Tacitus Histories I, 4-7, 12-14, 17-23 & 26


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Histories I

4-7, 12-14, 17-23 & 26

Tacitus

A Level Latin Group 1 text 2020 & 2021

Contents

4

Ceterum antequam destinata componam, repetendum videtur qualis status urbis, quae mens exercituum, quis habitus provinciarum, quid in toto terrarum orbe validum, quid aegrum fuerit, ut non modo casus eventusque rerum, qui plerumque fortuiti sunt, sed ratio etiam causaeque noscantur. finis Neronis ut laetus primo gaudentium impetu fuerat, ita varios motus animorum non modo in urbe apud patres aut populum aut urbanum militem, sed omnis legiones ducesque conciverat, evulgato imperii arcano posse principem alibi quam Romae fieri. sed patres laeti, usurpata statim libertate licentius ut erga principem novum et absentem; primores equitum proximi gaudio patrum; pars populi integra et magnis domibus adnexa, clientes libertique damnatorum et exulum in spem erecti: plebs sordida et circo ac theatris sueta, simul deterrimi servorum, aut qui adesis bonis per dedecus Neronis alebantur, maesti et rumorum avidi.

Ceterum antequam destinata componam, repetendum videtur qualis status urbis, quae mens exercituum, quis habitus provinciarum, quid in toto terrarum orbe validum, quid aegrum fuerit, ut non modo casus eventusque rerum, qui plerumque fortuiti sunt, sed ratio etiam causaeque noscantur. finis Neronis ut laetus primo gaudentium impetu fuerat, ita varios motus animorum non modo in urbe apud patres aut populum aut urbanum militem, sed omnis legiones ducesque conciverat, evulgato imperii arcano posse principem alibi quam Romae fieri. sed patres laeti, usurpata statim libertate licentius ut erga principem novum et absentem; primores equitum proximi gaudio patrum; pars populi integra et magnis domibus adnexa, clientes libertique damnatorum et exulum in spem erecti: plebs sordida et circo ac theatris sueta, simul deterrimi servorum, aut qui adesis bonis per dedecus Neronis alebantur, maesti et rumorum avidi.

Before, however, I begin the work that I have planned, I think that we should turn back and consider the condition of the city, the temper of the armies, the attitude of the provinces, the elements of strength and weakness in the entire world, that we may understand not only the incidents and the issues of events, which for the most part are due to chance, but also their reasons and causes. Although Nero’s death had at first been welcomed with outbursts of joy, it roused varying emotions, not only in the city among the senators and people and the city soldiery, but also among all the legions and generals; for the secret of empire was now revealed, that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome.11 The senators rejoiced and immediately made full use of their liberty, as was natural, for they had to do with a new emperor who was still absent. The leading members of the equestrian class were nearly as elated as the senators. The respectable part of the common people and those attached to the great houses, the clients and freedmen of those who had been condemned and driven into exile, were all roused to hope. The lowest classes, addicted to the circus and theatre, and with them the basest slaves, as well as those men who had wasted their property and, to their shame, were wont to depend on Nero’s bounty, were cast down and grasped at every rumour.

5

Miles urbanus longo Caesarum sacramento imbutus et ad destituendum Neronem arte magis et impulsu quam suo ingenio traductus, postquam neque dari donativum sub nomine Galbae promissum neque magnis meritis ac praemiis eundem in pace quem in bello locum praeventamque gra- tiam intellegit apud principem a legionibus factum, pronus ad novas res scelere insuper Nymphidii Sabini praefecti imperium sibi molientis agitatur. et Nymphidius quidem in ipso conatu oppressus, set quamvis capite defectionis ablato manebat plerisque militum conscientia, nec deerant sermones senium atque avaritiam Galbae increpantium. laudata olim et militari fama celebrata severitas eius angebat aspernantis veterem disciplinam atque ita quattuordecim annis a Nerone adsuefactos ut haud minus vitia principum amarent quam olim virtutes verebantur. accessit Galbae vox pro re publica honesta, ipsi anceps, legi a se militem, non emi; nec enim ad hanc formam cetera erant.

Miles urbanus longo Caesarum sacramento imbutus et ad destituendum Neronem arte magis et impulsu quam suo ingenio traductus, postquam neque dari donativum sub nomine Galbae promissum neque magnis meritis ac praemiis eundem in pace quem in bello locum praeventamque gra- tiam intellegit apud principem a legionibus factum, pronus ad novas res scelere insuper Nymphidii Sabini praefecti imperium sibi molientis agitatur. et Nymphidius quidem in ipso conatu oppressus, set quamvis capite defectionis ablato manebat plerisque militum conscientia, nec deerant sermones senium atque avaritiam Galbae increpantium. laudata olim et militari fama celebrata severitas eius angebat aspernantis veterem disciplinam atque ita quattuordecim annis a Nerone adsuefactos ut haud minus vitia principum amarent quam olim virtutes verebantur. accessit Galbae vox pro re publica honesta, ipsi anceps, legi a se militem, non emi; nec enim ad hanc formam cetera erant.

The city soldiery had long been accustomed to swear allegiance to the Caesars, and had been brought to desert Nero by clever pressure rather than by their own inclination. Now when they saw that the donative, which had been promised in Galba’s name, was not given them, that there were not the same opportunities for great services and rewards in peace as in war, and that the legions had already secured the favour of the emperor whom they had made, inclined as they were to support a revolution, they were further roused by the criminal action of Nymphidius Sabinus, the prefect, who was trying to secure the empire for himself. It is true that Nymphidius was crushed in his very attempt, but, though the head of the mutiny was thus removed, the majority of the soldiers were still conscious of their guilt, and there were plenty of men to comment unfavorably on Galba’s age and greed. His strictness, which had once been esteemed and had won the soldiers’ praise, now vexed them, for they rebelled against the old discipline; through fourteen years they had been trained by Nero to love the faults of the emperors not less than once they respected their virtues. Besides, there was the saying of Galba’s to the effect that he was wont to select, not buy, his soldiers — an honourable utterance in the interests of the state, but dangerous to himself; for everything else was at variance with such a standard.

