Successful as was this settlement of all the interests of our allies,
it gave Germanicus little joy because of the arrogance of Piso. Though
he had been ordered to march part of the legions into Armenia under
his own or his son’s command, he had neglected to do either. At length
the two met at Cyrrhus, the winterquarters of the tenth legion, each
controlling his looks, Piso concealing his fears, Germanicus shunning
the semblance of menace. He was indeed, as I have said, a kind-hearted
man. But friends who knew well how to inflame a quarrel, exaggerated
what was true and added lies, alleging various charges against Piso,
Plancina, and their sons.

At last, in the presence of a few intimate associates, Germanicus
addressed him in language such as suppressed resentment suggests,
to which Piso replied with haughty apologies. They parted in open
enmity. After this Piso was seldom seen at Caesar’s tribunal, and
if he ever sat by him, it was with a sullen frown and a marked display
of opposition. He was even heard to say at a banquet given by the
king of the Nabataeans, when some golden crowns of great weight were
presented to Caesar and Agrippina and light ones to Piso and the rest,
that the entertainment was given to the son of a Roman emperor, not
of a Parthian king. At the same time he threw his crown on the ground,
with a long speech against luxury, which, though it angered Germanicus,
he still bore with patience.

Meantime envoys arrived from Artabanus, king of the Parthians. He
had sent them to recall the memory of friendship and alliance, with
an assurance that he wished for a renewal of the emblems of concord,
and that he would in honour of Germanicus yield the point of advancing
to the bank of the Euphrates. He begged meanwhile that Vonones might
not be kept in Syria, where, by emissaries from an easy distance,
he might draw the chiefs of the tribes into civil strife. Germanicus’
answer as to the alliance between Rome and Parthia was dignified;
as to the king’s visit and the respect shown to himself, it was graceful
and modest. Vonones was removed to Pompeiopolis, a city on the coast
of Cilicia. This was not merely a concession to the request of Artabanus,
but was meant as an affront to Piso, who had a special liking for
Vonones, because of the many attentions and presents by which he had
won Plancina’s favour.

In the consulship of Marcus Silanus and Lucius Norbanus, Germanicus
set out for Egypt to study its antiquities. His ostensible motive
however was solicitude for the province. He reduced the price of corn
by opening the granaries, and adopted many practices pleasing to the
multitude. He would go about without soldiers, with sandalled feet,
and apparelled after the Greek fashion, in imitation of Publius Scipio,
who, it is said, habitually did the same in Sicily, even when the
war with Carthage was still raging. Tiberius having gently expressed
disapproval of his dress and manners, pronounced a very sharp censure
on his visit to Alexandria without the emperor’s leave, contrary to
the regulations of Augustus. That prince, among other secrets of imperial
policy, had forbidden senators and Roman knights of the higher rank
to enter Egypt except by permission, and he had specially reserved
the country, from a fear that any one who held a province containing
the key of the land and of the sea, with ever so small a force against
the mightiest army, might distress Italy by famine.

Germanicus, however, who had not yet learnt how much he was blamed
for his expedition, sailed up the Nile from the city of Canopus as
his starting-point. Spartans founded the place because Canopus, pilot
of one of their ships, had been buried there, when Menelaus on his
return to Greece was driven into a distant sea and to the shores of
Libya. Thence he went to the river’s nearest mouth, dedicated to a
Hercules who, the natives say, was born in the country and was the
original hero, others, who afterwards showed like valour, having received
his name. Next he visited the vast ruins of ancient Thebes. There
yet remained on the towering piles Egyptian inscriptions, with a complete
account of the city’s past grandeur. One of the aged priests, who
was desired to interpret the language of his country, related how
once there had dwelt in Thebes seven hundred thousand men of military
age, and how with such an army king Rhamses conquered Libya, Ethiopia,
Media, Persia, Bactria, and Scythia, and held under his sway the countries
inhabited by the Syrians, Armenians, and their neighbours, the Cappadocians,
from the Bithynian to the Lycian sea. There was also to be read what
tributes were imposed on these nations, the weight of silver and gold,
the tale of arms and horses, the gifts of ivory and of perfumes to
the temples, with the amount of grain and supplies furnished by each
people, a revenue as magnificent as is now exacted by the might of
Parthia or the power of Rome.

But Germanicus also bestowed attention on other wonders. Chief of
these were the stone image of Memnon, which, when struck by the sun’s
rays, gives out the sound of a human voice; the pyramids, rising up
like mountains amid almost impassable wastes of shifting sand, raised
by the emulation and vast wealth of kings; the lake hollowed out of
the earth to be a receptacle for the Nile’s overflow; and elsewhere
the river’s narrow channel and profound depth which no line of the
explorer can penetrate. He then came to Elephantine and Syene, formerly
the limits of the Roman empire, which now extends to the Red Sea.
The Annals by Tacitus