That same year Rome suffered from a terrible fire, and part of the
circus near the Aventine hill was burnt, as well as the Aventine quarter
itself. This calamity the emperor turned to his own glory by paying
the values of the houses and blocks of tenements. A hundred million
of sesterces was expended in this munificence, a boon all the more
acceptable to the populace, as Tiberius was rather sparing in building
at his private expense. He raised only two structures even at the
public cost, the temple of Augustus and the stage of Pompey’s theatre,
and when these were completed, he did not dedicate them, either out
of contempt for popularity or from his extreme age. Four commissioners,
all husbands of the emperor’s granddaughters- Cneius Domitius, Cassius
Longinus, Marcus Vinicius, Rubellius Blandus- were appointed to assess
the damage in each case, and Publius Petronius was added to their
number on the nomination of the consuls. Various honours were devised
and decreed to the emperor such as each man’s ingenuity suggested.
It is a question which of these he rejected or accepted, as the end
of his life was so near.

For soon afterwards Tiberius’s last consuls, Cneius Acerronius and
Caius Pontius, entered on office, Macro’s power being now excessive.
Every day the man cultivated more assiduously than ever the favour
of Caius Caesar, which, indeed, he had never neglected, and after
the death of Claudia, who had, as I have related, been married to
Caius, he had prompted his wife Ennia to inveigle the young prince
by a pretence of love, and to bind him by an engagement of marriage,
and the lad, provided he could secure the throne, shrank from no conditions.
For though he was of an excitable temper, he had thoroughly learnt
the falsehoods of hypocrisy under the loving care of his grandfather.

This the emperor knew, and he therefore hesitated about bequeathing
the empire, first, between his grandsons. Of these, the son of Drusus
was nearest in blood and natural affection, but he was still in his
childhood. Germanicus’s son was in the vigour of youth and enjoyed
the people’s favour, a reason for having his grandfather’s hatred.
Tiberius had even thought of Claudius, as he was of sedate age and
had a taste for liberal culture, but a weak intellect was against
him. If however he were to seek a successor outside of his house,
he feared that the memory of Augustus and the name of the Caesars
would become a laughing-stock and a scorn. It was, in fact, not so
much popularity in the present for which he cared as for glory in
the future.

Perplexed in mind, exhausted in body, he soon left to destiny a question
to which he was unequal, though he threw out some hints from which
it might be inferred that he foresaw what was to come. He taunted
Macro, in no obscure terms, with forsaking the setting and looking
to the rising sun. Once too when Caius Caesar in a casual conversation
ridiculed Lucius Sulla, he predicted to him that he would have all
Sulla’s vices and none of his virtues. At the same moment he embraced
the younger of his two grandsons with a flood of tears, and, noting
the savage face of the other, said, “You will slay this boy, and will
be yourself slain by another.” But even while his strength was fast
failing he gave up none of his debaucheries. In his sufferings he
would simulate health, and was wont to jest at the arts of the physician
and at all who, after the age of thirty, require another man’s advice
to distinguish between what is beneficial or hurtful to their constitutions.

At Rome meanwhile were being sown the seeds of bloodshed to come even
after Tiberius’s death. Acutia, formerly the wife of Publius Vitellius,
had been accused of treason by Laelius Balbus. When on her condemnation
a reward was being voted to her prosecutor, Junius Otho, tribune of
the people, interposed his veto. Hence a feud between Vitellius and
Otho, ending in Otho’s banishment. Then Albucilla, notorious for the
number of her lovers, who had been married to Satrius Secundus, the
betrayer of the late conspiracy, was charged with irreverence towards
the emperor. With her were involved as her accomplices and paramours
Cneius Domitius, Vibius Marsus and Lucius Arruntius. I have already
spoken of the illustrious rank of Domitius. Marsus too was distinguished
by the honours of his ancestors and by his own attainments. It was,
however, stated in the notes of the proceedings furnished to the Senate
that Macro had superintended the examination of the witnesses and
the torture of the slaves, and the fact that there was no letter from
the emperor against the defendants caused a suspicion that, while
he was very feeble and possibly ignorant of the matter, the charge
was to a great extent invented to gratify Macro’s well-known enmity
against Arruntius.

And so Domitius and Marsus prolonged their lives, Domitius, preparing
his defence, Marsus, having apparently resolved on starvation. Arruntius,
when his friends advised delay and temporising, replied that “the
same conduct was not becoming in all persons. He had had enough of
life, and all he regretted was that he had endured amid scorn and
peril an old age of anxious fears, long detested by Sejanus, now by
Macro, always, indeed, by some powerful minister, not for any fault,
but as a man who could not tolerate gross iniquities. Granted the
possibility of passing safely through the few last days of Tiberius.
How was he to be secure under the youth of the coming sovereign? Was
it probable that, when Tiberius with his long experience of affairs
was, under the influence of absolute power, wholly perverted and changed,
Caius Caesar, who had hardly completed his boyhood, was thoroughly
ignorant and bred under the vilest training, would enter on a better
course, with Macro for his guide, who having been selected for his
superior wickedness, to crush Sejanus had by yet more numerous crimes
been the scourge of the State? He now foresaw a still more galling
slavery, and therefore sought to flee alike from the past and from
the impending future.”
The Annals by Tacitus