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Tacitus: Annals Book 2 [60]

60. Germanicus, however, who had not yet learnt how much he was blamed for his expedition, sailed up the Nile from the city of Canopus as his starting-point. Spartans founded the place because Canopus, pilot of one of their ships, had been buried there, when Menelaus on his return to Greece was driven into a distant sea and to the shores of Libya. Thence he went to the river's nearest mouth, dedicated to a Hercules who, the natives say, was born in the country and was the original hero, others, who afterwards showed like valour, having received his name. Next he visited the vast ruins of ancient Thebes. There yet remained on the towering piles Egyptian inscriptions, with a complete account of the city's past grandeur. One of the aged priests, who was desired to interpret the language of his country, related how once there had dwelt in Thebes seven hundred thousand men of military age, and how with such an army king Rhamses conquered Libya, Ethiopia, Media, Persia, Bactria, and Scythia, and held under his sway the countries inhabited by the Syrians, Armenians, and their neighbours, the Cappadocians, from the Bithynian to the Lycian sea. There was also to be read what tributes were imposed on these nations, the weight of silver and gold, the tale of arms and horses, the gifts of ivory and of perfumes to the temples, with the amount of grain and supplies furnished by each people, a revenue as magnificent as is now exacted by the might of Parthia or the power of Rome.

60. Sed Germanicus nondum comperto profectionem eam incusari Nilo subvehebatur, orsus oppido a Canopo. condidere id Spartani ob sepultum illic rectorem navis Canopum, qua tempestate Menelaus Graeciam repetens diversum ad mare terramque Libyam deiectus est. inde proximum amnis os dicatum Herculi, quem indigenae ortum apud se et antiquissimum perhibent eosque, qui postea pari virtute fuerint, in cognomentum eius adscitos; mox visit veterum Thebarum magna vestigia. et manebant structis molibus litterae Aegyptiae, priorem opulentiam complexae: iussusque e senioribus sacerdotum patrium sermonem interpretari, referebat habitasse quondam septingenta milia aetate militari, atque eo cum exercitu regem Rhamsen Libya Aethiopia Medisque et Persis et Bactriano ac Scytha potitum quasque terras Suri Armeniique et contigui Cappadoces colunt, inde Bithynum, hinc Lycium ad mare imperio tenuisse. legebantur et indicta gentibus tributa, pondu.s argenti et auri, numerus armorum equorumque et dona templis ebur atque odores, quasque copias frumenti et omnium utensilium quaeque natio penderet, haud minus magnifica quam nunc vi Parthorum aut potentia Romana iubentur.

61. But Germanicus also bestowed attention on other wonders. Chief of these were the stone image of Memnon, which, when struck by the sun's rays, gives out the sound of a human voice; the pyramids, rising up like mountains amid almost impassable wastes of shifting sand, raised by the emulation and vast wealth of kings; the lake hollowed out of the earth to be a receptacle for the Nile's overflow; and elsewhere the river's narrow channel and profound depth which no line of the explorer can penetrate. He then came to Elephantine and Syene, formerly the limits of the Roman empire, which now extends to the Red Sea.

61. Ceterum Germanicus aliis quoque miraculis intendit animum, quorum praecipua fuere Memnonis saxca effigies, ubi radiis solis icta est, vocalem sonum reddens, disiectasque inter et vix pervias arenas instar montium eductae pyramides certamine et opibus regum, lacusque effossa humo, superfluentis Nili receptacula; atque alibi angustiae et profunda altitudo, nullis inquirentium spatiis penetrabilis. exim ventum Elephantinen ac Syenen, claustra olim Romani imperii, quod nunc rubrum ad mare patescit.

62. While Germanicus was spending the summer in visits to several provinces, Drusus gained no little glory by sowing discord among the Germans and urging them to complete the destruction of the now broken power of Maroboduus. Among the Gotones was a youth of noble birth, Catualda by name, who had formerly been driven into exile by the might of Maroboduus, and who now, when the king's fortunes were declining, ventured on revenge. He entered the territory of the Marcomanni with a strong force, and, having corruptly won over the nobles to join him, burst into the palace and into an adjacent fortress. There he found the long-accumulated plunder of the Suevi and camp followers and traders from our provinces who had been attracted to an enemy's land, each from their various homes, first by the freedom of commerce, next by the desire of amassing wealth, finally by forgetfulness of their fatherland.

62. Dum ea aestas Germanico pluris per provincias transigitur, haud leve decus Drusus quaesivit inliciens Germanos ad discordias utque fracto iam Maroboduo usque in exitium insisteretur. erat inter Gotones nobilis iuvenis nomine Catualda, profugus olim vi Marobodui et tunc dubiis rebus eius ultionetn ausus. is valida manu finis Marcomanorum ingreditur corruptisque primoribus ad societatem inrumpit regiam castellumque iuxta situm. veteres illic Sueborum praedae et nostris e provinciis lixae ac negotiatores reperti quos ius commercii, dein cupido augendi pecuniam, postremo oblivio patriae suis quemque ab sedibus hostilem in agrum transtulerat.

