Cornelius Tacitus

The Annals

Book I: XXXI-LIV - Germanicus at war in Germany

Julius Caesar, Museum of the Capitol

‘Julius Caesar, Museum of the Capitol’
History of Rome and the Roman people, from its origin to the establishment of the Christian empire - Victor Duruy (1811 - 1894) (p192, 1884)
Internet Archive Book Images

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Conditions and Exceptions apply.


Book I:XXXI Fresh mutiny in Germany

At about that time, for the same reasons, the legions in Germany mutinied, in larger numbers and with greater violence, their hopes being high that Germanicus Caesar, unable to endure another’s sovereignty, would embrace his legions’ power, sweeping all before him.

There were two Roman armies on the Rhine’s left bank: the army of Upper Germany under the leadership of Gaius Silius, that of Lower Germany in the charge of Aulus Caecina. Supreme command lay with Germanicus, then intent on a property census of the Gallic provinces. But while Silius’ men watched, in doubt, the fate of a rebellion not of their making, the army of Lower Germany plunged into madness. It began with the Fifth and Twenty-First legions, after which the First and Twentieth were draw in, as they were all stationed in the same summer camp on the Ubian frontier (near Cologne), in idleness or with the lightest of duties.

Thus, hearing of Augustus’ death, the city-bred troops, who had recently been levied in Rome, used to their pleasures and intolerant of hardship, began to influence the untutored minds of the rest: the time had come, they said, when the veterans should seek a discharge long overdue, the younger soldiers more pay, and all should demand an end to their wretchedness, while taking their revenge for the centurions’ savagery.

Theirs was no lone cry, no Percennius among the Pannonian legions, speaking to the anxious ears of soldiers who had other superior forces to consider, but a rebellion fuelled by many tongues and voices: in their hands lay Rome’s destiny, they cried, theirs were the victories that enlarged the empire, it was in their name the emperors took power!

Book I:XXXII The rebels consolidate their position

Nor did their commander oppose them: indeed the crowd’s frenzy robbed him of self-possession. The men, in sudden rage, rushed, swords drawn, at the centurions: they being the usual objects of the soldiers’ hatred, and its first victims. Throwing them to the ground they thrashed them with whips, sixty lashes each, one for every centurion in the legion: then flung them, convulsed with pain and semi-conscious, over the ramparts or into the Rhine itself.

Septimius fled to the tribunal and threw himself at Caecina’s feet, but his surrender was urged so insistently he was handed over for execution. Cassius Chaerea, then still young but fierce and courageous, and later remembered by posterity for his assassination of Caligula, cut a path with his sword through the armed men blocking his way. The tribunes and camp-prefect no longer held sway: the patrols and watches, and every other form of duty circumstances deemed necessary were distributed among the mutineers themselves.

Indeed, to a thoughtful observer of the military mind, the most profound sign of great and implacable disaffection was that nothing was effected by the impulse of a dissident few, but all were equally on fire, equally silent, with such steadiness and unanimity, they might be thought under unified command.

Book I:XXXIII Germanicus’ lineage

During this period, Germanicus, as we have said, was travelling through the Gallic provinces taking a property census, when news of Augustus’s death reached him. Married to Augustus’ granddaughter, Agrippina the Elder, by whom he had several children, and himself a grandson to Livia being the son of Tiberius’ brother, Drusus the Elder, he was beset by a hidden antipathy to that grandmother and that uncle, from a motive that was all the stronger for being irrational.

The memory of Drusus the Elder was still fresh amongst the Roman people, and it was thought that if had held power liberty would have been restored; so that the same affection and hope was conferred on Germanicus. He was a youth courteous by nature and wondrously affable, far removed in manner from Tiberius’ arrogance and secretiveness of word and look. Animosity among the womenfolk increased these family differences, since Livia had a stepmother’s dislike of Agrippina, and Agrippina herself felt no less passionately, though her pure mind and marital devotion kept her rebellious spirit in check.

Book I:XXXIV His loyalty to the empire

Yet the nearer Germanicus came to the heights of ambition, the more devotedly he laboured in Tiberius’ cause. He administered the oath of allegiance to his subordinates and the Belgic cities, and took the oath himself. Then, hearing news of disturbance among the legions, he set out in haste, and met them waiting outside the camp, their gaze fixed on the ground as if in penitence.

