Cornelius Tacitus

The Annals

Book II: XXXIII-LIV - Trouble in the East

Genius of Mars

‘Genius of Mars’
History of Rome and the Roman people, from its origin to the establishment of the Christian empire - Victor Duruy (1811 - 1894) (p754, 1884)
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Book II:XXXIII The Senate debate control of luxury items

At the next session of the senate, Quintus Haterius, the ex-consul, and Octavius Fronto, a former praetor, spoke at length against the national indulgence in luxuries, and promoted a decree that table-ware for serving food should not be of solid gold, nor should silk clothing shame the male sex.

Fronto, since it was still customary for a senator to take the opportunity to promote his opinions if they were considered in the public interest, went further and demanded a limit to the use of silver, the amount of furniture, and the number of servants,.

Asinius Gallus spoke against the measure: saying that private wealth had grown with the expansion of empire, nor was this something new, but a most ancient process. Money meant one thing to the Fabricii, another to the Scipios; and all was relative to the wealth of the State. While the State was poor, our fellow-citizens lived in tiny cottages, once it achieved splendour, the individual also shone. Neither in servants, silver-plate, nor anything obtained for use did excess or moderation exist except in relation to the owner’s fortune.

Senators and Knights were distinguished by their wealth, not because that rendered them different in kind from others, but so that those who enjoyed pride of place, rank and dignity should equally enjoy whatever accorded with peace of mind and bodily health, unless it were right that distinguished men, exposed to greater cares and wider risks, should be deprived of what solaced their cares and dangers.

Gallus, with this profession of vice in the guise of virtue, easily gained agreement from an audience of like-minded individuals. And Tiberius added that this was not a time for censorship, nor, if morals became lax, would there be any lack of reformers to correct them.

Book II:XXXIV Lucius Piso versus Urgulania

During the debate, Lucius Piso, announced, in a diatribe against bribery in the Forum, corruption among the judiciary, and the ravings of the advocates with their noisy threats of prosecution, that he was retiring and quitting the capital, to live in some far-off and sequestered rural location: he then left the Curia.

Tiberius was troubled, and having soothed Piso in gentle terms, induced Piso’s relatives to prevent his departure by their influence and prayers. Piso soon gave no less a proof of his troublesome independence of spirit, by summoning to court Urgulania, whose friendship with Livia had set her above the law. Urgulania declined to attend and, scorning Piso, was carried to the palace, while he refused to withdraw, even though Livia complained that it was an outrage and an insult to herself.

Tiberius, thinking it courteous to humour his mother thus far, by saying that he would attend the praetorian court in support of Urgulania, set out from the palace, ordering his bodyguards to follow at a distance. The people crowded around to watch while he, with a composed countenance, by talking on a variety of topics, drew out the time and the journey, until, as Piso’s relatives failed to dissuade him, Livia ordered the amount of the claim to be paid.

This terminated an incident which was not inglorious for Piso, and added to Tiberius’ reputation. Urgulania, however, enjoyed such excessive influence regarding civil matters, that she disdained to appear as a witness in a trial brought before the senate: a praetor was sent to interview her at home, at a time when by ancient custom the Vestal Virgins were to be heard in the Forum and the courts of justice whenever they gave evidence.

Book II:XXXV Debate over adjournment of the senate and law-courts

I would have said nothing regarding that year’s adjournment, if the divergent opinions of Gnaeus Piso and Asinius Gallus on the subject had not been noteworthy.

Though Tiberius had said that he himself would not be present, Piso judged that even more of a reason to proceed, in that it would be to the honour of the state for the senators and knights to be able to carry out their duties in the sovereign’s absence.

Gallus, anticipated by Piso in this show of independence, argued that nothing transacted would be sufficiently illustrious or in accord with the dignity of the Roman people unless it was done in the presence and under the eyes of their emperor, and for that reason the petitioners from Italy and the in-comers from the provinces should attend on his presence.

Tiberius listened, and in silence, to the weighty arguments from both sides, but the adjournment was carried.

Book II:XXXVI Debate concerning the election of magistrates

Another difference of opinion arose between Gallus and Tiberius. The former proposed that all the magistrates for a period of five years should be determined by election, and that legionary commanders performing such military service before becoming praetors should be designated praetors immediately, the emperor to nominate twelve candidates for each of the five years. There was little doubt that the proposal went deeper and was an attack on the emperor’s prerogatives.

Tiberius, however, discussed it as if it would augment his powers: it would offend his sense of moderation, he said, to select and reject so many at a time. It was hard to avoid offence in choosing those for one year ahead, even though disappointment was offset by hope for the near future: how much odium would he incur then from those he rejected for five years or more?

And who could foresee for each appointee, over such a span of time, what would be their state of mind, family, or fortune? Men grew arrogant enough even in the year after nomination: what if they had five years to play at being honoured? In short it multiplied the number of magistrates by five, subverting the laws which had fixed the proper periods for eliciting a candidate’s commitment and for seeking or enjoying preferment.

With this pleasing speech, delivered for the sake of appearances, Tiberius retained his hold on power.

Book II:XXXVII Marcus Hortalus applies for financial help

He helped several senators financially, so that it was all the more a source of wonder when he treated the petition of a young nobleman, Marcus Hortalus, who was clearly in difficult circumstances, in so high-handed a manner. Hortalus, the grandson of Hortensius the orator, had been induced to marry and raise a family by the divine Augustus’ grant of ten thousand gold pieces, thus saving a famous house from extinction.

  Now, standing, with his four sons, before the threshold of the Curia, in position to speak, he began in the following manner, now contemplating the portrait of Hortensius among the orators, since the senate was being held in the palace; now that of Augustus: ‘Elected senators, I have not raised these children. whose number and youth you can see, of my own volition, but because the emperor so advised, and at the same time because my ancestors earned the right to a posterity.

As far as I was concerned, I who in these changing times failed to inherit or attain, wealth, popularity, or eloquence, the hereditary possessions of our house, it was sufficient if my slender means neither shamed me nor afflicted another. I took a wife when my emperor so ordered. Behold the stock and scions of consul and dictator. I say this not to rouse envy, but to elicit sympathy.

In the goodness of time, Caesar, which is your time, they may be granted whatever honours you may bestow: meanwhile, save these great-grandsons of Quintus Hortensius, these foster-children of the divine Augustus, from poverty!’

Book II:XXXVIII Tiberius opposes the plea

The senate’s inclination to award the petition roused Tiberius to readier opposition, saying, in so many words; ‘If every pauper starts turning up here, soliciting money for his offspring, not a single one of them will be satisfied, yet the state will be bankrupted. Surely, if our ancestors conceded that members might, when in a position to speak, wander somewhat from the subject to offer something to the public good, it was not so that we might add to our private interests or family fortunes, while rendering unpopular both the senate and its leader whether it grant or deny the request.

It is no petition, but a peremptory demand, one both untimely and unexpected, when a senator rises, in a session convened for other purposes, and urges the number and age of his children on the senate’s goodwill, applies the same pressure by association to myself, and, so to speak, takes the treasury by storm, which if we exhaust it by favouritism it would be a crime to refill. The divine Augustus gave you the money, Hortalus, but not because he was compelled to do so, nor by that decision was it granted in perpetuity. Industry will languish and idleness thrive, if a man has nothing to hope or fear on his own account, and all cheerfully expect help from outside, useless to themselves and a burden on us.’

These words and the like, though heard with approval by those whose habit it is to praise all imperial speeches, honourable or dishonourable, were received by the majority in silence or with a suppressed murmur. Tiberius felt it; and after a short pause stated that Hortalus had his response: for the rest, if the senate thought it right, each of Hortalus’ male children would be granted two thousand gold pieces.

While others expressed their thanks, Hortalus was silent, either through anxiety or maintaining the noble traditions of his ancestors even in these straitened circumstances. Nor was Tiberius sympathetic later, though the House of Hortensius sank further into ignominious poverty.

