Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.
in lavish presents two thousand two hundred million sesterces.[45] Galba gave instructions that these monies should be recovered from the individual recipients, leaving each a tithe of their original gift.  However, in each case there was scarcely a tenth part left, for these worthless spendthrifts had run through Nero’s money as freely as they had squandered their own:  they had no real property or capital left, nothing but the apparatus of their luxury.  Thirty of the knights were entrusted with the duty of recovering the money.  This commission, for which there was no precedent, proved vastly unpopular owing to the scope of its authority, and the large number of the victims.  Every quarter seemed beset with sales and brokers and lawsuits.  And yet lively satisfaction was caused by the discovery that the beneficiaries of Nero’s bounty were as poor as the victims of his greed.

At this time several officers were cashiered, Antonius Taurus and Antonius Naso of the Guards, Aemilius Pacensis of the City Garrison, and Julius Fronto of the Police.[46] However, this proved no remedy.  The others only began to feel alarmed, thinking that Galba’s craft and timidity had sacrificed a few, while his suspicions rested on them all.


[45] About twenty-three million sterling of our money.

[46] i.e. of the cohorts which formed the police and
fire-brigade of the city.  See chap. 5, note 10.


Meanwhile Otho had nothing to hope from a peaceful settlement:  all 21 his plans demanded a disturbance.  Many motives spurred him on:  his extravagance would have ruined a prince, and his poverty have perplexed a private person:  he was angry with Galba and jealous of Piso.  He also alleged fears for his safety, by way of whetting his ambition.  ‘I proved a nuisance to Nero,’ he would say, ’and can scarcely expect the compliment of a second exile to Lusitania.[47] Besides, monarchs always hate and suspect the man who is mentioned as “next to the throne”.  This was what did me harm with the old emperor, and it will weigh still more with the youthful Piso, who is naturally savage and has been exasperated by a long period of exile.  It would be easy to kill me.  I must do and dare while Galba’s authority is on the wane and Piso’s not yet established.  These times of change suit big enterprises; inaction is more deadly than daring; there is no call for delay.  Death is the natural end for all alike, and the only difference is between fame and oblivion afterwards.  Seeing that the same end awaits the innocent and the guilty, a man of spirit should at least deserve his fate.’

Project Gutenberg
Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook