Group 1: Annals IV


Tacitus: Annals IV

7–12, 39–41

7.

Sejanus targets Drusus.

Latin

Quae cuncta non quidem comi via, sed horridus ac plerumque formidatus, retinebat tamen, donec morte Drusi verterentur: nam dum superfuit, mansere, quia Seianus incipiente adhuc potentia bonis consiliis notescere volebat et ultor metuebatur non occultus odii, set crebro querens incolumi filio adiutorem imperii alium vocari. et quantum superesse ut collega dicatur! primas dominandi spes in arduo; ubi sis ingressus, adesse studia et ministros. exstructa iam sponte praefecti castra, datos in manum milites; cerni effigiem eius in monimentis Cn. Pompei, communes illi cum familia Drusorum fore nepotes. precandam post haec modestiam, ut contentus esset. neque raro neque apud paucos talia iaciebat, et secreta quoque eius corrupta uxore prodebantur.

Commentary

Quae cuncta – i.e. the system of government which Tacitus has detailed, in a generally positive tone, in Chapters 4-6.

horridus…formidatus – even when complimenting Tiberius, Tacitus undermines that praise with an unfavourable description.

dum superfuit…mansere – this is a repetition of the sense of retinebat…verterentur. Tacitus is keen to stress that Drusus’ death was a turning point in Tiberius’ reign.

notescere volebat – Tacitus is looking to explain why it took Sejanus so long to begin his assault on the royal family. He had been Prefect for eight years at this stage.

ultor – i.e. Drusus.

querens – note the change of subject. This introduces a long sequence of oratio obliqua (“indirect statement”) detailing the complaints which Drusus made about Sejanus. The latter got to hear about this mud-slinging due to the reasons given in the last sentence of this chapter.

non occultus odii – “who made no secret of his hatred” (lit. “not hidden in respect of hatred”). Tacitus is fond of the genitive of respect after participles and adjectives.

set – an alternative, and perfectly viable, form of sed.

incolumi – “unharmed” in the sense of “alive and kicking” – steeped in dramatic irony.

adiutorem imperii – not an official title, but one which summarises the power Sejanus had now acquired. It chimes with Tiberius’ use of socium laborum in Ch. 2.

quantum superesse ut collega dicatur! – “how small a step remained until he was called colleague!” A vivid exclamation of Drusus’ outrage. Sejanus effectively became collega in 31 AD, when he was appointed consul. He was executed very shortly afterwards.

in arduo – “an uphill task” (Martin & Woodman).

ubi sis ingressus – take spes dominandi again after this.

sponte praefecti – “at the Prefect’s bidding alone”. Drusus could be exaggerating, of course.

in monimentis Cn. Pompei – i.e. the theatre of Pompey, The theatre complex housed several other buildings, including the infamous curia where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC.originally constructed in 55 BC. It was currently being rebuilt.

communes nepotes – the offspring who might have come from the proposed marriage, in 20 AD, between Sejanus’ daughter Junilla (who was just four years old at the time) and Claudius’ eldest son (III.29) The latter died, according to Suetonius, by choking on a wild pear just a few days after the betrothal (Cl. 27). Junilla was killed in the purge which followed her father’s fall.

precandam – Drusus’ point is that Sejanus’ ambition is now unstoppable. They can only pray that he is a merciful tyrant who shows restraint (modestiam) and is gratified (contentus) without resorting to terror. Despite the sarcasm in his remark, Drusus comes across as particularly tragic here.

uxore – the ablative of instrument is used (without ab) because Drusus’ wife Livia is no more than an instrument in Sejanus’ scheme, according to Tacitus.

English

All these things, not indeed in a gracious way, but grimly and for the most part dreadfully, he nevertheless observed, until they were overturned by the death of Drusus: for as long as he survived, they lasted, because Sejanus, whose power was just beginning, wanted to become known for good advice and he feared an avenger who made no secret of his hatred, but who frequently complained that, while the son was alive, another was being called “assistant in command”. And how little there was to go until he was called colleague! The first hopes of being in control were difficult; but once you had started, support and helpers were at hand. That already a camp had been constructed by the will of the prefect, soldiers had been placed in his hands; his statue was seen in the memorials of Gnaeus Pompeius, that he would have grandsons in common with the family of the Drusi. Henceforth there was need to pray for moderation, and that he might be content. He hurled such remarks neither on rare occasions nor in front of small audiences, and besides, his secrets were being betrayed by his corrupted wife.

8.

Tiberius addresses the Senate after the death of Drusus.

Latin

igitur Seianus maturandum ratus deligit venenum, quo paulatim inrepente fortuitus morbus adsimularetur. id Druso datum per Lygdum spadonem, ut octo post annos cognitum est. Ceterum Tiberius per omnes valetudinis eius dies, nullo metu an ut firmitudinem animi ostentaret, etiam defuncto necdum sepulto, curiam ingressus est; consulesque sede vulgari per speciem maestitiae sedentes honoris locique admonuit et effusum in lacrimas senatum victo gemitu, simul oratione continua erexit: non quidem sibi ignarum posse argui quod tam recenti dolore subierit oculos senatus; vix propinquorum adloquia tolerari, vix diem aspici a plerisque lugentium. neque illos imbecillitatis damnandos; se tamen fortiora solacia e complexu rei publicae petivisse. miseratusque Augustae extremam senectam, rudem adhuc nepotum et vergentem aetatem suam, ut Germanici liberi, unica praesentium malorum levamenta, inducerentur petivit. egressi consules firmatos adloquio adulescentulos deductosque ante Caesarem statuunt. quibus adprensis ‘patres conscripti, hos’ inquit ‘orbatos parente tradidi patruo ipsorum precatusque sum, quamquam esset illi propria suboles, ne secus quam suum sanguinem foveret, attolleret, sibique et posteris confirmaret. erepto Druso preces ad vos converto disque et patria coram obtestor: Augusti pronepotes, clarissimis maioribus genitos, suscipite, regite, vestram meamque vicem explete. hi vobis, Nero et Druse, parentum loco: ita nati estis ut bona malaque vestra ad rem publicam pertineant.

Commentary

igitur Seianus maturandum ratus – igitur implies that it was due to the complaints of Drusus that Sejanus now decided to hurry his plans. However, since the betrothal of Junilla and the construction of the Castra Praetoria both probably took place in 20 AD, Drusus is unlikely to have started protesting about them in 23 AD. Such bunching of events to create a more dramatic narrative is typical of Tacitus (see opening note of Ch. 1).

quo…adsimularetur – purpose clause.

inrepente – the same verb was used of Sejanus in >Ch. 2, along with paulatim (so that we are in no danger of missing the analogy).

Lygdum spadonem – one of Drusus’ most trusted servants and probably his praegustator (food taster).

octo post annos – on the evidence of Apicata, after Sejanus’ death in 31 AD Ch. 11).

nullo metu – “because he had no fear”. Fear of what is not made explicit by Tacitus. It could mean that Tiberius was not afraid that Drusus’ illness would result in death, since the disease was unexpected (fortuitus), at 34 years old Drusus was not at a vulnerable age for contracting a mortal disease, and Tiberius was so drastically affected afterwards (Ch. 7 – quae cuncta … morte Drusi verterentur) that he may have been denying the gravity of Drusus’ deterioration. Martin and Woodman suggest it is fear of being suspected of Drusus’ murder.

sede vulgari – i.e. among the mass of senators on the “ordinary benches”, instead of on their curule chairs on a raised platform.

per speciem – the phrase implies that the mourning was insincere (specie artis was how Eudemus acted in Ch. 3). Similarly artificial sentiments are seen at the start of Ch. 12.

simul – probably links victo gemitu and oratione continua, i.e. Tiberius roused the senate by overcoming his grief and with an unbroken speech.

oratione continua – we can be confident that this speech is not the exact one made by Tiberius. Writing at the end of the 5th century BC, the influential Greek historian Thucydides said that, when it came to documenting speeches, he would record the “general sense” of what was said rather than the precise words (Thuc. 1.22). His reasoning was that it was quite difficult to remember the exact words of a speech. So entrenched did his method become among later Greek and Roman historians that they would often invent a speech even when there was a written record of it available to them.

non quidem sibi ignarum – “he was well aware” (lit. “it was not indeed unknown to him”) – a good example of litotes.

quod…senatus – this whole clause is the (accusative) subject of posse (“the fact that he had faced … could be criticised”).

oculos senatus … diem aspici – these phrases are very melodramatic for an address of the emperor to the senate. Tiberius is affecting a personal style which may not have come to him naturally, but with a speechwriter.

vix … vix … – this anaphora, along with the other more obvious rhetorical devices in this speech, are representative of the Ciceronian style which Tiberius would have been keen to emulate.

e complexu rei publicae – more emotive language from Tiberius to explain that he was not heartless, but sought comfort by throwing himself into the affairs of state.

Augustae extremam senectam – the emperor’s mother Livia. Bust of Livia, Tiberius' mother, c. 31 BC. Louvre, Paris.She was now 80 years old and died six years later (V.1).

rudem – “inexperienced”. The nepotes adulti from Ch. 3.

vergentem – Tiberius was now 65. The old and young ages are considered pitiful (miseratus) by Tiberius because they emphasise the loss of Drusus, who was in his prime.

Germanici liberi – just Drusus Caesar and Nero Caesar (not Gaius), as is clear from what follows.

deductos – “escorted.”

quibus adprensis – “taking them by the hand” (Martin & Woodman).

sibique et posteris confirmaret – sibi and posteris are best taken as datives of advantage: both Drusus and future generations would benefit from the healthy development of these young men, according to Tiberius.

disque patria coram – anastrophe. coram, the preposition governing dis and patria, is delayed to emphasise the weight of Tiberius’ new plea.

suscipite – suscipio can have the sense of “bring up as one’s own,” which is meant by Tiberius here.

vicem – “duty.”

bona malaque vestra – “good and evil traits in you” is the sense here, rather than their fortunes. Such personal influence on the well-being of the whole state is precisely why Tacitus loathed the monarchic system of government introduced by Augustus.

English

Therefore Sejanus, reasoning that he needed to hurry, chose a poison by which a chance disease might be simulated as it gradually seeped in. It was given to Drusus by the eunuch Lygdus, as was discovered eight years later. Moreover Tiberius entered the senate house throughout all the days of his ill health, either because he had no fear or so that he might display strength of spirit, even when he was dead and not yet buried; and he reminded the consuls, who were sitting on the ordinary bench through a display of mourning, of their honour and position, and he roused the senate, who were given over to tears, by overcoming his pain, along with an unbroken speech: (he said) that it was not, indeed, unknown to him that he could be criticised on the grounds that he had faced the eyes of the senate while his grief was so fresh; that with difficulty the condolences of relatives were endured, with difficulty the light of day viewed, by the majority of mourners. Nor should those people be condemned for their feebleness, however he had sought stronger comforts from the embrace of the state. And, having expressed pity for the extreme elderliness of Augusta, the still inexperienced age of his grandchildren and his own declining age, he asked that the sons of Germanicus be brought in, his only sources of consolation in the current troubles. The consuls went out, strengthened the young men with encouragement, led them in and stood them in front of Caesar. Taking them by the hand, he said, “Conscript fathers, I handed over these to their paternal uncle when they had been robbed of their father and I begged, although he had his own offspring, that he should nurture, raise and strengthen them no less than his own blood, both for himself and for posterity. Now that Drusus has been snatched away, I turn my entreaties to you and before the gods and the fatherland I implore: take on, guide the great grandsons of Augustus, born to the most distinguished ancestors, fulfil your own duty and mine. Nero and Drusus, these men are in place of your parents: such is the nature of your birth that the good and bad characteristics in you affect the nation.”

9.

The funeral of Drusus.

Latin

Magno ea fletu et mox precationibus faustis audita. ac si modum orationi posuisset, misericordia sui gloriaque animos audientium impleverat; ad vana et totiens inrisa revolutus, de reddenda re publica utque consules seu quis alius regimen susciperent, vero quoque et honesto fidem dempsit. Memoriae Drusi eadem quae in Germanicum decernuntur, plerisque additis, ut ferme amat posterior adulatio. funus imaginum pompa maxime inlustre fuit, cum origo Iuliae gentis Aeneas omnesque Albanorum reges et conditor urbis Romulus, post Sabina nobilitas, Attus Clausus ceteraeque Claudiorum effigies longo ordine spectarentur.

Commentary

impleverat – ordinarily, this verb would be in the subjunctive mood (being part of the apodosis of an unfulfilled condition). The indicative mood helps to make the failed outcome seem more vivid.

gloria – “pride,” at their appointment as foster parents to the young princes.

de reddenda re publica – it is worth noting that Augustus talked about restoring the Republic on several occasions. When he assumed power, Tiberius also said that he would not be emperor forever. His motives here could even be seen as laudable, but Tacitus denigrates them with the description vana et inrisa.

in Germanicum – an abbreviated form of in memoriam Germanici, itself a good example of variatio following memoriae Drusi.

decerentur – fragments of this decree are recorded (see picture) Henzen, Insc. 5381 ; C. I. L. vi. I, 912by the 19th century epigraphist Wilhelm Henzen. The phrase culpeus argentarius (“silver shield,” line 10) might be evidence of the plerisque additis, and consequently posterior adulatio.

ferme amat – “usually is accustomed,” where amat = solet.

pompa – a causal ablative, “due to the procession… .”

Albanorum reges – the first king of Alba Longa was Aeneas’ son Ascanius. Later, Rome and Alba Longa would clash, with the Romans destroying the Alban city and absorbing its population to double their own. Many famous Roman families originated from this wave of immigration, including the Julii.

Sabina nobilitas – according to some traditions, the Claudii family had Sabine origins, through Attus Clausus. The Sabines were a mountain tribe who inhabited an area north east of Rome in its early history.

English

These words were heard with much weeping, and soon with auspicious prayers. And if he had put an end to his speech, he would have filled the hearts of his audience with pity for him and glory; but falling back to pointless and so often laughable topics, about the need to restore the Republic and that the consuls or someone else should take over governance, he took away belief from the genuine and honest bits as well. For the memory of Drusus the same things were decreed as for Germanicus, with many things added, as later flattery is usually accustomed to do. His funeral was especially remarkable due to its procession of statues, since Aeneas, founder of the Julian dynasty, and all the kings of the Albans, and Romulus the founder of the city, the Sabine nobility behind, Attus Clausus and images of all the other Claudii were observed in a long line.

10.

Tacitus details a conspiracy theory.

Latin

In tradenda morte Drusi quae plurimis maximaeque fidei auctoribus memorata sunt rettuli; sed non omiserim eorundem temporum rumorem, validum adeo ut nondum exolescat: corrupta ad scelus Livia Seianum Lygdi quoque spadonis animum stupro vinxisse, quod is aetate atque forma carus domino interque primores ministros erat; deinde, inter conscios ubi locus veneficii tempusque composita sint, eo audaciae provectum ut verteret et occulto indicio Drusum veneni in patrem arguens moneret Tiberium vitandam potionem, quae prima ei apud filium epulanti offerretur. ea fraude captum senem, postquam convivium inierat, exceptum poculum Druso tradidisse, atque illo ignaro et iuveniliter hauriente auctam suspicionem tamquam metu et pudore sibimet inrogaret mortem quam patri struxerat.

Commentary

plurimis maximaeque fidei auctoribus – “by the most numerous and most trustworthy sources.” Note the variatio (adjective ~ genitive of description). Such vague referencing would be unacceptable to modern historians, but was common practice among ancient ones. In fact, Tacitus might well have considered this to be a strong reference due to the superlatives.

non omiserim – “I must not omit,” potential subjunctive. See note on abnuerit (Ch. 3).

nondum exolescat – the fact that this rumour is still doing the rounds when Tacitus is writing the Annals (some 100 years post eventum) is, according to him, reason enough to include it now (even if his most credible sources discount it). validum is a loaded choice of word, implying both the prevalence and the credibility of the rumour at the time.

corrupta … Livia – ablative absolute. Positioned at the start of the rumour, it highlights the depravity of Sejanus and the dispensability of Livia.

scelus – often means murder, especially by poisoning.

Livia Seianum Lygdi – each successive name signifies a lower social class. Sejanus’ corruption transcends social boundaries – an empress-to-be is as susceptible as a eunuch.

vinxisse – “bound down”. Usually found compounded as devincere.

aetate … forma – ablatives of cause. Lygdus was Drusus’ cupbearer and possibly his lover.

ut verteret – understand rem. It is, Tacitus explains, excessive audacia which leads Sejanus to pervert the plan at the last minute. The conniving aspect of his character is here blown up to grotesque proportions.

occulto indicio – “through secret intelligence” and qualifies arguens rather than moneret. In other words, using anonymous agents, Sejanus spread the rumour that Drusus intended to kill Tiberius before he warned the emperor of the plot (which he would no doubt have heard of by then, thus making Sejanus’ accusation all the more believable).

postquam…inierat – usually the verb in a subordinate clause within oratio obliqua is subjunctive. However, Tacitus often uses the indicative mood in such circumstances.

iuveniliter – “eagerly.” The choice of word is particularly poignant as it emphasises Drusus’ relative youth and, along with ignaro, his naivety.

tamquam – “that,” introducing what the suspicion was.

metu et pudore – according to the rumour, Tiberius misreads Drusus’ motivation for downing the wine cup, thinking he does it through fear that he would be tortured and shame that he had been rumbled.

sibimet – an emphatic form of sibi.

