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of slaves, and fine furniture, for the reception of such as were invited in the horse's name to sup with him. It is even said that he designed to have made him consul.e
Such is the picture of this lunatic as Suetonius vividly paints it. For four years the world bore his furious madness without by sedition protesting against such a saturnalia of power. "How I wish," said the monster, "that the Roman people had only one head, so I could strike it off at a blow." The senate, however, grew tired of finding him victims, and finally, as already mentioned, a praetorian tribune, Chaerea, strangled him. Chaerea was a republican. He and his friends thought that, after such a prince, monarchical government had been sufficiently judged by experience. The occasion now seemed favourable for the senate to resume the power. It did so, and for three days deemed a republic assured. But this was reckoning without either soldiers or people. At the time of Caligula's murder, Claudius, his uncle, who was with him, had hidden in an obscure corner. A soldier found and showed him to his comrades. Claudius begged for life. "Be our emperor," they answered, and as he trembled and could not walk, they carried him to their camp, where he regained sufficient courage to harangue the troops, promising them money (donativum). It was the price of an empire he paid, an unfortunate innovation which amongst the soldiers had passed into law. The senators, abandoned little by little, themselves hastened to greet the new master. Chaerea was sentenced to death. "Do you know how to kill?" he asked the soldier charged to execute him. "Your sword is not well ground perhaps. That which I used for Caligula would be better."
Claudius (tiberius Claudius Drusus Caesar), 41-45 A.d. Claudius, brother to Germanicus and grandson to Livia, through his father Drusus the first, was then fifty years old. During his youth he had been continually ill, and in the royal household every one had neglected the poor child, not daring to show him either to the people or the soldiers. At last his existence was almost forgotten and at forty-six he was not even a senator. He consoled himself by study and writing a history of the Etruscans and Carthaginians. Caligula, who named him consul, brought him a little more into prominence; the soldiers' whim did the rest. They gave him the empire, but could not do away with the effects of his upbringing, that timidity, irresolution, and want of self-dependence which resulted most disastrously, so that he often did evil with the very best intentions. In his reign the real rulers were his wife, Messallina, whose name is one with all debauchery and even with most repulsive coarseness, and his freedmen Polybius, Narcissus, and Pallas. [At least they exercised an undue influence over him.] Claudius began well. He revoked the acts of Caligula, had the Augustan laws sworn to, and recalled the banished. Naturally kind-hearted, he easily adopted the manners that had contributed to the popularity of the first emperor. He visited his sick friends, consulting the consuls and the senate as if he were quite dependent on their favour. He liked to act as judge and often did it very well. Unfortunately, his undignified bearing, his shaking head, stammering and often ridiculous speech made him of very little account. He re-established the censorship and often exercised it himself, but rather with the tastes of an antiquarian loving old customs than with a sense of the real needs of the empire.
In spite of these oddities and weaknesses, this prince, without regarding the examples of infamy and crime given by his surroundings, can hardly be counted among the worst emperors. The freedmen whom long power had not yet spoiled sought to justify their influence by good service, and we find what we should hardly have expected — namely, several wise measures with regard to slaves in the interior; against too greedy advocates, usurers, and those banished from the provinces who flocked to Rome, etc. Moreover, there were useful works: an aqueduct, a port at Ostia, an attempt to drain Lake Fucinus, etc. In the provinces a liberal administration and a firm foreign policy were crowned by success. Augustus had wished to constitute a Roman minority in the midst of the submissive nations which would prove a support to the government. But it was to govern always in Rome's interests. A futile effort, because he was aiming at nothing less than arresting the course of the world, as if the emperors could have continued an aristocracy against which they had contended in the battles of Pharsalia, Thapsus, and Philippi. In his will Augustus had advised a careful guarding of civic privilege, and in the short space of thirty-four months, the number of citizens had nearly doubled. Tiberius aided much in this increase. Claudius also contributed largely, because he made the law of continuous extension and progressive assimilation, which had made the fortune of the republic, a rule of policy. He personally asked that the nobles of Gallia Comata, who had long been citizens, should also assume Roman dignities and have a seat in the senate. Only one religious provincial sect was persecuted under Claudius — that of the Druids, because their priests re- The Emperor Claudius
fused the peace offered by Augustus (From a bu»t in the Vatican)
on condition of their uniting their gods to the Olympian deities. Claudius tried, therefore, to abolish their worship, and punished with death both priests and their adherents.6
In the interior parts of Britain, the natives, under the command of Caractacus, maintained an obstinate resistance, and little progress was made by the Roman arms, until Ostorius Scapula was sent over to prosecute the war. He penetrated into the country of the Silures, a warlike tribe who inhabited the banks of the Severn; and having defeated Caractacus in a great battle, made him prisoner, and sent him to Rome (50 A.d.). The fame of the British prince had by this time spread over the provinces of Gaul and Italy; and upon his arrival in the Roman capital, the people flocked from all quarters to behold him. The ceremonial of his entrance was conducted with great solemnity. On a plain adjoining to the Roman camp, the praetorian troops were drawn up in martial array; the emperor and his court took their station in the front of the lines, and behind them was ranged the whole body of the people. The procession commenced with the different trophies which had been taken from the Britons during the progress of the war. Next
