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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10588
Tacitus, Annals, 3.15-3.16


Eadem Plancinae invidia, maior gratia; eoque ambiguum habebatur quantum Caesari in eam liceret. atque ipsa, donec mediae Pisoni spes, sociam se cuiuscumque fortunae et si ita ferret comitem exitii promittebat: ut secretis Augustae precibus veniam obtinuit, paulatim segregari a marito, dividere defensionem coepit. quod reus postquam sibi exitiabile intellegit, an adhuc experiretur dubitans, hortantibus filiis durat mentem senatumque rursum ingreditur; redintegratamque accusationem, infensas patrum voces, adversa et saeva cuncta perpessus, nullo magis exterritus est quam quod Tiberium sine miseratione, sine ira, obstinatum clausumque vidit, ne quo adfectu perrumperetur. relatus domum, tamquam defensionem in posterum meditaretur, pauca conscribit obsignatque et liberto tradit; tum solita curando corpori exequitur. dein multam post noctem, egressa cubiculo uxore, operiri foris iussit; et coepta luce perfosso iugulo, iacente humi gladio, repertus est. Plancina, equally hated, had more than equal influence; so that it was considered doubtful how far the sovereign would be allowed to proceed against her. She herself, so long as hope remained for Piso, protested that she would share his fortune for good or ill, or, if the need arose, would meet destruction in his company. But once her pardon had been procured by the private intercessions of Livia, she began step by step to dissociate herself from her husband and to treat her own defence as a distinct issue. It was a fatal symptom, and the defendant knew it. He was doubtful whether to make another effort or not; but, as his sons pressed him, he hardened his heart and entered the senate once more. He faced the repetition of the charges, the hostile cries of the Fathers, the fierce opposition evident in every quarter; but nothing daunted him more than the sight of Tiberius, pitiless and angerless, barred and bolted against the ingress of any human emotion. After being carried home, he wrote a little, apparently notes for his defence the next day; sealed the paper, and handed it to a freedman. Then he gave the usual attention to his person; and finally, late at night, when his wife had left the bedroom, he ordered the door to be closed, and was found at daybreak with his throat cut and a sword lying on the floor. <


Eadem Plancinae invidia, maior gratia; eoque ambiguum habebatur quantum Caesari in eam liceret. atque ipsa, donec mediae Pisoni spes, sociam se cuiuscumque fortunae et si ita ferret comitem exitii promittebat: ut secretis Augustae precibus veniam obtinuit, paulatim segregari a marito, dividere defensionem coepit. quod reus postquam sibi exitiabile intellegit, an adhuc experiretur dubitans, hortantibus filiis durat mentem senatumque rursum ingreditur; redintegratamque accusationem, infensas patrum voces, adversa et saeva cuncta perpessus, nullo magis exterritus est quam quod Tiberium sine miseratione, sine ira, obstinatum clausumque vidit, ne quo adfectu perrumperetur. relatus domum, tamquam defensionem in posterum meditaretur, pauca conscribit obsignatque et liberto tradit; tum solita curando corpori exequitur. dein multam post noctem, egressa cubiculo uxore, operiri foris iussit; et coepta luce perfosso iugulo, iacente humi gladio, repertus est. Plancina, equally hated, had more than equal influence; so that it was considered doubtful how far the sovereign would be allowed to proceed against her. She herself, so long as hope remained for Piso, protested that she would share his fortune for good or ill, or, if the need arose, would meet destruction in his company. But once her pardon had been procured by the private intercessions of Livia, she began step by step to dissociate herself from her husband and to treat her own defence as a distinct issue. It was a fatal symptom, and the defendant knew it. He was doubtful whether to make another effort or not; but, as his sons pressed him, he hardened his heart and entered the senate once more. He faced the repetition of the charges, the hostile cries of the Fathers, the fierce opposition evident in every quarter; but nothing daunted him more than the sight of Tiberius, pitiless and angerless, barred and bolted against the ingress of any human emotion. After being carried home, he wrote a little, apparently notes for his defence the next day; sealed the paper, and handed it to a freedman. Then he gave the usual attention to his person; and finally, late at night, when his wife had left the bedroom, he ordered the door to be closed, and was found at daybreak with his throat cut and a sword lying on the floor.


