Medullina, who
had the cognomen of Camilla, and was descended from the old dictator
Camillus. The former he divorced while still a virgin, because her
parents had incurred the displeasure of Augustus; and he lost the latter
by sickness on the day fixed for their nuptials. He next married Plautia
Urgulanilla, whose father had enjoyed the honour of a triumph; and soon
afterwards, Aelia Paetina, the daughter of a man of consular rank. But
he divorced them both; Paetina, upon some trifling causes of disgust; and
Urgulanilla, for scandalous lewdness, and the suspicion of murder. After
them he took in marriage Valeria Messalina, the daughter of Barbatus
Messala, his cousin. But finding that, besides her other shameful
debaucheries, she had even gone so far as to marry in his own absence
Caius Silius, the settlement of her dower being formally signed, in the
presence of the augurs, he put her to death. When summoning his
pretorians to his presence, he made to them this declaration: “As I have
been so unhappy in my unions, I am resolved to continue in future
unmarried; and if I should not, I give you leave to stab me.” He was,
however, unable to persist in this resolution; for he began immediately
to think of another wife; and even of taking back Paetina, whom he had
formerly divorced: he thought also of Lollia Paulina, who had been
married to Caius Caesar. But being ensnared by the arts of Agrippina,
(320) the daughter of his brother Germanicus, who took advantage of the
kisses and endearments which their near relationship admitted, to inflame
his desires, he got some one to propose at the next meeting of the
senate, that they should oblige the emperor to marry Agrippina, as a
measure highly conducive to the public interest; and that in future
liberty should be given for such marriages, which until that time had
been considered incestuous. In less than twenty-four hours after this,
he married her [531]. No person was found, however, to follow the
example, excepting one freedman, and a centurion of the first rank, at
the solemnization of whose nuptials both he and Agrippina attended.

XXVII. He had children by three of his wives: by Urgulanilla, Drusus and
Claudia; by Paetina, Antonia; and by Messalina, Octavia, and also a son,
whom at first he called Germanicus, but afterwards Britannicus. He lost
Drusus at Pompeii, when he was very young; he being choked with a pear,
which in his play he tossed into the air, and caught in his mouth. Only
a few days before, he had betrothed him to one of Sejanus’s daughters
[532]; and I am therefore surprised that some authors should say he lost
his life by the treachery of Sejanus. Claudia, who was, in truth, the
daughter of Boter his freedman, though she was born five months before
his divorce, he ordered to be thrown naked at her mother’s door. He
married Antonia to Cneius Pompey the Great [533], and afterwards to
Faustus Sylla [534], both youths of very noble parentage; Octavia to his
step-son Nero [535], after she had been contracted to Silanus.
Britannicus was born upon the twentieth day of his reign, and in his
second consulship. He often earnestly commended him to the soldiers,
holding him in his arms before their ranks; and would likewise show him
to the people in the theatre, setting him upon his lap, or holding him
out whilst he was still very young; and was sure to receive their
acclamations, and good wishes on his behalf. Of his (321) sons-in-law,
he adopted Nero. He not only dismissed from his favour both Pompey and
Silanus, but put them to death.

XXVIII. Amongst his freedmen, the greatest favourite was the eunuch
Posides, whom, in his British triumph, he presented with the pointless
spear, classing him among the military men. Next to him, if not equal,
in favour was Felix [536], whom he not only preferred to commands both of
cohorts and troops, but to the government of the province of Judaea; and
he became, in consequence of his elevation, the husband of three queens
[537]. Another favourite was Harpocras, to whom he granted the privilege
of being carried in a litter within the city, and of holding public
spectacles for the entertainment of the people. In this class was
likewise Polybius, who assisted him in his studies, and had often the
honour of walking between the two consuls. But above all others,
Narcissus, his secretary, and Pallas [538], the comptroller of his
accounts, were in high favour with him. He not only allowed them to
receive, by decree of the senate, immense presents, but also to be
decorated with the quaestorian and praetorian ensigns of honour. So much
did he indulge them in amassing wealth, and plundering the public, that,
upon his complaining, once, of the lowness of his exchequer, some one
said, with great reason, that “It would be full enough, if those two
freedmen of his would but take him into partnership with them.”

XXIX. Being entirely governed by these freedmen, and, as I have already
said, by his wives, he was a tool to others, rather than a prince. He
distributed offices, or the command of armies, pardoned or punished,
according as it suited their interests, (322) their passions, or their
caprice; and for the most part, without knowing, or being sensible of
what he did. Not to enter into minute details relative to the revocation
of grants, the reversal of judicial decisions, obtaining his signature to
fictitious appointments, or the bare-faced alteration of them after
signing; he put to death Appius Silanus, the father of his son-in-law,
and the two Julias, the daughters of Drusus and Germanicus, without any
positive proof of the crimes with which they were charged, or so much as
permitting them to make any defence. He also cut off Cneius Pompey, the
husband of his eldest daughter; and Lucius Silanus, who was betrothed to
the younger Pompey, was stabbed in the act of unnatural lewdness with a
favourite paramour. Silanus was obliged to quit the office of praetor
upon the fourth of the calends of January [29th Dec.], and to kill
himself on new year’s day [539] following, the very same on which
Claudius and Agrippina were married. He condemned to death five and
thirty senators, and above three hundred Roman knights, with so little
attention to what he did, that when a centurion brought him word of the
execution of a man of consular rank, who was one of the number, and told
him that he had executed his order, he declared, “he had ordered no such
thing, but that he approved of it;” because his freedmen, it seems, had
said, that the soldiers did nothing more than their duty, in dispatching
the emperor’s enemies without waiting for a warrant. But it is beyond
all belief, that he himself, at the marriage of Messalina with the
adulterous Silius, should actually sign the writings relative to her
dowry; induced, as it is pretended, by the design of diverting from
himself and transferring upon another the danger which some omens seemed
to threaten him.

XXX. Either standing or sitting, but especially when he lay asleep, he
had a majestic and graceful appearance; for he was tall, but not slender.
His grey looks became him well, and he had a full neck. But his knees
were feeble, and failed him in walking, so that his gait was ungainly,
both when he assumed state, and when he was taking diversion. He was
outrageous in his laughter, and still more so in his wrath, for then he
foamed at the mouth, and discharged from his nostrils. He also stammered
in his speech, and had a tremulous motion (323) of the head at all times,
but particularly when he was engaged in any business, however trifling.

XXXI. Though his health was very infirm during the former part of his
life, yet, after he became emperor, he enjoyed a good state of health,
except only that he was subject to a pain of the stomach. In a fit of
this complaint, he said he had thoughts of killing himself.

XXXII. He gave entertainments as frequent as they were splendid, and
generally when there was such ample room, that very often six hundred
guests sat down together. At a feast he gave on the banks of the canal
for draining the Fucine Lake, he narrowly escaped being drowned, the
water at its discharge rushing out with such violence, that it overflowed
the conduit. At supper he had always his own children, with those of
several of the nobility, who, according to an ancient custom, sat at the
feet of the couches. One of his guests having been suspected of
purloining a golden cup, he invited him again the next day, but served
him with a porcelain jug. It is said, too, that he intended to publish
an edict, “allowing to all people the liberty of giving vent at table to
any distension occasioned by flatulence,” upon hearing of a person whose
modesty, when under restraint, had nearly cost him his life.

XXXIII. He was always ready to eat and drink at any time or in any
place. One day, as he was hearing causes in the Forum of Augustus, he
smelt the dinner which was preparing for the Salii [540], in the temple
of Mars adjoining, whereupon he quitted (324) the tribunal, and went to
partake of the feast with the priests.

He scarcely ever left the table until he had thoroughly crammed himself
and drank to intoxication; and then he would immediately fall asleep,
lying upon his back with his mouth open. While in this condition, a
feather was put down his throat, to make him throw up the contents of his
stomach. Upon composing himself to rest, his sleep was short, and he
usually awoke before midnight; but he would sometimes sleep in the
daytime, and that, even, when he was upon the tribunal; so that the
advocates often found it difficult to wake him, though they raised their
voices for that purpose. He set no bounds to his libidinous intercourse
with women, but never betrayed any unnatural desires for the other sex.
He was fond of gaming, and published a book upon the subject. He even
used to play as he rode in his chariot, having the tables so fitted, that
the game was not disturbed by the motion of the carriage.

XXXIV. His cruel and sanguinary disposition was exhibited upon great as
well as trifling occasions. When any person was to be put to the
torture, or criminal punished for parricide, he was impatient for the
execution, and would have it performed in his own presence. When he was
at Tibur, being desirous of seeing an example of the old way of putting
malefactors to death, some were immediately bound to a stake for the
purpose; but there being no executioner to be had at the place, he sent
for one from Rome, and waited for his coming until night. In any
exhibition of gladiators, presented either by himself or others, if any
of the combatants chanced to fall, he ordered them to be butchered,
especially the Retiarii, that he might see their faces in the agonies of
death. Two gladiators happening to kill each other, he immediately
ordered some little knives to be made of their swords for his own use.
He took great pleasure in seeing men engage with wild beasts, and the
combatants who appeared on the stage at noon. He would therefore come to
the theatre by break of day, and at noon, dismissing the people to
dinner, continued sitting himself; and besides those who were devoted to
that sanguinary fate, he would match others with the beasts, upon slight
or sudden occasions; as, for instance, the carpenters and their (326)
assistants, and people of that sort, if a machine, or any piece of work
in which they had been employed about the theatre did not answer the
purpose for which it had been intended. To this desperate kind of
encounter he forced one of his nomenclators, even encumbered as he was by
wearing the toga.

XXXV. But the characteristics most predominant in him were fear and
distrust. In the beginning of his reign, though he much affected a
modest and humble appearance, as has been already observed, yet he durst
not venture himself at an entertainment without being attended by a guard
of spearmen, and made soldiers wait upon him at table instead of
servants. He never visited a sick person, until the chamber had been
first searched, and the bed and bedding thoroughly examined. At other
times, all persons who came to pay their court to him were strictly
searched by officers appointed for that purpose; nor was it until after a
long time, and with much difficulty, that he was prevailed upon to excuse
women, boys, and girls from such rude handling, or suffer their
attendants or writing-masters to retain their cases for pens and styles.
When Camillus formed his plot against him, not doubting but his timidity
might be worked upon without a war, he wrote to him a scurrilous,
petulant, and threatening letter, desiring him to resign the government,
and betake himself to a life of privacy. Upon receiving this
requisition, he had some thoughts of complying with it, and summoned
together the principal men of the city, to consult with them on the

XXXVI. Having heard some loose reports of conspiracies formed against
him, he was so much alarmed, that he thought of immediately abdicating
the government. And when, as I have before related, a man armed with a
dagger was discovered near him while he was sacrificing, he instantly
ordered the heralds to convoke the senate, and with tears and dismal
exclamations, lamented that such was his condition, that he was safe no
where; and for a long time afterwards he abstained from appearing in
public. He smothered his ardent love for Messalina, not so much on
account of her infamous conduct, as from apprehension of danger;
believing that she aspired to share with Silius, her partner in adultery,
the imperial dignity. (326) Upon this occasion he ran in a great fright,
and a very shameful manner, to the camp, asking all the way he went, “if
the empire were indeed safely his?”

XXXVII. No suspicion was too trifling, no person on whom it rested too
contemptible, to throw him into a panic, and induce him to take
precautions for his safety, and meditate revenge. A man engaged in a
litigation before his tribunal, having saluted him, drew him aside, and
told him he had dreamt that he saw him murdered; and shortly afterwards,
when his adversary came to deliver his plea to the emperor, the
plaintiff, pretending to have discovered the murderer, pointed to him as
the man he had seen in his dream; whereupon, as if he had been taken in
the act, he was hurried away to execution. We are informed, that Appius
Silanus was got rid of in the same manner, by a contrivance betwixt
Messalina and Narcissus, in which they had their several parts assigned
them. Narcissus therefore burst into his lord’s chamber before daylight,
apparently in great fright, and told him that he had dreamt that Appius
Silanus had murdered him. The empress, upon this, affecting great
surprise, declared she had the like dream for several nights
successively. Presently afterwards, word was brought, as it had been
agreed on, that Appius was come, he having, indeed, received orders the
preceding day to be there at that time; and, as if the truth of the dream
was sufficiently confirmed by his appearance at that juncture, he was
immediately ordered to be prosecuted and put to death. The day
following, Claudius related the whole affair to the senate, and
acknowledged his great obligation to his freedmen for watching over him
even in his sleep.

XXXVIII. Sensible of his being subject to passion and resentment, he
excused himself in both instances by a proclamation, assuring the public
that “the former should be short and harmless, and the latter never
without good cause.” After severely reprimanding the people of Ostia for
not sending some boats to meet him upon his entering the mouth of the
Tiber, in terms which might expose them to the public resentment, he
wrote to Rome that he had been treated as a private person; yet
immediately afterwards he pardoned them, and that in a way which had the
appearance of making them (327) satisfaction, or begging pardon for some
injury he had done them. Some people who addressed him unseasonably in
public, he pushed away with his own hand. He likewise banished a person
who had been secretary to a quaestor, and even a senator who had filled
the office of praetor, without a hearing, and although they were
innocent; the former only because he had treated him with rudeness while
he was in a private station, and the other, because in his aedileship he
had fined some tenants of his, for selling cooked victuals contrary to
law, and ordered his steward, who interfered, to be whipped. On this
account, likewise, he took from the aediles the jurisdiction they had
over cooks’-shops. He did not scruple to speak of his own absurdities,
and declared in some short speeches which he published, that he had only
feigned imbecility in the reign of Caius, because otherwise it would have
been impossible for him to have escaped and arrived at the station he had
then attained. He could not, however, gain credit for this assertion;
for a short time afterwards, a book was published under the title of
Moron anastasis, “The Resurrection of Fools,” the design of which was to
show “that nobody ever counterfeited folly.”

XXXIX. Amongst other things, people admired in him his indifference and
unconcern; or, to express it in Greek, his meteoria and ablepsia.
Placing himself at table a little after Messalina’s death, he enquired,
“Why the empress did not come?” Many of those whom he had condemned to
death, he ordered the day after to be invited to his table, and to game
with him, and sent to reprimand them as sluggish fellows for not making
greater haste. When he was meditating his incestuous marriage with
Agrippina, he was perpetually calling her, “My daughter, my nursling,
born and brought up upon my lap.” And when he was going to adopt Nero,
as if there was little cause for censure in his adopting a son-in-law,
when he had a son of his own arrived at years of maturity; he continually
gave out in public, “that no one had ever been admitted by adoption into
the Claudian family.”

XL. He frequently appeared so careless in what he said, and so
inattentive to circumstances, that it was believed he never reflected who
he himself was, or amongst whom, or at (328) what time, or in what place,
he spoke. In a debate in the senate relative to the butchers and
vintners, he cried out, “I ask you, who can live without a bit of meat?”
And mentioned the great plenty of old taverns, from which he himself used
formerly to have his wine. Among other reasons for his supporting a
certain person who was candidate for the quaestorship, he gave this: “His
father,” said he, “once gave me, very seasonably, a draught of cold water
when I was sick.” Upon his bringing a woman as a witness in some cause
before the senate, he said, “This woman was my mother’s freedwoman and
dresser, but she always considered me as her master; and this I say,
because there are some still in my family that do not look upon me as
such.” The people of Ostia addressing him in open court with a petition,
he flew into a rage at them, and said, “There is no reason why I should
oblige you: if any one else is free to act as he pleases, surely I am.”
The following expressions he had in his mouth every day, and at all hours
and seasons: “What! do you take me for a Theogonius?” [541] And in Greek
lalei kai mae thingane, “Speak, but do not touch me;” besides many other
familiar sentences, below the dignity of a private person, much more of
an emperor, who was not deficient either in eloquence or learning, as
having applied himself very closely to the liberal sciences.

XLI. By the encouragement of Titus Livius [542], and with the assistance
of Sulpicius Flavus, he attempted at an early age the composition of a
history; and having called together a numerous auditory, to hear and give
their judgment upon it, he read it over with much difficulty, and
frequently interrupting himself. For after he had begun, a great laugh
was raised amongst the company, by the breaking of several benches from
the weight of a very fat man; and even when order was restored, he could
not forbear bursting out into violent fits of laughter, at the
remembrance of the accident. After he became emperor, likewise, he wrote
several things (329) which he was careful to have recited to his friends
by a reader. He commenced his history from the death of the dictator
Caesar; but afterwards he took a later period, and began at the
conclusion of the civil wars; because he found he could not speak with
freedom, and a due regard to truth, concerning the former period, having
been often taken to task both by his mother and grandmother. Of the
earlier history he left only two books, but of the latter, one and forty.
He compiled likewise the “History of his Own Life,” in eight books, full
of absurdities, but in no bad style; also, “A Defence of Cicero against
the Books of Asinius Gallus,” [543] which exhibited a considerable degree
of learning. He besides invented three new letters, and added them to
the former alphabet [544], as highly necessary. He published a book to
recommend them while he was yet only a private person; but on his
elevation to imperial power he had little difficulty in introducing them
into common use; and these letters are still extant in a variety of
books, registers, and inscriptions upon buildings.

XLII. He applied himself with no less attention to the study of Grecian
literature, asserting upon all occasions his love of that language, and
its surpassing excellency. A stranger once holding a discourse both in
Greek and Latin, he addressed him thus; “Since you are skilled in both
our tongues.” And recommending Achaia to the favour of the senate, he
said, “I have a particular attachment to that province, on account of our
common studies.” In the senate he often made long replies to ambassadors
in that language. On the tribunal he frequently quoted the verses of
Homer. When at any time he had taken vengeance on an enemy or a
conspirator, he scarcely ever gave to the tribune on guard, who, (330)
according to custom, came for the word, any other than this.

Andr’ epamynastai, ote tis proteros chalepaenae.
‘Tis time to strike when wrong demands the blow.

To conclude, he wrote some histories likewise in Greek, namely, twenty
books on Tuscan affairs, and eight on the Carthaginian; in consequence of
which, another museum was founded at Alexandria, in addition to the old
one, and called after his name; and it was ordered, that, upon certain
days in every year, his Tuscan history should be read over in one of
these, and his Carthaginian in the other, as in a school; each history
being read through by persons who took it in turn.

XLIII. Towards the close of his life, he gave some manifest indications
that he repented of his marriage with Agrippina, and his adoption of
Nero. For some of his freedmen noticing with approbation his having
condemned, the day before, a woman accused of adultery, he remarked, “It
has been my misfortune to have wives who have been unfaithful to my bed;
but they did not escape punishment.” Often, when he happened to meet
Britannicus, he would embrace him tenderly, and express a desire “that he
might grow apace, and receive from him an account of all his actions:
“using the Greek phrase, o trosas kai iasetai, “He who has wounded will
also heal.” And intending to give him the manly habit, while he was yet
under age and a tender youth, because his stature would allow of it, he
added, “I do so, that the Roman people may at last have a real Caesar.”

XLIV. Soon afterwards he made his will, and had it signed by all the
magistrates as witnesses. But he was prevented from proceeding further
by Agrippina, accused by her own guilty conscience, as well as by
informers, of a variety of crimes. It is agreed that he was taken off by
poison; but where, and by whom administered, remains in uncertainty.
Some authors say that it was given him as he was feasting with the
priests in the Capitol, by the eunuch Halotus, his taster. Others say
(331) by Agrippina, at his own table, in mushrooms, a dish of which he
was very fond [546]. The accounts of what followed likewise differ.
Some relate that he instantly became speechless, was racked with pain
through the night, and died about day-break; others, that at first he
fell into a sound sleep, and afterwards, his food rising, he threw up the
whole; but had another dose given him; whether in water-gruel, under
pretence of refreshment after his exhaustion, or in a clyster, as if
designed to relieve his bowels, is likewise uncertain.

XLV. His death was kept secret until everything was settled relative to
his successor. Accordingly, vows were made for his recovery, and
comedians were called to amuse him, as it was pretended, by his own
desire. He died upon the third of the ides of October [13th October], in
the consulship of Asinius Marcellus and Acilius Aviola, in the sixty-
fourth year of his age, and the fourteenth of his reign [547]. His
funeral was celebrated with the customary imperial pomp, and he was
ranked amongst the gods. This honour was taken from him by Nero, but
restored by Vespasian.

XLVI. The chief presages of his death were, the appearance of a comet,
his father Drusus’s monument being struck by lightning, and the death of
most of the magistrates of all ranks that year. It appears from several
circumstances, that he was sensible of his approaching dissolution, and
made no secret of it. For when he nominated the consuls, he appointed no
one to fill the office beyond the month in which he died. At the last
assembly of the senate in which he made his appearance, he earnestly
exhorted his two sons to unity with each other, and with earnest
entreaties commended to the fathers the care of their tender years. And
in the last cause he heard from the tribunal, he repeatedly declared in
open court, “That he was now arrived at the last stage of mortal
existence;” whilst all who heard it shrunk at hearing these ominous

* * * * * *

The violent death of Caligula afforded the Romans a fresh opportunity to
have asserted the liberty of their country; but the conspirators had
concerted no plan, by which they should proceed upon the assassination of
that tyrant; and the indecision of the senate, in a debate of two days,
on so sudden an emergency, gave time to the caprice of the soldiers to
interpose in the settlement of the government. By an accident the most
fortuitous, a man devoid of all pretensions to personal merit, so weak in
understanding as to be the common sport of the emperor’s household, and
an object of contempt even to his own kindred; this man, in the hour of
military insolence, was nominated by the soldiers as successor to the
Roman throne. Not yet in possession of the public treasury, which
perhaps was exhausted, he could not immediately reward the services of
his electors with a pecuniary gratification; but he promised them a
largess of fifteen thousand sesterces a man, upwards of a hundred and
forty pounds sterling; and as we meet with no account of any subsequent
discontents in the army, we may justly conclude that the promise was soon
after fulfilled. This transaction laid the foundation of that military
despotism, which, through many succeeding ages, convulsed the Roman

Besides the interposition of the soldiers upon this occasion, it appears
that the populace of Rome were extremely clamorous for the government of
a single person, and for that of Claudius in particular. This partiality
for a monarchical government proceeded from two causes. The commonalty,
from their obscure situation, were always the least exposed to
oppression, under a tyrannical prince. They had likewise ever been
remarkably fond of stage-plays and public shows, with which, as well as
with scrambles, and donations of bread and other victuals, the preceding
emperor had frequently gratified them. They had therefore less to fear,
and more to hope, from the government of a single person than any other
class of Roman citizens. With regard to the partiality for Claudius, it
may be accounted for partly from the low habits of life to which he had
been addicted, in consequence of which many of them were familiarly
acquainted with him; and this circumstance likewise increased their hope
of deriving some advantage from his accession. Exclusive of all these
considerations, it is highly probable that the populace were instigated
in favour of Claudius by the artifices of his freedmen, persons of mean
extraction, by whom he was afterwards entirely governed, and who, upon
such an occasion, would exert their utmost efforts to procure his
appointment to the throne. From the debate in the senate having
continued during (333) two days, it was evident that there was still a
strong party for restoring the ancient form of government. That they
were in the end overawed by the clamour of the multitude, is not
surprising, when we consider that the senate was totally unprovided with
resources of every kind for asserting the independence of the nation by
arms; and the commonalty, who interrupted their deliberations, were the
only people by whose assistance they ever could effect the restitution of
public freedom. To this may be added, that the senate, by the total
reduction of their political importance, ever since the overthrow of the
republic, had lost both the influence and authority which they formerly
enjoyed. The extreme cruelty, likewise, which had been exercised during
the last two reigns, afforded a further motive for relinquishing all
attempts in favour of liberty, as they might be severely revenged upon
themselves by the subsequent emperor: and it was a degree of moderation
in Claudius, which palliates the injustice of his cause, that he began
his government with an act of amnesty respecting the public transactions
which ensued upon the death of Caligula.

Claudius, at the time of his accession, was fifty years of age; and
though he had hitherto lived apparently unambitious of public honours,
accompanied with great ostentation, yet he was now seized with a desire
to enjoy a triumph. As there existed no war, in which he might perform
some military achievement, his vanity could only be gratified by invading
a foreign country, where, contrary to the advice contained in the
testament of Augustus, he might attempt to extend still further the
limits of the empire. Either Britain, therefore, or some nation on the
continent, at a great distance from the capital, became the object of
such an enterprize; and the former was chosen, not only as more
convenient, from its vicinity to the maritime province of Gaul, but on
account of a remonstrance lately presented by the Britons to the court of
Rome, respecting the protection afforded to some persons of that nation,
who had fled thither to elude the laws of their country. Considering the
state of Britain at that time, divided as it was into a number of
principalities, amongst which there was no general confederacy for mutual
defence, and where the alarm excited by the invasion of Julius Caesar,
upwards of eighty years before, had long since been forgotten; a sudden
attempt upon the island could not fail to be attended with success.
Accordingly, an army was sent over, under the command of Aulus Plautius,
an able general, who defeated the natives in several engagements, and
penetrated a considerable way into the country. Preparations for the
emperor’s voyage now being made, Claudius set sail from Ostia, at the
mouth of (334) the Tiber; but meeting with a violent storm in the
Mediterranean, he landed at Marseilles, and proceeding thence to Boulogne
in Picardy, passed over into Britain. In what part he debarked, is
uncertain, but it seems to have been at some place on the south-east
coast of the island. He immediately received the submission of several
British states, the Cantii, Atrebates, Regni, and Trinobantes, who
inhabited those parts; and returning to Rome, after an absence of six
months, celebrated with great pomp the triumph, for which he had
undertaken the expedition.

