The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

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]

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