Audire me memini ex senioribus visum saepius inter manus Pisonis libellum quem ipse non vulgaverit; sed amicos eius dictitavisse, litteras Tiberii et mandata in Germanicum contineri, ac destinatum promere apud patres principemque arguere, ni elusus a Seiano per vana promissa foret; nec illum sponte extinctum verum immisso percussore. quorum neutrum adseveraverim: neque tamen occulere debui narratum ab iis qui nostram ad iuventam duraverunt. Caesar flexo in maestitiam ore suam invidiam tali morte quaesitam apud senatum crebrisque interrogationibus exquirit qualem Piso diem supremum noctemque exegisset. atque illo pleraque sapienter quaedam inconsultius respondente, recitat codicillos a Pisone in hunc ferme modum compositos: 'conspiratione inimicorum et invidia falsi criminis oppressus, quatenus veritati et innocentiae meae nusquam locus est, deos inmortalis testor vixisse me, Caesar, cum fide adversum te neque alia in matrem tuam pietate; vosque oro liberis meis consulatis, ex quibus Cn. Piso qualicumque fortunae meae non est adiunctus, cum omne hoc tempus in urbe egerit, M. Piso repetere Syriam dehortatus est. atque utinam ego potius filio iuveni quam ille patri seni cessisset. eo impensius precor ne meae pravitatis poenas innoxius luat. per quinque et quadraginta annorum obsequium, per collegium consulatus quondam divo Augusto parenti tuo probatus et tibi amicus nec quicquam post haec rogaturus salutem infelicis filii rogo.' de Plancina nihil addidit. I remember hearing my elders speak of a document seen more than once in Piso's hands. The purport he himself never disclosed, but his friends always asserted that it contained a letter from Tiberius with his instructions in reference to Germanicus; and that, if he had not been tricked by the empty promises of Sejanus, he was resolved to produce it before the senate and to put the emperor upon his defence. His death, they believed, was not self-inflicted: an assassin had been let loose to do the work. I should hesitate to endorse either theory: at the same time, it was my duty not to suppress a version given by contemporaries who were still living in my early years. With his lineaments composed to melancholy, the Caesar expressed to his regret to the senate that Piso should have chosen a form of death reflecting upon his sovereign . . . and cross-examined him at length on the manner in which his father had spent his last day and night. Though there were one or two indiscretions, the answers were in general adroit enough, and he now read a note drawn up by Piso in nearly the following words:— "Broken by a confederacy of my enemies and the hatred inspired by their lying accusation, since the world has no room for my truth and innocence, I declare before Heaven, Caesar, that I have lived your loyal subject and your mother's no less dutiful servant. I beg you both to protect the interests of my children. Gnaeus has no connexion with my affairs, good or ill, since he spent the whole period in the capital; while Marcus advised me against returning to Syria. And I can only wish that I had given way to my youthful son, rather than he to his aged father! I pray, therefore, with added earnestness that the punishment of my perversity may not fall on his guiltless head. By my five-and-forty years of obedience, by the consulate we held in common, as the man who once earned the confidence of your father, the deified Augustus, as the friend who will never ask favour more, I appeal for the life of my unfortunate son." Of Plancina not a word. <


Audire me memini ex senioribus visum saepius inter manus Pisonis libellum quem ipse non vulgaverit; sed amicos eius dictitavisse, litteras Tiberii et mandata in Germanicum contineri, ac destinatum promere apud patres principemque arguere, ni elusus a Seiano per vana promissa foret; nec illum sponte extinctum verum immisso percussore. quorum neutrum adseveraverim: neque tamen occulere debui narratum ab iis qui nostram ad iuventam duraverunt. Caesar flexo in maestitiam ore suam invidiam tali morte quaesitam apud senatum crebrisque interrogationibus exquirit qualem Piso diem supremum noctemque exegisset. atque illo pleraque sapienter quaedam inconsultius respondente, recitat codicillos a Pisone in hunc ferme modum compositos: 'conspiratione inimicorum et invidia falsi criminis oppressus, quatenus veritati et innocentiae meae nusquam locus est, deos inmortalis testor vixisse me, Caesar, cum fide adversum te neque alia in matrem tuam pietate; vosque oro liberis meis consulatis, ex quibus Cn. Piso qualicumque fortunae meae non est adiunctus, cum omne hoc tempus in urbe egerit, M. Piso repetere Syriam dehortatus est. atque utinam ego potius filio iuveni quam ille patri seni cessisset. eo impensius precor ne meae pravitatis poenas innoxius luat. per quinque et quadraginta annorum obsequium, per collegium consulatus quondam divo Augusto parenti tuo probatus et tibi amicus nec quicquam post haec rogaturus salutem infelicis filii rogo.' de Plancina nihil addidit. I remember hearing my elders speak of a document seen more than once in Piso's hands. The purport he himself never disclosed, but his friends always asserted that it contained a letter from Tiberius with his instructions in reference to Germanicus; and that, if he had not been tricked by the empty promises of Sejanus, he was resolved to produce it before the senate and to put the emperor upon his defence. His death, they believed, was not self-inflicted: an assassin