In the interior parts of Britain, the natives, under the command of
Caractacus, maintained an obstinate resistance, and little progress was
made by the Roman arms, until Ostorius Scapula was sent over to prosecute
the war. He penetrated into the country of the Silures, a warlike tribe,
who inhabited the banks of the Severn; and having defeated Caractacus in
a great battle, made him prisoner, and sent him to Rome. The fame of the
British prince had by this time spread over the provinces of Gaul and
Italy; and upon his arrival in the Roman capital, the people flocked from
all quarters to behold him. The ceremonial of his entrance was conducted
with great solemnity. On a plain adjoining the Roman camp, the pretorian
troops were drawn up in martial array: the emperor and his court took
their station in front of the lines, and behind them was ranged the whole
body of the people. The procession commenced with the different trophies
which had been taken from the Britons during the progress of the war.
Next followed the brothers of the vanquished prince, with his wife and
daughter, in chains, expressing by their supplicating looks and gestures
the fears with which they were actuated. But not so Caractacus himself.
With a manly gait and an undaunted countenance, he marched up to the
tribunal, where the emperor was seated, and addressed him in the
following terms:

“If to my high birth and distinguished rank, I had added the virtues of
moderation, Rome had beheld me rather as a friend than a captive; and you
would not have rejected an alliance with a prince, descended from
illustrious ancestors, and governing many nations. The reverse of my
fortune to you is glorious, and to me humiliating. I had arms, and men,
and horses; I possessed extraordinary riches; and can it be any wonder
that I was unwilling to lose them? Because Rome aspires to universal
dominion, must men therefore implicitly resign themselves to subjection?
I opposed for a long time the progress of your arms, and had I acted
otherwise, would either you have had the glory of conquest, or I of a
brave resistance? I am now in your (335) power: if you are determined to
take revenge, my fate will soon be forgotten, and you will derive no
honour from the transaction. Preserve my life, and I shall remain to the
latest ages a monument of your clemency.”

Immediately upon this speech, Claudius granted him his liberty, as he did
likewise to the other royal captives. They all returned their thanks in
a manner the most grateful to the emperor; and as soon as their chains
were taken off, walking towards Agrippina, who sat upon a bench at a
little distance, they repeated to her the same fervent declarations of
gratitude and esteem.

History has preserved no account of Caractacus after this period; but it
is probable, that he returned in a short time to his own country, where
his former valour, and the magnanimity, which he had displayed at Rome,
would continue to render him illustrious through life, even amidst the
irretrievable ruin of his fortunes.

The most extraordinary character in the present reign was that of Valeria
Messalina, the daughter of Valerius Messala Barbatus. She was married to
Claudius, and had by him a son and a daughter. To cruelty in the
prosecution of her purposes, she added the most abandoned incontinence.
Not confining her licentiousness within the limits of the palace, where
she committed the most shameful excesses, she prostituted her person in
the common stews, and even in the public streets of the capital. As if
her conduct was already not sufficiently scandalous, she obliged C.
Silius, a man of consular rank, to divorce his wife, that she might
procure his company entirely to herself. Not contented with this
indulgence to her criminal passion, she next persuaded him to marry her;
and during an excursion which the emperor made to Ostia, the ceremony of
marriage was actually performed between them. The occasion was
celebrated with a magnificent supper, to which she invited a large
company; and lest the whole should be regarded as a frolic, not meant to
be consummated, the adulterous parties ascended the nuptial couch in the
presence of the astonished spectators. Great as was the facility of
Claudius’s temper in respect of her former behaviour, he could not
overlook so flagrant a violation both of public decency and the laws of
the country. Silius was condemned to death for the adultery which he had
perpetrated with reluctance; and Messalina was ordered into the emperor’s
presence, to answer for her conduct. Terror now operating upon her mind
in conjunction with remorse, she could not summon the resolution to
support such an interview, but retired into the gardens of Lucullus,
there to indulge at last the compunction which she felt for her crimes,
and to meditate the entreaties by which she should endeavour to soothe
the resentment (336) of her husband. In the extremity of her distress,
she attempted to lay violent hands upon herself, but her courage was not
equal to the emergency. Her mother, Lepida, who had not spoken with her
for some years before, was present upon the occasion, and urged her to
the act which alone could put a period to her infamy and wretchedness.
Again she made an effort, but again her resolution abandoned her; when a
tribune burst into the gardens, and plunging his sword into her body, she
instantly expired. Thus perished a woman, the scandal of whose lewdness
resounded throughout the empire, and of whom a great satirist, then
living, has said, perhaps without a hyperbole,

Et lassata viris, necdum satiata, recessit.–Juvenal, Sat. VI.

It has been already observed, that Claudius was entirely governed by his
freedmen; a class of retainers which enjoyed a great share of favour and
confidence with their patrons in those times. They had before been the
slaves of their masters, and had obtained their freedom as a reward for
their faithful and attentive services. Of the esteem in which they were
often held, we meet with an instance in Tiro, the freedman of Cicero, to
whom that illustrious Roman addresses several epistles, written in the
most familiar and affectionate strain of friendship. As it was common
for them to be taught the more useful parts of education in the families
of their masters, they were usually well qualified for the management of
domestic concerns, and might even be competent to the superior
departments of the state, especially in those times when negotiations and
treaties with foreign princes seldom or never occurred; and in arbitrary
governments, where public affairs were directed more by the will of the
sovereign or his ministers, than by refined suggestions of policy.

From the character generally given of Claudius before his elevation to
the throne, we should not readily imagine that he was endowed with any
taste for literary composition; yet he seems to have exclusively enjoyed
this distinction during his own reign, in which learning was at a low
ebb. Besides history, Suetonius informs us that he wrote a Defence of
Cicero against the Charges of Asinius Gallus. This appears to be the
only tribute of esteem or approbation paid to the character of Cicero,
from the time of Livy the historian, to the extinction of the race of the
Caesars. Asinius Gallus was the son of Asinius Pollio, the orator.
Marrying Vipsania after she had been divorced by Tiberius, he incurred
the displeasure of that emperor, and died of famine, either voluntarily,
or by order of the tyrant. He wrote a comparison between his father and
Cicero, in which, with more filial partiality than justice, he gave the
preference to the former.


I. Two celebrated families, the Calvini and Aenobarbi, sprung from the
race of the Domitii. The Aenobarbi derive both their extraction and
their cognomen from one Lucius Domitius, of whom we have this tradition:
–As he was returning out of the country to Rome, he was met by two young
men of a most august appearance, who desired him to announce to the
senate and people a victory, of which no certain intelligence had yet
reached the city. To prove that they were more than mortals, they
stroked his cheeks, and thus changed his hair, which was black, to a
bright colour, resembling that of brass; which mark of distinction
descended to his posterity, for they had generally red beards. This
family had the honour of seven consulships [548], one triumph [549], and
two censorships [550]; and being admitted into the patrician order, they
continued the use of the same cognomen, with no other praenomina [551]
than those of Cneius and Lucius. These, however, they assumed with
singular irregularity; three persons in succession sometimes adhering to
one of them, and then they were changed alternately. For the first,
second, and third of the Aenobarbi had the praenomen of Lucius, and again
the three following, successively, that of Cneius, while those who came
after were called, by turns, one, Lucius, and the other, Cneius. It
appears to me proper to give a short account of several of the family, to
show that Nero so far degenerated from the noble qualities of his
ancestors, that he retained only their vices; as if those alone had been
transmitted to him by his descent.

II. To begin, therefore, at a remote period, his great-grandfather’s
grandfather, Cneius Domitius, when he was tribune of the people, being
offended with the high priests for electing another than himself in the
room of his father, obtained the (338) transfer of the right of election
from the colleges of the priests to the people. In his consulship [552],
having conquered the Allobroges and the Arverni [553], he made a progress
through the province, mounted upon an elephant, with a body of soldiers
attending him, in a sort of triumphal pomp. Of this person the orator
Licinius Crassus said, “It was no wonder he had a brazen beard, who had a
face of iron, and a heart of lead.” His son, during his praetorship
[554], proposed that Cneius Caesar, upon the expiration of his
consulship, should be called to account before the senate for his
administration of that office, which was supposed to be contrary both to
the omens and the laws. Afterwards, when he was consul himself [555], he
tried to deprive Cneius of the command of the army, and having been, by
intrigue and cabal, appointed his successor, he was made prisoner at
Corsinium, in the beginning of the civil war. Being set at liberty, he
went to Marseilles, which was then besieged; where having, by his
presence, animated the people to hold out, he suddenly deserted them, and
at last was slain in the battle of Pharsalia. He was a man of little
constancy, and of a sullen temper. In despair of his fortunes, he had
recourse to poison, but was so terrified at the thoughts of death, that,
immediately repenting, he took a vomit to throw it up again, and gave
freedom to his physician for having, with great prudence and wisdom,
given him only a gentle dose of the poison. When Cneius Pompey was
consulting with his friends in what manner he should conduct himself
towards those who were neuter and took no part in the contest, he was the
only one who proposed that they should be treated as enemies.

III. He left a son, who was, without doubt, the best of the family. By
the Pedian law, he was condemned, although innocent, amongst others who
were concerned in the death of Caesar [556]. Upon this, he went over to
Brutus and Cassius, his near relations; and, after their death, not only
kept together the fleet, the command of which had been given him some
time before, but even increased it. At last, when the party had
everywhere been defeated, he voluntarily surrendered it to (339) Mark
Antony; considering it as a piece of service for which the latter owed
him no small obligations. Of all those who were condemned by the law
above-mentioned, he was the only man who was restored to his country, and
filled the highest offices. When the civil war again broke out, he was
appointed lieutenant under the same Antony, and offered the chief command
by those who were ashamed of Cleopatra; but not daring, on account of a
sudden indisposition with which he was seized, either to accept or refuse
it, he went over to Augustus [557], and died a few days after, not
without an aspersion cast upon his memory. For Antony gave out, that he
was induced to change sides by his impatience to be with his mistress,
Servilia Nais. [558]

IV. This Cneius had a son, named Domitius, who was afterwards well known
as the nominal purchaser of the family property left by Augustus’s will
[559]; and no less famous in his youth for his dexterity in chariot-
driving, than he was afterwards for the triumphal ornaments which he
obtained in the German war. But he was a man of great arrogance,
prodigality, and cruelty. When he was aedile, he obliged Lucius Plancus,
the censor, to give him the way; and in his praetorship, and consulship,
he made Roman knights and married women act on the stage. He gave hunts
of wild beasts, both in the Circus and in all the wards of the city; as
also a show of gladiators; but with such barbarity, that Augustus, after
privately reprimanding him, to no purpose, was obliged to restrain him by
a public edict.

V. By the elder Antonia he had Nero’s father, a man of execrable
character in every part of his life. During his attendance upon Caius
Caesar in the East, he killed a freedman of his own, for refusing to
drink as much as he ordered him. Being dismissed for this from Caesar’s
society, he did not mend his habits; for, in a village upon the Appian
road, he suddenly whipped his horses, and drove his chariot, on purpose,
(340) over a poor boy, crushing him to pieces. At Rome, he struck out
the eye of a Roman knight in the Forum, only for some free language in a
dispute between them. He was likewise so fraudulent, that he not only
cheated some silversmiths [560] of the price of goods he had bought of
them, but, during his praetorship, defrauded the owners of chariots in
the Circensian games of the prizes due to them for their victory. His
sister, jeering him for the complaints made by the leaders of the several
parties, he agreed to sanction a law, “That, for the future, the prizes
should be immediately paid.” A little before the death of Tiberius, he
was prosecuted for treason, adulteries, and incest with his sister
Lepida, but escaped in the timely change of affairs, and died of a
dropsy, at Pyrgi [561]; leaving behind him his son, Nero, whom he had by
Agrippina, the daughter of Germanicus.

VI. Nero was born at Antium, nine months after the death of Tiberius
[562], upon the eighteenth of the calends of January [15th December],
just as the sun rose, so that its beams touched him before they could
well reach the earth. While many fearful conjectures, in respect to his
future fortune, were formed by different persons, from the circumstances
of his nativity, a saying of his father, Domitius, was regarded as an ill
presage, who told his friends who were congratulating him upon the
occasion, “That nothing but what was detestable, and pernicious to the
public, could ever be produced of him and Agrippina.” Another manifest
prognostic of his future infelicity occurred upon his lustration day
[563]. For Caius Caesar being requested by his sister to give the child
what name he thought proper–looking at his uncle, Claudius, who (341)
afterwards, when emperor, adopted Nero, he gave his: and this not
seriously, but only in jest; Agrippina treating it with contempt, because
Claudius at that time was a mere laughing-stock at the palace. He lost
his father when he was three years old, being left heir to a third part
of his estate; of which he never got possession, the whole being seized
by his co-heir, Caius. His mother being soon after banished, he lived
with his aunt Lepida, in a very necessitous condition, under the care of
two tutors, a dancing-master and a barber. After Claudius came to the
empire, he not only recovered his father’s estate, but was enriched with
the additional inheritance of that of his step-father, Crispus Passienus.
Upon his mother’s recall from banishment, he was advanced to such favour,
through Nero’s powerful interest with the emperor, that it was reported,
assassins were employed by Messalina, Claudius’s wife, to strangle him,
as Britannicus’s rival, whilst he was taking his noon-day repose. In
addition to the story, it was said that they were frightened by a
serpent, which crept from under his cushion, and ran away. The tale was
occasioned by finding on his couch, near the pillow, the skin of a snake,
which, by his mother’s order, he wore for some time upon his right arm,
inclosed in a bracelet of gold. This amulet, at last, he laid aside,
from aversion to her memory; but he sought for it again, in vain, in the
time of his extremity.

VII. When he was yet a mere boy, before he arrived at the age of
puberty, during the celebration of the Circensian games [564], he
performed his part in the Trojan play with a degree of firmness which
gained him great applause. In the eleventh year of his age, he was
adopted by Claudius, and placed under the tuition of Annaeus Seneca
[565], who had been made a senator. It is said, that Seneca dreamt the
night after, that he was giving a lesson to Caius Caesar [566]. Nero
soon verified his dream, betraying the cruelty of his disposition in
every way he could. For he attempted to persuade his father that his
brother, Britannicus, was nothing but a changeling, because the latter
had (342) saluted him, notwithstanding his adoption, by the name of
Aenobarbus, as usual. When his aunt, Lepida, was brought to trial, he
appeared in court as a witness against her, to gratify his mother, who
persecuted the accused. On his introduction into the Forum, at the age
of manhood, he gave a largess to the people and a donative to the
soldiers: for the pretorian cohorts, he appointed a solemn procession
under arms, and marched at the head of them with a shield in his hand;
after which he went to return thanks to his father in the senate. Before
Claudius, likewise, at the time he was consul, he made a speech for the
Bolognese, in Latin, and for the Rhodians and people of Ilium, in Greek.
He had the jurisdiction of praefect of the city, for the first time,
during the Latin festival; during which the most celebrated advocates
brought before him, not short and trifling causes, as is usual in that
case, but trials of importance, notwithstanding they had instructions
from Claudius himself to the contrary. Soon afterwards, he married
Octavia, and exhibited the Circensian games, and hunting of wild beasts,
in honour of Claudius.

VIII. He was seventeen years of age at the death of that prince [567],
and as soon as that event was made public, he went out to the cohort on
guard between the hours of six and seven; for the omens were so
disastrous, that no earlier time of the day was judged proper. On the
steps before the palace gate, he was unanimously saluted by the soldiers
as their emperor, and then carried in a litter to the camp; thence, after
making a short speech to the troops, into the senate-house, where he
continued until the evening; of all the immense honours which were heaped
upon him, refusing none but the title of FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, on
account of his youth,

IX. He began his reign with an ostentation of dutiful regard to the
memory of Claudius, whom he buried with the utmost pomp and magnificence,
pronouncing the funeral oration himself, and then had him enrolled
amongst the gods. He paid likewise the highest honours to the memory of
his father Domitius. He left the management of affairs, both public and
private, to his mother. The word which he gave the first day of his
reign to the tribune on guard, was, “The (343) Best of Mothers,” and
afterwards he frequently appeared with her in the streets of Rome in her
litter. He settled a colony at Antium, in which he placed the veteran
soldiers belonging to the guards; and obliged several of the richest
centurions of the first rank to transfer their residence to that place;
where he likewise made a noble harbour at a prodigious expense. [568]

X. To establish still further his character, he declared, “that he
designed to govern according to the model of Augustus;” and omitted no
opportunity of showing his generosity, clemency, and complaisance. The
more burthensome taxes he either entirely took off, or diminished. The
rewards appointed for informers by the Papian law, he reduced to a fourth
part, and distributed to the people four hundred sesterces a man. To the
noblest of the senators who were much reduced in their circumstances, he
granted annual allowances, in some cases as much as five hundred thousand
sesterces; and to the pretorian cohorts a monthly allowance of corn
gratis. When called upon to subscribe the sentence, according to custom,
of a criminal condemned to die, “I wish,” said he, “I had never learnt to
read and write.” He continually saluted people of the several orders by
name, without a prompter. When the senate returned him their thanks for
his good government, he replied to them, “It will be time enough to do so
when I shall have deserved it.” He admitted the common people to see him
perform his exercises in the Campus Martius. He frequently declaimed in
public, and recited verses of his own composing, not only at home, but in
the theatre; so much to the joy of all the people, that public prayers
were appointed to be put up to the gods upon that account; and the verses
which had been publicly read, were, after being written in gold letters,
consecrated to Jupiter Capitolinus.

(344) XI. He presented the people with a great number and variety of
spectacles, as the Juvenal and Circensian games, stage-plays, and an
exhibition of gladiators. In the Juvenal, he even admitted senators and
aged matrons to perform parts. In the Circensian games, he assigned the
equestrian order seats apart from the rest of the people, and had races
performed by chariots drawn each by four camels. In the games which he
instituted for the eternal duration of the empire, and therefore ordered
to be called Maximi, many of the senatorian and equestrian order, of both
sexes, performed. A distinguished Roman knight descended on the stage by
a rope, mounted on an elephant. A Roman play, likewise, composed by
Afranius, was brought upon the stage. It was entitled, “The Fire;” and
in it the performers were allowed to carry off, and to keep to
themselves, the furniture of the house, which, as the plot of the play
required, was burnt down in the theatre. Every day during the solemnity,
many thousand articles of all descriptions were thrown amongst the people
to scramble for; such as fowls of different kinds, tickets for corn,
clothes, gold, silver, gems, pearls, pictures, slaves, beasts of burden,
wild beasts that had been tamed; at last, ships, lots of houses, and
lands, were offered as prizes in a lottery.

XII. These games he beheld from the front of the proscenium. In the
show of gladiators, which he exhibited in a wooden amphitheatre, built
within a year in the district of the Campus Martius [569], he ordered
that none should be slain, not even the condemned criminals employed in
the combats. He secured four hundred senators, and six hundred Roman
knights, amongst whom were some of unbroken fortunes and unblemished
reputation, to act as gladiators. From the same orders, he engaged
persons to encounter wild beasts, and for various other services in the
theatre. He presented the public with the representation of a naval
fight, upon sea-water, with huge fishes swimming in it; as also with the
Pyrrhic dance, performed by certain youths, to each of whom, after the
performance was over, he granted the freedom of Rome. During this
diversion, a bull covered Pasiphae, concealed within a wooden statue of a
cow, as many of the spectators believed. Icarus, upon his first attempt
to fly, fell on the stage close to (345) the emperor’s pavilion, and
bespattered him with blood. For he very seldom presided in the games,
but used to view them reclining on a couch, at first through some narrow
apertures, but afterwards with the Podium [570] quite open. He was the
first who instituted [571], in imitation of the Greeks, a trial of skill
in the three several exercises of music, wrestling, and horse-racing, to
be performed at Rome every five years, and which he called Neronia. Upon
the dedication of his bath [572] and gymnasium, he furnished the senate
and the equestrian order with oil. He appointed as judges of the trial
men of consular rank, chosen by lot, who sat with the praetors. At this
time he went down into the orchestra amongst the senators, and received
the crown for the best performance in Latin prose and verse, for which
several persons of the greatest merit contended, but they unanimously
yielded to him. The crown for the best performer on the harp, being
likewise awarded to him by the judges, he devoutly saluted it, and
ordered it to be carried to the statue of Augustus. In the gymnastic
exercises, which he presented in the Septa, while they were preparing the
great sacrifice of an ox, he shaved his beard for the first time [573],
and putting it up in a casket of gold studded with pearls of great price,
consecrated it to Jupiter Capitolinus. He invited the Vestal Virgins to
see the (346) wrestlers perform, because, at Olympia, the priestesses of
Ceres are allowed the privilege of witnessing that exhibition.

XIII. Amongst the spectacles presented by him, the solemn entrance of
Tiridates [574] into the city deserves to be mentioned. This personage,
who was king of Armenia, he invited to Rome by very liberal promises.
But being prevented by unfavourable weather from showing him to the
people upon the day fixed by proclamation, he took the first opportunity
which occurred; several cohorts being drawn up under arms, about the
temples in the forum, while he was seated on a curule chair on the
rostra, in a triumphal dress, amidst the military standards and ensigns.
Upon Tiridates advancing towards him, on a stage made shelving for the
purpose, he permitted him to throw himself at his feet, but quickly
raised him with his right hand, and kissed him. The emperor then, at the
king’s request, took the turban from his head, and replaced it by a
crown, whilst a person of pretorian rank proclaimed in Latin the words in
which the prince addressed the emperor as a suppliant. After this
ceremony, the king was conducted to the theatre, where, after renewing
his obeisance, Nero seated him on his right hand. Being then greeted by
universal acclamation with the title of Emperor, and sending his laurel
crown to the Capitol, Nero shut the temple of the two-faced Janus, as
though there now existed no war throughout the Roman empire.

XIV. He filled the consulship four times [575]: the first for two
months, the second and last for six, and the third for four; the two
intermediate ones he held successively, but the others after an interval
of some years between them.

XV. In the administration of justice, he scarcely ever gave his decision
on the pleadings before the next day, and then in writing. His manner of
hearing causes was not to allow any adjournment, but to dispatch them in
order as they stood. When he withdrew to consult his assessors, he did
not debate the matter openly with them; but silently and privately
reading over their opinions, which they gave separately in writing, (347)
he pronounced sentence from the tribunal according to his own view of the
case, as if it was the opinion of the majority. For a long time he would
not admit the sons of freedmen into the senate; and those who had been
admitted by former princes, he excluded from all public offices. To
supernumerary candidates he gave command in the legions, to comfort them
under the delay of their hopes. The consulship he commonly conferred for
six months; and one of the two consuls dying a little before the first of
January, he substituted no one in his place; disliking what had been
formerly done for Caninius Rebilus on such an occasion, who was consul
for one day only. He allowed the triumphal honours only to those who
were of quaestorian rank, and to some of the equestrian order; and
bestowed them without regard to military service. And instead of the
quaestors, whose office it properly was, he frequently ordered that the
addresses, which he sent to the senate on certain occasions, should be
read by the consuls.

XVI. He devised a new style of building in the city, ordering piazzas to
be erected before all houses, both in the streets and detached, to give
facilities from their terraces, in case of fire, for preventing it from
spreading; and these he built at his own expense. He likewise designed
to extend the city walls as far as Ostia, and bring the sea from thence
by a canal into the old city. Many severe regulations and new orders
were made in his time. A sumptuary law was enacted. Public suppers were
limited to the Sportulae [576]; and victualling-houses restrained from
selling any dressed victuals, except pulse and herbs, whereas before they
sold all kinds of meat. He likewise inflicted punishments on the
Christians, a sort of people who held a new and impious [577]

(348) He forbad the revels of the charioteers, who had long assumed a
licence to stroll about, and established for themselves a kind of
prescriptive right to cheat and thieve, making a jest of it. The
partisans of the rival theatrical performers were banished, as well as
the actors themselves.

XVII. To prevent forgery, a method was then first invented, of having
writings bored, run through three times with a thread, and then sealed.
It was likewise provided that in wills, the two first pages, with only
the testator’s name upon them, should be presented blank to those who
were to sign them as witnesses; and that no one who wrote a will for
another, should insert any legacy for himself. It was likewise ordained
that clients should pay their advocates a certain reasonable fee, but
nothing for the court, which was to be gratuitous, the charges for it
being paid out of the public treasury; that causes, the cognizance of
which before belonged to the judges of the exchequer, should be
transferred to the forum, and the ordinary tribunals; and that all
appeals from the judges should be made to the senate.

XVIII. He never entertained the least ambition or hope of augmenting and
extending the frontiers of the empire. On the contrary, he had thoughts
of withdrawing the troops from Britain, and was only restrained from so
doing by the fear of appearing to detract from the glory of his father
[578]. All (349) that he did was to reduce the kingdom of Pontus, which
was ceded to him by Polemon, and also the Alps [579], upon the death of
Cottius, into the form of a province.

XIX. Twice only he undertook any foreign expeditions, one to Alexandria,
and the other to Achaia; but he abandoned the prosecution of the former
on the very day fixed for his departure, by being deterred both by ill
omens, and the hazard of the voyage. For while he was making the circuit
of the temples, having seated himself in that of Vesta, when he attempted
to rise, the skirt of his robe stuck fast; and he was instantly seized
with such a dimness in his eyes, that he could not see a yard before him.
In Achaia, he attempted to make a cut through the Isthmus [580]; and,
having made a speech encouraging his pretorians to set about the work, on
a signal given by sound of trumpet, he first broke ground with a spade,
and carried off a basket full of earth upon his shoulders. He made
preparations for an expedition to the Pass of the Caspian mountains
[581]; forming a new legion out of his late levies in Italy, of men all
six feet high, which he called the phalanx of Alexander the Great. These
transactions, in part unexceptionable, and in part highly commendable, I
have brought into one view, in order to separate them from the scandalous
and criminal part of his conduct, of which I shall now give an account.

