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Tacitus: Annals Book 1 [50]

50. There was exultation among the Germans, not far off, as long as we were detained by the public mourning for the loss of Augustus, and then by our dissensions. But the Roman general in a forced march, cut through the Caesian forest and the barrier which had been begun by Tiberius, and pitched his camp on this barrier, his front and rear being defended by intrenchments, his flanks by timber barricades. He then penetrated some forest passes but little known, and, as there were two routes, he deliberated whether he should pursue the short and ordinary route, or that which was more difficult unexplored, and consequently unguarded by the enemy. He chose the longer way, and hurried on every remaining preparation, for his scouts had brought word that among the Germans it was a night of festivity, with games, and one of their grand banquets. Caecina had orders to advance with some light cohorts, and to clear away any obstructions from the woods. The legions followed at a moderate interval. They were helped by a night of bright starlight, reached the villages of the Marsi, and threw their pickets round the enemy, who even then were stretched on beds or at their tables, without the least fear, or any sentries before their camp, so complete was their carelessness and disorder; and of war indeed there was no apprehension. Peace it certainly was not - merely the languid and heedless ease of half-intoxicated people.

50. Laeti neque procul Germani agitabant, dum iustitio ob amissum Augustum, post discordiis attinemur. at Romanus agmine propero silvam Caesiam limitemque a Tiberio coeptum scindit, castra in limite locat, frontem ac tergum vallo, latera concaedibus munitus. inde saltus obscuros permeat consultatque ex duobus itineribus breve et solitum sequatur an inpeditius et intemptatum eoque hostibus in cautum. delecta longiore via cetera adcelerantur: etenim attulerant exploratores festam eam Germanis noctem ac sollemnibus epulis ludicram. Caecina cum expeditis cohortibus praeire et obstantia silvarum amoliri iubetur: legiones modico intervallo sequuntur. iuvit nox sideribus inlustris, ventumque ad vicos Marsorum et circumdatae stationes stratis etiam tum per cubilia propterque mensas, nullo metu, non antepositi vigiliis: adeo cuncta incuria disiecta erant neque belli timor, ac ne pax quidem nisi languida et soluta inter temulentos.

51. Caesar, to spread devastation widely, divided his eager legions into four columns, and ravaged a space of fifty miles with fire and sword. Neither sex nor age moved his compassion. Everything, sacred or profane, the temple too of Tamfana, as they called it, the special resort of all those tribes, was levelled to the ground. There was not a wound among our soldiers, who cut down a half-asleep, an unarmed, or a straggling foe. The Bructeri, Tubantes, and Usipetes, were roused by this slaughter, and they beset the forest passes through which the army had to return. The general knew this, and he marched, prepared both to advance and to fight. Part of the cavalry, and some of the auxiliary cohorts led the van; then came the first legion, and, with the baggage in the centre, the men of the twenty-first closed up the left, those of the fifth, the right flank. The twentieth legion secured the rear, and, next, were the rest of the allies. Meanwhile the enemy moved not till the army began to defile in column through the woods, then made slight skirmishing attacks on its flanks and van, and with his whole force charged the rear. The light cohorts were thrown into confusion by the dense masses of the Germans, when Caesar rode up to the men of the twentieth legion, and in a loud voice exclaimed that this was the time for wiping out the mutiny. "Advance," he said, "and hasten to turn your guilt into glory." This fired their courage, and at a single dash they broke through the enemy, and drove him back with great slaughter into the open country. At the same moment the troops of the van emerged from the woods and intrenched a camp. After this their march was uninterrupted, and the soldiery, with the confidence of recent success, and forgetful of the past, were placed in winter-quarters.