had been let loose to do the work. I should hesitate to endorse either theory: at the same time, it was my duty not to suppress a version given by contemporaries who were still living in my early years. With his lineaments composed to melancholy, the Caesar expressed to his regret to the senate that Piso should have chosen a form of death reflecting upon his sovereign . . . and cross-examined him at length on the manner in which his father had spent his last day and night. Though there were one or two indiscretions, the answers were in general adroit enough, and he now read a note drawn up by Piso in nearly the following words:— "Broken by a confederacy of my enemies and the hatred inspired by their lying accusation, since the world has no room for my truth and innocence, I declare before Heaven, Caesar, that I have lived your loyal subject and your mother's no less dutiful servant. I beg you both to protect the interests of my children. Gnaeus has no connexion with my affairs, good or ill, since he spent the whole period in the capital; while Marcus advised me against returning to Syria. And I can only wish that I had given way to my youthful son, rather than he to his aged father! I pray, therefore, with added earnestness that the punishment of my perversity may not fall on his guiltless head. By my five-and-forty years of obedience, by the consulate we held in common, as the man who once earned the confidence of your father, the deified Augustus, as the friend who will never ask favour more, I appeal for the life of my unfortunate son." Of Plancina not a word.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

3 results
1. Suetonius, Tiberius, 75 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

2. Tacitus, Annals, 2.28-2.29, 3.1-3.7, 3.9-3.10, 3.12-3.14, 3.16-3.19, 3.22, 3.22.2, 3.51, 6.39 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

2.28.  When he had found witnesses enough, and slaves to testify in the same tenor, he asked for an interview with the sovereign, to whom the charge and the person implicated had been notified by Vescularius Flaccus, a Roman knight on familiar terms with Tiberius. The Caesar, without rejecting the information, declined a meeting, as "their conversations might be carried on through the same intermediate, Flaccus." In the interval, he distinguished Libo with a praetorship and several invitations to dinner. There was no estrangement on his brow, no hint of asperity in his speech: he had buried his anger far too deep. He could have checked every word and action of Libo: he preferred, however, to know them. At length, a certain Junius, solicited by Libo to raise departed spirits by incantations, carried his tale to Fulcinius Trio. Trio's genius, which was famous among the professional informers, hungered after notoriety. He swooped immediately on the accused, approached the consuls, and demanded a senatorial inquiry. The Fathers were summoned, to deliberate (it was added) on a case of equal importance and atrocity. 2.29.  Meanwhile, Libo changed into mourning, and with an escort of ladies of quality made a circuit from house to house, pleading with his wife's relatives, and conjuring them to speak in mitigation of his danger, — only to be everywhere refused on different pretexts and identical grounds of alarm. On the day the senate met, he was so exhausted by fear and distress — unless, as some accounts have it, he counterfeited illness — that he was borne to the doors of the Curia in a litter, and, leaning on his brother, extended his hands and his appeals to Tiberius, by whom he was received without the least change of countece. The emperor then read over the indictment and the names of the sponsors, with a self-restraint that avoided the appearance of either palliating or aggravating the charges. 3.1.  Without once pausing in her navigation of the wintry sea, Agrippina reached the island of Corcyra opposite the Calabrian coast. There, frantic with grief and unschooled to suffering, she spent a few days in regaining her composure. Meanwhile, at news of her advent, there was a rush of people to Brundisium, as the nearest and safest landing-place for the voyager. Every intimate friend was present; numbers of military men, each with his record of service under Germanicus; even many strangers from the local towns, some thinking it respectful to the emperor, the majority following their example. The moment her squadron was sighted in the offing, not only the harbour and the points nearest the sea but the city-walls and house-roofs, all posts, indeed, commanding a wide enough prospect, were thronged by a crowd of mourners, who asked each other if they ought to receive her landing in silence, or with some audible expression of feeling. It was not yet clear to them what the occasion required, when little by little the flotilla drew to shore, not with the accustomed eager oarsmanship, but all with an ordered melancholy. When, clasping the fatal urn, she left the ship with her two children, and fixed her eyes on the ground, a single groan arose from the whole multitude; nor could a distinction be traced between the relative and the stranger, the wailings of women or of men; only, the attendants of Agrippina, exhausted by long-drawn sorrow, were less demonstrative than the more recent mourners by whom they were met. 3.2.  