2.27‑46 The opposition in Rome to Tiberius: Libo Drusus, Piso, and Asinius Gallus.

  1. At that time, Libo Drusus of the Scribonii family, was accused of scheming a revolution. Firmius Catus, a senator & friend of Libo’s, convinced him to consult with an astrologer, perform magical rites & get dreams interpreted. He focused on his great-grandfather, Pompeius, his aunt Scribonia, former wife of Augustus. He had a house full of ancestral busts & was urged to spend crazy amounts of money & incur debts.

  2. When he found enough witnesses, he asked for an audience with the emperor to indicate a crime through Flaccus Vescularius, a Roman knight. Caesar didn’t want to know but communication could be sent through Flaccus. Libo was made praetor & invited to the emperor’s table often to see what he’d been up to. Then a man named Junius told Fulcinius Trio he’d been talking to the dead. Trio was an informer with evil intentions – he went to the consuls & the Senate held a meeting.

  3. Libo wore mourning clothes & asked anyone who’s listen to help him out. All of them refused for various reasons. On the day that the Senate was going to meet, he showed up carried on a litter & then begged as a suppliant to Tiberius. Tiberius wasn’t interested & read out the accusations & accusers’ name calmly.

  4. Trio, Catus, Fonteius Agrippa & Caius Vibius were his main accusers & were vying to take the lead on his prosecution. Libo entered without counsel & the charges against him were read. One of them was absolutely ridiculous. He was accused of asking a fortune teller if he would ever get enough money to pave the Via Appia (road between Rome & Brundisium, over 300 miles long) with gold. Other accusations were even more frivolous. But there was one paper found written in Libo’s hand with the name of the Caesars & Senators with strange marks next to them. He denied it but a slave was make to speak about it under torture. There had been a law against it. So cleverly, Tiberius bought the slave & made him speak about it without violating any laws so Libo could be prosecuted. The senate tribunal adjourned for the rest of the day. He went home & asked Publius Quirinus, a relative of his to speak to Tiberius for him.

  5. They decided he should speak to the Senate himself. His house was surrounded by soldiers to keep an eye on him. They made such a rucked that they ruined what he figured to be his last meal at home. He asked for his servants to kill him but they recoiled so violently, they knocked over the lamps. When soldiers were able to turn the lights back on, he’d stabbed himself to death. However, the Senate allowed the prosecution to continue. Tiberius swore he would’ve let him live despite the fact he appeared so guilty.

  6. His property was divided among his accusers & those of Senatorial rank were given praetorships. His bust was not to be used in descendants’ funerals & no Scribonius would use the nickname Drusus again. A public holiday was declared to thank Jupiter, Mars & Concord for Libo killing himself. Decrees were issued to expel astrologers & magicians from Italy. One was hurled from the “Rock” & another was executed outside the Esquiline Gate to the sound of trumpets.

  7. The next day, the Senate meetings had Quintus Haterius & Octavius Fronto speak out against luxury. Gold vessels were not to be used for food & silk was not to be worn by men. Front was against gold on a plate, furniture & household establishments. But Gallus Asinius argued that more luxuries of the members of the state were an indicator of how well the state was doing as was evidenced in the past. To forbid leaders this was to forbid objects that might provide relief from anxieties. The Senate agreed, as did Tiberius.

  8. During the debate, Lucius Piso railed against the corruption of the courts, bribery of judges, cruel threats of accusations from hired orators & then declared he’d leave the capital to live far away. As he rose to leave the Senate House, Tiberius, nervous, tried to soothe Piso with soft words & urged Piso’s relatives to convince him not to go. Soon afterwards, Piso sued Urgulania for having a suspicious, above-the-law relationship with Augusta. In order to appease his mother, Augusta, Tiberius told her that he would go to the praetor’s court & support Urgulania, with soldiers in tow. Piso’s relatives did not succeed in convincing Piso to stay in Rome. Augusta offered money to make the matter go away. But the affair came back & Urgulania was called as a witness, which she refused. The praetor went to her home to take her statement, even though Vestal virgins were heard in courts.

  9. Then Gallus & the emperor had a dispute. Gallus proposed magistrate elections be held every 5 years instead of every year, & that legion commanders hold a praetor-elect position before holding full office, with the emperor selecting 12 candidates. Tiberius argued if his power were to be increased, it would only be for moderation & allow more candidates & more often to avoid offending losing candidates. It would give them the chance to run the next year. Winners would become arrogant in victory & losers would be embittered in their loss.

  10. Then Gallus & the emperor had a dispute. Gallus proposed magistrate elections be held every 5 years & legion commanders should hold a praetor-elect position before holing full office, with the emperor selecting 12 candidates for each election. Tiberius argued that if his power were to be increased, it would be for moderation & he would allow more candidates to avoid offending candidates who lost by giving them the chance to run the next year. Under Gallus’s proposal, winners would become arrogant in victory & losers would be embittered in their loss.

  11. Tiberius increased the income of some Senators. That fact made it surprising that he listened to the young & impoverished Marcus Hortalus. Marcus Hortalus was the grandson of famous orator, Hortensius & was encouraged through a gift of 1 million sesterces by Augustus, to marry & have lots of kids so the family line wouldn’t die out. Marcus stood by the door with his 4 sons waiting for his turn to speak. He spoke with his eyes on statues of Hortensius & Augustus: “I was compelled by Augustus, not out of my own accord, to have children. My ancestors deserved to have descendants. I was promised money to continue my family name but the emperor has not continued to make good on that promise but he’s seen fit to give money with others.”

