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Tacitus: Annals Book 3 [1]

1. WITHOUT pausing in her winter voyage Agrippina arrived at the island of Corcyra, facing the shores of Calabria. There she spent a few days to compose her mind, for she was wild with grief and knew not how to endure. Meanwhile on hearing of her arrival, all her intimate friends and several officers, every one indeed who had served under Germanicus, many strangers too from the neighbouring towns, some thinking it respectful to the emperor, and still more following their example, thronged eagerly to Brundisium, the nearest and safest landing place for a voyager. As soon as the fleet was seen on the horizon, not only the harbour and the adjacent shores, but the city walls too and the roofs and every place which commanded the most distant prospect were filled with crowds of mourners, who incessantly asked one another, whether, when she landed, they were to receive her in silence or with some utterance of emotion. They were not agreed on what befitted the occasion when the fleet slowly approached, its crew, not joyous as is usual, but wearing all a studied expression of grief. When Agrippina descended from the vessel with her two children, clasping the funeral urn, with eyes riveted to the earth, there was one universal groan. You could not distinguish kinsfolk from strangers, or the laments of men from those of women; only the attendants of Agrippina, worn out as they were by long sorrow, were surpassed by the mourners who now met them, fresh in their grief.

1. Nihil intermissa navigatione hiberni maris Agrippina Corcyram insulam advehitur, litora Calabriae contra sitam. illic paucos dies componendo animo insumit, violenta luctu et nescia tolerandi. interim adventu eius audito intimus quisque amicorum et plerique militares, ut quique sub Germanico stipendia fecerant, multique etiam ignoti vicinis e municipiis, pars officium in principem rati, plures illos secuti, ruere ad oppidum Brundisium, quod naviganti celerrimum fidissimumque adpulsu erat. atque ubi primum ex alto visa classis, complentur non modo portus et proxima maris sed moenia ac tecta, quaque longissime prospectari poterat, maerentium turba et rogitantium inter se silentione an voce aliqua egredientem exciperent. neque satis constabat quid pro tempore foret, cum classis paulatim successit, non alacri, ut adsolet, remigio sed cunctis ad tristitiam compositis. postquam duobus cum liberis, feralem urnam tenens, egressa navi defixit oculos, idem omnium gemitus; neque discerneres proximos alienos, virorum feminarumve planctus, nisi quod comitatum Agrippinae longo maerore fessum obvii et recentes in dolore antibant.

2. The emperor had despatched two praetorian cohorts with instructions that the magistrates of Calabria, Apulia, and Campania were to pay the last honours to his son's memory. Accordingly tribunes and centurions bore Germanicus's ashes on their shoulders. They were preceded by the standards unadorned and the faces reversed. As they passed colony after colony, the populace in black, the knights in their state robes, burnt vestments and perfumes with other usual funeral adjuncts, in proportion to the wealth of the place. Even those whose towns were out of the route, met the mourners, offered victims and built altars to the dead, testifying their grief by tears and wailings. Drusus went as far as Tarracina with Claudius, brother of Germanicus, and had been at Rome. Marcus Valerius and Caius Aurelius, the consuls, who had already entered on office, and a great number of the people thronged the road in scattered groups, every one weeping as he felt inclined. Flattery there was none, for all knew that Tiberius could scarcely dissemble his joy at the death of Germanicus.

2. Miserat duas pmetorias cohortis Caesar, addito ut magistratus Calabriae Apulique et Campani suprema erga memoriam filii sui munera fungerentur. igitur trlbunorum centurionumque umeris cineres portabantur; praecedebant incompta signa, versi fasces; atque ubi colonias transgrederentur, atrata plebes, trabeati equites pro opibus loci vestem odores aliaque funerum sollemnia cremabant. etiam quorum diversa oppida, tamen obvii et victimas atque aras dis Manibus statuentes lacrimis et conclamationibus dolorem testabantur. Drusus Tarracinam progressus est cum Claudio fratre liberisque Germanici, qui in urbe fuerant. consules M. Valerius et M. Aurelius (iam enim magistratum occeperant; et senatus ac magna pars populi viam complevere, dislecti et ut cuique libitum flentes; aberat quippe adulatio, gnaris omnibus laetam Tlberio Germanici mortem male dissimulari.

3. Tiberius Augusta refrained from showing themselves, thinking it below their dignity to shed tears in public, or else fearing that, if all eyes scrutinised their faces, their hypocrisy would be revealed. I do not find in any historian or in the daily register that Antonia, Germanicus's mother, rendered any conspicuous honour to the deceased, though besides Agrippina, Drusus, and Claudius, all his other kinsfolk are mentioned by name. She may either have been hindered by illness, or with a spirit overpowered by grief she may not have had the heart to endure the sight of so great an affliction. But I can more easily believe that Tiberius and Augusta, who did not leave the palace, kept her within, that their sorrow might seem equal to hers, and that the grandmother and uncle might be thought to follow the mother's example in staying at home.

