Annals IV: 41


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Latin

Rursum Seianus non iam de matrimonio sed altius metuens tacita suspicionum, vulgi rumorem, ingruentem invidiam deprecatur. ac ne adsiduos in domum coetus arcendo infringeret potentiam aut receptando facultatem criminantibus praeberet, huc flexit ut Tiberium ad vitam procul Roma amoenis locis degendam impelleret. multa quippe providebat: sua in manu aditus litterarumque magna ex parte se arbitrum fore, cum per milites commearent; mox Caesarem vergente iam senecta secretoque loci mollitum munia imperii facilius tramissurum: et minui sibi invidiam adempta salutantum turba sublatisque inanibus veram potentiam augeri. igitur paulatim negotia urbis, populi adcursus, multitudinem adfluentium increpat, extollens laudibus quietem et solitudinem quis abesse taedia et offensiones ac praecipua rerum maxime agitari.

Commentary

non iam de matrimonio – supply a verb like tempto or ago. The fact that Sejanus no longer pushes for marriage shows that he has clearly understood the irony in Tiberius’ reply in Ch.40.

tacita suspicionum – “silent suspicions” (literally “the silent ones of the suspicions”). Tacitus commonly uses a (partitive) genitive after the neuter, which can be translated as a simple adjective-noun pair.

tacita…invidiam – a tricolon to convey the extent of Sejanus’ panic (altius metuens), even more vivid due to the chiasmus (tacita suspicionum, vulgi rumorem), asyndeton, and alliteration (ingruentem invidiam). Note that all three concerns are about his reputation.

adsiduos coetus – implies that Sejanus was utterly immersed in politics at this stage (25 AD). The fact these meetings took place in the domus of a knight is an issue Tacitus raises, and the number of these meetings is further emphasised by the frequentative verb receptando.

amoenis locis – locative, “in a pleasant region.” amoenus means pleasant in general, not exclusively to the eye.

aditus – i.e. to Tiberius.

commearent – “they went to and fro” (understand litterae as subject).

per milites – Sejanus, as praefectus praetorio, can therefore dominate this channel of communication.

vergente iam senecta – ablative absolute (as opposed to instrument of mollitum). Sejanus envisages that this decrepitude, coupled with the enfeebling effect of isolation in the countryside (secreto loci mollitum), would see power transferred to him. The aging of Tiberius here is even more pronounced than in Ch.9 (vergentem aetatem).

minui…augeri – the contrast between these verbs is augmented by a chiasmus; they are in the present tense (instead of future) for vividness. It is ironic that the crowds of wellwishers (salutantium turba) cause resentment (invidiam) of Sejanus’ power, yet by removing them he will become even more powerful.

negotia…solitudinem – the chiastic arrangement (introduced by a tricolon) shows how Sejanus made plain the argument for Tiberius’ retirement. The juxtaposition of increpat, extollens adds to this effect.

paulatim – the usual tactic for Sejanus when he wants to persuade or ingratiate himself (cf. Ch.2 inrepere paulatim militares animos).

quis = quibus (ablative): “in which.” The antecedents are quietem and solitudinem.

praecipua rerum – the same words used by Tiberius at the start of Ch.40. This could imply that Sejanus used the emperor’s own idiolects to win him over.

English

In reply, Sejanus no longer talked about marriage, but through a deeper fear protested against the silent suspicions, the gossip of the masses and the impinging resentment. And so that he neither diminished his power by stopping the constant meetings at his house, nor provided an opportunity for his accusers by constantly receiving them, he turned to this plan: that he would force Tiberius to spend his life in a pleasant region far from Rome. Indeed, he foresaw many advantages in this: access (to Tiberius) would be in his hands, and for the most part he would be the arbitrator of letters, since they were conveyed by soldiers; soon Caesar, with his old age already declining, would be softened by the solitude of the place and would transfer the functions of empire more readily: and resentment towards him would be reduced once the crowd of greeters had been removed and, when the worthless elements had been taken away, his true power would be enhanced. Therefore, little by little, he chided the business of the city, the people running up, the multitude of people streaming about, while extolling with praises rest and solitude, in which vexations and offences were absent and matters of supreme importance in particular could be conducted.