6

Invalidum senem Titus Vinius et Cornelius Laco, alter deterrimus mortalium, alter ignavissimus, odio flagitiorum oneratum contemptu inertiae destruebant. tardum Galbae iter et cruentum, interfectis Cingonio Varrone consule designato et Petronio Turpiliano consulari: ille ut Nymphidii socius, hic ut dux Neronis, inauditi atque indefensi tamquam innocentes perierant. introitus in urbem trucidatis tot milibus inermium militum infaustus omine atque ipsis etiam qui occiderant formidolosus. inducta legione Hispana, remanente ea quam e classe Nero conscripserat, plena urbs exercitu insolito; multi ad hoc numeri e Germania ac Britannia et Illyrico, quos idem Nero electos praemissosque ad claustra Caspiarum et bellum, quod in Albanos parabat, opprimendis Vindicis coeptis revocaverat: ingens novis rebus materia, ut non in unum aliquem prono favore ita audenti parata.

Invalidum senem Titus Vinius et Cornelius Laco, alter deterrimus mortalium, alter ignavissimus, odio flagitiorum oneratum contemptu inertiae destruebant. tardum Galbae iter et cruentum, interfectis Cingonio Varrone consule designato et Petronio Turpiliano consulari: ille ut Nymphidii socius, hic ut dux Neronis, inauditi atque indefensi tamquam innocentes perierant. introitus in urbem trucidatis tot milibus inermium militum infaustus omine atque ipsis etiam qui occiderant formidolosus. inducta legione Hispana, remanente ea quam e classe Nero conscripserat, plena urbs exercitu insolito; multi ad hoc numeri e Germania ac Britannia et Illyrico, quos idem Nero electos praemissosque ad claustra Caspiarum et bellum, quod in Albanos parabat, opprimendis Vindicis coeptis revocaverat: ingens novis rebus materia, ut non in unum aliquem prono favore ita audenti parata.

Galba was weak and old. Titus Vinius and Cornelius Laco, the former the worst of men, the latter the laziest, proved his ruin, for he had to bear the burden of the hatred felt for the crimes of Titus and of men’s scorn for the lethargy of Cornelius. Galba’s approach to Rome had been slow and bloody: the consul-elect, Cingonius Varro, and Petronius Turpilianus, an ex-consul, had been put to death, Cingonius because he had been an accomplice of Nymphidius, Petronius as one of Nero’s generals: they were killed unheard and undefended, so that men believed them innocent. Galba’s entrance into Rome was ill-omened, because so many thousands of unarmed soldiers had been massacred, and this inspired fear in the very men who had been their murderers. A Spanish legion had been brought to Rome; the one that Nero had enrolled from the fleet was still there, so that the city was filled with an unusual force. In addition there were many detachments from Germany, Britain, and Illyricum, which Nero had likewise selected and sent to the Caspian Gates to take part in the campaign which he was preparing against the Albani; but he had recalled them to crush the attempt of Vindex. Here was abundant fuel for a revolution; while the soldiers’ favour did not incline to any individual, they were ready for the use of anyone who had the courage.

7

Forte congruerat ut Clodii Macri et Fontei Capitonis caedes nuntiarentur. Macrum in Africa haud dubie turbantem Trebonius Garutianus procurator iussu Galbae, Capito- nem in Germania, cum similia coeptaret, Cornelius Aquinus et Fabius Valens legati legionum interfecerant antequam iuberentur. fuere qui crederent Capitonem ut avaritia et libidine foedum ac maculosum ita cogitatione rerum novarum abstinuisse, sed a legatis bellum suadentibus, postquam impellere nequiverint, crimen ac dolum ultro compositum, et Galbam mobilitate ingenii, an ne altius scrutaretur, quoquo modo acta, quia mutari non poterant, comprobasse. ceterum utraque caedes sinistre accepta, et inviso semel principi seu bene seu male facta parem invidiam adferebant. venalia cuncta, praepotentes liberti, servorum manus subitis avidae et tamquam apud senem festinantes, eademque novae aulae mala, aeque gravia, non aeque excusata. ipsa aetas Galbae inrisui ac fastidio erat adsuetis iuventae Neronis et imperatores forma ac decore corporis, ut est mos vulgi, comparantibus.

Forte congruerat ut Clodii Macri et Fontei Capitonis caedes nuntiarentur. Macrum in Africa haud dubie turbantem Trebonius Garutianus procurator iussu Galbae, Capito- nem in Germania, cum similia coeptaret, Cornelius Aquinus et Fabius Valens legati legionum interfecerant antequam iuberentur. fuere qui crederent Capitonem ut avaritia et libidine foedum ac maculosum ita cogitatione rerum novarum abstinuisse, sed a legatis bellum suadentibus, postquam impellere nequiverint, crimen ac dolum ultro compositum, et Galbam mobilitate ingenii, an ne altius scrutaretur, quoquo modo acta, quia mutari non poterant, comprobasse. ceterum utraque caedes sinistre accepta, et inviso semel principi seu bene seu male facta parem invidiam adferebant. venalia cuncta, praepotentes liberti, servorum manus subitis avidae et tamquam apud senem festinantes, eademque novae aulae mala, aeque gravia, non aeque excusata. ipsa aetas Galbae inrisui ac fastidio erat adsuetis iuventae Neronis et imperatores forma ac decore corporis, ut est mos vulgi, comparantibus.

