Puslapio vaizdai

and the sound of men's voices panting in olive-tree to one side and the sunlight fell a struggle, and a gasp, and the hurried on his fanks. Then he leaned forward noise of a pair of feet running away down and put his weight against the yoke, and the road.

patiently moved on around the beaten path For minutes more the little blind ass of that surrounded the clay mill. the 'dobe mill stood awaiting the word of "Dallying with the flowers is well command from his master. He could still enough,” he said to himself, “and I would scent the blossom fields close at hand. willingly stand all day; but wisdom comes From time to time he raised his long ears. with years, and I must get on my way, or No doubt his master had gone to pick I shall not reach the stable, with its sweet blossoms.

hay, by sunset." He stood until the sun, moving west- And around and around the beaten path ward, carried the shadow of the great trudged the little blind ass of the clay mill.

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Author of “The Greatness and Decline of Rome," etc.

"HE blackest and most tragic period pass into history as the worst period of the

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the death of Germanicus and the terrible time that the famous lex de majestate? scandal of the suit against Piso. It was to (on high treason), which had not been applied under Augustus, came to be fre- What in reality was the situation of quently invoked, and through its operation Tiberius after the death of Germanicus? atrocious accusations, scandalous trials, and We must grasp it well if we wish to unfrightful condemnations were multiplied derstand not only the cruelty of the accuin Rome, to the terror of all. Many com- sations brought under the law of high treamitted suicide in despair, and illustrious son, but also the whole family policy folfamilies were given over to ruin and in- lowed by the second emperor. It was he famy.

1 There was in the Roman legal system no public prose- quently oratory, an art much cultivated by the Romans, cutor and virtually no police. Every Roman citizen was triumphed over righteousness. In the earlier period the supposed to watch over the laws and see that they were ground on which charges were usually brought was malnot infringed. On his retirement from office, any gov- versation ; in the time of the empire they were also freernor or magistrate ran the risk of mpeached by quently brought under the above-mentioned law de majessome young aspirant to political honors, and not infre- tate. It has been said that this common act of accusation, years of his rule, despite all the efforts he whole history of the first empire, - were had put forth to govern well. His soliciunleashed when Tiberius was exalted to tude about maintaining a certain order the imperial dignity.

who had to bear the burden of the whole Posterity still holds Tiberius to account state, of the finances, of the supplies, of for these tragedies; his cruel and suspi- the army, of the home and foreign policies; cious tyranny is made responsible for these his was the will that propelled, and the accusations, for the suits which followed, mind that regulated, all. To him every and for the cruel condemnations in which portion of the empire and every social they ended. It is said that every free mind class had recourse, and it was to him that which still remembered ancient Roman they looked for redress for every wrong or liberty gave him umbrage and caused him inconvenience or danger. It was to him distress, and that he could suffer to have that the legions looked for their regular about him only slaves and hired assassins. stipend, the common people of Rome for But how far this is from the truth! How abundant grain, the senate for the preserpoorly the superficial judgment of poster- vation of boundaries and of the internal ity has understood the terrible tragedy of order; the provinces looked to him for the reign of Tiberius! We always forget justice, and the sovereign allies or vassals that Tiberius was the next Roman em- for the solution of all internal difficulties peror after Augustus; the first, that is, in which they became involved. These who had to bear the weight of the immense responsibilities were so numerous and so charge created by its founder, but without great that Tiberius, like Augustus, atthe immense prestige and respect which tempted to induce the senate to aid him by Augustus had derived from the extraor- assuming its share, according to the andinary good fortune of his life, from the cient constitution; but it was in vain, for critical moment in which he had taken the senate sought to shield itself, and alover the government, from the general ways left to him the heavier portion. opinion that he had ended the civil wars, Is it conceivable that a man could have brought peace back to an empire in travail, discharged so many responsibilities in and saved Rome from the imminent ruin times when the traditions of the governwith which Egypt and Cleopatra had ment were only beginning to take form if threatened it. For these reasons, while he had not possessed a commanding perAugustus lived, the envy, jealousy, rivalry, sonal authority, if he had not been the and hatred of the new authority were held object of profound and general respect? in check in his presence; but they were Augustus would not have been able to ever smoldering in the Roman aristocracy, govern so great an empire for more than which considered itself robbed of a part of forty years with such slight means had its privileges, and always felt itself humili- it not been for the fact, fortunate alike ated by this same authority, even when it for himself and for the state, that he did was necessary to submit to it in cases of enjoy this profound, sincere, and general supreme political necessity. But all this admiration. Tiberius, on the other hand, envy, all these jealousies, all these rival- who was already decidedly unpopular ries, -I have said it before, but it is well when he came into power, had seen this to repeat it, since the point is of capital unpopularity increase during the first six importance for the understanding of the