followed the brothers of the vanquished prince, with his wife and daughter, in chains, expressing by their supplicating looks and gestures the fears with which they were actuated. But not so Caractacus himself. With a manly gait and an undaunted countenance, he marched up to the tribunal, where the emperor was seated, and addressed him in the following terms:"If to my birth, and distinguished rank, I had added the virtues of moderation, Rome had beheld me rather as a friend than a captive; and you would not have rejected an alliance with a prince descended from illustrious ancestors, and governing many nations. The reverse of my fortune to you is glorious, and to me humiliating. I had arms, and men, and horses; I possessed extraordinary riches; and can it be any wonder that I was unwilling to lose them? Because Rome aspires to universal dominion, must men therefore implicitly resign themselves to subjection? I opposed for a long time the progress of your arms, and had I acted otherwise, would either you have had the glory of conquest, or I of a brave resistance? I am now in your power; if you are determined to take revenge, my fate will soon be forgotten, and you will derive no honour from the transaction. Preserve my life, and I shall remain to the latest ages a monument of your clemency." Immediately upon this speech, Claudius granted him his liberty, as he did likewise to the other royal captives. They all returned their thanks, in a manner the most grateful to the emperor; and as soon as their chains were taken off, walking towards Agrippina, who sat upon a bench at a little distance, they repeated to her the same fervent declarations of gratitude and esteem. History has preserved no account of Caractacus after this period; but it is probable that he returned in a short time to his own country, where his former valour, and the magnanimity which he had displayed at Rome, would continue to render him illustrious through life, even amidst the irretrievable ruin of his fortunes.0
In Germany a successful expedition had restored to the Romans the last of the eagles of Varus. But Claudius, practising on this side Tiberian politics, busied himself particularly in taking up a strong position on the Rhine and winning barbarian chiefs to the interests of Rome. He succeeded so well that in 47 the Cherusci came to him, asking for a king. Corbulo, the greatest general of this time, wanted to carry out the plans of the first Drusus against the Germans. He subdued the Frisians and attacked the Chauci. Claudius stayed his advance. "Happy were the old Roman con
liis soldiers he had a canal dug from the Meuse to the Rhine, another leader made his men open the mines. Everywhere these useful works were now demanded from the troops. On the Danube peace was undisturbed. In Thrace various troubles made Claudius intervene and reduce the country to a province. In the Bosporus, a king deposed by him took arms, was conquered, and gave himself up. In the East the emperor had the glory of reconquering Armenia and giving a king to the Parthians. Unfortunately these successes did not continue; the Roman candidate to the throne of the Arsacidae was overthrown and for some time Vologeses kept the Armenian crown on the head of his brother Tiridates. Lycia made bad use of her liberty, so Claudius took it away, and the Jewish king, Agrippa, dying in 44, he united Palestine to the government of Syria. In Africa, Suetonius Paulinus and Geta subdued the Moors, whose country formed two provinces — the Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Tingitana.
In order at least to occupy [41-54 A.D.]
The emperor now lacked neither military nor political glory. Mauretania and the half of Britain were conquered; the Germans coerced, the Bosporus reduced to obedience; Thrace, Lycia, and Judea made provinces, and the Parthian troubles long since smoothed over. Within the empire there was growing prosperity; the army was well disciplined and its activity was directed to the public welfare under the direction of generals grown old in command. Certainly, results everywhere were sufficient to gratify the pride of a prince. It is with regret that we have to turn to Rome to see nobles whose only occupation was conspiracy or base flattery—and to that imperial palace which was disgraced by a weak prince and his immoral wife, the shameless Messallina. 6 The misdeeds of the latter will now claim our attention. Let Tacitus draw her portrait:
THE MISDEEDS OF MESSALLINA DESCRIBED BY TACITUS
The facility of ordinary adulteries having produced satiety, Messallina broke forth into unheard-of excesses; when even Silius, her paramour, whether impelled by some fatal infatuation, or judging that the dangers hanging over him were only to be averted by boldly confronting them, urged that all disguises should now be renounced, for matters, he said, were gone too far for them to wait for the death of the emperor; blameless counsels were for the innocent, but in glaring guilt safety must be sought in reckless daring. They were backed by accomplices who dreaded the same doom. As for himself, he was single, childless, ready to marry her, and to adopt Britannicus: to Messallina would still remain her present power; with the addition of security, if they anticipated Claudius; who, as he was unguarded against the approaches of stratagem, so was he headstrong and impetuous when provoked to anger. These suggestions were but coldly received by Messallina; from no love to her husband; but lest Silius, when he had gained the sovereignty, should scorn his adulteress; and the treason, which in his present perilous predicament he approved, would then be estimated according to its real desert. She, however, coveted the name of matrimony, from the greatness of the infamy attaching to it; which, with those who are prodigal of fame, forms the crowning gratification of depraved appetite. Nor stayed she longer than till Claudius went to Ostia, to assist at a sacrifice; when she celebrated her nuptials with Silius, with all the usual solemnities.
