Sejanus meanwhile yet more deeply alarmed the sorrowing and unsuspecting
woman by sending his agents, under the guise of friendship, with warnings
that poison was prepared for her, and that she ought to avoid her
father-in-law’s table. Knowing not how to dissemble, she relaxed neither
her features nor tone of voice as she sat by him at dinner, nor did
she touch a single dish, till at last Tiberius noticed her conduct,
either casually or because he was told of it. To test her more closely,
he praised some fruit as it was set on the table and passed it with
his own hand to his daughter-in-law. This increased the suspicions
of Agrippina, and without putting the fruit to her lips she gave it
to the slaves. Still no remark fell from Tiberius before the company,
but he turned to his mother and whispered that it was not surprising
if he had decided on harsh treatment against one who implied that
he was a poisoner. Then there was a rumour that a plan was laid for
her destruction, that the emperor did not dare to attempt it openly,
and was seeking to veil the deed in secrecy.

Tiberius, to divert people’s talk, continually attended the Senate,
and gave an audience of several days to embassies from Asia on a disputed
question as to the city in which the temple before mentioned should
be erected. Eleven cities were rivals for the honour, of which they
were all equally ambitious, though they differed widely in resources.
With little variation they dwelt on antiquity of race and loyalty
to Rome throughout her wars with Perseus, Aristonicus, and other kings.
But the people of Hypaepa, Tralles, Laodicaea, and Magnesia were passed
over as too insignificant; even Ilium, though it boasted that Troy
was the cradle of Rome, was strong only in the glory of its antiquity.
There was a little hesitation about Halicarnassus, as its inhabitants
affirmed that for twelve hundred years their homes had not been shaken
by an earthquake and that the foundations of their temple were on
the living rock. Pergamos, it was thought, had been sufficiently honoured
by having a temple of Augustus in the city, on which very fact they
relied. The Ephesians and Milesians had, it seemed, wholly devoted
their respective towns to the worships of Apollo and Diana. And so
the question lay between Sardis and Smyrna. The envoys from Sardis
read a decree of the Etrurians, with whom they claimed kindred. “Tyrrhenus
and Lydus,” it was said, “the sons of King Atys, divided the nation
between them because of its multitude; Lydus remained in the country
of his fathers; Tyrrhenus had the work assigned him of establishing
new settlements, and names, taken from the two leaders, were given
to the one people in Asia and to the other in Italy. The resources
of the Lydians were yet further augmented by the immigration of nations
into that part of Greece which afterwards took its name from Pelops.”
They spoke too of letters from Roman generals, of treaties concluded
with us during the Macedonian war, and of their copious rivers, of
their climate, and the rich countries round them.

The envoys from Smyrna, after tracing their city’s antiquity back
to such founders as either Tantalus, the son of Jupiter, or Theseus,
also of divine origin, or one of the Amazons, passed on to that on
which they chiefly relied, their services to the Roman people, whom
they had helped with naval armaments, not only in wars abroad, but
in those under which we struggled in Italy. They had also been the
first, they said, to build a temple in honour of Rome, during the
consulship of Marcus Porcius Cato, when Rome’s power indeed was great,
but not yet raised to the highest point, inasmuch as the Punic capital
was still standing and there were mighty kings in Asia. They appealed
too to the of Lucius Sulla, whose army was once in terrible jeopardy
from a severe winter and want of clothing, and this having been announced
at Smyrna in a public assembly, all who were present stript their
clothes off their backs and sent them to our legions. And so the Senate,
when the question was put, gave the preference to Smyrna. Vibius Marsus
moved that Marcus Lepidus, to whom the province of Asia had been assigned,
should have under him a special commissioner to undertake the charge
of this temple. As Lepidus himself, out of modesty, declined to appoint,
Valerius Naso, one of the ex-praetors, was chosen by lot and sent

Meanwhile, after long reflection on his purpose and frequent deferment
of it, the emperor retired into Campania to dedicate, as he pretended,
a temple to Jupiter at Capua and another to Augustus at Nola, but
really resolved to live at a distance from Rome. Although I have followed
most historians in attributing the cause of his retirement to the
arts of Sejanus, still, as he passed six consecutive years in the
same solitude after that minister’s destruction, I am often in doubt
whether it is not to be more truly ascribed to himself, and his wish
to hide by the place of his retreat the cruelty and licentiousness
which he betrayed by his actions. Some thought that in his old age
he was ashamed of his personal appearance. He had indeed a tall, singularly
slender and stooping figure, a bald head, a face full of eruptions,
and covered here and there with plasters. In the seclusion of Rhodes
he had habituated himself to shun society and to hide his voluptuous
life. According to one account his mother’s domineering temper drove
him away; he was weary of having her as his partner in power, and
he could not thrust her aside, because he had received this very power
as her gift. For Augustus had had thoughts of putting the Roman state
under Germanicus, his sister’s grandson, whom all men esteemed, but
yielding to his wife’s entreaties he left Germanicus to be adopted
by Tiberius and adopted Tiberius himself. With this Augusta would
taunt her son, and claim back what she had given.

His departure was attended by a small retinue, one senator, who was
an ex-consul, Cocceius Nerva, learned in the laws, one Roman knight,
besides Sejanus, of the highest order, Curtius Atticus, the rest being
men of liberal culture, for the most part Greeks, in whose conversation
he might find amusement. It was said by men who knew the stars that
the motions of the heavenly bodies when Tiberius left Rome were such
as to forbid the possibility of his return. This caused ruin for many
who conjectured that his end was near and spread the rumour; for they
never foresaw the very improbable contingency of his voluntary exile
from his home for eleven years. Soon afterwards it was clearly seen
what a narrow margin there is between such science and delusion and
in what obscurity truth is veiled. That he would not return to Rome
was not a mere random assertion; as to the rest, they were wholly
in the dark, seeing that he lived to extreme old age in the country
or on the coast near Rome and often close to the very walls of the
The Annals by Tacitus