Pompeius’s theatre, which had been destroyed by an accidental fire,
the emperor promised to rebuild, simply because no member of the family
was equal to restoring it, but Pompeius’s name was to be retained.
At the same time he highly extolled Sejanus on the ground that it
was through his exertions and vigilance that such fury of the flames
had been confined to the destruction of a single building. The Senate
voted Sejanus a statue, which was to be placed in Pompeius’s theatre.
And soon afterwards the emperor in honouring Junius Blaesus proconsul
of Africa, with triumphal distinctions, said that he granted them
as a compliment to Sejanus, whose uncle Blaesus was.
Still the career of Blaesus merited such a reward. For Tacfarinas,
though often driven back, had recruited his resources in the interior
of Africa, and had become so insolent as to send envoys to Tiberius,
actually demanding a settlement for himself and his army, or else
threatening us with an interminable war. Never, it is said, was the
emperor so exasperated by an insult to himself and the Roman people
as by a deserter and brigand assuming the character of a belligerent.
“Even Spartacus when he had destroyed so many consular armies and
was burning Italy with impunity, though the State was staggering under
the tremendous wars of Sertorius and Mithridates, had not the offer
of an honourable surrender on stipulated conditions; far less, in
Rome’s most glorious height of power, should a robber like Tacfarinas
be bought off by peace and concessions of territory.” He intrusted
the affair to Blaesus, who was to hold out to the other rebels the
prospect of laying down their arms without hurt to themselves, while
he was by any means to secure the person of the chief. Many surrendered
themselves on the strength of this amnesty. Before long the tactics
of Tacfarinas were encountered in a similar fashion.
Unequal to us in solid military strength, but better in a war of surprises,
he would attack, would elude pursuit, and still arrange ambuscades
with a multitude of detachments. And so we prepared three expeditions
and as many columns. One of the three under the command of Cornelius
Scipio, Blaesus’s lieutenant, was to stop the enemy’s forays on the
Leptitani and his retreat to the Garamantes. In another quarter, Blaesus’s
son led a separate force of his own, to save the villages of Cirta
from being ravaged with impunity. Between the two was the general
himself with some picked troops. By establishing redoubts and fortified
lines in commanding positions, he had rendered the whole country embarrassing
and perilous to the foe, for, whichever way he turned, a body of Roman
soldiers was in his face, or on his flank, or frequently in the rear.
Many were thus slain or surprised.
Blaesus then further divided his triple army into several detachments
under the command of centurions of tried valour. At the end of the
summer he did not, as was usual, withdraw his troops and let them
rest in winter-quarters in the old province; but, forming a chain
of forts, as though he were on the threshold of a campaign, he drove
Tacfarinas by flying columns well acquainted with the desert, from
one set of huts to another, till he captured the chief’s brother,
and then returned, too soon however for the welfare of our allies,
as there yet remained those who might renew hostilities.
Tiberius however considered the war as finished, and awarded Blaesus
the further distinction of being hailed “Imperator” by the legions,
an ancient honour conferred on generals who for good service to the
State were saluted with cheers of joyful enthusiasm by a victorious
army. Several men bore the title at the same time, without pre-eminence
above their fellows. Augustus too granted the name to certain persons;
and now, for the last time, Tiberius gave it to Blaesus.
Two illustrious men died that year. One was Asinius Saloninus, distinguished
as the grandson of Marcus Agrippa, and Asinius Pollio, as the brother
of Drusus and the intended husband of the emperor’s granddaughter.
The other was Capito Ateius, already mentioned, who had won a foremost
position in the State by his legal attainments, though his grandfather
was but a centurion in Sulla’s army, his father having been a praetor.
He was prematurely advanced to the consulship by Augustus, so that
he might be raised by the honour of this promotion above Labeo Antistius,
a conspicuous member of the same profession. That age indeed produced
at one time two brilliant ornaments of peace. But while Labeo was
a man of sturdy independence and consequently of wider fame, Capito’s
obsequiousness was more acceptable to those in power. Labeo, because
his promotion was confined to the praetorship, gained in public favour
through the wrong; Capito, in obtaining the consulship, incurred the
hatred which grows out of envy.
Junia too, the niece of Cato, wife of Caius Cassius and sister of
Marcus Brutus, died this year, the sixty-fourth after the battle of
Philippi. Her will was the theme of much popular criticism, for, with
her vast wealth, after having honourably mentioned almost every nobleman
by name, she passed over the emperor. Tiberius took the omission graciously
and did not forbid a panegyric before the Rostra with the other customary
funeral honours. The busts of twenty most illustrious families were
borne in the procession, with the names of Manlius, Quinctius, and
others of equal rank. But Cassius and Brutus outshone them all, from
the very fact that their likenesses were not to be seen.