By C. Suetonius Tranquillus; To which are added, his Lives of the
Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Poets.
|Caesar Augustus, b. 63 B.C.; ruled 31 B.C.-A.D. 4||
D. OCTAVIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS.
I. That the family of the Octavii was of the first distinction in Velitrae, is rendered evident by many circumstances. For in the most frequented part of the town, there was, not long since, a street named the Octavian; and an altar was to be seen, consecrated to one Octavius, who being chosen general in a war with some neighbouring people, the enemy making a sudden attack, while he was sacrificing to Mars, he immediately snatched the entrails of the victim from off the fire, and offered them half raw upon the altar; after which, marching out to battle, he returned victorious. This incident gave rise to a law, by which it was enacted, that in all future times the entrails should be offered to Mars in the same manner; and the rest of the victim be carried to the Octavii.
|II. This family, as well as several in Rome, was admitted into the senate by Tarquinius Priscus, and soon afterwards placed by Servius Tullius among the patricians; but in process of time it transferred itself to the plebeian order, and, after the lapse of a long interval, was restored by Julius Caesar to the rank of patricians. The first person of the family raised by the suffrages of the people to the magistracy, was Caius Rufus. He obtained the quaestorship, and had two sons, Cneius and Caius; from whom are descended the two branches of the Octavian family, which have had very different fortunes. For Cneius, and his descendants in uninterrupted succession, held all the highest offices of the state; whilst Caius and his posterity, whether from their circumstances or their choice, remained in the equestrian order until the father of Augustus. The great-grandfather of Augustus served as a military tribune in the second Punic war in Sicily, under the command of Aemilius Pappus. His grandfather contented himself with bearing the public offices of his own municipality, and grew old in the tranquil enjoyment of an ample patrimony. Such is the account given by different authors. Augustus himself, however, tells us nothing more than that he was descended of an equestrian family, both ancient and rich, of which his father was the first who obtained the rank of senator. Mark Antony upbraidingly tells him that his great-grandfather was a freedman of the territory of Thurium, and a rope-maker, and his grandfather a usurer. This is all the information I have any where met with, respecting the ancestors of Augustus by the father's side.|
III. His father Caius Octavius was, from his earliest years, a person both of
opulence and distinction: for which reason I am surprised at those who say that
he was a money-dealer, and was employed in scattering bribes, and canvassing
for the candidates at elections, in the Campus Martius. For being bred up in all
the affluence of a great estate, he attained with ease to honourable posts, and
discharged the duties of them with much distinction. After his praetorship, he
obtained by lot the province of Macedonia; in his way to which he cut off some
banditti, the relics of the armies of Spartacus and Catiline, who had possessed
themselves of the territory of Thurium; having received from the senate an
extraordinary commission for that purpose. In his government of the province, he
conducted himself with equal justice and resolution; for he defeated the
Bessians and Thracians in a great battle, and treated the allies of the republic
in such a manner, that there are extant letters from M. Tullius Cicero, in which
he advises and exhorts his brother Quintus, who then held the proconsulship of
Asia with no great reputation, to imitate the example of his neighbour Octavius,
in gaining the affections of the allies of Rome.
IV. After quitting Macedonia, before he could declare himself a candidate for the consulship, he died suddenly, leaving behind him a daughter, the elder Octavia, by Ancharia; and another daughter, Octavia the younger, as well as Augustus, by Atia, who was the daughter of Marcus Atius Balbus, and Julia, sister to Caius Julius Caesar. Balbus was, by the father's side, of a family who were natives of Aricia, and many of whom had been in the senate. By the mother's side he was nearly related to Pompey the Great; and after he had borne the office of praetor, was one of the twenty commissioners appointed by the Julian law to divide the land in Campania among the people. But Mark Antony, treating with contempt Augustus's descent even by the mother's side, says that his great grand-father was of African descent, and at one time kept a perfumer's shop, and at another, a bake-house, in Aricia. And Cassius of Parma, in a letter, taxes Augustus with being the son not only of a baker, but a usurer. These are his words: "Thou art a lump of thy mother's meal, which a money-changer of Nerulum taking from the newest bake-house of Aricia, kneaded into some shape, with his hands all discoloured by the fingering of money."
|V. Augustus was born in the consulship of Marcus Tullius Cicero and Caius Antonius /1/, upon the ninth of the calends of October [the 23rd September], a little before sunrise, in the quarter of the Palatine Hill, and the street called The Ox-Heads, where now stands a chapel dedicated to him, and built a little after his death. For, as it is recorded in the proceedings of the senate, when Caius Laetorius, a young man of a patrician family, in pleading before the senators for a lighter sentence, upon his being convicted of adultery, alleged, besides his youth and quality, that he was the possessor, and as it were the guardian, of the ground which the Divine Augustus first touched upon his coming into the world; and entreated that he might find favour, for the sake of that deity, who was in a peculiar manner his; an act of the senate was passed, for the consecration of that part of his house in which Augustus was born.|
|VI. His nursery is shewn to this day, in a villa belonging to the family, in the suburbs of Velitrae; being a very small place, and much like a pantry. An opinion prevails in the neighbourhood, that he was also born there. Into this place no person presumes to enter, unless upon necessity, and with great devotion, from a belief, for a long time prevalent, that such as rashly enter it are seized with great horror and consternation, which a short while since was confirmed by a remarkable incident. For when a new inhabitant of the house had, either by mere chance, or to try the truth of the report, taken up his lodging in that apartment, in the course of the night, a few hours afterwards, he was thrown out by some sudden violence, he knew not how, and was found in a state of stupefaction, with the coverlid of his bed, before the door of the chamber.|
VII. While he was yet an infant, the surname of Thurinus was given him, in
memory of the birth-place of his family, or because, soon after he was born, his
father Octavius had been successful against the fugitive slaves, in the country
near Thurium. That he was surnamed Thurinus, I can affirm upon good foundation,
for when a boy, I had a small bronze statue of him, with that name upon it in
iron letters, nearly effaced by age, which I presented to the emperor /2/, by whom it is now revered amongst the other tutelary
deities in his chamber. He is also often called Thurinus contemptuously, by Mark
Antony in his letters; to which he makes only this reply: "I am surprised that
my former name should be made a subject of reproach." He afterwards assumed the
name of Caius Caesar, and then of Augustus; the former in compliance with the
will of his great-uncle, and the latter upon a motion of Munatius Plancus in the
senate. For when some proposed to confer upon him the name of Romulus, as being,
in a manner, a second founder of the city, it was resolved that he should rather
be called Augustus, a surname not only new, but of more dignity, because places
devoted to religion, and those in which anything is consecrated by augury,
are denominated august, either from the word auctus, signifying augmentation, or
ab avium gestu, gustuve, from the flight and feeding of birds; as appears from
this verse of Ennius:
When glorious Rome by august augury was built.
|Augustus lost his father at age four.||VIII. He lost his father when he was only four years of age; and, in his twelfth year, pronounced a funeral oration in praise of his grand-mother Julia. Four years afterwards, having assumed the robe of manhood, he was honoured with several military rewards by Caesar in his African triumph, although he took no part in the war, on account of his youth. Upon his uncle's expedition to Spain against the sons of Pompey, he was followed by his nephew, although he was scarcely recovered from a dangerous sickness; and after being shipwrecked at sea, and travelling with very few attendants through roads that were infested with the enemy, he at last came up with him. This activity gave great satisfaction to his uncle, who soon conceived an increasing affection for him, on account of such indications of character. After the subjugation of Spain, while Caesar was meditating an expedition against the Dacians and Parthians, he was sent before him to Apollonia, where he applied himself to his studies; until receiving intelligence that his uncle was murdered, and that he was appointed his heir, he hesitated for some time whether he should call to his aid the legions stationed in the neighbourhood; but he abandoned the design as rash and premature. However, returning to Rome, he took possession of his inheritance, although his mother was apprehensive that such a measure might be attended with danger, and his step-father, Marcius Philippus, a man of consular rank, very earnestly dissuaded him from it. From this time, collecting together a strong military force, he first held the government in conjunction with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, then with Antony only, for nearly twelve years, and at last in his own hands during a period of four and forty.|
|IX. Having thus given a very short summary of his life, I shall prosecute the several parts of it, not in order of time, but arranging his acts into distinct classes, for the sake of perspicuity. He was engaged in five civil wars, namely those of Modena, Philippi, Perugia, Sicily, and Actium; the first and last of which were against Antony, and the second against Brutus and Cassius; the third against Lucius Antonius, the triumvir's brother, and the fourth against Sextus Pompeius, the son of Cneius Pompeius.|
|Augustus is driven to avenge the murder of Julius Caesar.||X. The motive which gave rise to all these wars was the opinion he entertained that both his honour and interest were concerned in revenging the murder of his uncle, and maintaining the state of affairs he had established. Immediately after his return from Apollonia, he formed the design of taking forcible and unexpected measures against Brutus and Cassius; but they having foreseen the danger and made their escape, he resolved to proceed against them by an appeal to the laws in their absence, and impeach them for the murder. In the mean time, those whose province it was to prepare the sports in honour of Caesar's last victory in the civil war, not daring to do it, he undertook it himself. And that he might carry into effect his other designs with greater authority, he declared himself a candidate in the room of a tribune of the people who happened to die at that time, although he was of a patrician family, and had not yet been in the senate. But the consul, Mark Antony, from whom he had expected the greatest assistance, opposing him in his suit, and even refusing to do him so much as common justice, unless gratified with a large bribe, he went over to the party of the nobles, to whom he perceived Sylla to be odious, chiefly for endeavouring to drive Decius Brutus, whom he besieged in the town of Modena, out of the province, which had been given him by Caesar, and confirmed to him by the senate. At the instigation of persons about him, he engaged some ruffians to murder his antagonist; but the plot being discovered, and dreading a similar attempt upon himself, he gained over Caesar's veteran soldiers, by distributing among them all the money he could collect. Being now commissioned by the senate to command the troops he had gathered, with the rank of praetor, and in conjunction with Hirtius and Pansa, who had accepted the consulship, to carry assistance to Decius Brutus, he put an end to the war by two battles in three months. Antony writes, that in the former of these he ran away, and two days afterwards made his appearance without his general's cloak and his horse. In the last battle, however, it is certain that he performed the part not only of a general, but a soldier; for, in the heat of the battle; when the standard-bearer of his legion was severely wounded, he took the eagle upon his shoulders, and carried it a long time.|
|XI. In this war, Hirtius being slain in battle, and Pansa dying a short time afterwards of a wound, a report was circulated that they both were killed through his means, in order that, when Antony fled, the republic having lost its consuls, he might have the victorious armies entirely at his own command. The death of Pansa was so fully believed to have been caused by undue means, that Glyco, his surgeon, was placed in custody, on a suspicion of having poisoned his wound. And to this, Aquilius Niger adds, that he killed Hirtius, the other consul, in the confusion of the battle, with his own hands.|
|XII. But upon intelligence that Antony, after his defeat, had been received by Marcus Lepidus, and that the rest of the generals and armies had all declared for the senate, he, without any hesitation, deserted from the party of the nobles; alleging as an excuse for his conduct, the actions and sayings of several amongst them; for some said, "he was a mere boy," and others threw out, "that he ought to be promoted to honours, and cut off," to avoid the making any suitable acknowledgment either to him or the veteran legions. And the more to testify his regret for having before attached himself to the other faction, he fined the Nursini in a large sum of money, which they were unable to pay, and then expelled them from the town, for having inscribed upon a monument, erected at the public charge to their countrymen who were slain in the battle of Modena, "That they fell in the cause of liberty."|
Augustus with Marc Antony and Lepidus form the Second Triumvirate in 43 B.C.
In 42 B.C. the triumvirs defeat the assassins Brutus and Cassius as the battle of Philippi.
|XIII. Having entered into a confederacy with Antony and Lepidus, he brought the war at Philippi to an end in two battles, although he was at that time weak, and suffering from sickness. In the first battle he was driven from his camp, and with some difficulty made his escape to the wing of the army commanded by Antony. And now, intoxicated with success, he sent the head of Brutus to be cast at the foot of Caesar's statue, and treated the most illustrious of the prisoners not only with cruelty, but with abusive language; insomuch that he is said to have answered one of them who humbly intreated that at least he might not remain unburied, "That will be in the power of the birds." Two others, father and son, who begged for their lives, he ordered to cast lots which of them should live, or settle it between themselves by the sword; and was a spectator of both their deaths: for the father offering his life to save his son, and being accordingly executed, the son likewise killed himself upon the spot. On this account, the rest of the prisoners, and amongst them Marcus Favonius, Cato's rival, being led up in fetters, after they had saluted Antony, the general, with much respect, reviled Octavius in the foulest language. After this victory, dividing between them the offices of the state, Mark Antony undertook to restore order in the east, while Caesar conducted the veteran soldiers back to Italy, and settled them in colonies on the lands belonging to the municipalities. But he had the misfortune to please neither the soldiers nor the owners of the lands; one party complaining of the injustice done them, in being violently ejected from their possessions, and the other, that they were not rewarded according to their merit.|
|XIV. At this time he obliged Lucius Antony, who, presuming upon his own authority as consul, and his brother's power, was raising new commotions, to fly to Perugia, and forced him, by famine, to surrender at last, although not without having been exposed to great hazards, both before the war and during its continuance. For a common soldier having got into the seats of the equestrian order in the theatre, at the public spectacles, Caesar ordered him to be removed by an officer; and a rumour being thence spread by his enemies, that he had put the man to death by torture, the soldiers flocked together so much enraged, that he narrowly escaped with his life. The only thing that saved him, was the sudden appearance of the man, safe and sound, no violence having been offered him. And whilst he was sacrificing under the walls of Perugia, he nearly fell into the hands of a body of gladiators, who sallied out of the town.|
|XV. After the taking of Perugia, he sentenced a great number of the prisoners to death, making only one reply to all who implored pardon, or endeavoured to excuse themselves, "You must die." Some authors write, that three hundred of the two orders, selected from the rest, were slaughtered, like victims, before an altar raised to Julius Caesar, upon the ides of March. Nay, there are some who relate, that he entered upon the war with no other view, than that his secret enemies, and those whom fear more than affection kept quiet, might be detected, by declaring themselves, now they had an opportunity, with Lucius Antony at their head; and that having defeated them, and confiscated their estates, he might be enabled to fulfil his promises to the veteran soldiers.|
|XVI. He soon commenced the Sicilian war, but it was protracted by various delays during a long period; at one time for the purpose of repairing his fleets, which he lost twice by storm, even in the summer; at another, while patching up a peace, to which he was forced by the clamours of the people, in consequence of a famine occasioned by Pompey's cutting off the supply of corn by sea. But at last, having built a new fleet, and obtained twenty thousand manumitted slaves, who were given him for the oar, he formed the Julian harbour at Baiae, by letting the sea into the Lucrine and Avernian lakes; and having exercised his forces there during the whole winter, he defeated Pompey betwixt Mylae and Naulochus; although just as the engagement commenced, he suddenly fell into such a profound sleep, that his friends were obliged to wake him to give the signal. This, I suppose, gave occasion for Antony's reproach: "You were not able to take a clear view of the fleet, when drawn up in line of battle, but lay stupidly upon your back, gazing at the sky; nor did you get up and let your men see you, until Marcus Agrippa had forced the enemies' ships to sheer off." Others imputed to him both a saying and an action which were indefensible; for, upon the loss of his fleets by storm, he is reported to have said: "I will conquer in spite of Neptune;" and at the next Circensian games, he would not suffer the statue of that God to be carried in procession as usual. Indeed he scarcely ever ran more or greater risks in any of his wars than in this. Having transported part of his army to Sicily, and being on his return for the rest, he was unexpectedly attacked by Demochares and Apollophanes, Pompey's admirals, from whom he escaped with great difficulty, and with one ship only. Likewise, as he was travelling on foot through the Locrian territory to Rhegium, seeing two of Pompey's vessels passing by that coast, and supposing them to be his own, he went down to the shore, and was very nearly taken prisoner. On this occasion, as he was making his escape by some bye-ways, a slave belonging to Aemilius Paulus, who accompanied him, owing him a grudge for the proscription of Paulus, the father of Aemilius, and thinking he had now an opportunity of revenging it, attempted to assassinate him. After the defeat of Pompey, one of his colleagues, Marcus Lepidus, whom he had summoned to his aid from Africa, affecting great superiority, because he was at the head of twenty legions, and claiming for himself the principal management of affairs in a threatening manner, he divested him of his command, but, upon his humble submission, granted him his life, but banished him for life to Circeii.|
Augustus defeats Antony in the naval battle of Actium in 31 B.C.
