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Tacitus: Annals Book 2 [30]

30. Besides Trio and Catus, Fonteius Agrippa and Caius Vibius were among his accusers, and claimed with eager rivalry the privilege of conducting the case for the prosecution, till Vibius, as they would not yield one to the other, and Libo had entered without counsel, offered to state the charges against him singly, and produced an extravagantly absurd accusation, according to which Libo had consulted persons whether he would have such wealth as to be able to cover the Appian road as far as Brundisium with money. There were other questions of the same sort, quite senseless and idle; if leniently regarded, pitiable. But there was one paper in Libo's handwriting, so the prosecutor alleged, with the names of Caesars and of Senators, to which marks were affixed of dreadful or mysterious significance. When the accused denied this, it was decided that his slaves who recognised the writing should be examined by torture. As an ancient statute of the Senate forbade such inquiry in a case affecting a master's life, Tiberius, with his cleverness in devising new law, ordered Libo's slaves to be sold singly to the State-agent, so that, forsooth, without an infringement of the Senate's decree, Libo might be tried on their evidence. As a consequence, the defendant asked an adjournment till next day, and having gone home he charged his kinsman, Publius Quirinus, with his last prayer to the emperor.

30. Accesserant praeter Trionem et Catum accusatores Fonteius Agrippa et C. Vibius , certabantque cui ius perorandi in reum daretur, donec Vibius, quia nec ipsi inter se concederent et Libo sine patrono introisset, singillatim se crimina obiecturum professus, protulit libellos vaecordes adeo ut consultaverit Libo an habiturus foret opes quis viam Appiam Brundisium usque pecunia operiret. inerant et alia huiusce modi stolida vana, si mollius acciperes, misemuda. uni tamen libello manu Libonis nominibus Caesarum aut senatorum additas atrocis vel occultas notas accusator arguebat. negante reo adgnoscentis servos per tormenta interrogari placuit. et quia vetere senatus consulto quaestio in caput domini prohibebatur, callidus et novi iuris repertor Tiberius mancipari singulos actori publico iubet, scilicet ut in Libonem ex servis salvo senatus consulto quaereretur. ob quae posterum diem reus petivit domumque digressus extremas preces P. Quirinio propinquo suo ad principem mandavit.

31. The answer was that he should address himself to the Senate. Meanwhile his house was surrounded with soldiers; they crowded noisily even about the entrance, so that they could be heard and seen; when Libo, whose anguish drove him from the very banquet he had prepared as his last gratification, called for a minister of death, grasped the hands of his slaves, and thrust a sword into them. In their confusion, as they shrank back, they overturned the lamp on the table at his side, and in the darkness, now to him the gloom of death, he aimed two blows at a vital part. At the groans of the falling man his freedmen hurried up, and the soldiers, seeing the bloody deed, stood aloof. Yet the prosecution was continued in the Senate with the same persistency, and Tiberius declared on oath that he would have interceded for his life, guilty though he was, but for his hasty suicide.

31. Responsum est ut senatum rogaret. cingebatur interim milite domus, strepebant etiam in vestibulo ut audiri, ut aspici possent, cum Libo ipsis quas in novissimam voluptatem adhibuerat epulis excruciatus vocare percussorem, prensare servorum dextras, inserere gladium. atque illis, dum trepidant, dum refugiunt, evertentibus adpositum cum mensa lumen, feralibus iam sibi tenebris duos ictus in viscera derexit. ad gemitum conlabentis adcurrere liberti, et caede visa miles abstitit. accusatio tamen apud patres adseveratione eadem peracta, iuravitque Tiberius petiturum se vitam quamvis nocenti, nisi voluntariam mortem properavisset.

32. His property was divided among his accusers, and praetorships out of the usual order were conferred on those who were of senators' rank. Cotta Messalinus then proposed that Libo's bust should not be carried in the funeral procession of any of his descendants; and Cneius Lentulus, that no Scribonius should assume the surname of Drusus. Days of public thanksgiving were appointed on the suggestion of Pomponius Flaccus. Offerings were given to Jupiter, Mars, and Concord, and the 13th day of September, on which Libo had killed himself, was to be observed as a festival, on the motion of Gallus Asinius, Papius Mutilus, and Lucius Apronius. I have mentioned the proposals and sycophancy of these men, in order to bring to light this old-standing evil in the State. Decrees of the Senate were also passed to expel from Italy astrologers and magicians. One of their number, Lucius Pituanius, was hurled from the Rock. Another, Publius Marcius, was executed, according to ancient custom, by the consuls outside the Esquiline Gate, after the trumpets had been bidden to sound.

