Formerly rich or highly distinguished noble families often sank into
ruin from a passion for splendour. Even then men were still at liberty
to court and be courted by the city populace, by our allies and by
foreign princes, and every one who from his wealth, his mansion and
his establishment was conspicuously grand, gained too proportionate
lustre by his name and his numerous clientele. After the savage massacres
in which greatness of renown was fatal, the survivors turned to wiser
ways. The new men who were often admitted into the Senate from the
towns, colonies and even the provinces, introduced their household
thrift, and though many of them by good luck or energy attained an
old age of wealth, still their former tastes remained. But the chief
encourager of strict manners was Vespasian, himself old-fashioned
both in his dress and diet. Henceforth a respectful feeling towards
the prince and a love of emulation proved more efficacious than legal
penalties or terrors. Or possibly there is in all things a kind of
cycle, and there may be moral revolutions just as there are changes
of seasons. Nor was everything better in the past, but our own age
too has produced many specimens of excellence and culture for posterity
to imitate. May we still keep up with our ancestors a rivalry in all
that is honourable!

Tiberius having gained credit for forbearance by the check he had
given to the growing terror of the informers, wrote a letter to the
Senate requesting the tribunitian power for Drusus. This was a phrase
which Augustus devised as a designation of supremacy, so that without
assuming the name of king or dictator he might have some title to
mark his elevation above all other authority. He then chose Marcus
Agrippa to be his associate in this power, and on Agrippa’s death,
Tiberius Nero, that there might be no uncertainty as to the succession.
In this manner he thought to check the perverse ambition of others,
while he had confidence in Nero’s moderation and in his own greatness.

Following this precedent, Tiberius now placed Drusus next to the throne,
though while Germanicus was alive he had maintained an impartial attitude
towards the two princes. However in the beginning of his letter he
implored heaven to prosper his plans on behalf of the State, and then
added a few remarks, without falsehood or exaggeration, on the character
of the young prince. He had, he reminded them, a wife and three children,
and his age was the same as that at which he had himself been formerly
summoned by the Divine Augustus to undertake this duty. Nor was it
a precipitate step; it was only after an experience of eight years,
after having quelled mutinies and settled wars, after a triumph and
two consulships, that he was adopted as a partner in trials already
familiar to him.

The senators had anticipated this message and hence their flattery
was the more elaborate. But they could devise nothing but voting statues
of the two princes, shrines to certain deities, temples, arches and
the usual routine, except that Marcus Silanus sought to honour the
princes by a slur on the consulate, and proposed that on all monuments,
public or private, should be inscribed, to mark the date, the names,
not of the consuls, but of those who were holding the tribunitian
power. Quintus Haterius, when he brought forward a motion that the
decrees passed that day should be set up in the Senate House in letters
of gold, was laughed at as an old dotard, who would get nothing but
infamy out of such utterly loathsome sycophancy.

Meantime Junius Blaesus received an extension of his government of
Africa, and Servius Maluginensis, the priest of Jupiter, demanded
to have Asia allotted to him. “It was,” he asserted, “a popular error
that it was not lawful for the priests of Jupiter to leave Italy;
in fact, his own legal position differed not from that of the priests
of Mars and of Quirinus. If these latter had provinces allotted to
them, why was it forbidden to the priests of Jupiter? There were no
resolutions of the people or anything to be found in the books of
ceremonies on the subject. Pontiffs had often performed the rites
to Jupiter when his priest was hindered by illness or by public duty.
For seventy-five years after the suicide of Cornelius Merula no successor
to his office had been appointed; yet religious rites had not ceased.
If during so many years it was possible for there to be no appointment
without any prejudice to religion, with what comparative ease might
he be absent for one year’s proconsulate? That these priests in former
days were prohibited by the pontiff from going into the provinces,
was the result of private feuds. Now, thank heaven, the supreme pontiff
was also the supreme man, and was influenced by no rivalry, hatred
or personal feeling.”

As the augur Lentulus and others argued on various grounds against
this view, the result was that they awaited the decision of the supreme
pontiff. Tiberius deferred any investigation into the priest’s legal
position, but he modified the ceremonies which had been decreed in
honour of Drusus’s tribunitian power with special censure on the extravagance
of the proposed inscription in gold, so contrary to national usage.
Letters also from Drusus were read, which, though studiously modest
in expression, were taken to be extremely supercilious. “We have fallen
so low,” people said, “that even a mere youth who has received so
high an honour does not go as a worshipper to the city’s gods, does
not enter the Senate, does not so much as take the auspices on his
country’s soil. There is a war, forsooth, or he is kept from us in
some remote part of the world. Why, at this very moment, he is on
a tour amid the shores and lakes of Campania. Such is the training
of the future ruler of mankind; such the lesson he first learns from
his father’s counsels. An aged emperor may indeed shrink from the
citizen’s gaze, and plead the weariness of declining years and the
toils of the past. But, as for Drusus, what can be his hindrance but
The Annals by Tacitus