As soon as he entered, a chorus of complaints dinned in his ears. Some of the men seized his hand and pushed his fingers between their lips, as if to kiss them, so he could feel their lack of teeth; others showed him limbs bowed with old age. When they stood back to hear him, as they were in disarray, he ordered them to assemble in companies: they however replied they could hear better as they were; he insisted they bring the standards forward, so that the cohorts at least might be distinguished: they slowly obeyed.

Then, beginning with a tribute to Augustus, he went on to speak of Tiberius’ victories and triumphs, celebrating with the highest praise the laurels the emperor had won so handsomely at the head of these very legions. Next he extolled the unity of Italy, the loyalty of the Gallic provinces, the absence everywhere of turbulence and discord: all this being heard in silence or to quiet murmurs.

Book I:XXXV Germanicus addresses the mutineers

But when he spoke of rebellion, asking where was their soldierly restraint, where was the discipline that formerly distinguished them, why had they driven out their tribunes and centurions, they bared their bodies to a man, reproaching him with their scars of battle and the marks of the lash. Then, in a confusion of voices, they charged him with their miserly wages, the price they had to pay for exemption, and the harshness of their labours, even naming the tasks: carving out ditches, raising ramparts, foraging, hauling timber and firewood, and whatever else the camp demanded, of necessity or to deprive them of rest.

The fiercest outcry rose from the veterans, who citing their thirty campaigns or more, begged reprieve from their weariness, that they not die of such labours, but an end be set to such service, and a retirement free of poverty be granted them. There were even some who demanded the legacy bequeathed to them by the divine Augustus, expressing their good-will to Germanicus; and demonstrating that they were ready to be his, if he should wish for power. Then he relinquished the platform, swiftly indeed, as if he might be contaminated with their guilt.

They barred his way with their weapons, threatening him if he did not return; but he, shouting that he would rather choose death than disloyalty, snatching the sword from his side and raising it aloft would have buried it in his heart if those nearest had not forcefully held his arm. The remotest and most tightly packed section of the crowd and, though this is scarcely credible, certain individuals pressing close upon him, urged him to strike home; and a soldier, named Calusidius, even drew his own blade, claiming his was sharper.

But the act seemed cruel and evil-natured even to those madmen, and there was time enough for Germanicus’ friends to hurry him to his quarters.

Book I:XXXVI He unwillingly accedes to their demands

Once there, proposals to remedy the soldiers’ complaints were debated, since it was said that emissaries were being chosen to persuade the army of Upper Germany to the mutineers’ cause; that Cologne, the Ubian capital, was targeted for destruction; and that once accustomed to pillage the mutineers would spread out to loot the Gallic provinces.

Added to that, the enemy, knowing of the insurrection, would invade if the Rhine bank were abandoned. Yet if the auxiliaries and allies were mobilised against the rebellious legions, civil war would ensue. Severity towards the men might have its dangers, but to indulge them would be criminal: whether all or nothing were conceded the state was equally at risk.

Therefore, after jointly pondering the matter, it was decided that documents should be written, in the emperor’s name, granting a discharge after twenty years’ service; releasing those who had served sixteen years to serve under their own colours with an exemption from all duties except repelling an enemy; and committing to pay over, and indeed double, the imperial legacy that they had claimed.

Book I:XXXVII The troops force payment

The men, sensing that these documents had been improvised on the spot, demanded immediate action. The discharges were then enacted by the tribunes, though the payments were to be withheld till the men had reached their proper winter quarters. The Fifth and Twenty-first legions, however, refused to leave their summer camp until the money was paid from the travelling funds of Germanicus and his suite.

The legate, Caecina, then led the First and Twentieth legions back to Cologne, a shameful progress, the general’s plundered coffers being flanked by the standards and eagles. Germanicus, meanwhile, set out for the army of Upper Germany, where he induced the Second, Thirteenth and Sixteenth legions to take the oath without delay; the Fourteenth showing some brief hesitation. Their payments and discharges were granted without being demanded.

Book I:XXXVIII Manius Ennius quells a disturbance

But, among the Chauci, a reserve detachment, on garrison duty and drawn from the disaffected legions, began a fresh mutiny repressed for the moment by the execution of a couple of soldiers. Manius Ennius, the camp-prefect, issued that order, to show a firmer example than by granting them trial.