63. Maroboduus, now utterly deserted, had no resource but in the mercy of Caesar. Having crossed the Danube where it flows by the province of Noricum, he wrote to Tiberius, not like a fugitive or a suppliant, but as one who remembered his past greatness. When as a most famous king in former days he received invitations from many nations, he had still, he said, preferred the friendship of Rome. Caesar replied that he should have a safe and honourable home in Italy, if he would remain there, or, if his interests required something different, he might leave it under the same protection under which he had come. But in the Senate he maintained that Philip had not been so formidable to the Athenians, or Pyrrhus or Antiochus to the Roman people, as was Maroboduus. The speech is extant, and in it he magnifies the man's power, the ferocity of the tribes under his sway, his proximity to Italy as a foe, finally his own measures for his overthrow. The result was that Maroboduus was kept at Ravenna, where his possible return was a menace to the Suevi, should they ever disdain obedience. But he never left Italy for eighteen years, living to old age and losing much of his renown through an excessive clinging to life. Catualda had a like downfall and no better refuge. Driven out soon afterwards by the overwhelming strength of the Hermundusi led by Vibilius, he was received and sent to Forum Julii, a colony of Narbonensian Gaul. The barbarians who followed the two kings, lest they might disturb the peace of the provinces by mingling with the population, were settled beyond the Danube between the rivers Marus and Cusus, under a king, Vannius, of the nation of the Quadi.

63. Maroboduo undique deserto non alind subsidium quam misericordia Caesaris fuit. transgressus Danuvium, qua Noricam provinciam praefluit, scripsit Tiberio non ut profugus aut supplex sed ex memoria prioris fortunae: nam multi s nationibus clarissimum quondam regem ad se vocantibus Romanam amicitiam praetulisse. responsum a Caesare tutam ei honoratamque sedem in Italia fore, si maneret: sin rebus eius aliud conduceret, abiturum fide qua venisset. ceterum apud senatum disseruit non Philippum Atheniensibus, non Pyrrhum aut Antiochum populo Romano perinde metuendos fuisse. extat oratio qua magnitudinem viri, violentiam subiectarum ei gentium et quam propinquns Italiae hostis, suaque in destruendo eo consilia extulit. et Marobodous quidem Ravennae habitus, si quando insolescerent Suebi quasi rediturus in regnum ostentabatur: sed non excessit Italia per duodeviginti annos consenuitque multum imminuta claritate ob nimiam vivendi cupidinem. idem Catualdae casus neque aliud perfugium. pulsus haud multo post Hermundurorum opibus et Vibilio duce receptusque, Forum Iulium, Narbonensis Galliae coloniam, mittitur. barbari utrumque comirati, ne quietas provincias immixti turbarent, Danuvium ultra inter flumina Marum et Cusum locantur, dato rege Vannio gentis Quadorum.

64. Tidings having also arrived of Artaxias being made king of Armenia by Germanicus, the Senate decreed that both he and Drusus should enter the city with an ovation. Arches too were raised round the sides of the temple of Mars the Avenger, with statues of the two Caesars. Tiberius was the more delighted at having established peace by wise policy than if he had finished a war by battle. And so next he planned a crafty scheme against Rhescuporis, king of Thrace. That entire country had been in the possession of Rhoemetalces, after whose death Augustus assigned half to the king's brother Rhescuporis, half to his son Cotys. In this division the cultivated lands, the towns, and what bordered on Greek territories, fell to Cotys; the wild and barbarous portion, with enemies on its frontier, to Rhescuporis. The kings too themselves differed, Cotys having a gentle and kindly temper, the other a fierce and ambitious spirit, which could not brook a partner. Still at first they lived in a hollow friendship, but soon Rhescuporis overstepped his bounds and appropriated to himself what had been given to Cotys, using force when he was resisted, though somewhat timidly under Augustus, who having created both kingdoms would, he feared, avenge any contempt of his arrangement. When however he heard of the change of emperor, he let loose bands of freebooters and razed the fortresses, as a provocation to war.