It happened too that the executions of Clodius Macer and Fonteius Capito were reported at this same time. Macer, who had unquestionably been making trouble in Africa, had been executed by Trebonius Garutianus, the imperial agent, at Galba’s orders. Capito, who was making similar attempts, had been executed in Germany by Cornelius Aquinus and Fabius Valens, the commanders of the legions, before they received orders to take such action. There were some who believed that, although Capito’s character was defiled and stained by greed and lust, he had still refrained from any thought of a revolution, but that the commanders who urged him to begin war had purposely invented the charge of treason against him when they found that they were unable to persuade him; and that Galba, either by his natural lack of decision, or to avoid a closer examination of the case, had approved what was done, regardless of the manner of it, simply because it could not be undone. But both executions were unfavourably received, and now that the emperor was once hated, his good and evil deeds alike brought him unpopularity. Everything was for sale; his freedmen were extremely powerful, his slaves clutched greedily after sudden gains with the impatience natural under so old a master. There were the same evils in the new court as in the old: they were equally burdensome, but they did not have an equal excuse. Galba’s very years aroused ridicule and scorn among those who were accustomed to Nero’s youth, and who, after the fashion of the vulgar, compared emperors by the beauty of their persons.

12

Paucis post kalendas Ianuarias diebus Pompei Propinqui procuratoris e Belgica litterae adferuntur, superioris Germaniae legiones rupta sacramenti reverentia imperatorem alium flagitare et senatui ac populo Romano arbitrium eligendi permittere quo seditio mollius acciperetur. maturavit ea res consilium Galbae iam pridem de adoptione secum et cum proximis agitantis. non sane crebrior tota civitate sermo per illos mensis fuerat, primum licentia ac libidine talia loquendi, dein fessa iam aetate Galbae. paucis iudicium aut rei publicae amor: multi stulta spe, prout quis amicus vel cliens, hunc vel illum ambitiosis rumoribus destinabant, etiam in Titi Vinii odium, qui in dies quanto potentior eodem actu invisior erat. quippe hiantis in magna fortuna amicorum cupiditates ipsa Galbae facilitas intendebat, cum apud infirmum et credulum minore metu et maiore praemio peccaretur.

Paucis post kalendas Ianuarias diebus Pompei Propinqui procuratoris e Belgica litterae adferuntur, superioris Germaniae legiones rupta sacramenti reverentia imperatorem alium flagitare et senatui ac populo Romano arbitrium eligendi permittere quo seditio mollius acciperetur. maturavit ea res consilium Galbae iam pridem de adoptione secum et cum proximis agitantis. non sane crebrior tota civitate sermo per illos mensis fuerat, primum licentia ac libidine talia loquendi, dein fessa iam aetate Galbae. paucis iudicium aut rei publicae amor: multi stulta spe, prout quis amicus vel cliens, hunc vel illum ambitiosis rumoribus destinabant, etiam in Titi Vinii odium, qui in dies quanto potentior eodem actu invisior erat. quippe hiantis in magna fortuna amicorum cupiditates ipsa Galbae facilitas intendebat, cum apud infirmum et credulum minore metu et maiore praemio peccaretur.

A few days after the first of January a despatch was brought from Pompeius Propinquus, imperial agent in Belgic Gaul, saying that the legions of Upper Germany had thrown off all regard for their oath of allegiance and were demanding another emperor, but that they left the choice to the senate and to the Roman people, that their disloyalty might be less seriously regarded. This news hastened Galba’s determination. He had already been considering with himself and his intimates the question of adopting a successor; indeed during the last few months nothing had been more frequently discussed throughout the state, first of all because of the licence and the passion which men now had for such talk, and secondly because Galba was already old and feeble. Few were guided by sound judgment or real patriotism; the majority, prompted by foolish hope, named in their selfish gossip this man or that whose clients or friends they were; they were also moved by hatred for Titus Vinius, whose unpopularity increased daily in proportion to his power. Moreover, Galba’s very amiability increased the cupidity of his friends, grown greedy in their high good fortune; since they were dealing with an infirm and confiding man, they had less to fear and more to hope from their wrong-doings.

13

Potentia principatus divisa in Titum Vinium consulem Cornelium Laconem praetorii praefectum; nec minor gratia Icelo Galbae liberto, quem anulis donatum equestri nomine Marcianum vocitabant. hi discordes et rebus minoribus sibi quisque tendentes, circa consilium eligendi successoris in duas factiones scindebantur. Vinius pro M. Othone, Laco atque Icelus consensu non tam unum aliquem fovebant quam alium. neque erat Galbae ignota Othonis ac Titi Vinii amicitia; et rumoribus nihil silentio transmittentium, quia Vinio vidua filia, caelebs Otho, gener ac socer destinabantur. credo et rei publicae curam subisse, frustra a Nerone translatae si apud Othonem relinqueretur. namque Otho pueritiam incuriose, adulescentiam petulanter egerat, gratus Neroni aemulatione luxus. eoque Poppaeam Sabinam, principale scortum, ut apud conscium libidinum deposuerat, donec Octaviam uxorem amoliretur. mox suspectum in eadem Pop- paea in provinciam Lusitaniam specie legationis seposuit. Otho comiter administrata provincia primus in partis transgressus nec segnis et, donec bellum fuit, inter praesentis splendidissimus, spem adoptionis statim conceptam acrius in dies rapiebat, faventibus plerisque militum, prona in eum aula Neronis ut similem.