  12. The Senate pushed Tiberius to oppose him, which he did: “If all men come here to beg for money, no one would ever be satisfied & the State would go belly up. I feel sure my predecessor wanted your family to carry but he wasn’t going to give you a privilege in the form of a special income for that. If we did that for all Senators, the public would be furious. It’s unfair to put me on the back foot to pay for your children. Fine, money was given to you by Augustus, but it was a one-time gift. I don’t want to encourage that sort of behavior.” The Senate heartily agreed with Tiberius. He suggested if the Senate were so inclined, they could offer him another single gift of 200000 sesterces per male child. That was end of that & later the family fell into further poverty.

  13. A servant of Postumus Agrippa, named Clemens, heard that Augustus had died & devised a plan to run off to the island of Planasia (Pianosia, Italy) & taking Agrippa & bringing him to the German armies. The merchant vessel’s slowness foiled the plan. Agrippa was murdered & he decided to take the ashes & sailed to Cosa (in Tuscany, Italy) & hung out there until he grew out his hair & beard. He was about the same age & build as Agrippa. He had emissaries spread rumors around that Agrippa was still alive. The rumors spread quickly & Clemens moved from town to town to make people all over that he was Agrippa & still alive, without getting close enough to see him

  14. Now people believed that heaven had saved Agrippa from death. By the time he reached Ostia, he had gathered a lot of interest. Tiberius debated whether he should use the military to end this matter or to let it play out. At times he felt he shouldn’t overlook anything & other times he felt like he shouldn’t be afraid of small things like this. He entrusted the matter to Sallustius Cripsus, who got 2 men to join the man’s cause & offer him money & help if he needed it. They did so & then in the middle of the night, they bound & gagged him, & then took him to the palace. Tiberius him how he had become Agrippa, he replied “The same way you became Caesar.” He said nothing else. Tiberius didn’t want a public execution but ordered him killed in private & have his body removed in secret.

  15. By the end of the year, an arch near the Temple of Saturn was consecrated to celebrate the recovery of Varus’s lost standards by Germanicus. A temple was build For Fortuna, as was chapel to the Julian family & statues of Augustus. On May 26th, a celebration was held to celebrate victories in Germany. They paraded spoils & prisoners, as well as representations of German geography. There was still the reminder of those who died for the cause.

  16. Tiberius gave everyone in the city 300 sesterces in Germanicus’s name & nominated himself his colleague in consulship. This was his way of getting Germanicus out of his way in terms of popularity. King Archelaus had ruled Cappadocia for the last 50 years & was hated by Tiberius for not showing him respect in person some time in the past. This may have come from the fact that when Caius Caesar was ruling the East under Augustus, to be a friend of Tiberius’s was dangerous, so Archelaus avoided him. After the end of the Caesar family, Tiberius’s mother wrote to Archelaus to go to Rome & beg for Tiberius’s forgiveness. Archelaus didn’t suspect a thing & hurried to Rome. Tiberius received him without mercy & had him arraigned before the Senate. Either the stress of the situation or the embarrassment resulted in Achelaus’s death, possibly suicide. The Kingdom was reduced to a province & fixed a 0.5% sales tax on commerce. Kings of the Commageni & the Cilicians, Antiolochus & Philopator died. The countries mostly wanted to be ruled by Rome. The provinces of Syria & Judea asked to pay lower tributes to Rome.

  17. Tiberius put these matters & that of Armenia to the Senate saying only Germanicus could calm them down. He was on the decline & Drusus wasn’t mature enough. So Germanicus was sent eastward. Tiberius removed Cretius Silanus ( whose daughter was bethrothed to Germanicus’s eldest son, Nero) from Syria. Cneius Piso was his replacement. Piso had a violent temper, little obedience & was extremely arrogant. His father fought against Caesar in Africa & then joined Cassius & Brutus. Eventually the father was offered a consulship by Augustus. He also had a rich mother. He looked down on Tiberius’s children & family, & was upset by Germanicus’s appointment to the area. There was division & discord about Tiberius’s family getting undue favors, especially Drusus. There was in fact a rivalry between Germanicus & Drusus.

  18. Drusus was sent to Illyricum to get military service time & win their favor. Tiberius felt it’d be better for Drusus to leave Rome. He felt quite safe with Germanicus & Drusus as leaders of the army. Once the Romans left Germany, the Suevi & Cherusci were at each other’s throats. Maroboduus was hated & Arminius loved.

  19. The Suevi, their allies & Arminius’s old troops & other tribe. Inguiomerus defected to Maroboduus’s group, mostly because he didn’t wanted to be led by his young nephew, Arminius. Arminius renewed his attacks this time on the Suevi & their allies. Arminius rode up on horseback speaking about his tribe’s freedom & all the Roman standards he’d collected. He called Maroboduus a fugitive, a traitor & inexperienced, as well as Caesar’s stooge. He said he would to them what he’d done to Varus.

  20. Maroboduus railed back at him for bragging about someone else’s feats & he’d only defeated Varus through shameful trickery, embarrassing Germany & subjecting it to potential slavery out of revenge. Maroboduus bragged how he had fought off 12 legions with untarnished glory. The 2 sides went at each other. Maroboduus had many of his men desert on him & ran off to the Marcomanni, & asking for help. Rome answered that he had no right to ask for help against the Cherusci since he had refused to help Rome against them. Drusus was sent to establish peace.

 

 

Leave a Reply