64. Simul nuntiato regem Artaxian Armeniis a Germanico datum, decrevere patres ut Germanicus atque Drusus ovantes urbem introirent. structi et arcus circum latera templi Martis Vltoris cum effigie Caesarum, laetiore Tiberio quia pacem sapientia firmaverat quam si bellum per acies confecisset. igitur Rhescuporim quoque, Thraeciae regem, astu adgreditur. omnem eam nationem Rhoemetalces tenuerat; quo defuncto Augustus partem Thraecum Rhescuporidi fratri eius, partem filio Cotyi permisit. in ea divisione arva et urbes et vicina Graecis Cotyi, quod incultum ferox adnexum hostibus, Rhescuporidi cessit: ipsorumque regum ingenia, illi mite et amoenum, huic atrox avidum et societatis impatiens erat. sed primo subdola concordia egere: mox Rhescuporis egredi finis, vertere in se Cotyi data et resistenti vim facere, cunctanter sub Augusto, quem auctorem utriusque regni, si sperneretur, vindicem metuebat. enimvero audita mutatione principis immittere latronum globos, excindere castella, causas bello.

65. Nothing made Tiberius so uneasy as an apprehension of the disturbance of any settlement. He commissioned a centurion to tell the kings not to decide their dispute by arms. Cotys at once dismissed the forces which he had prepared. Rhescuporis, with assumed modesty, asked for a place of meeting where, he said, they might settle their differences by an interview. There was little hesitation in fixing on a time, a place, finally on terms, as every point was mutually conceded and accepted, by the one out of good nature, by the other with a treacherous intent. Rhescuporis, to ratify the treaty, as he said, further proposed a banquet; and when their mirth had been prolonged far into the night, and Cotys amid the feasting and the wine was unsuspicious of danger, he loaded him with chains, though he appealed, on perceiving the perfidy, to the sacred character of a king, to the gods of their common house, and to the hospitable board. Having possessed himself of all Thrace, he wrote word to Tiberius that a plot had been formed against him, and that he had forestalled the plotter. Meanwhile, under pretext of a war against the Bastarnian and Scythian tribes, he was strengthening himself with fresh forces of infantry and cavalry. He received a conciliatory answer. If there was no treachery in his conduct, he could rely on his innocence, but neither the emperor nor the Senate would decide on the right or wrong of his cause without hearing it. He was therefore to surrender Cotys, come in person transfer from himself the odium of the charge.

65. Nihil aeque Tiberium anxium habebat quam ne composita turbarentur. deligit centurionem qui nuntiaret regibus ne armis disceptarent; statimque a Cotye dimissa sunt quae paraverat auxilia. Rhescuporis ficta modestia postulat eundem in locum coiretur: posse de controvensiis conloquio transigi. nec diu dubitatum de tempore, loco, dein condicionibus, cum alter facilitate, alter fraude cuncta inter se concederent acciperentque. Rhescuporis sanciendo, ut dictitabat, foederi convivium adicit, tractaque in multam noctem laetitia per epulas ac vinolentiam incautum Cotyn postquam dolum intellexerat, sacra regni, eiusdem familiae deos et hospitalis mensas obtestantem catenis onerat. Thraeciaque omni potitus scripsit ad Tiberium structas sibi insidias, praeventum insidiatorem; simul bellum adversus Bastarnas Scythasque praetendens novis peditum et equitum copiis sese firmabat. molliter rescriptum, si fraus abesset, posse eum innocentiae fidere; ceterum neque se neque senatum nisi cognita causa ius et iniuriam discreturos: proinde tradito Cotye veniret transferretque invidiam criminis.

66. This letter Latinius Pandus, propraetor of Moesia, sent to Thrace, with soldiers to whose custody Cotys was to be delivered. Rhescuporis, hesitating between fear and rage, preferred to be charged with an accomplished rather than with an attempted crime. He ordered Cotys to be murdered and falsely represented his death as self-inflicted. Still the emperor did not change the policy which he had once for all adopted. On the death of Pandus, whom Rhescuporis accused of being his personal enemy, he appointed to the government of Moesia Pomponius Flaccus, a veteran soldier, specially because of his close intimacy with the king and his consequent ability to entrap him.

66. Eas litteras Latinius Pandusa pro praetore Moesiae cum militibus quis Cotys traderetur in Thraeciam misit. Rhescuporis inter metum et iram cunctatus maluit patrati quam incepti facinoris reus esse: occidi Cotyn inbet mortemque sponte sumptam ementitur. nec tamen Caesar placitas semel artes mutavit, sed defuncto Pandusa quem sibi infensum Rhescuporis arguebat, Pomponium Flaccum, veterem stipendiis et arta cum rege amicitia eoque accommodatiorem ad fallendum, ob id maxime Moesiae praefecit.

