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absolutely refused to sanction the act. Tiberius, so far from prizing his fidelity, never forgave his popularity; and the court soon understood that the surest way to gain the favor of the emperor was to ill-treat his adopted son.
The policy of Tiberius was that of many another cowardly and suspicious tyrant. Conscious of his own unworthiness, either by birth or genius, of the high place he filled, he saw a rival in every possessor of great talent or even exalted virtue. He was afraid to call to his assistance the great patricians or the princes of the Julian house, and he regarded his own relations with unmingled jealousy. As he found it impossible, however, to administer alone all the world-embracing affairs of such an empire, he raised to the post of prætorian præfect a Volsinian knight, Seja'nus, whom he fancied too mean to be dangerous, but who became, in fact, the master of the whole dominion.
187. Germanicus, meanwhile, conducted three campaigns, A. D. 14–17; and, after several disasters, gained some important victories over Arminius, between the Rhine and the Elbe. He was recalled A. D. 17, to receive the honor of a triumph, and was met, twenty miles from Rome, by an enthusiastic multitude which had poured forth to welcome him. He was, indeed, dangerously dear both to his legions and to the common people; and though he believed that in one year more he could complete the conquest of Germany, he was now transferred to another army and to the eastern wars. In his new command he settled the affairs of Armenia, and organized Cappadocia as a province; but he died A. D. 19, near Antioch in Syria, believing himself poisoned by Piso, a subordinate, who had been sent by the emperor with express orders to thwart and injure his chief.
188. Drusus, the son of Tiberius, was poisoned by order of Sejanus, who had the boldness to request permission of the emperor to marry the widow of his victim. This was refused; but Tiberius, still blinded to the marvelous ambition of the wretch who ruled him, consented to retire to Capres, and leave Rome in the hands of Sejanus. His time was now given up to swinish excesses, while his worthless lieutenant maintained for five years a riot of misrule. His wicked schemes did not spare the best or noblest of the imperial family; but, at length, he perceived his master's suspicion directed toward him, and prepared to anticipate the blow by assassinating Tiberius himself. His plot was discovered, and he was suddenly seized and executed, A. D. 31.
The fall of this unworthy favorite took from Tiberius the only man whom he had ever trusted, and henceforth all were equally the objects of his fierce and cruel jealousy. Agrippina, the noble wife, as well as Nero, Drusus, and Livil'la, the unworthy sons and daughter of Germanicus, were put to death by his orders. Unlike Augustus, who scrupu
lously kept within the forms of law, he usurped the right to condemn without trial all who were obnoxious to him; and he extended the definition of treason to words and even thoughts. From his island retreat in the beautiful Bay of Naples, he issued destruction to men, women, and even innocent children who had the misfortune to be of sufficiently noble birth to attract his attention. It was a relief to the world when he died from illness, A. D. 37, at the age of seventy-eight.
189. Tiberius had appointed no successor, but Senate, soldiers, and people united in the choice of Caius Cæsar, the only surviving son of Germanicus and Agrippina. In his childhood he had been the pet of the legions in Germany, and from the little military boots (caliga) which he wore to please them, he acquired the nickname Caligula. This childish appellation is the name by which he is commonly known in history. Caligula was now twenty-six years of age, and was considered to be of a mild and generous disposition. The first months of his reign justified the impression. He released the prisoners and recalled the exiles of Tiberius, and he restored power to the regular magistrates and the popular assemblies. But his weak head was turned by the possession of absolute power, and of the enormous wealth hoarded by Tiberius. In unbounded self-indulgence, he extinguished the last spark of reason, and exerted his tremendous power only for mischief, and in the most wild and reckless manner. Choosing to be considered as a god, he built a temple to himself, under the name of Jupiter Latiaris; and so servile was Rome now become, that her noblest citizens purchased the honor of officiating as priests to this worthless divinity.
The worst abuse of absolute power was shown in contempt for human life. When the supply of criminals for the public games was exhausted, the emperor ordered spectators, taken at random from the crowd, to be thrown to the beasts; and lest they should curse him in their last agonies, their tongues were first cut out. But this mad career of despotism worked its own destruction; for, in the fourth year of his reign, and the thirtieth of his age, Caius Cæsar was murdered by two of his guards.
190. The Roman world being thus suddenly without a master, the prætorians took upon themselves to decide its fate. Finding Claudius, the uncle of Caligula, a weak and timid old man, hiding himself in the palace, they saluted him as emperor, and hurried him away to their camp, where he received the oaths of allegiance. Considered from childhood as lacking in intellect, Claudius had been treated by his relatives with a contempt, and by his servants with a harshness and cruelty, which only increased the natural irresoluteness of his character. Yet, though feeble, he was a good and honest man, and the evil wrought in his reign was the work of others. His infamous wife, Messali'na, grati
fied her jealousy and revenge at the expense of the noblest in the state, especially the imperial princesses, without even a show of legal formality. At last she was executed for her crimes, and the emperor procured a law from the Senate which enabled him to marry his niece, Agrippina.
