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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10588
Tacitus, Annals, 16.1.1


nan Nero now became the sport of fortune as a result of his own credulity and the promises of Caesellius Bassus. Punic by origin and mentally deranged, Bassus treated the vision he had seen in a dream by night as a ground of confident expectation, took ship to Rome, and, buying an interview with the emperor, explained that he had found on his estate an immensely deep cavern, which contained a great quantity of gold, not transformed into coin but in unwrought and ancient bullion. For there were ponderous ingots on the floor; while, in another part, the metal was piled in columns — a treasure which had lain hidden through the centuries in order to increase the prosperity of the present era. The Phoenician Dido, so his argument ran, after her flight from Tyre and her foundation at Carthage, had concealed the hoard, for fear that too much wealth might tempt her young nation to excess, or that the Numidian princes, hostile on other grounds as well, might be fired to arms by the lust of gold.


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1. Tacitus, Annals, 1.65.2, 2.14.1, 2.27, 4.1.1, 12.43, 12.64, 16.5.3 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

2.14.1.  The same night brought Germanicus a reassuring vision: for he dreamed that he was offering sacrifice, and that — as his vestment was bespattered with the blood of the victim — he had received another, more beautiful, from the hand of his grandmother, Augusta. Elated by the omen, and finding the auspices favourable, he summoned a meeting of the troops and laid before them the measures his knowledge had suggested and the points likely to be of service in the coming struggle:— "A plain was not the only battle-field favourable to a Roman soldier: if he used judgment, woods and glades were equally suitable. The barbarians' huge shields, their enormous spears, could not be so manageable among tree-trunks and springing brushwood as the pilum, the short sword, and close-fitting body-armour. Their policy was to strike thick and fast, and to direct the point to the face. The Germans carried neither corselet nor headpiece — not even shields with a toughening of metal or hide, but targes of wickerwork or thin, painted board. Their first line alone carried spears of a fashion: the remainder had only darts, fire-pointed or too short. Their bodies, again, while grim enough to the eye and powerful enough for a short-lived onset, lacked the stamina to support a wound. They were men who could turn and run without a thought for their leaders, faint-hearted in adversary, in success regardless of divine and human law. — If they were weary of road and sea, and desired the end, this battle could procure it. Already the Elbe was nearer than the Rhine, and there would be no fighting further, if once, treading as he was in the footsteps of his father and his uncle, they established him victorious in the same region! 2.27.  Nearly at the same time, a charge of revolutionary activities was laid against Libo Drusus, a member of the Scribonian family. I shall describe in some detail the origin, the progress, and the end of this affair, as it marked the discovery of the system destined for so many years to prey upon the vitals of the commonwealth. Firmius Catus, a senator, and one of Libo's closest friends, had urged that short-sighted youth, who had a foible for absurdities, to resort to the forecasts of astrologers, the ritual of magicians, and the society of interpreters of dreams; pointing to his great-grandfather Pompey, to his great-aunt Scribonia (at one time the consort of Augustus), to his cousinship with the Caesars, and to his mansion crowded with ancestral portraits; encouraging him in his luxuries and loans; and, to bind him in a yet stronger chain of evidence, sharing his debaucheries and his embarrassments. 4.1.1.  The consulate of Gaius Asinius and Gaius Antistius was to Tiberius the ninth year of public order and of domestic felicity (for he counted the death of Germanicus among his blessings), when suddenly fortune disturbed the peace and he became either a tyrant himself or the source of power to the tyrannous. The starting-point and the cause were to be found in Aelius Sejanus, prefect of the praetorian cohorts. of his influence I spoke above: now I shall unfold his origin, his character, and the crime by which he strove to seize on empire. Born at Vulsinii to the Roman knight Seius Strabo, he became in early youth a follower of Gaius Caesar, grandson of the deified Augustus; not without a rumour that he had disposed of his virtue at a price to Apicius, a rich man and a prodigal. Before long, by his multifarious arts, he bound Tiberius fast: so much so that a man inscrutable to others became to Sejanus alone unguarded and unreserved; and the less by subtlety (in fact, he was beaten in the end by the selfsame arts) than by the anger of Heaven against that Roman realm for whose equal damnation he flourished and fell. He was a man hardy by constitution, fearless by temperament; skilled to conceal himself and to incriminate his neighbour; cringing at once and insolent; orderly and modest to outward view, at heart possessed by a towering ambition, which impelled him at whiles to lavishness and luxury, but oftener to industry and vigilance — qualities not less noxious when assumed for the winning of a throne. 12.43.  Many prodigies occurred during the year. Ominous birds took their seat on the Capitol; houses were overturned by repeated shocks of earthquake, and, as the panic spread, the weak were trampled underfoot in the trepidation of the crowd. A shortage of corn, again, and the famine which resulted, were construed as a supernatural warning. Nor were the complaints always whispered. Claudius, sitting in judgement, was surrounded by a wildly clamorous mob, and, driven into the farthest corner of the Forum, was there subjected to violent pressure, until, with the help of a body of troops, he forced a way through the hostile throng. It was established that the capital had provisions for fifteen days, no more; and the crisis was relieved only by the especial grace of the gods and the mildness of the winter. And yet, Heaven knows, in the past, Italy exported supplies for the legions into remote provinces; nor is sterility the trouble now, but we cultivate Africa and Egypt by preference, and the life of the Roman nation has been staked upon cargo-boats and accidents. 