Potentia principatus divisa in Titum Vinium consulem Cornelium Laconem praetorii praefectum; nec minor gratia Icelo Galbae liberto, quem anulis donatum equestri nomine Marcianum vocitabant. hi discordes et rebus minoribus sibi quisque tendentes, circa consilium eligendi successoris in duas factiones scindebantur. Vinius pro M. Othone, Laco atque Icelus consensu non tam unum aliquem fovebant quam alium. neque erat Galbae ignota Othonis ac Titi Vinii amicitia; et rumoribus nihil silentio transmittentium, quia Vinio vidua filia, caelebs Otho, gener ac socer destinabantur. credo et rei publicae curam subisse, frustra a Nerone translatae si apud Othonem relinqueretur. namque Otho pueritiam incuriose, adulescentiam petulanter egerat, gratus Neroni aemulatione luxus. eoque Poppaeam Sabinam, principale scortum, ut apud conscium libidinum deposuerat, donec Octaviam uxorem amoliretur. mox suspectum in eadem Pop- paea in provinciam Lusitaniam specie legationis seposuit. Otho comiter administrata provincia primus in partis transgressus nec segnis et, donec bellum fuit, inter praesentis splendidissimus, spem adoptionis statim conceptam acrius in dies rapiebat, faventibus plerisque militum, prona in eum aula Neronis ut similem.

The actual power of the principate was divided between Titus Vinius the consul and Cornelius Laco the praetorian prefect, nor was the influence of Icelus, Galba’s freedman, less than theirs. He had been presented with the ring of a knight, and people called him Marcianus, an equestrian name. These three quarrelled with one another, and in small matters each one worked for himself; but in the question of choosing a successor they were divided into two parties. Vinius favoured Marcus Otho; Laco and Icelus agreed not so much in favouring any particular person as in supporting someone other than Otho. Galba was not ignorant of the friendship between Otho and Titus Vinius; and the common gossip of the people, who let nothing pass in silence, was already naming Otho the son-in‑law and Vinius the father-in‑law, because the former was a bachelor and Vinius had an unmarried daughter. I can believe that Galba cherished also some thought for the state, which had been wrested from Nero in vain if it were to be left in the hands of an Otho. For Otho had spent his boyhood in heedlessness, his early manhood under no restraint. He had found favour in Nero’s eyes by imitating his extravagance; therefore Nero had left with him, privy as he was to his debaucheries, Poppaea Sabina, the imperial mistress, until he could get rid of his wife Octavia. Later the emperor suspected him in relation to this same Poppaea and removed him to the province of Lusitania, ostensibly as governor. He administered the province acceptably, but he was the first to join Galba’s party and he was not an inactive partisan. So long as war lasted he was the most brilliant of all Galba’s immediate supporters, and now, as soon as he had once conceived the hope of being adopted by Galba, he desired it more keenly every day that passed. The majority of the soldiers favoured him, and Nero’s court was inclined to him because he was like Nero.

14

Sed Galba post nuntios Germanicae seditionis, quamquam nihil adhuc de Vitellio certum, anxius quonam exercituum vis erumperet, ne urbano quidem militi confisus, quod remedium unicum rebatur, comitia imperii transigit; adhibitoque super Vinium ac Laconem Mario Celso consule designato ac Ducenio Gemino praefecto urbis, pauca praefatus de sua senectute, Pisonem Licinianum accersiri iubet, seu propria electione sive, ut quidam crediderunt, Lacone instante, cui apud Rubellium Plautum exercita cum Pisone amicitia; sed callide ut ignotum fovebat, et prospera de Pisone fama consilio eius fidem addiderat. Piso M. Crasso et Scribonia genitus, nobilis utrimque, vultu habituque moris antiqui et aestimatione recta severus, deterius interpretantibus tristior habebatur: ea pars morum eius quo suspectior sollicitis adoptanti placebat.

Sed Galba post nuntios Germanicae seditionis, quamquam nihil adhuc de Vitellio certum, anxius quonam exercituum vis erumperet, ne urbano quidem militi confisus, quod remedium unicum rebatur, comitia imperii transigit; adhibitoque super Vinium ac Laconem Mario Celso consule designato ac Ducenio Gemino praefecto urbis, pauca praefatus de sua senectute, Pisonem Licinianum accersiri iubet, seu propria electione sive, ut quidam crediderunt, Lacone instante, cui apud Rubellium Plautum exercita cum Pisone amicitia; sed callide ut ignotum fovebat, et prospera de Pisone fama consilio eius fidem addiderat. Piso M. Crasso et Scribonia genitus, nobilis utrimque, vultu habituque moris antiqui et aestimatione recta severus, deterius interpretantibus tristior habebatur: ea pars morum eius quo suspectior sollicitis adoptanti placebat.

But after Galba received word of the disloyal movement in Germany, though he had as yet no certain news with regard to Vitellius, he was distressed as to the possible outcome of the army’s violence, and had no confidence even in the soldiers within the city. So he held a kind of imperial comitia, which he regarded as his only remedy. Besides Vinius and Laco, he called Marius Celsus, the consul-elect, and Ducenius Geminus, the city prefect. He first spoke briefly of his own advanced years, then directed that Licinianus Piso should be called in, either because he was his own choice, or, as some believed, owing to the insistence of Laco, who had formed an intimate friendship with Piso at the house of Rubellius Plautus. But Laco cleverly supported Piso as if he were a stranger, and Piso’s good reputation added weight to Laco’s advice. Piso was the son of Marcus Crassus and Scribonia, thus being noble on both sides; his look and manner were those of a man of the ancient school, and he had justly been called stern; those who took a harsher view regarded him as morose, but this element in his character, which caused the anxious to suspect him, recommended him to Galba for adoption.