English

In recording the death of Drusus I have reported the details which are mentioned by the most numerous and most trustworthy authors; but I must not omit the rumour of those same times, so strong that it has not yet died down: that after Livia had been corrupted into crime, Sejanus tied down with debauchery the heart of the eunuch Lygdus too, because he was dear to his master due to his youth and looks, and among his foremost attendants; next, when the place and the time of the poisoning had been arranged between the conspirators, he had advanced to such a point of audacity that he changed tack and, through covert intelligence accusing Drusus of intending to poison his father, he warned Tiberius that the drink should be avoided, the first which was offered to him while dining at his son’s house. The old man, taken in by this deceit, after he had entered the dinner party, handed over to Drusus the cup which he received, and as Drusus, unknowingly and like a young man would, drained it, it increased suspicion, that through fear and shame he was inflicting on himself the death which he had arranged for his father.

11.

Tacitus debunks the theory he just mentioned.

Latin

In tradenda morte Drusi quae plurimis maximaeque fidei auctoribus memorata sunt rettuli; sed non omiserim eorundem temporum rumorem, validum adeo ut nondum exolescat: corrupta ad scelus Livia Seianum Lygdi quoque spadonis animum stupro vinxisse, quod is aetate atque forma carus domino interque primores ministros erat; deinde, inter conscios ubi locus veneficii tempusque composita sint, eo audaciae provectum ut verteret et occulto indicio Drusum veneni in patrem arguens moneret Tiberium vitandam potionem, quae prima ei apud filium epulanti offerretur. ea fraude captum senem, postquam convivium inierat, exceptum poculum Druso tradidisse, atque illo ignaro et iuveniliter hauriente auctam suspicionem tamquam metu et pudore sibimet inrogaret mortem quam patri struxerat.

Commentary

plurimis maximaeque fidei auctoribus – “by the most numerous and most trustworthy sources.” Note the variatio (adjective ~ genitive of description). Such vague referencing would be unacceptable to modern historians, but was common practice among ancient ones. In fact, Tacitus might well have considered this to be a strong reference due to the superlatives.

non omiserim – “I must not omit,” potential subjunctive. See note on abnuerit (Ch. 3).

nondum exolescat – the fact that this rumour is still doing the rounds when Tacitus is writing the Annals (some 100 years post eventum) is, according to him, reason enough to include it now (even if his most credible sources discount it). validum is a loaded choice of word, implying both the prevalence and the credibility of the rumour at the time.

corrupta … Livia – ablative absolute. Positioned at the start of the rumour, it highlights the depravity of Sejanus and the dispensability of Livia.

scelus – often means murder, especially by poisoning.

Livia Seianum Lygdi – each successive name signifies a lower social class. Sejanus’ corruption transcends social boundaries – an empress-to-be is as susceptible as a eunuch.

vinxisse – “bound down”. Usually found compounded as devincere.

aetate … forma – ablatives of cause. Lygdus was Drusus’ cupbearer and possibly his lover.

ut verteret – understand rem. It is, Tacitus explains, excessive audacia which leads Sejanus to pervert the plan at the last minute. The conniving aspect of his character is here blown up to grotesque proportions.

occulto indicio – “through secret intelligence” and qualifies arguens rather than moneret. In other words, using anonymous agents, Sejanus spread the rumour that Drusus intended to kill Tiberius before he warned the emperor of the plot (which he would no doubt have heard of by then, thus making Sejanus’ accusation all the more believable).

postquam…inierat – usually the verb in a subordinate clause within oratio obliqua is subjunctive. However, Tacitus often uses the indicative mood in such circumstances.

iuveniliter – “eagerly.” The choice of word is particularly poignant as it emphasises Drusus’ relative youth and, along with ignaro, his naivety.

tamquam – “that,” introducing what the suspicion was.

metu et pudore – according to the rumour, Tiberius misreads Drusus’ motivation for downing the wine cup, thinking he does it through fear that he would be tortured and shame that he had been rumbled.

sibimet – an emphatic form of sibi.

English

In recording the death of Drusus I have reported the details which are mentioned by the most numerous and most trustworthy authors; but I must not omit the rumour of those same times, so strong that it has not yet died down: that after Livia had been corrupted into crime, Sejanus tied down with debauchery the heart of the eunuch Lygdus too, because he was dear to his master due to his youth and looks, and among his foremost attendants; next, when the place and the time of the poisoning had been arranged between the conspirators, he had advanced to such a point of audacity that he changed tack and, through covert intelligence accusing Drusus of intending to poison his father, he warned Tiberius that the drink should be avoided, the first which was offered to him while dining at his son’s house. The old man, taken in by this deceit, after he had entered the dinner party, handed over to Drusus the cup which he received, and as Drusus, unknowingly and like a young man would, drained it, it increased suspicion, that through fear and shame he was inflicting on himself the death which he had arranged for his father.

12.

Sejanus turns the house on Agrippina.