within the state was described as haughti

the birthright of the Roman citizen, the greatly esteemed palladium of Roman freedom, became the most convenient instrument of despotism. Since he who could bring a criminal to justice received a fourth of his possessions and estates, and since it brought the accuser into prominence,

delation was recklessly indulged in by the unscrupulous, both for the sake of gain and as a means of venting personal spite. The vice lay in the Roman system, and was not the invention of Tiberius. He could hardly have done away with it without overthrowing the whole Roman procedure.


ness and harshness, his preoccupation lest demned those accused under the lex de the precarious resources of the government majestate: they consider it an indication of be dissipated in useless expenditures was ignoble servility toward the emperor. Yet dubbed avarice, and the prudence which we know very well that the Roman senate had impelled him to restrain the rash pol- at that time was not composed merely of icy of expansion and aggression which adulators and hirelings; it still included Germanicus had tried to initiate beyond many men of intelligence and character. the Rhine was construed as envy and surly We can explain this severity only by admalignity. Against all considerations of mitting that there were many persons in justice, logic, or good sense, this accusation the senate who judged that the emperor was repeated, and now that destiny had cut could not be left defenseless against the down Germanicus, he was accused' sotto wild slanders of the great families, since voce of being responsible for his death by these extravagant and insidious calumnies many of the great families of Rome and compromised not only the prestige and the even in senatorial circles. They treated fame of the ruler, but also the tranquillity, it as most natural that through jealousy he the power, and the integrity of the empire. should poison his own nephew, his adopted Undoubtedly the lex de majestate did give son, the popular descendant of Drusus, the rise in time to false accusations, to private son of that virtuous Antonia, who was his reprisals, and to unjust sentences of conbest and most faithful friend! But if, demnation. Although it had been devised after having been accepted as true by the to defend the prestige of the state in the great families of Rome who sent it on its person of the magistrates who represented rounds, such a report had been allowed to it, the law was frequently invoked by sencirculate through the empire, how much ators who wished to vent their fiercest perauthority would have been left to an em- sonal hatreds. Yet we must go slow in peror who was suspected of so terrible a accusing Tiberius of these excesses. Tacicrime? How could he have maintained tus himself, who was averse to the emdiscipline in the army, of which he was peror, recounts several incidents which the head, and order among the people of show him in the act of intervening in trials Rome, of whom, as tribune, he was the of high treason for the benefit of the acgreat protector? How could he have di- cused precisely for the purpose of hinderrected, urged on, or restrained the senate, ing these excesses of private vengeance. of which he was, in the language of to-dayThe accounts which we have of many the president? The various Italian peo- other trials are so brief and so biased that ples from whom the army and the judges it is not fair for us to hazard a judgment. were drawn did not yet consider the head We do know, however, that after the of the state a being so superior to the laws death of Germanicus there was formed at that it would be permissible for him to Rome, in the imperial family and the sencommit crimes which were branded as dis- ate, a party of Agrippina, which began an gustingly repulsive to ordinary human implacable war upon Tiberius, and that nature.

Tiberius, the so-called tyrant, was at the No historian who understands the af- beginning very weak, undecided, and vacilfairs of the world in general, and the story lating in his resistance to this new opposiof the first century of the empire in par- tion. His opponents did not spare his ticular, will attribute to ferocity or to the person; they did their best to spread the tyrannical spirit of Tiberius the increas- belief that the emperor was a poisoner, and ingly harsh application of the lex de majes- persecuted him relentlessly with this tate which followed the death of Ger- calumny; they were already pushing formanicus and the trial of Piso. This harsh ward Nero, the first-born son of Gerness was the natural reaction against the manicus, though in 21 A.D. he was only delirium of atrocious calumnies against fourteen years old, in order that he might Tiberius which raged in the aristocracy in time be made the rival of Tiberius. of that time and especially in the house of The latter, indeed, tried at first to modeAgrippina.

rate the charges of high treason, his suToo credulous of Tacitus, many writers preme defense; he feigned that he did not have severely characterized the facility and know or did not see many things, and inthe severity with which the senate con- stead of resisting, he began to make long

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