Tiberius meantime, while securing to himself the substance of imperial
power, allowed the Senate some shadow of its old constitution by referring
to its investigation certain demands of the provinces. In the Greek
cities license and impunity in establishing sanctuaries were on the
increase. Temples were thronged with the vilest of the slaves; the
same refuge screened the debtor against his creditor, as well as men
suspected of capital offences. No authority was strong enough to check
the turbulence of a people which protected the crimes of men as much
as the worship of the gods.

It was accordingly decided that the different states were to send
their charters and envoys to Rome. Some voluntarily relinquished privileges
which they had groundlessly usurped; many trusted to old superstitions,
or to their services to the Roman people. It was a grand spectacle
on that day, when the Senate examined grants made by our ancestors,
treaties with allies, even decrees of kings who had flourished before
Rome’s ascendancy, and the forms of worship of the very deities, with
full liberty as in former days, to ratify or to alter.

First of all came the people of Ephesus. They declared that Diana
and Apollo were not born at Delos, as was the vulgar belief. They
had in their own country a river Cenchrius, a grove Ortygia, where
Latona, as she leaned in the pangs of labour on an olive still standing,
gave birth to those two deities, whereupon the grove at the divine
intimation was consecrated. There Apollo himself, after the slaughter
of the Cyclops, shunned the wrath of Jupiter; there too father Bacchus,
when victorious in war, pardoned the suppliant Amazons who had gathered
round the shrine. Subsequently by the permission of Hercules, when
he was subduing Lydia, the grandeur of the temple’s ceremonial was
augmented, and during the Persian rule its privileges were not curtailed.
They had afterwards been maintained by the Macedonians, then by ourselves.

Next the people of Magnesia relied on arrangements made by Lucius
Scipio and Lucius Sulla. These generals, after respectively defeating
Antiochus and Mithridates, honoured the fidelity and courage of the
Magnesians by allowing the temple of Diana of the White Brow to be
an inviolable sanctuary. Then the people of Aphrodisia produced a
decree of the dictator Caesar for their old services to his party,
and those of Stratonicea, one lately passed by the Divine Augustus,
in which they were commended for having endured the Parthian invasion
without wavering in their loyalty to the Roman people. Aphrodisia
maintained the worship of Venus; Stratonicea, that of Jupiter and
of Diana of the Cross Ways.

Hierocaesarea went back to a higher antiquity, and spoke of having
a Persian Diana, whose fane was consecrated in the reign of Cyrus.
They quoted too the names of Perperna, Isauricus, and many other generals
who had conceded the same sacred character not only to the temple
but to its precincts for two miles. Then came the Cyprians on behalf
of three shrines, the oldest of which had been set up by their founder
Aerias to the Paphian Venus, the second by his son Amathus to Venus
of Amathus, and the last to Jupiter of Salamis, by Teucer when he
fled from the wrath of his father Telamon.

Audience was also given to embassies from other states. The senators
wearied by their multiplicity and seeing the party spirit that was
being roused, intrusted the inquiry to the consuls, who were to sift
each title and see if it involved any abuse, and then refer back the
entire matter to the Senate. Besides the states already mentioned,
the consuls reported that they had ascertained that at Pergamus there
was a sanctuary of Aesculapius, but that the rest relied on an origin
lost in the obscurity of antiquity. For example, the people of Smyrna
quoted an oracle of Apollo, which had commanded them to dedicate a
temple to Venus Stratonicis; and the islanders of Tenos, an utterance
from the same deity, bidding them consecrate a statue and a fane to
Neptune. Sardis preferred a more modern claim, a grant from the victorious
Alexander. So again Miletus relied on king Darius. But in each case
their religious worship was that of Diana or Apollo. The Cretans too
demanded a like privilege for a statue of the Divine Augustus. Decrees
of the Senate were passed, which though very respectful, still prescribed
certain limits, and the petitioners were directed to set up bronze
tablets in each temple, to be a sacred memorial and to restrain them
from sinking into selfish aims under the mask of religion.
The Annals by Tacitus