51. Caesar avidas legiones quo latior populatio foret quattuor in cuneos dispertit; quinquaginta milium spatium ferro flammisque pervastat. non sexus, non aetas miserationem attulit: profana simul et sacra et celeberrimum illis gentibus templum quod Tanfanae vocabant solo aequantur. sine vulnere milites, qui semisomnos, inermos aut palantis ceciderant. excivit ea caedes Bructeros, Tubantes, Vsipetes, saltusque, per quos exercitui regressus, insedere. quod gnarum duci incessitque itineri et proelio. pars equitum et auxiliariae cohortes ducebant, mox prima legio, et mediis impedimentis sinistrum latus unetvicesimani, dextrum quintani clausere, vicesima legio terga firmavit, post ceteri sociorum. sed hostes, donec agmen per saltus porrigeretur, immoti, dein latera et frontem modice adsultantes, tota vi novissimos incurrere. turbabanturque densis Germanorum catervis leves cohortes, cum Caesar advectus ad vicesimanos voce magna hoc illud tempus obliterandae seditionis clamitabat: pergerent, properarent culpam in decus vertere. exarsere animis unoque impetu perruptum hostem redigunt in aperta caeduntque: simul primi agminis copiae evasere silvas castraque communivere. quietum inde iter, fidensque recentibus ac priorum oblitus miles in hibernis locatur.

52. The news was a source of joy and also of anxiety to Tiberius. He rejoiced that the mutiny was crushed, but the fact that Germanicus had won the soldiers' favour by lavishing money, and promptly granting the discharge, as well as his fame as a soldier, annoyed him. Still, he brought his achievements under the notice of the Senate, and spoke much of his greatness in language elaborated for effect, more so than could be believed to come from his inmost heart. He bestowed a briefer praise on Drusus, and on the termination of the disturbance in Illyricum, but he was more earnest, and his speech more hearty. And he confirmed, too, in the armies of Pannonia all the concessions of Germanicus.

52. Nuntiata ea Tiberium laetitia curaque adfecere: gaudebat oppressam seditionem, sed quod largiendis pecuniis et missione festinata favorem militum quaesivisset, bellica quoque Germanici gloria angebatur. rettulit tamen ad senatum de rebus gestis multaque de virtute eius memoravit, magis in speciem verbis adornata quam ut penitus sentire crederetur. paucioribus Drusum et finem Illyrici motus laudavit, sed intentior et fida oratione. cunctaque quae Germanicus indulserat servavit etiam apud Pannonicos exercitus.

53. That same year Julia ended her days. For her profligacy she had formerly been confined by her father Augustus in the island of Pandateria, and then in the town of the Regini on the shores of the straits of Sicily. She had been the wife of Tiberius while Caius and Lucius Caesar were in their glory, and had disdained him as an unequal match. This was Tiberius's special reason for retiring to Rhodes. When he obtained the empire, he left her in banishment and disgrace, deprived of all hope after the murder of Postumus Agrippa, and let her perish by a lingering death of destitution, with the idea that an obscurity would hang over her end from the length of her exile. He had a like motive for cruel vengeance on Sempronius Gracchus, a man of noble family, of shrewd understanding, and a perverse eloquence, who had seduced this same Julia when she was the wife of Marcus Agrippa. And this was not the end of the intrigue. When she had been handed over to Tiberius, her persistent paramour inflamed her with disobedience and hatred towards her husband; and a letter which Julia wrote to her father, Augustus, inveighing against Tiberius, was supposed to be the composition of Gracchus. He was accordingly banished to Cercina, where he endured an exile of fourteen years. Then the soldiers who were sent to slay him, found him on a promontory, expecting no good. On their arrival, he begged a brief interval in which to give by letter his last instructions to his wife Alliaria, and then offered his neck to the executioners, dying with a courage not unworthy of the Sempronian name, which his degenerate life had dishonoured. Some have related that these soldiers were not sent from Rome, but by Lucius Asprenas, proconsul of Africa, on the authority of Tiberius, who had vainly hoped that the infamy of the murder might be shifted on Asprenas.

