Two men under prosecution from Africa, in which province they had
held proconsular authority, Sulpicius Camerinus and Pomponius Silvanus,
were acquitted by the emperor. Camerinus had against him a few private
persons who charged him with cruelty rather than with extortion. Silvanus
was beset by a host of accusers, who demanded time for summoning their
witnesses, while the defendant insisted on being at once put on his
defence. And he was successful, through his wealth, his childlessness,
and his old age, which he prolonged beyond the life of those by whose
corrupt influence he had escaped.

Up to this time everything had been quiet in Germany, from the temper
of the generals, who, now that triumphal decorations had been vulgarised,
hoped for greater glory by the maintenance of peace. Paulinus Pompeius
and Lucius Vetus were then in command of the army. Still, to avoid
keeping the soldiers in idleness, the first completed the embankment
begun sixty-three years before by Drusus to confine the waters of
the Rhine, while Vetus prepared to connect the Moselle and the Arar
by a canal, so that troops crossing the sea and then conveyed on the
Rhone and Arar might sail by this canal into the Moselle and the Rhine,
and thence to the ocean. Thus the difficulties of the route being
removed, there would be communication for ships between the shores
of the west and of the north.

Aelius Gracilis, the governor of Belgica, discouraged the work by
seeking to deter Vetus from bringing his legions into another man’s
province, and so drawing to himself the attachment of Gaul. This result
he repeatedly said would excite the fears of the emperor, an assertion
by which meritorious undertakings are often hindered.

Meantime, from the continued inaction of our armies, a rumour prevailed
that the commanders had been deprived of the right of leading them
against the enemy. Thereupon the Frisii moved up their youth to the
forests and swamps, and their non-fighting population, over the lakes,
to the river-bank, and established themselves in unoccupied lands,
reserved for the use of our soldiers, under the leadership of Verritus
and Malorix, the kings of the tribe, as far as Germans are under kings.
Already they had settled themselves in houses, had sown the fields,
and were cultivating the soil as if it had been their ancestors’,
when Dubius Avitus, who had succeeded Paulinus in the province, by
threatening them with a Roman attack if they did not retire into their
old country or obtain a new territory from the emperor, constrained
Verritus and Malorix to become suppliants. They went to Rome, and
while they waited for Nero, who was intent on other engagements, among
the sights shown to the barbarians they were admitted into Pompey’s
theatre, where they might behold the vastness of the Roman people.
There at their leisure (for in the entertainment, ignorant as they
were, they found no amusement) they asked questions about the crowd
on the benches, about the distinctions of classes, who were the knights,
where was the Senate, till they observed some persons in a foreign
dress on the seats of the senators. Having asked who they were, when
they were told that this honour was granted to envoys from those nations
which were distinguished for their bravery and their friendship to
Rome, they exclaimed that no men on earth surpassed the Germans in
arms or in loyalty. Then they went down and took their seat among
the senators. The spectators hailed the act goodnaturedly, as due
to the impulsiveness of a primitive people and to an honourable rivalry.
Nero gave both of them the Roman franchise, and ordered the Frisii
to withdraw from the territory in question. When they disdained obedience,
some auxiliary cavalry by a sudden attack made it a necessity for
them, capturing or slaughtering those who obstinately resisted.

Of this same territory, the Ampsivarii now possessed themselves, a
tribe more powerful not only from their numbers, but from having the
sympathy of the neighbouring peoples, as they had been expelled by
the Chauci and had to beg, as homeless outcasts, a secure exile. Their
cause was pleaded by a man, famous among those nations and loyal to
Rome, Boiocalus by name, who reminded us that on the Cheruscan revolt
he had been imprisoned by the order of Arminius, that afterwards he
had served under the leadership of Tiberius and of Germanicus, and
that to a fifty years’ obedience he was adding the merit of subjecting
his tribe to our dominion. “What an extent of plain,” he would say,
“lies open into which the flocks and herds of the Roman soldiers may
some day be sent! Let them by all means keep retreats for their cattle,
while men are starving; only let them not prefer a waste and a solitude
to friendly nations. Once these fields belonged to the Chamavi; then
to the Tubantes; after them to the Usipii. As heaven is for the gods,
so the earth has been given to mankind, and lands uninhabited are
common to all.” Then looking up to the sun and invoking the other
heavenly bodies, he asked them, as though standing in their presence,
“whether they wished to behold an empty soil; rather let them submerge
it beneath the sea against the plunderers of the land.”

Avitus was impressed by this language and said that people must submit
to the rule of their betters; that the gods to whom they appealed,
had willed that the decision as to what should be given or taken from
them, was to rest with the Romans, who would allow none but themselves
to be judges. This was his public answer to the Ampsivarii; to Boiocalus
his reply was that in remembrance of past friendship he would cede
the lands in question. Boiocalus spurned the offer as the price of
treason, adding, “We may lack a land to live in; we cannot lack one
to die in.” And so they parted with mutual exasperation. The Ampsivarii
now called on the Bructeri, the Tencteri, and yet more distant tribes
to be their allies in war. Avitus, having written to Curtilius Mancia,
commander of the Upper army, asking him to cross the Rhine and display
his troops in the enemy’s rear, himself led his legions into the territory
of the Tencteri, and threatened them with extermination unless they
dissociated themselves from the cause. When upon this the Tencteri
stood aloof, the Bructeri were cowed by a like terror. And so, as
the rest too were for averting perils which did not concern them,
the Ampsivarian tribe in its isolation retreated to the Usipii and
Tubantes. Driven out of these countries, they sought refuge with the
Chatti and then with the Cherusci, and after long wanderings, as destitute
outcasts, received now as friends now as foes, their entire youth
were slain in a strange land, and all who could not fight, were apportioned
as booty.
The Annals by Tacitus