The disorder spreading, he then fled, and upon being found, since his hiding-place proved inadequate, chose audacity rather than defence, saying that it was not their prefect they were assaulting but their general, Germanicus, and the emperor Tiberius. At the same moment, deterring them from opposing him, he snatched up the standard, turned to face the Rhine and, shouting that anyone who left the ranks would be taken for a deserter, led the men back to winter quarters, they being rebellious still, but venturing nothing.

Book I:XXXIX Germanicus under pressure

Meanwhile, a delegation from the senate attended on Germanicus, who had returned to Cologne, at the Altar of Augustus. Two legions, the First and the Twentieth were over-wintering there, along with the veterans recently discharged and now with their colours. Anxious and consumed with guilt, they feared that these emissaries had been sent on orders from the senate to render null and void the concessions extorted by rebellion.

The crowd, seeking someone to blame as usual however false the charge, accused Munatius Plancus, the ex-consul who led the delegation, of intention to impose a senate decree: and as night set in, they began to call for their standard, which was kept in Germanicus’ quarters in the town. There was an assault on the gate, they forced the door and, dragging Germanicus from his bed, compelled him to hand over the standard on pain of death.

Not long after, as they roamed the streets, they came across the emissaries, who were hastening to join Germanicus having heard the disturbance. They heaped insults upon them, and were ready to murder them, especially Plancus, whose dignity precluded flight; nor could he seek any refuge in extremity other than the quarters of the First legion. There he found sanctuary by embracing the standards and the eagle, and if Calpurnius, the eagle-bearer, had not shielded him from the height of violence, a legate of the Roman people, while in a Roman camp, would have stained the sacred altars with his blood, a crime almost unknown even among our enemies.

At last, at dawn, when the officers, the men, and the night’s deeds were visible, Germanicus entered the camp, insisted that Plancus be conducted to him, and welcomed him onto the tribunal. Then denouncing their fatal madness, rekindled not by their own anger, he declared, but by the gods, he explained why the emissaries were there. He spoke, sadly and eloquently, about the rights of ambassadors, the grave and undeserved treatment of Plancus, and the deep dishonour incurred by the legion, and after reducing his hearers to stunned silence, if not acquiescence, he sent off the emissaries, guarded by the auxiliary cavalry.

Book I:XL Agrippina is persuaded by Germanicus to leave camp

During these troubles, Germanicus was blamed by all for not marching to join the army of Upper Germany, where he would find, they claimed, obedience and assistance against the rebels: the discharges, pay and indulgent measures had done more than enough harm, or if he held his own life to be of no account why force his infant son and pregnant wife to remain amongst madmen who violated every law of decency? He should at least restore them to their grandfather, and the state!

He long delayed the decision, while Agrippina scornfully declared that as a scion of the divine Augustus she was equal to all danger. Finally, he embraced their son, together with herself, their child in her womb, and with many tears persuaded her to leave. A pitiful procession of women then set out, the general’s wife in flight, her little son clasped to her heart, surrounded by the mournful wives of his friends, also torn from their husbands’ arms; nor were those left behind any less saddened.

Agrippina and Germanicus

‘Agrippina and Germanicus’
Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640)
National Gallery of Art

Book I:XLI The troops try to intervene

This gave the appearance not of a Caesar in his pomp, in his own camp, but of a scene in a captured city; the weeping and wailing attracting the ears and eyes of the soldiers themselves: who began to emerge from their tents. What was this sound of crying? Why such sadness? Here were honourable women, without a centurion to guard them, not a soldier, no sign of the usual escort for a general’s wife: bound for the Treviri to be committed to the trust of foreigners. They were filled with shame and pity and the remembrance that her father was Agrippa, her grandfather Augustus, and her father-in-law Drusus the Elder, while she herself was famous for her fecundity and her shining chastity. Then there was her little son, born in camp and brought up among the tents of the legions, whom they, in the manner of soldiers, nicknamed Caligula (Little Boot) because he usually wore the caliga, or hob-nailed soldier’s boot, to satisfy the men’s whim.

But nothing roused them as much as their jealousy of the Treviri; they begged, they insisted, she must return to them, stay among them, they cried, some chasing after Agrippina, the majority returning to gather round Germanicus. He, surrounded as he was, his tears and indignation still fresh, addressed them as follows:

Book I:XLII Germanicus addresses the rebels

‘Not my wife nor my son is dearer to me than father and country, but his own grandeur will protect my father, and our other armies imperial Rome. I would freely offer up my wife and children to death, for the sake of your glory, but now I am removing them from your madness, so that whatever wickedness it portends may be expiated by my blood alone, and that you should not prove more guilty still by murdering a great-grandson of Augustus, a daughter-in-law of Tiberius.