The eldest of Antony's two sons by Fulvia Augustus had put to death, as also Caesarion the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. The children which Antony had by Cleopatra Augustus saved, and brought up and cherished.
|XVII. The alliance between him and Antony, which had always been precarious, often interrupted, and ill cemented by repeated reconciliations, he at last entirely dissolved. And to make it known to the world how far Antony had degenerated from patriotic feelings, he caused a will of his, which had been left at Rome, and in which he had nominated Cleopatra's children, amongst others, as his heirs, to be opened and read in an assembly of the people. Yet upon his being declared an enemy, he sent to him all his relations and friends, among whom were Caius Sosius and Titus Domitius, at that time consuls. He likewise spoke favourably in public of the people of Bologna, for joining in the association with the rest of Italy to support his cause, because they had, in former times, been under the protection of the family of the Antonii. And not long afterwards he defeated him in a naval engagement near Actium, which was prolonged to so late an hour, that, after the victory, he was obliged to sleep on board his ship. From Actium he went to the isle of Samoa to winter; but being alarmed with the accounts of a mutiny amongst the soldiers he had selected from the main body of his army sent to Brundisium after the victory, who insisted on their being rewarded for their service and discharged, he returned to Italy. In his passage thither, he encountered two violent storms, the first between the promontories of Peloponnesus and Aetolia, and the other about the Ceraunian mountains; in both which a part of his Liburnian squadron was sunk, the spars and rigging of his own ship carried away, and the rudder broken in pieces. He remained only twenty-seven days at Brundisium, until the demands of the soldiers were settled, and then went, by way of Asia and Syria, to Egypt, where laying siege to Alexandria, whither Antony had fled with Cleopatra, he made himself master of it in a short time. He drove Antony to kill himself, after he had used every effort to obtain conditions of peace, and he saw his corpse /3/. Cleopatra he anxiously wished to save for his triumph; and when she was supposed to have been bit to death by an asp, he sent for the Psylli to endeavour to suck out the poison. He allowed them to be buried together in the same grave, and ordered a mausoleum, begun by themselves, to be completed. The eldest of Antony's two sons by Fulvia he commanded to be taken by force from the statue of Julius Caesar, to which he had fled, after many fruitless supplications for his life, and put him to death. The same fate attended Caesario, Cleopatra's son by Caesar, as he pretended, who had fled for his life, but was retaken. The children which Antony had by Cleopatra he saved, and brought up and cherished in a manner suitable to their rank, just as if they had been his own relations.|
|Augustus visits the tomb of Alexander the Great.||XVIII. At this time he had a desire to see the sarcophagus and body of Alexander the Great, which, for that purpose, were taken out of the cell in which they rested; and after viewing them for some time, he paid honours to the memory of that prince, by offering a golden crown, and scattering flowers upon the body. Being asked if he wished to see the tombs of the Ptolemies also; he replied, "I wish to see a king, not dead men." He reduced Egypt into the form of a province and to render it more fertile, and more capable of supplying Rome with corn, he employed his army to scour the canals, into which the Nile, upon its rise, discharges itself; but which during a long series of years had become nearly choked up with mud. To perpetuate the glory of his victory at Actium, he built the city of Nicopolis on that part of the coast, and established games to be celebrated there every five years; enlarging likewise an old temple of Apollo, he ornamented with naval trophies the spot on which he had pitched his camp, and consecrated it to Neptune and Mars.|
|XIX. He afterwards quashed several tumults and insurrections, as well as several conspiracies against his life, which were discovered, by the confession of accomplices, before they were ripe for execution; and others subsequently. Such were those of the younger Lepidus, of Varro Muraena, and Fannius Caepio; then that of Marcus Egnatius, afterwards that of Plautius Rufus, and of Lucius Paulus, his grand-daughter's husband; and besides these, another of Lucius Audasius, an old feeble man, who was under prosecution for forgery; as also of Asinius Epicadus, a Parthinian mongrel, and at last that of Telephus, a lady's prompter; for he was in danger of his life from the plots and conspiracies of some of the lowest of the people against him. Audasius and Epicadus had formed the design of carrying off to the armies his daughter Julia, and his grandson Agrippa, from the islands in which they were confined. Telephus, wildly dreaming that the government was destined to him by the fates, proposed to fall both upon Octavius and the senate. Nay, once, a soldier's servant belonging to the army in Illyricum, having passed the porters unobserved, was found in the night-time standing before his chamber-door, armed with a hunting-dagger. Whether the person was really disordered in the head, or only counterfeited madness, is uncertain; for no confession was obtained from him by torture.|
|XX. He conducted in person only two foreign wars; the Dalmatian, whilst he was yet but a youth; and, after Antony's final defeat, the Cantabrian. He was wounded in the former of these wars; in one battle he received a contusion in the right knee from a stone—and in another, he was much hurt in one leg and both arms, by the fall of a fridge. His other wars he carried on by his lieutenants; but occasionally visited the army, in some of the wars of Pannonia and Germany, or remained at no great distance, proceeding from Rome as far as Ravenna, Milan, or Aquileia.|
|Augustus recovers the Roman standards lost by Crassus and Antony in the Parthian campaigns.||XXI. He conquered, however, partly in person, and partly by his lieutenants, Cantabria, Aquitania and Pannonia, Dalmatia, with all Illyricum and Rhaetia, besides the two Alpine nations, the Vindelici and the Salassii. He also checked the incursions of the Dacians, by cutting off three of their generals with vast armies, and drove the Germans beyond the river Elbe; removing two other tribes who submitted, the Ubii and Sicambri, into Gaul, and settling them in the country bordering on the Rhine. Other nations also, which broke into revolt, he reduced to submission. But he never made war upon any nation without just and necessary cause; and was so far from being ambitious either to extend the empire, or advance his own military glory, that he obliged the chiefs of some barbarous tribes to swear in the temple of Mars the Avenger, that they would faithfully observe their engagements, and not violate the peace which they had implored. Of some he demanded a new description of hostages, their women, having found from experience that they cared little for their men when given as hostages; but he always afforded them the means of getting back their hostages whenever they wished it. Even those who engaged most frequently and with the greatest perfidy in their rebellion, he never punished more severely than by selling their captives, on the terms of their not serving in any neighbouring country, nor being released from their slavery before the expiration of thirty years. By the character which he thus acquired, for virtue and moderation, he induced even the Indians and Scythians, nations before known to the Romans by report only, to solicit his friendship, and that of the Roman people, by ambassadors. The Parthians readily allowed his claim to Armenia; restoring at his demand, the standards which they had taken from Marcus Crassus and Mark Antony, and offering him hostages besides. Afterwards, when a contest arose between several pretenders to the crown of that kingdom, they refused to acknowledge any one who was not chosen by him.|
|Augustus closes the doors of the temple of Janus, signalling that Rome is at peace at home and abroad.||XXII. The temple of Janus Quirinus, which had been shut twice only, from the era of the building of the city to his own time, he closed thrice in a much shorter period, having established universal peace both by sea and land. He twice entered the city with the honours of an Ovation, namely, after the war of Philippi, and again after that of Sicily. He had also three curule triumphs for his several victories in Dalmatia, at Actium, and Alexandria; each of which lasted three days.|
|Quinctillius Varus is defeated in Germany; Augustus laments the loss of Rome's legions.||XXIII. In all his wars, he never received any signal or ignominious defeat, except twice in Germany, under his lieutenants Lollius and Varus. The former indeed had in it more of dishonour than disaster; but that of Varus threatened the security of the empire itself; three legions, with the commander, his lieutenants, and all the auxiliaries, being cut off. Upon receiving intelligence of this disaster, he gave orders for keeping a strict watch over the city, to prevent any public disturbance, and prolonged the appointments of the prefects in the provinces, that the allies might be kept in order by experience of persons to whom they were used. He made a vow to celebrate the great games in honour of Jupiter, Optimus, Maximus, "if he would be pleased to restore the state to more prosperous circumstances." This had formerly been resorted to in the Cimbrian and Marsian wars. In short, we are informed that he was in such consternation at this event, that he let the hair of his head and beard grow for several months, and sometimes knocked his head against the door-posts, crying out, "O, Quintilius Varus! Give me back my legions!" And ever after, he observed the anniversary of this calamity, as a day of sorrow and mourning.|
|Augustus reforms the army.||XXIV. In military affairs he made many alterations, introducing some practices entirely new, and reviving others, which had become obsolete. He maintained the strictest discipline among the troops; and would not allow even his lieutenants the liberty to visit their wives, except reluctantly, and in the winter season only. A Roman knight having cut off the thumbs of his two young sons, to render them incapable of serving in the wars, he exposed both him and his estate to public sale. But upon observing the farmers of the revenue very greedy for the purchase, he assigned him to a freedman of his own, that he might send him into the country, and suffer him to retain his freedom. The tenth legion becoming mutinous, he disbanded it with ignominy; and did the same by some others which petulantly demanded their discharge; withholding from them the rewards usually bestowed on those who had served their stated time in the wars. The cohorts which yielded their ground in time of action, he decimated, and fed with barley. Centurions, as well as common sentinels, who deserted their posts when on guard, he punished with death. For other misdemeanors he inflicted upon them various kinds of disgrace; such as obliging them to stand all day before the praetorium, sometimes in their tunics only, and without their belts, sometimes to carry poles ten feet long, or sods of turf.|
XXV. After the conclusion of the civil wars, he never, in any of his military
harangues, or proclamations, addressed them by the title of "Fellow-soldiers,"
but as "Soldiers" only. Nor would he suffer them to be otherwise called by his
sons or step-sons, when they were in command; judging the former epithet to
convey the idea of a degree of condescension inconsistent with military
discipline, the maintenance of order, and his own majesty, and that of his
house. Unless at Rome, in case of incendiary fires, or under the apprehension of
public disturbances during a scarcity of provisions, he never employed in his
army slaves who had been made freedmen, except upon two occasions; on one, for
the security of the colonies bordering upon Illyricum, and on the other, to
guard the banks of the river Rhine. Although he obliged persons of fortune,
both male and female, to give up their slaves, and they received their
manumission at once, yet he kept them together under their own standard, unmixed
with soldiers who were better born, and armed likewise after different fashion.
Military rewards, such as trappings, collars, and other decorations of gold and
silver, he distributed more readily than camp or mural crowns, which were
reckoned more honourable than the former. These he bestowed sparingly, without
partiality, and frequently even on common soldiers. He presented M. Agrippa,
after the naval engagement in the Sicilian war, with a sea-green banner. Those
who shared in the honours of a triumph, although they had attended him in his
expeditions, and taken part in his victories, he judged it improper to
distinguish by the usual rewards for service, because they had a right
themselves to grant such rewards to whom they pleased. He thought nothing more
derogatory to the character of an accomplished general than precipitancy and
rashness; on which account he had frequently in his mouth those proverbs:
Speude bradeos, Hasten slowly,
'Asphalaes gar est' ameinon, hae erasus strataelataes. The cautious captain's better than the bold.
And "That is done fast enough, which is done well enough."