Book II:XXXIX Clemens the imposter

In that same year (AD16), the state would have been plunged into discord and civil conflict, through the audacity of a solitary slave, if prompt measures had not been taken. A servant of Postumus Agrippa, Clemens by name, on hearing of Augustus’ death, conceived the less than servile idea of heading for the island of Planasia (Pianosa), rescuing Agrippa by force or deceit, and carrying him off to the armies in Germany.

His daring was frustrated by the slowness of the cargo vessel, and as in the meantime Agrippa’s execution had been carried out, he turned to the more ambitious and riskier scheme of stealing Agrippa’s ashes and sailing for Cosa (Orbetello), on a promontory of the Etrurian coast, and hiding himself in some obscure place until his hair and beard had grown, he being of and age and appearance to pass for his dead master.

Then, through suitable sharers of his secret plans, it was reported that Agrippa was alive, at first in private conversations, as is the way with forbidden things, soon as a rumour current wherever there were fools ready to hear, or conversely amongst dangerous men eager for revolution. He himself visited towns at twilight, never seen in the open nor staying too long in one place, but as truth gains validity through time and openness, falsehood rather through speed and ambiguity, he sought to leave the tale in his wake and arrive in advance of it.

Book II:XL The downfall of Clemens

Meanwhile, it was broadcast throughout Italy that, by the grace of the gods, Agrippa’s life had been preserved, such being the belief in Rome; huge crowds were already celebrating his arrival at Ostia, as were clandestine gatherings in the capital, while Tiberius puzzled over this fraught dilemma, whether his soldiers should confine the slave, or whether this vain show of credulity should be allowed to vanish with the mere lapse of time.

At one moment reflecting that no measure was to be scorned, at another that not everything need be feared, he hovered between a sense of proportion and alarm. Finally he handed its resolution over to Sallustius Crispus, who chose two of his clients (who may have been soldiers, they say) and instructed them to approach the slave, in the guise of accomplices, offer him money, and promise him loyalty whatever the risk. They did as they were commanded.

Then, watching for a night when he was unguarded, and arriving with a sufficient force, they hauled him off to the palace, chained and gagged. On being questioned by Tiberius as to how he had become Agrippa, he is said to have replied: ‘in the same way you became one of the Caesars.’ He could not be persuaded to give away his allies, nor did Tiberius dare risk a public execution, ordering that he be killed in a deepest part of the palace, and the body secretly removed.

Even though many of the imperial household, along with knights and senators, were said to have supported the imposter with their wealth, and aided him with their counsel, there was no further investigation.

Book II:XLI Germanicus in triumph

At the close of the year, the following were dedicated: an arch near the Temple of Saturn to the recovery, under the leadership of Germanicus and the auspices of Tiberius, of two of the eagles lost with Varus; a temple to Fors Fortuna beside the Tiber, in the gardens which Julius Caesar the dictator bequeathed to the Roman people; and, at Bovillae, a sanctuary to the Julian line with a statue of the divine Augustus.

In the consulate of Gaius Caelius and Lucius Pomponius (AD17), on the twenty-sixth of May, Germanicus celebrated his triumph over the Cherusci, the Chatti, the Angrivarii, and the other tribes west of the Elbe. The procession included spoils and captives, and floats depicting the mountains, rivers and battles. The war, since he had been denied its completion, was deemed complete. The spectacle was enhanced for those watching by the noble figure of Germanicus himself, and the five children who filled his chariot.

But beneath it all lay a secret fear, in reflecting that the favour of the crowd had not brought his father Drusus happiness, that Marcellus, his uncle, had been snatched away in youth despite the ardent enthusiasm of the populace, and that the affections of the Roman people were brief and ill-fated.

