The Women of the Caesars eBook

Guglielmo Ferrero
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 135 pages of information about The Women of the Caesars.

Tiberius’s reign continued for six years after this terrible tragedy, but it was only a species of slow death-agony.  The year 33 saw still another tragic event—­the suicide of Agrippina and her son Drusus.  Of the race of Germanicus there remained alive only one son, Caius (the later Emperor Caligula), and three daughters, of whom the eldest, Agrippina, the mother of Nero, had been married a few years before to the descendant of one of the greatest houses of Rome, Cnaeus Domitius Enobarbus.  Tiberius still remained as the last relic of a bygone time to represent ideas and aspirations which were henceforth lost causes, amid the ruins and the tombs of his friends.  Posterity, following in the footsteps of Tacitus, has held him and his dark nature alone responsible for this ruin.  We ought to believe instead that he was a man born to a loftier and more fortunate destiny, but that he had to pay the penalty for the unique eminence to which fortune had exalted him.  Like the members of his family who had been driven into exile, who had died before their time, who had been driven to suicide in despair, he, too, was the victim of a tragic situation full of insoluble contradictions; and precisely because he was destined to live, he was perhaps the most unfortunate victim of them all.

[1] There was in the Roman legal system no public prosecutor and virtually no police.  Every Roman citizen was supposed to watch over the laws and see that they were not infringed.  On his retirement from office, any governor or magistrate ran the risk of being impeached by some young aspirant to political honors, and not infrequently oratory, an art much cultivated by the Romans, triumphed over righteousness.  In the earlier period the ground on which charges were usually brought was malversation; in the time of the empire they were also frequently brought under the above-mentioned law de majestate.  It has been said that this common act of accusation, the birthright of the Roman citizen, the greatly esteemed palladium of Roman freedom, became the most convenient instrument of despotism.  Since he who could bring a criminal to justice received a fourth of his possessions and estates, and since it brought the accuser into prominence, delation was recklessly indulged in by the unscrupulous, both for the sake of gain and as a means of venting personal spite.  The vice lay at the very heart of the Roman system, and was not the invention of Tiberius.  He could hardly have done away with it without overthrowing the whole Roman procedure.

V

THE SISTERS OF CALIGULA AND THE MARRIAGE OF MESSALINA

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The Women of the Caesars from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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