He was wont to say also, that "a battle or a war ought never to be undertaken, unless the prospect of gain overbalanced the fear of loss. For," said he, "men who pursue small advantages with no small hazard, resemble those who fish with a golden hook, the loss of which, if the line should happen to break, could never be compensated by all the fish they might take."
|Augustus thirteen times consul.||XXVI. He was advanced to public offices before the age at which he was legally qualified for them; and to some, also, of a new kind, and for life. He seized the consulship in the twentieth year of his age, quartering his legions in a threatening manner near the city, and sending deputies to demand it for him in the name of the army. When the senate demurred, a centurion, named Cornelius, who was at the head of the chief deputation, throwing back his cloak, and shewing the hilt of his sword, had the presumption to say in the senate-house, "This will make him consul, if ye will not." His second consulship he filled nine years afterwards; his third, after the interval of only one year, and held the same office every year successively until the eleventh. From this period, although the consulship was frequently offered him, he always declined it, until, after a long interval, not less than seventeen years, he voluntarily stood for the twelfth, and two years after that, for a thirteenth; that he might successively introduce into the forum, on their entering public life, his two sons, Caius and Lucius, while he was invested with the highest office in the state. In his five consulships from the sixth to the eleventh, he continued in office throughout the year; but in the rest, during only nine, six, four, or three months, and in his second no more than a few hours. For having sat for a short time in the morning, upon the calends of January, in his curule chair, before the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, he abdicated the office, and substituted another in his room. Nor did he enter upon them all at Rome, but upon the fourth in Asia, the fifth in the Isle of Samos, and the eighth and ninth at Tarragona.|
|XXVII. During ten years he acted as one of the triumvirate for settling the commonwealth, in which office he for some time opposed his colleagues in their design of a proscription; but after it was begun, he prosecuted it with more determined rigour than either of them. For whilst they were often prevailed upon, by the interest and intercession of friends, to shew mercy, he alone strongly insisted that no one should be spared, and even proscribed Caius Toranius, his guardian; who had been formerly the colleague of his father Octavius in the aedileship. Junius Saturnius adds this farther account of him: that when, after the proscription was over, Marcus Lepidus made an apology in the senate for their past proceedings, and gave them hopes of a more mild administration for the future, because they had now sufficiently crushed their enemies; he, on the other hand, declared that the only limit he had fixed to the proscription was, that he should be free to act as he pleased. Afterwards, however, repenting of his severity, he advanced T. Vinius Philopoemen to the equestrian rank, for having concealed his patron at the time he was proscribed. In this same office he incurred great odium upon many accounts. For as he was one day making an harangue, observing among the soldiers Pinarius, a Roman knight, admit some private citizens, and engaged in taking notes, he ordered him to be stabbed before his eyes, as a busy-body and a spy upon him. He so terrified with his menaces Tedius Afer, the consul elect, for having reflected upon some action of his, that he threw himself from a great height, and died on the spot. And when Quintus Gallius, the praetor, came to compliment him with a double tablet under his cloak, suspecting that it was a sword he had concealed, and yet not venturing to make a search, lest it should be found to be something else, he caused him to be dragged from his tribunal by centurions and soldiers, and tortured like a slave: and although he made no confession, ordered him to be put to death, after he had, with his own hands, plucked out his eyes. His own account of the matter, however, is, that Quintus Gallius sought a private conference with him, for the purpose of assassinating him; that he therefore put him in prison, but afterwards released him, and banished him the city; when he perished either in a storm at sea, or by falling into the hands of robbers.|
|He accepted of the tribunitian power for life, but more than once chose a colleague in that office for two lustra /4/ successively. He also had the supervision of morality and observance of the laws, for life, but without the title of censor; yet he thrice took a census of the people, the first and third time with a colleague, but the second by himself.|
|Augustus considers restoring the republic upon the death of Antony and again during a prolonged period of illness.||XXVIII. He twice entertained thoughts of restoring the republic; first, immediately after he had crushed Antony, remembering that he had often charged him with being the obstacle to its restoration. The second time was in consequence of a long illness, when he sent for the magistrates and the senate to his own house, and delivered them a particular account of the state of the empire. But reflecting at the same time that it would be both hazardous to himself to return to the condition of a private person, and might be dangerous to the public to have the government placed again under the control of the people, he resolved to keep it in his own hands, whether with the better event or intention, is hard to say. His good intentions he often affirmed in private discourse, and also published an edict, in which it was declared in the following terms: "May it be permitted me to have the happiness of establishing the commonwealth on a safe and sound basis, and thus enjoy the reward of which I am ambitious, that of being celebrated for moulding it into the form best adapted to present circumstances; so that, on my leaving the world, I may carry with me the hope that the foundations which I have laid for its future government, will stand firm and stable."|
|Augustus boasts of his improvements to the physical state of Rome: "I found it of brick, but left it of marble."||XXIX. The city, which was not built in a manner suitable to the grandeur of the empire, and was liable to inundations of the Tiber, as well as to fires /5/, was so much improved under his administration, that he boasted, not without reason, that he "found it of brick, but left it of marble." He also rendered it secure for the time to come against such disasters, as far as could be effected by human foresight. A great number of public buildings were erected by him, the most considerable of which were a forum, containing the temple of Mars the Avenger, the temple of Apollo on the Palatine hill, and the temple of Jupiter Tonans in the Capitol. The reason of his building a new forum was the vast increase in the population, and the number of causes to be tried in the courts, for which, the two already existing not affording sufficient space, it was thought necessary to have a third. It was therefore opened for public use before the temple of Mars was completely finished; and a law was passed, that causes should be tried, and judges chosen by lot, in that place. The temple of Mars was built in fulfilment of a vow made during the war of Philippi, undertaken by him to avenge his father's murder. He ordained that the senate should always assemble there when they met to deliberate respecting wars and triumphs; that thence should be despatched all those who were sent into the provinces in the command of armies; and that in it those who returned victorious from the wars, should lodge the trophies of their triumphs. He erected the temple of Apollo in that part of his house on the Palatine hill which had been struck with lightning, and which, on that account, the soothsayers declared the God to have chosen. He added porticos to it, with a library of Latin and Greek authors; and when advanced in years, used frequently there to hold the senate, and examine the rolls of the judges.|
|He dedicated the temple to Apollo Tonans, in acknowledgment of his escape from a great danger in his Cantabrian expedition; when, as he was travelling in the night, his litter was struck by lightning, which killed the slave who carried a torch before him. He likewise constructed some public buildings in the name of others; for instance, his grandsons, his wife, and sister. Thus he built the portico and basilica of Lucius and Caius, and the porticos of Livia and Octavia, and the theatre of Marcellus. He also often exhorted other persons of rank to embellish the city by new buildings, or repairing and improving the old, according to their means. In consequence of this recommendation, many were raised; such as the temple of Hercules and the Muses, by Marcius Philippus; a temple of Diana by Lucius Cornificius; the Court of Freedom by Asinius Pollio; a temple of Saturn by Munatius Plancus; a theatre by Cornelius Balbus; an amphitheatre by Statilius Taurus; and several other noble edifices by Marcus Agrippa /6/.|
|XXX. He divided the city into regions and districts, ordaining that the annual magistrates should take by lot the charge of the former; and that the latter should be superintended by wardens chosen out of the people of each neighbourhood. He appointed a nightly watch to be on their guard against accidents from fire; and, to prevent the frequent inundations, he widened and cleansed the bed of the Tiber, which had in the course of years been almost dammed up with rubbish, and the channel narrowed by the ruins of houses. To render the approaches to the city more commodious, he took upon himself the charge of repairing the Flaminian way as far as Ariminum, and distributed the repairs of the other roads amongst several persons who had obtained the honour of a triumph; to be defrayed out of the money arising from the spoils of war. Temples decayed by time, or destroyed by fire, he either repaired or rebuilt; and enriched them, as well as many others, with splendid offerings. On a single occasion, he deposited in the cell of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, sixteen thousand pounds of gold, with jewels and pearls to the amount of fifty millions of sesterces.|
|XXXI. The office of Pontifex Maximus, of which he could not decently deprive Lepidus as long as he lived, he assumed as soon as he was dead. He then caused all prophetical books, both in Latin and Greek, the authors of which were either unknown, or of no great authority, to be brought in; and the whole collection, amounting to upwards of two thousand volumes, he committed to the flames, preserving only the Sibylline oracles; but not even those without a strict examination, to ascertain which were genuine. This being done, he deposited them in two gilt coffers, under the pedestal of the statue of the Palatine Apollo. He restored the calendar, which had been corrected by Julius Caesar, but through negligence was again fallen into confusion /7/, to its former regularity; and upon that occasion, called the month Sextilis, by his own name, August, rather than September, in which he was born; because in it he had obtained his first consulship, and all his most considerable victories. He increased the number, dignity, and revenues of the priests, and especially those of the Vestal Virgins. And when, upon the death of one of them, a new one was to be taken, and many persons made interest that their daughters' names might be omitted in the lists for election, he replied with an oath, "If either of my own grand-daughters were old enough, I would have proposed her."|
|He likewise revived some old religious customs, which had become obsolete; as the augury of public health, the office of high priest of Jupiter, the religious solemnity of the Lupercalia, with the Secular, and Compitalian games. He prohibited young boys from running in the Lupercalia; and in respect of the Secular games, issued an order, that no young persons of either sex should appear at any public diversions in the night-time, unless in the company of some elderly relation. He ordered the household gods to be decked twice a year with spring and summer flowers, in the Compitalian festival.|
|Next to the immortal gods, he paid the highest honours to the memory of those generals who had raised the Roman state from its low origin to the highest pitch of grandeur. He accordingly repaired or rebuilt the public edifices erected by them; preserving the former inscriptions, and placing statues of them all, with triumphal emblems, in both the porticos of his forum, issuing an edict on the occasion, in which he made the following declaration: "My design in so doing is, that the Roman people may require from me, and all succeeding princes, a conformity to those illustrious examples." He likewise removed the statue of Pompey from the senate-house, in which Caius Caesar had been killed, and placed it under a marble arch, fronting the palace attached to Pompey's theatre.|
|Augustus opens privilege of serving on juries to more, and poorer, citizens.||XXXII. He corrected many ill practices, which, to the detriment of the public, had either survived the licentious habits of the late civil wars, or else originated in the long peace. Bands of robbers showed themselves openly, completely armed, under colour of self-defence; and in different parts of the country, travellers, freemen and slaves without distinction, were forcibly carried off, and kept to work in the houses of correction. Several associations were formed under the specious name of a new college, which banded together for the perpetration of all kinds of villany. The banditti he quelled by establishing posts of soldiers in suitable stations for the purpose; the houses of correction were subjected to a strict superintendence; all associations, those only excepted which were of ancient standing, and recognised by the laws, were dissolved. He burnt all the notes of those who had been a long time in arrear with the treasury, as being the principal source of vexatious suits and prosecutions. Places in the city claimed by the public, where the right was doubtful, he adjudged to the actual possessors. He struck out of the list of criminals the names of those over whom prosecutions had been long impending, where nothing further was intended by the informers than to gratify their own malice, by seeing their enemies humiliated; laying it down as a rule, that if any one chose to renew a prosecution, he should incur the risk of the punishment which he sought to inflict. And that crimes might not escape punishment, nor business be neglected by delay, he ordered the courts to sit during the thirty days which were spent in celebrating honorary games. To the three classes of judges then existing, he added a fourth, consisting of persons of inferior order, who were called Ducenarii, and decided all litigations about trifling sums. He chose judges from the age of thirty years and upwards; that is five years younger than had been usual before. And a great many declining the office, he was with much difficulty prevailed upon to allow each class of judges a twelve-month's vacation in turn; and the courts to be shut during the months of November and December.|
|XXXIII. He was himself assiduous in his functions as a judge, and would sometimes prolong his sittings even into the night: if he were indisposed, his litter was placed before the tribunal, or he administered justice reclining on his couch at home; displaying always not only the greatest attention, but extreme lenity. To save a culprit, who evidently appeared guilty of parricide, from the extreme penalty of being sewn up in a sack, because none were punished in that manner but such as confessed the fact, he is said to have interrogated him thus: "Surely you did not kill your father, did you?" And when, in a trial of a cause about a forged will, all those who had signed it were liable to the penalty of the Cornelian law, he ordered that his colleagues on the tribunal should not only be furnished with the two tablets by which they decided, "guilty or not guilty," but with a third likewise, ignoring the offence of those who should appear to have given their signatures through any deception or mistake. All appeals in causes between inhabitants of Rome, he assigned every year to the praetor of the city; and where provincials were concerned, to men of consular rank, to one of whom the business of each province was referred.|
|XXXIV. Some laws he abrogated, and he made some new ones; such as the sumptuary law, that relating to adultery and the violation of chastity, the law against bribery in elections, and likewise that for the encouragement of marriage. Having been more severe in his reform of this law than the rest, he found the people utterly averse to submit to it, unless the penalties were abolished or mitigated, besides allowing an interval of three years after a wife's death, and increasing the premiums on marriage. The equestrian order clamoured loudly, at a spectacle in the theatre, for its total repeal; whereupon he sent for the children of Germanicus, and shewed them partly sitting upon his own lap, and partly on their father's; intimating by his looks and gestures, that they ought not to think it a grievance to follow the example of that young man. But finding that the force of the law was eluded, by marrying girls under the age of puberty, and by frequent change of wives, he limited the time for consummation after espousals, and imposed restrictions on divorce.|
|XXXV. By two separate scrutinies he reduced to their former number and splendour the senate, which had been swamped by a disorderly crowd; for they were now more than a thousand, and some of them very mean persons, who, after Caesar's death, had been chosen by dint of interest and bribery, so that they had the nickname of Orcini among the people. The first of these scrutinies was left to themselves, each senator naming another; but the last was conducted by himself and Agrippa. On this occasion he is believed to have taken his seat as he presided, with a coat of mail under his tunic, and a sword by his side, and with ten of the stoutest men of senatorial rank, who were his friends, standing round his chair. Cordus Cremutius relates that no senator was suffered to approach him, except singly, and after having his bosom searched [for secreted daggers]. Some he obliged to have the grace of declining the office; these he allowed to retain the privileges of wearing the distinguishing dress, occupying the seats at the solemn spectacles, and of feasting publicly, reserved to the senatorial order. That those who were chosen and approved of, might perform their functions under more solemn obligations, and with less inconvenience, he ordered that every senator, before he took his seat in the house, should pay his devotions, with an offering of frankincense and wine, at the altar of that God in whose temple the senate then assembled, and that their stated meetings should be only twice in the month, namely, on the calends and ides; and that in the months of September and October, a certain number only, chosen by lot, such as the law required to give validity to a decree, should be required to attend. For himself, he resolved to choose every six months a new council, with whom he might consult previously upon such affairs as he judged proper at any time to lay before the full senate. He also took the votes of the senators upon any subject of importance, not according to custom, nor in regular order, but as he pleased; that every one might hold himself ready to give his opinion, rather than a mere vote of assent.|
|XXXVI. He also made several other alterations in the management of public affairs, among which were these following: that the acts of the senate should not be published; that the magistrates should not be sent into the provinces immediately after the expiration of their office; that the proconsuls should have a certain sum assigned them out of the treasury for mules and tents, which used before to be contracted for by the government with private persons; that the management of the treasury should be transferred from the city-quaestors to the praetors, or those who had already served in the latter office; and that the decemviri should call together the court of One hundred, which had been formerly summoned by those who had filled the office of quaestor.|
|XXXVII. To augment the number of persons employed in the administration of the state, he devised several new offices; such as surveyors of the public buildings, of the roads, the aqueducts, and the bed of the Tiber; for the distribution of corn to the people; the praefecture of the city; a triumvirate for the election of the senators; and another for inspecting the several troops of the equestrian order, as often as it was necessary. He revived the office of censor, which had been long disused, and increased the number of praetors. He likewise required that whenever the consulship was conferred on him, he should have two colleagues instead of one; but his proposal was rejected, all the senators declaring by acclamation that he abated his high majesty quite enough in not filling the office alone, and consenting to share it with another.|
|XXXVIII. He was unsparing in the reward of military merit, having granted to above thirty generals the honour of the greater triumph; besides which, he took care to have triumphal decorations voted by the senate for more than that number. That the sons of senators might become early acquainted with the administration of affairs, he permitted them, at the age when they took the garb of manhood, to assume also the distinction of the senatorian robe, with its broad border, and to be present at the debates in the senate-house. When they entered the military service, he not only gave them the rank of military tribunes in the legions, but likewise the command of the auxiliary horse. And that all might have an opportunity of acquiring military experience, he commonly joined two sons of senators in command of each troop of horse. He frequently reviewed the troops of the equestrian order, reviving the ancient custom of a cavalcade, which had been long laid aside. But he did not suffer any one to be obliged by an accuser to dismount while he passed in review, as had formerly been the practice. As for such as were infirm with age, or any way deformed, he allowed them to send their horses before them, coming on foot to answer to their names, when the muster roll was called over soon afterwards. He permitted those who had attained the age of thirty-five years, and desired not to keep their horse any longer, to have the privilege of giving it up.|
|XXXIX. With the assistance of ten senators, he obliged each of the Roman knights to give an account of his life: in regard to those who fell under his displeasure, some were punished; others had a mark of infamy set against their names. The most part he only reprimanded, but not in the same terms. The mildest mode of reproof was by delivering them tablets, the contents of which, confined to themselves, they were to read on the spot. Some he disgraced for borrowing money at low interest, and letting it out again upon usurious profit.|
|Augustus refuses to expand Roman citizenship to foreigners.||
XL. In the election of tribunes of the people, if there was not a sufficient
number of senatorian candidates, he nominated others from the equestrian order;
granting them the liberty, after the expiration of their office, to continue in
whichsoever of the two orders they pleased. As most of the knights had been much
reduced in their estates by the civil wars, and therefore durst not sit to see
the public games in the theatre in the seats allotted to their order, for fear
of the penalty provided by the law in that case, he enacted, that none were
liable to it, who had themselves, or whose parents had ever, possessed a
knight's estate. He took the census of the Roman people street by street: and
that the people might not be too often taken from their business to receive the
distribution of corn, it was his intention to deliver tickets three times a year
for four months respectively; but at their request, he continued the former
regulation, that they should receive their share monthly. He revived the
former law of elections, endeavouring, by various penalties, to suppress the
practice of bribery. Upon the day of election, he distributed to the freemen of
the Fabian and Scaptian tribes, in which he himself was enrolled, a thousand
sesterces each, that they might look for nothing from any of the candidates.