XX. Among the other liberal arts which he was taught in his youth, he
was instructed in music; and immediately after (350) his advancement to
the empire, he sent for Terpnus, a performer upon the harp [582], who
flourished at that time with the highest reputation. Sitting with him
for several days following, as he sang and played after supper, until
late at night, he began by degrees to practise upon the instrument
himself. Nor did he omit any of those expedients which artists in music
adopt, for the preservation and improvement of their voices. He would
lie upon his back with a sheet of lead upon his breast, clear his stomach
and bowels by vomits and clysters, and forbear the eating of fruits, or
food prejudicial to the voice. Encouraged by his proficiency, though his
voice was naturally neither loud nor clear, he was desirous of appearing
upon the stage, frequently repeating amongst his friends a Greek proverb
to this effect: “that no one had any regard for music which they never
heard.” Accordingly, he made his first public appearance at Naples; and
although the theatre quivered with the sudden shock of an earthquake, he
did not desist, until he had finished the piece of music he had begun.
He played and sung in the same place several times, and for several days
together; taking only now and then a little respite to refresh his voice.
Impatient of retirement, it was his custom to go from the bath to the
theatre; and after dining in the orchestra, amidst a crowded assembly of
the people, he promised them in Greek [583], “that after he had drank a
little, he would give them a tune which would make their ears tingle.”
Being highly pleased with the songs that were sung in his praise by some
Alexandrians belonging to the fleet just arrived at Naples [584], he sent
for more of the like singers from Alexandria. At the same time, he chose
young men of the equestrian order, and above five thousand robust young
fellows from the common people, on purpose to learn various kinds of
applause, called bombi, imbrices, and testae [585], which they were to
practise in his favour, whenever he performed. They were (351) divided
into several parties, and were remarkable for their fine heads of hair,
and were extremely well dressed, with rings upon their left hands. The
leaders of these bands had salaries of forty thousand sesterces allowed

XXI. At Rome also, being extremely proud of his singing, he ordered the
games called Neronia to be celebrated before the time fixed for their
return. All now becoming importunate to hear “his heavenly voice,” he
informed them, “that he would gratify those who desired it at the
gardens.” But the soldiers then on guard seconding the voice of the
people, he promised to comply with their request immediately, and with
all his heart. He instantly ordered his name to be entered upon the list
of musicians who proposed to contend, and having thrown his lot into the
urn among the rest, took his turn, and entered, attended by the prefects
of the pretorian cohorts bearing his harp, and followed by the military
tribunes, and several of his intimate friends. After he had taken his
station, and made the usual prelude, he commanded Cluvius Rufus, a man of
consular rank, to proclaim in the theatre, that he intended to sing the
story of Niobe. This he accordingly did, and continued it until nearly
ten o’clock, but deferred the disposal of the crown, and the remaining
part of the solemnity, until the next year; that he might have more
frequent opportunities of performing. But that being too long, he could
not refrain from often appearing as a public performer during the
interval. He made no scruple of exhibiting on the stage, even in the
spectacles presented to the people by private persons, and was offered by
one of the praetors, no less than a million of sesterces for his
services. He likewise sang tragedies in a mask; the visors of the heroes
and gods, as also of the heroines and goddesses, being formed into a
resemblance of his own face, and that of any woman he was in love with.
Amongst the rest, he sung “Canace in Labour,” [586] “Orestes the Murderer
of his Mother,” “Oedipus (352) Blinded,” and “Hercules Mad.” In the last
tragedy, it is said that a young sentinel, posted at the entrance of the
stage, seeing him in a prison dress and bound with fetters, as the fable
of the play required, ran to his assistance.

XXII. He had from his childhood an extravagant passion for horses; and
his constant talk was of the Circensian races, notwithstanding it was
prohibited him. Lamenting once, among his fellow-pupils, the case of a
charioteer of the green party, who was dragged round the circus at the
tail of his chariot, and being reprimanded by his tutor for it, he
pretended that he was talking of Hector. In the beginning of his reign,
he used to amuse himself daily with chariots drawn by four horses, made
of ivory, upon a table. He attended at all the lesser exhibitions in the
circus, at first privately, but at last openly; so that nobody ever
doubted of his presence on any particular day. Nor did he conceal his
desire to have the number of the prizes doubled; so that the races being
increased accordingly, the diversion continued until a late hour; the
leaders of parties refusing now to bring out their companies for any time
less than the whole day. Upon this, he took a fancy for driving the
chariot himself, and that even publicly. Having made his first
experiment in the gardens, amidst crowds of slaves and other rabble, he
at length performed in the view of all the people, in the Circus Maximus,
whilst one of his freedmen dropped the napkin in the place where the
magistrates used to give the signal. Not satisfied with exhibiting
various specimens of his skill in those arts at Rome, he went over to
Achaia, as has been already said, principally for this purpose. The
several cities, in which solemn trials of musical skill used to be
publicly held, had resolved to send him the crowns belonging to those who
bore away the prize. These he accepted so graciously, that he not only
gave the deputies who brought them an immediate audience, but even
invited them to his table. Being requested by some of them to sing at
supper, and prodigiously applauded, he said, “the Greeks were the only
people who has an ear for music, and were the only good judges of him and
his attainments.” Without delay he commenced his journey, and on his
arrival at Cassiope [587], (352) exhibited his first musical performance
before the altar of Jupiter Cassius.

XXIII. He afterwards appeared at the celebration of all public games in
Greece: for such as fell in different years, he brought within the
compass of one, and some he ordered to be celebrated a second time in the
same year. At Olympia, likewise, contrary to custom, he appointed a
public performance in music: and that he might meet with no interruption
in this employment, when he was informed by his freedman Helius, that
affairs at Rome required his presence, he wrote to him in these words:
“Though now all your hopes and wishes are for my speedy return, yet you
ought rather to advise and hope that I may come back with a character
worthy of Nero.” During the time of his musical performance, nobody was
allowed to stir out of the theatre upon any account, however necessary;
insomuch, that it is said some women with child were delivered there.
Many of the spectators being quite wearied with hearing and applauding
him, because the town gates were shut, slipped privately over the walls;
or counterfeiting themselves dead, were carried out for their funeral.
With what extreme anxiety he engaged in these contests, with what keen
desire to bear away the prize, and with how much awe of the judges, is
scarcely to be believed. As if his adversaries had been on a level with
himself, he would watch them narrowly, defame them privately, and
sometimes, upon meeting them, rail at them in very scurrilous language;
or bribe them, if they were better performers than himself. He always
addressed the judges with the most profound reverence before he began,
telling them, “he had done all things that were necessary, by way of
preparation, but that the issue of the approaching trial was in the hand
of fortune; and that they, as wise and skilful men, ought to exclude from
their judgment things merely accidental.” Upon their encouraging him to
have a good heart, he went off with more assurance, but not entirely free
from anxiety; interpreting the silence and modesty of some of them into
sourness and ill-nature, and saying that he was suspicious of them.

XXIV. In these contests, he adhered so strictly to the rules, (354) that
he never durst spit, nor wipe the sweat from his forehead in any other
way than with his sleeve. Having, in the performance of a tragedy,
dropped his sceptre, and not quickly recovering it, he was in a great
fright, lest he should be set aside for the miscarriage, and could not
regain his assurance, until an actor who stood by swore he was certain it
had not been observed in the midst of the acclamations and exultations of
the people. When the prize was adjudged to him, he always proclaimed it
himself; and even entered the lists with the heralds. That no memory or
the least monument might remain of any other victor in the sacred Grecian
games, he ordered all their statues and pictures to be pulled down,
dragged away with hooks, and thrown into the common sewers. He drove the
chariot with various numbers of horses, and at the Olympic games with no
fewer than ten; though, in a poem of his, he had reflected upon
Mithridates for that innovation. Being thrown out of his chariot, he was
again replaced, but could not retain his seat, and was obliged to give
up, before he reached the goal, but was crowned notwithstanding. On his
departure, he declared the whole province a free country, and conferred
upon the judges in the several games the freedom of Rome, with large sums
of money. All these favours he proclaimed himself with his own voice,
from the middle of the Stadium, during the solemnity of the Isthmian

XXV. On his return from Greece, arriving at Naples, because he had
commenced his career as a public performer in that city, he made his
entrance in a chariot drawn by white horses through a breach in the city-
wall, according to the practice of those who were victorious in the
sacred Grecian games. In the same manner he entered Antium, Alba, and
Rome. He made his entry into the city riding in the same chariot in
which Augustus had triumphed, in a purple tunic, and a cloak embroidered
with golden stars, having on his head the crown won at Olympia, and in
his right hand that which was given him at the Parthian games: the rest
being carried in a procession before him, with inscriptions denoting the
places where they had been won, from whom, and in what plays or musical
performances; whilst a train followed him with loud acclamations, crying
out, that “they (355) were the emperor’s attendants, and the soldiers of
his triumph.” Having then caused an arch of the Circus Maximus [588] to
be taken down, he passed through the breach, as also through the Velabrum
[589] and the forum, to the Palatine hill and the temple of Apollo.
Everywhere as he marched along, victims were slain, whilst the streets
were strewed with saffron, and birds, chaplets, and sweetmeats scattered
abroad. He suspended the sacred crowns in his chamber, about his beds,
and caused statues of himself to be erected in the attire of a harper,
and had his likeness stamped upon the coin in the same dress. After this
period, he was so far from abating any thing of his application to music,
that, for the preservation of his voice, he never addressed the soldiers
but by messages, or with some person to deliver his speeches for him,
when he thought fit to make his appearance amongst them. Nor did he ever
do any thing either in jest or earnest, without a voice-master standing
by him to caution him against overstraining his vocal organs, and to
apply a handkerchief to his mouth when he did. He offered his
friendship, or avowed (356) open enmity to many, according as they were
lavish or sparing in giving him their applause.

XXVI. Petulancy, lewdness, luxury, avarice, and cruelty, he practised at
first with reserve and in private, as if prompted to them only by the
folly of youth; but, even then, the world was of opinion that they were
the faults of his nature, and not of his age. After it was dark, he used
to enter the taverns disguised in a cap or a wig, and ramble about the
streets in sport, which was not void of mischief. He used to beat those
he met coming home from supper; and, if they made any resistance, would
wound them, and throw them into the common sewer. He broke open and
robbed shops; establishing an auction at home for selling his booty. In
the scuffles which took place on those occasions, he often ran the hazard
of losing his eyes, and even his life; being beaten almost to death by a
senator, for handling his wife indecently. After this adventure, he
never again ventured abroad at that time of night, without some tribunes
following him at a little distance. In the day-time he would be carried
to the theatre incognito in a litter, placing himself upon the upper part
of the proscenium, where he not only witnessed the quarrels which arose
on account of the performances, but also encouraged them. When they came
to blows, and stones and pieces of broken benches began to fly about, he
threw them plentifully amongst the people, and once even broke a
praetor’s head.

XXVII. His vices gaining strength by degrees, he laid aside his jocular
amusements, and all disguise; breaking out into enormous crimes, without
the least attempt to conceal them. His revels were prolonged from mid-
day to midnight, while he was frequently refreshed by warm baths, and, in
the summer time, by such as were cooled with snow. He often supped in
public, in the Naumachia, with the sluices shut, or in the Campus
Martius, or the Circus Maximus, being waited upon at table by common
prostitutes of the town, and Syrian strumpets and glee-girls. As often
as he went down the Tiber to Ostia, or coasted through the gulf of Baiae,
booths furnished as brothels and eating-houses, were erected along the
shore and river banks; before which stood matrons, who, like bawds and
hostesses, allured him to land. It was also his custom to invite (357)
himself to supper with his friends; at one of which was expended no less
than four millions of sesterces in chaplets, and at another something
more in roses.

XXVIII. Besides the abuse of free-born lads, and the debauch of married
women, he committed a rape upon Rubria, a Vestal Virgin. He was upon the
point of marrying Acte [590], his freedwoman, having suborned some men of
consular rank to swear that she was of royal descent. He gelded the boy
Sporus, and endeavoured to transform him into a woman. He even went so
far as to marry him, with all the usual formalities of a marriage
settlement, the rose-coloured nuptial veil, and a numerous company at the
wedding. When the ceremony was over, he had him conducted like a bride
to his own house, and treated him as his wife [591]. It was jocularly
observed by some person, “that it would have been well for mankind, had
such a wife fallen to the lot of his father Domitius.” This Sporus he
carried about with him in a litter round the solemn assemblies and fairs
of Greece, and afterwards at Rome through the Sigillaria [592], dressed
in the rich attire of an empress; kissing him from time to time as they
rode together. That he entertained an incestuous passion for his mother
[593], but was deterred by her enemies, for fear that this haughty and
overbearing woman should, by her compliance, get him entirely into her
power, and govern in every thing, was universally believed; especially
after he had introduced amongst his concubines a strumpet, who was
reported to have a strong resemblance to Agrippina [594].——–

XXIX. He prostituted his own chastity to such a degree, that (358) after
he had defiled every part of his person with some unnatural pollution, he
at last invented an extraordinary kind of diversion; which was, to be let
out of a den in the arena, covered with the skin of a wild beast, and
then assail with violence the private parts both of men and women, while
they were bound to stakes. After he had vented his furious passion upon
them, he finished the play in the embraces of his freedman Doryphorus
[595], to whom he was married in the same way that Sporus had been
married to himself; imitating the cries and shrieks of young virgins,
when they are ravished. I have been informed from numerous sources, that
he firmly believed, no man in the world to be chaste, or any part of his
person undefiled; but that most men concealed that vice, and were cunning
enough to keep it secret. To those, therefore, who frankly owned their
unnatural lewdness, he forgave all other crimes.

XXX. He thought there was no other use of riches and money than to
squander them away profusely; regarding all those as sordid wretches who
kept their expenses within due bounds; and extolling those as truly noble
and generous souls, who lavished away and wasted all they possessed. He
praised and admired his uncle Caius [596], upon no account more, than for
squandering in a short time the vast treasure left him by Tiberius.
Accordingly, he was himself extravagant and profuse, beyond all bounds.
He spent upon Tiridates eight hundred thousand sesterces a day, a sum
almost incredible; and at his departure, presented him with upwards of a
million [597]. He likewise bestowed upon Menecrates the harper, and
Spicillus a gladiator, the estates and houses of men who had received the
honour of a triumph. He enriched the usurer Cercopithecus Panerotes with
estates both in town and country; and gave him a funeral, in pomp and
magnificence little inferior to that of princes. He never wore the same
garment twice. He (359) has been known to stake four hundred thousand
sesterces on a throw of the dice. It was his custom to fish with a
golden net, drawn by silken cords of purple and scarlet. It is said,
that he never travelled with less than a thousand baggage-carts; the
mules being all shod with silver, and the drivers dressed in scarlet
jackets of the finest Canusian cloth [598], with a numerous train of
footmen, and troops of Mazacans [599], with bracelets on their arms, and
mounted upon horses in splendid trappings.

XXXI. In nothing was he more prodigal than in his buildings. He
completed his palace by continuing it from the Palatine to the Esquiline
hill, calling the building at first only “The Passage,” but, after it was
burnt down and rebuilt, “The Golden House.” [600] Of its dimensions and
furniture, it may be sufficient to say thus much: the porch was so high
that there stood in it a colossal statue of himself a hundred and twenty
feet in height; and the space included in it was so ample, that it had
triple porticos a mile in length, and a lake like a sea, surrounded with
buildings which had the appearance of a city. Within its area were corn
fields, vineyards, pastures, and woods, containing a vast number of
animals of various kinds, both wild and tame. In other parts it was
entirely over-laid with gold, and adorned with jewels and mother of
pearl. The supper rooms were vaulted, and compartments of the ceilings,
inlaid with ivory, were made to revolve, and scatter flowers; while they
contained pipes which (360) shed unguents upon the guests. The chief
banqueting room was circular, and revolved perpetually, night and day, in
imitation of the motion of the celestial bodies. The baths were supplied
with water from the sea and the Albula. Upon the dedication of this
magnificent house after it was finished, all he said in approval of it
was, “that he had now a dwelling fit for a man.” He commenced making a
pond for the reception of all the hot streams from Baiae, which he
designed to have continued from Misenum to the Avernian lake, in a
conduit, enclosed in galleries; and also a canal from Avernum to Ostia,
that ships might pass from one to the other, without a sea voyage. The
length of the proposed canal was one hundred and sixty miles; and it was
intended to be of breadth sufficient to permit ships with five banks of
oars to pass each other. For the execution of these designs, he ordered
all prisoners, in every part of the empire, to be brought to Italy; and
that even those who were convicted of the most heinous crimes, in lieu of
any other sentence, should be condemned to work at them. He was
encouraged to all this wild and enormous profusion, not only by the great
revenue of the empire, but by the sudden hopes given him of an immense
hidden treasure, which queen Dido, upon her flight from Tyre, had brought
with her to Africa. This, a Roman knight pretended to assure him, upon
good grounds, was still hid there in some deep caverns, and might with a
little labour be recovered.

XXXII. But being disappointed in his expectations of this resource, and
reduced to such difficulties, for want of money, that he was obliged to
defer paying his troops, and the rewards due to the veterans; he resolved
upon supplying his necessities by means of false accusations and plunder.
In the first place, he ordered, that if any freedman, without sufficient
reason, bore the name of the family to which he belonged; the half,
instead of three fourths, of his estate should be brought into the
exchequer at his decease: also that the estates of all such persons as
had not in their wills been mindful of their prince, should be
confiscated; and that the lawyers who had drawn or dictated such wills,
should be liable to a fine. He ordained likewise, that all words and
actions, upon which any informer could ground a prosecution, should be
deemed treason. He demanded an equivalent for the crowns which the
cities of (361) Greece had at any time offered him in the solemn games.
Having forbad any one to use the colours of amethyst and Tyrian purple,
he privately sent a person to sell a few ounces of them upon the day of
the Nundinae, and then shut up all the merchants’ shops, on the pretext
that his edict had been violated. It is said, that, as he was playing
and singing in the theatre, observing a married lady dressed in the
purple which he had prohibited, he pointed her out to his procurators;
upon which she was immediately dragged out of her seat, and not only
stripped of her clothes, but her property. He never nominated a person
to any office without saying to him, “You know what I want; and let us
take care that nobody has any thing he can call his own.” At last he
rifled many temples of the rich offerings with which they were stored,
and melted down all the gold and silver statues, and amongst them those
of the penates [601], which Galba afterwards restored.

XXXIII. He began the practice of parricide and murder with Claudius
himself; for although he was not the contriver of his death, he was privy
to the plot. Nor did he make any secret of it; but used afterwards to
commend, in a Greek proverb, mushrooms as food fit for the gods, because
Claudius had been poisoned with them. He traduced his memory both by
word and deed in the grossest manner; one while charging him with folly,
another while with cruelty. For he used to say by way of jest, that he
had ceased morari [602] amongst men, pronouncing the first syllable long;
and treated as null many of his decrees and ordinances, as made by a
doting old blockhead. He enclosed the place where his body was burnt
with only a low wall of rough masonry. He attempted to poison (362)
Britannicus, as much out of envy because he had a sweeter voice, as from
apprehension of what might ensue from the respect which the people
entertained for his father’s memory. He employed for this purpose a
woman named Locusta, who had been a witness against some persons guilty
of like practices. But the poison she gave him, working more slowly than
he expected, and only causing a purge, he sent for the woman, and beat
her with his own hand, charging her with administering an antidote
instead of poison; and upon her alleging in excuse, that she had given
Britannicus but a gentle mixture in order to prevent suspicion, “Think
you,” said he, “that I am afraid of the Julian law;” and obliged her to
prepare, in his own chamber and before his eyes, as quick and strong a
dose as possible. This he tried upon a kid: but the animal lingering for
five hours before it expired, he ordered her to go to work again; and
when she had done, he gave the poison to a pig, which dying immediately,
he commanded the potion to be brought into the eating-room and given to
Britannicus, while he was at supper with him. The prince had no sooner
tasted it than he sunk on the floor, Nero meanwhile, pretending to the
guests, that it was only a fit of the falling sickness, to which, he
said, he was subject. He buried him the following day, in a mean and
hurried way, during violent storms of rain. He gave Locusta a pardon,
and rewarded her with a great estate in land, placing some disciples with
her, to be instructed in her trade.

XXXIV. His mother being used to make strict inquiry into what he said or
did, and to reprimand him with the freedom of a parent, he was so much
offended, that he endeavoured to expose her to public resentment, by
frequently pretending a resolution to quit the government, and retire to
Rhodes. Soon afterwards, he deprived her of all honour and power, took
from her the guard of Roman and German soldiers, banished her from the
palace and from his society, and persecuted her in every way he could
contrive; employing persons to harass her when at Rome with law-suits,
and to disturb her in her retirement from town with the most scurrilous
and abusive language, following her about by land and sea. But being
terrified with her menaces and violent spirit, he resolved upon her
destruction, and thrice attempted it by poison. Finding, however, (363)
that she had previously secured herself by antidotes, he contrived
machinery, by which the floor over her bed-chamber might be made to fall
upon her while she was asleep in the night. This design miscarrying
likewise, through the little caution used by those who were in the
secret, his next stratagem was to construct a ship which could be easily
shivered, in hopes of destroying her either by drowning, or by the deck
above her cabin crushing her in its fall. Accordingly, under colour of a
pretended reconciliation, he wrote her an extremely affectionate letter,
inviting her to Baiae, to celebrate with him the festival of Minerva. He
had given private orders to the captains of the galleys which were to
attend her, to shatter to pieces the ship in which she had come, by
falling foul of it, but in such manner that it might appear to be done
accidentally. He prolonged the entertainment, for the more convenient
opportunity of executing the plot in the night; and at her return for
Bauli [603], instead of the old ship which had conveyed her to Baiae, he
offered that which he had contrived for her destruction. He attended her
to the vessel in a very cheerful mood, and, at parting with her, kissed
her breasts; after which he sat up very late in the night, waiting with
great anxiety to learn the issue of his project. But receiving
information that every thing had fallen out contrary to his wish, and
that she had saved herself by swimming,–not knowing what course to take,
upon her freedman, Lucius Agerinus bringing word, with great joy, that
she was safe and well, he privately dropped a poniard by him. He then
commanded the freedman to be seized and put in chains, under pretence of
his having been employed by his mother to assassinate him; at the same
time ordering her to be put to death, and giving out, that, to avoid
punishment for her intended crime, she had laid violent hands upon
herself. Other circumstances, still more horrible, are related on good
authority; as that he went to view her corpse, and handling her limbs,
pointed out some blemishes, and commended other points; and that, growing
thirsty during the survey, he called for drink. Yet he was never
afterwards able to bear the stings of his own conscience for this
atrocious act, although encouraged by the congratulatory addresses of the
army, the senate, and people. He frequently affirmed that he was haunted
by his mother’s ghost, and persecuted with the whips (364) and burning
torches of the Furies. Nay, he attempted by magical rites to bring up
her ghost from below, and soften her rage against him. When he was in
Greece, he durst not attend the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries,
at the initiation of which, impious and wicked persons are warned by the
voice of the herald from approaching the rites [604]. Besides the murder
of his mother, he had been guilty of that of his aunt; for, being obliged
to keep her bed in consequence of a complaint in her bowels, he paid her
a visit, and she, being then advanced in years, stroking his downy chin,
in the tenderness of affection, said to him: “May I but live to see the
day when this is shaved for the first time [605], and I shall then die
contented.” He turned, however, to those about him, made a jest of it,
saying, that he would have his beard immediately taken off, and ordered
the physicians to give her more violent purgatives. He seized upon her
estate before she had expired; suppressing her will, that he might enjoy
the whole himself.

XXXV. He had, besides Octavia, two other wives: Poppaea Sabina, whose
father had borne the office of quaestor, and who had been married before
to a Roman knight: and, after her, Statilia Messalina, great-grand-
daughter of Taurus [606] who was twice consul, and received the honour of
a triumph. To obtain possession of her, he put to death her husband,
Atticus Vestinus, who was then consul. He soon became disgusted with
Octavia, and ceased from having any intercourse with her; and being
censured by his friends for it, he replied, “She ought to be satisfied
with having the rank and appendages of his wife.” Soon afterwards, he
made several attempts, but in vain, to strangle her, and then divorced
her for barrenness. But the people, disapproving of the divorce, and
making severe comments upon it, he also banished her [607]. At last he
(365) put her to death, upon a charge of adultery, so impudent and false,
that, when all those who were put to the torture positively denied their
knowledge of it, he suborned his pedagogue, Anicetus, to affirm, that he
had secretly intrigued with and debauched her. He married Poppaea twelve
days after the divorce of Octavia [608], and entertained a great
affection for her; but, nevertheless, killed her with a kick which he
gave her when she was big with child, and in bad health, only because she
found fault with him for returning late from driving his chariot. He had
by her a daughter, Claudia Augusta, who died an infant. There was no
person at all connected with him who escaped his deadly and unjust
cruelty. Under pretence of her being engaged in a plot against him, he
put to death Antonia, Claudius’s daughter, who refused to marry him after
the death of Poppaea. In the same way, he destroyed all who were allied
to him either by blood or marriage; amongst whom was young Aulus
Plautinus. He first compelled him to submit to his unnatural lust, and
then ordered him to be executed, crying out, “Let my mother bestow her
kisses on my successor thus defiled;” pretending that he had been his
mothers paramour, and by her encouraged to aspire to the empire. His
step-son, Rufinus Crispinus, Poppaea’s son, though a minor, he ordered to
be drowned in the sea, while he was fishing, by his own slaves, because
he was reported to act frequently amongst his play-fellows the part of a
general or an emperor. He banished Tuscus, his nurse’s son, for
presuming, when he was procurator of Egypt, to wash in the baths which
had been constructed in expectation of his own coming. Seneca, his
preceptor, he forced to kill himself [609], though, upon his desiring
leave to retire, and offering to surrender his estate, he solemnly swore,
“that there was no foundation for his suspicions, and that he would
perish himself sooner than hurt him.” Having promised Burrhus, the
pretorian prefect, a remedy for a swelling in his throat, he sent him
poison. Some old rich freedmen of Claudius, who had formerly not only
promoted (366) his adoption, but were also instrumental to his
advancement to the empire, and had been his governors, he took off by
poison given them in their meat or drink.

XXXVI. Nor did he proceed with less cruelty against those who were not
of his family. A blazing star, which is vulgarly supposed to portend
destruction to kings and princes, appeared above the horizon several
nights successively [610]. He felt great anxiety on account of this
phenomenon, and being informed by one Babilus, an astrologer, that
princes were used to expiate such omens by the sacrifice of illustrious
persons, and so avert the danger foreboded to their own persons, by
bringing it on the heads of their chief men, he resolved on the
destruction of the principal nobility in Rome. He was the more
encouraged to this, because he had some plausible pretence for carrying
it into execution, from the discovery of two conspiracies against him;
the former and more dangerous of which was that formed by Piso [611], and
discovered at Rome; the other was that of Vinicius [612], at Beneventum.
The conspirators were brought to their trials loaded with triple fetters.
Some ingenuously confessed the charge; others avowed that they thought
the design against his life an act of favour for which he was obliged to
them, as it was impossible in any other way than by death to relieve a
person rendered infamous by crimes of the greatest enormity. The
children of those who had been condemned, were banished the city, and
afterwards either poisoned or starved to death. It is asserted that some
of them, with their tutors, and the slaves who carried their satchels,
were all poisoned together at one dinner; and others not suffered to seek
their daily bread.

