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sojourns away from Rome, thus turning party of Agrippina, with its intrigues, and over the capital, in which the pretorian the weakness and uncertainty of Tiberius, guard remained, to the calumnies of his made of him, however, for a certain time, enemies. Of all these enemies the most a formidable power. It is not difficult to terrible was Agrippina, who, passionate, see whence this power arose. The loyalty vehement, without judgment, abused both of the pretorian guard, upon which dethe relationship which protected her and pended the security and the safety of the the pity which her misfortune had aroused. imperial authority, was one of the things She allowed no occasion for taunting Ti- which must seriously have preoccupied Tiberius with his pretended crime to escape berius, particularly in the face of the perher, using to this end not only words, but sistent and insidious intrigues and accusascenes and actions, which impressed the tions of the party of Agrippina. The public even more strongly than open ac- guard lived at Rome, in continual contact cusations could have done. A supper to with the senate and the imperial house. which Tiberius had invited her became Everything which was said in the senafamous at Rome, for at it she refused torial circles or in the palaces of the emobstinately and ostentatiously to touch any peror or of his relatives was quickly food or drink whatever, to the astonish- repeated among the cohorts, and the memment of the guests, who understood per- ory of Drusus and Germanicus was deeply fectly what her gestures meant. And such venerated by the pretorians. If the guard calumnies and such affronts Tiberius an- could have been persuaded that the emswered only with a weary and disdainful peror was a poisoner of his kindred, their inertia; at most, when his patience was loyalty would have been exposed to numexhausted, some bitter and concise reproof berless intrigues and attempts at seduction. would escape him.
In such a condition of affairs, a I have no doubt that Tiberius had re- mander of the guard who could inspire solved at the beginning to avoid all harsh Tiberius with a complete and absolute measures as far as possible ; for unpopular, trust might easily acquire a great influence misunderstood, and detested as he was, he over him. Sejanus knew how to inspire did not dare to use violence against a this trust. This was partly by reason of large part of the aristocracy and against his origin, for the equestrian order, on achis own house. Furthermore, Agrippina count of its ancient rivalry with the senawas the least intelligent of the women of torial nobility, was more favorably inclined the family, and her senseless opposition than the latter toward the imperial authorcould be tolerated as long as Livia and ity; and partly also on account of certain Antonia, the two really serious ladies of reforms which he had succeeded in introthe family, sided with Tiberius. But it is ducing into the pretorian guard. easy to understand that this situation could Once he had acquired the emperor's not long endure. A power which defends confidence, the ambitious and intelligent itself weakly against the attacks of its prefect of the pretorians proceeded to renenemies is destined to sink rapidly into a der himself indispensable in all things. decline, and the party of Agrippina would The moment was favorable ; Tiberius was therefore quickly have gained favor and becoming more and more wearied of his power had there not arisen, to sustain the many affairs, of his many struggles, of his vacillating strength of Tiberius, a man countless responsibilities; more and more whose name was to become sadly famous disgusted with Rome, with its society, with - Sejanus, the commander of the pre- the too frequent contacts with the men torian guard.
whom it was his fate to govern. He was Sejanus belonged to an obscure family in the earlier stages of that settled melanof knights—to what we should now call choly which grew deeper and deeper in the bourgeoisie. He was not a senator, the last ten years of his life, and which and he held no great political position; for had grown upon him as the result of long his charge as commander of the guard was antagonisms, of great bitterness, and of a purely military office. In ordinary times continual terrors and suspicions; and if it he would have remained a secondary per- is true that Tiberius was addicted to the sonage, exclusively concerned with the vice of heavy drinking, as we read in anexacting duties of his command; but the cient writers, the abuse of wine may also
have had its part in producing it. The to determine the triumph of Agrippina's man who for many years had done every- party. Now that his son had been taken thing for himself, who had never wished from him, where, if not among the sons to have either counselors or confidants of Germanicus and Agrippina, could Tiabout him, now that he was growing old, berius look for a successor ? And as a furneeded the support of younger energies and ther proof that Tiberius desired as far as of stronger wills. But in his family he possible to avoid conflict in the bosom of could rely only upon his son Drusus, who his family, he did not hesitate a moment, had now become a serious and trustworthy despite all the annoyances and difficulties man, and in the year 22 A.D. he asked the which he had suffered at the hands of senate that it concede to his son the tribu- Agrippina and her friends. He officially nician power; that is, that they make him recognized that in the sons of Germanicus his colleague. But the son did not suffice, were henceforth placed the future hopes and Sejanus therefore succeeded in making of his family and of the empire. Of the himself, together with Drusus, in fact, if two elder, Nero was now sixteen and not in name, the first and most active and Drusus was somewhat younger, though we influential collaborator and counselor of do not know his exact age. These he sumTiberius. He was even more active and moned to appear before the senate, and he influential than Drusus, for the latter was presented them to the assembly with a frequently absent on distant military mis- noble discourse the substance of which sions to the confines of the empire, while Tacitus has preserved for us, exhorting Sejanus, as commander of the pretorian the youths and the senate to fulfil their guard, was virtually always at Rome, respective duties for the greatness and the where the emperor now appeared less and prosperity of the republic. less frequently.
