Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ch. 71. Germanicus at first, for a brief space, was elevated to the hope of recovery, but soon perceived that his end was approaching; and with wearied frame, thus addressed the friends who stood around him: “ If I were yielding to a decree of nature, I might yet justly grieve for the ordination even of the gods who snatch me away from parents, children, country, by a premature departure in my season of youth. But now, intercepted violently and suddenly by the crime of Piso and Plancina, I leave my last prayers in your hearts. Tell my father and my brother by what afflictions torn asunder, by what treachery circumvented, I closed my most unhappy life, and by the most inglorious death. If there are those in whom my earlier hopes, my kindred blood awakened an interest; if there are any in whom, while living, I moved an emotion of envy, they will weep that he, once shining the survivor of so many wars, has fallen by the fraud of woman. There will be allowed you opportunity of preferring a complaint to the senate, and of invoking the laws. It is not the chief office of friendship to stand looking after the departed with listless sorrow, but to remember his wishes and to perform his injunctions. Even strangers will weep for Germanicus. You will vindicate him, if it were himself rather than his conspicuous fortune, which you loved and cherished. Show to the people of Rome the granddaughter of Augustus, my wife; enumerate my six children. Sympathy will enlist itself with the accusers; and they who may only pretend that their crimes were commanded by a higher will shall not be believed, or shall not be held guiltless.” Taking the right hand of the dying man his friends swore that they would sooner lose life than revenge.

Ch. 72. Then turning to his wife he entreated her by his memory, by their common children, to suppress all vehemence of resentment, to resign her spirit to her cruel fortune when she should return to the city, to avoid by emulation of power exasperating those above her in the State.

These dying injunctions Germanicus openly communicated. Other things he confidentially said, by which he was believed to have conveyed a suspicion of Tiberius. Within a brief space afterwards he died, to the profound sorrow of the province and of the countries around it. Foreign nations and kings mourned for him. Such had been his courtesy to his subjects of the province; such bis clemency towards enemies; such reverence did his countenance and his speech alike conciliate, that while he preserved and displayed the grandeur and dignity of the highest estate, he escaped envy and the accusation of arrogance.

Ch. 73. His funeral was celebrated not with statues nor

with pomp, but by praises, and by the memory and rehearsal of bis virtues. Some there were who drew a parallel between him in respect of form and of age, the kind of his death, the general region in which he died, and the traits and fortune of Alexander the Great. Each of them it was called to mind was of dignified and graceful person and illustrious family, and each, not much past the thirtieth year of life, died by the treachery of his countrymen in foreign lands. manicus was gentle towards his friends, temperate in his pleasures, the husband of one wife, the father of legitimate children only. Nor was he, they urged, less a warrior, although characterized by less rashness; and although he had been hindered from forcing the Germans, stunned by so many victories, into entire subjection. But had he been the sole disposer of affairs; if that field of war had belonged to him in name and of right, he would have won the glory of arms with a promptness and energy as much more conspicuous as was his superiority in clemency, temperance, and all other moral traits. His body, before it was burned, was exposed naked in the forum of Antioch, which was the place assigned for funeral ceremonies. Whether it revealed indications of poison may not certainly be known, for observers drew opposite conclusions, accordingly as they were influenced by sorrow for Germanicus and by suspicions previously taken up, or by partiality towards Piso.

Ch. 74. It then became the subject of consultation among the commanders of legions and such senators as were present, who should be designated to the Government of Syria; the claims of others not having been importunately urged, the competition came to be between Vibius Marsus and Cneius Sentius; it was long debated which should obtain the post. Ultimately, Marsus yielded to Sentius, who was elder, and who contended for it with the more persevering energy. At the request of Vitellius, Veranius, and others who were now engaged in framing the accusation and collecting the proofs of guilt as if against a party whose name was already presented to the Prætor for criminal proceedings, the new governor sent to Rome a female of the name of Martina, infamous in that province for her practices of poisoning, and with whom Plancina had maintained a very marked intimacy.

Ch. 75. But Agrippina, although faint from sorrow and sickness, yet unable to endure the delay of revenge, ascended the fleet with the ashes of Germanicus and with her children, attended by universal commi-eration that a woman, the highest in nobility, but yesterday the wife of a most illustrious marriage, accustomed to be seen, surrounded, thronged, admired, and congratulated, should now be bearing away the ashes

of the dead in her bosom ; uncertain of revenge; anxious for herself; her exposure to fortune multiplied and heightened by the sad possession of so many children.

Meantime, tidings of the death of Germanicus overtook Piso at the Island of Cos. In the transports of intemperate delight, he sacrificed victims, and went for thanksgivings to the temple of the gods. He made no effort to disguise or restrain his joy; and his wife, still more elated, then first changed her dress of mourning for a lost sister, to garments of praise and gladness.

Ch. 76. Already were the centurions flowing in around him and reminding him that the preferences of the legions were decisive for him, and counselling that he should reacquire the province now without a chief, which had been unjustly wrested away. Proceeding then to consult them what he should do, his son Marcus Piso declared his opinion to be that he should hasten to the city; that no inexpiable offence had yet been committed ; that groundless suspicions, and the empty things of report were not to be feared; that the quarrel between him and Germanicus might perhaps expose him to odium but was not a subject of punishment; that he had made expiation to his enemies by the deprivation of his province. But that if he returned to Syria and Sentius should oppose him, a civil war is instantly begun, nor would the centurions and soldiers remain faithful to his cause, since with them the fresh memory of their late commander and the profound attachment to the Cæsars with which they were penetrated would prove a more powerful influence.