17

Pisonem ferunt statim intuentibus et mox coniectis in eum omnium oculis nullum turbati aut exultantis animi motum prodidisse. sermo erga patrem imperatoremque reverens, de se moderatus; nihil in vultu habituque mutatum, quasi imperare posset magis quam vellet. consultatum inde, pro rostris an in senatu an in castris adoptio nuncuparetur. iri in castra placuit: honorificum id militibus fore, quorum favorem ut largitione et ambitu male adquiri, ita per bonas artis haud spernendum. circumsteterat interim Palatium publica expectatio, magni secreti impatiens; et male coercitam famam supprimentes augebant.

Pisonem ferunt statim intuentibus et mox coniectis in eum omnium oculis nullum turbati aut exultantis animi motum prodidisse. sermo erga patrem imperatoremque reverens, de se moderatus; nihil in vultu habituque mutatum, quasi imperare posset magis quam vellet. consultatum inde, pro rostris an in senatu an in castris adoptio nuncuparetur. iri in castra placuit: honorificum id militibus fore, quorum favorem ut largitione et ambitu male adquiri, ita per bonas artis haud spernendum. circumsteterat interim Palatium publica expectatio, magni secreti impatiens; et male coercitam famam supprimentes augebant.

People report that Piso gave no sign of anxiety or exaltation, either before those who were looking on at the time or afterward when the eyes of all were upon him. He answered with the reverence due to a father and an emperor; he spoke modestly about himself. There was no change in his look or dress; he seemed like one who had the ability rather than the desire to be emperor. The question was then discussed whether his adoption should be proclaimed from the rostra or in the senate or in the praetorian camp. It was decided to go to the camp, for this act, they thought, would be a mark of honour toward the soldiers, whose support, when gained through good arts, was not to be despised, however base it was to seek it by bribery and canvassing. In the meantime an expectant crowd had gathered around the palace, impatient to learn the great secret, while the unsuccessful efforts of those who wished to check the rumour only increased it.

18

Quartum idus Ianuarias, foedum imbribus diem, tonitrua et fulgura et caelestes minae ultra solitum turbaverunt. observatum id antiquitus comitiis dirimendis non terruit Galbam quo minus in castra pergeret, contemptorem talium ut fortuitorum; seu quae fato manent, quamvis significata, non vitantur. apud frequentem militum contionem imperatoria brevitate adoptari a se Pisonem exemplo divi Augusti et more militari, quo vir virum legeret, pronuntiat. ac ne dissimulata seditio in maius crederetur, ultro adseverat quartam et duoetvicensimam legiones, paucis seditionis auctoribus, non ultra verba ac voces errasse et brevi in officio fore. nec ullum orationi aut lenocinium addit aut pretium. tribuni tamen centurionesque et proximi militum grata auditu respondent: per ceteros maestitia ac silentium, tamquam usurpatam etiam in pace donativi necessitatem bello perdidissent. constat potuisse conciliari animos quantulacumque parci senis liberalitate: nocuit antiquus rigor et nimia severitas, cui iam pares non sumus.

Quartum idus Ianuarias, foedum imbribus diem, tonitrua et fulgura et caelestes minae ultra solitum turbaverunt. observatum id antiquitus comitiis dirimendis non terruit Galbam quo minus in castra pergeret, contemptorem talium ut fortuitorum; seu quae fato manent, quamvis significata, non vitantur. apud frequentem militum contionem imperatoria brevitate adoptari a se Pisonem exemplo divi Augusti et more militari, quo vir virum legeret, pronuntiat. ac ne dissimulata seditio in maius crederetur, ultro adseverat quartam et duoetvicensimam legiones, paucis seditionis auctoribus, non ultra verba ac voces errasse et brevi in officio fore. nec ullum orationi aut lenocinium addit aut pretium. tribuni tamen centurionesque et proximi militum grata auditu respondent: per ceteros maestitia ac silentium, tamquam usurpatam etiam in pace donativi necessitatem bello perdidissent. constat potuisse conciliari animos quantulacumque parci senis liberalitate: nocuit antiquus rigor et nimia severitas, cui iam pares non sumus.

The tenth of January, a day of heavy rain, was made dreadful by thunder, lightning, and unusual threats from heaven. In earlier times notice of these things would have broken up an election, but they did not deter Galba from going to the praetorian camp, for he despised these things as mere chance; or else the truth is that we cannot avoid the fixed decrees of fate, by whatever signs revealed. Before a crowded gathering of the soldiers, with the brevity that became an emperor, he announced that he was adopting Piso after the precedent set by the deified Augustus, and following the military custom by which one man chose another. And to prevent an exaggerated idea of the revolt by attempting to conceal it, he went on to say that the Fourth and Twenty-second legions had been led astray by a few seditious leaders, but their errors had not passed beyond words and cries, and presently they would be under discipline. He added no flattery of the soldiers, nor made mention of a gift. Yet the tribunes, centurions, and soldiers nearest him answered in a satisfactory manner; but among all the rest of the soldiers there was a gloomy silence, for they felt that they had lost through war the right to a gift which had been theirs even in times of peace. There is no question that their loyalty could have been won by the slightest generosity on the part of this stingy old man. He was ruined by his old-fashioned strictness and excessive severity — qualities which we can no longer bear.