XXXVII. From this period he butchered, without distinction or quarter,
all whom his caprice suggested as objects for his cruelty; and upon the
most frivolous pretences. To mention only a few: Salvidienus Orfitus was
accused of letting (367) out three taverns attached to his house in the
Forum to some cities for the use of their deputies at Rome. The charge
against Cassius Longinus, a lawyer who had lost his sight, was, that he
kept amongst the busts of his ancestors that of Caius Cassius, who was
concerned in the death of Julius Caesar. The only charge objected
against Paetus Thrasea was, that he had a melancholy cast of features,
and looked like a schoolmaster. He allowed but one hour to those whom he
obliged to kill themselves; and, to prevent delay, he sent them
physicians “to cure them immediately, if they lingered beyond that time;”
for so he called bleeding them to death. There was at that time an
Egyptian of a most voracious appetite, who would digest raw flesh, or any
thing else that was given him. It was credibly reported, that the
emperor was extremely desirous of furnishing him with living men to tear
and devour. Being elated with his great success in the perpetration of
crimes, he declared, “that no prince before himself ever knew the extent
of his power.” He threw out strong intimations that he would not even
spare the senators who survived, but would entirely extirpate that order,
and put the provinces and armies into the hands of the Roman knights and
his own freedmen. It is certain that he never gave or vouchsafed to
allow any one the customary kiss, either on entering or departing, or
even returned a salute. And at the inauguration of a work, the cut
through the Isthmus [613], he, with a loud voice, amidst the assembled
multitude, uttered a prayer, that “the undertaking might prove fortunate
for himself and the Roman people,” without taking the smallest notice of
the senate.

XXXVIII. He spared, moreover, neither the people of Rome, nor the
capital of his country. Somebody in conversation saying–

Emou thanontos gaia michthaeto pyri
When I am dead let fire devour the world–

“Nay,” said he, “let it be while I am living” [emou xontos]. And he
acted accordingly: for, pretending to be disgusted with the old
buildings, and the narrow and winding streets, he set the city on fire so
openly, that many of consular rank caught his own household servants on
their property with tow, and (368) torches in their hands, but durst not
meddle with them. There being near his Golden House some granaries, the
site of which he exceedingly coveted, they were battered as if with
machines of war, and set on fire, the walls being built of stone. During
six days and seven nights this terrible devastation continued, the people
being obliged to fly to the tombs and monuments for lodging and shelter.
Meanwhile, a vast number of stately buildings, the houses of generals
celebrated in former times, and even then still decorated with the spoils
of war, were laid in ashes; as well as the temples of the gods, which had
been vowed and dedicated by the kings of Rome, and afterwards in the
Punic and Gallic wars: in short, everything that was remarkable and
worthy to be seen which time had spared [614]. This fire he beheld from
a tower in the house of Mecaenas, and “being greatly delighted,” as he
said, “with the beautiful effects of the conflagration,” he sung a poem
on the ruin of Troy, in the tragic dress he used on the stage. To turn
this calamity to his own advantage by plunder and rapine, he promised to
remove the bodies of those who had perished in the fire, and clear the
rubbish at his own expense; suffering no one to meddle with the remains
of their property. But he not only received, but exacted contributions
on account of the loss, until he had exhausted the means both of the
provinces and private persons.

XXXIX. To these terrible and shameful calamities brought upon the people
by their prince, were added some proceeding from misfortune. Such were a
pestilence, by which, within the space of one autumn, there died no less
than thirty thousand persons, as appeared from the registers in the
temple of Libitina; a great disaster in Britain [615], where two of the
principal towns belonging to the Romans were plundered; and a (369)
dreadful havoc made both amongst our troops and allies; a shameful
discomfiture of the army of the East; where, in Armenia, the legions were
obliged to pass under the yoke, and it was with great difficulty that
Syria was retained. Amidst all these disasters, it was strange, and,
indeed, particularly remarkable, that he bore nothing more patiently than
the scurrilous language and railing abuse which was in every one’s mouth;
treating no class of persons with more gentleness, than those who
assailed him with invective and lampoons. Many things of that kind were
posted up about the city, or otherwise published, both in Greek and
Latin: such as these,

Neron, Orestaes, Alkmaion, maetroktonai.
Neonymphon [616] Neron, idian maeter apekteinen.

Orestes and Alcaeon–Nero too,
The lustful Nero, worst of all the crew,
Fresh from his bridal–their own mothers slew.

Quis neget Aeneae magna de stirpe Neronem?
Sustulit hic matrem: sustulit [617] ille patrem.

Sprung from Aeneas, pious, wise and great,
Who says that Nero is degenerate?
Safe through the flames, one bore his sire; the other,
To save himself, took off his loving mother.

Dum tendit citharam noster, dum cornua Parthus,
Noster erit Paean, ille Ekataebeletaes.

His lyre to harmony our Nero strings;
His arrows o’er the plain the Parthian wings:
Ours call the tuneful Paean,–famed in war,
The other Phoebus name, the god who shoots afar. [618]

Roma domus fiet: Vejos migrate, Quirites,
Si non et Vejos occupat ista domus.

All Rome will be one house: to Veii fly,
Should it not stretch to Veii, by and by. [619]

(370) But he neither made any inquiry after the authors, nor when
information was laid before the senate against some of them, would he
allow a severe sentence to be passed. Isidorus, the Cynic philosopher,
said to him aloud, as he was passing along the streets, “You sing the
misfortunes of Nauplius well, but behave badly yourself.” And Datus, a
comic actor, when repeating these words in the piece, “Farewell, father!
Farewell mother!” mimicked the gestures of persons drinking and swimming,
significantly alluding to the deaths of Claudius and Agrippina: and on
uttering the last clause,

Orcus vobis ducit pedes;
You stand this moment on the brink of Orcus;

he plainly intimated his application of it to the precarious position of
the senate. Yet Nero only banished the player and philosopher from the
city and Italy; either because he was insensible to shame, or from
apprehension that if he discovered his vexation, still keener things
might be said of him.

XL. The world, after tolerating such an emperor for little less than
fourteen years, at length forsook him; the Gauls, headed by Julius
Vindex, who at that time governed the province as pro-praetor, being the
first to revolt. Nero had been formerly told by astrologers, that it
would be his fortune to be at last deserted by all the world; and this
occasioned that celebrated saying of his, “An artist can live in any
country;” by which he meant to offer as an excuse for his practice of
music, that it was not only his amusement as a prince, but might be his
support when reduced to a private station. Yet some of the astrologers
promised him, in his forlorn state, the rule of the East, and some in
express words the kingdom of Jerusalem. But the greater part of them
flattered him with assurances of his being restored to his former
fortune. And being most inclined to believe the latter prediction, upon
losing Britain and Armenia, he imagined he had run through all the
misfortunes which the fates had decreed him. But when, upon consulting
the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, he was advised to beware of the seventy-
third year, as if he were not to die till then, never thinking of Galba’s
age, he conceived such hopes, not only of living to advanced years, but
of constant and singular good fortune, that having lost some things of
great value by shipwreck, he scrupled not to say amongst his friends,
that (371) “the fishes would bring them back to him.” At Naples he heard
of the insurrection in Gaul, on the anniversary of the day on which he
killed his mother, and bore it with so much unconcern, as to excite a
suspicion that he was really glad of it, since he had now a fair
opportunity of plundering those wealthy provinces by the right of war.
Immediately going to the gymnasium, he witnessed the exercise of the
wrestlers with the greatest delight. Being interrupted at supper with
letters which brought yet worse news, he expressed no greater resentment,
than only to threaten the rebels. For eight days together, he never
attempted to answer any letters, nor give any orders, but buried the
whole affair in profound silence.

XLI. Being roused at last by numerous proclamations of Vindex, treating
him with reproaches and contempt, he in a letter to the senate exhorted
them to avenge his wrongs and those of the republic; desiring them to
excuse his not appearing in the senate-house, because he had got cold.
But nothing so much galled him, as to find himself railed at as a pitiful
harper, and, instead of Nero, styled Aenobarbus: which being his family
name, since he was upbraided with it, he declared that he would resume
it, and lay aside the name he had taken by adoption. Passing by the
other accusations as wholly groundless, he earnestly refuted that of his
want of skill in an art upon which he had bestowed so much pains, and in
which he had arrived at such perfection; asking frequently those about
him, “if they knew any one who was a more accomplished musician?” But
being alarmed by messengers after messengers of ill news from Gaul, he
returned in great consternation to Rome. On the road, his mind was
somewhat relieved, by observing the frivolous omen of a Gaulish soldier
defeated and dragged by the hair by a Roman knight, which was sculptured
on a monument; so that he leaped for joy, and adored the heavens. Even
then he made no appeal either to the senate or people, but calling
together some of the leading men at his own house, he held a hasty
consultation upon the present state of affairs, and then, during the
remainder of the day, carried them about with him to view some musical
instruments, of a new invention, which were played by water [620] (372)
exhibiting all the parts, and discoursing upon the principles and
difficulties of the contrivance; which, he told them, he intended to
produce in the theatre, if Vindex would give him leave.

XLII. Soon afterwards, he received intelligence that Galba and the
Spaniards had declared against him; upon which, he fainted, and losing
his reason, lay a long time speechless, apparently dead. As soon as
recovered from this state stupefaction he tore his clothes, and beat his
head, crying out, “It is all over with me!” His nurse endeavouring to
comfort him, and telling him that the like things had happened to other
princes before him, he replied, “I am beyond all example wretched, for I
have lost an empire whilst I am still living.” He, nevertheless, abated
nothing of his luxury and inattention to business. Nay, on the arrival
of good news from the provinces, he, at a sumptuous entertainment, sung
with an air of merriment, some jovial verses upon the leaders of the
revolt, which were made public; and accompanied them with suitable
gestures. Being carried privately to the theatre, he sent word to an
actor who was applauded by the spectators, “that he had it all his own
way, now that he himself did not appear on the stage.”

XLIII. At the first breaking out of these troubles, it is believed that
he had formed many designs of a monstrous nature, although conformable
enough to his natural disposition. These were to send new governors and
commanders to the provinces and the armies, and employ assassins to
butcher all the former governors and commanders, as men unanimously
engaged in a conspiracy against him; to massacre the exiles in every
quarter, and all the Gaulish population in Rome; the former lest they
should join the insurrection; the latter as privy to the designs of their
countrymen, and ready to support (373) them; to abandon Gaul itself, to
be wasted and plundered by his armies; to poison the whole senate at a
feast; to fire the city, and then let loose the wild beasts upon the
people, in order to impede their stopping the progress of the flames.
But being deterred from the execution of these designs not so much by
remorse of conscience, as by despair of being able to effect them, and
judging an expedition into Gaul necessary, he removed the consuls from
their office, before the time of its expiration was arrived; and in their
room assumed the consulship himself without a colleague, as if the fates
had decreed that Gaul should not be conquered, but by a consul. Upon
assuming the fasces, after an entertainment at the palace, as he walked
out of the room leaning on the arms of some of his friends, he declared,
that as soon as he arrived in the province, he would make his appearance
amongst the troops, unarmed, and do nothing but weep: and that, after he
had brought the mutineers to repentance, he would, the next day, in the
public rejoicings, sing songs of triumph, which he must now, without loss
of time, apply himself to compose.

XLIV. In preparing for this expedition, his first care was to provide
carriages for his musical instruments and machinery to be used upon the
stage; to have the hair of the concubines he carried with him dressed in
the fashion of men; and to supply them with battle-axes, and Amazonian
bucklers. He summoned the city-tribes to enlist; but no qualified
persons appearing, he ordered all masters to send a certain number of
slaves, the best they had, not excepting their stewards and secretaries.
He commanded the several orders of the people to bring in a fixed
proportion of their estates, as they stood in the censor’s books; all
tenants of houses and mansions to pay one year’s rent forthwith into the
exchequer; and, with unheard-of strictness, would receive only new coin
of the purest silver and the finest gold; insomuch that most people
refused to pay, crying out unanimously that he ought to squeeze the
informers, and oblige them to surrender their gains.

XLV. The general odium in which he was held received an increase by the
great scarcity of corn, and an occurrence connected with it. For, as it
happened just at that time, there arrived from Alexandria a ship, which
was said to be freighted (374) with dust for the wrestlers belonging to
the emperor [621]. This so much inflamed the public rage, that he was
treated with the utmost abuse and scurrility. Upon the top of one of his
statues was placed the figure of a chariot with a Greek inscription, that
“Now indeed he had a race to run; let him be gone.” A little bag was
tied about another, with a ticket containing these words; “What could I
do?”–“Truly thou hast merited the sack.” [622] Some person likewise
wrote on the pillars in the forum, “that he had even woke the cocks [623]
with his singing.” And many, in the night-time, pretending to find fault
with their servants, frequently called for a Vindex. [624]

XLVI. He was also terrified with manifest warnings, both old and new,
arising from dreams, auspices, and omens. He had never been used to
dream before the murder of his mother. After that event, he fancied in
his sleep that he was steering a ship, and that the rudder was forced
from him: that he was dragged by his wife Octavia into a prodigiously
dark place; and was at one time covered over with a vast swarm of winged
ants, and at another, surrounded by the national images which were set up
near Pompey’s theatre, and hindered from advancing farther; that a
Spanish jennet he was fond of, had his hinder parts so changed, as to
resemble those of an ape; and having his head only left unaltered,
neighed very harmoniously. The doors of the mausoleum of Augustus flying
open of themselves, there issued from it a voice, calling on him by name.
The Lares being adorned with fresh garlands on the calends (the first) of
January, fell down during the preparations for sacrificing to them.
While he was taking (375) the omens, Sporus presented him with a ring,
the stone of which had carved upon it the Rape of Proserpine. When a
great multitude of the several orders was assembled, to attend at the
solemnity of making vows to the gods, it was a long time before the keys
of the Capitol could be found. And when, in a speech of his to the
senate against Vindex, these words were read, “that the miscreants should
be punished and soon make the end they merited,” they all cried out, “You
will do it, Augustus.” It was likewise remarked, that the last tragic
piece which he sung, was Oedipus in Exile, and that he fell as he was
repeating this verse:

Thanein m’ anoge syngamos, maetaer, pataer.
Wife, mother, father, force me to my end.

XLVII. Meanwhile, on the arrival of the news, that the rest of the
armies had declared against him, he tore to pieces the letters which were
delivered to him at dinner, overthrew the table, and dashed with violence
against the ground two favourite cups, which he called Homer’s, because
some of that poet’s verses were cut upon them. Then taking from Locusta
a dose of poison, which he put up in a golden box, he went into the
Servilian gardens, and thence dispatching a trusty freedman to Ostia,
with orders to make ready a fleet, he endeavoured to prevail with some
tribunes and centurions of the pretorian guards to attend him in his
flight; but part of them showing no great inclination to comply, others
absolutely refusing, and one of them crying out aloud,

Usque adeone mori miserum est?
Say, is it then so sad a thing to die? [625]

he was in great perplexity whether he should submit himself to Galba, or
apply to the Parthians for protection, or else appear before the people
dressed in mourning, and, upon the rostra, in the most piteous manner,
beg pardon for his past misdemeanors, and, if he could not prevail,
request of them to grant him at least the government of Egypt. A speech
to this purpose was afterwards found in his writing-case. But it is
conjectured that he durst not venture upon this project, for fear of
being torn to pieces, before he could get to the Forum. Deferring,
therefore, his resolution until the next (376) day, he awoke about
midnight, and finding the guards withdrawn, he leaped out of bed, and
sent round for his friends. But none of them vouchsafing any message in
reply, he went with a few attendants to their houses. The doors being
every where shut, and no one giving him any answer, he returned to his
bed-chamber; whence those who had the charge of it had all now eloped;
some having gone one way, and some another, carrying off with them his
bedding and box of poison. He then endeavoured to find Spicillus, the
gladiator, or some one to kill him; but not being able to procure any
one, “What!” said he, “have I then neither friend nor foe?” and
immediately ran out, as if he would throw himself into the Tiber.

XLVIII. But this furious impulse subsiding, he wished for some place of
privacy, where he might collect his thoughts; and his freedman Phaon
offering him his country-house, between the Salarian [626] and Nomentan
[627] roads, about four miles from the city, he mounted a horse, barefoot
as he was, and in his tunic, only slipping over it an old soiled cloak;
with his head muffled up, and an handkerchief before his face, and four
persons only to attend him, of whom Sporus was one. He was suddenly
struck with horror by an earthquake, and by a flash of lightning which
darted full in his face, and heard from the neighbouring camp [628] the
shouts of the soldiers, wishing his destruction, and prosperity to Galba.
He also heard a traveller they met on the road, say, “They are (377) in
pursuit of Nero:” and another ask, “Is there any news in the city about
Nero?” Uncovering his face when his horse was started by the scent of a
carcase which lay in the road, he was recognized and saluted by an old
soldier who had been discharged from the guards. When they came to the
lane which turned up to the house, they quitted their horses, and with
much difficulty he wound among bushes, and briars, and along a track
through a bed of rushes, over which they spread their cloaks for him to
walk on. Having reached a wall at the back of the villa, Phaon advised
him to hide himself awhile in a sand-pit; when he replied, “I will not go
under-ground alive.” Staying there some little time, while preparations
were made for bringing him privately into the villa, he took up some
water out of a neighbouring tank in his hand, to drink, saying, “This is
Nero’s distilled water.” [629] Then his cloak having been torn by the
brambles, he pulled out the thorns which stuck in it. At last, being
admitted, creeping upon his hands and knees, through a hole made for him
in the wall, he lay down in the first closet he came to, upon a miserable
pallet, with an old coverlet thrown over it; and being both hungry and
thirsty, though he refused some coarse bread that was brought him, he
drank a little warm water.

XLIX. All who surrounded him now pressing him to save himself from the
indignities which were ready to befall him, he ordered a pit to be sunk
before his eyes, of the size of his body, and the bottom to be covered
with pieces of marble put together, if any could be found about the
house; and water and wood [630], to be got ready for immediate use about
his corpse; weeping at every thing that was done, and frequently saying,
“What an artist is now about to perish!” Meanwhile, letters being
brought in by a servant belonging to Phaon, he snatched them out of his
hand, and there read, “That he had been declared an enemy by the senate,
and that search was making for him, that he might be punished according
to the ancient custom of the Romans.” He then inquired what kind of
punishment that was; and being told, that the (378) practice was to strip
the criminal naked, and scourge him to death, while his neck was fastened
within a forked stake, he was so terrified that he took up two daggers
which he had brought with him, and after feeling the points of both, put
them up again, saying, “The fatal hour is not yet come.” One while, he
begged of Sporus to begin to wail and lament; another while, he entreated
that one of them would set him an example by killing himself; and then
again, he condemned his own want of resolution in these words: “I yet
live to my shame and disgrace: this is not becoming for Nero: it is not
becoming. Thou oughtest in such circumstances to have a good heart:
Come, then: courage, man!” [631] The horsemen who had received orders to
bring him away alive, were now approaching the house. As soon as he
heard them coming, he uttered with a trembling voice the following verse,

Hippon m’ okupodon amphi ktupos ouata ballei; [632]
The noise of swift-heel’d steeds assails my ears;

he drove a dagger into his throat, being assisted in the act by
Epaphroditus, his secretary. A centurion bursting in just as he was
half-dead, and applying his cloak to the wound, pretending that he was
come to his assistance, he made no other reply but this, “‘Tis too late;”
and “Is this your loyalty?” Immediately after pronouncing these words,
he expired, with his eyes fixed and starting out of his head, to the
terror of all who beheld him. He had requested of his attendants, as the
most essential favour, that they would let no one have his head, but that
by all means his body might be burnt entire. And this, Icelus, Galba’s
freedman, granted. He had but a little before been discharged from the
prison into which he had been thrown, when the disturbances first broke

L. The expenses of his funeral amounted to two hundred thousand
sesterces; the bed upon which his body was carried to the pile and burnt,
being covered with the white robes, interwoven with gold, which he had
worn upon the calends of January preceding. His nurses, Ecloge and
Alexandra, with his concubine Acte, deposited his remains in the tomb
belonging (379) to the family of the Domitii, which stands upon the top
of the Hill of the Gardens [633], and is to be seen from the Campus
Martius. In that monument, a coffin of porphyry, with an altar of marble
of Luna over it, is enclosed by a wall built of stone brought from
Thasos. [634]

LI. In stature he was a little below the common height; his skin was
foul and spotted; his hair inclined to yellow; his features were
agreeable, rather than handsome; his eyes grey and dull, his neck was
thick, his belly prominent, his legs very slender, his constitution
sound. For, though excessively luxurious in his mode of living, he had,
in the course of fourteen years, only three fits of sickness; which were
so slight, that he neither forbore the use of wine, nor made any
alteration in his usual diet. In his dress, and the care of his person,
he was so careless, that he had his hair cut in rings, one above another;
and when in Achaia, he let it grow long behind; and he generally appeared
in public in the loose dress which he used at table, with a handkerchief
about his neck, and without either a girdle or shoes.

LII. He was instructed, when a boy, in the rudiments of almost all the
liberal sciences; but his mother diverted him from the study of
philosophy, as unsuited to one destined to be an emperor; and his
preceptor, Seneca, discouraged him from reading the ancient orators, that
he might longer secure his devotion to himself. Therefore, having a turn
for poetry, (380) he composed verses both with pleasure and ease; nor did
he, as some think, publish those of other writers as his own. Several
little pocket-books and loose sheets have cone into my possession, which
contain some well-known verses in his own hand, and written in such a
manner, that it was very evident, from the blotting and interlining, that
they had not been transcribed from a copy, nor dictated by another, but
were written by the composer of them.

LIII. He had likewise great taste for drawing and painting, as well as
for moulding statues in plaster. But, above all things, he most eagerly
coveted popularity, being the rival of every man who obtained the
applause of the people for any thing he did. It was the general belief,
that, after the crowns he won by his performances on the stage, he would
the next lustrum have taken his place among the wrestlers at the Olympic
games. For he was continually practising that art; nor did he witness
the gymnastic games in any part of Greece otherwise than sitting upon the
ground in the stadium, as the umpires do. And if a pair of wrestlers
happened to break the bounds, he would with his own hands drag them back
into the centre of the circle. Because he was thought to equal Apollo in
music, and the sun in chariot-driving, he resolved also to imitate the
achievements of Hercules. And they say that a lion was got ready for him
to kill, either with a club, or with a close hug, in view of the people
in the amphitheatre; which he was to perform naked.

LIV. Towards the end of his life, he publicly vowed, that if his power
in the state was securely re-established, he would, in the spectacles
which he intended to exhibit in honour of his success, include a
performance upon organs [635], as well as upon flutes and bagpipes, and,
on the last day of the games, would act in the play, and take the part of
Turnus, as we find it in Virgil. And there are some who say, that he put
to death the player Paris as a dangerous rival.

LV. He had an insatiable desire to immortalize his name, and acquire a
reputation which should last through all succeeding ages; but it was
capriciously directed. He therefore (381) took from several things and
places their former appellations, and gave them new names derived from
his own. He called the month of April, Neroneus, and designed changing
the name of Rome into that of Neropolis.

LVI. He held all religious rites in contempt, except those of the Syrian
Goddess [636]; but at last he paid her so little reverence, that he made
water upon her; being now engaged in another superstition, in which only
he obstinately persisted. For having received from some obscure plebeian
a little image of a girl, as a preservative against plots, and
discovering a conspiracy immediately after, he constantly worshipped his
imaginary protectress as the greatest amongst the gods, offering to her
three sacrifices daily. He was also desirous to have it supposed that he
had, by revelations from this deity, a knowledge of future events. A few
months before he died, he attended a sacrifice, according to the Etruscan
rites, but the omens were not favourable.

LVII. He died in the thirty-second year of his age [637], upon the same
day on which he had formerly put Octavia to death; and the public joy was
so great upon the occasion, that the common people ran about the city
with caps upon their heads. Some, however, were not wanting, who for a
long time decked his tomb with spring and summer flowers. Sometimes they
placed his image upon the rostra, dressed in robes of state; at another,
they published proclamations in his name, as if he were still alive, and
would shortly return to Rome, and take vengeance on all his enemies.
Vologesus, king of the Parthians, when he sent ambassadors to the senate
to renew his alliance with the Roman people, earnestly requested that due
honour should be paid to the memory of Nero; and, to conclude, when,
twenty years afterwards, at which time I was a young man [638], some
person of obscure birth gave himself out for Nero, that name secured him
so favourable a reception (382) from the Parthians, that he was very
zealously supported, and it was with much difficulty that they were
prevailed upon to give him up.

* * * * * * *

Though no law had ever passed for regulating the transmission of the
imperial power, yet the design of conveying it by lineal descent was
implied in the practice of adoption. By the rule of hereditary
succession, Britannicus, the son of Claudius, was the natural heir to the
throne; but he was supplanted by the artifices of his stepmother, who had
the address to procure it for her own son, Nero. From the time of
Augustus it had been the custom of each of the new sovereigns to commence
his reign in such a manner as tended to acquire popularity, however much
they all afterwards degenerated from those specious beginnings. Whether
this proceeded entirely from policy, or that nature was not yet vitiated
by the intoxication of uncontrolled power, is uncertain; but such were
the excesses into which they afterwards plunged, that we can scarcely
exempt any of them, except, perhaps, Claudius, from the imputation of
great original depravity. The vicious temper of Tiberius was known to
his own mother, Livia; that of Caligula had been obvious to those about
him from his infancy; Claudius seems to have had naturally a stronger
tendency to weakness than to vice; but the inherent wickedness of Nero
was discovered at an early period by his preceptor, Seneca. Yet even
this emperor commenced his reign in a manner which procured him
approbation. Of all the Roman emperors who had hitherto reigned, he
seems to have been most corrupted by profligate favourites, who flattered
his follies and vices, to promote their own aggrandisement. In the
number of these was Tigellinus, who met at last with the fate which he
had so amply merited.

The several reigns from the death of Augustus present us with uncommon
scenes of cruelty and horror; but it was reserved for that of Nero to
exhibit to the world the atrocious act of an emperor deliberately
procuring the death of his mother.

Julia Agrippina was the daughter of Germanicus, and married Domitius
Aenobarbus, by whom she had Nero. At the death of Messalina she was a
widow; and Claudius, her uncle, entertaining a design of entering again
into the married state, she aspired to an incestuous alliance with him,
in competition with Lollia Paulina, a woman of beauty and intrigue, who
had been married to C. Caesar. The two rivals were strongly supported by
their (383) respective parties; but Agrippina, by her superior interest
with the emperor’s favourites, and the familiarity to which her near
relation gave her a claim, obtained the preference; and the portentous
nuptials of the emperor and his niece were publicly solemnized in the
palace. Whether she was prompted to this flagrant indecency by personal
ambition alone, or by the desire of procuring the succession to the
empire for her son, is uncertain; but there remains no doubt of her
having removed Claudius by poison, with a view to the object now
mentioned. Besides Claudius, she projected the death of L. Silanus, and
she accomplished that of his brother, Junius Silanus, by means likewise
of poison. She appears to have been richly endowed with the gifts of
nature, but in her disposition intriguing, violent, imperious, and ready
to sacrifice every principle of virtue, in the pursuit of supreme power
or sensual gratification. As she resembled Livia in the ambition of a
mother, and the means by which she indulged it, so she more than equalled
her in the ingratitude of an unnatural son and a parricide. She is said
to have left behind her some memoirs, of which Tacitus availed himself in
the composition of his Annals.

In this reign, the conquest of the Britons still continued to be the
principal object of military enterprise, and Suetonius Paulinus was
invested with the command of the Roman army employed in the reduction of
that people. The island of Mona, now Anglesey, being the chief seat of
the Druids, he resolved to commence his operations with attacking a place
which was the centre of superstition, and to which the vanquished Britons
retreated as the last asylum of liberty. The inhabitants endeavoured,
both by force of arms and the terrors of religion, to obstruct his
landing on this sacred island. The women and Druids assembled
promiscuously with the soldiers upon the shore, where running about in
wild disorder, with flaming torches in their hands, and pouring forth the
most hideous exclamations, they struck the Romans with consternation.
But Suetonius animating his troops, they boldly attacked the inhabitants,
routed them in the field, and burned the Druids in the same fires which
had been prepared by those priests for the catastrophe of the invaders,
destroying at the same time all the consecrated groves and altars in the
island. Suetonius having thus triumphed over the religion of the
Britons, flattered himself with the hopes of soon effecting the reduction
of the people. But they, encouraged by his absence, had taken arms, and
under the conduct of Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, who had been treated
in the most ignominious manner by the Roman tribunes, had already driven
the hateful invaders from their several settlements. Suetonius hastened
to (384) the protection of London, which was by this time a flourishing
Roman colony; but he found upon his arrival, that any attempt to preserve
it would be attended with the utmost danger to the army. London
therefore was reduced to ashes; and the Romans, and all strangers, to the
number of seventy thousand, were put to the sword without distinction,
the Britons seeming determined to convince the enemy that they would
acquiesce in no other terms than a total evacuation of the island. This
massacre, however, was revenged by Suetonius in a decisive engagement,
where eighty thousand of the Britons are said to have been killed; after
which, Boadicea, to avoid falling into the hands of the insolent
conquerors, put a period to her own life by means of poison. It being
judged unadvisable that Suetonius should any longer conduct the war
against a people whom he had exasperated by his severity, he was
recalled, and Petronius Turpilianus appointed in his room. The command
was afterwards given successively to Trebellius Maximus and Vettius
Bolanus; but the plan pursued by these generals was only to retain, by a
conciliatory administration, the parts of the island which had already
submitted to the Roman arms.

During these transactions in Britain, Nero himself was exhibiting, in
Rome or some of the provinces, such scenes of extravagance as almost
exceed credibility. In one place, entering the lists amongst the
competitors in a chariot race; in another, contending for victory with
the common musicians on the stage; revelling in open day in the company
of the most abandoned prostitutes and the vilest of men; in the night,
committing depredations on the peaceful inhabitants of the capital;
polluting with detestable lust, or drenching with human blood, the
streets, the palace, and the habitations of private families; and, to
crown his enormities, setting fire to Rome, while he sung with delight in
beholding the dreadful conflagration. In vain would history be ransacked
for a parallel to this emperor, who united the most shameful vices to the
most extravagant vanity, the most abject meanness to the strongest but
most preposterous ambition; and the whole of whose life was one continued
scene of lewdness, sensuality, rapine, cruelty, and folly. It is
emphatically observed by Tacitus, “that Nero, after the murder of many
illustrious personages, manifested a desire of extirpating virtue

Among the excesses of Nero’s reign, are to be mentioned the horrible
cruelties exercised against the Christians in various parts of the
empire, in which inhuman transactions the natural barbarity of the
emperor was inflamed by the prejudices and interested policy of the pagan

(385) The tyrant scrupled not to charge them with the act of burning
Rome; and he satiated his fury against them by such outrages as are
unexampled in history. They were covered with the skins of wild beasts,
and torn by dogs; were crucified, and set on fire, that they might serve
for lights in the night-time. Nero offered his gardens for this
spectacle, and exhibited the games of the Circus by this dreadful
illumination. Sometimes they were covered with wax and other combustible
materials, after which a sharp stake was put under their chin, to make
them stand upright, and they were burnt alive, to give light to the

In the person of Nero, it is observed by Suetonius, the race of the
Caesars became extinct; a race rendered illustrious by the first and
second emperors, but which their successors no less disgraced. The
despotism of Julius Caesar, though haughty and imperious, was liberal and
humane: that of Augustus, if we exclude a few instances of vindictive
severity towards individuals, was mild and conciliating; but the reigns
of Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero (for we except Claudius from part of the
censure), while discriminated from each other by some peculiar
circumstances, exhibited the most flagrant acts of licentiousness and
perverted authority. The most abominable lust, the most extravagant
luxury, the most shameful rapaciousness, and the most inhuman cruelty,
constitute the general characteristics of those capricious and detestable
tyrants. Repeated experience now clearly refuted the opinion of
Augustus, that he had introduced amongst the Romans the best form of
government: but while we make this observation, it is proper to remark,
that, had he even restored the republic, there is reason to believe that
the nation would again have been soon distracted with internal divisions,
and a perpetual succession of civil wars. The manners of the people were
become too dissolute to be restrained by the authority of elective and
temporary magistrates; and the Romans were hastening to that fatal period
when general and great corruption, with its attendant debility, would
render them an easy prey to any foreign invaders.

But the odious government of the emperors was not the only grievance
under which the people laboured in those disastrous times: patrician
avarice concurred with imperial rapacity to increase the sufferings of
the nation. The senators, even during the commonwealth, had become
openly corrupt in the dispensation of public justice; and under the
government of the emperors pernicious abuse was practised to a yet
greater extent. That class being now, equally with other Roman citizens,
dependent on the sovereign power, their sentiments of duty and (386)
honour were degraded by the loss of their former dignity; and being
likewise deprived of the lucrative governments of provinces, to which
they had annually succeeded by an elective rotation in the times of the
republic, they endeavoured to compensate the reduction of their
emoluments by an unbounded venality in the judicial decisions of the
forum. Every source of national happiness and prosperity was by this
means destroyed. The possession of property became precarious; industry,
in all its branches, was effectually discouraged, and the amor patriae,
which had formerly been the animating principle of the nation, was almost
universally extinguished.

It is a circumstance corresponding to the general singularity of the
present reign, that, of the few writers who flourished in it, and whose
works have been transmitted to posterity, two ended their days by the
order of the emperor, and the third, from indignation at his conduct.
These unfortunate victims were Seneca, Petronius Arbiter, and Lucan.

SENECA was born about six years before the Christian aera, and gave early
indication of uncommon talents. His father, who had come from Corduba to
Rome, was a man of letters, particularly fond of declamation, in which he
instructed his son, and placed him, for the acquisition of philosophy,
under the most celebrated stoics of that age. Young Seneca, imbibing the
precepts of the Pythagorean doctrine, religiously abstained from eating
the flesh of animals, until Tiberius having threatened to punish some
Jews and Egyptians, who abstained from certain meats, he was persuaded by
his father to renounce the Pythagorean practice. Seneca displayed the
talents of an eloquent speaker; but dreading the jealousy of Caligula,
who aspired to the same excellence, he thought proper to abandon that
pursuit, and apply himself towards suing for the honours and offices of
the state. He accordingly obtained the place of quaestor, in which
office incurring the imputation of a scandalous amour with Julia Livia,
he removed from Rome, and was banished by the emperor Claudius to

Upon the marriage of Claudius with Agrippina, Seneca was recalled from
his exile, in which he had remained near eight years, and was appointed
to superintend the education of Nero, now destined to become the
successor to the throne. In the character of preceptor he appears to
have acquitted himself with ability and credit; though he has been
charged by his enemies with having initiated his pupil in those
detestable vices which disgraced the reign of Nero. Could he have indeed
been guilty of such immoral conduct, it is probable that he would not so
easily have (387) forfeited the favour of that emperor; and it is more
reasonable to suppose, that his disapprobation of Nero’s conduct was the
real cause of that odium which soon after proved fatal to him. By the
enemies whom distinguished merit and virtue never fail to excite at a
profligate court, Seneca was accused of having maintained a criminal
correspondence with Agrippina in the life-time of Claudius; but the chief
author of this calumny was Suilius, who had been banished from Rome at
the instance of Seneca. He was likewise charged with having amassed
exorbitant riches, with having built magnificent houses, and formed
beautiful gardens, during the four years in which he had acted as
preceptor to Nero. This charge he considered as a prelude to his
destruction; which to avoid, if possible, he requested of the emperor to
accept of the riches and possessions which he had acquired in his
situation at court, and to permit him to withdraw himself into a life of
studious retirement. Nero, dissembling his secret intentions, refused
this request; and Seneca, that he might obviate all cause of suspicion or
offence, kept himself at home for some time, under the pretext of

Upon the breaking out of the conspiracy of Piso, in which some of the
principal senators were concerned, Natalis, the discoverer of the plot,
mentioned Seneca’s name, as an accessory. There is, however, no
satisfactory evidence that Seneca had any knowledge of the plot. Piso,
according to the declaration of Natalis, had complained that he never saw
Seneca; and the latter had observed, in answer, that it was not conducive
to their common interest to see each other often. Seneca likewise
pleaded indisposition, and said that his own life depended upon the
safety of Piso’s person. Nero, however, glad of such an occasion of
sacrificing the philosopher to his secret jealousy, sent him an order to
destroy himself. When the messenger arrived with this mandate, Seneca
was sitting at table, with his wife Paulina and two of his friends. He
heard the message not only with philosophical firmness, but even with
symptoms of joy, and observed, that such an honour might long have been
expected from a man who had assassinated all his friends, and even
murdered his own mother. The only request which he made, was, that he
might be permitted to dispose of his possessions as he pleased; but this
was refused him. Immediately turning himself to his friends, who were
weeping at his melancholy fate, he said to them, that, since he could not
leave them what he considered as his own property, he should leave at
least his own life for an example; an innocence of conduct which they
might imitate, and by which they might acquire immortal fame. He
remonstrated with composure against their unavailing tears and (388)
lamentations, and asked them, whether they had not learnt better to
sustain the shocks of fortune, and the violence of tyranny?

The emotions of his wife he endeavoured to allay with philosophical
consolation; and when she expressed a resolution to die with him, he
said, that he was glad to find his example imitated with so much
fortitude. The veins of both were opened at the same time; but Nero’s
command extending only to Seneca, the life of Paulina was preserved; and,
according to some authors, she was not displeased at being prevented from
carrying her precipitate resolution into effect. Seneca’s veins bleeding
but slowly, an opportunity was offered him of displaying in his last
moments a philosophical magnanimity similar to that of Socrates; and it
appears that his conversation during this solemn period was maintained
with dignified composure. To accelerate his lingering fate, he drank a
dose of poison; but this producing no effect, he ordered his attendants
to carry him into a warm bath, for the purpose of rendering the
haemorrhage from his veins more copious. This expedient proving likewise
ineffectual, and the soldiers who witnessed the execution of the
emperor’s order being clamorous for its accomplishment, he was removed
into a stove, and suffocated by the steam. He underwent his fate on the
12th of April, in the sixty-fifth year of the Christian aera, and the
fifty-third year of his age. His body was burnt, and his ashes deposited
in a private manner, according to his will, which had been made during
the period when he was in the highest degree of favour with Nero.

The writings of Seneca are numerous, and on various subjects. His first
composition, addressed to Novacus, is on Anger, and continued through
three books. After giving a lively description of this passion, the
author discusses a variety of questions concerning it: he argues strongly
against its utility, in contradiction to the peripatetics, and recommends
its restraint, by many just and excellent considerations. This treatise
may be regarded, in its general outlines, as a philosophical
amplification of the passage in Horace:–

Ira furor brevis est: animum rege; qui, nisi paret,
Imperat: hunc fraenis, hunc tu compesce catena.
Epist. I. ii.

Anger’s a fitful madness: rein thy mind,
Subdue the tyrant, and in fetters bind,
Or be thyself the slave.

The next treatise is on Consolation, addressed to his mother, Helvia, and
was written during his exile. He there informs his mother that he bears
his banishment with fortitude, and advises her to do the same. He
observes, that, in respect to himself, (389) change of place, poverty,
ignominy, and contempt, are not real evils; that there may be two reasons
for her anxiety on his account; first, that, by his absence, she is
deprived of his protection; and in the next place, of the satisfaction
arising from his company; on both which heads he suggests a variety of
pertinent observations. Prefixed to this treatise, are some epigrams
written on the banishment of Seneca, but whether or not by himself, is

Immediately subsequent to the preceding, is another treatise on
Consolation, addressed to one of Claudius’s freedmen, named Polybius,
perhaps after the learned historian. In this tract, which is in several
parts mutilated, the author endeavours to console Polybius for the loss
of a brother who had lately died. The sentiments and admonitions are
well suggested for the purpose; but they are intermixed with such fulsome
encomiums on the imperial domestic, as degrade the dignity of the author,
and can be ascribed to no other motive than that of endeavouring to
procure a recall from his exile, through the interest of Polybius.

A fourth treatise on Consolation is addressed to Marcia, a respectable
and opulent lady, the daughter of Cremutius Cordus, by whose death she
was deeply affected. The author, besides many consolatory arguments,
proposes for her imitation a number of examples, by attending to which
she may be enabled to overcome a passion that is founded only in too
great sensibility of mind. The subject is ingeniously prosecuted, not
without the occasional mixture of some delicate flattery, suitable to the
character of the correspondent.

These consolatory addresses are followed by a treatise on Providence,
which evinces the author to have entertained the most just and
philosophical sentiments on that subject. He infers the necessary
existence of a Providence from the regularity and constancy observed in
the government of the universe but his chief object is to show, why, upon
the principle that a Providence exists, good men should be liable to
evils. The enquiry is conducted with a variety of just observations, and
great force of argument; by which the author vindicates the goodness and
wisdom of the Almighty, in a strain of sentiment corresponding to the
most approved suggestions of natural religion.

The next treatise, which is on Tranquillity of Mind, appears to have been
written soon after his return from exile. There is a confusion in the
arrangement of this tract; but it contains a variety of just
observations, and may be regarded as a valuable production.

(390) Then follows a discourse on the Constancy of a Wise Man. This has
by some been considered as a part of the preceding treatise; but they are
evidently distinct. It is one of the author’s best productions, in
regard both of sentiment and composition, and contains a fund of moral
observations, suited to fortify the mind under the oppression of
accidental calamities.

We next meet with a tract on Clemency, in two books, addressed to Nero.
This appears to have been written in the beginning of the reign of Nero,
on whom the author bestows some high encomiums, which, at that time, seem
not to have been destitute of foundation. The discourse abounds with
just observation, applicable to all ranks of men; and, if properly
attended to by that infatuated emperor, might have prevented the
perpetration of those acts of cruelty, which, with his other
extravagancies, have rendered his name odious to posterity.

The discourse which succeeds is on the Shortness of Life, addressed to
Paulinus. In this excellent treatise the author endeavours to show, that
the complaint of the shortness of life is not founded in truth: that it
is men who make life short, either by passing it in indolence, or
otherwise improperly. He inveighs against indolence, luxury, and every
unprofitable avocation; observing, that the best use of time is to apply
it to the study of wisdom, by which life may be rendered sufficiently

Next follows a discourse on a Happy Life, addressed to Gallio. Seneca
seems to have intended this as a vindication of himself, against those
who calumniated him on account of his riches and manner of living. He
maintained that a life can only be rendered happy by its conformity to
the dictates of virtue, but that such a life is perfectly compatible with
the possession of riches, where they happen to accrue. The author pleads
his own cause with great ability, as well as justness of argument. His
vindication is in many parts highly beautiful, and accompanied with
admirable sentiments respecting the moral obligations to a virtuous life.
The conclusion of this discourse bears no similarity, in point of
composition, to the preceding parts, and is evidently spurious.

The preceding discourse is followed by one upon the Retirement of a Wise
Man. The beginning of this tract is wanting; but in the sequel the
author discusses a question which was much agitated amongst the Stoics
and Epicureans, viz., whether a wise man ought to concern himself with
the affairs of the public. Both these sects of philosophers maintained
that a life of retirement was most suitable to a wise man, but they
differed with respect to the circumstances in which it might be proper to
deviate from this conduct; one party considering the deviation (391) as
prudent, when there existed a just motive for such conduct, and the
other, when there was no forcible reason against it. Seneca regards both
these opinions as founded upon principles inadequate to the advancement
both of public and private happiness, which ought ever to be the ultimate
object of moral speculation.

The last of the author’s discourses, addressed to Aebucius, is on
Benefits, and continued through seven books. He begins with lamenting
the frequency of ingratitude amongst mankind, a vice which he severely
censures. After some preliminary considerations respecting the nature of
benefits, he proceeds to show in what manner, and on whom, they ought to
be conferred. The greater part of these books is employed on the
solution of abstract questions relative to benefits, in the manner of
Chrysippus; where the author states explicitly the arguments on both
sides, and from the full consideration of them, deduces rational

The Epistles of Seneca consist of one hundred and twenty-four, all on
moral subjects. His Natural Questions extend through seven books, in
which he has collected the hypotheses of Aristotle and other ancient
writers. These are followed by a whimsical effusion on the death of
Caligula. The remainder of his works comprises seven Persuasive
Discourses, five books of Controversies, and ten books containing
Extracts of Declamations.

From the multiplicity of Seneca’s productions, it is evident, that,
notwithstanding the luxurious life he is said to have led, he was greatly
devoted to literature, a propensity which, it is probable, was confirmed
by his banishment during almost eight years in the island of Corsica,
where he was in a great degree secluded from every other resource of
amusement to a cultivated mind. But with whatever splendour Seneca’s
domestic economy may have been supported, it seems highly improbable that
he indulged himself in luxurious enjoyment to any vicious excess. His
situation at the Roman court, being honourable and important, could not
fail of being likewise advantageous, not only from the imperial profusion
common at that time, but from many contingent emoluments which his
extensive interest and patronage would naturally afford him. He was born
of a respectable rank, lived in habits of familiar intercourse with
persons of the first distinction, and if, in the course of his attendance
upon Nero, he had acquired a large fortune, no blame could justly attach
to his conduct in maintaining an elegant hospitality. The imputation of
luxury was thrown upon him from two quarters, viz, by the dissolute
companions of Nero, to whom the mention of such an example served as an
apology for their own extreme dissipation; (392) and by those who envied
him for the affluence and dignity which he had acquired. The charge,
however, is supported only by vague assertion, and is discredited by
every consideration which ought to have weight in determining the reality
of human characters. It seems totally inconsistent with his habits of
literary industry, with the virtuous sentiments which he every where
strenuously maintains, and the esteem with which he was regarded by a
numerous acquaintance, as a philosopher and a moralist.

The writings of Seneca have been traduced almost equally with his manner
of living, though in both he has a claim to indulgence, from the fashion
of the times. He is more studious of minute embellishments in style than
the writers of the Augustan age; and the didactic strain, in which he
mostly prosecutes his subjects, has a tendency to render him sententious;
but the expression of his thoughts is neither enfeebled by decoration,
nor involved in obscurity by conciseness. He is not more rich in
artificial ornament than in moral admonition. Seneca has been charged
with depreciating former writers, to render himself more conspicuous; a
charge which, so far as appears from his writings, is founded rather in
negative than positive testimony. He has not endeavoured to establish
his fame by any affectation of singularity in doctrine; and while he
passes over in silence the names of illustrious authors, he avails
himself with judgment of the most valuable stores with which they had
enriched philosophy. On the whole, he is an author whose principles may
be adopted not only with safety, but great advantage; and his writings
merit a degree of consideration, superior to what they have hitherto ever
enjoyed in the literary world.

Seneca, besides his prose works, was the author of some tragedies. The
Medea, the Troas, and the Hippolytus, are ascribed to him. His father is
said to have written the Hercules Furens, Thyestes, Agamemnon, and
Hercules Oetaeus. The three remaining tragedies, the Thebais, Oedipus,
and Octavia, usually published in the same collection with the seven
preceding, are supposed to be the productions of other authors, but of
whom, is uncertain. These several pieces are written in a neat style;
the plots and characters are conducted with an attention to probability
and nature: but none of them is so forcible, in point of tragical
distress, as to excite in the reader any great degree of emotion.—-

PETRONIUS was a Roman knight, and apparently of considerable fortune. In
his youth he seems to have given great application to polite literature,
in which he acquired a justness of taste, as well as an elegance of
composition. Early initiated in the gaieties (393) of fashionable life,
he contracted a habit of voluptuousness which rendered him an
accommodating companion to the dissipated and the luxurious. The court
of Claudius, entirely governed for some time by Messalina, was then the
residence of pleasure; and here Petronius failed not of making a
conspicuous appearance. More delicate, however, than sensual, he rather
joined in the dissipation, than indulged in the vices of the palace. To
interrupt a course of life too uniform to afford him perpetual
satisfaction, he accepted of the proconsulship of Bithynia, and went to
that province, where he discharged the duties of his office with great
credit. Upon his return to Rome, Nero, who had succeeded Claudius, made
him consul, in recompense of his services. This new dignity, by giving
him frequent and easy access to the emperor, created an intimacy between
them, which was increased to friendship and esteem on the side of Nero,
by the elegant entertainments often given him by Petronius. In a short
time, this gay voluptuary became so much a favourite at court, that
nothing was agreeable but what was approved by Petronius and the
authority which he acquired, by being umpire in whatever related to the
economy of gay dissipation, procured him the title of Arbiter
elegantiarum. Things continued in this state whilst the emperor kept
within the bounds of moderation; and Petronius acted as intendant of his
pleasures, ordering him shows, games, comedies, music, feats, and all
that could contribute to make the hours of relaxation pass agreeably;
seasoning, at the same time, the innocent delights which he procured for
the emperor with every possible charm, to prevent him from seeking after
such as might prove pernicious both to morals and the republic. Nero,
however, giving way to his own disposition, which was naturally vicious,
at length changed his conduct, not only in regard to the government of
the empire, but of himself and listening to other counsels than those of
Petronius, gave the entire reins to his passions, which afterwards
plunged him in ruin. The emperor’s new favourite was Tigellinus, a man
of the most profligate morals, who omitted nothing that could gratify the
inordinate appetites of his prince, at the expense of all decency and
virtue. During this period, Petronius gave vent to his indignation, in
the satire transmitted under his name by the title of Satyricon. But his
total retirement from court did not secure him from the artifices of
Tigellinus, who laboured with all his power to destroy the man whom he
had industriously supplanted in the emperor’s favour. With this view he
insinuated to Nero, that Petronius was too intimately connected with
Scevinus not to be engaged in Piso’s conspiracy; and, to support his
calumny, caused the emperor to be present at the examination (394) of one
of Petronius’s slaves, whom he had secretly suborned to swear against his
master. After this transaction, to deprive Petronius of all means of
justifying himself, they threw into prison the greatest part of his
domestics. Nero embraced with joy the opportunity of removing a man, to
whom he knew the present manners of the court were utterly obnoxious, and
he soon after issued orders for arresting Petronius. As it required,
however, some time to deliberate whether they should put a person of his
consideration to death, without more evident proofs of the charges
preferred against him, such was his disgust at living in the power of so
detestable and capricious a tyrant, that he resolved to die. For this
purpose, making choice of the same expedient which had been adopted by
Seneca, he caused his veins to be opened, but he closed them again, for a
little time, that he might enjoy the conversation of his friends, who
came to see him in his last moments. He desired them, it is said, to
entertain him, not with discourses on the immortality of the soul, or the
consolation of philosophy, but with agreeable tales and poetic
gallantries. Disdaining to imitate the servility of those who, dying by
the orders of Nero, yet made him their heir, and filled their wills with
encomiums on the tyrant and his favourites, he broke to pieces a goblet
of precious stones, out of which he had commonly drank, that Nero, who he
knew would seize upon it after his death, might not have the pleasure of
using it. As the only present suitable to such a prince, he sent him,
under a sealed cover, his Satyricon, written purposely against him; and
then broke his signet, that it might not, after his death, become the
means of accusation against the person in whose custody it should be

The Satyricon of Petronius is one of the most curious productions in the
Latin language. Novel in its nature, and without any parallel in the
works of antiquity, some have imagined it to be a spurious composition,
fabricated about the time of the revival of learning in Europe. This
conjecture, however, is not more destitute of support, than repugnant to
the most circumstantial evidence in favour of its authenticity. Others,
admitting the work to be a production of the age of Nero, have questioned
the design with which it was written, and have consequently imputed to
the author a most immoral intention. Some of the scenes, incidents, and
characters, are of so extraordinary a nature, that the description of
them, without a particular application, must have been regarded as
extremely whimsical, and the work, notwithstanding its ingenuity, has
been doomed to perpetual oblivion: but history justifies the belief, that
in the court of Nero, the extravagancies mentioned by Petronius were
realized (395) to a degree which authenticates the representation given
of them. The inimitable character of Trimalchio, which exhibits a person
sunk in the most debauched effeminacy, was drawn for Nero; and we are
assured, that there were formerly medals of that emperor, with these
words, C. Nero August. Imp., and on the reverse, Trimalchio. The various
characters are well discriminated, and supported with admirable
propriety. Never was such licentiousness of description united to such
delicacy of colouring. The force of the satire consists not in poignancy
of sentiment, but in the ridicule which arises from the whimsical, but
characteristic and faithful exhibition of the objects introduced. That
Nero was struck with the justness of the representation, is evident from
the displeasure which he showed, at finding Petronius so well acquainted
with his infamous excesses. After levelling his suspicion on all who
could possibly have betrayed him, he at last fixed on a senator’s wife,
named Silia, who bore a part in his revels, and was an intimate friend of
Petronius upon which she was immediately sent into banishment. Amongst
the miscellaneous materials in this work, are some pieces of poetry,
written in an elegant taste. A poem on the civil war between Caesar and
Pompey, is beautiful and animated.

Though the Muses appear to have been mostly in a quiescent state from the
time of Augustus, we find from Petronius Arbiter, who exhibits the
manners of the capital during the reign of Nero, that poetry still
continued to be a favourite pursuit amongst the Romans, and one to which,
indeed, they seem to have had a national propensity.

——–Ecce inter pocula quaerunt
Romulidae saturi, quid dia poemata narrent.–Persius, Sat. i. 30.

—-Nay, more! Our nobles, gorged, and swilled with wine,
Call o’er the banquet for a lay divine!–Gifford.