Considering it of extreme importance to preserve the Roman people pure, and
untainted with a mixture of foreign or servile blood, he not only bestowed the
freedom of the city with a sparing hand, but laid some restriction upon the
practice of manumitting slaves. When Tiberius interceded with him for the
freedom of Rome in behalf of a Greek client of his, he wrote to him for answer,
"I shall not grant it, unless he comes himself, and satisfies me that he has
just grounds for the application." And when Livia begged the freedom of the city
for a tributary Gaul, he refused it, but offered to release him from payment of
taxes, saying, "I shall sooner suffer some loss in my exchequer, than that the
citizenship of Rome be rendered too common." Not content with interposing many
obstacles to either the partial or complete emancipation of slaves, by quibbles
respecting the number, condition and difference of those who were to be
manumitted; he likewise enacted that none who had been put in chains or
tortured, should ever obtain the freedom of the city in any degree. He
endeavoured also to restore the old habit and dress of the Romans; and upon
seeing once, in an assembly of the people, a crowd in grey cloaks,
he exclaimed with indignation, "See there,
Romanos rerum dominos, gentemque togatem.Rome's conquering sons, lords of the wide-spread globe, Stalk proudly in the toga's graceful robe.
And he gave orders to the ediles not to permit, in future, any Roman to be present in the forum or circus unless they took off their short coats, and wore the toga.
|XLI. He displayed his munificence to all ranks of the people on various occasions. Moreover, upon his bringing the treasure belonging to the kings of Egypt into the city, in his Alexandrian triumph, he made money so plentiful, that interest fell, and the price of land rose considerably. And afterwards, as often as large sums of money came into his possession by means of confiscations, he would lend it free of interest, for a fixed term, to such as could give security for the double of what was borrowed. The estate necessary to qualify a senator, instead of eight hundred thousand sesterces, the former standard, he ordered, for the future, to be twelve hundred thousand; and to those who had not so much, he made good the deficiency. He often made donations to the people, but generally of different sums; sometimes four hundred, sometimes three hundred, or two hundred and fifty sesterces upon which occasions, he extended his bounty even to young boys, who before were not used to receive anything, until they arrived at eleven years of age. In a scarcity of corn, he would frequently let them have it at a very low price, or none at all; and doubled the number of the money tickets.|
|Augustus would abolish the distribution of free grain, but, fearing that some demagogue will revive the practice in a malicious way, contents himself with regulating the practice.||XLII. But to show that he was a prince who regarded more the good of his people than their applause, he reprimanded them very severely, upon their complaining of the scarcity and dearness of wine. "My son-in-law, Agrippa," he said, "has sufficiently provided for quenching your thirst, by the great plenty of water with which he has supplied the town." Upon their demanding a gift which he had promised them, he said, "I am a man of my word." But upon their importuning him for one which he had not promised, he issued a proclamation upbraiding them for their scandalous impudence; at the same time telling them, "I shall now give you nothing, whatever I may have intended to do." With the same strict firmness, when, upon a promise he had made of a donative, he found many slaves had been emancipated and enrolled amongst the citizens, he declared that no one should receive anything who was not included in the promise, and he gave the rest less than he had promised them, in order that the amount he had set apart might hold out. On one occasion, in a season of great scarcity, which it was difficult to remedy, he ordered out of the city the troops of slaves brought for sale, the gladiators belonging to the masters of defence, and all foreigners, excepting physicians and the teachers of the liberal sciences. Part of the domestic slaves were likewise ordered to be dismissed. When, at last, plenty was restored, he writes thus "I was much inclined to abolish for ever the practice of allowing the people corn at the public expense, because they trust so much to it, that they are too lazy to till their lands; but I did not persevere in my design, as I felt sure that the practice would some time or other be revived by some one ambitious of popular favour." However, he so managed the affair ever afterwards, that as much account was taken of husbandmen and traders, as of the idle populace.|
|XLIII. In the number, variety, and magnificence of his public spectacles, he surpassed all former example. Four-and-twenty times, he says, he treated the people with games upon his own account, and three-and-twenty times for such magistrates as were either absent, or not able to afford the expense. The performances took place sometimes in the different streets of the city, and upon several stages, by players in all languages. The same he did not only in the forum and amphitheatre, but in the circus likewise, and in the septa: and sometimes he exhibited only the hunting of wild beasts. He entertained the people with wrestlers in the Campus Martius, where wooden seats were erected for the purpose; and also with a naval fight, for which he excavated the ground near the Tiber, where there is now the grove of the Caesars. During these two entertainments he stationed guards in the city, lest, by robbers taking advantage of the small number of people left at home, it might be exposed to depredations. In the circus he exhibited chariot and foot races, and combats with wild beasts, in which the performers were often youths of the highest rank. His favourite spectacle was the Trojan game, acted by a select number of boys, in parties differing in age and station; thinking that it was a practice both excellent in itself, and sanctioned by ancient usage, that the spirit of the young nobles should be displayed in such exercises. Caius Nonius Asprenas, who was lamed by a fall in this diversion, he presented with a gold collar, and allowed him and his posterity to bear the surname of Torquati. But soon afterwards he gave up the exhibition of this game, in consequence of a severe and bitter speech made in the senate by Asinius Pollio, the orator, in which he complained bitterly of the misfortune of Aeserninus, his grandson, who likewise broke his leg in the same diversion.|
|Sometimes he engaged Roman knights to act upon the stage, or to fight as gladiators; but only before the practice was prohibited by a decree of the senate. Thenceforth, the only exhibition he made of that kind, was that of a young man named Lucius, of a good family, who was not quite two feet in height, and weighed only seventeen pounds, but had a stentorian voice. In one of his public spectacles, he brought the hostages of the Parthians, the first ever sent to Rome from that nation, through the middle of the amphitheatre, and placed them in the second tier of seats above him. He used likewise, at times when there were no public entertainments, if any thing was brought to Rome which was uncommon, and might gratify curiosity, to expose it to public view, in any place whatever; as he did a rhinoceros in the Septa, a tiger upon a stage, and a snake fifty cubits lung in the Comitium. It happened in the Circensian games, which he performed in consequence of a vow, that he was taken ill, and obliged to attend the Thensae, reclining on a litter. Another time, in the games celebrated for the opening of the theatre of Marcellus, the joints of his curule chair happening to give way, he fell on his back. And in the games exhibited by his grandsons, when the people were in such consternation, by an alarm raised that the theatre was falling, that all his efforts to re-assure them and keep them quiet, failed, he moved from his place, and seated himself in that part of the theatre which was thought to be exposed to most danger.|
|XLIV. He corrected the confusion and disorder with which the spectators took their seats at the public games, after an affront which was offered to a senator at Puteoli, for whom, in a crowded theatre, no one would make room. He therefore procured a decree of the senate, that in all public spectacles of any sort, and in any place whatever, the first tier of benches should be left empty for the accommodation of senators. He would not even permit the ambassadors of free nations, nor of those which were allies of Rome, to sit in the orchestra; having found that some manumitted slaves had been sent under that character. He separated the soldiery from the rest of the people, and assigned to married plebeians their particular rows of seats. To the boys he assigned their own benches, and to their tutors the seats which were nearest it; ordering that none clothed in black should sit in the centre of the circle. Nor would he allow any women to witness the combats of gladiators, except from the upper part of the theatre, although they formerly used to take their places promiscuously with the rest of the spectators. To the vestal virgins he granted seats in the theatre, reserved for them only, opposite the praetor's bench. He excluded, however, the whole female sex from seeing the wrestlers: so that in the games which he exhibited upon his accession to the office of high-priest, he deferred producing a pair of combatants which the people called for, until the next morning; and intimated by proclamation, "his pleasure that no woman should appear in the theatre before five o'clock."|
|XLV. He generally viewed the Circensian games himself, from the upper rooms of the houses of his friends or freedmen; sometimes from the place appointed for the statues of the gods, and sitting in company with his wife and children. He occasionally absented himself from the spectacles for several hours, and sometimes for whole days; but not without first making an apology, and appointing substitutes to preside in his stead. When present, he never attended to anything else either to avoid the reflections which he used to say were commonly made upon his father, Caesar, for perusing letters and memorials, and making rescripts during the spectacles; or from the real pleasure he took in attending those exhibitions; of which he made no secret, he often candidly owning it. This he manifested frequently by presenting honorary crowns and handsome rewards to the best performers, in the games exhibited by others; and he never was present at any performance of the Greeks, without rewarding the most deserving, according to their merit. He took particular pleasure in witnessing pugilistic contests, especially those of the Latins, not only between combatants who had been trained scientifically, whom he used often to match with the Greek champions; but even between mobs of the lower classes fighting in streets, and tilting at random, without any knowledge of the art. In short, he honoured with his patronage all sorts of people who contributed in any way to the success of the public entertainments. He not only maintained, but enlarged, the privileges of the wrestlers. He prohibited combats of gladiators where no quarter was given. He deprived the magistrates of the power of correcting the stage-players, which by an ancient law was allowed them at all times, and in all places; restricting their jurisdiction entirely to the time of performance and misdemeanours in the theatres. He would, however, admit, of no abatement, and exacted with the utmost rigour the greatest exertions of the wrestlers and gladiators in their several encounters. He went so far in restraining the licentiousness of stage-players, that upon discovering that Stephanio, a performer of the highest class, had a married woman with her hair cropped, and dressed in boy's clothes, to wait upon him at table, he ordered him to be whipped through all the three theatres, and then banished him. Hylas, an actor of pantomimes, upon a complaint against him by the praetor, he commanded to be scourged in the court of his own house, which, however, was open to the public. And Pylades he not only banished from the city, but from Italy also, for pointing with his finger at a spectator by whom he was hissed, and turning the eyes of the audience upon him.|
|XLVI. Having thus regulated the city and its concerns, he augmented the population of Italy by planting in it no less than twenty-eight colonies, and greatly improved it by public works, and a beneficial application of the revenues. In rights and privileges, he rendered it in a measure equal to the city itself, by inventing a new kind of suffrage, which the principal officers and magistrates of the colonies might take at home, and forward under seal to the city, against the time of the elections. To increase the number of persons of condition, and of children among the lower ranks, he granted the petitions of all those who requested the honour of doing military service on horseback as knights, provided their demands were seconded by the recommendation of the town in which they lived; and when he visited the several districts of Italy, he distributed a thousand sesterces a head to such of the lower class as presented him with sons or daughters.|
|XLVII. The more important provinces, which could not with ease or safety be entrusted to the government of annual magistrates, he reserved for his own administration: the rest he distributed by lot amongst the proconsuls: but sometimes he made exchanges, and frequently visited most of both kinds in person. Some cities in alliance with Rome, but which by their great licentiousness were hastening to ruin, he deprived of their independence. Others, which were much in debt, he relieved, and rebuilt such as had been destroyed by earthquakes. To those that could produce any instance of their having deserved well of the Roman people, he presented the freedom of Latium, or even that of the City. There is not, I believe, a province, except Africa and Sardinia, which he did not visit. After forcing Sextus Pompeius to take refuge in those provinces, he was indeed preparing to cross over from Sicily to them, but was prevented by continual and violent storms, and afterwards there was no occasion or call for such a voyage.|
|XLVIII. Kingdoms, of which he had made himself master by the right of conquest, a few only excepted, he either restored to their former possessors, or conferred upon aliens. Between kings of alliance with Rome, he encouraged most intimate union; being always ready to promote or favour any proposal of marriage or friendship amongst them; and, indeed, treated them all with the same consideration, as if they were members and parts of the empire. To such of them as were minors or lunatics he appointed guardians, until they arrived at age, or recovered their senses; and the sons of many of them he brought up and educated with his own.|
XLIX. With respect to the army, he distributed the legions and auxiliary
troops throughout the several provinces, he stationed a fleet at Misenum, and
another at Ravenna, for the protection of the Upper and Lower Seas.
A certain number of the forces were selected, to
occupy the posts in the city, and partly for his own body-guard; but he
dismissed the Spanish guard, which he retained about him till the fall of
Antony; and also the Germans, whom he had amongst his guards, until the defeat
of Varus. Yet he never permitted a greater force than three cohorts in the city,
and had no (pretorian) camps.
