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Tiberius Chapter 21: Death of Augustus[14 AD]
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Since the consuls caused a law to be passed soon after this that he should govern the provinces jointly with Augustus and hold the census with him, he set out for Illyricum on the conclusion of the lustral ceremonies; but he was at once recalled, and finding Augustus in his last illness but still alive, he spent an entire day with him in private. I know that it is commonly believed, that when Tiberius left the room after this confidential talk, Augustus was overheard by his chamberlains to say: "Alas for the Roman people, to be ground by jaws that crunch so slowly!" I also am aware that some have written that Augustus so openly and unreservedly disapproved of his austere manners, that he sometimes broke off his freer and lighter conversation when Tiberius appeared; but that overcome by his wife's entreaties he did not reject his adoption, or perhaps was even led by selfish considerations, that with such a successor he himself might one day be more regretted. But after all I cannot be led to believe that an emperor of the utmost prudence and foresight acted without consideration, especially in a matter of so great moment. It is my opinion that after weighing the faults and the merits of Tiberius, he decided that the latter preponderated, especially since he took oath before the people that he was adopting Tiberius for the good of the country, and alludes to him in several letters as a most able general and the sole defence of the Roman people. In illustration of both these points, I append a few extracts from these letters: |
Fare thee well, Tiberius, most charming of men, and success go with you, as you war for me and for the Muses. Fare thee well, most charming and valiant of men and most conscientious of generals, or may I never know happiness. I have only praise for the conduct of your summer campaigns, dear Tiberius, and I am sure that no one could have acted with better judgment than you did amid so many difficulties and such apathy of your army. All who were with you agree that the well-known line could be applied to you: 'One man alone by his foresight has saved our dear country from ruin.' If anything comes up that calls for careful thought, or if I am vexed at anything, I long mightily, so help me Heaven, for my dear Tiberius, and the lines of Homer come to my mind:
Both may return to our homes, since great are his wisdom and knowledge.'
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Lustrum:Lustrum, or expiation. The last act of the censors during their period of office was to offer an expiatory sacrifice for the whole people. On the appointed day the citizens assembled in military formation in the Campus Martius. The victims, a boar, a ram, and a bull -- hence the name of the sacrifice, suovetaurilia" -- were carried thrice round the assembled host, who were then declared "purified," and whilst the animals were being offered on the altar, the censor to whom the lot had fallen of conducting the ceremony recited a traditional form of prayer for the strengthening and extension of the might of the Roman people. As the censor's office was originally fixed for five years, "lustrum" was used to denote that period of time.