Thusnelda at the Triumphal Entry of Germanicus into Rome

‘Thusnelda at the Triumphal Entry of Germanicus into Rome’
Théodore Chassériau (French, 1819 – 1856)
The Met

Book II:XLII Trouble in the East

As for the rest, Tiberius granted three gold pieces a man to the populace, in Germanicus’ name, and nominated him as his colleague in the consulship for the following year. This gained him no credit for genuine affection, however, and he decided to remove Germanicus from the scene in the guise of honouring him, manufacturing reasons or seizing on those chance offered.

King Archelaus had held power in Cappadocia for over fifty years, hated by Tiberius, since, during his time in Rhodes, Archelaus had shown him none of the usual attentions. This was not through arrogance, but on the advice of Augustus’ intimates, since Gaius Caesar was in the ascendancy and had been sent to deal with affairs in the East, thus friendship with Tiberius was considered a risk.

When Tiberius achieved power, with the end of the direct line of Caesars, he lured Archelaus out of Cappadocia with a letter from Livia, who without hiding her son’s dislike of him, offered him forgiveness if he were to make his petition in person. Neither suspecting treachery nor fearing the use of force, even if he believed it possible, he hastened to Rome; was received with unrelenting severity by the emperor, and shortly afterwards impeached by the senate.

Whether deliberately, or in the course of things, he ended his span of life, not due to the accusations which were contrived, but distress, combined with the weariness of age, and due to the strangeness, for royalty, of being treated there as a mere equal if not an inferior. His kingdom was re-designated a province, while Tiberius announced that its revenues allowed a reduction of the one percent sales tax, which he fixed for the future at half that level.

Around that time (in AD17), the deaths of two kings, Antiochus II of Commagene and Philopator II of Cilicia, troubled their nations, the majority in each desiring Roman rule, others a king of their own. Also the provinces of Syria and Judaea, weary of their burdens, were pleading for a reduction in the tribute.

Book II:XLIII Germanicus appointed to the Overseas Provinces

Tiberius therefore raised these events, and the situation in Armenia I mentioned above, with the senate, saying that the disturbances in the East could only be settled by the wisdom of a Germanicus: since his own powers were declining and those of Drusus were not yet ripe. Thus, by senate decree, Germanicus was assigned the overseas provinces, with absolute authority, wherever he went, over the officials appointed by lot or nominated by the emperor.

However, Tiberius, having removed Creticus Silanus from Syria, he being closely connected to Germanicus, whose eldest son, Nero, was betrothed to Silanus’ daughter, had appointed Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, a man of violent temper, blind to all obedience, his arrogant nature derived from his father Piso (also named Gnaeus Calpurnius, consul in 23BC), who in the Civil War aided the resurgent factions in Africa against Caesar, later followed Brutus and Cassius, and on his return from exile being conceded, refused nomination for office until explicitly courted by Augustus with the offer of a consulate.

Besides inheriting the paternal character, the younger Piso was intoxicated with his wife Plancina’s wealth and ancestry; scarcely yielding precedence to Tiberius, and considering the latter’s children far beneath his consideration. He was in no doubt that he had been chosen for Syria to restrain Germanicus’ ambitions. Certain people believed that he had secret instructions from Tiberius; while Livia, intent with a woman’s jealousy on persecuting Agrippina, doubtless advised Plancina. For the court was divided and conflicted by a secret preference for Drusus or Germanicus.

Tiberius favoured Drusus, as issue of his own blood; while Germanicus, estranged from his uncle, was enhanced in the eyes of others and advantaged through the noble lineage of his mother (Antonia minor), Mark Antony being his grandfather, and Augustus his great-uncle. Drusus’ great-grandfather, Pomponius Atticus, by contrast a plain Roman knight, appeared to reflect no great credit upon the ancestral portraits of the Claudians. And then, Agrippina, Germanicus’ consort, surpassed Drusus’ wife, Livilla, in both reputation and fecundity.

Nevertheless, the step-brothers maintained a notable unity, unshaken by the differences among their relatives.