32. Bona inter accusatores dividuntur, et praeturae extra ordinem datae iis qui senatorii ordinis erant. tunc Cotta Messalinus, ne imago Libonis exequias posterorum comitaretur, censuit, Cn. Lentulus, ne quis Scribonius cognomentum Drusi adsumeret. supplicationum dies Pomponii Flacci sententia constituti, dona Iovi, Marti, Concordiae, utque idumn Septembrium dies, quo se Libo interfecerat, dies festus haberetur, L. Piso et Gallus Asinius et Papius Mutilus et L. Apronius decrevere; quorum auctoritates adulationesque rettuli ut sciretur vetus id in re publica malum. facta et de mathematicis magisque Italia pellendis senatus consulta; quorum e numero L. Pituanius saxo deiectus est, in P. Marcium consules extra portam Esquilinam, cum classicum canere iussissent, more prisco advertere.

33. On the next day of the Senate's meeting much was said against the luxury of the country by Quintus Haterius, an ex-consul, and by Octavius Fronto, an ex-praetor. It was decided that vessels of solid gold should not be made for the serving of food, and that men should not disgrace themselves with silken clothing from the East. Fronto went further, and insisted on restrictions being put on plate, furniture, and household establishments. It was indeed still usual with the Senators, when it was their turn to vote, to suggest anything they thought for the State's advantage. Gallus Asinius argued on the other side. "With the growth of the empire private wealth too," he said, "had increased, and there was nothing new in this, but it accorded with the fashions of the earliest antiquity. Riches were one thing with the Fabricii, quite another with the Scipios. The State was the standard of everything; when it was poor, the homes of the citizens were humble; when it reached such magnificence, private grandeur increased. In household establishments, and plate, and in whatever was provided for use, there was neither excess nor parsimony except in relation to the fortune of the possessor. A distinction had been made in the assessments of Senators and knights, not because they differed naturally, but that the superiority of the one class in places in the theatre, in rank and in honour, might be also maintained in everything else which insured mental repose and bodily recreation, unless indeed men in the highest position were to undergo more anxieties and more dangers, and to be at the same time deprived of all solace under those anxieties and dangers." Gallus gained a ready assent, under these specious phrases, by a confession of failings with which his audience symphathised. And Tiberius too had added that this was not a time for censorship, and that if there were any declension in manners, a promoter of reform would not be wanting.

33. Pro ??? atus die multa in luxum civitatis dicta a Q. Haterio consulari, Octavio Frontone praetura functo; decretumque ne vasa auro solida ministrandis cibis fierent, ne vestis serica viros foedaret. excessit Fronto ac postulavit modum argento, supellectili, familiae: erat quippe adhuc frequens senatoribus, si quid e re publica crederent, loco sententiae promere. contra Gallus Asinius disseruit: auctu imperii adolevisse etiam privatas opes, idque non novum, sed e vetustissimis moribus: aliam apud Fabricios, aliam apud Scipiones pecuniam; et cuncta ad rem publicam referri, qua tenui angustas civium domos, postquam eo magnificentiae venerit, gliscere singulos. neque in familia et argento quaeque ad usum parentur nimium aliquid aut modicum nisi ex fortuna possidentis. distinctos senatus et equitum census, non quia diversi natura, sed ut locis ordinibus dignationibus antistent, ita iis quae ad requiem animi aut salubritatem corporum parentur, nisi forte clarissimo cuique pluris curas, maiora pericula subeunda, delenimentis curarum et periculorum carendum esse. facilem adsensum Gallo sub nominibus honestis confessio vitiorum et similitudo audientium dedit. adiecerat et Tiberius non id tempus censurae nec, si quid in moribus labaret, defuturum corrigendi auctorem.

34. During this debate Lucius Piso, after exclaiming against the corruption of the courts, the bribery of judges, the cruel threats of accusations from hired orators, declared that he would depart and quit the capital, and that he meant to live in some obscure and distant rural retreat. At the same moment he rose to leave the Senate House. Tiberius was much excited, and though he pacified Piso with gentle words, he also strongly urged his relatives to stop his departure by their influence or their entreaties. Soon afterwards this same Piso gave an equal proof of a fearless sense of wrong by suing Urgulania, whom Augusta's friendship had raised above the law. Neither did Urgulania obey the summons, for in defiance of Piso she went in her litter to the emperor's house; nor did Piso give way, though Augusta complained that she was insulted and her majesty slighted. Tiberius, to win popularity by so humouring his mother as to say that he would go to the praetor's court and support Urgulania, went forth from the palace, having ordered soldiers to follow him at a distance. He was seen, as the people thronged about him, to wear a calm face, while he prolonged his time on the way with various conversations, till at last when Piso's relatives tried in vain to restrain him, Augusta directed the money which was claimed to be handed to him. This ended the affair, and Piso, in consequence, was not dishonoured, and the emperor rose in reputation. Urgulania's influence, however, was so formidable to the State, that in a certain cause which was tried by the Senate she would not condescend to appear as a witness. The praetor was sent to question her at her own house, although the Vestal virgins, according to ancient custom, were heard in the courts, before judges, whenever they gave evidence.

