Not satisfied with judicial proceedings in the Senate, the emperor
would sit at one end of the Praetor’s tribunal, but so as not to displace
him from the official seat. Many decisions were given in his presence,
in opposition to improper influence and the solicitations of great
men. This, though it promoted justice, ruined freedom. Pius Aurelius,
for example, a senator, complained that the foundations of his house
had been weakened by the pressure of a public road and aqueduct, and
he appealed to the Senate for assistance. He was opposed by the praetors
of the treasury, but the emperor helped him, and paid him the value
of his house, for he liked to spend money on a good purpose, a virtue
which he long retained, when he cast off all others. To Propertius
Celer, an ex-praetor, who sought because of his indigence to be excused
from his rank as a senator, he gave a million sesterces, having ascertained
that he had inherited poverty. He bade others, who attempted the same,
prove their case to the Senate, as from his love of strictness he
was harsh even where he acted on right grounds. Consequently every
one else preferred silence and poverty to confession and relief.

In the same year the Tiber, swollen by continuous rains, flooded the
level portions of the city. Its subsidence was followed by a destruction
of buildings and of life. Thereupon Asinius Gallus proposed to consult
the Sibylline books. Tiberius refused, veiling in obscurity the divine
as well as the human. However, the devising of means to confine the
river was intrusted to Ateius Capito and Lucius Arruntius.

Achaia and Macedonia, on complaining of their burdens, were, it was
decided, to be relieved for a time from proconsular government and
to be transferred to the emperor. Drusus presided over a show of gladiators
which he gave in his own name and in that of his brother Germanicus,
for he gloated intensely over bloodshed, however cheap its victims.
This was alarming to the populace, and his father had, it was said,
rebuked him. Why Tiberius kept away from the spectacle was variously
explained. According to some, it was his loathing of a crowd, according
to others, his gloomy temper, and a fear of contrast with the gracious
presence of Augustus. I cannot believe that he deliberately gave his
son the opportunity of displaying his ferocity and provoking the people’s
disgust, though even this was said.

Meanwhile the unruly tone of the theatre which first showed itself
in the preceding year, broke out with worse violence, and some soldiers
and a centurion, besides several of the populace, were killed, and
the tribune of a praetorian cohort was wounded, while they were trying
to stop insults to the magistrates and the strife of the mob. This
disturbance was the subject of a debate in the Senate, and opinions
were expressed in favour of the praetors having authority to scourge
actors. Haterius Agrippa, tribune of the people, interposed his veto,
and was sharply censured in a speech from Asinius Gallus, without
a word from Tiberius, who liked to allow the Senate such shows of
freedom. Still the interposition was successful, because Augustus
had once pronounced that actors were exempt from the scourge, and
it was not lawful for Tiberius to infringe his decisions. Many enactments
were passed to fix the amount of their pay and to check the disorderly
behaviour of their partisans. Of these the chief were that no Senator
should enter the house of a pantomime player, that Roman knights should
not crowd round them in the public streets, that they should exhibit
themselves only in the theatre, and that the praetors should be empowered
to punish with banishment any riotous conduct in the spectators.

A request from the Spaniards that they might erect a temple to Augustus
in the colony of Tarraco was granted, and a precedent thus given for
all the provinces. When the people of Rome asked for a remission of
the one per cent. tax on all saleable commodities, Tiberius declared
by edict “that the military exchequer depended on that branch of revenue,
and, further, that the State was unequal to the burden, unless the
twentieth year of service were to be that of the veteran’s discharge.”
Thus the ill-advised results of the late mutiny, by which a limit
of sixteen campaigns had been extorted, were cancelled for the future.

A question was then raised in the Senate by Arruntius and Ateius whether,
in order to restrain the inundations of the Tiber, the rivers and
lakes which swell its waters should be diverted from their courses.
A hearing was given to embassies from the municipal towns and colonies,
and the people of Florentia begged that the Clanis might not be turned
out of its channel and made to flow into the Arnus, as that would
bring ruin on themselves. Similar arguments were used by the inhabitants
of Interamna. The most fruitful plains of Italy, they said, would
be destroyed if the river Nar (for this was the plan proposed) were
to be divided into several streams and overflow the country. Nor did
the people of Reate remain silent. They remonstrated against the closing
up of the Veline lake, where it empties itself into the Nar, “as it
would burst in a flood on the entire neighbourhood. Nature had admirably
provided for human interests in having assigned to rivers their mouths,
their channels, and their limits, as well as their sources. Regard,
too, must be paid to the different religions of the allies, who had
dedicated sacred rites, groves, and altars to the rivers of their
country. Tiber himself would be altogether unwilling to be deprived
of his neighbour streams and to flow with less glory.” Either the
entreaties of the colonies, or the difficulty of the work or superstitious
motives prevailed, and they yielded to Piso’s opinion, who declared
himself against any change.
The Annals by Tacitus