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Tacitus: Annals Book 3 [70]

70. Audience was next given to the people of Cyrene, and on the prosecution of Ancharius Priscus, Caesius Cordus was convicted of extortion. Lucius Ennius, a Roman knight, was accused of treason, for having converted a statue of the emperor to the common use of silver plate; but the emperor forbade his being put upon his trial, though Ateius Capito openly remonstrated, with a show of independence. "The Senate," he said, "ought not to have wrested from it the power of deciding a question, and such a crime must not go unpunished. Granted that the emperor might be indifferent to a personal grievance, still he should not be generous in the case of wrongs to the commonwealth." Tiberius interpreted the remark according to its drift rather than its mere expression, and persisted in his veto. Capito's disgrace was the more conspicuous, for, versed as he was in the science of law, human and divine, he had now dishonoured a brilliant public career as well as a virtuous private life.

70. Post auditi Cyrenenses et accusante Anchario Prisco Caesius Cordus repetundarum damnatur. L. Ennium equitem Romanum, maiestatis postulatum quod effigiem principis promiscum ad usum argenti vertisset, recipi Caesar inter reos vetuit, palam aspernante Ateio Capitone quasi per libertatem. non enim debere eripi patribus vim statuendi neque tantum maleficium impune habendum. sane lentus in suo dolore esset: rei publicae iniurias ne largiretur. intellexit haec Tiberius, ut erant magis quam ut dicebantur, perstititque intercedere. Capito insignitior infamia fuit quod humani divinique iuris sciens egregium publicum et bonas domi artes dehonestavisset.

71. Next came a religious question, as to the temple in which ought to be deposited the offering which the Roman knights had vowed to Fortune of the Knights for the recovery of Augusta. Although that Goddess had several shrines in Rome, there was none with this special designation. It was ascertained that there was a temple so called at Antium, and that all sacred rites in the towns of Italy as well as temples and images of deities were under the jurisdiction and authority of Rome. Accordingly the offering was placed at Antium. As religious questions were under discussion, the emperor now produced his answer to Servius Maluginensis, Jupiter's priest, which he had recently deferred, and read the pontifical decree, prescribing that whenever illness attacked a priest of Jupiter, he might, with the supreme pontiff's permission, be absent more than two nights, provided it was not during the days of public sacrifice or more than twice in the same year. This regulation of the emperor Augustus sufficiently proved that a year's absence and a provincial government were not permitted to the priests of Jupiter. There was also cited the precedent of Lucius Metellus, supreme pontiff, who had detained at Rome the priest Aulus Postumius. And so Asia was allotted to the exconsul next in seniority to Maluginensis.

71. Incessit dein religio quonam in templo locandum foret donum quod pro valetudine Augustae equites Romani voverant equestri Fortunae: nam etsi delubra eius deae multa in urbe, nullum tamen tali cognomento erat. repertum est aedem esse apud Antium quae sic nuncuparetur, cunctasque caerimonias Italicis in oppidis templaque et numinum effigies iuris atque imperii Romani esse. ita donum apud Antium statuitur. et quoniam de religionibus tractabatur, dilatum nuper responsum adversus Servium Maluginensem flaminem Dialem prompsit Caesar recitavitque decretum pontificum, quotiens valetudo adversa flaminem Dialem incessisset, ut pontificis maximi arbitrio plus quam binoctium abesset, dum ne diebus publici sacrificii neu saepius quam bis eundem in annum; quae principe Augusto constituta satis ostendebant annuam absentiam et provinciarum administrationem dialibus non concedi. memorabaturque L. Metelli pontificis maximi exemplum qui Aulum Postumium flaminem attinuisset. ita sors Asiae in eum qui consularium Maluginensi proximus erat conlata.

72. About the same time Lepidus asked the Senate's leave to restore and embellish, at his own expense, the basilica of Paulus, that monument of the Aemilian family. Public-spirited munificence was still in fashion, and Augustus had not hindered Taurus, Philippus, or Balbus from applying the spoils of war or their superfluous wealth to adorn the capital and to win the admiration of posterity. Following these examples, Lepidus, though possessed of a moderate fortune, now revived the glory of his ancestors. Pompeius's theatre, which had been destroyed by an accidental fire, the emperor promised to rebuild, simply because no member of the family was equal to restoring it, but Pompeius's name was to be retained. At the same time he highly extolled Sejanus on the ground that it was through his exertions and vigilance that such fury of the flames had been confined to the destruction of a single building. The Senate voted Sejanus a statue, which was to be placed in Pompeius's theatre. And soon afterwards the emperor in honouring Junius Blaesus proconsul of Africa, with triumphal distinctions, said that he granted them as a compliment to Sejanus, whose uncle Blaesus was.