The rest he quartered in the neighbourhood of the
nearest towns, in winter and summer camps. All the troops throughout the empire
he reduced to one fixed model with regard to their pay and their pensions;
determining these according to their rank in the army, the time they had served,
and their private means; so that after their discharge, they might not be
tempted by age or necessities to join the agitators for a revolution. For the
purpose of providing a fund always ready to meet their pay and pensions, he
instituted a military exchequer, and appropriated new taxes to that object. In
order to obtain the earliest intelligence of what was passing in the provinces,
he established posts, consisting at first of young men stationed at moderate
distances along the military roads, and afterwards of regular couriers with fast
vehicles; which appeared to him the most commodious, because the persons who
were the bearers of dispatches, written on the spot, might then be questioned
about the business, as occasion occurred.
L. In sealing letters-patent, rescripts, or epistles, he at first used the figure of a sphinx, afterwards the head of Alexander the Great, and at last his own, engraved by the hand of Dioscorides; which practice was retained by the succeeding emperors. He was extremely precise in dating his letters, putting down exactly the time of the day or night at which they were dispatched.
|LI. Of his clemency and moderation there are abundant and signal instances. For, not to enumerate how many and what persons of the adverse party he pardoned, received into favour, and suffered to rise to the highest eminence in the state; he thought it sufficient to punish Junius Novatus and Cassius Patavinus, who were both plebeians, one of them with a fine, and the other with an easy banishment; although the former had published, in the name of young Agrippa, a very scurrilous letter against him, and the other declared openly, at an entertainment where there was a great deal of company, "that he neither wanted inclination nor courage to stab him." In the trial of Aemilius Aelianus, of Cordova, when, among other charges exhibited against him, it was particularly insisted upon, that he used to calumniate Caesar, he turned round to the accuser, and said, with an air and tone of passion, "I wish you could make that appear; I shall let Aelianus know that I have a tongue too, and shall speak sharper of him than he ever did of me." Nor did he, either then or afterwards, make any farther inquiry into the affair. And when Tiberius, in a letter, complained of the affront with great earnestness, he returned him an answer in the following terms: "Do not, my dear Tiberius, give way to the ardour of youth in this affair; nor be so indignant that any person should speak ill of me. It is enough, for us, if we can prevent any one from really doing us mischief."|
|LII. Although he knew that it had been customary to decree temples in honour of the proconsuls, yet he would not permit them to be erected in any of the provinces, unless in the joint names of himself and Rome. Within the limits of the city, he positively refused any honour of that kind. He melted down all the silver statues which had been erected to him, and converted the whole into tripods, which he consecrated to the Palatine Apollo. And when the people importuned him to accept the dictatorship, he bent down on one knee, with his toga thrown over his shoulders, and his breast exposed to view, begging to be excused.|
|LIII. He always abhorred the title of Lord, as ill-omened and offensive. And when, in a play, performed at the theatre, at which he was present, these words were introduced, "O just and gracious lord," and the whole company, with joyful acclamations, testified their approbation of them, as applied to him, he instantly put a stop to their indecent flattery, by waving his hand, and frowning sternly, and next day publicly declared his displeasure, in a proclamation. He never afterwards would suffer himself to be addressed in that manner, even by his own children or grand-children, either in jest or earnest and forbad them the use of all such complimentary expressions to one another. He rarely entered any city or town, or departed from it, except in the evening or the night, to avoid giving any person the trouble of complimenting him. During his consulships, he commonly walked the streets on foot; but at other times, rode in a close carriage. He admitted to court even plebeians, in common with people of the higher ranks; receiving the petitions of those who approached him with so much affability, that he once jocosely rebuked a man, by telling him, "You present your memorial with as much hesitation as if you were offering money to an elephant." On senate days, he used to pay his respects to the Conscript Fathers only in the house, addressing them each by name as they sat, without any prompter; and on his departure, he bade each of them farewell, while they retained their seats. In the same manner, he maintained with many of them a constant intercourse of mutual civilities, giving them his company upon occasions of any particular festivity in their families; until he became advanced in years, and was incommoded by the crowd at a wedding. Being informed that Gallus Terrinius, a senator, with whom he had only a slight acquaintance, had suddenly lost his sight, and under that privation had resolved to starve himself to death, he paid him a visit, and by his consolatory admonitions diverted him from his purpose.|
|LIV. On his speaking in the senate, he has been told by one of the members, "I did not understand you," and by another, "I would contradict you, could I do it with safety." And sometimes, upon his being so much offended at the heat with which the debates were conducted in the senate, as to quit the house in anger, some of the members have repeatedly exclaimed: "Surely, the senators ought to have liberty of speech on matters of government." Antistius Labeo, in the election of a new senate, when each, as he was named, chose another, nominated Marcus Lepidus, who had formerly been Augustus's enemy, and was then in banishment; and being asked by the latter, "Is there no other person more deserving?" he replied, "Every man has his own opinion." Nor was any one ever molested for his freedom of speech, although it was carried to the extent of insolence.|
|LV. Even when some infamous libels against him were dispersed in the senate-house, he was neither disturbed, nor did he give himself much trouble to refute them. He would not so much as order an enquiry to be made after the authors; but only proposed, that, for the future, those who published libels or lampoons, in a borrowed name, against any person, should be called to account.|
|LVI. Being provoked by some petulant jests, which were designed to render him odious, he answered them by a proclamation; and yet he prevented the senate from passing an act, to restrain the liberties which were taken with others in people's wills. Whenever he attended at the election of magistrates, he went round the tribes, with the candidates of his nomination, and begged the votes of the people in the usual manner. He likewise gave his own vote in his tribe, as one of the people. He suffered himself to be summoned as a witness upon trials, and not only to be questioned, but to be cross-examined, with the utmost patience. In building his Forum, he restricted himself in the site, not presuming to compel the owners of the neighbouring houses to give up their property. He never recommended his sons to the people, without adding these words, "If they deserve it." And upon the audience rising on their entering the theatre, while they were yet minors, and giving them applause in a standing position, he made it a matter of serious complaint.|
|He was desirous that his friends should be great and powerful in the state, but have no exclusive privileges, or be exempt from the laws which governed others. When Asprenas Nonius, an intimate friend of his, was tried upon a charge of administering poison at the instance of Cassius Severus, he consulted the senate for their opinion what was his duty under the circumstances: "For," said he, "I am afraid, lest, if I should stand by him in the cause, I may be supposed to screen a guilty man; and if I do not, to desert and prejudge a friend." With the unanimous concurrence, therefore, of the senate, he took his seat amongst his advocates for several hours, but without giving him the benefit of speaking to character, as was usual. He likewise appeared for his clients; as on behalf of Scutarius, an old soldier of his, who brought an action for slander. He never relieved any one from prosecution but in a single instance, in the case of a man who had given information of the conspiracy of Muraena; and that he did only by prevailing upon the accuser, in open court, to drop his prosecution.|
|LVII. How much he was beloved for his worthy conduct in all these respects, it is easy to imagine. I say nothing of the decrees of the senate in his honour, which may seem to have resulted from compulsion or deference. The Roman knights voluntarily, and with one accord, always celebrated his birth for two days together; and all ranks of the people, yearly, in performance of a vow they had made, threw a piece of money into the Curtian lake, as an offering for his welfare. They likewise, on the calends of January, presented for his acceptance new-year's gifts in the Capitol, though he was not present with which donations he purchased some costly images of the Gods, which he erected in several streets of the city; as that of Apollo Sandaliarius, Jupiter Tragoedus, and others. When his house on the Palatine hill was accidentally destroyed by fire, the veteran soldiers, the judges, the tribes, and even the people, individually, contributed, according to the ability of each, for rebuilding it; but he would accept only of some small portion out of the several sums collected, and refused to take from any one person more than a single denarius. Upon his return home from any of the provinces, they attended him not only with joyful acclamations, but with songs. It is also remarked, that as often as he entered the city, the infliction of punishment was suspended for the time.|
|LVIII. The whole body of the people, upon a sudden impulse, and with unanimous consent, offered him the title of FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY. It was announced to him first at Antium, by a deputation from the people, and upon his declining the honour, they repeated their offer on his return to Rome, in a full theatre, when they were crowned with laurel. The senate soon afterwards adopted the proposal, not in the way of acclamation or decree, but by commissioning M. Messala, in an unanimous vote, to compliment him with it in the following terms: "With hearty wishes for the happiness and prosperity of yourself and your family, Caesar Augustus, (for we think we thus most effectually pray for the lasting welfare of the state), the senate, in agreement with the Roman people, salute you by the title of FATHER OF YOUR COUNTRY." To this compliment Augustus replied, with tears in his eyes, in these words (for I give them exactly as I have done those of Messala): "Having now arrived at the summit of my wishes, O Conscript Fathers, what else have I to beg of the Immortal Gods, but the continuance of this your affection for me to the last moments of my life?"|
|LIX. To the physician Antonius Musa, who had cured him of a dangerous illness, they erected a statue near that of Aesculapius, by a general subscription. Some heads of families ordered in their wills, that their heirs should lead victims to the Capitol, with a tablet carried before them, and pay their vows, "Because Augustus still survived." Some Italian cities appointed the day upon which he first visited them, to be thenceforth the beginning of their year. And most of the provinces, besides erecting temples and altars, instituted games, to be celebrated to his honour, in most towns, every five years.|
|Augustus completes the construction of the temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens.||LX. The kings, his friends and allies, built cities in their respective kingdoms, to which they gave the name of Caesarea; and all with one consent resolved to finish, at their common expense, the temple of Jupiter Olympius, at Athens, which had been begun long before, and consecrate it to his Genius. They frequently also left their kingdoms, laid aside the badges of royalty, and assuming the toga, attended and paid their respects to him daily, in the manner of clients to their patrons; not only at Rome, but when he was travelling through the provinces.|
|LXI. Having thus given an account of the manner in which he filled his public offices both civil and military, and his conduct in the government of the empire, both in peace and war; I shall now describe his private and domestic life, his habits at home and among his friends and dependents, and the fortune attending him in those scenes of retirement, from his youth to the day of his death. He lost his mother in his first consulship, and his sister Octavia, when he was in the fifty-fourth year of his age. He behaved towards them both with the utmost kindness whilst living, and after their decease paid the highest honours to their memory.|
|LXII. He was contracted when very young to the daughter of Publius Servilius Isauricus; but upon his reconciliation with Antony after their first, the armies on both sides insisting on a family alliance between them, he married Antony's step-daughter Claudia, the daughter of Fulvia by Publius Claudius, although at that time she was scarcely marriageable; and upon a difference arising with his mother-in-law Fulvia, he divorced her untouched, and a pure virgin. Soon afterwards he took to wife Scribonia, who had before been twice married to men of consular rank, and was a mother by one of them. With her likewise he parted, being quite tired out, as he himself writes, with the perverseness of her temper; and immediately took Livia Drusilla, though then pregnant, from her husband Tiberius Nero; and she had never any rival in his love and esteem.|
|LXIII. By Scribonia he had a daughter named Julia, but no children by Livia, although extremely desirous of issue. She, indeed, conceived once, but miscarried. He gave his daughter Julia in the first instance to Marcellus, his sister's son, who had just completed his minority; and, after his death, to Marcus Agrippa, having prevailed with his sister to yield her son-in-law to his wishes; for at that time Agrippa was married to one of the Marcellas, and had children by her. Agrippa dying also, he for a long time thought of several matches for Julia in even the equestrian order, and at last resolved upon selecting Tiberius for his step-son; and he obliged him to part with his wife at that time pregnant, and who had already brought him a child. Mark Antony writes, "That he first contracted Julia to his son, and afterwards to Cotiso, king of the Getae, demanding at the same time the king's daughter in marriage for himself."|
|LXIV. He had three grandsons by Agrippa and Julia, namely, Caius, Lucius, and Agrippa; and two grand-daughters, Julia and Agrippina. Julia he married to Lucius Paulus, the censor's son, and Agrippina to Germanicus, his sister's grandson. Caius and Lucius he adopted at home, by the ceremony of purchase from their father, advanced them, while yet very young, to offices in the state, and when they were consuls-elect, sent them to visit the provinces and armies. In bringing up his daughter and grand-daughters, he accustomed them to domestic employments, and even spinning, and obliged them to speak and act every thing openly before the family, that it might be put down in the diary. He so strictly prohibited them from all converse with strangers, that he once wrote a letter to Lucius Vinicius, a handsome young man of a good family, in which he told him, "You have not behaved very modestly, in making a visit to my daughter at Baiae." He usually instructed his grandsons himself in reading, swimming, and other rudiments of knowledge; and he laboured nothing more than to perfect them in the imitation of his hand-writing. He never supped but he had them sitting at the foot of his couch; nor ever travelled but with them in a chariot before him, or riding beside him.|
LXV. But in the midst of all his joy and hopes in his numerous and
well-regulated family, his fortune failed him. The two Julias, his daughter and
grand-daughter, abandoned themselves to such courses of lewdness and debauchery,
that he banished them both. Caius and Lucius he lost within the space of
eighteen months; the former dying in Lycia, and the latter at Marseilles. His
third grandson Agrippa, with his step-son Tiberius, he adopted in the forum, by
a law passed for the purpose by the Sections;
but he soon afterwards discarded Agrippa for his
coarse and unruly temper, and confined him at Surrentum. He bore the death of
his relations with more patience than he did their disgrace; for he was not
overwhelmed by the loss of Caius and Lucius; but in the case of his daughter, he
stated the facts to the senate in a message read to them by the quaestor,
not having the heart to be present himself; indeed, he was so much ashamed of
her infamous conduct, that for some time he avoided all company, and had
thoughts of putting her to death. It is certain that when one Phoebe, a
freed-woman and confidant of hers, hanged herself about the same time, he said,
"I had rather be the father of Phoebe than of Julia." In her banishment he would
not allow her the use of wine, nor any luxury in dress; nor would he suffer her
to be waited upon by any male servant, either freeman or slave, without his
permission, and having received an exact account of his age, stature,
complexion, and what marks or scars he had about him. At the end of five years
he removed her from the island [where she was confined] to the continent,
and treated her with less severity, but could never be
prevailed upon to recall her. When the Roman people interposed on her behalf
several times with much importunity, all the reply he gave was: "I wish you had
all such daughters and wives as she is." He likewise forbad a child, of which
his grand-daughter Julia was delivered after sentence had passed against her, to
be either owned as a relation, or brought up. Agrippa, who was equally
intractable, and whose folly increased every day, he transported to an island,
and placed a guard of soldiers about him; procuring at
the same time an act of the senate for his confinement there during life. Upon
any mention of him and the two Julias, he would say, with a heavy sigh,
Aith' ophelon agamos t' emenai, agonos t' apoletai. Would I were wifeless, or had childless died!
