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PORTRAIT OF THE
THE WOMEN OF THE CÆSARS
THIRD PAPER: THE DAUGHTERS OF AGRIPPA
BY GUGLIELMO FERRERO
IBERIUS1 had now broken with Augustus, he had lost the support of public opinion, he was hated by the majority of the senate. At Rhodes he soon found himself, therefore, in the awkward position of one who through a false move has played into the hands of his enemies and sees no way of recovering his position. It had been easy to leave Rome; to reënter it was difficult, and in all probability his fortune would have been forever compromised, and he would never have become emperor, had it not been for the fact that in the midst of this general defection two women remained faithful. They were his mother, Livia, and his sister-in-law, Antonia, the widow of that brother Drusus who, dying in his youth, had carried to his grave the hopes of Rome.
Antonia was the daughter of the emperor's sister Octavia and of Mark Antony, the famous triumvir whose name remains forever linked in story with that of Cleopatra. This daughter of Antony was certainly the noblest and the gentlest of all the women who appear in the lugubrious and tragic history of the family of the Cæsars. Serious, modest, and even-tempered, she was likewise endowed with beauty and virtue, and she brought into the family and into its struggles a spirit of concord, serenity of mind, and sweet reasonableness, though they could not always prevail against the violent passions and clashing interests of those about her. As long as Drusus lived, Drusus and Antonia had been for the Romans the model of the devoted pair of lovers, and their tender affection had become proverbial; yet the Roman multitude, always given to
admiring the descendants of the great families, was even more deeply impressed by the beauty, the virtue, the sweetness, the modesty, and the reserve of Antonia. After the death of Drusus, she did not wish to marry again, even though the lex de maritandis ordinibus made it a duty. "Young and beautiful," wrote Valerius Maximus, "she withdrew to a life of retirement in the company of Livia, and the same bed which had seen the death of the youthful husband saw his faithful spouse grow old in an austere widowhood." Augustus and the people were so touched by this supreme proof of fidelity to the memory of the ever-cherished husband that by the common consent of public opinion she was relieved of the necessity of remarrying; and Augustus himself, who had always carefully watched over the observance of the marital law in his own family, did not dare insist. Whether living at her villa of Bauli, where she spent the larger part of her year, or at Rome, the beautiful widow gave her attention to the bringing up of her three children, Germanicus, Livilla, and Claudius. Ever since the death of Octavia, she had worshiped Livia as a mother and lived in the closest intimacy with her, and, withdrawn from public life, she attempted now to bring a spirit of peace into the torn and tragic family.
Antonia was very friendly with Tiberius, who, on his side, felt the deepest sympathy and respect for his beautiful and virtuous sister-in-law. It cannot be doubted, therefore, that in this crisis Antonia, who was bound to Livia by many ties, must have taken sides for Livia's son Tiberius. But Antonia was too gentle
1 In the June paper on Tiberius's mother, Livia, and his step-sister, Julia (the daughter of Augustus by a former wife), Professor Ferrero described the intrigues of these two women, the first for the advancement of Tiberius
to the place of heir of Augustus, and the second to secure the place for her son Caius Cæsar.
brother Caius. Private interest soon allied itself with the hatred and rancor against Tiberius; and scarcely had he departed when the senate increased the appropriation for public supplies and public games. All those who profited by these appropriations were naturally interested in preventing the return of Tiberius, who was notorious for his opposition to all useless expenditures. Any measure, however dishonest, was therefore considered proper, provided only it helped to ruin Tiberius;
of a terrible scandal in the very person of Julia. The lex Julia de adulteriis, framed by Augustus in the year 18, authorized any citizen to denounce an unfaithful wife before the judges, if the husband or father should refuse to make the accusation. This law, which was binding upon all Roman citizens, was therefore applicable even to the daughter of Augustus, the widow of Agrippa, the mother of Caius and Lucius Cæsar, those two youths in whom were
and his enemies had recourse to every art and 'calumny, among other things actually accusing him of conspiracies against Augustus. Even for a woman as able and energetic as Livia it was an arduous task to struggle against the inclinations of Augustus, against public opinion, against the majority of the senate, against private interest, and against Julia and her friends. Indeed, four years passed during which the situation of Tiberius and his party grew steadily worse, while the party of Julia increased in power.
Finally the party of Tiberius resolved to attempt a startlingly bold move. They decided to cripple the opposition by means
centered the hopes
of the republic. She had violated the lex Julia and she had escaped the penalties which had been visited on many other ladies of the aristocracy only because no one had dared to call down this scandal upon the first family of the empire. The party of Tiberius, protected and guided by Livia, at last hazarded this step.
It is impossible to say what part Livia played in this terrible tragedy. It is certain that either she or some other influential personage succeeded in gaining possession of the proofs of Julia's guilt and brought them to Augustus, threatening to lay them before the pretor and to institute proceedings if he did not discharge his duty. Augustus found himself constrained to apply to himself his own terrible law. He himself had decreed that if the husband, as was then the case of Tiberius, could not accuse a faithless woman, the father must do so. It was his law, and he had to bow to it in order to avoid scandals and worse consequences. He exiled Julia to the little island of Pandataria, and at the age of thirty-seven, the brilliant, pleasing, and voluptuous young woman who had dazzled Rome for many years was compelled to disappear from the me