12.64.  In the consulate of Marcus Asinius and Manius Acilius, it was made apparent by a sequence of prodigies that a change of conditions for the worse was foreshadowed. Fire from heaven played round the standards and tents of the soldiers; a swarm of bees settled on the pediment of the Capitol; it was stated that hermaphrodites had been born, and that a pig had been produced with the talons of a hawk. It was counted among the portents that each of the magistracies found its numbers diminished, since a quaestor, an aedile, and a tribune, together with a praetor and a consul, had died within a few months. But especial terror was felt by Agrippina. Disquieted by a remark let fall by Claudius in his cups, that it was his destiny first to suffer and finally to punish the infamy of his wives, she determined to act — and speedily. First, however, she destroyed Domitia Lepida on a feminine quarrel. For, as the daughter of the younger Antonia, the grand-niece of Augustus, the first cousin once removed of Agrippina, and also the sister of her former husband Gnaeus Domitius, Lepida regarded her family distinctions as equal to those of the princess. In looks, age, and fortune there was little between the pair; and since each was as unchaste, as disreputable, and as violent as the other, their competition in the vices was not less keen than in such advantages as they had received from the kindness of fortune. But the fiercest struggle was on the question whether the domit influence with Nero was to be his aunt or his mother: for Lepida was endeavouring to captivate his youthful mind by a smooth tongue and an open hand, while on the other side Agrippina stood grim and menacing, capable of presenting her son with an empire but not of tolerating him as emperor.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
adulatio Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
aeneas Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332
anger, divine Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332
apicius, gaius Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
astrologers expelled, poor guides Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
astrology, successful/inappropriate Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
auspices Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
banquets Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
belief Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
caesellius bassus Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332, 333, 334
civil wars Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332
clothing Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
dido Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332
divination, reliability Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
dream, credibility Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
dream, in ritual context Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
dream, reinterpreted Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
dreams Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332, 333, 334
exempla, in tacitus Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
exile Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
fatum Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
fortuna, fickleness of Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332, 334
freedmen Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
frugality Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
germanicus, use of religious rhetoric by Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
gold Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332, 333, 334
heliogabalus Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
histories, fate and fortune in Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332
jewels Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
julius vindex Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 332
lightning Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
lust vii Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
luxury Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
magic, prosecutions for Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
magnificence Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
myth Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
nero, and signs Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
nero (emperor), performance and Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
nero (emperor), prodigies and Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
nero claudius caesar augustus germanicus Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
orators and oratory Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
otho, m. salvius caesar augustus Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
piso, c. calpurnius Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
pleasure Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
prayer Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
rubellius plautus Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
scepticism Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
severitas Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
suicide Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
sumptuary laws Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218
superstitio Davies, Rome's Religious History: Livy, Tacitus and Ammianus on their Gods (2004) 168
vanitas Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
veneratio' Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 333
vespasian Shannon-Henderson, Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s (2019) 334
vitellius, aulus Romana Berno, Roman Luxuria: A Literary and Cultural History (2023) 218