53. Eodem anno Iulia supremum diem obiit, ob impudicitiam olim a patre Augusto Pandateria insula, mox oppido Reginorum, qui Siculum fretum accolunt, clausa. fuerat in matrimonio Tiberii florentibus Gaio et Lucio Caesaribus spreveratque ut inparem; nec alia tam intima Tiberio causa cur Rhodum abscederet. imperium adeptus extorrem, infamem et post interfectum Postumum Agrippam omnis spei egenam inopia ac tabe longa peremit, obscuram fore necem longinquitate exilii ratus. par causa saevitiae in Sempronium Gracchum, qui familia nobili, sollers ingenio et prave facundus, eandem Iuliam in matrimonio Marci Agrippae temeraverat. nec is libidini finis: traditam Tiberio pervicax adulter contumacia et odiis in maritum accendebat; litteraeque quas Iulia patri Augusto cum insectatione Tiberii scripsit a Graccho compositae credebantur. igitur amotus Cercinam, Africi maris insulam, quattuordecim annis exilium toleravit. tunc milites ad caedem missi invenere in prominenti litoris nihil laetum opperientem. quorum adventu breve tempus petivit ut suprema mandata uxori Alliariae per litteras daret, cervicemque percussoribus obtulit; constantia mortis haud in dignus Sempronio nomine vita degeneraverat. quidam non Roma eos milites, sed ab L. Asprenate pro consule Africae missos tradidere auctore Tiberio, qui famam caedis posse in Asprenatem verti frustra speraverat.

54. The same year witnessed the establishment of religious ceremonies in a new priesthood of the brotherhood of the Augustales, just as in former days Titus Tatius, to retain the rites of the Sabines, had instituted the Titian brotherhood. Twenty-one were chosen by lot from the chief men of the State; Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius, and Germanicus, were added to the number. The Augustal game's which were then inaugurated, were disturbed by quarrels arising out of rivalry between the actors. Augustus had shown indulgence to the entertainment by way of humouring Maecenas's extravagant passion for Bathyllus, nor did he himself dislike such amusements, and he thought it citizenlike to mingle in the pleasures of the populace. Very different was the tendency of Tiberius's character. But a people so many years indulgently treated, he did not yet venture to put under harsher control.

54. Idem annus novas caerimonias accepit addito sodalium Augustalium sacerdotio, ut quondam Titus Tatius retinendis Sabinorum sacris sodalis Titios instituerat. sorte ducti e primoribus civitatis unus et viginti: Tiberius Drusus que et Claudius et Germanicus adiciuntur. ludos Augustalis tunc primum coeptos turbavit discordia ex certamine histrionum. indulserat ei ludicro Auaustus, dum Maecenati obtemperat effuso in amorem Bathylli; neque ipse abhorrebat talibus studiis, et civile rebatur misceri voluptatibus vulgi. alia Tiberio morum via: sed populum per tot annos molliter habitum nondum audebat ad duriora vertere.

55. In the consulship of Drusus Caesar and Caius Norbanus, Germanicus had a triumph decreed him, though war still lasted. And though it was for the summer campaign that he was most vigorously preparing, he anticipated it by a sudden inroad on the Chatti in the beginning of spring. There had, in fact, sprung up a hope of the enemy being divided between Arminius and Segestes, famous, respectively, for treachery and loyalty towards us. Arminius was the disturber of Germany. Segestes often revealed the fact that a rebellion was being organized, more especially at that last banquet after which they rushed to arms, and he urged Varus to arrest himself and Arminius and all the other chiefs, assuring him that the people would attempt nothing if the leading men were removed, and that he would then have an opportunity of sifting accusations and distinguishing the innocent. But Varus fell by fate and by the sword of Arminius, with whom Segestes, though dragged into war by the unanimous voice of the nation, continued to be at feud, his resentment being heightened by personal motives, as Arminius had married his daughter who was betrothed to another. With a son-in-law detested, and fathers-in-law also at enmity, what are bonds of love between united hearts became with bitter foes incentives to fury.