The Caesar had sent two cohorts of his Guard; with further orders that the magistrates of Calabria, Apulia, and Campania should render the last offices to the memory of his son. And so his ashes were borne on the shoulders of tribunes and centurions: before him the standards went unadorned, the Axes reversed; while, at every colony they passed, the commons in black and the knights in official purple burned raiment, perfumes, and other of the customary funeral tributes, in proportion to the resources of the district. Even the inhabitants of outlying towns met the procession, devoted their victims and altars to the departed spirit, and attested their grief with tears and cries. Drusus came up to Tarracina, with Germanicus' brother Claudius and the children who had been left in the capital. The consuls, Marcus Valerius and Marcus Aurelius (who had already begun their magistracy), the senate, and a considerable part of the people, filled the road, standing in scattered parties and weeping as they pleased: for of adulation there was none, since all men knew that Tiberius was with difficulty dissembling his joy at the death of Germanicus. 3.3.  He and Augusta abstained from any appearance in public, either holding it below their majesty to sorrow in the sight of men, or apprehending that, if all eyes perused their looks, they might find hypocrisy legible. I fail to discover, either in the historians or in the government journals, that the prince's mother, Antonia, bore any striking part in the ceremonies, although, in addition to Agrippina and Drusus and Claudius, his other blood-relations are recorded by name. Ill-health may have been the obstacle; or a spirit broken with grief may have shrunk from facing the visible evidence of its great affliction; but I find it more credible that Tiberius and Augusta, who did not quit the palace, kept her there, in order to give the impression of a parity of sorrow — of a grandmother and uncle detained at home in loyalty to the example of a mother. 3.4.  The day on which the remains were consigned to the mausoleum of Augustus was alternately a desolation of silence and a turmoil of laments. The city-streets were full, the Campus Martius alight with torches. There the soldier in harness, the magistrate lacking his insignia, the burgher in his tribe, iterated the cry that "the commonwealth had fallen and hope was dead" too freely and too openly for it to be credible that they remembered their governors. Nothing, however, sank deeper into Tiberius' breast than the kindling of men's enthusiasm for Agrippina — "the glory of her country, the last scion of Augustus, the peerless pattern of ancient virtue." So they styled her; and, turning to heaven and the gods, prayed for the continuance of her issue — "and might they survive their persecutors! 3.5.  There were those who missed the pageantry of a state-funeral and compared the elaborate tributes rendered by Augustus to Germanicus' father, Drusus:— "In the bitterest of the winter, the sovereign had gone in person as far as Ticinum, and, never stirring from the corpse, had entered the capital along with it. The bier had been surrounded with the family effigies of the Claudian and Livian houses; the dead had been mourned in the Forum, eulogized upon the Rostra; every distinction which our ancestors had discovered, or their posterity invented, was showered upon him. But to Germanicus had fallen not even the honours due to every and any noble! Granted that the length of the journey was a reason for cremating his body, no matter how, on foreign soil, it would only have been justice that he should have been accorded all the more distinctions later, because chance had denied them at the outset. His brother had gone no more than one day's journey to meet him; his uncle not even to the gate. Where were those usages of the ancients — the image placed at the head of the couch, the set poems to the memory of departed virtue, the panegyrics, the tears, the imitations (if no more) of sorrow? 3.6.  All this Tiberius knew; and, to repress the comments of the crowd, he reminded them in a manifesto that "many illustrious Romans had died for their country, but none had been honoured with such a fervour of regret: a compliment highly valued by himself and by all, if only moderation were observed. For the same conduct was not becoming to ordinary families or communities and to leaders of the state and to an imperial people. Mourning and the solace of tears had suited the first throes of their affliction; but now they must recall their minds to fortitude, as once the deified Julius at the loss of his only daughter, and the deified Augustus at the taking of his grandchildren, had thrust aside their anguish. There was no need to show by earlier instances how often the Roman people had borne unshaken the slaughter of armies, the death of generals, the complete annihilation of historic houses. Statesmen were mortal, the state eternal. Let them return, therefore, to their usual occupations and — as the Megalesian Games would soon be exhibited — resume even their pleasures! 3.7.  The period of mourning now closed; men went back to their avocations, and Drusus left for the armies of Illyricum. All minds were elated at the prospect of calling Piso to account, and complaints were frequent that, during the interval, he should be roaming amid the landscapes of Asia and Achaia, destroying the evidences of his guilt by presumptuous and fraudulent delays. For news had spread that Martina — the notorious poisoner, despatched to Rome, as I have said, by Gnaeus Sentius — had suddenly yielded up the ghost at Brundisium; that poison had been concealed in a knot of her hair; and that no indications of self-murder had been found on the body. 3.9.  