19

Inde apud senatum non comptior Galbae, non longior quam apud militem sermo: Pisonis comis oratio. et patrum favor aderat: multi voluntate, effusius qui noluerant, medii ac plurimi obvio obsequio, privatas spes agitantes sine publica cura. nec aliud sequenti quadriduo, quod medium inter adoptionem et caedem fuit, dictum a Pisone in publico factumve. crebrioribus in dies Germanicae defectionis nuntiis et facili civitate ad accipienda credendaque omnia nova cum tristia sunt, censuerant patres mittendos ad Germanicum exercitum legatos. agitatum secreto num et Piso proficisceretur, maiore praetextu, illi auctoritatem senatus, hic dignationem Caesaris laturus. placebat et Laconem praetorii praefectum simul mitti: is consilio intercessit. legati quoque (nam senatus electionem Galbae permiserat) foeda inconstantia nominati, excusati, substituti, ambitu remanendi aut eundi, ut quemque metus vel spes impulerat.

Inde apud senatum non comptior Galbae, non longior quam apud militem sermo: Pisonis comis oratio. et patrum favor aderat: multi voluntate, effusius qui noluerant, medii ac plurimi obvio obsequio, privatas spes agitantes sine publica cura. nec aliud sequenti quadriduo, quod medium inter adoptionem et caedem fuit, dictum a Pisone in publico factumve. crebrioribus in dies Germanicae defectionis nuntiis et facili civitate ad accipienda credendaque omnia nova cum tristia sunt, censuerant patres mittendos ad Germanicum exercitum legatos. agitatum secreto num et Piso proficisceretur, maiore praetextu, illi auctoritatem senatus, hic dignationem Caesaris laturus. placebat et Laconem praetorii praefectum simul mitti: is consilio intercessit. legati quoque (nam senatus electionem Galbae permiserat) foeda inconstantia nominati, excusati, substituti, ambitu remanendi aut eundi, ut quemque metus vel spes impulerat.

Galba’s speech to the senate was as bald and brief as his address to the soldiers. Piso spoke with grace; and the senators showed their approval. Many did this from good-will, those who had opposed the adoption with more effusion, the indifferent — and they were the most numerous — with ready servility, for they had their private hopes in mind and cared nothing for the state. During the four days that followed between his adoption and murder Piso said and did nothing further in public. More frequent reports of the revolt in Germany arrived every day, and since the citizens were ready to accept and believe anything strange and bad, the senate voted to send a delegation to the army in Germany. There was a secret discussion as to whether Piso also should go, that so the mission might be more imposing: the other members would take with them the authority of the senate, Piso the dignity of a Caesar. They voted to send Laco also, the prefect of the praetorian cohort; but he vetoed their plan. The senate had left the choice of members to Galba. With disgraceful lack of firmness he named men, excused them, made substitutions, as they pleaded with him to stay or go, according to their fears or hopes.

20

Proxima pecuniae cura; et cuncta scrutantibus iustissimum visum est inde repeti ubi inopiae causa erat. bis et viciens miliens sestertium donationibus Nero effuderat: appellari singulos iussit, decima parte liberalitatis apud quemque eorum relicta. at illis vix decimae super portiones erant, isdem erga aliena sumptibus quibus sua prodegerant, cum rapacissimo cuique ac perditissimo non agri aut faenus sed sola instrumenta vitiorum manerent. exactioni triginta equites Romani praepositi, novum officii genus et ambitu ac numero onerosum: ubique hasta et sector, et inquieta urbs actionibus. ac tamen grande gaudium quod tam pauperes forent quibus donasset Nero quam quibus abstulisset. exauctorati per eos dies tribuni, e praetorio Antonius Taurus et Antonius Naso, ex urbanis cohortibus Aemilius Pacensis, e vigilibus Iulius Fronto. nec remedium in ceteros fuit, sed metus initium, tamquam per artem et formidine singuli pellerentur, omnibus suspectis.

Proxima pecuniae cura; et cuncta scrutantibus iustissimum visum est inde repeti ubi inopiae causa erat. bis et viciens miliens sestertium donationibus Nero effuderat: appellari singulos iussit, decima parte liberalitatis apud quemque eorum relicta. at illis vix decimae super portiones erant, isdem erga aliena sumptibus quibus sua prodegerant, cum rapacissimo cuique ac perditissimo non agri aut faenus sed sola instrumenta vitiorum manerent. exactioni triginta equites Romani praepositi, novum officii genus et ambitu ac numero onerosum: ubique hasta et sector, et inquieta urbs actionibus. ac tamen grande gaudium quod tam pauperes forent quibus donasset Nero quam quibus abstulisset. exauctorati per eos dies tribuni, e praetorio Antonius Taurus et Antonius Naso, ex urbanis cohortibus Aemilius Pacensis, e vigilibus Iulius Fronto. nec remedium in ceteros fuit, sed metus initium, tamquam per artem et formidine singuli pellerentur, omnibus suspectis.

The next anxiety was with regard to finances. After full consideration it seemed fairest to look for money from the sources where the cause of the poverty lay. Twenty-two hundred million sesterces had been squandered by Nero in gifts. It was voted that individuals should be summoned, and that a tenth part of the gifts which Nero had made them should be left with each. But Nero’s favourites had hardly one-tenth left, for they had wasted the money of others on the same extravagances as they had their own; the most greedy and depraved had neither lands nor principal, but only what would minister to their vices. Thirty Roman knights were appointed to collect the money. This was a new office, and a burden because of the number and intrigue of its members. Everywhere there were auctions and speculators, and the city was disturbed by lawsuits. And yet there was great joy that those who had received gifts from Nero were going to be as poor as those from whom he had taken the money. During these same days four tribunes were dismissed, Antonius Taurus and Antonius Naso from the praetorian cohorts, from the city cohorts Aemilius Pacensis, and Julius Fronto from the police. This action was no assistance against the rest, but it did arouse their fears: individuals, they thought, were being driven from office craftily and cautiously one by one, because all were suspected.

