This letter Latinius Pandus, propraetor of Moesia, sent to Thrace,
with soldiers to whose custody Cotys was to be delivered. Rhescuporis,
hesitating between fear and rage, preferred to be charged with an
accomplished rather than with an attempted crime. He ordered Cotys
to be murdered and falsely represented his death as self-inflicted.
Still the emperor did not change the policy which he had once for
all adopted. On the death of Pandus, whom Rhescuporis accused of being
his personal enemy, he appointed to the government of Moesia Pomponius
Flaccus, a veteran soldier, specially because of his close intimacy
with the king and his consequent ability to entrap him.
Flaccus on arriving in Thrace induced the king by great promises,
though he hesitated and thought of his guilty deeds, to enter the
Roman lines. He then surrounded him with a strong force under pretence
of showing him honour, and the tribunes and centurions, by counsel,
by persuasion, and by a more undisguised captivity the further he
went, brought him, aware at last of his desperate plight, to Rome.
He was accused before the Senate by the wife of Cotys, and was condemned
to be kept a prisoner far away from his kingdom. Thrace was divided
between his son Rhoemetalces, who, it was proved, had opposed his
father’s designs, and the sons of Cotys. As these were still minors,
Trebellienus Rufus, an expraetor, was appointed to govern the kingdom
in the meanwhile, after the precedent of our ancestors who sent Marcus
Lepidus into Egypt as guardian to Ptolemy’s children. Rhescuporis
was removed to Alexandria, and there attempting or falsely charged
with attempting escape, was put to death.
About the same time, Vonones, who, as I have related, had been banished
to Cilicia, endeavoured by bribing his guards to escape into Armenia,
thence to Albania and Heniochia, and to his kinsman, the king of Scythia.
Quitting the sea-coast on the pretence of a hunting expedition, he
struck into trackless forests, and was soon borne by his swift steed
to the river Pyramus, the bridges over which had been broken down
by the natives as soon as they heard of the king’s escape. Nor was
there a ford by which it could be crossed. And so on the river’s bank
he was put in chains by Vibius Fronto, an officer of cavalry; and
then Remmius, an enrolled pensioner, who had previously been entrusted
with the king’s custody, in pretended rage, pierced him with his sword.
Hence there was more ground for believing that the man, conscious
of guilty complicity and fearing accusation, had slain Vonones.
Germanicus meanwhile, as he was returning from Egypt, found that all
his directions to the legions and to the various cities had been repealed
or reversed. This led to grievous insults on Piso, while he as savagely
assailed the prince. Piso then resolved to quit Syria. Soon he was
detained there by the failing health of Germanicus, but when he heard
of his recovery, while people were paying the vows they had offered
for his safety, he went attended by his lictors, drove away the victims
placed by the altars with all the preparations for sacrifice, and
the festal gathering of the populace of Antioch. Then he left for
Seleucia and awaited the result of the illness which had again attacked
Germanicus. The terrible intensity of the malady was increased by
the belief that he had been poisoned by Piso. And certainly there
were found hidden in the floor and in the walls disinterred remains
of human bodies, incantations and spells, and the name of Germanicus
inscribed on leaden tablets, half-burnt cinders smeared with blood,
and other horrors by which in popular belief souls are devoted so
the infernal deities. Piso too was accused of sending emissaries to
note curiously every unfavourable symptom of the illness.
Germanicus heard of all this with anger, no less than with fear. “If
my doors,” he said, “are to be besieged, if I must gasp out my last
breath under my enemies’ eyes, what will then be the lot of my most
unhappy wife, of my infant children? Poisoning seems tedious; he is
in eager haste to have the sole control of the province and the legions.
But Germanicus is not yet fallen so low, nor will the murderer long
retain the reward of the fatal deed.”
He then addressed a letter to Piso, renouncing his friendship, and,
as many also state, ordered him to quit the province. Piso without
further delay weighed anchor, slackening his course that he might
not have a long way to return should Germanicus’ death leave Syria
open to him.
The Annals by Tacitus