After crossing the sea of Dalmatia, Piso left his vessels at Ancona, and, travelling through Picenum, then by the Flaminian Road, came up with a legion marching from Pannonia to Rome, to join later on the garrison in Africa: an incident which led to much gossip and discussion as to the manner in which he had kept showing himself to the soldiers on the march and by the wayside. From Narnia, either to avoid suspicion or because the plans of a frightened man are apt to be inconsistent, he sailed down the Nar, then down the Tiber, and added to the exasperation of the populace by bringing his vessel to shore at the mausoleum of the Caesars. It was a busy part of the day and of the river-side; yet he with a marching column of retainers, and Plancina with her escort of women, proceeded beaming on their way. There were other irritants also; among them, festal decorations upon his mansion looming above the forum; guests and a dinner; and, in that crowded quarter, full publicity for everything. 3.10.  Next day, Fulcinius Trio applied to the consuls for authority to prosecute Piso. He was opposed by Vitellius, Veranius, and the other members of Germanicus' suite: Trio, they argued, had no standing in the case; nor were they themselves acting as accusers, but as deponents and witnesses to the facts, carrying out the instructions of the prince. Waiving the indictment on this head, Trio secured the right of arraigning Piso's previous career, and the emperor was asked to take over the trial. To this even the defendant made no demur, as he distrusted the prepossessions of the people and senate; while Tiberius, he knew, had the strength of mind to despise scandal, and was involved in his mother's accession to the plot. Besides, truth was more easily distinguished from accepted calumny by one judge; where there were more, odium and malevolence carried weight. The difficulties of the inquiry, and the rumours busy with his own character, were not lost upon Tiberius. Therefore with a few intimate friends for assessor, he heard the threats of the accusers, the prayers of the accused; and remitted the case in its integrity to the senate. 3.12.  On the day the senate met, the Caesar spoke with calculated moderation. "Piso," he said, "had been his father's lieutet and friend; and he himself, at the instance of the senate, had assigned him to Germanicus as his coadjutor in the administration of the East. Whether, in that position, he had merely exasperated the youthful prince by perversity and contentiousness, and then betrayed pleasure at his death, or whether he had actually cut short his days by crime, was a question they must determine with open minds. For" (he proceeded) "if the case is one of a subordinate who, after ignoring the limits of his commission and the deference owed to his superior, has exulted over that superior's death and my own sorrow, I shall renounce his friendship, banish him from my house, and redress my grievances as a man without invoking my powers as a sovereign. But if murder comes to light — and it would call for vengeance, were the victim the meanest of mankind — then do you see to it that proper requital is made to the children of Germanicus and to us, his parents. At the same time, consider the following points:— Did Piso's treatment of the armies make for disorder and sedition? Did he employ corrupt means to win the favour of the private soldiers? Did he levy war in order to repossess himself of the province? Or are these charges falsehoods, published with enlargements by the accusers; at whose zealous indiscretions I myself feel some justifiable anger? For what was the object in stripping the corpse naked and exposing it to the degrading contact of the vulgar gaze? Or in diffusing the report — and among foreigners — that he fell a victim to poison, if that is an issue still uncertain and in need of scrutiny? True, I lament my son, and shall lament him always. But far from hampering the defendant in adducing every circumstance which may tend to relieve his innocence or to convict Germanicus of injustice (if injustice there was), I beseech you that, even though the case is bound up with a personal sorrow of my own, you will not therefore receive the assertion of guilt as a proof of guilt. If kinship or a sense of loyalty has made some of you his advocates, then let each, with all the eloquence and devotion he can command, aid him in his hour of danger. To the accusers I commend a similar industry, a similar constancy. The only extra-legal concession we shall be found to have made to Germanicus is this, that the inquiry into his death is being held not in the Forum but in the Curia, not before a bench of judges but the senate. Let the rest of the proceedings show the like restraint: let none regard the tears of Drusus, none my own sadness, nor yet any fictions invented to our discredit. 3.13.  