For what indeed, these past days, have you not dared or defiled? What name shall I give this gathering? Am I to call those soldiers, who with walls and weapons have beset a son of your emperor? Or citizens, those who have renounced the senate’s authority? The rights due even to an enemy, the sanctity due to emissaries, the laws of nations, all these you have violated.

The divine Julius quelled an army’s insurrection with a word, calling those who refused the oath Quirites (founder citizens of Rome). The legions at Actium shrank from Augustus’ face and aspect: I, though not yet their equal, nevertheless am of their line, and if it were merely the soldiers in Spain or Syria who disrespected me still it would be astounding and shameful, yet it is men of the First and the Twentieth, that Twentieth who received their standards from Tiberius himself, and you the First, who shared the battlefield with him, you, weighed down with prizes! Is this the singular gratitude with which you repay your leader?

Is this the news I must give my father, when he hears that all is well with the other provinces, that men he recruited, his own veterans, are not satisfied with early discharge and payment, that here centurions are killed, tribunes driven out, officers imprisoned, the camp, the river tainted with blood, and that I myself maintain precarious life among hostile men?’

Book I:XLIII He quenches the rebellion

‘Why then, at our first meeting, did you snatch away the blade I readied to plunge into my own heart, O thoughtless friends? Kinder and more loving that man who offered me his sword. I should at least have died not yet aware of my soldiers’ deepest crimes; you might have chosen a leader who, letting my death go unpunished, would yet have avenged Varus and his three legions. For may the gods forbid that with the Belgians offering their services theirs should be the honour and glory of bolstering the name of Rome, in order to subdue the German people!

May your spirit, divine Augustus, received among the heavens, your image, Drusus my father, and the memory of you, be with these same soldiers of yours, now filled with a sense of shame and glory, erase the stain and turn our civil conflict to the destruction of our enemies!

And you yourselves, in whose hearts and faces I infer a change of mood, if you would restore its emissaries to the senate, your allegiance to the emperor, my wife and child to me, distance yourselves from the source of infection, single out the troublemakers: that will demonstrate repentance, that will form a bond of faith.’

Book I:XLIV The legions are purged

They were reduced to suppliants by his words, and confessed the justice of his reproaches, begged him to punish the guilty, forgive their error, and lead them against the enemy; his wife must be recalled, and his son, the darling of the legions, must return, not be handed over as a hostage to the Gauls.

Germanicus replied that Agrippina’s presence must be excused, due to winter and her imminent confinement: his son would return; the rest they must deal with themselves. Changed men, they rushed around and, throwing the most seditious in chains, then dragged them before the legate of the First legion, Gaius Caetronius, who meted out justice and punishment in the following manner.

The legionaries stood before the crowd with drawn swords: each defendant was displayed on the platform by a tribune; if they cried guilty, he was flung down and butchered. The men revelled in the slaughter, as if it absolved them; nor did Germanicus restrain them, the sentences being none of his, theirs the cruelty performed, and the odium. The veterans followed their example and not long after were posted to Raetia, on the pretext of defending the province from invasion by the Suevi, but actually to remove them from a camp no less darkened now by the savagery of punishment than the memory of guilt.

The centurions were then paraded. Each, on being indicated by Germanicus, gave his name, rank, and place of origin, the number of his campaigns, his achievements in battle, and his military honours if any. Where the tribunes and his legion bore witness to his commitment and integrity, he kept his post; where they jointly accused him of avarice or cruelty, he was dismissed the service.

Book I:XLV Further mutiny at Vetera

This resolved the present situation, but no less a problem remained in the defiance exhibited by the Fifth and Twenty-first legions, wintering sixty miles away at the place known as Vetera. For they had been the first to mutiny: the worst atrocities had been the work of their hands; undaunted by their fellow-soldiers’ punishment and unaffected by their repentance, their hostility remained.

Germanicus therefore organised the dispatch of vessels, auxiliaries, and weapons, down the Rhine, intent on force if his authority was flouted. 