It was cultivated as a kind of fashionable exercise, in short and
desultory attempts, in which the chief ambition was to produce verses
extempore. They were publicly recited by their authors with great
ostentation; and a favourable verdict from an audience, however partial,
and frequently obtained either by intrigue or bribery, was construed by
those frivolous pretenders into a real adjudication of poetical fame.

The custom of publicly reciting poetical compositions, with the view of
obtaining the opinion of the hearers concerning them, and for which
purpose Augustus had built the Temple of Apollo, was well calculated for
the improvement of taste and judgment, as well as the excitement of
emulation; but, conducted as it now was, it led to a general degradation
of poetry. Barbarism in (396) language, and a corruption of taste, were
the natural consequences of this practice, while the judgment of the
multitude was either blind or venal, and while public approbation
sanctioned the crudities of hasty composition. There arose, however, in
this period, some candidates for the bays, who carried their efforts
beyond the narrow limits which custom and inadequate genius prescribed to
the poetical exertions of their contemporaries. Amongst these were Lucan
and Persius.—-

LUCAN was the son of Annaeus Mela, the brother of Seneca, the
philosopher. He was born at Corduba, the original residence of the
family, but came early to Rome, where his promising talents, and the
patronage of his uncle, recommended him to the favour of Nero; by whom he
was raised to the dignity of an augur and quaestor before he had attained
the usual age. Prompted by the desire of displaying his political
abilities, he had the imprudence to engage in a competition with his
imperial patron. The subject chosen by Nero was the tragical fate of
Niobe; and that of Lucan was Orpheus. The ease with which the latter
obtained the victory in the contest, excited the jealousy of the emperor,
who resolved upon depressing his rising genius. With this view, he
exposed him daily to the mortification of fresh insults, until at last
the poet’s resentment was so much provoked, that he entered into the
conspiracy of Piso for cutting off the tyrant. The plot being
discovered, there remained for the unfortunate Lucan no hope of pardon:
and choosing the same mode of death which was employed by his uncle, he
had his veins opened, while he sat in a warm bath, and expired in
pronouncing with great emphasis the following lines in his Pharsalia:–

Scinditur avulsus; nec sicut vulnere sanguis
Emicuit lentus: ruptis cadit undique venis;
Discursusque animae diversa in membra meantis
Interceptus aquis, nullius, vita perempti
Est tanta dimissa via.–Lib. iii. 638.

—-Asunder flies the man.
No single wound the gaping rupture seems,
Where trickling crimson flows in tender streams;
But from an opening horrible and wide
A thousand vessels pour the bursting tide;
At once the winding channel’s course was broke,
Where wandering life her mazy journey took.–Rowe.

Some authors have said that he betrayed pusillanimity at the hour of
death; and that, to save himself from punishment, he (397) accused his
mother of being involved in the conspiracy. This circumstance, however,
is not mentioned by other writers, who relate, on the contrary, that he
died with philosophical fortitude. He was then only in the twenty-sixth
year of his age.

Lucan had scarcely reached the age of puberty when he wrote a poem on the
contest between Hector and Achilles. He also composed in his youth a
poem on the burning of Rome; but his only surviving work is the
Pharsalia, written on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. This
poem, consisting of ten books, is unfinished, and its character has been
more depreciated than that of any other production of antiquity. In the
plan of the poem, the author prosecutes the different events in the civil
war, beginning his narrative at the passage of the Rubicon by Caesar. He
invokes not the muses, nor engages any gods in the dispute; but
endeavours to support an epic dignity by vigour of sentiment, and
splendour of description. The horrors of civil war, and the importance
of a contest which was to determine the fate of Rome and the empire of
the world, are displayed with variety of colouring, and great energy of
expression. In the description of scenes, and the recital of heroic
actions, the author discovers a strong and lively imagination; while, in
those parts of the work which are addressed either to the understanding
or the passions, he is bold, figurative, and animated. Indulging too
much in amplification, he is apt to tire with prolixity; but in all his
excursions he is ardent, elevated, impressive, and often brilliant. His
versification has not the smoothness which we admire in the compositions
of Virgil, and his language is often involved in the intricacies of
technical construction: but with all his defects, his beauties are
numerous; and he discovers a greater degree of merit than is commonly
found in the productions of a poet of twenty-six years of age, at which
time he died.—-

PERSIUS was born at Volaterrae, of an equestrian family, about the
beginning of the Christian aera. His father dying when he was six years
old, he was left to the care of his mother, for whom and for his sisters
he expresses the warmest affection. At the age of twelve he came to
Rome, where, after attending a course of grammar and rhetoric under the
respective masters of those branches of education, he placed himself
under the tuition of Annaeus Cornutus, a celebrated stoic philosopher of
that time. There subsisted between him and this preceptor so great a
friendship, that at his death, which happened in the twenty-ninth year of
his age, he bequeathed to Cornutus a handsome sum of money, and his
library. The latter, however, accepting only the books, left the money
to Persius’s sisters.

Priscian, Quintilian, and other ancient writers, spear of Persius’s
satires as consisting of a book without any division. They have since,
however, been generally divided into six different satires, but by some
only into five. The subjects of these compositions are, the vanity of
the poets in his time; the backwardness of youth to the cultivation of
moral science; ignorance and temerity in political administration,
chiefly in allusion to the government of Nero: the fifth satire is
employed in evincing that the wise man also is free; in discussing which
point, the author adopts the observations used by Horace on the same
subject. The last satire of Persius is directed against avarice. In the
fifth, we meet with a beautiful address to Cornutus, whom the author
celebrates for his amiable virtues, and peculiar talents for teaching.
The following lines, at the same time that they show how diligently the
preceptor and his pupil were employed through the whole day in the
cultivation of moral science, afford a more agreeable picture of domestic
comfort and philosophical conviviality, than might be expected in the
family of a rigid stoic:

Tecum etenim longos memini consumere soles,
Et tecum primas epulis decerpere noctes.
Unum opus, et requiem pariter disponimus ambo:
Atque verecunda laxamus feria mensa.–Sat. v.

Can I forget how many a summer’s day,
Spent in your converse, stole, unmarked, away?
Or how, while listening with increased delight,
I snatched from feasts the earlier hours of night?–Gifford.

The satires of Persius are written in a free, expostulatory, and
argumentative manner; possessing the same justness of sentiment as those
of Horace, but exerted in the way of derision, and not with the admirable
raillery of that facetious author. They are regarded by many as obscure;
but this imputation arises more from unacquaintance with the characters
and manners to which the author alludes, than from any peculiarity either
in his language or composition. His versification is harmonious; and we
have only to remark, in addition to similar examples in other Latin
writers, that, though Persius is acknowledged to have been both virtuous
and modest, there are in the fourth satire a few passages which cannot
decently admit of being translated. Such was the freedom of the Romans,
in the use of some expressions, which just refinement has now exploded.–

Another poet, in this period, was FABRICIUS VEIENTO, who wrote a severe
satire against the priests of his time; as also one (399) against the
senators, for corruption in their judicial capacity. Nothing remains of
either of those productions; but, for the latter, the author was banished
by Nero.

There now likewise flourished a lyric poet, CAESIUS BASSUS, to whom
Persius has addressed his sixth satire. He is said to have been, next to
Horace, the best lyric poet among the Romans; but of his various
compositions, only a few inconsiderable fragments are preserved.

To the two poets now mentioned must be added POMPONIUS SECUNDUS, a man of
distinguished rank in the army, and who obtained the honour of a triumph
for a victory over a tribe of barbarians in Germany. He wrote several
tragedies, which in the judgment of Quintilian, were beautiful


I. The race of the Caesars became extinct in Nero; an event
prognosticated by various signs, two of which were particularly
significant. Formerly, when Livia, after her marriage with Augustus, was
making a visit to her villa at Veii [639], an eagle flying by, let drop
upon her lap a hen, with a sprig of laurel in her mouth, just as she had
seized it. Livia gave orders to have the hen taken care of, and the
sprig of laurel set; and the hen reared such a numerous brood of
chickens, that the villa, to this day, is called the Villa of the Hens
[640]. The laurel groves flourished so much, that the Caesars procured
thence the boughs and crowns they bore at their triumphs. It was also
their constant custom to plant others on the same spot, immediately after
a triumph; and it was observed that, a little before the death of each
prince, the tree which had been set by him died away. But in the last
year of Nero, the whole plantation of laurels perished to the very roots,
and the hens all died. About the same time, the temple of the Caesars
[641] being struck with lightning, the heads of all the statues in it
fell off at once; and Augustus’s sceptre was dashed from his hands.

II. Nero was succeeded by Galba [642], who was not in the remotest
degree allied to the family of the Caesars, but, without doubt, of very
noble extraction, being descended from a great and ancient family; for he
always used to put amongst his other titles, upon the bases of his
statues, his being great-grandson to Q. Catulus Capitolinus. And when he
came to (401) be emperor, he set up the images of his ancestors in the
hall [643] of the palace; according to the inscriptions on which, he
carried up his pedigree on the father’s side to Jupiter; and by the
mother’s to Pasiphae, the wife of Minos.

III. To give even a short account of the whole family, would be tedious.
I shall, therefore, only slightly notice that branch of it from which he
was descended. Why, or whence, the first of the Sulpicii who had the
cognomen of Galba, was so called, is uncertain. Some are of opinion,
that it was because he set fire to a city in Spain, after he had a long
time attacked it to no purpose, with torches dipped in the gum called
Galbanum: others said he was so named, because, in a lingering disease,
he made use of it as a remedy, wrapped up in wool: others, on account of
his being prodigiously corpulent, such a one being called, in the
language of the Gauls, Galba; or, on the contrary, because he was of a
slender habit of body, like those insects which breed in a sort of oak,
and are called Galbae. Sergius Galba, a person of consular rank [644],
and the most eloquent man of his time, gave a lustre to the family.
History relates, that, when he was pro-praetor of Spain, he perfidiously
put to the sword thirty thousand Lusitanians, and by that means gave
occasion to the war of Viriatus [645]. His grandson being incensed
against Julius Caesar, whose lieutenant he had been in Gaul, because he
was through him disappointed of the consulship [646], joined with Cassius
and Brutus in the conspiracy against him, for which he was condemned by
the Pedian law. From him were descended the grandfather and father of
the emperor Galba. The grandfather was more celebrated for his
application to study, than (402) for any figure he made in the
government. For he rose no higher than the praetorship, but published a
large and not uninteresting history. His father attained to the
consulship [647]: he was a short man and hump-backed, but a tolerable
orator, and an industrious pleader. He was twice married: the first of
his wives was Mummia Achaica, daughter of Catulus, and great-grand-
daughter of Lucius Mummius, who sacked Corinth [648]; and the other,
Livia Ocellina, a very rich and beautiful woman, by whom it is supposed
he was courted for the nobleness of his descent. They say, that she was
farther encouraged to persevere in her advances, by an incident which
evinced the great ingenuousness of his disposition. Upon her pressing
her suit, he took an opportunity, when they were alone, of stripping off
his toga, and showing her the deformity of his person, that he might not
be thought to impose upon her. He had by Achaica two sons, Caius and
Sergius. The elder of these, Caius [649], having very much reduced his
estate, retired from town, and being prohibited by Tiberius from standing
for a pro-consulship in his year, put an end to his own life.

IV. The emperor Sergius Galba was born in the consulship of M. Valerius
Messala, and Cn. Lentulus, upon the ninth of the calends of January [24th
December] [650], in a villa standing upon a hill, near Terracina, on the
left-hand side of the road to Fundi [651]. Being adopted by his step-
mother [652], he assumed the name of Livius, with the cognomen of Ocella,
and changed his praenomen; for he afterwards used that of Lucius, instead
of Sergius, until he arrived at the imperial dignity. It is well known,
that when he came once, amongst other boys of his own age, to pay his
respects to Augustus, the latter, pinching his cheek, said to him, “And
thou, child, too, wilt taste our imperial dignity.” Tiberius, likewise,
being told that he would come to be emperor, but at an advanced age,
exclaimed, “Let him live, then, since that does not concern me!” When
his grandfather was offering sacrifice to (403) avert some ill omen from
lightning, the entrails of the victim were snatched out of his hand by an
eagle, and carried off into an oak-tree loaded with acorns. Upon this,
the soothsayers said, that the family would come to be masters of the
empire, but not until many years had elapsed: at which he, smiling, said,
“Ay, when a mule comes to bear a foal.” When Galba first declared
against Nero, nothing gave him so much confidence of success, as a mule’s
happening at that time to have a foal. And whilst all others were
shocked at the occurrence, as a most inauspicious prodigy, he alone
regarded it as a most fortunate omen, calling to mind the sacrifice and
saying of his grandfather. When he took upon him the manly habit, he
dreamt that the goddess Fortune said to him, “I stand before your door
weary; and unless I am speedily admitted, I shall fall into the hands of
the first who comes to seize me.” On his awaking, when the door of the
house was opened, he found a brazen statue of the goddess, above a cubit
long, close to the threshold, which he carried with slim to Tusculum,
where he used to pass the summer season; and having consecrated it in an
apartment of his house, he ever after worshipped it with a monthly
sacrifice, and an anniversary vigil. Though but a very young man, he
kept up an ancient but obsolete custom, and now nowhere observed, except
in his own family, which was, to have his freedmen and slaves appear in a
body before him twice a day, morning and evening, to offer him their

V. Amongst other liberal studies, he applied himself to the law. He
married Lepida [653], by whom he had two sons; but the mother and
children all dying, he continued a widower; nor could he be prevailed
upon to marry again, not even Agrippina herself, at that time left a
widow by the death of Domitius, who had employed all her blandishments to
allure him to her embraces, while he was a married man; insomuch that
Lepida’s mother, when in company with several married women, rebuked her
for it, and even went so far as to cuff her. Most of all, he courted the
empress Livia [654], by whose favour, while she was living, he made a
considerable figure, and narrowly missed being enriched by the will which
she left at her death; in which she distinguished him from the rest of
the (404) legatees, by a legacy of fifty millions of sesterces. But
because the sum was expressed in figures, and not in words at length, it
was reduced by her heir, Tiberius, to five hundred thousand: and even
this he never received. [655]

VI. Filling the great offices before the age required for it by law,
during his praetorship, at the celebration of games in honour of the
goddess Flora, he presented the new spectacle of elephants walking upon
ropes. He was then governor of the province of Aquitania for near a
year, and soon afterwards took the consulship in the usual course, and
held it for six months [656]. It so happened that he succeeded L.
Domitius, the father of Nero, and was succeeded by Salvius Otho, father
to the emperor of that name; so that his holding it between the sons of
these two men, looked like a presage of his future advancement to the
empire. Being appointed by Caius Caesar to supersede Gaetulicus in his
command, the day after his joining the legions, he put a stop to their
plaudits in a public spectacle, by issuing an order, “That they should
keep their hands under their cloaks.” Immediately upon which, the
following verse became very common in the camp:

Disce, miles, militare: Galba est, non Gaetulicus.

Learn, soldier, now in arms to use your hands,
‘Tis Galba, not Gaetulicus, commands.

With equal strictness, he would allow of no petitions for leave of
absence from the camp. He hardened the soldiers, both old and young, by
constant exercise; and having quickly reduced within their own limits the
barbarians who had made inroads into Gaul, upon Caius’s coming into
Germany, he so far recommended himself and his army to that emperor’s
approbation, that, amongst the innumerable troops drawn from all the
provinces of the empire, none met with higher commendation, or greater
rewards from him. He likewise distinguished himself by heading an
escort, with a shield in his hand [658], and running at the side of the
emperor’s chariot twenty miles together.

VII. Upon the news of Caius’s death, though many earnestly pressed him
to lay hold of that opportunity of seizing the empire, he chose rather to
be quiet. On this account, he was in great favour with Claudius, and
being received into the number of his friends, stood so high in his good
opinion, that the expedition to Britain [659] was for some time
suspended, because he was suddenly seized with a slight indisposition.
He governed Africa, as pro-consul, for two years; being chosen out of the
regular course to restore order in the province, which was in great
disorder from civil dissensions, and the alarms of the barbarians. His
administration was distinguished by great strictness and equity, even in
matters of small importance. A soldier upon some expedition being
charged with selling, in a great scarcity of corn, a bushel of wheat,
which was all he had left, for a hundred denarii, he forbad him to be
relieved by any body, when he came to be in want himself; and accordingly
he died of famine. When sitting in judgment, a cause being brought
before him about some beast of burden, the ownership of which was claimed
by two persons; the evidence being slight on both sides, and it being
difficult to come at the truth, he ordered the beast to be led to a pond
at which he had used to be watered, with his head muffled up, and the
covering being there removed, that he should be the property of the
person whom he followed of his own accord, after drinking.

VIII. For his achievements, both at this time in Africa, and formerly in
Germany, he received the triumphal ornaments, and three sacerdotal
appointments, one among The Fifteen, another in the college of Titius,
and a third amongst the Augustals; and from that time to the middle of
Nero’s reign, he lived for the most part in retirement. He never went
abroad (405) so much as to take the air, without a carriage attending
him, in which there was a million of sesterces in gold, ready at hand;
until at last, at the time he was living in the town of Fundi, the
province of Hispania Tarraconensis was offered him. After his arrival in
the province, whilst he was sacrificing in a temple, a boy who attended
with a censer, became all on a sudden grey-headed. This incident was
regarded by some as a token of an approaching revolution in the
government, and that an old man would succeed a young one: that is, that
he would succeed Nero. And not long after, a thunderbolt falling into a
lake in Cantabria [660], twelve axes were found in it; a manifest sign of
the supreme power.

IX. He governed the province during eight years, his administration
being of an uncertain and capricious character. At first he was active,
vigorous, and indeed excessively severe, in the punishment of offenders.
For, a money-dealer having committed some fraud in the way of his
business, he cut off his hands, and nailed them to his counter. Another,
who had poisoned an orphan, to whom he was guardian, and next heir to the
estate, he crucified. On this delinquent imploring the protection of the
law, and crying out that he was a Roman citizen, he affected to afford
him some alleviation, and to mitigate his punishment, by a mark of
honour, ordered a cross, higher than usual, and painted white, to be
erected for him. But by degrees he gave himself up to a life of
indolence and inactivity, from the fear of giving Nero any occasion of
jealousy, and because, as he used to say, “Nobody was obliged to render
an account of their leisure hours.” He was holding a court of justice on
the circuit at New Carthage [661], when he received intelligence of the
insurrection in Gaul [662]; and while the lieutenant of Aquitania was
soliciting his assistance, letters were brought from Vindex, requesting
him “to assert the rights of mankind, and put himself at their head to
relieve them from the tyranny of Nero.” Without any long demur, he
accepted the invitation, from a mixture of fear and hope. For he had
discovered that private orders had been sent by Nero to his procurators
in the province to get (407) him dispatched; and he was encouraged to the
enterprise, as well by several auspices and omens, as by the prophecy of
a young woman of good, family. The more so, because the priest of
Jupiter at Clunia [663], admonished by a dream, had discovered in the
recesses of the temple some verses similar to those in which she had
delivered her prophecy. These had also been uttered by a girl under
divine inspiration, about two hundred years before. The import of the
verses was, “That in time, Spain should give the world a lord and

X. Taking his seat on the tribunal, therefore, as if there was no other
business than the manumitting of slaves, he had the effigies of a number
of persons who had been condemned and put to death by Nero, set up before
him, whilst a noble youth stood by, who had been banished, and whom he
had purposely sent for from one of the neighbouring Balearic isles; and
lamenting the condition of the times, and being thereupon unanimously
saluted by the title of Emperor, he publicly declared himself “only the
lieutenant of the senate and people of Rome.” Then shutting the courts,
he levied legions and auxiliary troops among the provincials, besides his
veteran army consisting of one legion, two wings of horse, and three
cohorts. Out of the military leaders most distinguished for age and
prudence, he formed a kind of senate, with whom to advise upon all
matters of importance, as often as occasion should require. He likewise
chose several young men of the equestrian order, who were to be allowed
the privilege of wearing the gold ring, and, being called “The Reserve,”
should mount guard before his bed-chamber, instead of the legionary
soldiers. He likewise issued proclamations throughout the provinces of
the empire, exhorting all to rise in arms unanimously, and aid the common
cause, by all the ways and means in their power. About the same time, in
fortifying a town, which he had pitched upon for a military post, a ring
was found, of antique workmanship, in the stone of which was engraved the
goddess Victory with a trophy. Presently after, a ship of Alexandria
arrived at Dertosa [664], loaded with arms, without any person to steer
it, or so much as a single sailor or passenger (408) on board. From this
incident, nobody entertained the least doubt but the war upon which they
were entering was just and honourable, and favoured likewise by the gods;
when all on a sudden the whole design was exposed to failure. One of the
two wings of horse, repenting of the violation of their oath to Nero,
attempted to desert him upon his approach to the camp, and were with some
difficulty kept in their duty. And some slaves who had been presented to
him by a freedman of Nero’s, on purpose to murder him, had like to have
killed him as he went through a narrow passage to the bath. Being
overheard to encourage one another not to lose the opportunity, they were
called to an account concerning it; and recourse being had to the
torture, a confession was extorted from them.

XI. These dangers were followed by the death of Vindex, at which being
extremely discouraged, as if fortune had quite forsaken him, he had
thoughts of putting an end to his own life; but receiving advice by his
messengers from Rome that Nero was slain, and that all had taken an oath
to him as emperor, he laid aside the title of lieutenant, and took upon
him that of Caesar. Putting himself upon his march in his general’s
cloak, and a dagger hanging from his neck before his breast, he did not
resume the use of the toga, until Nymphidius Sabinus, prefect of the
pretorian guards at Rome, with the two lieutenants, Fonteius Capito in
Germany, and Claudius Macer in Africa, who opposed his advancement, were
all put down.

XII. Rumours of his cruelty and avarice had reached the city before his
arrival; such as that he had punished some cities of Spain and Gaul, for
not joining him readily, by the imposition of heavy taxes, and some by
levelling their walls; and had put to death the governors and procurators
with their wives and children: likewise that a golden crown, of fifteen
pounds weight, taken out of the temple of Jupiter, with which he was
presented by the people of Tarracona, he had melted down, and had exacted
from them three ounces which were wanting in the weight. This report of
him was confirmed and increased, as soon as he entered the town. For
some seamen who had been taken from the fleet, and enlisted (409) among
the troops by Nero, he obliged to return to their former condition; but
they refusing to comply, and obstinately clinging to the more honourable
service under their eagles and standards, he not only dispersed them by a
body of horse, but likewise decimated them. He also disbanded a cohort
of Germans, which had been formed by the preceding emperors, for their
body-guard, and upon many occasions found very faithful; and sent them
back into their own country, without giving them any gratuity, pretending
that they were more inclined to favour the advancement of Cneius
Dolabella, near whose gardens they encamped, than his own. The following
ridiculous stories were also related of him; but whether with or without
foundation, I know not; such as, that when a more sumptuous entertainment
than usual was served up, he fetched a deep groan: that when one of the
stewards presented him with an account of his expenses, he reached him a
dish of legumes from his table as a reward for his care and diligence;
and when Canus, the piper, had played much to his satisfaction, he
presented him, with his own hand, five denarii taken out of his pocket.

XIII. His arrival, therefore, in town was not very agreeable to the
people; and this appeared at the next public spectacle. For when the
actors in a farce began a well-known song,

Venit, io, Simus [665] a villa:
Lo! Clodpate from his village comes;

all the spectators, with one voice, went on with the rest, repeating and
acting the first verse several times over.

XIV. He possessed himself of the imperial power with more favour and
authority than he administered it, although he gave many proofs of his
being an excellent prince: but these were not so grateful to the people,
as his misconduct was offensive. He was governed by three favourites,
who, because they lived in the palace, and were constantly about him,
obtained the name of his pedagogues. These were Titus Vinius, who had
been his lieutenant in Spain, a man of insatiable (410) avarice;
Cornelius Laco, who, from an assessor to the prince, was advanced to be
prefect of the pretorian guards, a person of intolerable arrogance, as
well as indolence; and his freedman Icelus, dignified a little before
with the privilege of wearing the gold ring, and the use of the cognomen
Martianus, who became a candidate for the highest honour within the reach
of any person of the equestrian order [666]. He resigned himself so
implicitly into the power of those three favourites, who governed in
every thing according to the capricious impulse of their vices and
tempers, and his authority was so much abused by them, that the tenor of
his conduct was not very consistent with itself. At one time, he was
more rigorous and frugal, at another, more lavish and negligent, than
became a prince who had been chosen by the people, and was so far
advanced in years. He condemned some men of the first rank in the
senatorian and equestrian orders, upon a very slight suspicion, and
without trial. He rarely granted the freedom of the city to any one; and
the privilege belonging to such as had three children, only to one or
two; and that with great difficulty, and only for a limited time. When
the judges petitioned to have a sixth decury added to their number, he
not only denied them, but abolished the vacation which had been granted
them by Claudius for the winter, and the beginning of the year.

XV. It was thought that he likewise intended to reduce the offices held
by senators and men of the equestrian order, to a term of two years’
continuance; and to bestow them only on those who were unwilling to
accept them, and had refused them. All the grants of Nero he recalled,
saving only the tenth part of them. For this purpose he gave a
commission to fifty Roman knights; with orders, that if players or
wrestlers had sold what had been formerly given them, it should be
exacted from the purchasers, since the others, having, no doubt, spent
the money, were not in a condition to pay. But on the other hand, he
suffered his attendants and freedmen to sell or give away the revenue of
the state, or immunities from taxes, and to punish the innocent, or
pardon criminals, at pleasure. Nay, when the Roman people were very
clamorous for the punishment of Halotus and Tigellinus, two of the (411)
most mischievous amongst all the emissaries of Nero, he protected them,
and even bestowed on Halotus one of the best procurations in his
disposal. And as to Tigellinus, he even reprimanded the people for their
cruelty by a proclamation.

XVI. By this conduct, he incurred the hatred of all orders of the
people, but especially of the soldiery. For their commanders having
promised them in his name a donative larger than usual, upon their taking
the oath to him before his arrival at Rome; he refused to make it good,
frequently bragging, “that it was his custom to choose his soldiers, not
buy them.” Thus the troops became exasperated against him in all
quarters. The pretorian guards he alarmed with apprehensions of danger
and unworthy treatment; disbanding many of them occasionally as
disaffected to his government, and favourers of Nymphidius. But most of
all, the army in Upper Germany was incensed against him, as being
defrauded of the rewards due to them for the service they had rendered in
the insurrection of the Gauls under Vindex. They were, therefore, the
first who ventured to break into open mutiny, refusing upon the calends
[the 1st] of January, to take any oath of allegiance, except to the
senate; and they immediately dispatched deputies to the pretorian troops,
to let them know, “they did not like the emperor who had been set up in
Spain,” and to desire that “they would make choice of another, who might
meet with the approbation of all the armies.”