It was then resolved to allow two days for the formulation of the charges: after an interval of six days, the case for the defence would occupy another three. Fulcinius opened with an old and futile tale of intrigue and cupidity during Piso's administration of Spain. The allegations, if established, could do the defendant no harm, should he dispel the more recent charge: if they were rebutted, there was still no acquittal, if he was found guilty of the graver delinquencies. Servaeus, Veranius, and Vitellius followed — with equal fervour; and Vitellius with considerable eloquence. "Through his hatred of Germanicus and his zeal for anarchy," so ran the indictment, "Piso had, by relaxing discipline and permitting the maltreatment of the provincials, so far corrupted the common soldiers that among the vilest of them he was known as the Father of the Legions. On the other hand, he had been ruthless to the best men, especially the companions and friends of Germanicus, and at last, with the help of poison and the black arts, had destroyed the prince himself. Then had come the blasphemous rites and sacrifices of Plancina and himself, an armed assault on the commonwealth, and — in order that he might be put on his trial — defeat upon a stricken field. 3.14.  On all counts but one the defence wavered. There was no denying that he had tampered with the soldiery, that he had abandoned the provinces to the mercies of every villain, that he had even insulted the commander-in‑chief. The single charge which he seemed to have dissipated was that of poisoning. It was, indeed, none too plausibly sustained by the accusers, who argued that, at a dinner given by Germanicus, Piso (who was seated above him) introduced the dose into his food. Certainly, it seemed folly to assume that he could have ventured the act among strange servants, under the eyes of so many bystanders, and in the presence of the victim himself: also, he offered his own slaves for torture, and insisted on its application to the attendants at the meal. For one reason or other, however, the judges were inexorable: the Caesar, because war had been levied on a province; the senate, because it could never quite believe that Germanicus had perished without foul play. . . . A demand for the correspondence was rejected as firmly by Tiberius as by Piso. At the same time, shouts were heard: it was the people at the senate-doors, crying that, if he escaped the suffrages of the Fathers, they would take the law into their own hands. They had, in fact, dragged his effigies to the Gemonian Stairs, and were engaged in dismembering them, when they were rescued and replaced at the imperial command. He was therefore put in a litter and accompanied home by an officer of one of the praetorian cohorts; while rumour debated whether the escort was there for the preservation of his life or the enforcement of his death. 3.16.  I remember hearing my elders speak of a document seen more than once in Piso's hands. The purport he himself never disclosed, but his friends always asserted that it contained a letter from Tiberius with his instructions in reference to Germanicus; and that, if he had not been tricked by the empty promises of Sejanus, he was resolved to produce it before the senate and to put the emperor upon his defence. His death, they believed, was not self-inflicted: an assassin had been let loose to do the work. I should hesitate to endorse either theory: at the same time, it was my duty not to suppress a version given by contemporaries who were still living in my early years. With his lineaments composed to melancholy, the Caesar expressed to his regret to the senate that Piso should have chosen a form of death reflecting upon his sovereign . . . and cross-examined him at length on the manner in which his father had spent his last day and night. Though there were one or two indiscretions, the answers were in general adroit enough, and he now read a note drawn up by Piso in nearly the following words:— "Broken by a confederacy of my enemies and the hatred inspired by their lying accusation, since the world has no room for my truth and innocence, I declare before Heaven, Caesar, that I have lived your loyal subject and your mother's no less dutiful servant. I beg you both to protect the interests of my children. Gnaeus has no connexion with my affairs, good or ill, since he spent the whole period in the capital; while Marcus advised me against returning to Syria. And I can only wish that I had given way to my youthful son, rather than he to his aged father! I pray, therefore, with added earnestness that the punishment of my perversity may not fall on his guiltless head. By my five-and-forty years of obedience, by the consulate we held in common, as the man who once earned the confidence of your father, the deified Augustus, as the friend who will never ask favour more, I appeal for the life of my unfortunate son." of Plancina not a word. 3.17.  Tiberius followed by absolving the younger Piso from the charge of civil war, — for "the orders came from a father, and a son could not have disobeyed," — and at the same time expressed his sorrow for a noble house and the tragic fate of its representative, whatever his merits or demerits. In offering a shamefaced and ignominious apology for Plancina, he pleaded the entreaties of his mother; who in private was being more and more hotly criticized by every person of decency:— "So it was allowable in a grandmother to admit her husband's murderess to sight and speech, and to rescue her from the senate! The redress which the laws guaranteed to all citizens had been denied to Germanicus alone. The voice of Vitellius and Veranius had bewailed the Caesar: the emperor and Augusta had defended Plancina. It remained to turn those drugs and arts, now tested with such happy results, against Agrippina and her children, and so to satiate this admirable grandmother and