34. Inter quae L. Piso ambitum fori, corrupta iudicia, saevitiam oratorum accusationes minitantium increpans, abire se et cedere urbe, victurum in aliquo abdito et longinquo rure testabatur; simul curiam relinquebat. commotus est Tiberius, et quamquam mitibus verbis Pisonem permulsisset, propinquos quoque eius impulit ut abeuntem auctoritate vel precibus tenerent. haud minus liberi doloris documentum idem Piso mox dedit vocata in ius Vrgulania, quam supra leges amicitia Augustae extulerat. nec aut Vrgulania optemperavit, in domum Caesaris spreto Pisone vecta, aut ille abscessit, quamquam Augusta se violari et imminui quereretur. Tiberius hactenus indulgere matri civile ratus, ut se iturum ad praetoris tribunal, adfuturum Vrgulaniae diceret, processit Palatio, procul sequi iussis militibus. spectabatur occursante populo compositus ore et sermonibus variis tempus atque iter ducens, donec propinquis Pisonem frustra coercentibus deferri Augusta pecuniam quae petebatur iuberet. isque finis rei, ex qua neque Piso inglorius et Caesar maiore fama fuit. ceterum Vrgulaniae potentia adeo nimia civitati erat ut testis in causa quadam, quae apud senatum tractabatur, venire dedignaretur: missus est praetor qui domi interrogaret, cum virgines Vestales in foro et iudicio audiri, quotiens testimonium dicerent, vetus mos fuerit.

35. I should say nothing of the adjournment of public business in this year, if it were not worth while to notice the conflicting opinions of Cneius Piso and Asinius Gallus on the subject. Piso, although the emperor had said that he would be absent, held that all the more ought the business to be transacted, that the State might have honour of its Senate and knights being able to perform their duties in the sovereign's absence. Gallus, as Piso had forestalled him in the display of freedom, maintained that nothing was sufficiently impressive or suitable to the majesty of the Roman people, unless done before Caesar and under his very eyes, and that therefore the gathering from all Italy and the influx from the provinces ought to be reserved for his presence. Tiberius listened to this in silence, and the matter was debated on both sides in a sharp controversy. The business, however, was adjourned.

35. Res eo anno prolatas haud referrem, ni pretium foret Cn. Pisonis et Asinii Galli super eo negotio diversas sententias noscere. Piso, quamquam afuturum se dixerat Caesar, ob id magis agendas censebat, ut absente principe senatum et equites posse sua munia sustinere decorum rei publicae foret. Gallus, quia speciem libertatis Piso praeceperat, nihil satis inlustre aut ex dignitate populi Romani nisi coram et sub oculis Caesaris, eoque conventum Italiae et adfluentis provincias praesentiae eius servanda dicebat. audiente haec Tiberio ac silente magnis utrimque contentionibus acta, sed res dilatae.

36. A dispute then arose between Gallus and the emperor. Gallus proposed that the elections of magistrates should be held every five years, and that the commanders of the legions who before receiving a praetorship discharged this military service should at once become praetorselect, the emperor nominating twelve candidates every year. It was quite evident that this motion had a deeper meaning and was an attempt to explore the secrets of imperial policy. Tiberius, however, argued as if his power would be thus increased. "It would," he said, "be trying to his moderation to have to elect so many and to put off so many. He scarcely avoided giving offence from year to year, even though a candidate's rejection was solaced by the near prospect of office. What hatred would be incurred from those whose election was deferred for five years! How could he foresee through so long an interval what would be a man's temper, or domestic relations, or estate? Men became arrogant even with this annual appointment. What would happen if their thoughts were fixed on promotion for five years? It was in fact a multiplying of the magistrates five-fold, and a subversion of the laws which had prescribed proper periods for the exercise of the candidate's activity and the seeking or securing office. With this seemingly conciliatory speech he retained the substance of power.