This princess appears to advantage only when compared with her predecessor. She recalled Seneca, the philosopher, from exile, and made him the tutor of her son, Nero. She protected many who were unjustly accused, and she advanced to power the faithful Burrhus, who proved a better servant, both to herself and her son, than either deserved. At the same time, Agrippina persuaded her husband to set aside his own son, Britannicus, in favor of her son by a former marriage. This youth bore his father's name, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, but by the emperor's adoption he became Nero Claudius Cæsar Drusus Germanicus. By the first of these names he is known in history as one of the most wicked of tyrants. Having gained all that she hoped from the weak compliance of Claudius, Agrippina poisoned him, and presented her son to the prætorian guards as their imperator. Some, it is said, cried out, "Where is Britannicus?" but there was no serious resistance, and the new emperor was accepted by the Senate, the people, and the provinces.
191. For the first five years, under the wise and honest administration of Seneca and Burrhus, the Romans believed that the golden age had returned. Taxes were remitted; lands were allotted to the needy and deserving. The delators, that infamous class of people who made their living by accusing others of crime, were suppressed or banished. The Roman arms prospered in Armenia, under the able command of Cor'bulo, who captured the two capitals, Artax'ata and Tigranocerta, and completely subdued the kingdom. In Germany all was quiet, and the legions on the lower Rhine had leisure to complete the embankments which protected the land from inundation.
None of this prosperity was due, however, to the character of Nero, who was a sensual and cruel tyrant even from his youth. In the second year of his reign he poisoned his foster-brother, Britannicus. A few years later, he murdered his mother, his wife, and the too faithful Burrhus, cast off the influence of Seneca, and thenceforth gave free course to his tyrannical caprices. He encouraged the informants again, and filled his treasury with the confiscated property of their victims.
192. He persecuted both Jews and Christians, charging upon the latter the great fire at Rome, which he was more than suspected of having himself caused to be kindled. By this terrible conflagration, ten of the fourteen wards, or "regions," of the city were made uninhabitable. Nero watched the burning from a tower on the Esquiline, while, in the dress of an actor, he chanted the "Sack of Troy." Whether or not he
had ordered the destruction of Rome in consequence of his disgust with its narrow and winding streets, he wisely availed himself of the opportunity to rebuild it in more regular and spacious proportions. The houses were constructed of stone, and rendered fire-proof; each was surrounded with balconies, and separated from other houses by lanes of considerable width, while a plentiful supply of water was introduced into every tenement.
The palace of Nero having been destroyed, he built his Golden House on a scale of magnitude and splendor which Rome had never seen. The porticos which surrounded it were three miles in length; within their bounds were parks, gardens, and a lake which filled the valley afterward occupied by the Flavian Amphitheater. The chambers of this imperial mansion were gilded and inlaid with gems. The least of its ornaments, though probably the greatest of its objects, was a colossal statue of Nero himself, 120 feet in height.
193. Nero desired to be praised as a musician and a charioteer, and so far forgot his imperial dignity as to appear as an actor in the theaHe gained prizes at the Olympic Games, A. D. 67, which had been delayed two years that he might be present. He took part, also, in the vocal performances at the Isthmian Games, on which occasion he ordered the death of a singer whose voice drowned his own. On his return, he entered Rome through a breach in the walls, after the ancient Hellenic custom; but the 1,800 garlands with which he had been laden by the servile Greeks, showed the decline of the old heroic spirit, rather than the glory of the victor.
194. The impositions of Nero caused revolts in the provinces, and, among others, Vespasian, the future emperor, was sent to pacify Judæa. But Nero was jealous of his most able and faithful officers. Corʼbulo, the conqueror of Armenia, Rufus and Scribo nius, the commanders in Germany, were recalled, and avoided public execution only by putting themselves to death. All the generals on the frontier perceived that they could escape a similar fate only by timely revolt, and insurrections broke out at once in Germany, Gaul, Africa, and Spain. The conspirators agreed, at length, in the choice of Galba, the governor of Hither Spain, as their leader and emperor.
Nero perceived that resistance was hopeless. Deserted by the prætorians and all his courtiers, he fled from his Golden House and hid himself in the cottage of Phaon, his former slave, a few miles from the city. After spending a night and part of a day in an agony of terror, he summoned courage to end his own life, just as he heard the tramp of the horsemen who were coming to take him. He was but thirty years of age, and had reigned nearly fourteen years. With him expired the line of Augustus. The imperial power never again remained so long