67. Flaccus on arriving in Thrace induced the king by great promises, though he hesitated and thought of his guilty deeds, to enter the Roman lines. He then surrounded him with a strong force under pretence of showing him honour, and the tribunes and centurions, by counsel, by persuasion, and by a more undisguised captivity the further he went, brought him, aware at last of his desperate plight, to Rome. He was accused before the Senate by the wife of Cotys, and was condemned to be kept a prisoner far away from his kingdom. Thrace was divided between his son Rhoemetalces, who, it was proved, had opposed his father's designs, and the sons of Cotys. As these were still minors, Trebellienus Rufus, an expraetor, was appointed to govern the kingdom in the meanwhile, after the precedent of our ancestors who sent Marcus Lepidus into Egypt as guardian to Ptolemy's children. Rhescuporis was removed to Alexandria, and there attempting or falsely charged with attempting escape, was put to death.

67. Flaccus in Thraeciam transgressus per ingentia promissa quamvis ambiguum et scelera sua reputantem perpulit ut praesidia Romana intraret. circumdata hinc regi specie honoris valida manus, tribunique et centuriones monendo, suadendo, et quanto longius abscedebatur, apertiore custodia, postremo gnarum necessitatis in urbem traxere. accusatus in senatu ab uxore Cotyis damnatur, ut procul regno teneretur. Thraecia in Rhoemetalcen filium, quem paternis consiliis adversatum constabat, inque liberos Cotyis dividitur; iisque nondum adultis Trebellenus Rufus praetura functus datur qui regnum interim tractaret, exemplo quo maiores M. Lepidum Ptolemaei liberis tutorem in Aegyptum miserant. Rhescuporis Alexandriam devectus atque illic fugam temptans an ficto crimine interficitur.

68. About the same time, Vonones, who, as I have related, had been banished to Cilicia, endeavoured by bribing his guards to escape into Armenia, thence to Albania and Heniochia, and to his kinsman, the king of Scythia. Quitting the sea-coast on the pretence of a hunting expedition, he struck into trackless forests, and was soon borne by his swift steed to the river Pyramus, the bridges over which had been broken down by the natives as soon as they heard of the king's escape. Nor was there a ford by which it could be crossed. And so on the river's bank he was put in chains by Vibius Fronto, an officer of cavalry; and then Remmius, an enrolled pensioner, who had previously been entrusted with the king's custody, in pretended rage, pierced him with his sword. Hence there was more ground for believing that the man, conscious of guilty complicity and fearing accusation, had slain Vonones.

68. Per idem tempus Vonones, quem amotum in Ciliciam memoravi, corruptis custodibus effugere ad Armenios, inde Albanos Heniochosque et consanguineum sibi regem Scytharum conatus est. specie venandi omissis maritimis locis avia saltuum petiit, mox pernicitate equi ad amnem Pyramum contendit, cuius pontes accolae ruperant audita regis fuga, neque vado penetrari poterat. igitur in ripa fluminis a Vibio Frontone praefecto equitum vincitur, mox Remmius evocatus, priori custodiae regis adpositus, quasi per iram gladio cum transigit. unde maior fides conscientia sceleris et metu indicii mortem Vononi inlatam.

69. Germanicus meanwhile, as he was returning from Egypt, found that all his directions to the legions and to the various cities had been repealed or reversed. This led to grievous insults on Piso, while he as savagely assailed the prince. Piso then resolved to quit Syria. Soon he was detained there by the failing health of Germanicus, but when he heard of his recovery, while people were paying the vows they had offered for his safety, he went attended by his lictors, drove away the victims placed by the altars with all the preparations for sacrifice, and the festal gathering of the populace of Antioch. Then he left for Seleucia and awaited the result of the illness which had again attacked Germanicus. The terrible intensity of the malady was increased by the belief that he had been poisoned by Piso. And certainly there were found hidden in the floor and in the walls disinterred remains of human bodies, incantations and spells, and the name of Germanicus inscribed on leaden tablets, half-burnt cinders smeared with blood, and other horrors by which in popular belief souls are devoted so the infernal deities. Piso too was accused of sending emissaries to note curiously every unfavourable symptom of the illness.

69. At Germanicus Aegypto remeans cuncta quae apud legiones aut urbes iusserat abolita vel in contrarium versa cognoscit. hinc graves in Pisonem contumeliae, nec minus acerba quae ab illo in Caesarem intentabantur. dein Piso abire Syria statuit. mox adversa Germanici valetudine detentus, ubi recreatum accepit votaque pro incolumitate solvebantur, admotas hostias, sacrificalem apparatum, festam Antiochensium plebem per lictores proturbat. tum Seleuciam degreditur, opperiens aegritudinem, quae rursum Germanico acciderat. saevam vim morbi augebat persuasio veneni a Pisone accepti; et reperiebantur solo ac parietibus erutae humanorum corporum reliquiae, carmina et devotiones et nomen Germanici plumbeis tabulis insculptum, semusti cineres ac tabo obliti aliaque malefica quis creditur animas numinibus infernis sacrari. simul missi a Pisone incusabantur ut valetudinis adversa rimantes.

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