uncle with the blood of the whole calamitous house!" Two days were expended on this phantom of a trial, with Tiberius pressing Piso's sons to defend their mother; and as the accusers and witnesses delivered their competing invectives, without a voice to answer, pity rather than anger began to deepen. The question was put in the first instance to Aurelius Cotta, the consul; for, if the reference came from the sovereign, even the magistrates went through the process of registering their opinion. Cotta proposed that the name of Piso should be erased from the records, one half of his property confiscated, and the other made over to his son Gnaeus, who should change his first name; that Marcus Piso should be stripped of his senatorial rank, and relegated for a period of ten years with a gratuity of five million sesterces: Plancina, in view of the empress's intercession, might be granted immunity. 3.18.  Much in these suggestions was mitigated by the emperor. He would not have Piso's name cancelled from the records, when the names of Mark Antony, who had levied war on his fatherland, and of Iullus Antonius, who had dishonoured the hearth of Augustus, still remained. He exempted Marcus Piso from official degradation, and granted him his patrimony: for, as I have often said, he was firm enough against pecuniary temptations, and in the present case his shame at the acquittal of Plancina made him exceptionally lenient. So, again, when Valerius Messalinus proposed to erect a golden statue in the temple of Mars the Avenger, and Caecina Severus an altar of Vengeance, he vetoed the scheme, remarking that these memorials were consecrated after victories abroad; domestic calamities called for sorrow and concealment. Messalinus had added that Tiberius, Augusta, Antonia, Agrippina, and Drusus ought to be officially thanked for their services in avenging Germanicus: Claudius he had neglected to mention. Indeed, it was only when Lucius Asprenas demanded point-blank in the senate if the omission was deliberate that the name was appended. For myself, the more I reflect on events recent or remote, the more am I haunted by the sense of a mockery in human affairs. For by repute, by expectancy, and by veneration, all men were sooner marked out for sovereignty than that future emperor whom destiny was holding in the background. 3.19.  A few days later, the Caesar recommended the senate to confer priesthoods on Vitellius, Veranius, and Servaeus. To Fulcinius he promised his support, should he become a candidate for preferment, but warned him not to let impetuosity become the downfall of eloquence. This closed the punitive measures demanded by Germanicus' death: an affair which, not only to the generation which witnessed it, but in the succeeding years, was a battle-ground of opposing rumours. So true it is that the great event is an obscure event: one school admits all hearsay evidence, whatever its character, as indisputable; another perverts the truth into its contrary; and, in each case, posterity magnifies the error. Drusus, who had left the capital, in order to regularize his command, entered it shortly afterwards with an ovation. A few days later, his mother Vipsania died — the only one of all Agrippa's children whose end was peace. The rest perished, part, it is known, by the sword, part, it was believed, by poison or starvation. 3.22.  At Rome, in the meantime, Lepida, who, over and above the distinction of the Aemilian family, owned Sulla and Pompey for great-grandsires, was accused of feigning to be a mother by Publius Quirinius, a rich man and childless. There were complementary charges of adulteries, of poisonings, and of inquiries made through the astrologers with reference to the Caesarian house. The defence was in the hands of her brother, Manius Lepidus. Despite her infamy and her guilt, Quirinius, by persisting in his malignity after divorcing her, had gained her a measure of sympathy. It is not easy to penetrate the emperor's sentiments during this trial: so adroitly did he invert and confuse the symptoms of anger and of mercy. He began by requesting the senate not to deal with the charges of treason; then he lured the former consul, Marcus Servilius, with a number of other witnesses, into stating the very facts he had apparently wished to have suppressed. Lepida's slaves, again, were being held in military custody; he transferred them to the consuls, and would not allow them to be questioned under torture upon the issues concerning his own family. Similarly, he exempted Drusus, who was consul designate, from speaking first to the question. By some this was read as a concession relieving the rest of the members from the need of assenting: others took it to mark a sinister purpose on the ground that he would have ceded nothing save the duty of condemning. 3.51.  A single ex-consul, Rubellius Blandus, concurred with Lepidus: the remainder followed Agrippa's motion; and Priscus was led to the cells and immediately executed. This promptitude drew a typically ambiguous reprimand from Tiberius in the senate. He commended the loyalty of members, who avenged so sharply insults, however slight, to the head of the state, but deprecated such a hurried punishment of a verbal offence. Lepidus he praised; Agrippa he did not blame. It was therefore resolved that no senatorial decree should be entered in the Treasury before the lapse of nine full days, all prisoners under sentence of death to be reprieved for that period. But the senate had not liberty to repent, nor was Tiberius usually softened by the interval. 