nor did he usually call them by any other name than that of his "three imposthumes or cancers."
|LXVI. He was cautious in forming friendships, but clung to them with great constancy; not only rewarding the virtues and merits of his friends according to their deserts, but bearing likewise with their faults and vices, provided that they were of a venial kind. For amongst all his friends, we scarcely find any who fell into disgrace with him, except Salvidienus Rufus, whom he raised to the consulship, and Cornelius Gallus, whom he made prefect of Egypt; both of them men of the lowest extraction. One of these, being engaged in plotting a rebellion, he delivered over to the senate, for condemnation; and the other, on account of his ungrateful and malicious temper, he forbad his house, and his living in any of the provinces. When, however, Gallus, being denounced by his accusers, and sentenced by the senate, was driven to the desperate extremity of laying violent hands upon himself, he commended, indeed, the attachment to his person of those who manifested so much indignation, but he shed tears, and lamented his unhappy condition, "That I alone," said he, "cannot be allowed to resent the misconduct of my friends in such a way only as I would wish." The rest of his friends of all orders flourished during their whole lives, both in power and wealth, in the highest ranks of their several orders, notwithstanding some occasional lapses. For, to say nothing of others, he sometimes complained that Agrippa was hasty, and Mecaenas a tattler; the former having thrown up all his employments and retired to Mitylene, on suspicion of some slight coolness, and from jealousy that Marcellus received greater marks of favour; and the latter having confidentially imparted to his wife Terentia the discovery of Muraena's conspiracy.|
|He likewise expected from his friends, at their deaths as well as during their lives, some proofs of their reciprocal attachment. For though he was far from coveting their property, and indeed would never accept of any legacy left him by a stranger, yet he pondered in a melancholy mood over their last words; not being able to conceal his chagrin, if in their wills they made but a slight, or no very honourable mention of him, nor his joy, on the other hand, if they expressed a grateful sense of his favours, and a hearty affection for him. And whatever legacies or shares of their property were left him by such as were parents, he used to restore to their children, either immediately, or if they were under age, upon the day of their assuming the manly dress, or of their marriage; with interest.|
|LXVII. As a patron and master, his behaviour in general was mild and conciliating; but when occasion required it, he could be severe. He advanced many of his freedmen to posts of honour and great importance, as Licinus, Enceladus, and others; and when his slave, Cosmus, had reflected bitterly upon him, he resented the injury no further than by putting him in fetters. When his steward, Diomedes, left him to the mercy of a wild boar, which suddenly attacked them while they were walking together, he considered it rather a cowardice than a breach of duty; and turned an occurrence of no small hazard into a jest, because there was no knavery in his steward's conduct. He put to death Proculus, one of his most favourite freedmen, for maintaining a criminal commerce with other men's wives. He broke the legs of his secretary, Thallus, for taking a bribe of five hundred denarii to discover the contents of one of his letters. And the tutor and other attendants of his son Caius, having taken advantage of his sickness and death, to give loose to their insolence and rapacity in the province he governed, he caused heavy weights to be tied about their necks, and had them thrown into a river.|
LXVIII. In his early youth various aspersions of an infamous character were
heaped upon him. Sextus Pompey reproached him with being an effeminate fellow;
and M. Antony, with earning his adoption from his uncle by prostitution. Lucius
Antony, likewise Mark's brother, charges him with pollution by Caesar; and that,
for a gratification of three hundred thousand sesterces, he had submitted to
Aulus Hirtius in the same way, in Spain; adding, that he used to singe his legs
with burnt nut-shells, to make the hair become softer.
Nay, the whole concourse of the people, at some public
diversions in the theatre, when the following sentence was recited, alluding to
the Gallic priest of the mother of the gods, beating a drum,
Videsne ut cinaedus orbem digito temperet? See with his orb the wanton's finger play!
applied the passage to him, with great applause.
|LXIX. That he was guilty of various acts of adultery, is not denied even by his friends; but they allege in excuse for it, that he engaged in those intrigues not from lewdness, but from policy, in order to discover more easily the designs of his enemies, through their wives. Mark Antony, besides the precipitate marriage of Livia, charges him with taking the wife of a man of consular rank from table, in the presence of her husband, into a bed-chamber, and bringing her again to the entertainment, with her ears very red, and her hair in great disorder: that he had divorced Scribonia, for resenting too freely the excessive influence which one of his mistresses had gained over him: that his friends were employed to pimp for him, and accordingly obliged both matrons and ripe virgins to strip, for a complete examination of their persons, in the same manner as if Thoranius, the dealer in slaves, had them under sale. And before they came to an open rupture, he writes to him in a familiar manner, thus: "Why are you changed towards me? Because I lie with a queen? She is my wife. Is this a new thing with me, or have I not done so for these nine years? And do you take freedoms with Drusilla only? May health and happiness so attend you, as when you read this letter, you are not in dalliance with Tertulla, Terentilla, Rufilla, or Salvia Titiscenia, or all of them. What matters it to you where, or upon whom, you spend your manly vigour?"|
LXX. A private entertainment which he gave, commonly called the Supper of the
Twelve Gods, and at which the guests were dressed in the
habit of gods and goddesses, while he personated Apollo himself, afforded
subject of much conversation, and was imputed to him not only by Antony in his
letters, who likewise names all the parties concerned, but in the following
well-known anonymous verses:
Cum primum istorum conduxit mensa choragum, Sexque deos vidit Mallia, sexque deas Impia dum Phoebi Caesar mendacia ludit, Dum nova divorum coenat adulteria: Omnia se a terris tunc numina declinarunt: Fugit et auratos Jupiter ipse thronos. When Mallia late beheld, in mingled train, Twelve mortals ape twelve deities in vain; Caesar assumed what was Apollo's due, And wine and lust inflamed the motley crew. At the foul sight the gods avert their eyes, And from his throne great Jove indignant flies.
What rendered this supper more obnoxious to public censure, was that it
happened at a time when there was a great scarcity, and almost a famine, in the
city. The day after, there was a cry current among the people, "that the gods
had eaten up all the corn; and that Caesar was indeed Apollo, but Apollo the
Tormentor;" under which title that god was worshipped in some quarter of the
city. He was likewise charged with being excessively fond of
fine furniture, and Corinthian vessels, as well as with being addicted to
gaming. For, during the time of the proscription, the following line was written
upon his statue:—
Pater argentarius, ego Corinthiarius; My father was a silversmith, my dealings are in brass;
because it was believed, that he had put some persons upon the list of the proscribed, only to obtain the Corinthian vessels in their possession. And afterwards, in the Sicilian war, the following epigram was published:—
Postquam bis classe victus naves perdidit, Aliquando ut vincat, ludit assidue aleam. Twice having lost a fleet in luckless fight, To win at last, he games both day and night.
|LXXI. With respect to the charge or imputation of loathsome impurity before-mentioned, he very easily refuted it by the chastity of his life, at the very time when it was made, as well as ever afterwards. His conduct likewise gave the lie to that of luxurious extravagance in his furniture, when, upon the taking of Alexandria, he reserved for himself nothing of the royal treasures but a porcelain cup, and soon afterwards melted down all the vessels of gold, even such as were intended for common use. But his amorous propensities never left him, and, as he grew older, as is reported, he was in the habit of debauching young girls, who were procured for him, from all quarters, even by his own wife. To the observations on his gaming, he paid not the smallest regard; but played in public, but purely for his diversion, even when he was advanced in years; and not only in the month of December, but at other times, and upon all days, whether festivals or not. This evidently appears from a letter under his own hand, in which he says, "I supped, my dear Tiberius, with the same company. We had, besides, Vinicius, and Silvius the father. We gamed at supper like old fellows, both yesterday and today. And as any one threw upon the tali aces or sixes, he put down for every talus a denarius; all which was gained by him who threw a Venus." In another letter, he says: "We had, my dear Tiberius, a pleasant time of it during the festival of Minerva: for we played every day, and kept the gaming-board warm. Your brother uttered many exclamations at a desperate run of ill-fortune; but recovering by degrees, and unexpectedly, he in the end lost not much. I lost twenty thousand sesterces for my part; but then I was profusely generous in my play, as I commonly am; for had I insisted upon the stakes which I declined, or kept what I gave away, I should have won about fifty thousand. But this I like better for it will raise my character for generosity to the skies." In a letter to his daughter, he writes thus: "I have sent you two hundred and fifty denarii, which I gave to every one of my guests; in case they were inclined at supper to divert themselves with the Tali, or at the game of Even-or-Odd."|
|LXXII. In other matters, it appears that he was moderate in his habits, and free from suspicion of any kind of vice. He lived at first near the Roman Forum, above the Ring-maker's Stairs, in a house which had once been occupied by Calvus the orator. He afterwards moved to the Palatine Hill, where he resided in a small house belonging to Hortensius, no way remarkable either for size or ornament; the piazzas being but small, the pillars of Alban stone, and the rooms without any thing of marble, or fine paving. He continued to use the same bed-chamber, both winter and summer, during forty years: for though he was sensible that the city did not agree with his health in the winter, he nevertheless resided constantly in it during that season. If at any time he wished to be perfectly retired, and secure from interruption, he shut himself up in an apartment at the top of his house, which he called his Syracuse or Technophuon, or he went to some villa belonging to his freedmen near the city. But when he was indisposed, he commonly took up his residence in the house of Mecaenas. Of all the places of retirement from the city, he chiefly frequented those upon the sea-coast, and the islands of Campania, or the towns nearest the city, such as Lanuvium, Praeneste, and Tibur, where he often used to sit for the administration of justice, in the porticos of the temple of Hercules. He had a particular aversion to large and sumptuous palaces; and some which had been raised at a vast expense by his grand-daughter, Julia, he levelled to the ground. Those of his own, which were far from being spacious, he adorned, not so much with statues and pictures, as with walks and groves, and things which were curious either for their antiquity or rarity; such as, at Capri, the huge limbs of sea-monsters and wild beasts, which some affect to call the bones of giants; and also the arms of ancient heroes.|
|LXXIII. His frugality in the furniture of his house appears even at this day, from some beds and tables still remaining, most of which are scarcely elegant enough for a private family. It is reported that he never lay upon a bed, but such as was low, and meanly furnished. He seldom wore any garment but what was made by the hands of his wife, sister, daughter, and grand-daughters. His togas were neither scanty nor full; and the clavus was neither remarkably broad or narrow. His shoes were a little higher than common, to make him appear taller than he was. He had always clothes and shoes, fit to appear in public, ready in his bed-chamber for any sudden occasion.|
|LXXIV. At his table, which was always plentiful and elegant, he constantly entertained company; but was very scrupulous in the choice of them, both as to rank and character. Valerius Messala informs us, that he never admitted any freedman to his table, except Menas, when rewarded with the privilege of citizenship, for betraying Pompey's fleet. He writes, himself, that he invited to his table a person in whose villa he lodged, and who had formerly been employed by him as a spy. He often came late to table, and withdrew early; so that the company began supper before his arrival, and continued at table after his departure. His entertainments consisted of three entries, or at most of only six. But if his fare was moderate, his courtesy was extreme. For those who were silent, or talked in whispers, he encouraged to join in the general conversation; and introduced buffoons and stage players, or even low performers from the circus, and very often itinerant humourists, to enliven the company.|
|LXXV. Festivals and holidays he usually celebrated very expensively, but sometimes only with merriment. In the Saturnalia, or at any other time when the fancy took him, he distributed to his company clothes, gold, and silver; sometimes coins of all sorts, even of the ancient kings of Rome and of foreign nations; sometimes nothing but towels, sponges, rakes, and tweezers, and other things of that kind, with tickets on them, which were enigmatical, and had a double meaning. He used likewise to sell by lot among his guests articles of very unequal value, and pictures with their fronts reversed; and so, by the unknown quality of the lot, disappoint or gratify the expectation of the purchasers. This sort of traffic went round the whole company, every one being obliged to buy something, and to run the chance of loss or gain wits the rest.|
|LXXVI. He ate sparingly (for I must not omit even this), and commonly used a plain diet. He was particularly fond of coarse bread, small fishes, new cheese made of cow's milk, and green figs of the sort which bear fruit twice a year. He did not wait for supper, but took food at any time, and in any place, when he had an appetite. The following passages relative to this subject, I have transcribed from his letters. "I ate a little bread and some small dates, in my carriage." Again. "In returning home from the palace in my litter, I ate an ounce of bread, and a few raisins." Again. "No Jew, my dear Tiberius, ever keeps such strict fast upon the Sabbath, as I have to-day; for while in the bath, and after the first hour of the night, I only ate two biscuits, before I began to be rubbed with oil." From this great indifference about his diet, he sometimes supped by himself, before his company began, or after they had finished, and would not touch a morsel at table with his guests.|
|LXXVII. He was by nature extremely sparing in the use of wine. Cornelius Nepos says, that he used to drink only three times at supper in the camp at Modena; and when he indulged himself the most, he never exceeded a pint; or if he did, his stomach rejected it. Of all wines, he gave the preference to the Rhaetian, but scarcely ever drank any in the day-time. Instead of drinking, he used to take a piece of bread dipped in cold water, or a slice of cucumber, or some leaves of lettuce, or a green, sharp, juicy apple.|
|LXXVIII. After a slight repast at noon, he used to seek repose, dressed as he was, and with his shoes on, his feet covered, and his hand held before his eyes. After supper he commonly withdrew to his study, a small closet, where he sat late, until he had put down in his diary all or most of the remaining transactions of the day, which he had not before registered. He would then go to bed, but never slept above seven hours at most, and that not without interruption; for he would wake three or four times during that time. If he could not again fall asleep, as sometimes happened, he called for some one to read or tell stories to him, until he became drowsy, and then his sleep was usually protracted till after day-break. He never liked to lie awake in the dark, without somebody to sit by him. Very early rising was apt to disagree with him. On which account, if he was obliged to rise betimes, for any civil or religious functions, in order to guard as much as possible against the inconvenience resulting from it, he used to lodge in some apartment near the spot, belonging to any of his attendants. If at any time a fit of drowsiness seized him in passing along the streets, his litter was set down while he snatched a few moments' sleep.|
|LXXIX. In person he was handsome and graceful, through every period of his life. But he was negligent in his dress; and so careless about dressing his hair, that he usually had it done in great haste, by several barbers at a time. His beard he sometimes clipped, and sometimes shaved; and either read or wrote during the operation. His countenance, either when discoursing or silent, was so calm and serene, that a Gaul of the first rank declared amongst his friends, that he was so softened by it, as to be restrained from throwing him down a precipice, in his passage over the Alps, when he had been admitted to approach him, under pretence of conferring with him. His eyes were bright and piercing; and he was willing it should be thought that there was something of a divine vigour in them. He was likewise not a little pleased to see people, upon his looking steadfastly at them, lower their countenances, as if the sun shone in their eyes. But in his old age, he saw very imperfectly with his left eye. His teeth were thin set, small and scaly, his hair a little curled, and inclining to a yellow colour. His eye-brows met; his ears were small, and he had an aquiline nose. His complexion was betwixt brown and fair; his stature but low; though Julius Marathus, his freedman, says he was five feet and nine inches in height. This, however, was so much concealed by the just proportion of his limbs, that it was only perceivable upon comparison with some taller person standing by him.|