21

Interea Othonem, cui compositis rebus nulla spes, omne in turbido consilium, multa simul extimulabant, luxuria etiam principi onerosa, inopia vix privato toleranda, in Galbam ira, in Pisonem invidia; fingebat et metum quo magis concupisceret: praegravem se Neroni fuisse, nec Lusitaniam rursus et alterius exilii honorem expectandum. suspectum semper invisumque dominantibus qui proximus destinaretur. nocuisse id sibi apud senem principem, magis nociturum apud iuvenem ingenio trucem et longo exilio efferatum: occidi Othonem posse. proinde agendum audendumque, dum Galbae auctoritas fluxa, Pisonis nondum coaluisset. opportunos magnis conatibus transitus rerum, nec cunctatione opus, ubi perniciosior sit quies quam temeritas. mortem omnibus ex natura aequalem oblivione apud posteros vel gloria distingui; ac si nocentem innocentemque idem exitus maneat, acrioris viri esse merito perire.

Interea Othonem, cui compositis rebus nulla spes, omne in turbido consilium, multa simul extimulabant, luxuria etiam principi onerosa, inopia vix privato toleranda, in Galbam ira, in Pisonem invidia; fingebat et metum quo magis concupisceret: praegravem se Neroni fuisse, nec Lusitaniam rursus et alterius exilii honorem expectandum. suspectum semper invisumque dominantibus qui proximus destinaretur. nocuisse id sibi apud senem principem, magis nociturum apud iuvenem ingenio trucem et longo exilio efferatum: occidi Othonem posse. proinde agendum audendumque, dum Galbae auctoritas fluxa, Pisonis nondum coaluisset. opportunos magnis conatibus transitus rerum, nec cunctatione opus, ubi perniciosior sit quies quam temeritas. mortem omnibus ex natura aequalem oblivione apud posteros vel gloria distingui; ac si nocentem innocentemque idem exitus maneat, acrioris viri esse merito perire.

In the meantime Otho, who had nothing to hope from a peaceful arrangement, and whose purpose depended wholly on disorder, was spurred on by many considerations. His extravagance was such as would have burdened an emperor, his poverty a private citizen could hardly have borne. He was angry toward Galba and jealous of Piso. He invented fears also to give his greed greater scope. He said that he had been formidable to Nero, and that he could not look again for Lusitania and the honour of a second exile; that tyrants always suspected and hated the man who was marked out as their successor; this had already injured him with the aged emperor, and was going to injure him still more with the young one, who was cruel by nature and embittered by long exile. An Otho could be murdered; therefore he must be bold and act while Galba’s authority was still weak and Piso’s not yet established; this time of transition was opportune for great attempts, and a man must not delay when inactivity is more ruinous than rash action. Death nature ordains for all alike; but it differs as it brings either oblivion or glory in after ages; and if the same end awaits the guilty and the innocent, it is the duty of a man of superior vigour to deserve his death.

22

Non erat Othonis mollis et corpori similis animus. et intimi libertorum servorumque, corruptius quam in privata domo habiti, aulam Neronis et luxus, adulteria, matrimonia ceterasque regnorum libidines avido talium, si auderet, ut sua ostentantes, quiescenti ut aliena exprobrabant, urgentibus etiam mathematicis, dum novos motus et clarum Othoni annum observatione siderum adfirmant, genus hominum potentibus infidum, sperantibus fallax, quod in civitate nostra et vetabitur semper et retinebitur. multos secreta Poppaeae mathematicos, pessimum principalis matrimonii instrumentum, habuerant: e quibus Ptolemaeus Othoni in Hispania comes, cum superfuturum eum Neroni promisisset, postquam ex eventu fides, coniectura iam et rumore senium Galbae et iuventam Othonis computantium persuaserat fore ut in imperium adscisceretur. sed Otho tamquam peritia et monitu fatorum praedicta accipiebat, cupidine ingenii humani libentius obscura credendi. nec deerat Ptolemaeus, iam et sceleris instinctor, ad quod facillime ab eius modi voto transitur.

Non erat Othonis mollis et corpori similis animus. et intimi libertorum servorumque, corruptius quam in privata domo habiti, aulam Neronis et luxus, adulteria, matrimonia ceterasque regnorum libidines avido talium, si auderet, ut sua ostentantes, quiescenti ut aliena exprobrabant, urgentibus etiam mathematicis, dum novos motus et clarum Othoni annum observatione siderum adfirmant, genus hominum potentibus infidum, sperantibus fallax, quod in civitate nostra et vetabitur semper et retinebitur. multos secreta Poppaeae mathematicos, pessimum principalis matrimonii instrumentum, habuerant: e quibus Ptolemaeus Othoni in Hispania comes, cum superfuturum eum Neroni promisisset, postquam ex eventu fides, coniectura iam et rumore senium Galbae et iuventam Othonis computantium persuaserat fore ut in imperium adscisceretur. sed Otho tamquam peritia et monitu fatorum praedicta accipiebat, cupidine ingenii humani libentius obscura credendi. nec deerat Ptolemaeus, iam et sceleris instinctor, ad quod facillime ab eius modi voto transitur.