Book II:XLIV Drusus in Illyricum

Not long afterwards, Drusus was sent to Illyricum to gain military experience and win the army’s favour, Tiberius also considering that a young man indulging in city excess was better off in camp, while he himself would feel more secure with both his sons commanding legions. However a Suebian request for help against the Cherusci formed the pretext. For now, with the Romans’ departure and the absence of external threat, the tribes, jealous as ever of glory, turned their weapons against one another.

The strength of the two clans, and the courage of their leaders, was equal, but while the title of king rendered Maroboduus unpopular amongst the people, Arminius won favour as a champion of freedom.

Book II:XLV War between the German tribes

Thus, not only did Arminius’ veterans, the Cherusci and their allies, take up arms, but even two Suebian tribes under Maroboduus’ rule, the Semnones and Langobardi, defected to him. Their addition would have given him the edge, had not Inguiomerus with a band of retainers deserted to Maroboduus, for no other reason than that he scorned to obey his brother’s young son, being both his senior and his uncle.

The lines of battle were drawn, with hope high on both sides, but not to the accompaniment of desultory attacks by scattered bands as customary among the Germans, for their long campaigns against us had taught them to follow the banners, strengthen their forces with reserves, and accept their leaders’ orders.

So now, Arminius, on horseback, reviewed all his men and, as he reached them in turn, reminded them of the freedoms they had regained, the legions they had slaughtered, the spoils, and the spears stripped from the Romans which many yet bore in their hands; calling Maroboduus, in contrast, a turncoat, who without a battle to his name, had saved himself by hiding in the Hyrcanian Forest, then sought a treaty through embassies and gifts, a traitor to his country, a satellite of the Caesars, whom they must drive out with no less hostile a spirit than that in which they had killed Quintilius Varus. Let them but remember their struggles, whose outcome, with the final expulsion of the Romans, was proof enough as to which tribe possessed the mastery of warfare!

Book II:XLVI Maroboduus defeated

Nor did Maroboduus fail to boast of himself and rail against the enemy, and embracing Inguiomerus declare him the person who embodied all the virtues of the Cherusci, whose counsels had gained whatever success had been won. The wretch Arminius, he cried, ignorant of affairs, had stolen another’s glory, ensnaring three lost legions and a commander heedless of treachery, a disaster for Germany and shameful to its perpetrator, whose wife and son were even now enduring servitude.

But when he, Maroboduus, had been attacked by twelve legions under Tiberius, he had maintained the glory of Germany unimpaired, and the two sides had soon parted on equal terms; nor did he regret that it was now in their hands whether to choose war to the death with Rome, or a peace without bloodshed.

Fired by these speeches, the armies were inspired too with their own motives, the Cherusci and Langobardi fighting for their former glory and recent liberty, their opponents for greater domination. There was never a greater clash with such an uncertain outcome, the right wing on both sides being routed. A renewal of the fight was anticipated, but Maroboduus removed his camp to the hills. This was a signal of defeat, and gradually denuded of his forces by desertion, he fell back upon the Marcomani, while sending a deputation to Tiberius seeking help.

The reply came, that it was not fitting to invoke Roman arms against the Cherusci, when he, Maroboduus, had given Rome no aid against that very enemy. However, Drusus, as we have related, was sent there to establish peace.

Book II:XLVII Earthquake in Asia Minor

In that same year (17AD), twelve major cities of Asia Minor collapsed, at night, in an earthquake, the degree of damage being greater than usually anticipated. Not even the common recourse in such events, a flight to open ground, was possible, since the cities were swallowed by yawning chasms. There are tales of huge mountains sinking, of plains seen raised aloft, and of a fiery glow among the ruins.

As the disaster was greatest among the inhabitants of Sardis, they attracted the most sympathy: for Tiberius promised them a hundred thousand gold pieces, and the suspension for five years of whatever was owed to the national or imperial treasuries.