XVII. Upon receiving intelligence of this, imagining that he was
slighted not so much on account of his age, as for having no children, he
immediately singled out of a company of young persons of rank, who came
to pay their compliments to him, Piso Frugi Licinianus, a youth of noble
descent and great talents, for whom he had before contracted such a
regard, that he had appointed him in his will the heir both of his estate
and name. Him he now styled his son, and taking him to the camp, adopted
him in the presence of the assembled troops, but without making any
mention of a donative. This circumstance afforded the better opportunity
to Marcus Salvius Otho of accomplishing his object, six days after the

XVIII. Many remarkable prodigies had happened from the (412) very
beginning of his reign, which forewarned him of his approaching fate. In
every town through which he passed in his way from Spain to Rome, victims
were slain on the right and left of the roads; and one of these, which
was a bull, being maddened with the stroke of the axe, broke the rope
with which it was tied, and running straight against his chariot, with
his fore-feet elevated, bespattered him with blood. Likewise, as he was
alighting, one of the guard, being pushed forward by the crowd, had very
nearly wounded him with his lance. And upon his entering the city and,
afterwards, the palace, he was welcomed with an earthquake, and a noise
like the bellowing of cattle. These signs of ill-fortune were followed
by some that were still more apparently such. Out of all his treasures
he had selected a necklace of pearls and jewels, to adorn his statue of
Fortune at Tusculum. But it suddenly occurring to him that it deserved a
more august place, he consecrated it to the Capitoline Venus; and next
night, he dreamt that Fortune appeared to him, complaining that she had
been defrauded of the present intended her, and threatening to resume
what she had given him. Terrified at this denunciation, at break of day
he sent forward some persons to Tusculum, to make preparations for a
sacrifice which might avert the displeasure of the goddess; and when he
himself arrived at the place, he found nothing but some hot embers upon
the altar, and an old man in black standing by, holding a little incense
in a glass, and some wine in an earthern pot. It was remarked, too, that
whilst he was sacrificing upon the calends of January, the chaplet fell
from his head, and upon his consulting the pullets for omens, they flew
away. Farther, upon the day of his adopting Piso, when he was to
harangue the soldiers, the seat which he used upon those occasions,
through the neglect of his attendants, was not placed, according to
custom, upon his tribunal; and in the senate-house, his curule chair was
set with the back forward.

XIX. The day before he was slain, as he was sacrificing in the morning,
the augur warned him from time to time to be upon his guard, for that he
was in danger from assassins, and that they were near at hand. Soon
after, he was informed, that Otho was in possession of the pretorian
camp. And though most of his friends advised him to repair thither
immediately, (413) in hopes that he might quell the tumult by his
authority and presence, he resolved to do nothing more than keep close
within the palace, and secure himself by guards of the legionary
soldiers, who were quartered in different parts about the city. He put
on a linen coat of mail, however, remarking at the same time, that it
would avail him little against the points of so many swords. But being
tempted out by false reports, which the conspirators had purposely spread
to induce him to venture abroad–some few of those about him too hastily
assuring him that the tumult had ceased, the mutineers were apprehended,
and the rest coming to congratulate him, resolved to continue firm in
their obedience–he went forward to meet them with so much confidence,
that upon a soldier’s boasting that he had killed Otho, he asked him, “By
what authority?” and proceeded as far as the Forum. There the knights,
appointed to dispatch him, making their way through the crowd of
citizens, upon seeing him at a distance, halted a while; after which,
galloping up to him, now abandoned by all his attendants, they put him to

XX. Some authors relate, that upon their first approach he cried out,
“What do you mean, fellow-soldiers? I am yours, and you are mine,” and
promised them a donative: but the generality of writers relate, that he
offered his throat to them, saying, “Do your work, and strike, since you
are resolved upon it.” It is remarkable, that not one of those who were
at hand, ever made any attempt to assist the emperor; and all who were
sent for, disregarded the summons, except a troop of Germans. They, in
consideration of his late kindness in showing them particular attention
during a sickness which prevailed in the camp, flew to his aid, but came
too late; for, being not well acquainted with the town, they had taken a
circuitous route. He was slain near the Curtian Lake [667], and there
left, until a common soldier returning from the receipt of his allowance
of corn, throwing down the load which he carried, cut off his head.
There being upon it no hair, by which he might hold it, he hid it in the
bosom of his dress; but afterwards thrusting his thumb into the mouth, he
carried it in that manner to Otho, who gave it to the drudges and slaves
who attended the soldiers; and they, fixing it upon the (414) point of a
spear, carried it in derision round the camp, crying out as they went
along, “You take your fill of joy in your old age.” They were irritated
to this pitch of rude banter, by a report spread a few days before, that,
upon some one’s commending his person as still florid and vigorous, he

Eti moi menos empedoi estin. [668]
My strength, as yet, has suffered no decay.

A freedman of Petrobius’s, who himself had belonged to Nero’s family,
purchased the head from them at the price of a hundred gold pieces, and
threw it into the place where, by Galba’s order, his patron had been put
to death. At last, after some time, his steward Argius buried it, with
the rest of his body, in his own gardens near the Aurelian Way.

XXI. In person he was of a good size, bald before, with blue eyes, and
an aquiline nose; and his hands and feet were so distorted with the gout,
that he could neither wear a shoe, nor turn over the leaves of a book, or
so much as hold it. He had likewise an excrescence in his right side,
which hung down to that degree, that it was with difficulty kept up by a

XXII. He is reported to have been a great eater, and usually took his
breakfast in the winter-time before day. At supper, he fed very
heartily, giving the fragments which were left, by handfuls, to be
distributed amongst the attendants. In his lust, he was more inclined to
the male sex, and such of them too as were old. It is said of him, that
in Spain, when Icelus, an old catamite of his, brought him the news of
Nero’s death, he not only kissed him lovingly before company, but begged
of him to remove all impediments, and then took him aside into a private

XXIII. He perished in the seventy-third year of his age, and the seventh
month of his reign [669]. The senate, as soon as they could with safety,
ordered a statue to be erected for him upon the naval column, in that
part of the Forum where he (415) was slain. But Vespasian cancelled the
decree, upon a suspicion that he had sent assassins from Spain into
Judaea to murder him.

* * * * * *

GALBA was, for a private man, the most wealthy of any who had ever
aspired to the imperial dignity. He valued himself upon his being
descended from the family of the Servii, but still more upon his relation
to Quintus Catulus Capitolinus, celebrated for integrity and virtue. He
was likewise distantly related to Livia, the wife of Augustus; by whose
interest he was preferred from the station which he held in the palace,
to the dignity of consul; and who left him a great legacy at her death.
His parsimonious way of living, and his aversion to all superfluity or
excess, were construed into avarice as soon as he became emperor; whence
Plutarch observes, that the pride which he took in his temperance and
economy was unseasonable. While he endeavoured to reform the profusion
in the public expenditure, which prevailed in the reign of Nero, he ran
into the opposite extreme; and it is objected to him by some historians,
that he maintained not the imperial dignity in a degree consistent even
with decency. He was not sufficiently attentive either to his own
security or the tranquillity of the state, when he refused to pay the
soldiers the donative which he had promised them. This breach of faith
seems to be the only act in his life that affects his integrity; and it
contributed more to his ruin than even the odium which he incurred by the
open venality and rapaciousness of his favourites, particularly Vinius.


I. The ancestors of Otho were originally of the town of Ferentum, of an
ancient and honourable family, and, indeed, one of the most considerable
in Etruria. His grandfather, M. Salvius Otho (whose father was a Roman
knight, but his mother of mean extraction, for it is not certain whether
she was free-born), by the favour of Livia Augusta, in whose house he had
his education, was made a senator, but never rose higher than the
praetorship. His father, Lucius Otho, was by the mother’s side nobly
descended, allied to several great families, and so dearly beloved by
Tiberius, and so much resembled him in his features, that most people
believed Tiberius was his father. He behaved with great strictness and
severity, not only in the city offices, but in the pro-consulship of
Africa, and some extraordinary commands in the army. He had the courage
to punish with death some soldiers in Illyricum, who, in the disturbance
attempted by Camillus, upon changing their minds, had put their generals
to the sword, as promoters of that insurrection against Claudius. He
ordered the execution to take place in the front of the camp [670], and
under his own eyes; though he knew they had been advanced to higher ranks
in the army by Claudius, on that very account. By this action he
acquired fame, but lessened his favour at court; which, however, he soon
recovered, by discovering to Claudius a design upon his life, carried on
by a Roman knight [671], and which he had learnt from some of his slaves.
For the senate ordered a statue of him to be erected in the palace; an
honour which had been conferred but upon very few before him. And
Claudius advanced him to the dignity of a patrician, commending him, at
the same time, in the highest terms, and concluding with these words: “A
man, than whom I don’t so (417) much as wish to have children that should
be better.” He had two sons by a very noble woman, Albia Terentia,
namely; Lucius Titianus, and a younger called Marcus, who had the same
cognomen as himself. He had also a daughter, whom he contracted to
Drusus, Germanicus’s son, before she was of marriageable age.

II. The emperor Otho was born upon the fourth of the calends of May
[28th April], in the consulship of Camillus Aruntius and Domitius
Aenobarbus [672]. He was from his earliest youth so riotous and wild,
that he was often severely scourged by his father. He was said to run
about in the night-time, and seize upon any one he met, who was either
drunk or too feeble to make resistance, and toss him in a blanket [673].
After his father’s death, to make his court the more effectually to a
freedwoman about the palace, who was in great favour, he pretended to be
in love with her, though she was old, and almost decrepit. Having by her
means got into Nero’s good graces, he soon became one of the principal
favourites, by the congeniality of his disposition to that of the emperor
or, as some say, by the reciprocal practice of mutual pollution. He had
so great a sway at court, that when a man of consular rank was condemned
for bribery, having tampered with him for a large sum of money, to
procure his pardon; before he had quite effected it, he scrupled not to
introduce him into the senate, to return his thanks.

III. Having, by means of this woman, insinuated himself into all the
emperor’s secrets, he, upon the day designed for the murder of his
mother, entertained them both at a very splendid feast, to prevent
suspicion. Poppaea Sabina, for whom Nero entertained such a violent
passion that he had taken her from her husband [674] and entrusted her to
him, he received, and went through the form of marrying her. And not
satisfied with obtaining her favours, he loved her so extravagantly, that
he could not with patience bear Nero for his rival. It is certainly
believed that he not only refused admittance to those who were sent by
Nero to fetch her, but that, on one (418) occasion, he shut him out, and
kept him standing before the door, mixing prayers and menaces in vain,
and demanding back again what was entrusted to his keeping. His
pretended marriage, therefore, being dissolved, he was sent lieutenant
into Lusitania. This treatment of him was thought sufficiently severe,
because harsher proceedings might have brought the whole farce to light,
which, notwithstanding, at last came out, and was published to the world
in the following distich:–

Cur Otho mentitus sit, quaeritis, exul honore?
Uxoris moechus caeperat esse suae.

You ask why Otho’s banish’d? Know, the cause
Comes not within the verge of vulgar laws.
Against all rules of fashionable life,
The rogue had dared to sleep with his own wife.

He governed the province in quality of quaestor for ten years, with
singular moderation and justice.

IV. As soon as an opportunity of revenge offered, he readily joined in
Galba’s enterprises, and at the same time conceived hopes of obtaining
the imperial dignity for himself. To this he was much encouraged by the
state of the times, but still more by the assurances given him by
Seleucus, the astrologer, who, having formerly told him that he would
certainly out-live Nero, came to him at that juncture unexpectedly,
promising him again that he should succeed to the empire, and that in a
very short time. He, therefore, let slip no opportunity of making his
court to every one about him by all manner of civilities. As often as he
entertained Galba at supper, he distributed to every man of the cohort
which attended the emperor on guard, a gold piece; endeavouring likewise
to oblige the rest of the soldiers in one way or another. Being chosen
an arbitrator by one who had a dispute with his neighbour about a piece
of land, he bought it, and gave it him; so that now almost every body
thought and said, that he was the only man worthy of succeeding to the

V. He entertained hopes of being adopted by Galba, and expected it every
day. But finding himself disappointed, by Piso’s being preferred before
him, he turned his thoughts to obtaining his purpose by the use of
violence; and to this he was instigated, as well by the greatness of his
debts, as by resentment (419) at Galba’s conduct towards him. For he did
not conceal his conviction, “that he could not stand his ground unless he
became emperor, and that it signified nothing whether he fell by the
hands of his enemies in the field, or of his creditors in the Forum.” He
had a few days before squeezed out of one of the emperor’s slaves a
million of sesterces for procuring him a stewardship; and this was the
whole fund he had for carrying on so great an enterprise. At first the
design was entrusted to only five of the guard, but afterwards to ten
others, each of the five naming two. They had every one ten thousand
sesterces paid down, and were promised fifty thousand more. By these,
others were drawn in, but not many; from a confident assurance, that when
the matter came to the crisis, they should have enough to join them.

VI. His first intention was, immediately after the departure of Piso, to
seize the camp, and fall upon Galba, whilst he was at supper in the
palace; but he was restrained by a regard for the cohort at that time on
duty, lest he should bring too great an odium upon it; because it
happened that the same cohort was on guard before, both when Caius was
slain, and Nero deserted. For some time afterwards, he was restrained
also by scruples about the omens, and by the advice of Seleucus. Upon
the day fixed at last for the enterprise, having given his accomplices
notice to wait for him in the Forum near the temple of Saturn, at the
gilded mile-stone [675], he went in the morning to pay his respects to
Galba; and being received with a kiss as usual, he attended him at
sacrifice, and heard the predictions of the augur [676]. A freedman of
his, then bringing (420) him word that the architects were come, which
was the signal agreed upon, he withdrew, as if it were with a design to
view a house upon sale, and went out by a back-door of the palace to the
place appointed. Some say he pretended to be seized with an ague fit,
and ordered those about him to make that excuse for him, if he was
inquired after. Being then quickly concealed in a woman’s litter, he
made the best of his way for the camp. But the bearers growing tired, he
got out, and began to run. His shoe becoming loose, he stopped again,
but being immediately raised by his attendants upon their shoulders, and
unanimously saluted by the title of EMPEROR, he came amidst auspicious
acclamations and drawn swords into the Principia [677] in the camp; all
who met him joining in the cavalcade, as if they had been privy to the
design. Upon this, sending some soldiers to dispatch Galba and Piso, he
said nothing else in his address to the soldiery, to secure their
affections, than these few words: “I shall be content with whatever ye
think fit to leave me.”

VII. Towards the close of the day, he entered the senate, and after he
had made a short speech to them, pretending that he had been seized in
the streets, and compelled by violence to assume the imperial authority,
which he designed to exercise in conjunction with them, he retired to the
palace. Besides other compliments which he received from those who
flocked about him to congratulate and flatter him, he was called Nero by
the mob, and manifested no intention of declining that cognomen. Nay,
some authors relate, that he used it in his official acts, and the first
letters he sent to the (421) governors of provinces. He suffered all his
images and statues to be replaced, and restored his procurators and
freedmen to their former posts. And the first writing which he signed as
emperor, was a promise of fifty millions of sesterces to finish the
Golden-house [678]. He is said to have been greatly frightened that
night in his sleep, and to have groaned heavily; and being found, by
those who came running in to see what the matter was, lying upon the
floor before his bed, he endeavoured by every kind of atonement to
appease the ghost of Galba, by which he had found himself violently
tumbled out of bed. The next day, as he was taking the omens, a great
storm arising, and sustaining a grievous fall, he muttered to himself
from time to time:

Ti gar moi kai makrois aulois; [679]
What business have I the loud trumpets to sound!

VIII. About the same time, the armies in Germany took an oath to
Vitellius as emperor. Upon receiving this intelligence, he advised the
senate to send thither deputies, to inform them, that a prince had been
already chosen; and to persuade them to peace and a good understanding.
By letters and messages, however, he offered Vitellius to make him his
colleague in the empire, and his son-in-law. But a war being now
unavoidable, and the generals and troops sent forward by Vitellius,
advancing, he had a proof of the attachment and fidelity of the pretorian
guards, which had nearly proved fatal to the senatorian order. It had
been judged proper that some arms should be given out of the stores, and
conveyed to the fleet by the marine troops. While they were employed in
fetching these from the camp in the night, some of the guards suspecting
treachery, excited a tumult; and suddenly the whole body, without any of
their officers at their head, ran to the palace, demanding that the
entire senate should be put to the sword; and having repulsed some of the
(422) tribunes who endeavoured to stop them, and slain others, they
broke, all bloody as they were, into the banquetting room, inquiring for
the emperor; nor would they quit the place until they had seen him. He
now entered upon his expedition against Vitellius with great alacrity,
but too much precipitation, and without any regard to the ominous
circumstances which attended it. For the Ancilia [680] had been taken
out of the temple of Mars, for the usual procession, but were not yet
replaced; during which interval it had of old been looked upon as very
unfortunate to engage in any enterprise. He likewise set forward upon
the day when the worshippers of the Mother of the gods [681] begin their
lamentations and wailing. Besides these, other unlucky omens attended
him. For, in a victim offered to Father Dis [682], he found the signs
such as upon all other occasions are regarded as favourable; whereas, in
that sacrifice, the contrary intimations are judged the most propitious.
At his first setting forward, he was stopped by inundations of the Tiber;
and at twenty miles’ distance from the city, found the road blocked up by
the fall of houses.

IX. Though it was the general opinion that it would be proper to
protract the war, as the enemy were distressed by (423) famine and the
straitness of their quarters, yet he resolved with equal rashness to
force them to an engagement as soon as possible; whether from impatience
of prolonged anxiety, and in the hope of bringing matters to an issue
before the arrival of Vitellius, or because he could not resist the
ardour of the troops, who were all clamorous for battle. He was not,
however, present at any of those which ensued, but stayed behind at
Brixellum [683]. He had the advantage in three slight engagements, near
the Alps, about Placentia, and a place called Castor’s [684]; but was, by
a fraudulent stratagem of the enemy, defeated in the last and greatest
battle, at Bedriacum [685]. For, some hopes of a conference being given,
and the soldiers being drawn up to hear the conditions of peace declared,
very unexpectedly, and amidst their mutual salutations, they were obliged
to stand to their arms. Immediately upon this he determined to put an
end to his life, more, as many think, and not without reason, out of
shame, at persisting in a struggle for the empire to the hazard of the
public interest and so many lives, than from despair, or distrust of his
troops. For he had still in reserve, and in full force, those whom he
had kept about him for a second trial of his fortune, and others were
coming up from Dalmatia, Pannonia, and Moesia; nor were the troops lately
defeated so far discouraged as not to be ready, even of themselves, to
run all risks in order to wipe off their recent disgrace.

X. My father, Suetonius Lenis [686], was in this battle, being at (424)
that time an angusticlavian tribune in the thirteenth legion. He used
frequently to say, that Otho, before his advancement to the empire, had
such an abhorrence of civil war, that once, upon hearing an account given
at table of the death of Cassius and Brutus, he fell into a trembling,
and that he never would have interfered with Galba, but that he was
confident of succeeding in his enterprise without a war. Moreover, that
he was then encouraged to despise life by the example of a common
soldier, who bringing news of the defeat of the army, and finding that he
met with no credit, but was railed at for a liar and a coward, as if he
had run away from the field of battle, fell upon his sword at the
emperor’s feet; upon the sight of which, my father said that Otho cried
out, “that he would expose to no farther danger such brave men, who had
deserved so well at his hands.” Advising therefore his brother, his
brother’s son, and the rest of his friends, to provide for their security
in the best manner they could, after he had embraced and kissed them, he
sent them away; and then withdrawing into a private room by himself, he
wrote a letter of consolation to his sister, containing two sheets. He
likewise sent another to Messalina, Nero’s widow, whom he had intended to
marry, committing to her the care of his relics and memory. He then
burnt all the letters which he had by him, to prevent the danger and
mischief that might otherwise befall the writers from the conqueror.
What ready money he had, he distributed among his domestics.

XI. And now being prepared, and just upon the point of dispatching
himself, he was induced to suspend the execution of his purpose by a
great tumult which had broken out in the camp. Finding that some of the
soldiers who were making off had been seized and detained as deserters,
“Let us add,” said he, “this night to our life.” These were his very

He then gave orders that no violence should be offered to any one; and
keeping his chamber-door open until late at night, he allowed all who
pleased the liberty to come and see him. At last, after quenching his
thirst with a draught of cold water, he took up two poniards, and having
examined the points of both, put one of them under his pillow, and
shutting his chamber-door, slept very soundly, until, awaking about break
of day, he stabbed himself under the left pap. Some persons bursting
into the room upon his first groan, he at one time covered, and at
another exposed his wound to the view of the bystanders, and thus life
soon ebbed away. His funeral was hastily performed, according to his own
order, in the thirty-eighth year of his age, and ninety-fifth day of his
reign. [687]

XII. The person and appearance of Otho no way corresponded to the great
spirit he displayed on this occasion; for he is said to have been of low
stature, splay-footed, and bandy-legged. He was, however, effeminately
nice in the care of his person: the hair on his body he plucked out by
the roots; and because he was somewhat bald, he wore a kind of peruke, so
exactly fitted to his head, that nobody could have known it for such. He
used to shave every day, and rub his face with soaked bread; the use of
which he began when the down first appeared upon his chin, to prevent his
having any beard. It is said likewise that he celebrated publicly the
sacred rites of Isis [688], clad in a linen garment, such as is used by
the worshippers of that goddess. These circumstances, I imagine, caused
the world to wonder the more that his death was so little in character
with his life. Many of the soldiers who were present, kissing and
bedewing with their tears his hands and feet as he lay dead, and
celebrating him as “a most gallant man, and an incomparable emperor,”
immediately put an end to their own lives upon the spot, not far from his
funeral pile.

(426) Many of those likewise who were at a distance, upon hearing the
news of his death, in the anguish of their hearts, began fighting amongst
themselves, until they dispatched one another. To conclude: the
generality of mankind, though they hated him whilst living, yet highly
extolled him after his death; insomuch that it was the common talk and
opinion, “that Galba had been driven to destruction by his rival, not so
much for the sake of reigning himself, as of restoring Rome to its
ancient liberty.”

* * * * * *

It is remarkable, in the fortune of this emperor, that he owed both his
elevation and catastrophe to the inextricable embarrassments in which he
was involved; first, in respect of pecuniary circumstances, and next, of
political. He was not, so far as we can learn, a follower of any of the
sects of philosophers which justified, and even recommended suicide, in
particular cases: yet he perpetrated that act with extraordinary coolness
and resolution; and, what is no less remarkable, from the motive, as he
avowed, of public expediency only. It was observed of him, for many
years after his death, that “none ever died like Otho.”

Cabeza del emperador romano AULO VITELIO (15-69 d.C.), en el Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, en Madrid (España). Medidas: 0,40 x 0,27 x 0,27 m. Esculpida en mármol en torno al año 69 d.C. por un autor anónimo romano, quien copió el modelo existente en el Museo Capitolino de Roma, siguiendo la línea artística de la excelente retratística de la época de Nerón. La obra fue donada por el académico Blas Ametller (1768-1841) y entregada por sus testamentarios en 1841. Head of Roman emperor AULUS VITELLIUS (15-69 AD), at the Museum of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, in Madrid (Spain). Measurements: 0.40 x 0.27 x 0.27 metres. Sculpted in marble circa 69 AD by a Roman anonymous author, who copied the model that is at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, following the artistic style of the excellent portraits from Nero's time. The piece was donated by academician Blas Ametller (1768-1841) and given by his testamentaries in 1841.

I. Very different accounts are given of the origin of the Vitellian
family. Some describe it as ancient and noble, others as recent and
obscure, nay, extremely mean. I am inclined to think, that these several
representations have been made by the flatterers and detractors of
Vitellius, after he became emperor, unless the fortunes of the family
varied before. There is extant a memoir addressed by Quintus Eulogius to
Quintus Vitellius, quaestor to the Divine Augustus, in which it is said,
that the Vitellii were descended from Faunus, king of the aborigines, and
Vitellia [689], who was worshipped in many places as a goddess, and that
they reigned formerly over the whole of Latium: that all who were left of
the family removed out of the country of the Sabines to Rome, and were
enrolled among the patricians: that some monuments of the family
continued a long time; as the Vitellian Way, reaching from the Janiculum
to the sea, and likewise a colony of that name, which, at a very remote
period of time, they desired leave from the government to defend against
the Aequicolae [690], with a force raised by their own family only: also
that, in the time of the war with the Samnites, some of the Vitellii who
went with the troops levied for the security of Apulia, settled at
Nuceria [691], and their descendants, a long time afterwards, returned
again to Rome, and were admitted (428) into the patrician order. On the
other hand, the generality of writers say that the founder of the family
was a freedman. Cassius Severus [692] and some others relate that he was
likewise a cobbler, whose son having made a considerable fortune by
agencies and dealings in confiscated property, begot, by a common
strumpet, daughter of one Antiochus, a baker, a child, who afterwards
became a Roman knight. Of these different accounts the reader is left to
take his choice.

