Meanwhile a rumour had spread that our army was cut off, and that
a furious German host was marching on Gaul. And had not Agrippina
prevented the bridge over the Rhine from being destroyed, some in
their cowardice would have dared that base act. A woman of heroic
spirit, she assumed during those days the duties of a general, and
distributed clothes or medicine among the soldiers, as they were destitute
or wounded. According to Caius Plinius, the historian of the German
wars, she stood at the extremity of the bridge, and bestowed praise
and thanks on the returning legions. This made a deep impression on
the mind of Tiberius. “Such zeal,” he thought, “could not be guileless;
it was not against a foreign foe that she was thus courting the soldiers.
Generals had nothing left them when a woman went among the companies,
attended the standards, ventured on bribery, as though it showed but
slight ambition to parade her son in a common soldier’s uniform, and
wish him to be called Caesar Caligula. Agrippina had now more power
with the armies than officers, than generals. A woman had quelled
a mutiny which the sovereign’s name could not check.” All this was
inflamed and aggravated by Sejanus, who, with his thorough comprehension
of the character of Tiberius, sowed for a distant future hatreds which
the emperor might treasure up and might exhibit when fully matured.

Of the legions which he had conveyed by ship, Germanicus gave the
second and fourteenth to Publius Vitellius, to be marched by land,
so that the fleet might sail more easily over a sea full of shoals,
or take the ground more lightly at the ebb-tide. Vitellius at first
pursued his route without interruption, having a dry shore, or the
waves coming in gently. After a while, through the force of the north
wind and the equinoctial season, when the sea swells to its highest,
his army was driven and tossed hither and thither. The country too
was flooded; sea, shore, fields presented one aspect, nor could the
treacherous quicksands be distinguished from solid ground or shallows
from deep water. Men were swept away by the waves or sucked under
by eddies; beasts of burden, baggage, lifeless bodies floated about
and blocked their way. The companies were mingled in confusion, now
with the breast, now with the head only above water, sometimes losing
their footing and parted from their comrades or drowned. The voice
of mutual encouragement availed not against the adverse force of the
waves. There was nothing to distinguish the brave from the coward,
the prudent from the careless, forethought from chance; the same strong
power swept everything before it. At last Vitellius struggled out
to higher ground and led his men up to it. There they passed the night,
without necessary food, without fire, many of them with bare or bruised
limbs, in a plight as pitiable as that of men besieged by an enemy.
For such, at least, have the opportunity of a glorious death, while
here was destruction without honour. Daylight restored land to their
sight, and they pushed their way to the river Visurgis, where Caesar
had arrived with the fleet. The legions then embarked, while a rumour
was flying about that they were drowned. Nor was there a belief in
their safety till they saw Caesar and the army returned.

By this time Stertinius, who had been despatched to receive the surrender
of Segimerus, brother of Segestes, had conducted the chief, together
with his son, to the canton of the Ubii. Both were pardoned, Segimerus
readily, the son with some hesitation, because it was said that he
had insulted the corpse of Quintilius Varus. Meanwhile Gaul, Spain,
and Italy vied in repairing the losses of the army, offering whatever
they had at hand, arms, horses, gold. Germanicus having praised their
zeal, took only for the war their arms and horses, and relieved the
soldiers out of his own purse. And that he might also soften the remembrance
of the disaster by kindness, he went round to the wounded, applauded
the feats of soldier after soldier, examined their wounds, raised
the hopes of one, the ambition of another, and the spirits of all
by his encouragement and interest, thus strengthening their ardour
for himself and for battle.

That year triumphal honours were decreed to Aulus Caecina, Lucius
Apronius, Caius Silius for their achievements under Germanicus. The
title of “father of his country,” which the people had so often thrust
on him, Tiberius refused, nor would he allow obedience to be sworn
to his enactments, though the Senate voted it, for he said repeatedly
that all human things were uncertain, and that the more he had obtained,
the more precarious was his position. But he did not thereby create
a belief in his patriotism, for he had revived the law of treason,
the name of which indeed was known in ancient times, though other
matters came under its jurisdiction, such as the betrayal of an army,
or seditious stirring up of the people, or, in short, any corrupt
act by which a man had impaired “the majesty of the people of Rome.”
Deeds only were liable to accusation; words went unpunished. It was
Augustus who first, under colour of this law, applied legal inquiry
to libellous writings provoked, as he had been, by the licentious
freedom with which Cassius Severus had defamed men and women of distinction
in his insulting satires. Soon afterwards, Tiberius, when consulted
by Pompeius Macer, the praetor, as to whether prosecutions for treason
should be revived, replied that the laws must be enforced. He too
had been exasperated by the publication of verses of uncertain authorship,
pointed at his cruelty, his arrogance, and his dissensions with his

It will not be uninteresting if I relate in the cases of Falanius
and Rubrius, Roman knights of moderate fortune, the first experiments
at such accusations, in order to explain the origin of a most terrible
scourge, how by Tiberius’s cunning it crept in among us, how subsequently
it was checked, finally, how it burst into flame and consumed everything.
Against Falanius it was alleged by his accuser that he had admitted
among the votaries of Augustus, who in every great house were associated
into a kind of brotherhood, one Cassius, a buffoon of infamous life,
and that he had also in selling his gardens included in the sale a
statue of Augustus. Against Rubrius the charge was that he had violated
by perjury the divinity of Augustus. When this was known to Tiberius,
he wrote to the consuls “that his father had not had a place in heaven
decreed to him, that the honour might be turned to the destruction
of the citizens. Cassius, the actor, with men of the same profession,
used to take part in the games which had been consecrated by his mother
to the memory of Augustus. Nor was it contrary to the religion of
the State for the emperor’s image, like those of other deities, to
be added to a sale of gardens and houses. As to the oath, the thing
ought to be considered as if the man had deceived Jupiter. Wrongs
done to the gods were the gods’ concern.”

Not long afterwards, Granius Marcellus, proconsul of Bithynia, was
accused of treason by his quaestor, Caepio Crispinus, and the charge
was supported by Romanus Hispo. Crispinus then entered on a line of
life afterwards rendered notorious by the miseries of the age and
men’s shamelessness. Needy, obscure, and restless, he wormed himself
by stealthy informations into the confidence of a vindictive prince,
and soon imperilled all the most distinguished citizens; and having
thus gained influence with one, hatred from all besides, he left an
example in following which beggars became wealthy, the insignificant,
formidable, and brought ruin first on others, finally on themselves.
He alleged against Marcellus that he had made some disrespectful remarks
about Tiberius, a charge not to be evaded, inasmuch as the accuser
selected the worst features of the emperor’s character and grounded
his case on them. The things were true, and so were believed to have
been said.

Hispo added that Marcellus had placed his own statue above those of
the Caesars, and had set the bust of Tiberius on another statue from
which he had struck off the head of Augustus. At this the emperor’s
wrath blazed forth, and, breaking through his habitual silence, he
exclaimed that in such a case he would himself too give his vote openly
on oath, that the rest might be under the same obligation. There lingered
even then a few signs of expiring freedom. And so Cneius Piso asked,
“In what order will you vote, Caesar? If first, I shall know what
to follow; if last, I fear that I may differ from you unwillingly.”
Tiberius was deeply moved, and repenting of the outburst, all the
more because of its thoughtlessness, he quietly allowed the accused
to be acquitted of the charges of treason. As for the question of
extortion, it was referred to a special commission.
The Annals by Tacitus