Much of the sentence was mitigated by the emperor. The name of Piso
was not to be struck out of the public register, since that of Marcus
Antonius who had made war on his country, and that of Julius Antonius
who had dishonoured the house of Augustus, still remained. Marcus
Piso too he saved from degradation, and gave him his father’s property,
for he was firm enough, as I have often related, against the temptation
of money, and now for very shame at Plancina’s acquittal, he was more
than usually merciful. Again, when Valerius Messalinus and Caecina
Severus proposed respectively the erection of a golden statue in the
temple of Mars the Avenger and of an altar to Vengeance, he interposed,
protesting that victories over the foreigner were commemorated with
such monuments, but that domestic woes ought to be shrouded in silent

There was a further proposal of Messalinus, that Tiberius, Augusta,
Antonia, Agrippina and Drusus ought to be publicly thanked for having
avenged Germanicus. He omitted all mention of Claudius. Thereupon
he was pointedly asked by Lucius Asprenas before the Senate, whether
the omission had been intentional, and it was only then that the name
of Claudius was added. For my part, the wider the scope of my reflection
on the present and the past, the more am I impressed by their mockery
of human plans in every transaction. Clearly, the very last man marked
out for empire by public opinion, expectation and general respect
was he whom fortune was holding in reserve as the emperor of the future.

A few days afterwards the emperor proposed to the Senate to confer
the priesthood on Vitellius, Veranius and Servaeus. To Fulcinius he
promised his support in seeking promotion, but warned him not to ruin
his eloquence by rancour. This was the end of avenging the death of
Germanicus, a subject of conflicting rumours not only among the people
then living but also in after times. So obscure are the greatest events,
as some take for granted any hearsay, whatever its source, others
turn truth into falsehood, and both errors find encouragement with

Drusus meanwhile quitted Rome to resume his command and soon afterwards
re-entered the city with an ovation. In the course of a few days his
mother Vipsania died, the only one of all Agrippa’s children whose
death was without violence. As for the rest, they perished, some it
is certain by the sword, others it was believed by poison or starvation.

That same year Tacfarinas who had been defeated, as I have related,
by Camillus in the previous summer, renewed hostilities in Africa,
first by mere desultory raids, so swift as to be unpunished; next,
by destroying villages and carrying off plunder wholesale. Finally,
he hemmed in a Roman cohort near the river Pagyda. The position was
commanded by Decrius, a soldier energetic in action and experienced
in war, who regarded the siege as a disgrace. Cheering on his men
to offer battle in the open plain, he drew up his line in front of
his intrenchments. At the first shock, the cohort was driven back,
upon which he threw himself fearlessly amid the missiles in the path
of the fugitives and cried shame on the standard-bearers for letting
Roman soldiers show their backs to a rabble of deserters. At the same
moment he was covered with wounds, and though pierced through the
eye, he resolutely faced the enemy and ceased not to fight till he
fell deserted by his men.

On receiving this information, Lucius Apronius, successor to Camillus,
alarmed more by the dishonour of his own men than by the glory of
the enemy, ventured on a deed quite exceptional at that time and derived
from old tradition. He flogged to death every tenth man drawn by lot
from the disgraced cohort. So beneficial was this rigour that a detachment
of veterans, numbering not more than five hundred, routed those same
troops of Tacfarinas on their attacking a fortress named Thala. In
this engagement Rufus Helvius, a common soldier, won the honour of
saving a citizen’s life, and was rewarded by Apronius with a neck-chain
and a spear. To these the emperor added the civic crown, complaining,
but without anger, that Apronius had not used his right as proconsul
to bestow this further distinction.

Tacfarinas, however, finding that the Numidians were cowed and had
a horror of siege-operations, pursued a desultory warfare, retreating
when he was pressed, and then again hanging on his enemy’s rear. While
the barbarian continued these tactics, he could safely insult the
baffled and exhausted Romans. But when he marched away towards the
coast and, hampered with booty, fixed himself in a regular camp, Caesianus
was despatched by his father Apronius with some cavalry and auxiliary
infantry, reinforced by the most active of the legionaries, and, after
a successful battle with the Numidians, drove them into the desert.
The Annals by Tacitus