II. It is certain, however, that Publius Vitellius, of Nuceria, whether
of an ancient family, or of low extraction, was a Roman knight, and a
procurator to Augustus. He left behind him four sons, all men of very
high station, who had the same cognomen, but the different praenomina of
Aulus, Quintus, Publius, and Lucius. Aulus died in the enjoyment of the
consulship [693], which office he bore jointly with Domitius, the father
of Nero Caesar. He was elegant to excess in his manner of living, and
notorious for the vast expense of his entertainments. Quintus was
deprived of his rank of senator, when, upon a motion made by Tiberius, a
resolution passed to purge the senate of those who were in any respect
not duly qualified for that honour. Publius, an intimate friend and
companion of Germanicus, prosecuted his enemy and murderer, Cneius Piso,
and procured sentence against him. After he had been made proctor, being
arrested among the accomplices of Sejanus, and delivered into the hands
of his brother to be confined in his house, he opened a vein with a
penknife, intending to bleed himself to death. He suffered, however, the
wound to be bound up and cured, not so much from repenting the resolution
he had formed, as to comply with the importunity of his relations. He
died afterwards a natural death during his confinement. Lucius, after
his consulship [694], was made governor of Syria [695], and by his
politic management not only brought Artabanus, king of the Parthians, to
give him an interview, but to worship the standards of the Roman legions.
He afterwards filled two ordinary consulships [696], and also the
censorship [697] jointly with the emperor Claudius. Whilst that (429)
prince was absent upon his expedition into Britain [698], the care of the
empire was committed to him, being a man of great integrity and industry.
But he lessened his character not a little, by his passionate fondness
for an abandoned freedwoman, with whose spittle, mixed with honey, he
used to anoint his throat and jaws, by way of remedy for some complaint,
not privately nor seldom, but daily and publicly. Being extravagantly
prone to flattery, it was he who gave rise to the worship of Caius Caesar
as a god, when, upon his return from Syria, he would not presume to
accost him any otherwise than with his head covered, turning himself
round, and then prostrating himself upon the earth. And to leave no
artifice untried to secure the favour of Claudius, who was entirely
governed by his wives and freedmen, he requested as the greatest favour
from Messalina, that she would be pleased to let him take off her shoes;
which, when he had done, he took her right shoe, and wore it constantly
betwixt his toga and his tunic, and from time to time covered it with
kisses. He likewise worshipped golden images of Narcissus and Pallas
among his household gods. It was he, too, who, when Claudius exhibited
the secular games, in his compliments to him upon that occasion, used
this expression, “May you often do the same.”

III. He died of palsy, the day after his seizure with it, leaving behind
him two sons, whom he had by a most excellent and respectable wife,
Sextilia. He had lived to see them both consuls, the same year and
during the whole year also; the younger succeeding the elder for the last
six months [699]. The senate honoured him after his decease with a
funeral at the public expense, and with a statue in the Rostra, which had
this inscription upon the base: “One who was steadfast in his loyalty to
his prince “The emperor Aulus Vitellius, the son of this Lucius, was born
upon the eighth of the calends of October [24th September], or, as some
say, upon the seventh of the ides of September [7th September], in the
consulship of Drusus Caesar and Norbanus Flaccus [700]. His parents were
so (430) terrified with the predictions of astrologers upon the
calculation of his nativity, that his father used his utmost endeavours
to prevent his being sent governor into any of the provinces, whilst he
was alive. His mother, upon his being sent to the legions [701], and
also upon his being proclaimed emperor, immediately lamented him as
utterly ruined. He spent his youth amongst the catamites of Tiberius at
Capri, was himself constantly stigmatized with the name of Spintria
[702], and was supposed to have been the occasion of his father’s
advancement, by consenting to gratify the emperor’s unnatural lust.

IV. In the subsequent part of his life, being still most scandalously
vicious, he rose to great favour at court; being upon a very intimate
footing with Caius [Caligula], because of his fondness for chariot-
driving, and with Claudius for his love of gaming. But he was in a still
higher degree acceptable to Nero, as well on the same accounts, as for a
particular service which he rendered him. When Nero presided in the
games instituted by himself, though he was extremely desirous to perform
amongst the harpers, yet his modesty would not permit him,
notwithstanding the people entreated much for it. Upon his quitting the
theatre, Vitellius fetched him back again, pretending to represent the
determined wishes of the people, and so afforded him the opportunity of
yielding to their in treaties.

V. By the favour of these three princes, he was not only advanced to the
great offices of state, but to the highest dignities of the sacred order;
after which he held the proconsulship of Africa, and had the
superintendence of the public works, in which appointment his conduct,
and, consequently, his reputation, were very different. For he governed
the province with singular integrity during two years, in the latter of
which he acted as deputy to his brother, who succeeded him. But in his
office in the city, he was said to pillage the temples of their gifts and
ornaments, and to have exchanged brass and tin for gold and silver. [703]

VI. He took to wife Petronia, the daughter of a man of consular rank,
and had by her a son named Petronius, who was blind of an eye. The
mother being willing to appoint this youth her heir, upon condition that
he should be released from his father’s authority, the latter discharged
him accordingly; but shortly after, as was believed, murdered him,
charging him with a design upon his life, and pretending that he had,
from consciousness of his guilt, drank the poison he had prepared for his
father. Soon afterwards, he married Galeria Fundana, the daughter of a
man of pretorian rank, and had by her both sons and daughters. Among the
former was one who had such a stammering in his speech, that he was
little better than if he had been dumb.

VII. He was sent by Galba into Lower Germany [704], contrary to his
expectation. It is supposed that he was assisted in procuring this
appointment by the interest of Titus Junius, a man of great influence at
that time; whose friendship he had long before gained by favouring the
same set of charioteers with him in the Circensian games. But Galba
openly declared that none were less to be feared than those who only
cared for their bellies, and that even his enormous appetite must be
satisfied with the plenty of that province; so that it is evident he was
selected for that government more out of contempt than kindness. It is
certain, that when he was to set out, he had not money for the expenses
of his journey; he being at that time so much straitened in his
circumstances, that he was obliged to put his wife and children, whom he
left at Rome, into a poor lodging which he hired for them, in order that
he might let his own house for the remainder of the year; and he pawned a
pearl taken from his mother’s ear-ring, to defray his expenses on the
road. A crowd of creditors who were waiting to stop him, and amongst
them the people of Sineussa and Formia, whose taxes he had converted to
his own use, he eluded, by alarming them with the apprehension of false
accusation. He had, however, sued a certain freedman, who was clamorous
in demanding a debt of him, under pretence that he had kicked him; which
action he would not withdraw, until he had wrung from the freedman fifty
thousand sesterces. Upon his arrival in the province, the army, (432)
which was disaffected to Galba, and ripe for insurrection, received him
with open arms, as if he had been sent them from heaven. It was no small
recommendation to their favour, that he was the son of a man who had been
thrice consul, was in the prime of life, and of an easy, prodigal
disposition. This opinion, which had been long entertained of him,
Vitellius confirmed by some late practices; having kissed all the common
soldiers whom he met with upon the road, and been excessively complaisant
in the inns and stables to the muleteers and travellers; asking them in a
morning, if they had got their breakfasts, and letting them see, by
belching, that he had eaten his.

VIII. After he had reached the camp, he denied no man any thing he asked
for, and pardoned all who lay under sentence for disgraceful conduct or
disorderly habits. Before a month, therefore, had passed, without regard
to the day or season, he was hurried by the soldiers out of his bed-
chamber, although it was evening, and he in an undress, and unanimously
saluted by the title of EMPEROR [705]. He was then carried round the
most considerable towns in the neighbourhood, with the sword of the
Divine Julius in his hand; which had been taken by some person out of the
temple of Mars, and presented to him when he was first saluted. Nor did
he return to the pretorium, until his dining-room was in flames from the
chimney’s taking fire. Upon this accident, all being in consternation,
and considering it as an unlucky omen, he cried out, “Courage, boys! it
shines brightly upon us.” And this was all he said to the soldiers. The
army of the Upper Province likewise, which had before declared against
Galba for the senate, joining in the proceedings, he very eagerly
accepted the cognomen of Germanicus, offered him by the unanimous consent
of both armies, but deferred assuming that of Augustus, and refused for
ever that of Caesar.

IX. Intelligence of Galba’s death arriving soon after, when he had
settled his affairs in Germany he divided his troops into two bodies,
intending to send one of them before him against Otho, and to follow with
the other himself. The army he sent forward had a lucky omen; for,
suddenly, an eagle cams flying up to them on the right, and having
hovered (433) round the standards, flew gently before them on their road.
But, on the other hand, when he began his own march, all the equestrian
statues, which were erected for him in several places, fell suddenly down
with their legs broken; and the laurel crown, which he had put on as
emblematical of auspicious fortune, fell off his head into a river. Soon
afterwards, at Vienne [706], as he was upon the tribunal administering
justice, a cock perched upon his shoulder, and afterwards upon his head.
The issue corresponded to these omens; for he was not able to keep the
empire which had been secured for him by his lieutenants.

X. He heard of the victory at Bedriacum [707], and the death of Otho,
whilst he was yet in Gaul, and without the least hesitation, by a single
proclamation, disbanded all the pretorian cohorts, as having, by their
repeated treasons, set a dangerous example to the rest of the army;
commanding them to deliver up their arms to his tribunes. A hundred and
twenty of them, under whose hands he had found petitions presented to
Otho, for rewards of their service in the murder of Galba, he besides
ordered to be sought out and punished. So far his conduct deserved
approbation, and was such as to afford hope of his becoming an excellent
prince, had he not managed his other affairs in a way more corresponding
with his own disposition, and his former manner of life, than to the
imperial dignity. For, having begun his march, he rode through every
city in his route in a triumphal procession; and sailed down the rivers
in ships, fitted out with the greatest elegance, and decorated with
various kinds of crowns, amidst the most extravagant entertainments.
Such was the want of discipline, and the licentiousness both in his
family and army, that, not satisfied with the provision every where made
for them at the public expense, they committed every kind of robbery and
insult upon the inhabitants, setting slaves at liberty as they pleased;
and if any dared to make resistance, they dealt blows and abuse,
frequently wounds, and sometimes slaughter amongst them. When he reached
the plains on which the battles (434) were fought [708], some of those
around him being offended at the smell of the carcases which lay rotting
upon the ground, he had the audacity to encourage them by a most
detestable remark, “That a dead enemy smelt not amiss, especially if he
were a fellow-citizen.” To qualify, however, the offensiveness of the
stench, he quaffed in public a goblet of wine, and with equal vanity and
insolence distributed a large quantity of it among his troops. On his
observing a stone with an inscription upon it to the memory of Otho, he
said, “It was a mausoleum good enough for such a prince.” He also sent
the poniard, with which Otho killed himself, to the colony of Agrippina
[709], to be dedicated to Mars. Upon the Appenine hills he celebrated a
Bacchanalian feast.

XI. At last he entered the City with trumpets sounding, in his general’s
cloak, and girded with his sword, amidst a display of standards and
banners; his attendants being all in the military habit, and the arms of
the soldiers unsheathed. Acting more and more in open violation of all
laws, both divine and human, he assumed the office of Pontifex Maximus,
upon the day of the defeat at the Allia [710]; ordered the magistrates to
be elected for ten years of office; and made himself consul for life. To
put it out of all doubt what model he intended to follow in his
government of the empire, he made his offerings to the shade of Nero in
the midst of the Campus Martius, and with a full assembly of the public
priests attending him. And at a solemn entertainment, he desired a
harper who pleased the company much, to sing something in praise of
Domitius; and upon his beginning some songs of Nero’s, he started up in
presence of the whole assembly, and could not refrain from applauding
him, by clapping his hands.

XII. After such a commencement of his career, he conducted (435) his
affairs, during the greater part of his reign, entirely by the advice and
direction of the vilest amongst the players and charioteers, and
especially his freedman Asiaticus. This fellow had, when young, been
engaged with him in a course of mutual and unnatural pollution, but,
being at last quite tired of the occupation, ran away. His master, some
time after, caught him at Puteoli, selling a liquor called Posca [711],
and put him in chains, but soon released him, and retained him in his
former capacity. Growing weary, however, of his rough and stubborn
temper, he sold him to a strolling fencing-master; after which, when the
fellow was to have been brought up to play his part at the conclusion of
an entertainment of gladiators, he suddenly carried him off, and at
length, upon his being advanced to the government of a province, gave him
his freedom. The first day of his reign, he presented him with the gold
rings at supper, though in the morning, when all about him requested that
favour in his behalf, he expressed the utmost abhorrence of putting so
great a stain upon the equestrian order.

XIII. He was chiefly addicted to the vices of luxury and cruelty. He
always made three meals a day, sometimes four: breakfast, dinner, and
supper, and a drunken revel after all. This load of victuals he could
well enough bear, from a custom to which he had enured himself, of
frequently vomiting. For these several meals he would make different
appointments at the houses of his friends on the same day. None ever
entertained him at less expense than four hundred thousand sesterces
[712]. The most famous was a set entertainment given him by his brother,
at which, it is said, there were served up no less than two thousand
choice fishes, and seven thousand birds. Yet even this supper he himself
outdid, at a feast which he gave upon the first use of a dish which had
been made for him, and which, for its extraordinary size, he called “The
Shield of Minerva.” In this dish there were tossed up together the
livers of char-fish, the brains of pheasants and peacocks, with the
tongues of flamingos, and the entrails of lampreys, which had been
brought in ships of war as far as (436) from the Carpathian Sea, and the
Spanish Straits. He was not only a man of an insatiable appetite, but
would gratify it likewise at unseasonable times, and with any garbage
that came in his way; so that, at a sacrifice, he would snatch from the
fire flesh and cakes, and eat them upon the spot. When he travelled, he
did the same at the inns upon the road, whether the meat was fresh
dressed and hot, or what had been left the day before, and was half-

XIV. He delighted in the infliction of punishments, and even those which
were capital, without any distinction of persons or occasions. Several
noblemen, his school-fellows and companions, invited by him to court, he
treated with such flattering caresses, as seemed to indicate an affection
short only of admitting them to share the honours of the imperial
dignity; yet he put them all to death by some base means or other. To
one he gave poison with his own hand, in a cup of cold water which he
called for in a fever. He scarcely spared one of all the usurers,
notaries, and publicans, who had ever demanded a debt of him at Rome, or
any toll or custom upon the road. One of these, while in the very act of
saluting him, he ordered for execution, but immediately sent for him
back; upon which all about him applauding his clemency, he commanded him
to be slain in his own presence, saying, “I have a mind to feed my eyes.”
Two sons who interceded for their father, he ordered to be executed with
him. A Roman knight, upon his being dragged away for execution, and
crying out to him, “You are my heir,” he desired to produce his will: and
finding that he had made his freedman joint heir with him, he commanded
that both he and the freedman should have their throats cut. He put to
death some of the common people for cursing aloud the blue party in the
Circensian games; supposing it to be done in contempt of himself, and the
expectation of a revolution in the government. There were no persons he
was more severe against than jugglers and astrologers; end as soon as any
one of them was informed against, he put him to death without the
formality of a trial. He was enraged against them, because, after his
proclamation by which he commanded all astrologers to quit home, and
Italy also, before the calends [the first] of October, a bill was
immediately posted about the city, with the following words:–“TAKE
NOTICE: [713] The Chaldaeans also decree that Vitellius Germanicus shall
be no more, by the day of the said calends.” He was even suspected of
being accessary to his mother’s death, by forbidding sustenance to be
given her when she was unwell; a German witch [714], whom he held to be
oracular, having told him, “That he would long reign in security if he
survived his mother.” But others say, that being quite weary of the
state of affairs, and apprehensive of the future, she obtained without
difficulty a dose of poison from her son.

XV. In the eighth month of his reign, the troops both in Moesia and
Pannonia revolted from him; as did likewise, of the armies beyond sea,
those in Judaea and Syria, some of which swore allegiance to Vespasian as
emperor in his own presence, and others in his absence. In order,
therefore, to secure the favour and affection of the people, Vitellius
lavished on all around whatever he had it in his power to bestow, both
publicly and privately, in the most extravagant manner. He also levied
soldiers in the city, and promised all who enlisted as volunteers, not
only their discharge after the victory was gained, but all the rewards
due to veterans who had served their full time in the wars. The enemy
now pressing forward both by sea and land, on one hand he opposed against
them his brother with a fleet, the new levies, and a body of gladiators,
and in another quarter the troops and generals who were engaged at
Bedriacum. But being beaten or betrayed in every direction, he agreed
with Flavius Sabinus, Vespasian’s brother, to abdicate, on condition of
having his life spared, and a hundred millions of sesterces granted him;
and he immediately, upon the palace-steps, publicly declared to a large
body of soldiers there assembled, “that he resigned the government, which
he had accepted reluctantly;” but they all remonstrating against it, he
deferred the conclusion of the treaty. Next day, early in the morning,
he came down to the Forum in a very mean habit, and with many tears
repeated the (438) declaration from a writing which he held in his hand;
but the soldiers and people again interposing, and encouraging him not to
give way, but to rely on their zealous support, he recovered his courage,
and forced Sabinus, with the rest of the Flavian party, who now thought
themselves secure, to retreat into the Capitol, where he destroyed them
all by setting fire to the temple of Jupiter, whilst he beheld the
contest and the fire from Tiberius’s house [715], where he was feasting.
Not long after, repenting of what he had done, and throwing the blame of
it upon others, he called a meeting, and swore “that nothing was dearer
to him than the public peace;” which oath he also obliged the rest to
take. Then drawing a dagger from his side, he presented it first to the
consul, and, upon his refusing it, to the magistrates, and then to every
one of the senators; but none of them being willing to accept it, he went
away, as if he meant to lay it up in the temple of Concord; but some
crying out to him, “You are Concord,” he came back again, and said that
he would not only keep his weapon, but for the future use the cognomen of

XVI. He advised the senate to send deputies, accompanied by the Vestal
Virgins, to desire peace, or, at least, time for consultation. The day
after, while he was waiting for an answer, he received intelligence by a
scout, that the enemy was advancing. Immediately, therefore, throwing
himself into a small litter, borne by hand, with only two attendants, a
baker and a cook, he privately withdrew to his father’s house, on the
Aventine hill, intending to escape thence into Campania. But a
groundless report being circulated, that the enemy was willing to come to
terms, he suffered himself to be carried back to the palace. Finding,
however, nobody there, and those who were with him stealing away, he
girded round his waist a belt full of gold pieces, and then ran into the
porter’s lodge, tying the dog before the door, and piling up against it
the bed and bedding.

XVII. By this time the forerunners of the enemy’s army had broken into
the palace, and meeting with nobody, searched, as was natural, every
corner. Being dragged by them out of his cell, and asked “who he was?”
(for they did not recognize him), “and if he knew where Vitellius was?”
he deceived them by a falsehood. But at last being discovered, he begged
hard to be detained in custody, even were it in a prison; pretending to
have something to say which concerned Vespasian’s security.
Nevertheless, he was dragged half-naked into the Forum, with his hands
tied behind him, a rope about his neck, and his clothes torn, amidst the
most contemptuous abuse, both by word and deed, along the Via Sacra; his
head being held back by the hair, in the manner of condemned criminals,
and the point of a sword put under his chin, that he might hold up his
face to public view; some of the mob, meanwhile, pelting him with dung
and mud, whilst others called him “an incendiary and glutton.” They also
upbraided him with the defects of his person, for he was monstrously
tall, and had a face usually very red with hard-drinking, a large belly,
and one thigh weak, occasioned by a chariot running against him, as he
was attending upon Caius [716], while he was driving. At length, upon
the Scalae Gemoniae, he was tormented and put to death in lingering
tortures, and then dragged by a hook into the Tiber.

XVIII. He perished with his brother and son [717], in the fifty-seventh
year of his age [718], and verified the prediction of those who, from the
omen which happened to him at Vienne, as before related [719], foretold
that he would be made prisoner by some man of Gaul. For he was seized by
Antoninus Primus, a general of the adverse party, who was born at
Toulouse, and, when a boy, had the cognomen of Becco [720], which
signifies a cock’s beak.

* * * * * *

(440) After the extinction of the race of the Caesars, the possession of
the imperial power became extremely precarious; and great influence in
the army was the means which now invariably led to the throne. The
soldiers having arrogated to themselves the right of nomination, they
either unanimously elected one and the same person, or different parties
supporting the interests of their respective favourites, there arose
between them a contention, which was usually determined by an appeal to
arms, and followed by the assassination of the unsuccessful competitor.
Vitellius, by being a parasite of all the emperors from Tiberius to Nero
inclusively, had risen to a high military rank, by which, with a spirit
of enterprise, and large promises to the soldiery, it was not difficult
to snatch the reins of government, while they were yet fluctuating in the
hands of Otho. His ambition prompted to the attempt, and his boldness
was crowned with success. In the service of the four preceding emperors,
Vitellius had imbibed the principal vices of them all: but what chiefly
distinguished him was extreme voraciousness, which, though he usually
pampered it with enormous luxury, could yet be gratified by the vilest
and most offensive garbage. The pusillanimity discovered by this emperor
at his death, forms a striking contrast to the heroic behaviour of Otho.


I. The empire, which had been long thrown into a disturbed and unsetted
state, by the rebellion and violent death of its three last rulers, was
at length restored to peace and security by the Flavian family, whose
descent was indeed obscure, and which boasted no ancestral honours; but
the public had no cause to regret its elevation; though it is
acknowledged that Domitian met with the just reward of his avarice and
cruelty. Titus Flavius Petro, a townsman of Reate [721], whether a
centurion or an evocatus [722] of Pompey’s party in the civil war, is
uncertain, fled out of the battle of Pharsalia and went home; where,
having at last obtained his pardon and discharge, he became a collector
of the money raised by public sales in the way of auction. His son,
surnamed Sabinus, was never engaged in the military service, though some
say he was a centurion of the first order, and others, that whilst he
held that rank, he was discharged on account of his bad state of health:
this Sabinus, I say, was a publican, and received the tax of the fortieth
penny in Asia. And there were remaining, at the time of the advancement
of the family, several statues, which had been erected to him by the
cities of that province, with this inscription: “To the honest Tax-
farmer.” [723] He afterwards turned usurer amongst the Helvetii, and
there died, leaving behind him his wife, Vespasia Pella, and two sons by
her; the elder of whom, Sabinus, came to be prefect of the city, and the
younger, Vespasian, to be emperor. Polla, descended of a good family, at
Nursia [724], had for her father Vespasius Pollio, thrice appointed (442)
military tribune, and at last prefect of the camp; and her brother was a
senator of praetorian dignity. There is to this day, about six miles
from Nursia, on the road to Spoletum, a place on the summit of a hill,
called Vespasiae, where are several monuments of the Vespasii, a
sufficient proof of the splendour and antiquity of the family. I will
not deny that some have pretended to say, that Petro’s father was a
native of Gallia Transpadana [725], whose employment was to hire
workpeople who used to emigrate every year from the country of the Umbria
into that of the Sabines, to assist them in their husbandry [726]; but
who settled at last in the town of Reate, and there married. But of this
I have not been able to discover the least proof, upon the strictest

II. Vespasian was born in the country of the Sabines, beyond Reate, in a
little country-seat called Phalacrine, upon the fifth of the calends of
December [27th November], in the evening, in the consulship of Quintus
Sulpicius Camerinus and Caius Poppaeus Sabinus, five years before the
death of Augustus [727]; and was educated under the care of Tertulla, his
grandmother by the father’s side, upon an estate belonging to the family,
at Cosa [728]. After his advancement to the empire, he used frequently
to visit the place where he had spent his infancy; and the villa was
continued in the same condition, that he might see every thing about him
just as he had been used to do. And he had so great a regard for the
memory of his grandmother, that, upon solemn occasions and festival days,
he constantly drank out of a silver cup which she had been accustomed to
use. After assuming the manly habit, he had a long time a distaste for
the senatorian toga, though his brother had obtained it; nor could he be
persuaded by any one but his mother to sue for that badge of honour. She
at length drove him to it, more by taunts and reproaches, than by her
entreaties (443) and authority, calling him now and then, by way of
reproach, his brother’s footman. He served as military tribune in
Thrace. When made quaestor, the province of Crete and Cyrene fell to him
by lot. He was candidate for the aedileship, and soon after for the
praetorship, but met with a repulse in the former case; though at last,
with much difficulty, he came in sixth on the poll-books. But the office
of praetor he carried upon his first canvass, standing amongst the
highest at the poll. Being incensed against the senate, and desirous to
gain, by all possible means, the good graces of Caius [729], he obtained
leave to exhibit extraordinary [730] games for the emperor’s victory in
Germany, and advised them to increase the punishment of the conspirators
against his life, by exposing their corpses unburied. He likewise gave
him thanks in that august assembly for the honour of being admitted to
his table.

III. Meanwhile, he married Flavia Domitilla, who had formerly been the
mistress of Statilius Capella, a Roman knight of Sabrata in Africa, who
[Domitilla] enjoyed Latin rights; and was soon after declared fully and
freely a citizen of Rome, on a trial before the court of Recovery,
brought by her father Flavius Liberalis, a native of Ferentum, but no
more than secretary to a quaestor. By her he had the following children:
Titus, Domitian, and Domitilla. He outlived his wife and daughter, and
lost them both before he became emperor. After the death of his wife, he
renewed his union [731] with his former concubine Caenis, the freedwoman
of Antonia, and also her amanuensis, and treated her, even after he was
emperor, almost as if she had been his lawful wife. [732]

(444) IV. In the reign of Claudius, by the interest of Narcissus, he was
sent to Germany, in command of a legion; whence being removed into
Britain, he engaged the enemy in thirty several battles. He reduced
under subjection to the Romans two very powerful tribes, and above twenty
great towns, with the Isle of Wight, which lies close to the coast of
Britain; partly under the command of Aulus Plautius, the consular
lieutenant, and partly under Claudius himself [733]. For this success he
received the triumphal ornaments, and in a short time after two
priesthoods, besides the consulship, which he held during the two last
months of the year [734]. The interval between that and his
proconsulship he spent in leisure and retirement, for fear of Agrippina,
who still held great sway over her son, and hated all the friends of
Narcissus, who was then dead. Afterwards he got by lot the province of
Africa, which he governed with great reputation, excepting that once, in
an insurrection at Adrumetum, he was pelted with turnips. It is certain
that he returned thence nothing richer; for his credit was so low, that
he was obliged to mortgage his whole property to his brother, and was
reduced to the necessity of dealing in mules, for the support of his
rank; for which reason he was commonly called “the Muleteer.” He is said
likewise to have been convicted of extorting from a young man of fashion
two hundred thousand sesterces for procuring him the broad-stripe,
contrary to the wishes of his father, and was severely reprimanded for
it. While in attendance upon Nero in Achaia, he frequently withdrew from
the theatre while Nero was singing, and went to sleep if he remained,
which gave so much (445) offence, that he was not only excluded from his
society, but debarred the liberty of saluting him in public. Upon this,
he retired to a small out-of-the-way town, where he lay skulking in
constant fear of his life, until a province, with an army, was offered

A firm persuasion had long prevailed through all the East [735], that it
was fated for the empire of the world, at that time, to devolve on some
who should go forth from Judaea. This prediction referred to a Roman
emperor, as the event shewed; but the Jews, applying it to themselves,
broke out into rebellion, and having defeated and slain their governor
[736], routed the lieutenant of Syria [737], a man of consular rank, who
was advancing to his assistance, and took an eagle, the standard, of one
of his legions. As the suppression of this revolt appeared to require a
stronger force and an active general, who might b