3. Tiberius atque Augusta publico abstinuere, inferius maiestate sua rati si palam lamentarentur, an ne omnium oculis vultum eorum scrutantibus falsi intellegerentur. matrem Antoniam non apud auctores rerum, non diurna actorum scriptura reperio ullo insigni officio functam, cum super Agrippinam et Drusum et Claudium ceteri quoque consanguinei nominatim perscripti sint, seu valetudine praepediebatur seu victus luctu animus magnitudinem mali perferre visu non toleravit. facilius crediderim Tiberio et Augusta, qui domo non excedebant, cohibitam, ut par maeror et matris exemplo avia quoque et patruus attineri viderentur.

4. The day on which the remains were consigned to the tomb of Augustus, was now desolate in its silence, now distracted by lamentations. The streets of the city were crowded; torches were blazing throughout the Campus Martius. There the soldiers under arms, the magistrates without their symbols of office, the people in the tribes, were all incessantly exclaiming that the commonwealth was ruined, that not a hope remained, too boldly and openly to let one think that they remembered their rulers. But nothing impressed Tiberius more deeply than the enthusiasm kindled in favor of Agrippina, whom men spoke of as the glory of the country, the sole surviving off spring of Augustus, the solitary example of the old times, while looking up to heaven and the gods they prayed for the safety of her children and that they might outlive their oppressors.

4. Dies quo reliquiae tumulo Augusti inferebantur modo per silentium vastus, modo ploratibus inquies; plena urbis itinera, conlucentes per campum Martis faces. illic miles cum armis, sine insignibus magistratus, populus per tribus concidisse rem publicam, nihil spei reliquum clamitabant, promptius apertiusque quam ut meminisse imperitantium crederes. nihil tamen Tiberium magis penetravit quam studia hominum accensa in Agrippinam, cum decus patriae, solum Augusti sanguinem, unicum antiquitatis specimen appellarent versique ad caelum ac deos integram illi subolem ac superstitem iniquorum precarentur.

5. Some there were who missed the grandeur of a state-funeral, and contrasted the splendid honours conferred by Augustus on Drusus, the father of Germanicus. "Then the emperor himself," they said, "went in the extreme rigour of winter as far as Ticinum, and never leaving the corpse entered Rome with it. Round the funeral bier were ranged the images of the Claudii and the Julii; there was weeping in the forum, and a panegyric before the rostra; every honour devised by our ancestors or invented by their descendants was heaped on him. But as for Germanicus, even the customary distinctions due to any noble had not fallen to his lot. Granting that his body, because of the distance of tie journey, was burnt in any fashion in foreign lands, still all the more honours ought to have been afterwards paid him, because at first chance had denied them. His brother had gone but one day's journey to meet him; his uncle, not even to the city gates. Where were all those usages of the past, the image at the head of the bier, the lays composed in commemoration of worth, the eulogies and laments, or at least the semblance of grief?"

5. Fuere qui publici funeris pompam requirerent compararentque quae in Drusum patrem Germanici honora et magnifica Augustus fecisset. ipsum quippe asperrimo hiemis Ticinum usque progressum neque abscedentem a corpore simul urbem intravisse; circumfusas lecto Claudiorum Iuliorumque imagines; defletum in foro, laudatum pro rostris, cuncta a maioribus reperta aut quae posteri invenerint cumulata: at Germanico ne solitos quidem et cuicumque nobili debitos honores contigisse. sane corpus ob longinquitatem itinerum externis terris quoquo modo crematum: sed tanto plura decora mox tribui par fuisse quanto prima fors negavisset. non fratrem nisi unius diei via, non patruum saltem porta tenus obvium. ubi illa veterum instituta, propositam toro effigiem, meditata ad memoriam virtutis carmina et laudationes et lacrimas vel doloris imitamenta?

6. All this was known to Tiberius, and, to silence popular talk, he reminded the people in a proclamation that many eminent Romans had died for their country and that none had been honoured with such passionate regret. This regret was a glory both to himself and to all, provided only a due mean were observed; for what was becoming in humble homes and communities, did not befit princely personages and an imperial people. Tears and the solace found in mourning were suitable enough for the first burst of grief; but now they must brace their hearts to endurance, as in former days the Divine Julius after the loss of his only daughter, and the Divine Augustus when he was bereft of his grandchildren, had thrust away their sorrow. There was no need of examples from the past, showing how often the Roman people had patiently endured the defeats of armies, the destruction of generals, the total extinction of noble families. Princes were mortal; the State was everlasting. Let them then return to their usual pursuits, and, as the shows of the festival of the Great Goddess were at hand, even resume their amusements.

