The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

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.

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