36. Et certamen Gallo adversus Caesarem exortum est. nam censuit in quinquennium magistratuum comitia habenda, utque legionum legati, qui ante praeturam ea militia fungebantur, iam tum praetores destinarentur, princeps duodecim candidatos in annos singulos nominaret. haud dubium erat eam sententiam altius penetrare et arcana imperii temptari. Tiberius tamen, quasi augeretur potestas eius, disseruit: grave moderationi suae tot eligere, tot differre. vix per singulos annos offensiones vitari, quamvis repulsam propinqua spes soletur: quantum odii fore ab iis qui ultra quinquennium proiciantur? unde prospici posse quae cuique tam longo temporis spatio mens, domus, fortuna? superbire homines etiam annua designatione: quid si honorem per quinquennium agitent? quinquiplicari prorsus magistratus, subverti leges, quae sua spatia exercendae candidatorum industriae quaerendisque aut potiundis honoribus statuerint. favorabili in speciem oratione vim imperii tenuit.

37. He also increased the incomes of some of the Senators. Hence it was the more surprising that he listened somewhat disdainfully to the request of Marcus Hortalus, a youth of noble rank in conspicuous poverty. He was the grandson of the orator Hortensius, and had been induced by Augustus, on the strength of a gift of a million sesterces, to marry and rear children, that one of our most illustrious families might not become extinct. Accordingly, with his four sons standing at the doors of the Senate House, the Senate then sitting in the palace, when it was his turn to speak he began to address them as follows, his eyes fixed now on the statue of Hortensius which stood among those of the orators, now on that of Augustus:- "Senators, these whose numbers and boyish years you behold I have reared, not by my own choice, but because the emperor advised me. At the same time, my ancestors deserved to have descendants. For myself, not having been able in these altered times to receive or acquire wealth or popular favour, or that eloquence which has been the hereditary possession of our house, I was satisfied if my narrow means were neither a disgrace to myself nor burden to others. At the emperor's bidding I married. Behold the offspring and progeny of a succession of consuls and dictators. Not to excite odium do I recall such facts, but to win compassion. While you prosper, Caesar, they will attain such promotion as you shall bestow. Meanwhile save from penury the great-grandsons of Quintus Hortensius, the foster-children of Augustus."

37. Censusque quorundam senatorum iuvit. quo magis mirum fuit quod preces Marci Hortali, nobilis iuvenis, in paupertate manifesta superbius accepisset. nepos erat oratoris Hortensii, inlectus a divo Augusto liberalitate decies sestertii ducere uxorem, suscipere liberos, ne clarissima familia extingueretur. igitur quattuor filiis ante limen curiae adstantibus, loco sententiae, cum in Palatio senatus haberetur, modo Hortensii inter oratores sitam imaginem modo Augusti intuens, ad hunc modum coepit: 'patres conscripti, hos, quorum numerum et pueritiam videtis, non sponte sustuli sed quia princeps monebat; simul maiores mei meruerant ut posteros haberent. nam ego, qui non pecuniam, non studia populi neque eloquentiam, gentile domus nostrae bonum, varietate temporum accipere vel parare potuissem, satis habebam, si tenues res meae nec mihi pudori nec cuiquam oneri forent. iussus ab imperatore uxorem duxi. en stirps et progenies tot consulum, tot dictatorum. nec ad invidiam ista sed conciliandae misericordiae refero. adsequentur florente te, Caesar, quos dederis honores: interim Q. Hortensii pronepotes, divi Augusti alumnos ab inopia defende.'

38. The Senate's favourable bias was an incitement to Tiberius to offer prompt opposition, which he did in nearly these words: - "If all poor men begin to come here and to beg money for their children, individuals will never be satisfied, and the State will be bankrupt. Certainly our ancestors did not grant the privilege of occasionally proposing amendments or of suggesting, in our turn for speaking, something for the general advantage in order that we might in this house increase our private business and property, thereby bringing odium on the Senate and on emperors whether they concede or refuse their bounty. In fact, it is not a request, but an importunity, as utterly unreasonable as it is unforeseen, for a senator, when the house has met on other matters, to rise from his place and, pleading the number and age of his children, put a pressure on the delicacy of the Senate, then transfer the same constraint to myself, and, as it were, break open the exchequer, which, if we exhaust it by improper favouritism, will have to be replenished by crimes. Money was given you, Hortalus, by Augustus, but without solicitation, and not on the condition of its being always given. Otherwise industry will languish and idleness be encouraged, if a man has nothing to fear, nothing to hope from himself, and every one, in utter recklessness, will expect relief from others, thus becoming useless to himself and a burden to me." These and like remarks, though listened to with assent by those who make it a practice to eulogise everything coming from sovereigns, both good and bad, were received by the majority in silence or with suppressed murmurs. Tiberius perceived it, and having paused a while, said that he had given Hortalus his answer, but that if the senators thought it right, he would bestow two hundred thousand sesterces on each of his children of the male sex. The others thanked him; Hortalus said nothing, either from alarm or because even in his reduced fortunes he clung to his hereditary nobility. Nor did Tiberius afterwards show any pity, though the house of Hortensius sank into shameful poverty.

