Meantime Germanicus, while, as I have related, he was collecting the
taxes of Gaul, received news of the death of Augustus. He was married
to the granddaughter of Augustus, Agrippina, by whom he had several
children, and though he was himself the son of Drusus, brother of
Tiberius, and grandson of Augusta, he was troubled by the secret hatred
of his uncle and grandmother, the motives for which were the more
venomous because unjust. For the memory of Drusus was held in honour
by the Roman people, and they believed that had he obtained empire,
he would have restored freedom. Hence they regarded Germanicus with
favour and with the same hope. He was indeed a young man of unaspiring
temper, and of wonderful kindliness, contrasting strongly with the
proud and mysterious reserve that marked the conversation and the
features of Tiberius. Then, there were feminine jealousies, Livia
feeling a stepmother’s bitterness towards Agrippina, and Agrippina
herself too being rather excitable, only her purity and love of her
husband gave a right direction to her otherwise imperious disposition.

But the nearer Germanicus was to the highest hope, the more laboriously
did he exert himself for Tiberius, and he made the neighbouring Sequani
and all the Belgic states swear obedience to him. On hearing of the
mutiny in the legions, he instantly went to the spot, and met them
outside the camp, eyes fixed on the ground, and seemingly repentant.
As soon as he entered the entrenchments, confused murmurs became audible.
Some men, seizing his hand under pretence of kissing it, thrust his
fingers into their mouths, that he might touch their toothless gums;
others showed him their limbs bowed with age. He ordered the throng
which stood near him, as it seemed a promiscuous gathering, to separate
itself into its military companies. They replied that they would hear
better as they were. The standards were then to be advanced, so that
thus at least the cohorts might be distinguished. The soldiers obeyed
reluctantly. Then beginning with a reverent mention of Augustus, he
passed on to the victories and triumphs of Tiberius, dwelling with
especial praise on his glorious achievements with those legions in
Germany. Next, he extolled the unity of Italy, the loyalty of Gaul,
the entire absence of turbulence or strife. He was heard in silence
or with but a slight murmur.

As soon as he touched on the mutiny and asked what had become of soldierly
obedience, of the glory of ancient discipline, whither they had driven
their tribunes and centurions, they all bared their bodies and taunted
him with the scars of their wounds and the marks of the lash. And
then with confused exclamations they spoke bitterly of the prices
of exemptions, of their scanty pay, of the severity of their tasks,
with special mention of the entrenchment, the fosse, the conveyance
of fodder, building-timber, firewood, and whatever else had to be
procured from necessity, or as a check on idleness in the camp. The
fiercest clamour arose from the veteran soldiers, who, as they counted
their thirty campaigns or more, implored him to relieve worn-out men,
and not let them die under the same hardships, but have an end of
such harassing service, and repose without beggary. Some even claimed
the legacy of the Divine Augustus, with words of good omen for Germanicus,
and, should he wish for empire, they showed themselves abundantly
willing. Thereupon, as though he were contracting the pollution of
guilt, he leapt impetuously from the tribunal. The men opposed his
departure with their weapons, threatening him repeatedly if he would
not go back. But Germanicus protesting that he would die rather than
cast off his loyalty, plucked his sword from his side, raised it aloft
and was plunging it into his breast, when those nearest him seized
his hand and held it by force. The remotest and most densely crowded
part of the throng, and, what almost passes belief, some, who came
close up to him, urged him to strike the blow, and a soldier, by name
Calusidius, offered him a drawn sword, saying that it was sharper
than his own. Even in their fury, this seemed to them a savage act
and one of evil precedent, and there was a pause during which Caesar’s
friends hurried him into his tent.

There they took counsel how to heal matters. For news was also brought
that the soldiers were preparing the despatch of envoys who were to
draw the upper army into their cause; that the capital of the Ubii
was marked out for destruction, and that hands with the stain of plunder
on them would soon be daring enough for the pillage of Gaul. The alarm
was heightened by the knowledge that the enemy was aware of the Roman
mutiny, and would certainly attack if the Rhine bank were undefended.
Yet if the auxiliary troops and allies were to be armed against the
retiring legions, civil war was in fact begun. Severity would be dangerous;
profuse liberality would be scandalous. Whether all or nothing were
conceded to the soldiery, the State was equally in jeopardy.

Accordingly, having weighed their plans one against each other, they
decided that a letter should be written in the prince’s name, to the
effect that full discharge was granted to those who had served in
twenty campaigns; that there was a conditional release for those who
had served sixteen, and that they were to be retained under a standard
with immunity from everything except actually keeping off the enemy;
that the legacies which they had asked, were to be paid and doubled.

The soldiers perceived that all this was invented for the occasion,
and instantly pressed their demands. The discharge from service was
quickly arranged by the tribunes. Payment was put off till they reached
their respective winterquarters. The men of the fifth and twenty-first
legions refused to go till in the summer-camp where they stood the
money was made up out of the purses of Germanicus himself and his
friends, and paid in full. The first and twentieth legions were led
back by their officer Caecina to the canton of the Ubii, marching
in disgrace, since sums of money which had been extorted from the
general were carried among the eagles and standards. Germanicus went
to the Upper Army, and the second, thirteenth, and sixteenth legions,
without any delay, accepted from him the oath of allegiance. The fourteenth
hesitated a little, but their money and the discharge were offered
even without their demanding it.
The Annals by Tacitus