Latin

Ceterum laudante filium pro rostris Tiberio senatus populusque habitum ac voces dolentum simulatione magis quam libens induebat, domumque Germanici revirescere occulti laetabantur. quod principium favoris et mater Agrippina spem male tegens perniciem adceleravere. nam Seianus, ubi videt mortem Drusi inultam interfectoribus, sine maerore publico esse, ferox scelerum et, quia prima provenerant, volutare secum quonam modo Germanici liberos perverteret, quorum non dubia successio. neque spargi venenum in tres poterat, egregia custodum fide et pudicitia Agrippinae impenetrabili. igitur contumaciam eius insectari, vetus Augustae odium, recentem Liviae conscientiam exagitare ut superbam fecunditate, subnixam popularibus studiis inhiare dominationi apud Caesarem arguerent. atque haec callidis criminatoribus, inter quos delegerat Iulium Postumum, per adulterium Mutiliae Priscae inter intimos aviae et consiliis suis peridoneum, quia Prisca in animo Augustae valida anum suapte natura potentiae anxiam insociabilem nurui efficiebat. Agrippinae quoque proximi inliciebantur pravis sermonibus tumidos spiritus perstimulare.

Commentary

laudante filium pro rostris – The writer and political adviser Seneca describes this scene in some detail in his Consolation to Marcia (Cons. ad Marc. 15.4). He upholds Tiberius’ losses (Germanicus and Drusus) as one example of a parent outliving his or her offspring, from which Marcia should take comfort. He might even have witnessed the scene himself as a young man. He says that Tiberius made the address from the Rostra, with Drusus’ dead body lying next to him on full view, and Sejanus by his side.

habitum – “bearing” or “manner.”

simulatione magis quam libens – emphasised by the variatio (abl. noun ~ pres. part.), and explained by the subsequent sentence (domum…laetabantur).

induebat – Martin and Woodman interpret this as the incipient use of the imperfect, i.e. the people began to mourn as Tiberius was making his speech. This further implies insincere mourning, as the crowds are relying on prompts rather than grieving voluntarily.

domum Germanici – see Germanicus in 4 BC (marble copy)note in Ch. 1.

occulti – more pretence and dissimulation.

laetabantur – contrasts with dolentum.

mater…spem male tegens – this whole phrase acts like a noun. Such use is rare with the present participle (though very common with the perfect participle).

adceleravere – = adceleraverunt.

videt – the historic present here is very dramatic.

interfectoribus – plural because Sejanus had accomplices (Livia, Lygdus, et al.).

sine maerore publico – presumably, a strong public response to Drusus’ death would have necessitated a long interval before the next crime (cf.Ch. 3: dolus intervalla scelerum poscebat). As it is, Sejanus moves on quickly to his next victim.

ferox scelerum – a marked juxtaposition, underscored by the rarity of the (objective) genitive with ferox. Sallust uses a similar expression, sceleribus…ferox (“emboldened by crime”), for the Numidian king Jugurtha (Jug. 14.21).

volutare – historic infinitive.

spargi venenum – a reference to Catiline and his henchmen in Cicero’s famous speech (Cat. 2.23: spargere venena didicerunt). Fittingly, the verb can mean “distribute” as well as “sprinkle.”

in tres – the number now includes the youngest brother, Gaius.

egregia…impenetrabili – a neat chiasmus. The ablatives are absolute, with a sense of causation.

insectari…exagitare – historic infinitives.

vetus Augustae odium – Augusta had always hated Agrippina and her family (cf. I.33, II.43, etc.).

recentem Liviae conscientiam – another way of saying Liviam sceleris recentis consciam. But this phrase balances vetus Augustae odium, and thus helps to contrast vetus with recentem.

superbam fecunditate – although Livia Augusta had two sons by a previous marriage (Tiberius and Drusus the Elder), she had none by her second and final husband, Augustus, despite her being just 19 years old when they married. The failure to provide Augustus with a Drusus the Elderbiological son who could inherit the principate must have been hard for her take (she is recorded to have miscarried at least once trying). It is not hard to imagine Agrippina’s three healthy sons being a cause of envy, especially after Drusus the Elder died in 9 BC, aged 29. Drusus’ wife Livia only had one son who managed to survive early childhood (Tiberius Gemellus).

inhiare – as well as “gaze at eagerly” this verb describes the action of a gaping mouth. The metaphor is striking, the accusation vicious.

apud Caesarem – qualifies arguerent: they were attacking Livia in front of Tiberius, behind her back.

haec – ambiguous. See note at the foot of the translation.

callidis criminatoribus – these people are dehumanised as instruments rather than agents (by the omission of the preposition a).

Mutiliae Priscae – the wife of Gaius Fufius Geminus, who became consul in 29. Not long afterwards, according to Dio (58.4, 5-6), both committed suicide, possibly because they were left without protection after Livia Augusta’s death, also in 29.

in animo…valida – “was strong in Augusta’s affections.” A similar phrase is used for Nero’s praetorian prefect later on in the Annals (XIV.51: validior Tigellinus in animo principis).

delegerat…intimos…peridoneum – these details suggest meticulous planning by Livia.

suapte natura – “by her very own nature.” suapte is an emphatic form of sua.

insociabilem nurui efficiebat – “caused (her to be) irreconcilable to her granddaughter-in-law.”

inliciebantur – “were enticed.” Needless to say, these turncoats were not spurred on by any virtuous stimuli.

pravis – a particularly seedy word. “Depraved” is both cognate and a suitable translation.

perstimulare – only appears here in Latin. Martin and Woodman say that the whole phrase tumidos spiritus perstimulare suggests “the goading of a proud animal.”

English

But while Tiberius was praising his son in front of the Rostra, the senate and the people put on the manner and voices of people grieving, through pretence rather than willingly, and secretly they were happy that the house of Germanicus was being renewed. But this beginning of popularity and the mother, Agrippina, badly concealing her hopes, only hastened its ruin. For Sejanus, when he saw that the death of Drusus was unavenged on the killers and without public sorrow, became bold in crime and, because the first had succeeded, wondered to himself in what way he might overthrow the children of Germanicus, whose succession was not in doubt. Nor could poison be doled out to three people, due to the outstanding loyalty of the guards and the impenetrable chastity of Agrippina. Therefore he made an assault on her stubbornness, and stirred up Augusta’s old hatred and the recent complicity of Livia so that they would criticise her in front of Caesar for being proud in her fertility, propped up by popular support and gagging for power. And Livia*, by means of skilled slanderers, among whom she had chosen Julius Postumus, who through his adultery with Mutilia Prisca was among the grandmother’s innermost friends and very well-suited to Livia’s plans, because Prisca had influence over Augusta’s mind, and she made the old woman, who by her very nature was anxious about her own power, inhospitable to her grandson’s wife. Even those closest to Agrippina were enticed to provoke her inflated arrogance with mischievous conversations.