Ch. 77. În opposition to this, Domitius Celer, who shared his most intimate friendship, argued that he should grasp the contingency. “It is Piso," said he, “not Sentius, who is intrusted with Syria. To him are committed the fasces and the pretorian jurisdiction; to him the legions. If anything of war should violently assail him, with how much more justice could he resist, who had received the authority, and the appropriate orders of a governor of the province ? Besides, time should be given to reports, that they may grow old. With a recent odium, the contest of our innocence is unequal. If he should retain the army and increase his power chance might be relied on for unexpected aid. Shall we rush to Rome, attending the very ashes of Germanicus, that the passionate grief of Agrippina, the violence of an ignorant mob, may hurry you, in the first excitation of slanderous report to death, unheard, undefended ? With you is Augusta privy, accessorial to the deed; with you is the favor of Cæsar, but secretly both. And none will more ostentatiously mourn that Germanicus is dead, than those who most rejoice.'

Ch. 78. Piso, ever inclined to daring action, was with no

[ocr errors]

great difficulty drawn into this opinion, and addressed letters to Tiberius accusing Germanicus of arrogance and luxuriousness, and setting forth that bimself, who had been expelled from the province the moment an opportunity of rebellion had opened, had resumed the command of the army under the influence of the same sentiments of loyalty with which he had originally held it. At the same time, he placed Domitius in command of a trireme; and gave him orders to sail for Syria, keeping clear of the coasts on the outside of the Islands. He formed the deserters, who flocked to him, into corps, he armed the sutlers, and crossing to the continent with his fleet, he intercepted and retained a body of recruits marching to Syria. He wrote to the petty chiefs of Cilicia to assist him. His son Piso, although he had dissuaded from undertaking the war, approved himself full of energy for its service.

Ch. 79. Setting out for Syria they met, as they passed the coast of Lycia and Pamphilia, the ships which bore Agrippina; and kindled with hostile sentiments, both sides prepared their weapons for battle; but restrained by reciprocal fear they did not pass the limit of reproaches. Vibius Marsus gave notice to Piso to come to Rome to stand his trial, to which Piso replied with a sneer, that he would be sure to do so the moment the Prætor, who holds pleas of poisonings, should assign a day for accuser and accused. Meantime, Domitius having arrived at Laodicea, proceeded to the winter quarters of the sixth legion, which he supposed would be, more than any other, particularly well disposed to new policy and action, but found himself anticipated and baffled by Pacuvius. This attempt and its result, Sentius exposed by letters to Piso, and admonished not to assail the camp by corruption, nor the province by war. He proceeded to draw together those whom he had observed to love the memory of Germanicus, or to be the enemies of his enemies, all the while throwing out intimations of the power of the emperor, and that the State was assailed by arms, and at length placed himself at the head of a powerful body of troops prepared for battle.

Ch. 80. Nor did Piso, although his enterprise was beginning to approach a result other than he had hoped, fail to adopt measures — the safest in the actual exigency. He took military occupation of a castle in Cilicia, strongly fortified, of the name of Celendris, for he had mixed together deserters, the new recruits which he had recently intercepted, his own and Plancina's servants, and the levies sent by the chiefs of Cilicia, and had disposed them into the organized forms and numbers of a legion. He asseverated that he, the deputy of Cæsar, was expelled from the province which the emperor had

given to him, not by the legions, for upon their call he had come, but by Sentius, cloaking private malice under false accusation of public crime. He asked them only to form and stand in array of battle; for the soldiers would not fight, he urged, when they should perceive that Piso, whom once they had held as parent, in a contest of right was the stronger, and in a contest of arms was not weak. He then displayed his companies in front of the fortified points of the castle, upon a steep and broken hill — for all places were girt by the sea. Against these stood the veterans, drawn up in ranks and with reserves. On one side was the courage and discipline of soldiers, on the other advantage of position - but without bravery, without hope, with no weapons even but rustic instruments of annoyance snatched up on a sudden emergency. When forces so imperfectly matched came to blows, the contest was doubtful only while the Roman cohorts were struggling to ascend to the equal and level ground on which the enemy was posted. The instant that was accomplished the Cilicians turned their backs and shut themselves up in the castle.

BOOK III. Ch. 1. UNDELAYED by a winter's sea, Agrippina pursues her voyage, and is borne to the island of Corcyra, opposite to the Calabrian shore. There, violent by grief, and untaught and unknowing how to endure, she passed a few days in a struggle to compose herself. Meantime the news of her approach having preceded her, the more intimate of the friends of Germanicus and the greater number of those who had borne military office under him, and crowds of persons unknown, some of whom supposed they were performing acceptable duty to the prince, while the larger part implicitly followed them, rushed to Brundusium, the nearest port and the safest harbor to which she might come. And now that the fleet is first dimly discerned far at sea, the harbor, and all the adjacent shore nearest the water, and not these alone but walls, and roofs of houses, even the remotest, from which a glimpse could be gained, are thronged by a vast and sorrowing multitude. They inquire often, one of another, whether they shall receive her as she descends from her ship, with silence, or with any uttered expression of feeling? Nor had they determined which would most befit the time, when the fleet slowly entered the port, not gliding to that joyful stroke of the oar with which the sailor, his voyage ending, comes to land, but with the manner in all things and with the aspects of a procession of mourning. And when Agrippina with her two children, bearing the urn of the dead, had de

« PreviousContinue »