Book I:XLVI Concern in Rome

Yet nothing was known in Rome of the events in Illyricum and beyond, until public news arrived of the mutiny among these legions of the armies of Germany, and the city, in fear, made the accusation against Tiberius that while he made a fool of the senate and the masses, both being weak and undefended, through his hypocritical hesitation, the troops were rebelling, and could not be restrained by the immature authority of a pair of lads. He ought to have gone himself and confronted the rebels with his imperial majesty. They would have yielded on seeing their emperor, a leader of great experience, and the supreme source of punishment or reward.

If Augustus, wearied by his years, was able to make many journeys into the German provinces, was Tiberius, flourishing with age, to sit about then, in the senate, cavilling at the senators’ words? Enough of gazing at a servile Rome, he must bring calm to the soldiers’ passions so that they might sue for peace.

Book I:XLVII Tiberius prevaricates

Unmoved by these comments, Tiberius was determined not to quit the centre of government and endanger himself and the empire. He was, indeed, troubled by the many and diverse issues involved: the army of Germany was the stronger, that of Pannonia nearer; the former was supported by Gallic resources, the latter threatened Italy: which then should be his personal priority? And what if those treated as of secondary importance were incensed by the slight?

Yet in the form of his sons they could be treated equally while preserving his own authority, which was even more imposing from a distance. At the same time, it was acceptable for the young princes to refer things to their father, and he might mitigate or weaken any resistance offered to Germanicus or Drusus, while if the emperor were defied what recourse was possible?

However, he chose his entourage, prepared the equipment, and fitted out the ships as if he might depart at any moment, then delayed them on various pretexts, based on the winter weather or the weight of affairs, deceiving the most knowing at first, then the masses, and the provinces longest of all.

Book I:XLVIII Caecina prepares to quench the rebellion at Vetera

Meanwhile Germanicus, though he had concentrated his forces and was ready to take action against the rebels, thinking it best to give them more time to consider the recent example set them, sent a letter to Caecina saying that he would arrive in strength, and unless they anticipated him by executing the culprits he would put the men to death indiscriminately.

This, Caecina read privately to the eagle-bearers and standard-bearers, and the other most trustworthy men in the camp, exhorting them to save all from disgrace and themselves from death; since, while in peacetime cases were judged on their merit, when conflict threatened the innocent perished with the guilty.

They then approached the men they judged loyal, and finding the legions mostly obedient, they set a time, with their commander’s blessing, for an armed assault on the worst elements, those most ready to mutiny. Then, the signal being given, they attacked the tents, and killed the unsuspecting victims, they alone knowing where the slaughter had begun and how it would end.

Book I:XLIX Germanicus redirects the troops’ anger

Every previous civil action, of whatever period, differed from this one. Not in battle, or from opposing camps, but men who bedded down together, who ate together by day and slept side by side at night, took sides and hurled missiles. The cries, the wounds, the blood were evident, the origin unclear, chance ruled all.

And good men died too, for once the object of this fury was known the worst elements also took to arms. Neither general nor tribune were there to restrain the violence: licence was granted the mob to sate itself with vengeance. Germanicus, reaching the camp sometime later, weeping at the sight and calling it no remedy but a disaster, ordered the corpses burnt.

 Even then, the desire invaded their savage spirits to attack the enemy in expiation of their madness; nothing else would placate their dead comrades’ souls but that their own impious breasts be pierced by honourable wounds. Germanicus, harnessing this ardour of his troops, bridged the Rhine and sent twelve thousand legionaries across, with twenty-six auxiliary cohorts and eight cavalry divisions their discipline unaffected by the mutiny.

Book I:L An advance on the Marsian villages

The Germans delighted in hovering nearby during this pause in hostilities, caused initially by the mourning for Augustus, and afterwards extended by rebellion. But, by a forced march, the Roman columns cut through the Caesian Forest and the demarcation line begun by Tiberius, pitching camp on that boundary, their front and rear protected by ramparts, and their flanks by felled trees.

What followed was a march through dark glades, and a debate as to which of two paths to follow, one short and well-travelled, the other difficult and untried, but because of that unwatched by the enemy. The longer route was taken, but with all speed: because the scouts had reported that the Germans held a festival that night, with games and a formal banquet. Caecina was ordered to advance with the lightly-armed cohorts and clear a passage through the woods: the legions followed after a short interval.

The night aided them with a clear starry sky, and they reached the Marsian villages which they surrounded with pickets, the enemy being abed or still lying beside the banqueting tables, free of care, and with not a sentry in sight. All was carelessness and disorder, without thought of war, and their peace itself the dull slackness found among drunkards.