6. Gnarum id Tiberio fuit; utque premeret vulgi sermones, monuit edicto multos inlustrium Romanorum ob rem publicam obisse, neminem tam flagranti desiderio celebratum. idque et sibi et cunctis egregium si modus adiceretur. non enim eadem decora principibus viris et imperatori popolo quae modicis domibus aut civitatibus. convenisse recenti dolori luctum et ex maerore solacia; sed referendum iam animum ad firmitudinem, ut quondam divus Iulius amissa unica filia, ut divus Augustus ereptis nepotibus abstruserint tristitiam. nil opus vetustioribus exemplis, quotiens populus Romanus cladis exercituum, interitum ducum, funditus amissas nobilis familias constanter tulerit. principes mortalis, rem publicam aeternam esse. proin repeterent sollemnia, et quia ludorum Megalesium spectaculum suberat, etiam voluptates resumerent.

7. The suspension of business then ceased, and men went back to their occupations. Drusus was sent to the armies of Illyricum, amidst an universal eagerness to exact vengeance on Piso, and ceaseless complaints that he was meantime roaming through the delightful regions of Asia and Achaia, and was weakening the proofs of his guilt by an insolent and artful procrastination. It was indeed widely rumoured that the notorius poisoner Martina, who, as I have related, had been despatched to Rome by Cneius Sentius, had died suddenly at Brundisium; that poison was concealed in a knot of her hair, and that no symptoms of suicide were discovered on her person.

7. Tum exuto iustitio reditum ad munia, et Drusus Illyricos ad exercitus profectus est, erectis omnium animis petendae e Pisone ultionis et crebro questu, quod vagus interim per amoena Asiae atque Achaiae adroganti et subdola mora scelerum probationes subverteret. nam vulgatum erat missam, ut dixi, a Cn. Sentio famosam veneficiis Martinam subita morte Brundisii extinctam, venenumque nodo crinium eius occultatum nec ulla in corpore signa sumpti exitii reperta.

8. Piso meanwhile sent his son on to Rome with a message intended to pacify the emporer, and then made his way to Drusus, who would, he hoped, be not so much infuriated at his brother's death as kindly disposed towards himself in consequence of a rival's removal. Tiberius, to show his impartiality, received the youth courteously, and enriched him with the liberality he usually bestowed on the sons of noble families. Drusus replied to Piso that if certain insinuations were true, he must be foremost in his resentment, but he preferred to believe that they were false and groundless, and that Germanicus's death need be the ruin of no one. This he said openly, avoiding anything like secrecy. Men did not doubt that his answer prescribed him by Tiberius, inasmuch as one who had generally all the simplicity and candour of youth, now had recourse to the artifices of old age.

8. At Piso praemisso in urbem filio datisque mandatis per quae principem molliret ad Drusum pergit, quem haud fratris interitu trucem quam remoto aemulo acquiorem sibi sperabat. Tiberius quo integrum iudicium ostentaret, exceptum comiter iuvenem sueta erga filios familiarum nobilis liberalitate auget. Drusus Pisoni, si vera forent quae iacerentur, praecipuum in dolore suum locum respondit: sed malle falsa et inania nec cuiquam mortem Germanici exitiosam esse. haec palam et vitato omni secreto; neque dubitabantur praescripta ei a Tiberio, cum incallidus alioqui et facilis iuventa senilibus tum artibus uteretur.

9. Piso, after crossing the Dalmatian sea and leaving his ships at Ancona, went through Picenum and along the Flaminian road, where he overtook a legion which was marching from Pannonia to Rome and was then to garrison Africa. It was a matter of common talk how he had repeatedly displayed himself to the soldiers on the road during the march. From Narnia, to avoid suspicion or because the plans of fear are uncertain, he sailed down the Nar, then down the Tiber, and increased the fury of the populace by bringing his vessel to shore at the tomb of the Caesars. In broad daylight, when the river-bank was thronged, he himself with a numerous following of dependents, and Plancina with a retinue of women, moved onward with joy in their countenances. Among other things which provoked men's anger was his house towering above the forum, gay with festal decorations, his banquets and his feasts, about which there was no secrecy, because the place was so public.

9. Piso Delmatico mari tramisso relictisque apud Anconam navibus per Picenum ac mox Flaminiam viam adsequitur legionem, quae e Pannonia in urbem, dein praesidio Africae ducebatur: eaque res agitata rumoribus ut in agmine atque itinere crebro se militibus ostentavisset. ab Narnia, vitandae suspicionis an quia pavidis consilia in incerto sunt, Nare ac mox Tiberi devectus auxit vulgi iras, quia navem tumulo Caesarum adpulerat dieque et ripa frequenti, magno clientium agmine ipse, feminarum comitatu Plancina et vultu alacres incessere. fuit inter inritamenta invidiae domus foro imminens festa ornatu conviviumque et epulae et celebritate loci nihil occultum.

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