The Magnesians of Sipylus were ranked second in terms of loss and recompense. Regarding the inhabitants of Temnos, Philadelphia (near Sardis), Aegeae (Yuntdagi Koseler, Turkey), Apollonia (east of Pergamum), and also those known as Mostenians (from Kepecic, Turkey) or Hyrcanian Macedonians, as well as the cities of Hierocaesarea (near Thyatira, Turkey), Myrina (Sandarlik, Turkey), Cyme (Nemrut Limani, Turkey), and Tmolus (near Sardis), it was decided to exempt them from tribute for the same term and send a commissioner from the senate to view the situation in person and support the renewal efforts. Marcus Aetius, an ex-praetor, was chosen so as to avoid jealousy between the officials, Asia Minor being held by a consular governor, and any difficulties arising from that. 

Book II:XLVIII Tiberius’ handling of legacies

Tiberius added to his great generosity on behalf of the state no less popular a display of private liberality. He transferred to Aemilius Lepidus the estate of Aemilia Musa, who died rich but intestate, which had been claimed by the imperial treasury, because she appeared to be a member of that House. Similarly, even though he was named as co-heir, he transferred to Marcus Servilius the legacy of a wealthy Roman knight, Pantuleius, on finding that Servilius had been included in an earlier, previously unsuspected, will. In both cases, he prefaced his decision with the remark that nobility required the aid of money.

He accepted no bequests except those earned through friendship: strangers, and those in dispute with others and thereby naming the emperor as heir, he kept far from him. Yet, just as he eased honourable poverty in regard to innocent men, he removed from the senate or accepted the resignations of the following men, spendthrifts rendered poor through their vices: Vibidius Virro, Marius Nepos, Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sulla, and Quintus Vitellius.

Book II:XLIX Re-dedication of certain temples

At this time, he re-dedicated certain temples destroyed by time or fire, whose restoration Augustus had initiated: that of Liber, Libera and Ceres (the Aventine Triad), close to the Circus Maximus, vowed long ago by Aulus Postumius the dictator (c496BC); another, on the same site, founded by Lucius and Marcus Publicus in their aedileship (c240BC), dedicated to Flora; and a shrine of Janus, in the vegetable market, built by Gaius Duilius, who first won success for the Roman cause at sea, beating the Carthaginians (off Mylae, 260BC), and earning himself a naval triumph.

The temple of Hope, was re-dedicated by Germanicus: this had been vowed by Aulus Atilius Calatinus during the same war.

A Vestal Virgin tending fire

‘A Vestal Virgin tending fire’
François Lemoyne (French, 1688–1737
The Minneapolis Institute of Art

Book II:L Prosecution of Appuleia Varilla

Meanwhile use of the treason law spread. Even Appuleia Varilla, the great-granddaughter of Augustus’ half-sister (Octavia the Elder), was summoned by an informer under the statute, charged with insulting, in scandalous conversation, the deified Augustus, as well as Tiberius and his mother, Livia, while her connection with the emperor had been sullied by adultery.

It was thought that her adultery was sufficiently covered by the Julian Laws (17BC), while Tiberius requested that a distinction be drawn regarding the treason charge, condemning her if she had said anything sacrilegious with regard to Augustus, while not wishing anything regarding himself to be the subject of enquiry.

Asked by the consul what he decreed concerning the comments Varilla was accused of making about his mother, he was silent; but at the next meeting of the senate he asked, in Livia’s name also, that no one be incriminated by words spoken about her, whatever the circumstances.

After freeing Varilla from application of the treason law, indulgence was granted her regarding the graver penalty for adultery, Tiberius suggesting that, following ancestral precedent, she might be removed by her relatives beyond the two hundredth milestone. Her lover, Manlius, was banned from Italy and North Africa.

Book II:LI Germanicus and Drusus versus the Law

The appointment of a praetor to replace Vipstanus Gallus, whom death had taken, led to argument. Germanicus and Drusus, who were as yet still in Rome, favoured Haterius Agrippa, a relative of Germanicus. Against this, many relied on what the law decreed, that the number of a candidate’s children should decide the matter.

Tiberius was delighted to see the senate forced to decide between his sons and the law. The law was indeed defeated, but not immediately and by only a few votes, in the very manner in which laws were defeated when they were still worth something.