55. Druso Caesare C. Norbano consulibus decernitur Germanico triumphus manente bello; quod quamquam in aestatem summa ope parabat, initio veris et repentino in Chattos excursu praecepit. nam spes incesserat dissidere hostem in Arminium ac Segestem, insignem utrumque perfidia in nos aut fide. Arminius turbator Germaniae, Segestes parari rebellionem saepe alias et supremo convivio, post quod in arma itum, aperuit suasitque Varo ut se et Arminium et ceteros proceres vinciret: nihil ausuram plebem principibus amotis; atque ipsi tempus fore quo crimina et innoxios discerneret. sed Varus fato et vi Armini cecidit; Segestes quamquam consensu gentis in bellum tractus discors manebat, auctis privatim odiis, quod Arminius filiam eius alii pactam rapuerat: gener invisus inimici soceri; quaeque apud concordes vincula caritatis, incitamenta irarum apud inrensos erant.

56. Germanicus accordingly gave Caecina four legions, five thousand auxiliaries, with some hastily raised levies from the Germans dwelling on the left bank of the Rhine. He was himself at the head of an equal number of legions and twice as many allies. Having established a fort on the site of his father's entrenchments on Mount Taunus he hurried his troops in quick marching order against the Chatti, leaving Lucius Apronius to direct works connected with roads and bridges. With a dry season and comparatively shallow streams, a rare circumstance in that climate, he had accomplished, without obstruction, rapid march, and he feared for his return heavy rains and swollen rivers. But so suddenly did he come on the Chatti that all the helpless from age or sex were at once captured or slaughtered. Their able-bodied men had swum across the river Adrana, and were trying to keep back the Romans as they were commencing a bridge. Subsequently they were driven back by missiles and arrows, and having in vain attempted for peace, some took refuge with Germanicus, while the rest leaving their cantons and villages dispersed themselves in their forests. After burning Mattium, the capital of the tribe, and ravaging the open country, Germanicus marched back towards the Rhine, the enemy not daring to harass the rear of the retiring army, which was his usual practice whenever he fell back by way of stratagem rather than from panic. It had been the intention of the Cherusci to help the Chatti; but Caecina thoroughly cowed them, carrying his arms everywhere, and the Marsi who ventured to engage him, he repulsed in a successful battle.

56. Igitur Germanicus quattuor legiones, quinque auxiliarium milia et tumultuarias catervas Germanorum cis Rhenum colentium Caecinae tradit; totidem legiones, duplicem sociorum numerum ipse ducit, positoque castello super vestigia paterni praesidii in monte Tauno expeditum exercitum in Chattos rapit, L. Apronio ad munitiones viarum et fluminum relicto. nam (rarum illi caelo) siccitate et amnibus modicis inoffensum iter properaverat, imbresque et fluminum auctus regredienti metuebantur. sed Chattis adeo inprovisus advenit, ut quod imbecillum aetate ac sexu statim captum aut trucidatum sit. iuventus flumen Adranam nando tramiserat, Romanosque pontem coeptantis arcebant. dein tormentis sagittisque pulsi, temptatis frustra condicionibus pacis, cum quidam ad Germanicum perfugissent, reliqui omissis pagis vicisque in silvas disperguntur. Caesar incenso Mattio (id genti caput) aperta populatus vertit ad Rhenum, non auso hoste terga abeuntium lacessere, quod illi moris, quotiens astu magis quam per formidinem cessit. fuerat animus Cheruscis iuvare Chattos, sed exterruit Caecina huc illuc ferens arma; et Marsos congredi ausos prospero proelio cohibuit.