|LXXX. He is said to have been born with many spots upon his breast and belly, answering to the figure, order, and number of the stars in the constellation of the Bear. He had besides several callosities resembling scars, occasioned by an itching in his body, and the constant and violent use of the strigil in being rubbed. He had a weakness in his left hip, thigh, and leg, insomuch that he often halted on that side; but he received much benefit from the use of sand and reeds. He likewise sometimes found the fore-finger of his right hand so weak, that when it was benumbed and contracted with cold, to use it in writing, he was obliged to have recourse to a circular piece of horn. He had occasionally a complaint in the bladder; but upon voiding some stones in his urine, he was relieved from that pain.|
|LXXXI. During the whole course of his life, he suffered, at times, dangerous fits of sickness, especially after the conquest of Cantabria; when his liver being injured by a defluxion upon it, he was reduced to such a condition, that he was obliged to undergo a desperate and doubtful method of cure: for warm applications having no effect, Antonius Musa directed the use of those which were cold. He was likewise subject to fits of sickness at stated times every year; for about his birth-day he was commonly a little indisposed. In the beginning of spring, he was attacked with an inflation of the midriff; and when the wind was southerly, with a cold in his head. By all these complaints, his constitution was so shattered, that he could not easily bear either heat or cold.|
|LXXXII. In winter, he was protected against the inclemency of the weather by a thick toga, four tunics, a shirt, a flannel stomacher, and swathings upon his legs and thighs. In summer, he lay with the doors of his bedchamber open, and frequently in a piazza, refreshed by a bubbling fountain, and a person standing by to fan him. He could not bear even the winter's sun; and at home, never walked in the open air without a broad-brimmed hat on his head. He usually travelled in a litter, and by night: and so slow, that he was two days in going to Praeneste or Tibur. And if he could go to any place by sea, he preferred that mode of travelling. He carefully nourished his health against his many infirmities, avoiding chiefly the free use of the bath; but he was often rubbed with oil, and sweated in a stove; after which he was washed with tepid water, warmed either by a fire, or by being exposed to the heat of the sun. When, upon account of his nerves, he was obliged to have recourse to sea-water, or the waters of Albula, he was contented with sitting over a wooden tub, which he called by a Spanish name Dureta, and plunging his hands and feet in the water by turns.|
|LXXXIII. As soon as the civil wars were ended, he gave up riding and other military exercises in the Campus Martius, and took to playing at ball, or foot-ball; but soon afterwards used no other exercise than that of going abroad in his litter, or walking. Towards the end of his walk, he would run leaping, wrapped up in a short cloak or cape. For amusement he would sometimes angle, or play with dice, pebbles, or nuts, with little boys, collected from various countries, and particularly Moors and Syrians, for their beauty or amusing talk. But dwarfs, and such as were in any way deformed, he held in abhorrence, as lusus naturae (nature's abortions), and of evil omen.|
|LXXXIV. From early youth he devoted himself with great diligence and application to the study of eloquence, and the other liberal arts. In the war of Modena, notwithstanding the weighty affairs in which he was engaged, he is said to have read, written, and declaimed every day. He never addressed the senate, the people, or the army, but in a premeditated speech, though he did not want the talent of speaking extempore on the spur of the occasion. And lest his memory should fail him, as well as to prevent the loss of time in getting up his speeches, it was his general practice to recite them. In his intercourse with individuals, and even with his wife Livia, upon subjects of importance he wrote on his tablets all he wished to express, lest, if he spoke extempore, he should say more or less than was proper. He delivered himself in a sweet and peculiar tone, in which he was diligently instructed by a master of elocution. But when he had a cold, he sometimes employed a herald to deliver his speeches to the people.|
|Of the writing of Augustus.||LXXXV. He composed many tracts in prose on various subjects, some of which he read occasionally in the circle of his friends, as to an auditory. Among these was his Rescript to Brutus respecting Cato. Most of the pages he read himself, although he was advanced in years, but becoming fatigued, he gave the rest to Tiberius to finish. He likewise read over to his friends his Exhortations to Philosophy, and the History of his own Life, which he continued in thirteen books, as far as the Cantabrian war, but no farther. He likewise made some attempts at poetry. There is extant one book written by him in hexameter verse, of which both the subject and title is Sicily. There is also a book of Epigrams, no larger than the last, which he composed almost entirely while he was in the bath. These are all his poetical compositions for though he begun a tragedy with great zest, becoming dissatisfied with the style, he obliterated the whole; and his friends saying to him, "What is your Ajax doing?" he answered, "My Ajax has met with a sponge."|
|LXXXVI. He cultivated a style which was neat and chaste, avoiding frivolous or harsh language, as well as obsolete words, which he calls disgusting. His chief object was to deliver his thoughts with all possible perspicuity. To attain this end, and that he might nowhere perplex, or retard the reader or hearer, he made no scruple to add prepositions to his verbs, or to repeat the same conjunction several times; which, when omitted, occasion some little obscurity, but give a grace to the style. Those who used affected language, or adopted obsolete words, he despised, as equally faulty, though in different ways. He sometimes indulged himself in jesting, particularly with his friend Mecaenas, whom he rallied upon all occasions for his fine phrases, and bantered by imitating his way of talking. Nor did he spare Tiberius, who was fond of obsolete and far-fetched expressions. He charges Mark Antony with insanity, writing rather to make men stare, than to be understood; and by way of sarcasm upon his depraved and fickle taste in the choice of words, he writes to him thus: "And are you yet in doubt, whether Cimber Annius or Veranius Flaccus be more proper for your imitation? Whether you will adopt words which Sallustius Crispus has borrowed from the 'Origines' of Cato? Or do you think that the verbose empty bombast of Asiatic orators is fit to be transfused into our language?" And in a letter where he commends the talent of his grand-daughter, Agrippina, he says, "But you must be particularly careful, both in writing and speaking, to avoid affectation."|
|LXXXVII. In ordinary conversation, he made use of several peculiar expressions, as appears from letters in his own hand-writing; in which, now and then, when he means to intimate that some persons would never pay their debts, he says, "They will pay at the Greek Calends." And when he advised patience in the present posture of affairs, he would say, "Let us be content with our Cato." To describe anything in haste, he said, "It was sooner done than asparagus is cooked." He constantly puts baceolus for stultus, pullejaceus for pullus, vacerrosus for cerritus, vapide se habere for male, and betizare for languere, which is commonly called lachanizare. Likewise simus for sumus, domos for domus in the genitive singular. With respect to the last two peculiarities, lest any person should imagine that they were only slips of his pen, and not customary with him, he never varies. I have likewise remarked this singularity in his hand-writing; he never divides his words, so as to carry the letters which cannot be inserted at the end of a line to the next, but puts them below the other, enclosed by a bracket.|
|LXXXVIII. He did not adhere strictly to orthography as laid down by the grammarians, but seems to have been of the opinion of those who think, that we ought to write as we speak; for as to his changing and omitting not only letters but whole syllables, it is a vulgar mistake. Nor should I have taken notice of it, but that it appears strange to me, that any person should have told us, that he sent a successor to a consular lieutenant of a province, as an ignorant, illiterate fellow, upon his observing that he had written ixi for ipsi. When he had occasion to write in cypher, he put B for A, C for B, and so forth; and instead of Z, AA.|
|LXXXIX. He was no less fond of the Greek literature, in which he made considerable proficiency; having had Apollodorus of Pergamus, for his master in rhetoric; whom, though much advanced in years, he took with him from The City, when he was himself very young, to Apollonia. Afterwards, being instructed in philology by Sephaerus, he received into his family Areus the philosopher, and his sons Dionysius and Nicanor; but he never could speak the Greek tongue readily, nor ever ventured to compose in it. For if there was occasion for him to deliver his sentiments in that language, he always expressed what he had to say in Latin, and gave it another to translate. He was evidently not unacquainted with the poetry of the Greeks, and had a great taste for the ancient comedy, which he often brought upon the stage, in his public spectacles. In reading the Greek and Latin authors, he paid particular attention to precepts and examples which might be useful in public or private life. Those he used to extract verbatim, and gave to his domestics, or send to the commanders of the armies, the governors of the provinces, or the magistrates of the city, when any of them seemed to stand in need of admonition. He likewise read whole books to the senate, and frequently made them known to the people by his edicts; such as the orations of Quintus Metellus For the Encouragement of Marriage, and those of Rutilius On the Style of Building; to shew the people that he was not the first who had promoted those objects, but that the ancients likewise had thought them worthy their attention. He patronised the men of genius of that age in every possible way. He would hear them read their works with a great deal of patience and good nature; and not only poetry and history, but orations and dialogues. He was displeased, however, that anything should be written upon himself, except in a grave manner, and by men of the most eminent abilities: and he enjoined the praetors not to suffer his name to be made too common in the contests amongst orators and poets in the theatres.|
|XC. We have the following account of him respecting his belief in omens and such like. He had so great a dread of thunder and lightning that he always carried about him a seal's skin, by way of preservation. And upon any apprehension of a violent storm, he would retire to some place of concealment in a vault under ground; having formerly been terrified by a flash of lightning, while travelling in the night, as we have already mentioned.|
|XCI. He neither slighted his own dreams nor those of other people relating to himself. At the battle of Philippi, although he had resolved not to stir out of his tent, on account of his being indisposed, yet, being warned by a dream of one of his friends, he changed his mind; and well it was that he did so, for in the enemy's attack, his couch was pierced and cut to pieces, on the supposition of his being in it. He had many frivolous and frightful dreams during the spring; but in the other parts of the year, they were less frequent and more significative. Upon his frequently visiting a temple near the Capitol, which he had dedicated to Jupiter Tonans, he dreamt that Jupiter Capitolinus complained that his worshippers were taken from him, and that upon this he replied, he had only given him The Thunderer for his porter. He therefore immediately suspended little bells round the summit of the temple; because such commonly hung at the gates of great houses. In consequence of a dream, too, he always, on a certain day of the year, begged alms of the people, reaching out his hand to receive the dole which they offered him.|
|XCII. Some signs and omens he regarded as infallible. If in the morning his shoe was put on wrong, the left instead of the right, that boded some disaster. If when he commenced a long journey, by sea or land, there happened to fall a mizzling rain, he held it to be a good sign of a speedy and happy return. He was much affected likewise with any thing out of the common course of nature. A palm-tree which chanced to grow up between some stone's in the court of his house, he transplanted into a court where the images of the Household Gods were placed, and took all possible care to make it thrive in the island of Capri, some decayed branches of an old ilex, which hung drooping to the ground, recovered themselves upon his arrival; at which he was so delighted, that he made an exchange with the Republic of Naples, of the island of Oenaria [Ischia], for that of Capri. He likewise observed certain days; as never to go from home the day after the Nundiae, nor to begin any serious business upon the nones; avoiding nothing else in it, as he writes to Tiberius, than its unlucky name.|
|XCIII. With regard to the religious ceremonies of foreign nations, he was a strict observer of those which had been established by ancient custom; but others he held in no esteem. For, having been initiated at Athens, and coming afterwards to hear a cause at Rome, relative to the privileges of the priests of the Attic Ceres, when some of the mysteries of their sacred rites were to be introduced in the pleadings, he dismissed those who sat upon the bench as judges with him, as well as the by-standers, and heard the argument upon those points himself. But, on the other hand, he not only declined, in his progress through Egypt, to go out of his way to pay a visit to Apis, but he likewise commended his grandson Caius for not paying his devotions at Jerusalem in his passage through Judaea.|
XCIV. Since we are upon this subject, it may not be improper to give an
account of the omens, before and at his birth, as well as afterwards, which gave
hopes of his future greatness, and the good fortune that constantly attended
him. A part of the wall of Velletri having in former times been struck with
thunder, the response of the soothsayers was, that a native of that town would
some time or other arrive at supreme power; relying on which prediction, the
Velletrians both then, and several times afterwards, made war upon the Roman
people, to their own ruin. At last it appeared by the event, that the omen had
portended the elevation of Augustus.
Julius Marathus informs us, that a few months before his birth, there happened at Rome a prodigy, by which was signified that Nature was in travail with a king for the Roman people; and that the senate, in alarm, came to the resolution that no child born that year should be brought up; but that those amongst them, whose wives were pregnant, to secure to themselves a chance of that dignity, took care that the decree of the senate should not be registered in the treasury.
|Of the divine origins of Augustus.||
I find in the theological books of Asclepiades the Mendesian,
that Atia, upon attending at midnight a religious
solemnity in honour of Apollo, when the rest of the matrons retired home, fell
asleep on her couch in the temple, and that a serpent immediately crept to her,
and soon after withdrew. She awaking upon it, purified herself, as usual after
the embraces of her husband; and instantly there appeared upon her body a mark
in the form of a serpent, which she never after could efface, and which obliged
her, during the subsequent part of her life, to decline the use of the public
baths. Augustus, it was added, was born in the tenth month after, and for that
reason was thought to be the son of Apollo. The same Atia, before her
delivery, dreamed that her bowels stretched to the stars, and expanded through
the whole circuit of heaven and earth. His father Octavius, likewise, dreamt
that a sun-beam issued from his wife's womb.
Upon the day he was born, the senate being engaged in a debate on Catiline's conspiracy, and Octavius, in consequence of his wife's being in childbirth, coming late into the house, it is a well-known fact, that Publius Nigidius, upon hearing the occasion of his coming so late, and the hour of his wife's delivery, declared that the world had got a master. Afterwards, when Octavius, upon marching with his army through the deserts of Thrace, consulted the oracle in the grove of father Bacchus, with barbarous rites, concerning his son, he received from the priests an answer to the same purpose; because, when they poured wine upon the altar, there burst out so prodigious a flame, that it ascended above the roof of the temple, and reached up to the heavens; a circumstance which had never happened to any one but Alexander the Great, upon his sacrificing at the same altars. And next night he dreamt that he saw his son under a more than human appearance, with thunder and a sceptre, and the other insignia of Jupiter, Optimus, Maximus, having on his head a radiant crown, mounted upon a chariot decked with laurel, and drawn by six pair of milk-white horses.