Otho’s mind was not effeminate like his body. His intimate freedmen and slaves, who had more licence than prevails in private houses, constantly held before his eager eyes Nero’s luxurious court, his adulteries, his many marriages, and other royal vices, exhibiting them as his own if he only dared to take them, but taunting him with them as the privilege of others if he did not act. The astrologers also — a tribe of men most untrustworthy for the powerful, deceitful towards the ambitious, a tribe which in our state will always be both forbidden and retained — they also urged him on, declaring from their observation of the stars that there were new movements on foot, and that the year would be a glorious one for Otho. Many of these astrologers, the worst possible tools for an imperial consort, had shared Poppaea’s secret plans, and one them, Ptolemy, who had been with Otho in Spain, had promised him that he should survive Nero. Having won credit by the event, he had then, employing his own conjectures and the gossip of those who compared Galba’s old age and Otho’s youth, persuaded Otho that he would be called to the imperial office. But Otho accepted his prophecies as if they were genuine warnings of fate disclosed by Ptolemy’s skill, for human nature is especially eager to believe the mysterious. And Ptolemy did not fail to do his part; he was already urging Otho even to crime, to which from such aspirations the transition is most easily made.

23

Sed sceleris cogitatio incertum an repens: studia militum iam pridem spe successionis aut paratu facinoris adfectaverat, in itinere, in agmine, in stationibus vetustissimum quemque militum nomine vocans ac memoria Neroniani comitatus contubernalis appellando; alios agnoscere, quosdam requirere et pecunia aut gratia iuvare, inserendo saepius querelas et ambiguos de Galba sermones quaeque alia turbamenta vulgi. labores itinerum, inopia commeatuum, duritia imperii atrocius accipiebantur, cum Campaniae lacus et Achaiae urbes classibus adire soliti Pyrenaeum et Alpes et immensa viarum spatia aegre sub armis eniterentur.

Sed sceleris cogitatio incertum an repens: studia militum iam pridem spe successionis aut paratu facinoris adfectaverat, in itinere, in agmine, in stationibus vetustissimum quemque militum nomine vocans ac memoria Neroniani comitatus contubernalis appellando; alios agnoscere, quosdam requirere et pecunia aut gratia iuvare, inserendo saepius querelas et ambiguos de Galba sermones quaeque alia turbamenta vulgi. labores itinerum, inopia commeatuum, duritia imperii atrocius accipiebantur, cum Campaniae lacus et Achaiae urbes classibus adire soliti Pyrenaeum et Alpes et immensa viarum spatia aegre sub armis eniterentur.

Yet it is uncertain whether the idea of committing crime came suddenly to Otho; he had long been trying to win popularity with the soldiers because he hoped for the succession or was preparing some bold step. On the march, at review, or in camp he addressed all the oldest soldiers by name, and, reminding them that they had attended Nero together, he called them messmates. Others he recognized, some he asked after and helped with money or influence; oftentimes he let drop words of complaint and remarks of a double meaning concerning Galba, and did other things that tended to disturb the common soldiery. For they were grumbling seriously over the toilsome marches, the lack of supplies, and the hard discipline. The men who had been in the habit of going by ship to the lakes of Campania and the cities of Achaia found it hard to climb the Pyrenees and the Alps under arms and to cover endless marches along the high roads.

26

Infecit ea tabes legionum quoque et auxiliorum motas iam mentis, postquam vulgatum erat labare Germanici exercitus fidem. adeoque parata apud malos seditio, etiam apud integros dissimulatio fuit, ut postero iduum die redeuntem a cena Othonem rapturi fuerint, ni incerta noctis et tota urbe sparsa militum castra nec facilem inter temulentos consensum timuissent, non rei publicae cura, quam foedare principis sui sanguine sobrii parabant, sed ne per tenebras, ut quisque Pannonici vel Germanici exercitus militibus oblatus esset, ignorantibus plerisque, pro Othone destinaretur. multa erumpentis seditionis indicia per conscios oppressa: quaedam apud Galbae auris praefectus Laco elusit, ignarus militarium animorum consiliique quamvis egregii, quod non ipse adferret, inimicus et adversus peritos pervicax.

Infecit ea tabes legionum quoque et auxiliorum motas iam mentis, postquam vulgatum erat labare Germanici exercitus fidem. adeoque parata apud malos seditio, etiam apud integros dissimulatio fuit, ut postero iduum die redeuntem a cena Othonem rapturi fuerint, ni incerta noctis et tota urbe sparsa militum castra nec facilem inter temulentos consensum timuissent, non rei publicae cura, quam foedare principis sui sanguine sobrii parabant, sed ne per tenebras, ut quisque Pannonici vel Germanici exercitus militibus oblatus esset, ignorantibus plerisque, pro Othone destinaretur. multa erumpentis seditionis indicia per conscios oppressa: quaedam apud Galbae auris praefectus Laco elusit, ignarus militarium animorum consiliique quamvis egregii, quod non ipse adferret, inimicus et adversus peritos pervicax.

This infection touched the loyalty of the legions also and of the auxiliaries, who were already unsettled, now that it was a matter of common knowledge that the army in Germany was disaffected. And so ready were the ill-disposed for revolt and even the loyal to wink at wrong-doing, that on the fourteenth of January they planned to carry off Otho as he was returning from dinner, and would have done so if they had not been deterred by the uncertainty of night, by the dispersion of the soldiers in detachments scattered through the whole city, and by the difficulties of common action when men are in their cups. They were not influenced by any anxiety for the state, for in their sober senses they were preparing to pollute it with the blood of their emperor; but they feared that in the darkness any man who fell in the way of the soldiers from Pannonia or Germany might be proclaimed as Otho, for the majority did not know him. There were many signs of the outbreak of the revolt, but these were repressed by the plotters. Some things reached Galba’s ears, but the prefect Laco made light of them; he was unacquainted with the soldiers’ spirit, and he was opposed to any plan, however excellent, which he did not himself propose, and obstinate against those who knew better than himself.