72. Isdem diebus Lepidus ab senatu petivit ut basilicam Pauli, Aemilia monimenta, propria pecunia firmaret ornaretque. erat etiam tum in more publica munificentia; nec Augustus arcuerat Taurum, Philippum, Balbum hostilis exuvias aut exundantis opes ornatum ad urbis et posterum gloriam conferre. quo tum exemplo Lepidus, quamquam pecuniae modicus, avitum decus recoluit. at Pompei theatrum igne fortuito haustum Caesar extructurum pollicitus est eo quod nemo e familia restaurando sufficeret, manente tamen nomine Pompei. simul laudibus Seianum extulit tamquam labore vigilantiaque eius tanta vis unum intra damnum stetisset; et censuere patres effigiem Seiano quae apud theatrum Pompei locaretur. neque multo post Caesar, cum Iunium Blaesum pro consule Africae triumphi insignibus attolleret, dare id se dixit honori Seiani, cuius ille avunculus erat. ac tamen res Blaesi dignae decore tali fuere.

73. Still the career of Blaesus merited such a reward. For Tacfarinas, though often driven back, had recruited his resources in the interior of Africa, and had become so insolent as to send envoys to Tiberius, actually demanding a settlement for himself and his army, or else threatening us with an interminable war. Never, it is said, was the emperor so exasperated by an insult to himself and the Roman people as by a deserter and brigand assuming the character of a belligerent. "Even Spartacus when he had destroyed so many consular armies and was burning Italy with impunity, though the State was staggering under the tremendous wars of Sertorius and Mithridates, had not the offer of an honourable surrender on stipulated conditions; far less, in Rome's most glorious height of power, should a robber like Tacfarinas be bought off by peace and concessions of territory." He intrusted the affair to Blaesus, who was to hold out to the other rebels the prospect of laying down their arms without hurt to themselves, while he was by any means to secure the person of the chief. Many surrendered themselves on the strength of this amnesty. Before long the tactics of Tacfarinas were encountered in a similar fashion.

73. Nam Tacfarinas, quamquam saepius depulsus, reparatis per intima Africae auxiliis huc adrogantiae venerat ut legatos ad Tiberium mitteret sedemque ultro sibi atque exercitui suo postularet aut bellum inexplicabile minitaretur. non alias magis sua populique Romani contumelia indoluisse Caesarem ferunt quam quod desertor et praedo hostium more ageret. ne Spartaco quidem post tot consularium exercituum cladis inultam Italiam urenti, quamquam Sertorii atque Mithridatis ingentibus bellis labaret res publica, datum ut pacto in fidem acciperetur; nedum pulcherrimo populi Romani fastigio latro Tacfarinas pace et concessione agrorum redimeretur. dat negotium Blaeso ceteros quidem ad spem proliceret arma sine noxa ponendi, ipsius autem ducis quoquo modo poteretur. et recepti ea venia plerique. mox adversum artes Tacfarinatis haud dissimili modo belligeratum.

74. Unequal to us in solid military strength, but better in a war of surprises, he would attack, would elude pursuit, and still arrange ambuscades with a multitude of detachments. And so we prepared three expeditions and as many columns. One of the three under the command of Cornelius Scipio, Blaesus's lieutenant, was to stop the enemy's forays on the Leptitani and his retreat to the Garamantes. In another quarter, Blaesus's son led a separate force of his own, to save the villages of Cirta from being ravaged with impunity. Between the two was the general himself with some picked troops. By establishing redoubts and fortified lines in commanding positions, he had rendered the whole country embarrassing and perilous to the foe, for, whichever way he turned, a body of Roman soldiers was in his face, or on his flank, or frequently in the rear. Many were thus slain or surprised. Blaesus then further divided his triple army into several detachments under the command of centurions of tried valour. At the end of the summer he did not, as was usual, withdraw his troops and let them rest in winter-quarters in the old province; but, forming a chain of forts, as though he were on the threshold of a campaign, he drove Tacfarinas by flying columns well acquainted with the desert, from one set of huts to another, till he captured the chief's brother, and then returned, too soon however for the welfare of our allies, as there yet remained those who might renew hostilities. Tiberius however considered the war as finished, and awarded Blaesus the further distinction of being hailed "Imperator" by the legions, an ancient honour conferred on generals who for good service to the State were saluted with cheers of joyful enthusiasm by a victorious army. Several men bore the title at the same time, without pre-eminence above their fellows. Augustus too granted the name to certain persons; and now, for the last time, Tiberius gave it to Blaesus.