* haec here is ambiguous. It could be feminine nominative singular and refer to Drusus’ widow Livia, or it could be neuter accusative plural and mean “(Sejanus did) these things”. Martin and Woodman take it to mean the latter, whereas many authorities take it to mean the former. I have gone with the former in the translation, but you can decide for yourself. The two meanings are not wholly divergent: remember that Livia is now, according to Tacitus, an “instrument” of Sejanus (see note in Ch.7), so behind any of her actions lurks Sejanus as mastermind.

39.

Sejanus targets Drusus.

Latin

At Seianus nimia fortuna socors et muliebri insuper cupidine incensus, promissum matrimonium flagitante Livia, componit ad Caesarem codicillos: moris quippe tum erat quamquam praesentem scripto adire. eius talis forma fuit: benevolentia patris Augusti et mox plurimis Tiberii iudiciis ita insuevisse ut spes votaque sua non prius ad deos quam ad principum aures conferret. neque fulgorem honorum umquam precatum: excubias ac labores ut unum e militibus pro incolumitate imperatoris malle. ac tamen quod pulcherrimum adeptum, ut coniunctione Caesaris dignus crederetur: hinc initium spei. et quoniam audiverit Augustum in conlocanda filia non nihil etiam de equitibus Romanis consultavisse, ita, si maritus Liviae quaereretur, haberet in animo amicum sola necessitudinis gloria usurum. non enim exuere imposita munia: satis aestimare firmari domum adversum iniquas Agrippinae offensiones, idque liberorum causa; nam sibi multum superque vitae fore, quod tali cum principe explevisset.

Commentary

nimia fortuna – “excessive good fortune.” A clear allusion to Greek tragedy, in which characters have a habit of getting carried away when things seemingly go their way, only to be struck down by the play’s end. Sejanus, emboldened by his success up to this point, takes a step too far with the letter which follows.
socors – literally “separated from (se-) the heart (cors),” so “heartless” or “senseless.”
muliebri cupidine – normally the hero would be motivated by his desire for the woman (e.g. Turnus for Lavinia, Aen. XII.70-71), but Sejanus has no real desire for Livia (cf. Ch. 3) and so it is her insistence, and his ambition, which leads him to make his request to Tiberius.
flagitante Livia – although the verb flagitio is morally neutral, its use here is surely designed to evoke its cognate flagitium (a favourite word of Tacitus, used over 60 times in the extant books of the Annals), and thus piles more disgrace on Livia.
moris quippe tum – this sounds like the custom, introduced by Julius Caesar, had died out by Tacitus’ time. Martin & Woodman think not, and that the contrast is instead with the long absence which Tiberius embarks upon in 26, when practically the only way to reach him is by letter.
eius – a word such as scripti or epistula needs to be understood.
patris Augusti – a particularly ingratiating start to the letter, designed to flatter Tiberius’ relationship with Augustus (he was an adopted son, and probably not the favourite one). Buttering up one’s audience in this way is a rhetorical technique known as captatio benevolentiae.
iudiciis – “(tokens of) favourable opinion.” These may range from kind words to additional powers.
ut unum e militibus – ambiguous. Sejanus could be saying that he really is one of the soldiers, or he is like one of the soldiers. Either way, he presents a humble view of his relationship with Tiberius, and the military aspect he points up is designed to appeal to one of Rome’s great generals (Tiberius oversaw Roman expansion along the Danube).
quod pulcherrimum – “what was fairest of all,” the object of adeptum and qualified by the subsequent ut clause.
coniunctione Caesaris – Sejanus is referring to the betrothal of his daughter Junilla to Claudius’ son Drusus in 20 AD (see note in Ch. 7).
audiverit – would be audivisset in Ciceronian Latin.
ita – i.e. following Augustus’ example.
haberet…usurum – “let him think of a friend who would gain nothing but glory from the alliance,” i.e. Sejanus would seek no political advancement. He was content with the command of the Praetorians and to remain an equestrian.
exuere – the opposite of induo, and therefore metaphorical.
satis aestimare… – i.e. he considered the protection of Livia’s family to be reward enough. idque liberorum causa is added to provide a sheen of morality.
multum superque – “more than enough.”
vitae quod – “(that part) of his life which…” vita is a partitive genitive, and id can be supplied.

English

But Sejanus, dazed by excessive good fortune and also fired by a woman’s desire, since Livia was insisting on the promised marriage, composed a note to Caesar: indeed it was then customary to approach him in writing, even though he was present. The sense of it was such: through the kindness of his father Augustus and later through the very many favourable opinions of Tiberius he had become accustomed to relay his hopes and prayers not to the gods first but to the ears of the emperors. Nor had he ever begged for the splendour of honours: he preferred keeping watch and toils, like one of the soldiers, for his commander’s safety. And yet he had obtained what was finest of all, to be considered worthy of a connection with Caesar: hence the beginning of his hope. And since he had heard that, in marrying off his daughter, Augustus had considered to a certain extent even Roman knights, so, if a husband was being sought for Livia, he should bear in mind his friend who would enjoy only the honour of the relationship. For he was not shedding the duties imposed on him; he thought it sufficient that his household was strengthened against the unjust resentments of Agrippina, and this for the sake of the children; for, in his instance, the part of his life which he completed alongside such an emperor would be more than enough.