38. Inclinatio senatus incitamentum Tiberio fuit quo promptius adversaretur, his ferme verbis usus: 'si quantum pauperum est venire huc et liberis suis petere pecunias coeperint, singuli numquam exsatiabuntur, res publica deficiet. nec sane ideo a maioribus concessum est egredi aliquando relationem et quod in commune conducat loco sententiae proferre, ut privata negotia et res familiaris nostras hic augeamus, cum invidia senatus et principum, sive indulserint largitionem sive abnuerint. non enim preces sunt istud, sed efflagitatio, intempestiva quidem et inprovisa, cum aliis de rebus convenerint patres, consurgere et numero atque aetate liberum suorum urgere modestiam senatus, eandem vim in me transmittere ac velut perfringere aerarium, quod si ambitione exhauserimus, per scelera supplendum erit. dedit tibi, Hortale, divus Augustus pecuniam, sed non conpellatus nec en lege ut semper daretur. languescet alioqui industria, intendetur socordia, si nullus ex se metus aut spes, et securi omnes aliena subsidia expectabunt, sibi ignavi, nobis graves.' haec atque talia, quamquam cum adsensu audita ab iis quibus omnia principum, honesta atque inhonesta, laudare mos est, plures per silentium aut occultum murmur excepere. sensitque Tiberius; et cum paulum reticuisset, Hortalo se respondisse ait: ceterum si patribus videretur, daturum liberis eius ducena sestertia singulis, qui sexus virilis essent. egere alii grates: siluit Hortalus, pavore an avitae nobilitatis etiam inter angustias fortunae retinens. neque miseratus est posthac Tiberius, quamvis domus Hortensii pudendam ad inopiam delaberetur.

39. That same year the daring of a single slave, had it not been promptly checked, would have ruined the State by discord and civil war. A servant of Postumus Agrippa, Clemens by name, having ascertained that Augustus was dead, formed a design beyond a slave's conception, of going to the island of Planasia and seizing Agrippa by craft or force and bringing him to the armies of Germany. The slowness of a merchant vessel thwarted his bold venture. Meanwhile the murder of Agrippa had been perpetrated, and then turning his thoughts to a greater and more hazardous enterprise, he stole the ashes of the deceased, sailed to Cosa, a promontory of Etruria, and there hid himself in obscure places till his hair and beard were long. In age and figure he was not unlike his master. Then through suitable emissaries who shared his secret, it was rumoured that Agrippa was alive, first in whispered gossip, soon, as is usual with forbidden topics, in vague talk which found its way to the credulous ears of the most ignorant people or of restless and revolutionary schemers. He himself went to the towns, as the day grew dark, without letting himself be seen publicly or remaining long in the same places, but, as he knew that truth gains strength by notoriety and time, falsehood by precipitancy and vagueness, he would either withdraw himself from publicity or else forestall it.

39. Eodem anno mancipii unius audacia, ni mature subventum foret, discordiis armisque civilibus rem publicam perculisset. Postumi Agrippae servus, nomine Clemens, comperto fine Augusti pergere in insulam Planasiam et fraude aut vi raptum Agrippam ferre ad exercitus Germanicos non servili animo concepit. ausa eius inpedivit tarditas onerariae navis: atque interim patrata caede ad maiora et magis praecipitia conversus furatur cineres vectusque Cosam Etruriae promunturium ignotis locis sese abdit, donec crinem barbamque promitteret: nam aetate et forma haud dissimili in dominum erat. tum per idoneos et secreti eius socios crebrescit vivere Agrippam, occultis primum sermonibus, ut vetita solent, mox vago rumore apud inperitissimi cuiusque promptas auris aut rursum apud turbidos eoque nova cupientis. atque ipse adire municipia obscuro diei, neque propalam aspici neque diutius isdem locis, sed quia veritas visu et mora, falsa festinatione et incertis valescunt, relinquebat famam aut praeveniebat.

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