57. Not long after envoys came from Segestes, imploring aid against the violence of his fellow-countrymen, by whom he was hemmed in, and with whom Arminius had greater influence, because he counselled war. For with barbarians, the more eager a man's daring, the more does he inspire confidence, and the more highly is he esteemed in times of revolution. With the envoys Segestes had associated his son, by name Segimundus, but the youth hung back from a consciousness of guilt. For in the year of the revolt of Germany he had been appointed a priest at the altar of the Ubii, and had rent the sacred garlands, and fled to the rebels. Induced, however, to hope for mercy from Rome, he brought his father's message; he was graciously received and sent with an escort to the Gallic bank of the Rhine. It was now worth while for Germanicus to march back his army. A battle was fought against the besiegers and Segestes was rescued with a numerous band of kinsfolk and dependents. In the number were some women of rank; among them, the wife of Arminius, who was also the daughter of Segestes, but who exhibited the spirit of her husband rather than of her father, subdued neither to tears nor to the tones of a suppliant, her hands tightly clasped within her bosom, and eyes which dwelt on her hope of offspring. The spoils also taken in the defeat of Varus were brought in, having been given as plunder to many of those who were then being surrendered.

57. Neque multo post legati a Segeste venerunt auxilium orantes adversus vim popularium a quis circumsedebatur, validiore apud eos Arminio quoniam bellum suadebat: nam barbaris, quanto quis audacia promptus, tanto magis fidus rebusque motis potior habetur. addiderat Segestes legatis filium, nomine Segimundum: sed iuvenis conscientia cunctabatur. quippe anno quo Germaniae descivere sacerdos apud aram Vbiorum creatus ruperat vittas, profugus ad rebellis. adductus tamen in spem clementiae Romanae pertulit patris mandata benigneque exceptus cum praesidio Gallicam in ripam missus est. Germanico pretium fuit convertere agmen, pugnatumque in obsidentis, et ereptus Segestes magna cum propinquorum et clientium manu. inerant feminae nobiles, inter quas uxor Arminii eademque filia Segestis, mariti magis quam parentis animo, neque victa in lacrimas neque voce supplex; compressis intra sinum manibus gravidum uterum intuens. ferebantur et spolia Varianae cladis, plerisque eorum qui tum in deditionem veniebant praedae data: simul Segestes ipse, ingens visu et memoria bonae societatis inpavidus.

58. Segestes too was there in person, a stately figure, fearless in the remembrance of having been a faithful ally. His speech was to this effect. "This is not my first day of steadfast loyalty towards the Roman people. From the time that the Divine Augustus gave me the citizenship, I have chosen my friends and foes with an eye to your advantage, not from hatred of my fatherland (for traitors are detested even by those whom they prefer) but because I held that Romans and Germans have the same interests, and that peace is better than war. And therefore I denounced to Varus, who then commanded your army, Arminius, the ravisher of my daughter, the violater of your treaty. I was put off by that dilatory general, and, as I found but little protection in the laws, I urged him to arrest myself, Arminius, and his accomplices. That night is my witness; would that it had been my last. What followed, may be deplored rather than defended. However, I threw Arminius into chains and I endured to have them put on myself by his partisans. And as soon as give opportunity, I show my preference for the old over the new, for peace over commotion, not to get a reward, but that I may clear myself from treachery and be at the same time a fit mediator for a German people, should they choose repentance rather than ruin, For the youth and error of my son I entreat forgiveness. As for my daughter, I admit that it is by compulsion she has been brought here. It will be for you to consider which fact weighs most with you, that she is with child by Arminius or that she owes her being to me." Caesar in a gracious reply promised safety to his children and kinsfolk and a home for himself in the old province. He then led back the army and received on the proposal of Tiberius the title of Imperator. The wife of Arminius gave birth to a male child; the boy, who was brought up at Ravenna, soon afterwards suffered an insult, which at the proper time I shall relate.