Book II:LII War in North Africa

That same year, war broke out in North Africa, the enemy being commanded by Tacfarinas. He, a Numidian by nationality, who had served as an auxiliary in the Roman camp, had soon deserted, and first gathering a band of vagrants and brigands accustomed to theft, then organising them in the military manner into troops and companies, he was finally recognised as the leader not of an undisciplined mob but of the Musulamian people.

This powerful tribe, bordering the African desert, at that time still lacking an urban culture, took up arms and drew the neighbouring Moors to join them: their leader being Mazippa. Their forces were kept apart, so that Tacfarinas could maintain a select group in camp, armed in the Roman manner, and train them in discipline and obedience, while Mazippa with a lightly-armed band spread terror, fire and slaughter.

They had already compelled the Cinithians, a not inconsiderable tribe, to the like, when Furius Camillus, proconsul of Africa, led his legion and the auxiliaries under standards, as one, against the enemy. It was a small force, considering the multitude of Numidians and Moors, but his greatest concern was that, through fear, the enemy might avoid battle; their hopes of victory however led them to defeat. Thus he positioned the legion in the centre, with light infantry and two squadrons of cavalry on the wings.

Nor did Tacfarinas decline to fight. The Numidians were routed, and after many years the name of Furius again won military honour. For since the days of Rome’s deliverer (Marcus Furius Camillus, in 390BC) and his son, the laurels of command had passed to other houses; and the Furius Camillus of whom we are speaking had little experience of warfare.

Tiberius was therefore all the readier to celebrate his exploits before the senate, while the Fathers voted him triumphal insignia, all without risk considering Camillus’ innate humility.

Book II:LIII Germanicus travels to Greece

The following year (AD18) Tiberius was consul for a third, Germanicus for a second time. But Germanicus entered into that office in the Achaian city of Nicopolis (Preveza, Greece), which he had reached via the Illyrian coast, after visiting his brother Drusus in Dalmatia.

He had endured a difficult passage of both the Adriatic and the Ionian seas, and therefore spent a few days refitting the fleet; at the same time viewing that gulf noted for the Battle of Actium and consecrated by Augustus with the spoils, as well as Antony’s encampment, all of familial significance to him, since Augustus, as I have said, was his great-uncle, Antony his grandfather, and before his eyes lay their great canvas of triumph and disaster.

From there he reached Athens, where he employed only a single lictor given our treaty with a city allied with us of old. The Greeks received him with most elaborate tributes, portraying the ancient actions and sayings of their people, by which they displayed dignity rather than mere adulation. 

Book II:LIV Germanicus reaches Asia Minor

From Athens he sailed to Euboea, then crossed to Lesbos, where Agrippina, in her last confinement, gave birth to a daughter, Julia. Reaching the coast of Asia Minor and the Thracian cities of Perinthus (Marmara Eriglisi, Turkey) and Byzantium (Istanbul), he entered the Bosphorus and the mouth of the Black Sea, desirous of viewing those ancient regions famous in legend, though equally bringing aid to provinces weary of maladministration and internal conflict.

On his return he sought to attend the sacred rites on the island of Samothrace, but was prevented from doing so by a northerly gale. Thus, after visiting Troy, its ancient remains a memorial to the mutability of fortune and the origins of Rome, he sailed south along the coast of Asian Minor and landed near Colophon (Degirmendere Fev, Turkey) to consult the oracle of Apollo Clarius.

The shrine harbours no prophetess, as at Delphi, but rather a male priest selected from certain families, and usually summoned from Miletus, who is told only the names and number of those consulting the oracle, and then descends into a cavern, drinks water from a hidden spring and, though generally ignorant of literature and poetry in particular, gives his response in regular verse regarding the matters each enquirer has in mind.

It is said that he prophesied Germanicus’ early death, though in ambiguous terms, as is usual with oracles.

End of the Annals Book II: XXXIII-LIV