74. Nam quia ille robore exercitus impar, furandi melior, pluris per globos incursaret eluderetque et insidias simul temptaret, tres incessus, totidem agmina parantur. ex quis Cornelius Scipio legatus praefuit qua praedatio in Leptitanos et suffugia Garamantum; alio latere, ne Cirtensium pagi impune traherentur, propriam manum Blaesus filius duxit: medio cum delectis, castella et munitiones idoneis locis imponens, dux ipse arta et infensa hostibus cuncta fecerat, quia, quoquo inclinarent, pars aliqua militis Romani in ore, in latere et saepe a tergo erat; multique eo modo caesi aut circumventi. tunc tripertitum exercitum pluris in manus dispergit praeponitque centuriones virtutis expertae. nec, ut mos fuerat, acta aestate retrahit copias aut in hibernaculis veteris provinciae componit, sed ut in limine belli dispositis castellis per expeditos et solitudinum gnaros mutantem mapalia Tacfarinatem proturbabat, donec fratre eius capto regressus est, properantius tamen quam ex utilitate sociorum, relictis per quos resurgeret bellum. sed Tiberius pro confecto interpretatus id quoque Blaeso tribuit ut imperator a legionibus salutaretur, prisco erga duces honore qui bene gesta re publica gaudio et impetu victoris exercitus conclamabantur; erantque plures simul imperatores nec super ceterorum aequalitatem. concessit quibusdam et Augustus id vocabulum ac tunc Tiberius Blaeso postremum.

75. Two illustrious men died that year. One was Asinius Saloninus, distinguished as the grandson of Marcus Agrippa, and Asinius Pollio, as the brother of Drusus and the intended husband of the emperor's granddaughter. The other was Capito Ateius, already mentioned, who had won a foremost position in the State by his legal attainments, though his grandfather was but a centurion in Sulla's army, his father having been a praetor. He was prematurely advanced to the consulship by Augustus, so that he might be raised by the honour of this promotion above Labeo Antistius, a conspicuous member of the same profession. That age indeed produced at one time two brilliant ornaments of peace. But while Labeo was a man of sturdy independence and consequently of wider fame, Capito's obsequiousness was more acceptable to those in power. Labeo, because his promotion was confined to the praetorship, gained in public favour through the wrong; Capito, in obtaining the consulship, incurred the hatred which grows out of envy.

75. Obiere eo anno viri inlustres Asinius Saloninus, Marco Agrippa et Pollione Asinio avis, fratre Druso insignis Caesarique progener destinatus, et Capito Ateius, de quo memoravi, principem in civitate locum studiis civilibus adsecutus, sed avo centurione Sullano, patre praetorio. consulatum ei adceleraverat Augustus ut Labeonem Antistium isdem artibus praecellentem dignatione eius magistratus antiret. namque illa aetas duo pacis decora simul tulit: sed Labeo incorrupta libertate et ob id fama celebratior, Capitonis obsequium dominantibus magis probabatur. illi quod praeturam intra stetit commendatio ex iniuria, huic quod consulatum adeptus est odium ex invidia oriebatur.

76. Junia too, the niece of Cato, wife of Caius Cassius and sister of Marcus Brutus, died this year, the sixty-fourth after the battle of Philippi. Her will was the theme of much popular criticism, for, with her vast wealth, after having honourably mentioned almost every nobleman by name, she passed over the emperor. Tiberius took the omission graciously and did not forbid a panegyric before the Rostra with the other customary funeral honours. The busts of twenty most illustrious families were borne in the procession, with the names of Manlius, Quinctius, and others of equal rank. But Cassius and Brutus outshone them all, from the very fact that their likenesses were not to be seen. 76. Et Iunia sexagesimo quarto post Philippensem aciem anno supremum diem explevit, Catone avunculo genita, C. Cassii uxor, M. Bruti soror. testamentum eius multo apud vulgum rumore fuit, quia in magnis opibus cum ferme cunctos proceres cum honore nominavisset Caesarem omisit. quod civiliter acceptum neque prohibuit quo minus laudatione pro rostris ceterisque sollemnibus funus cohonestaretur. viginti clarissimarum familiarum imagines antelatae sunt, Manlii, Quinctii aliaque eiusdem nobilitatis nomina. sed praefulgebant Cassius atque Brutus eo ipso quod effigies eorum non visebantur.

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