I am aware [Tacitus continues] that it will appear fabulous that any human beings should have exhibited such recklessness of consequences; and that, in a city where everything was known and talked of, any one, much more a consul elect, should have met the emperor's wife, on a stated day, in the presence of persons called in, to seal the deeds, as for the purpose of procreation, and that she should have heard the words of the augurs, entered the house of the husband, sacrificed to the gods, sat down among the guests at the nuptial banquet, exchanged kisses and embraces, and in fine passed the night in unrestrained conjugal intercourse. But I would not dress up my narrative with fictions to give it an air of marvel, rather than relate what has been stated to me or written by my seniors.
The consequence was that the domestic circle of the prince was horrorstruck; especially those who had the chief sway, and who dreaded the result, if the state of things should be changed, no longer confined themselves to secret communications, but exclaimed with undisguised indignation that while the emperor's bedchamber was made the theatre for a stage[48 A.D.]
player to dance upon, a reproach was indeed incurred, but the immediate dissolution of the state was not now threatened: a young man of noble rank, of fascinating person, mental vigour, and just entering upon the consulship, was addressing himself to higher objects; nor was it any enigma what remained to be done after such a marriage. It is true, when they reflected on the stupidity of Claudius, his blind attachment to his wife, and the many lives sacrificed to her fury, they were unable to divest themselves of apprehensions; again, even the passive spirit of the emperor revived their confidence; that, if they could first possess him with the horrid blackness of her crimes, she might be despatched without trial. But the danger turned upon this — that she might make a defence; and that even if she confessed her guilt, the emperor might be deaf to that evidence also.
But first it was deliberated by Callistus, whom, in relating the assassination of Caligula, I have already mentioned; by Narcissus, who plotted the murder of Appius; and by Pallas, then the reigning favourite, whether, feigning ignorance of all other circumstances, they should compel Messallina to break off her amour with Silius by secret menaces; but they afterwards abandoned this project from fear lest they should themselves be dragged to execution as culprits. Pallas was faint hearted; and Callistus, a courtier in the last reign also, had learned by experience that power was secured more effectually by wary measures than by daring counsels. Narcissus persisted; with this difference only, that he took care not to let fall a word by which she might know beforehand the charge against her or her accuser; and watching all occasions, while the emperor lingered at Ostia, he prevailed with two courtesans, who were the chief mistresses of Claudius, to undertake the task of laying the matter before him, by means of presents and promises, and by representing to them in attractive colours that by the fall of his wife their own influence would be increased.
Calpurnia therefore, for that was the name of the courtesan, upon the first occasion of privacy, falling at the emperor's feet, exclaimed, that Messallina had married Silius; and at the same time asked Cleopatra, who purposely attended to attest it, whether she had not found it to be true. Claudius, upon a confirmation from Cleopatra, ordered Narcissus to be called. He, when he came, begged pardon for his past conduct in having concealed from the prince her adulteries while they were limited to the Vectii and Plautii; nor meant he now, he said, to charge Silius with adulteries; nor urge that he should restore the house, the slaves, and the other decorations of imperial fortune: the adulterer might still enjoy these; let him only break the nuptial tables, and restore the emperor's wife. "Know you, Caesar, that you are in a state of divorce? In the face of the people, and senate, and soldiery, Messallina has espoused Silius; and unless you act with despatch, her husband is master of Rome."
He then sent for his most confidential friends, particularly for Turranius, superintendent of the stores; next for Lusius Geta, captain of the praetorian guards; and inquired of them. As they avouched it, the rest beset him with clamorous importunities, that he should forthwith proceed to the camp, secure the praetorian cohorts, and consult his preservation before his revenge. It is certain that Claudius was so confounded and panic-stricken that he was incessantly asking whether he were still emperor — whether Silius was still a private man.
As to Messallina, she never wallowed in greater voluptuousness; it was then the middle of autumn, and in her house she exhibited a representation of the vintage; the wine-presses were plied, the wine vats flowed, and round