After the death of Drusus, therefore, a Such was the origin of the anomalous reconciliation became possible in the fampower of this man, who was not even a ily of the Cæsars. The latent rivalry besenator-a power which was the result of tween the families of Tiberius and Gerthe weakness of Tiberius and of the fierce manicus was extinguished. Indeed, even discords which divided the aristocracy; in the midst of the tears shed for the early and it was a power which must of neces- death of Drusus, a gleam of concord seenis sity prove disastrous, especially to the to have shone down upon the house desoparty of Agrippina and Germanicus. Al- lated by many tragedies, while Sejanus, though indications are not lacking that whose power depended upon the strife of there was no great harmony or friendship the factions, was for a moment set aside between Sejanus and Drusus, it is evident and driven back into the shadows. But it that Sejanus, as the energetic representa- was not to continue long; for soon the tive of the interests of Tiberius, must have flames of discord broke out more violently directed all his efforts against the friends
Whom shall we blame, Sejaof Agrippina, who was arousing the fierc- nus or Agrippina? Tacitus says that it est opposition to the emperor. But in the was the fault of Sejanus, whom he accuses year 23, an unforeseen event seemed sud- of having tried to destroy the descendants denly to change the situation and to ren- of Germanicus, in order to usurp their der possible a reconciliation between Ti- place: but he himself is forced to admit in berius and the party of Agrippina. This another passage (Annals iv., 59) that virwould necessarily diminish, if
, indeed, it tually a little court of freedmen and dedid not altogether destroy, Tiberius's need pendents gathered about Nero, the leader of Sejanus as collaborator at the very mo- of the sons of Germanicus, urging him on ment when the fortunes of the latter were against Tiberius and Sejanus, and begging in the ascendant. For in this year, Drusus him to act quickly. “This,” they said, “is also, like so many other members of his the will of the people, the desire of the family, died prematurely, at the age of armies. Nor would Sejanus, who was thirty-eight, and on this occasion, for the even then making light of the patience of time being, at least, no one raised the cry the old man and of the dilatoriness of the of poisoning. This unexpected misfortune youth, have dared to resist him.” From moved Tiberius profoundly, for he dearly such speeches it is only a short step to plans loved his son, and it seemed for a moment for rebellion and conspiracy. In all proba
bility the blame for this later and more bit- ment, a means of acquiring and consoliter dissension must, as usually happens, dating power. He had therefore disrupted be divided between the two factions. The his first family in order to contract this party of Agrippina, emboldened by its good marriage, which would have redoubled his fortune and by the weakness of Tiberius, power and his influence and have introwas, after the death of Drusus, aware of duced him into the imperial household. its own supremacy. Its members had only But his bold stroke failed, because Tiberius a single aim; even before it was possible refused; and he refused, Tacitus tells us, they wished to see Nero, the first-born son above all because he was afraid that this of Germanicus, in the position of Tiberius. marriage would still further irritate They therefore took up again their strug- Agrippina.
Agrippina. The emperor is supposed to gles and intrigues against Tiberius, and have told Sejanus that too many feminine attempted to incite Nero against the em- quarrels were already disturbing and agiperor. But this time Sejanus was block- tating the house of the Cæsars, to the ing their pathway. The death of Drusus serious detriment of his nephew's sons. had even further increased the trust and And what would happen, he asked, if this affection which the emperor had for his marriage should still further foment existassistant, and he was henceforth the only ing hatreds? Quid si intendatur certamen confidant and the only friend of the em- tali conjugio? The reply is significant, peror; a war without quarter between him because it proves to us that Tiberius, who and Agrippina, her sons and the party of is accused of harboring a fierce hate Germanicus, was inevitable.