40.

Sejanus targets Drusus.

Latin

Ad ea Tiberius laudata pietate Seiani suisque in eum beneficiis modice percursis, cum tempus tamquam ad integram consultationem petivisset, adiunxit: ceteris mortalibus in eo stare consilia quid sibi conducere putent; principum diversam esse sortem quibus praecipua rerum ad famam derigenda. ideo se non illuc decurrere, quod promptum rescriptu, posse ipsam Liviam statuere, nubendum post Drusum an in penatibus isdem tolerandum haberet; esse illi matrem et aviam, propiora consilia. simplicius acturum, de inimicitiis primum Agrippinae, quas longe acrius arsuras si matrimonium Liviae velut in partis domum Caesarum distraxisset. sic quoque erumpere aemulationem feminarum, eaque discordia nepotes suos convelli: quid si intendatur certamen tali coniugio? ‘falleris enim, Seiane, si te mansurum in eodem ordine putas, et Liviam, quae C. Caesari, mox Druso nupta fuerit, ea mente acturam ut cum equite Romano senescat. ego ut sinam, credisne passuros qui fratrem eius, qui patrem maioresque nostros in summis imperiis videre? vis tu quidem istum intra locum sistere: sed illi magistratus et primores, qui te invitum perrumpunt omnibusque de rebus consulunt, excessisse iam pridem equestre fastigium longeque antisse patris mei amicitias non occulti ferunt perque invidiam tui me quoque incusant. at enim Augustus filiam suam equiti Romano tradere meditatus est. mirum hercule si, cum in omnes curas distraheretur immensumque attolli provideret quem coniunctione tali super alios extulisset, C. Proculeium et quosdam in sermonibus habuit insigni tranquillitate vitae, nullis rei publicae negotiis permixtos! sed si dubitatione Augusti movemur, quanto validius est quod Marco Agrippae, mox mihi conlocavit? atque ego haec pro amicitia non occultavi: ceterum neque tuis neque Liviae destinatis adversabor. ipse quid intra animum volutaverim, quibus adhuc necessitudinibus immiscere te mihi parem, omittam ad praesens referre: id tantum aperiam, nihil esse tam excelsum quod non virtutes istae tuusque in me animus mereantur, datoque tempore vel in senatu vel in contione non reticebo.’

Commentary

pietate Seiani – the subordination of this and suis beneficiis percursis is dismissive, as Tiberius runs through the formalities. The juxtaposition of pietas and Seianus is ironic.

tamquam ad integram consulationem – The use of tamquam suggests that Tiberius is being disingenuous. He wants to be seen to be considering the matter fully, perhaps prompted by Sejanus’ use of consultavisse in Ch.39, when in fact this letter makes it clear he has already formed his opinion.

in eo stare consilia – “(their) decisions are based on this,” followed by an indirect question.

ceteris mortalibus … principum – Tiberius emphatically reasserts his authority, perhaps uneasy at the ambition of Sejanus.

praecipua rerum – “important business.”

famam – “public opinion.” In other words, the marriage would lack popular support.

non decurrere – the choice of verb reinforces the idea that Tiberius is considering the matter carefully (ad integram consulationem), the prefix adds a haughty tone (he is not “stooping” to the simplest answer), and the litotes underscores both. All this is bad news for Sejanus’ hopes of Tiberius’ consent.

rescriptu – Martin & Woodman: “rescribere is the technical term for an imperial response (OLD 2a), but its supine form seems unparalleled.”

an – the second part of a double question (supply utrum before nubendum).

haberet habeo + gerundive operates as debeo + infinitive.

matrem et aviam – the mother is Antonia Minor: daughter of Mark Antony, niece of Augustus and mother also of Germanicus and Claudius. The grandmother is Augusta.

simplicius acturum – “he would deal more frankly,” i.e. he would not let his disapproval be masked by an evasive answer.

quas…arsuras – supply esse. The antecedent of quas is inimicitiis.

velut in partis – “as if into factions.”

distraxisset – the pluperfect subjunctive is used in the protasis of open conditions in oratio obliqua (indirect statement), in place of the future perfect (indicative).

nepotes suos – i.e. the surviving sons of Tiberius’ biological son Drusus (Tiberius Gemellus) and of his adopted son Germanicus (Nero Julius Caesar, Drusus Caesar and Caligula).

sic quoque – “even as it was.”

erumpere…convelli – the elements of this chiasmus link not only grammatically but also in meaning (erumpere and convelli; aemulationem and nepotes). The arrangement also allows a juxtaposition between the women (feminarum) and strife (discordia), a common theme in the Annals.

convelli – the verb convello is often used in relation to buildings (“to shake to the foundations”) or trees (“to tear up by the roots”), and its metaphorical use here is especially emphatic, if exaggerated (Furneaux points out that Drusus’ son was only six years old, and the others were all of one house).

falleris enim, Seiane – a powerful literary effect is created by the switch to direct speech. The address is steeped in irony, in allusion to the feigned humility of Sejanus in the previous chapter.

in eodem ordine – i.e. the order of the knights.

C. CaesariGaius Caesar, grandson of Augustus through his daughter Julia and Marcus Agrippa. Gaius CaesarHe died in 4 AD on campaign in the east. Tacitus suggests Livia Augusta might have had a hand in his death (I.3).

ea mente…senescat – whereas, as made clear in Ch.39 (matrimonium flagitante Livia), this is her heart’s desire.

ego ut sinam – “though/if I were to permit it.” ut with the subjunctive can form a concessive or conditional clause, as here.

fratrem…patrem…maioresque nostros – the brother is Germanicus, the father Drusus the Elder, and the ancestors are the Claudii and Drusi of yore.

istum intra locumistum (rather than illum) both because the rank is “closer” to Sejanus than Tiberius and because of the deprecatory sense of the word.

sistere – a poetical form of stare.

te invitum – ironic, seeing that Sejanus enjoys the power such meetings bring (Ch. 41 – “ne…infringeret potentiam”).

perrumpunt – a military metaphor, being employed by an old soldier.

amicitias – could be read as the concrete amicos here. The comparison is with the influential knights who were attached to Augustus, such as Maecenas and Proculeius (see below).

perque invidiam tui me quoque incusant – Tiberius underscores his concern with a chiasmus.

at enim – anticipating an objection.

hercule – a sarcastic exclamation.

omnes curas – i.e. the concerns of an emperor in choosing a successor.

immensum – adverbial, “massively.”