Whilst he was yet an infant, as Caius Drusus relates, being laid in his
cradle by his nurse, and in a low place, the next day he was not to be found,
and after he had been sought for a long time, he was at last discovered upon a
lofty tower, lying with his face towards the rising sun.
When he first began to speak, he ordered the frogs
that happened to make a troublesome noise, upon an estate belonging to the
family near the town, to be silent; and there goes a report that frogs never
croaked there since that time. As he was dining in a grove at the fourth
mile-stone on the Campanian road, an eagle suddenly snatched a piece of bread
out of his hand, and, soaring to a prodigious height, after hovering, came down
most unexpectedly, and returned it to him.
Quintus Catulus had a dream, for two nights successively after his dedication of the Capitol. The first night he dreamt that Jupiter, out of several boys of the order of the nobility who were playing about his altar, selected one, into whose bosom he put the public seal of the commonwealth, which he held in his hand; but in his vision the next night, he saw in the bosom of Jupiter Capitolinus, the same boy; whom he ordered to be removed, but it was forbidden by the God, who declared that it must be brought up to become the guardian of the state. The next day, meeting Augustus, with whom till that hour he had not the least acquaintance, and looking at him with admiration, he said he was extremely like the boy he had seen in his dream. Some give a different account of Catulus's first dream, namely, that Jupiter, upon several noble lads requesting of him that they might have a guardian, had pointed to one amongst them, to whom they were to prefer their requests; and putting his fingers to the boy's mouth to kiss, he afterwards applied them to his own.
Marcus Cicero, as he was attending Caius Caesar to the Capitol, happened to
be telling some of his friends a dream which he had the preceding night, in
which he saw a comely youth, let down from heaven by a golden chain, who stood
at the door of the Capitol, and had a whip put into his hands by Jupiter. And
immediately upon sight of Augustus, who had been sent for by his uncle Caesar to
the sacrifice, and was as yet perfectly unknown to most of the company, he
affirmed that it was the very boy he had seen in his dream. When he assumed the
manly toga, his senatorian tunic becoming loose in the seam on each side, fell
at his feet. Some would have this to forbode, that the order, of which that was
the badge of distinction, would some time or other be subject to him.
Julius Caesar, in cutting down a wood to make room for his camp near Munda, happened to light upon a palm-tree, and ordered it to be preserved as an omen of victory. From the root of this tree there put out immediately a sucker, which, in a few days, grew to such a height as not only to equal, but overshadow it, and afford room for many nests of wild pigeons which built in it, though that species of bird particularly avoids a hard and rough leaf. It is likewise reported, that Caesar was chiefly influenced by this prodigy, to prefer his sister's grandson before all others for his successor.
|In his retirement at Apollonia, he went with his friend Agrippa to visit Theogenes, the astrologer, in his gallery on the roof. Agrippa, who first consulted the fates, having great and almost incredible fortunes predicted of him, Augustus did not choose to make known his nativity, and persisted for some time in the refusal, from a mixture of shame and fear, lest his fortunes should be predicted as inferior to those of Agrippa. Being persuaded, however, after much importunity, to declare it, Theogenes started up from his seat, and paid him adoration. Not long afterwards, Augustus was so confident of the greatness of his destiny, that he published his horoscope, and struck a silver coin, bearing upon it the sign of Capricorn, under the influence of which he was born.|
|XCV. After the death of Caesar, upon his return from Apollonia, as he was entering the city, on a sudden, in a clear and bright sky, a circle resembling the rainbow surrounded the body of the sun; and, immediately afterwards, the tomb of Julia, Caesar's daughter, was struck by lightning. In his first consulship, whilst he was observing the auguries, twelve vultures presented themselves, as they had done to Romulus. And when he offered sacrifice, the livers of all the victims were folded inward in the lower part; a circumstance which was regarded by those present, who had skill in things of that nature, as an indubitable prognostic of great and wonderful fortune.|
|XCVI. He certainly had a presentiment of the issue of all his wars. When the troops of the Triumviri were collected about Bolognia, an eagle, which sat upon his tent, and was attacked by two crows, beat them both, and struck them to the ground, in the view of the whole army; who thence inferred that discord would arise between the three colleagues, which would be attended with the like event: and it accordingly happened. At Philippi, he was assured of success by a Thessalian, upon the authority, as he pretended, of the Divine Caesar himself, who had appeared to him while he was travelling in a bye-road. At Perugia, the sacrifice not presenting any favourable intimations, but the contrary, he ordered fresh victims; the enemy, however, carrying off the sacred things in a sudden sally, it was agreed amongst the augurs, that all the dangers and misfortunes which had threatened the sacrificer, would fall upon the heads of those who had got possession of the entrails. And, accordingly, so it happened. The day before the sea-fight near Sicily, as he was walking upon the shore, a fish leaped out of the sea, and laid itself at his feet. At Actium, while he was going down to his fleet to engage the enemy, he was met by an ass with a fellow driving it. The name of the man was Eutychus, and that of the animal, Nichon. After the victory, he erected a brazen statue to each, in a temple built upon the spot where he had encamped.|
|XCVII. His death, of which I shall now speak, and his subsequent deification, were intimated by divers manifest prodigies. As he was finishing the census amidst a great crowd of people in the Campus Martius, an eagle hovered round him several times, and then directed its course to a neighbouring temple, where it settled upon the name of Agrippa, and at the first letter. Upon observing this, he ordered his colleague Tiberius to put up the vows, which it is usual to make on such occasions, for the succeeding Lustrum. For he declared he would not meddle with what it was probable he should never accomplish, though the tables were ready drawn for it. About the same time, the first letter of his name, in an inscription upon one of his statues, was struck out by lightning; which was interpreted as a presage that he would live only a hundred days longer, the letter C denoting that number; and that he would be placed amongst the Gods, as Aesar, which is the remaining part of the word Caesar, signifies, in the Tuscan language, a God. Being, therefore, about dispatching Tiberius to Illyricum, and designing to go with him as far as Beneventum, but being detained by several persons who applied to him respecting causes they had depending, he cried out, (and it was afterwards regarded as an omen of his death), "Not all the business in the world, shall detain me at home one moment longer;" and setting out upon his journey, he went as far as Astura; whence, contrary to his custom, he put to sea in the night-time, as there was a favourable wind.|
|XCVIII. His malady proceeded from diarrhoea; notwithstanding which, he went round the coast of Campania, and the adjacent islands, and spent four days in that of Capri; where he gave himself up entirely to repose and relaxation. Happening to sail by the bay of Puteoli, the passengers and mariners aboard a ship of Alexandria, just then arrived, clad all in white, with chaplets upon their heads, and offering incense, loaded him with praises and joyful acclamations, crying out, "By you we live, by you we sail securely, by you enjoy our liberty and our fortunes." At which being greatly pleased, he distributed to each of those who attended him, forty gold pieces, requiring from them an assurance on oath, not to employ the sum given them in any other way, than the purchase of Alexandrian merchandize. And during several days afterwards, he distributed Togae and Pallia, among other gifts, on condition that the Romans should use the Greek, and the Greeks the Roman dress and language. He likewise constantly attended to see the boys perform their exercises, according to an ancient custom still continued at Capri. He gave them likewise an entertainment in his presence, and not only permitted, but required from them the utmost freedom in jesting, and scrambling for fruit, victuals, and other things which he threw amongst them. In a word, he indulged himself in all the ways of amusement he could contrive.|
He called an island near Capri, Apragopolis, "The City of the Do-littles,"
from the indolent life which several of his party led there. A favourite of his,
one Masgabas, he used to call Ktistaes. as if he had been the
planter of the island. And observing from his room a great company of people
with torches, assembled at the tomb of this Masgabas, who died the year before,
he uttered very distinctly this verse, which he made extempore.
Ktistou de tumbo, eisoro pyroumenon. Blazing with lights I see the founder's tomb.
Then turning to Thrasyllus, a companion of Tiberius, who reclined on the other side of the table, he asked him, who knew nothing about the matter, what poet he thought was the author of that verse; and on his hesitating to reply, he added another:
Oras phaessi Masgaban timomenon. Honor'd with torches Masgabas you see;
and put the same question to him concerning that likewise. The latter replying, that, whoever might be the author, they were excellent verses, he set up a great laugh, and fell into an extraordinary vein of jesting upon it. Soon afterwards, passing over to Naples, although at that time greatly disordered in his bowels by the frequent returns of his disease, he sat out the exhibition of the gymnastic games which were performed in his honour every five years, and proceeded with Tiberius to the place intended. But on his return, his disorder increasing, he stopped at Nola, sent for Tiberius back again, and had a long discourse with him in private; after which, he gave no further attention to business of any importance.
XCIX. Upon the day of his death, he now and then enquired, if there was any
disturbance in the town on his account; and calling for a mirror, he ordered his
hair to be combed, and his shrunk cheeks to be adjusted. Then asking his friends
who were admitted into the room, "Do ye think that I have acted my part on the
stage of life well?" he immediately subjoined,
Ei de pan echei kalos, to paignio Dote kroton, kai pantes umeis meta charas ktupaesate. If all be right, with joy your voices raise, In loud applauses to the actor's praise.
After which, having dismissed them all, whilst he was inquiring of some persons who were just arrived from Rome, concerning Drusus's daughter, who was in a bad state of health, he expired suddenly, amidst the kisses of Livia, and with these words: "Livia! live mindful of our union; and now, farewell!" dying a very easy death, and such as he himself had always wished for. For as often as he heard that any person had died quickly and without pain, he wished for himself and his friends the like euthanasian (an easy death), for that was the word he made use of. He betrayed but one symptom, before he breathed his last, of being delirious, which was this: he was all on a sudden much frightened, and complained that he was carried away by forty men. But this was rather a presage, than any delirium: for precisely that number of soldiers belonging to the pretorian cohort, carried out his corpse.
|C. He expired in the same room in which his father Octavius had died, when the two Sextus's, Pompey and Apuleius, were consuls, upon the fourteenth of the calends of September [the 19th August], at the ninth hour of the day, being seventy-six years of age, wanting only thirty-five days. His remains were carried by the magistrates of the municipal towns and colonies, from Nola to Bovillae, and in the nighttime, because of the season of the year. During the intervals, the body lay in some basilica, or great temple, of each town. At Bovillae it was met by the Equestrian Order, who carried it to the city, and deposited it in the vestibule of his own house. The senate proceeded with so much zeal in the arrangement of his funeral, and paying honour to his memory, that, amongst several other proposals, some were for having the funeral procession made through the triumphal gate, preceded by the image of Victory which is in the senate-house, and the children of highest rank and of both sexes singing the funeral dirge. Others proposed, that on the day of the funeral, they should lay aside their gold rings, and wear rings of iron; and others, that his bones should be collected by the priests of the principal colleges. One likewise proposed to transfer the name of August to September, because he was born in the latter, but died in the former. Another moved, that the whole period of time, from his birth to his death, should be called the Augustan age, and be inserted in the calendar under that title. But at last it was judged proper to be moderate in the honours paid to his memory. Two funeral orations were pronounced in his praise, one before the temple of Julius, by Tiberius; and the other before the rostra, under the old shops, by Drusus, Tiberius's son. The body was then carried upon the shoulders of senators into the Campus Martius, and there burnt. A man of pretorian rank affirmed upon oath, that he saw his spirit ascend from the funeral pile to heaven. The most distinguished persons of the equestrian order, bare-footed, and with their tunics loose, gathered up his relics, and deposited them in the mausoleum, which had been built in his sixth consulship between the Flaminian Way and the bank of the Tiber; at which time likewise he gave the groves and walks about it for the use of the people.|
CI. He had made a will a year and four months before his death, upon the
third of the nones of April [the 11th of April], in the consulship of Lucius
Plancus, and Caius Silius. It consisted of two skins of parchment, written
partly in his own hand, and partly by his freedmen Polybius and Hilarian; and
had been committed to the custody of the Vestal Virgins, by whom it was now
produced, with three codicils under seal, as well as the will: all these were
opened and read in the senate. He appointed as his direct heirs, Tiberius for
two thirds of his estate, and Livia for the other third, both of whom he
desired to assume his name. The heirs in remainder were Drusus, Tiberius's son,
for one third, and Germanicus with his three sons for the residue. In the third
place, failing them, were his relations, and several of his friends. He left in
legacies to the Roman people forty millions of sesterces; to the tribes
three millions five hundred thousand; to the pretorian
troops a thousand each man; to the city cohorts five hundred; and to the legions
and soldiers three hundred each; which several sums he ordered to be paid
immediately after his death, having taken due care that the money should be
ready in his exchequer. For the rest he ordered different times of payment. In
some of his bequests he went as far as twenty thousand sesterces, for the
payment of which he allowed a twelvemonth; alleging for this procrastination the
scantiness of his estate; and declaring that not more than a hundred and fifty
millions of sesterces would come to his heirs: notwithstanding that during the
twenty preceding years, he had received, in legacies from his friends, the sum
of fourteen hundred millions; almost the whole of which, with his two paternal
estates, and others which had been left him, he had spent in
the service of the state. He left orders that the two Julias, his daughter and
grand-daughter, if anything happened to them, should not be buried in his tomb.
With regard to the three codicils before-mentioned, in
one of them he gave orders about his funeral; another contained a summary of his
acts, which he intended should be inscribed on brazen plates, and placed in
front of his mausoleum; in the third he had drawn up a concise account of the
state of the empire; the number of troops enrolled, what money there was in the
treasury, the revenue, and arrears of taxes; to which were added the names of
the freedmen and slaves from whom the several accounts might be taken.
Here Ends the Life of Octavian Caesar Augustus, from The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
/1/ 63 B.C.
/2/ Hadrian, to whom Suetonius was secretary.
/3/ There is no other authority for Augustus having viewed Antony's corpse. Plutarch informs us, that on hearing his death, Augustus retired into the interior of his tent, and wept over the fate of his colleague and friend, his associate in so many former struggles, both in war and the administration of affairs. (See Plutarch, Life of Antony, 78.)
/4/ The lustrum was a period of five years, after which a census was taken and the city undertook ritual purification.
/6/ Among the monuments to the consulship of Marcus Agrippa was the Pantheon, begun in 27 B.C.. This structure was destroyed in a fire in A.D. 80; the current Pantheon was built under Hadrian in about 120-125 with an inscription on the portico reflecting it origins in the Augustan age -- M. AGRIPPA L. F. COS. TERTIUM FACIT (Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, Built This).
Dr. Alexander Thomson, Essay appended to Suetonius's Octavius Caesar Augustus.