against the sons of Germanicus and AgripSejanus began by attempting to ex- pina, was still seeking, two years after the clude from the magistracy and from office death of Drusus, to appease both factions, all the friends of Agrippina and all the attempting not to irritate his adversaries members of the opposing faction. At this and to preserve a reasonable equanimity in time it was difficult to arrive at any of the midst of these animosities and these the more important offices without being struggles. recommended to the senate by the em- In any case, Sejanus was refused, and peror, against whose choice the senate no this refusal was a slight success for the longer dared to rebel; since the emperor party of Agrippina, which, a year later, in was held responsible for the conduct of the 26, attempted on its own account an analogovernment, it was only just that he should gous move. Agrippina asked Tiberius for be allowed to select his more important permission to remarry. If we are to becollaborators. Sejanus was therefore able, lieve Tacitus, Agrippina made this request by using his influence over Tiberius, to on her own initiative, impelled by one of lay a thousand difficulties and obstacles in those numerous and more or less reasonathe way of even the legitimate ambitions ble caprices which were continually shootof the most eminent men of the opposite ing through her head. But are we to faction. Nor were these the only weapons suppose that suddenly, after a long widowemployed; others no less efficacious were hood, Agrippina put forth so strange a called into play, and intrigues, calumnies, proposal without any arrière-pensée whataccusations, and trials were set on foot ever? Furthermore, if this proposal had without scruple and with a ferocity the been merely the momentary caprice of a horror of which Tacitus has painted with whimsical woman, would it have been so indelible colors. Among these intrigues seriously debated in the imperial housetwo matrimonial projects must be men- hold, and would the daughter of Agriptioned. In the year 25, Sejanus attempted pina have recounted the episode in her a bold stroke; he repudiated his wife Api- memoirs? It is more probable that this cata, and asked Tiberius for the hand of marriage, too, had a political aim. By Livilla (Livia), the widow of Drusus. giving a husband to Agrippina, they were Sejanus had frequented the political aris- also seeking to give a leader to the antitocracy of the empire, and, despite his Tiberian party. The sons of Germanicus equestrian origin, was quick to adopt not were too young, and Agrippina was too only their ambitions and their manners, violent and tactless, to be able alone to but also their ideas on marriage. He, too, cope successfully with Sejanus, supported considered it as simply a political instru- as he was by Tiberius, by Livia, and by
Antonia. We can thus explain why Tibe- of ridiculous and infamous legend. He rius opposed and prevented the marriage: had dreamed of victories over the enemies Agrippina, unassisted, had caused him suf- of Rome, and he had to resign himself to ficient trouble; it would have been entirely struggling day and night against the hyssuperfluous for him to sanction her taking terical extravagance of Agrippina: he had to herself an official counselor in the guise to be content, even without the sure hope of a husband.
of success, if he could convince the maThis time Sejanus triumphed over the jority that he was not a poisoner. Authorill success of his rivals, and the struggle ity without glory or respect, power dicontinued in this manner between the two vorced from the means sufficient for its parties, but with an increasing advantage exercise-such was the situation in which to Sejanus. Beginning with the year 26, the successor of Augustus, the second emwe see numerous indications that the party peror, after twelve years of a difficult and of Agrippina and Germanicus was on the trying reign, found himself. He no longer decline. It was no longer able to resist felt himself safe at Rome, where he feared the blows and machinations of Sejanus, rightly or wrongly that his life was being who detached from it, one after another, continually threatened, and it is not astonall the men of any importance. He either ishing that, old, wearied, and disgusted, won them over to himself through his between the years 26 and 27 he should favors and his promises, or he frightened have retired definitely to Capri, seeking to them with his threats; and those who re- hide his misanthropy, his weariness, and sisted most tenaciously he destroyed with his disgust with men and things in the his suits.
wonderful little isle which a delightful caTiberius was the storm-center of these price of nature had set down in the lap of struggles, and contrary to what legend has the divine Bay of Naples. reported, he attempted as far as he was But instead of the peace he sought at able to prevent the two parties from going Capri, Tiberius found the infamy of histo extremes. But what pain, repugnance, tory. How dark and terrible are the and fatigue it must have cost him to memories of him associated with the make the effort necessary for maintaining charming isle, which, violet-tinted, on a last ray of reason and justice among so beautiful, sunny days emerges from an many evil passions, animosities, ambitions,
azure sea against an azure sky! That and rivalries ! It must have cost him fragment of paradise fallen upon the shore dearly, for he had grown up in the time of one of the most beautiful seas in the when the dream of a great restoration of world is said to have been for about ten the aristocracy was luring the upper years a hell of fierce cruelties and abomiclasses of Rome with its fairest and most nable vices. Tiberius passed sentence upon luminous smile. As a young man he had himself, in the opinion of posterity, when known and loved Vergil, Horace, and he secluded himself in Capri. Ought we, Livy, the two poets and the historian of without a further word, to transcribe this this great dream; like all the elect spirits sentence? There are, to be sure, no deof those now distant years, he had seen cisive arguments to prove false the acbehind this vision a great senate, a glorious counts about the horrors of Capri which and terrible army, an austere and revered the ancients, and especially Suetonius, have republic like that which Livy had pictured transmitted to us; there are some, howwith glowing colors in his immortal pages. ever, which make us mistrust and with
Instead of all this, he was now forced hold our judgment. Above all, we have to take his place at the head of this deca- the right to ask ourselves how, from dent and wretched nobility, which seemed whom, and by access to what sources did to be interested only in rending itself Suetonius and the other ancients learn so asunder with calumnies, denunciations, many extraordinary details. It must be suits, and scandalous condemnations, and remembered that all the great figures in which repaid him for all that he had done the history of Rome who had many eneand was still doing for its safety and the mies, like Sylla, Cæsar, Antony, and prosperity of the empire by directing Augustus himself, were accused of having against his name the most atrocious calum- scandalous habits. Precisely because the nies, the fiercest railleries, and every sort puritan tradition was strong at Rome,