58. Verba eius in hunc modum fuere: 'non hic mihi primus erga populum Romanum fidei et constantiae dies. ex quo a divo Augusto civitate donatus sum, amicos inimicosque ex vestris utilitatibus delegi, neque odio patriae (quippe proditores etiam iis quos anteponunt invisi sunt), verum quia Romanis Germanisque idem conducere et pacem quam bellum probabam. ergo raptorem filiae meae, violatorem foederis vestri, Arminium apud Varum, qui tum exercitui praesidebat, reum feci. dilatus segnitia ducis, quia parum praesidii in legibus erat, ut me et Arminium et conscios vinciret flagitavi: testis illa nox, mihi utinam potius novissima! quae secuta sunt defleri magis quam defendi possunt: ceterum et inieci catenas Arminio et a factione eius iniectas perpessus sum. atque ubi primum tui copia, vetera novis et quieta turbidis antehabeo, neque ob praemium, sed ut me perfidia exsolvam, simul genti Germanorum idoneus conciliator, si paenitentiam quam perniciem maluerit. pro iuventa et errore filii veniam precor: filiam necessitate huc adductam fateor. tuum erit consultare utrum praevaleat quod ex Arminio concepit an quod ex me genita est.' Caesar clementi responso liberis propinquisque eius incolumitatem, ipsi sedem vetere in provincia pollicetur. exercitum reduxit nomenque imperatoris auctore Tiberio accepit. Arminii uxor virilis sexus stirpem edidit: educatus Ravennae puer quo mox ludibrio conflictatus sit in tempore memorabo.

59. The report of the surrender and kind reception of Segestes, when generally known, was heard with hope or grief according as men shrank from war or desired it. Arminius, with his naturally furious temper, was driven to frenzy by the seizure of his wife and the foredooming to slavery of his wife's unborn child. He flew hither and thither among the Cherusci, demanding "war against Segestes, war against Caesar." And he refrained not from taunts. "Noble the father," he would say, "mighty the general, brave the army which, with such strength, has carried off one weak woman. Before me, three legions, three commanders have fallen. Not by treachery, not against pregnant women, but openly against armed men do I wage war. There are still to be seen in the groves of Germany the Roman standards which I hung up to our country's gods. Let Segestes dwell on the conquered bank; let him restore to his son his priestly office; one thing there is which Germans will never thoroughly excuse, their having seen between the Elbe and the Rhine the Roman rods, axes, and toga. Other nations in their ignorance of Roman rule, have no experience of punishments, know nothing of tributes, and, as we have shaken them off, as the great Augustus, ranked among dieties, and his chosen heir Tiberius, departed from us, baffled, let us not quail before an inexperienced stripling, before a mutinous army. If you prefer your fatherland, your ancestors, your ancient life to tyrants and to new colonies, follow as your leader Arminius to glory and to freedom rather than Segestes to ignominious servitude."

59. Fama dediti benigneque excepti Segestis vulgata, ut quibusque bellum invitis aut cupientibus erat, spe vel dolore accipitur. Arminium super insitam violentiam rapta uxor, subiectus servitio uxoris uterus vaecordem agebant, volitabatque per Cheruscos, arma in Segestem, arma in Caesarem poscens. neque probris temperabat: egregium patrem, magnum imperatorem, fortem exercitum, quorum tot manus unam mulierculam avexerint. sibi tres legiones, totidem legatos procubuisse; non enim se proditione neque adversus feminas gravidas, sed palam adversus armatos bellum tractare. cerni adhuc Germanorum in lucis signa Romana, quae dis patriis suspenderit. coleret Segestes victam ripam, redderet filio sacerdotium hominum: Germanos numquam satis excusaturos quod inter Albim et Rhenum virgas et securis et togam viderint. aliis gentibus ignorantia imperi Romani inexperta esse supplicia, nescia tributa: quae quoniam exuerint inritusque discesserit ille inter numina dicatus Augustus, ille delectus Tiberius, ne inperitum adulescentulum, ne seditiosum exercitum pavescerent. si patriam parentes antiqua mallent quam domi nos et colonias novas, Arminium potius gloriae ac libertatis quam Segestem flagitiosae servitutis ducem sequerentur.

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