C. Proculeium – Proculeius was the brother of Maecenas’ wife, Terentia, arguably more famous these days as a minor character in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.

in sermonibus – in other words, this was no official pronouncement, merely private deliberation.

insigni tranquillitate vitae… – Tiberius’ point is that Augustus could see that the marriage of his daughter Julia would be a massive promotion for the elected husband. If men such as Proculeius were considered for the role, it was on the grounds that they were apolitical, not because they were knights.

si…conlocavit – an argument a fortiori: if we are to be moved by what Augustus deliberated, we should be so much more moved by what he actually did (i.e. married her to a man at the top of the senatorial class, twice.)

ceterum…adversabor – this contradicts Tiberius’ earlier refusal to stoop to quod promptum rescriptu (leaving it for Livia to decide). The contradiction may be surprising, but Tiberius is often unable to sustain a coherent speech, and he has already made his feelings about the proposal abundantly clear.

English

In reply to this, Tiberius, having praised the piety of Sejanus and run through moderately his own kindnesses to him, and when he had requested time as though for full consideration, added: for other people, their decisions are based on this: what they consider to be in their own interests; that the lot of emperors, for whom important business needed to be directed with regards to public opinion, was different. For that reason, he was not resorting to that solution which was easy to reply: that Livia herself could decide whether she should be married after Drusus’ death or endure in the same household; she had a mother and a grandmother, more intimate advisers. He would act more straightforwardly, first concerning the animosities of Agrippina, which would burn far more fiercely if Livia’s marriage pulled apart the house of the Caesars into factions, so to speak. Even as it was, the ladies’ rivalry was breaking out, and his own grandchildren were being torn apart by this dissonance. What if the strife were intensified by such a marriage? ‘For you are wrong, Sejanus, if you think that you will remain in the same rank, and that Livia, who was married to Gaius Caesar and later to Drusus, will be of the mind to grow old with a Roman knight. Even if I were to allow it, do you think they would tolerate it, who saw her brother, who saw her father and our ancestors in the highest commands? Certainly, you wish to stay within that position: but those magistrates and leaders, who burst in on you against your will and consult about every matter, openly allege that you have long ago exceeded the pinnacle of an equestrian and have far outstripped the friendships of my father, and they criticise me through their resentment of you. But certainly, Augustus considered handing over his daughter to a Roman knight. By Hercules, is it any wonder, when he was being drawn away to every care and foresaw that whomever he raised above others by such a relationship would be massively elevated, if he discussed Gaius Proculeius and others who were of a distinguished tranquillity of life, involved in no affairs of the state! But if we are to be motivated by the hesitance of Augustus, how much stronger is the fact that he betrothed her to Marcus Agrippa, and later to me? And, for the sake of our friendship, I have not concealed these matters: but I will oppose neither your intentions not Livia’s. What I myself have been turning over within my mind, by what further ties I am preparing to unite you to me, I shall omit to mention for the present; I shall reveal only this: that there is nothing so lofty that those virtues and your feelings towards me do not deserve it, and, when the opportunity is given, I shall not keep silent, either in the senate or in a popular assembly.

Question

‘falleris enim, Seiane, si te mansurum in eodem ordine putas, et Liviam, quae C. Caesari, mox Druso nupta fuerit, ea mente acturam ut cum equite Romano senescat. ego ut sinam, credisne passuros qui fratrem eius, qui patrem maioresque nostros in summis imperiis videre? vis tu quidem istum intra locum sistere: sed illi magistratus et primores, qui te invitum perrumpunt omnibusque de rebus consulunt, excessisse iam pridem equestre fastigium longeque antisse patris mei amicitias non occulti ferunt perque invidiam tui me quoque incusant. at enim Augustus filiam suam equiti Romano tradere meditatus est. mirum hercule si, cum in omnis curas distraheretur immensumque attolli provideret quem coniunctione tali super alios extulisset, C. Proculeium et quosdam in sermonibus habuit insigni tranquillitate vitae, nullis rei publicae negotiis permixtos! sed si dubitatione Augusti movemur, quanto validius est quod Marco Agrippae, mox mihi conlocavit? atque ego haec pro amicitia non occultavi: ceterum neque tuis neque Liviae destinatis adversabor. ipse quid intra animum volutaverim, quibus adhuc necessitudinibus immiscere te mihi parem, omittam ad praesens referre: id tantum aperiam, nihil esse tam excelsum quod non virtutes istae tuusque in me animus mereantur, datoque tempore vel in senatu vel in contione non reticebo.’
Tacitus, Annals IV 40


(a) How does Tiberius turn down Sejanus’ request to marry Livia?

Marks are awarded for the quality of written communication in your answer. [25]




Suggested mark scheme


falleris – abrupt and to the point.

C. Caesari, mox Druso nupta fuerit – two illustrious names. Doubly reinforcing why Sejanus is inferior.

Liviam…ea mente acturam – makes Livia’s mind up for her.

ego ut sinam – a hypothesis which implies he does not approve.

credisne…? – rhetorical question addresses the outlandish nature of Sejanus’ proposal.

istum intra locum – disparaging about Sejanus’ social status.

41.

Sejanus targets Drusus.

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.