4.23‑31 The war against Tacfarinas finally over. More prosecutions.

  1. This was the last year of the struggles with the Numidian Tacfarinas. Former generals thought it was all over & let him roam. There were statues all over Rome celebrating his defeat but he was still at large, ravaging Africa, getting help from the Moors who were growing due to the careless rule of Ptolemaeus, son of Juba. He had the king of the Garamantes to receive his plunder & as a partner in his raids, not with a regular army but with light troops whose strength rumors overestimate. He gained many followers. After Blaesus had gained victory, the 8th legion was sent back to Rome. Dolabella refused to keep it because he was afraid of Tiberius getting angry at seeing him risking war with the locals.

  2. Tacfarinas spread rumors that other nations were tearing the empire apart so that was why it was removing soldiers from Africa. Those who remained could be cut off by people who loved freedom more than slavery. He beefed up his force & besieged the town of Thubuscum. Dolabella collected troops & attacked & raised the siege. Numidians could not withstand a straight infantry attack. Dolabella fortified good positions & beheaded some Musulmani chiefs who were close to rebellion. They tried expeditions against Tacfarinas but ultimately they were fruitless. Dolabella asked Ptolemaeus for help. He received 4 columns under the command of his lieutenants & tribunes. Marauding parties were led by picked Moors. Dolabella was directing all operations in person.

  3. News came that the Numidians set up camp bu a half-demolished fortress called Auzea. It was enclosed by forests, so they thought they were safe. The light infantry & cavalry, without knowing where they were being led, marched quickly. The next morning, the Romans attacked the half-asleep barbarians, whose horses were out to pasture or tied up. The Romans caught them utterly by surprise, unarmed, disordered & without a plan. They were either seized, slaughtered or captured. The Roman soldiers resented the barbarians for having eluded capture previously & took revenge on them. Word got around – find Tacfarinas who they knew would cause more problems if allowed to go free. His guards had been killed & his son had been taken prisoner. Rather than be taken captive, he plunged on the Roman swords.

  4. The war was finally & truly over. Dolabella asked for triumphal distinctions but Tiberius refused because Blaesus was Sejanus’s uncle & Blaesus didn’t wish to be forgotten. This only served to heighten Dolabella’s renown. He had had a smaller army, taken illustrious prisoners & had the fame of killing the leader of the rebellion, Tacfarinas – something Blaesus was unable to do. Dolabella brought back some Garamantes to parade throughout the streets of Rome. For having helped Rome, Ptolemaeus was given an ivory scepter, an embroidered rob & the titles of King, Ally & Friend.

  5. That same summer, the seeds of a slave war in Italy were crushed by fortunate accidents. The originator of the slave revolt, was once a soldier in the praetorian guard. He started with secret meetings in Brundisium & later publicly with placards, inciting the rural & savage slave population to demand freedom. By chance, 3 ships happened to be passing by. Also by chance, quaestor, Curtius Lupus, who’d had the woodland pastures assigned to him, was in the area. He was able to break up the revolt at once. Tiberius sent Staius, a tribune, with a detachment to bring the prisoners back to Rome where the slave population was already outnumbering the free population.

  6. There was another terrible case that came up that year. There was a father as a defendant & a son as a prosecutor (both named Vibius Serenus). Both were brought to the Senate. The father was dirty & in chains from his exile. The son pleaded for the father’s guilt. He claimed that his father was plotting against the emperor & was sent to Gaul to incite rebellion, flush with money furnished by ex-praetor, Caecilius Cornutus. Cornutus killed himself upon being accused. But the elder Serenus stood fearless against the accusation, looked at his son & asked the gods to avenge him. He asked to be returned to exile far from anywhere that a son would do such a thing to his son. He claimed that Cornutus was also innocent. To him, it was ridiculous that one man, with the help of another could kill the emperor & plot a revolution.

  7. The prosecutor charged 2 men, Cneius Lentulus & Seius Tubero, with a hostile rebellion & disturbance of the public peace. They happened to be old friends of Tiberius’s. One was very old & the other very sick. They were quickly acquitted. The father’s slaves were tortured without any result. The father ran off after he was threatened with jail & torture. He was brought to Ravenna & prosecuted. Tiberius watched the trial with a grudge. After Libo’s conviction, Serenus sent an angry letter to the emperor for not rewarding the zeal he had shown in the prosecution of the trial. He also hinted at Tiberius’s insolence. Tiberius revived this letter 8 years later, charging him with misconduct, even though torture couldn’t provide any evidence of his guilt on the current charges.

  8. The Senate voted that the 2 men should be punished by an old precedent but Tiberius vetoed it. Gaius Asinius suggested they be exiled to Gyaros or Donusa. Tiberius rejected them because there was no potable water there & they ought to have at least the bare necessities to survive. Serenus was sent to Amorgus. Because Cornutus committed suicide, his informers were denied a reward since the man’s trial was never completed. However, the emperor made sure that the informers weren’t denied the money, claiming to do so would discourage people from informing the state of treasonous acts. Such lack of incentives would bring the state to ruin. To him, it was better to subvert the constitution than to remove its guardians. The informer class was created to destroy the commonwealth. They were never controlled by penalties & only stimulated by rewards.

  9. Caius Cominius, a Roman knight, was spared by Tiberius. He’d written libelous poems about him. His brother, a senator, interceded on his behalf. It was clear when Tiberius chose forgiveness & clemency, & when he wouldn’t. He would choose to be magnanimous whenever it proved that he would get praise for being forgiving. He would not if it did not suit his desire for praise or if it made him look bad. Former quaestor to Germanicus, Publius Suillius was to be expelled from Italy for receiving money for a decision. The emperor intervened in the case & swore to the Senate that exiling the man would be the best course of action. But when it could get the emperor high esteem, he brought the man back from exile. Exile was also given to Catus Firmius, a senator, for having allegedly falsely accused his own sister of treason. Catus was the one who had drawn Libo into a trap & destroyed him with information obtained from an informer. Tiberius remembered that fact & lightened the sentence to exile but Catus was still expelled from the Senate.

 

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