Book I:LI Germanicus lays waste the surrounding area

To ravage more widely, Germanicus divided his ardent legionaries into four groups, and laid waste an area fifty miles across, with sword and flame. Neither age nor sex inspired pity, places sacred and secular were razed to the ground, most notably the tribal sanctuary known as Tanfana. Our troops escaped without a wound, slaughtering men who were half-asleep, unarmed and exposed.

This brought out the Bructeri, Tubantes and Usipetes, who occupied the forest glades by which the army must return. Their commander, hearing of this, advanced ready to march or fight. A cavalry detachment and ten auxiliary cohorts led the way, then the First legion, with the baggage train in the middle, the Twenty-first legion guarding the left flank, the Fifth guarding the right, while the Twentieth held the rear and the remaining allies followed.

 But the enemy made no move until the whole column was extended throughout the woods, then, making a feint against the van and flanks, they attacked the rear in force. The lightly-armed cohorts were thrown into confusion by the mass of German warriors, until Germanicus, riding to the Twenty-first, cried in a loud voice that this was the moment to erase the stain of mutiny: let them charge, and swiftly turn shame to glory.

Their spirits aflame, they broke through the enemy at a blow, drove them into the open, and cut them down: at the same moment the forces ahead emerged from the forest and began fortifying camp. The route was quiet from that point, and the soldiers occupied their winter quarters, emboldened by their recent action and with the past forgotten.

Book I:LII Tiberius praises Germanicus and Drusus

For Tiberius, the news was welcome but disquieting: he was thankful the rebellion had been quelled, but troubled that Germanicus had earned the men’s favour by handing out money and bringing forward their discharge. Nevertheless he spoke of what Germanicus had achieved before the senate, expanding on his virtues, but in too formal a manner for it to be thought his true feeling.

He praised Drusus, and his resolution of the problem in Illyricum, more briefly, but in a more earnest and truthful way. He extended all that Germanicus had granted his own forces to the Pannonian legions also.

Book I:LIII The deaths of Julia the Elder and Sempronius Gracchus

This same year (AD14) saw the death of Julia the Elder, whose shamelessness had previously led to her confinement by Augustus, her father, on the island of Pandateria (Ventotene), and then in the town of Rhegium (Reggio Calabria) on the Strait of Messina.

She was married to Tiberius while her sons Gaius and Lucius were alive, and despised him as inferior, and this alone was the secret reason for his retirement to Rhodes. Once emperor, he left her in exile and disgrace, destitute of hope after the execution of Agrippa Postumus her son, to die of poverty and illness, calculating that the length of her banishment would obscure the manner of her death.

His savagery towards Sempronius Gracchus, stemmed from a like motive. Gracchus was a man of noble family, quick wit, and perverse eloquence, who had seduced that same Julia while she was married to Marcus Agrippa. Nor did the affair end in mere seduction, for when she was pressed into marriage with Tiberius, the tenacious adulterer encouraged her defiance and hatred of her husband. A letter she had written to her father Augustus, with its abuse of Tiberius, was thought to have been composed by Gracchus.

As a result, he was removed to the Cercina (Kerkennah) islands, off Africa, where he endured fourteen years of exile. The soldiers, now sent to kill him, found him on the shore of a promontory, awaiting the worst. As they landed, he begged for time to write a letter, containing his last requests, to his wife Alliaria, then exposed his neck to the assassins. The firmness with which he met death was not unworthy of that Sempronian name his life had disgraced. Some say the soldiers were not sent from Rome, but by Lucius Asprenas, the proconsul of Africa, at Tiberius’ instigation, who hoped in vain that the blame for the execution might fall on Asprenas.

Book I:LIV Inauguration of the Augustalis

The same year saw a new religious institution founded, by the addition of an order of Augustal priests, similar to the Titian order founded by Titus Tatius to preserve the Sabine rites. Twenty one members were selected by lot from among the leading citizens, and Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius and Germanicus were added. The corresponding Games, the Augustalis, now inaugurated, were marred by discord due to theatrical rivalries.

Augustus had countenanced such entertainments to humour Maecenas, who was madly enamoured of Bathyllus, nor did he dislike such things himself, and thought it courteous to involve himself with the pleasures of the masses. Tiberius had other views: but did not dare impose austerity, as yet, on a populace so long indulged. 

End of the Annals Book I: XXXI-LIV