6.39.  Trebellenus Rufus and Sextius Paconianus made not dissimilar endings: for Trebellenus fell by his own hand; Paconianus was strangled in prison for verses which he had there indited against the sovereign. — These tidings Tiberius now received, not as formerly across the dividing sea nor by messengers from afar, but hard under the walls of Rome, where, on the same day or with the interval of a night, he could pen his answer to the consular reports and all but rest his eyes upon the blood that streamed in the houses of his victims, or upon the handiwork of his executioners. At the close of the year, Poppaeus Sabinus breathed his last. of modest origin, he had by the friendship of emperors attained a consulate and triumphal honours, and for twenty-four years had governed the great provinces, thanks to no shining ability but to the fact that he was adequate to his business, and no more.
3. Cassius Dio, Roman History, 57.1.1-57.1.2, 57.1.4 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

57.1.1.  Tiberius was a patrician of good education, but he had a most peculiar nature. He never let what he desired appear in his conversation, and what he said he wanted he usually did not desire at all. On the contrary, his words indicated the exact opposite of his real purpose; he denied all interest in what he longed for, and urged the claims of whatever he hated. He would exhibit anger over matters that were very far from arousing his wrath, and make a show of affability where he was most vexed. 57.1.2.  He would pretend to pity those whom he severely punished, and would retain a grudge against those whom he pardoned. Sometimes he would regard his bitterest foe as if he were his most intimate companion, and again he would treat his dearest friend like the veriest stranger. In short, he thought it bad policy for the sovereign to reveal his thoughts; this was often the cause, he said, of great failures, whereas by the opposite course far more and greater successes were attained. 57.1.4.  While it was a dangerous matter, then, to fail to understand him, — for people often came to grief by approving what he said instead of what he wished, — it was still more dangerous to understand him, since people were then suspected of discovering his practice and consequently of being displeased with it.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
acta senatus, use of' "420.0_332.0@dress, tiberius' role" Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
adjudication, adjudicating Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
adultery Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
aemilia lepida Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
augustus Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
authority Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
calpumius piso, cn. (cos., tiberius' role" Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
case Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
cn. calpurnius piso Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
consilium Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
consul Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
cremutius cordus, a. Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
digest Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
dio cassius Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
emperor, princeps Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
family Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
grief, mourning Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
honour Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
iunius silanus, c. (cos. a.d.) Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
jurisdiction Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
marcus aurelius, emperor Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
mourning, grief Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
praise (laus) and blame (uituperatio), moralising Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
princeps Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
principate, the roman Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
province Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
relatio, requested by members Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
rescript Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
self-control, moderatio Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
senate, senators Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
senate Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
senator, senatorial Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
seneca the younger Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
tacitus, p. cornelius Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
tacitus, use of acta senatus Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
tacitus Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
tears Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
tiberius, attends Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332
tiberius, emperor Poulsen, Usages of the Past in Roman Historiography (2021), 248
tiberius Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
trial' Tuori, The Emperor of Law: The Emergence of Roman Imperial Adjudication< (2016) 144
votienus montanus Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984) 332