In this family quarrel, which comprises a struggle of everlasting tendencies, Julia represented the new spirit that will prevail, Tiberius, the old, destined to perish; but for the time being, both spirits, however opposed, were necessary; for peace did not expand its gifts in the Empire without the protection of the great armies that fought on the Rhine and on the Danube. If the spirit of peace refreshed Rome, Italy, the Provinces, only the old aristocratic and military spirit could keep the Germans on the Rhine. As in all great social conflicts, the two opposing parties were both, in a certain measure and each from its own point of view, right. Just for that reason, the equilibrium could be found only by a continual struggle in which men on one side and on the other were destined in turn to triumph or fall according to the moment; a struggle in which Augustus, fated to act the part of judge—that is, to recognise, with a final formal sanction, a sentence already pronounced by facts—had against his will in turn to condemn some and reward others.
Julia will remain at Pandataria, and Tiberius will return to Rome when the danger on the Rhine becomes too threatening, yet without much lessening the conclusive vengeance of Julia. That will come in the long torment of the reign of Tiberius; in the infamy that will pursue him to posterity. After having been pitilessly hated and persecuted in life, this man and this woman, who had personified two social forces eternally at war with each other, will both fall in death into the same abyss of unmerited infamy: tragic spectacle and warning lesson on the vanity of human judgments!
In history as it is generally written, there are to be seen only great personages and events, kings, emperors, generals, ministers, wars, revolutions, treaties. When one closes a huge volume of history, one knows why this state made a great war upon that; understands the political thinking, the strategic plans, the diplomatic agreements of the powerful, but would hardly be able to answer much more simple questions: how people ate and drank, how the warriors, politicians, diplomats, were clad, and in general how men lived at any particular time.
History does not usually busy itself with little men and small facts, and is therefore often obscure, unprecise, vague, tiresome. I believe that if some day I deserve praise, it will be because I have tried to show that everything has value and importance; that all phenomena interweave, act, and react upon each other—economic changes and political revolutions, costumes, ideas, the family and the state, land-holding and cultivation. There are no insignificant events in history; for the great events, like revolutions and wars, are inevitably and indissolubly accompanied by an infinite number of slight changes, appearing in every part of a nation: if in life there are men without note, and if these make up the great majority of nations—that which is called the “mass”—there is no greater mistake than to believe they are extraneous to history, mere inert instruments in the hands of the oligarchies that govern. States and institutions rest on this nameless mass, as a building rests upon its foundations.