Page images
PDF
EPUB

mer tyrants had afflicted their city, and what dangers both he and they had escaped under Caius, and that he ought to hate the heavy burden of tyranny, when the injury is done by others, while he did himself wilfully treat his country after a mad and insolent manner; that if he would comply with them, and demonstrate that his firm resolution, was to live quietly and virtuously, he would have the greatest honours decreed to him that a free people could bestow, and, by subjecting himself to the law, would obtain this branch of commendation, that he acted like a man of virtue, both as a ruler and a subject ; but that if he would act foolishly, and learn no wisdom by Caius's death, they would not permit him to go on : that a great part of the army was got together for them, with plenty of weapons, and a great number of slaves, which they could make use of; that good hope was a great matter in such cases, as was also good fortune, and that the gods would never assist any others but those that undertook to act with virtue and goodness, who can be no other than such as fight for the liberty of their country.”

4. Now these ambassadors, Veranius and Brocchus, who were both of them tribunes of the people, made this speech to Claudius, and, falling down upon their knees, they begged of him, that he would by no means throw the city into wars and misfortunes; but when they saw what a multitude of soldiers encompassed and guarded Claudius, and that the forces that were with the consuls were, in comparison of them, perfectly incoňsiderable, they added, that, “ if he did desire the government, he should accept of it as given by the senate ; that he would prosper better, and be happier, if he came to it, not by injustice, but by the good will of those that would bestow it upon him."

CHAP. IV. What things king Agrippa did for Claudius ; and how Clau

dius, when he had taken the government, commanded the murderers of Caius to be slain.

$ 1. Now Claudius, though he was sensible after what an insolent manner the senate had sent to him, yet did he, according to their advice, behave himself for the present with moderation; but not so far that he could not recover himself out of his fright: so he was encouraged, (to claim the government,] partly by the boldness of the soldiers, and partly by the persuasion of king Agrippa, who exhorted him not to let such a dominion slip out of his hands, when it came thus to him of its own accord. Now this Agrippa, with relation to Caius, did what became one that had been so much honoured by him ; for he embraced Caius's body after he was dead, and laid it upon a bed and covered it as well as he could, and went out to the guards, and told them that Caius was still alive; but he said that they should call for physicians, since he was very ill of his wounds. But when he had learned that Claudius was carried away violently by the soldiers, he rushed through the crowd to him, and when he found that he was in disorder, and ready to resign up the government to the senate, he encouraged him, and desired him to keep the government ; but when he had said this to Claudius, he retired home. And upon the senate's sending for him, he anointed his head with ointment, as if he had lately accompanied with his wife, and had dismissed her, and then came to them: he also asked of the senators what Claudius did; who told him the present state of affairs, and then asked his opinion about the settlement of the public. He told them in words, that he was ready to lose his life for the honour of the senate, but desired them to consider what was for their advantage, without any regard to what was most agreeable to them ; for that those who grasp at government, will stand in need of weapons, and soldiers to guard then, unless they will set up without any preparation for it, and so fall into danger. And when the senate replied, that "they would bring in weapons in abundance, and money; and that as to an army, a part of it was already collected together for them, and they would raise a larger one by giving the slaves their liberty.” Agrippa made answer, “ O senators ! may.you be able to compass what you have a mind to do ; yet will I immediately tell you my thoughts, because they tend to your preservation : take notice then, that the army which will fight for Claudius hath been long exercised in warlike affairs; but our army will be no better than a rude multitude of raw men, and those such as have unexpectedly been made free from slavery, and ungovernable; we must then fight against those that are skilful in war, with men who know not so much as how to draw their swords. So that my opinion is, that we should send some persons to

Claudius, to persuade him to lay down the government, and I am ready to be one of your ambassadors."

2. Upon this speech of Agrippa, the senate complied with him, and he was sent among others, and privately informed Claudius of the disorder the senate was in, and gave him instructions to answer them in a somewhat commanding strain, and as one invested with dignity and authority. Ac. cordingly, Claudius said to the ainbassadors, that “ he did not wonder the senate had no mind to have an emperor over them, because they had been harassed by the barbarity of those that had formerly been at the head of their affairs; but that they should taste of an equitable government under him, and moderate times, while he should only be their ruler in name, but the authority should be equally common to them all ; and since he had passed through many and various scenes of life before their eyes, it would be good for them not to distrust him.” So the ambassadors, upon their hearing this his answer, were dismissed. But Claudius disçoursed with the army which was there gathered together, who took oaths that they would persist in their fidelity to him ; upon which he gave the guards every man five thousand * drachmae a-piece, and a proportionable quantity to their captains, and promised to give the same to the rest of the armies wheresoever they were.

3. And now the consuls called the senate together into the temple of Jupiter, the Conqueror, while it was still night; but some of those senators concealed themselves in the city, being uncertain what to do, upon the hearing of this summons, and some of them went out of the city to their own farnis, as foreseeing whither the public affairs were going, and despairing of liberty; nay, these supposed it much better for them to be slaves without danger to themselves, and to live a lazy and inactive life, than by claiming the dignity of their forefathers, to run the hazard of their own safety. However, an hundred, and no more were gotten toge. ther; and as they were in consultation about the present

* This number of drachmae to be distributed to each private soldier, 15,000 drachmae, equal to 20,000 sesterces, or 1611. Sterling, seems much too large, and directly contradicts Suetonius, chap. to who makes them in all but 15 sesterces, or 28. 4d. Yet inight Josephus have this number from Agrippa, junior ; though I doubt the thousands, or at least the hundreds, have been added by the transcribers, of which we have had several examples already in Jose phus.

posture of affairs, a sudden clamour was made by the soldiers that were on their side, “ Desiring that the senate would choose them an emperor, and not bring the government into ruin by setting up a multitude of rulers.” So they fully declared themselves to be for the giving the government not to all, but to one ; but they gave the senate leave to look out for a person worthy to be set over them, insomuch, that now the affairs of the senate were much worse than before ; because they had not only failed in the recovery of their liberty, which they boasted themselves of, but were in dread of Claudius also. Yet were there those that hankered after the government, both on account of the dig. nity of their families, and that accruing to them by their marriages ; for Marcus Minucianus was illustrious, both by his own nobility, and by his having married Julia, the sister of Caius, who, accordingly, was very ready to claim the government, although the consuls discouraged him, and made one delay after another, in proposing it: that Minucianus also, who was one of Caius's murderers, restrained Valerius of Asia from thinking of such things : and a prodigious slaughter there had been, if leave had been given for these men to set up for themselves, and oppose Claudius. There were also a considerable number of gladiators besides, and of those soldiers who kept watch by night in the city, and rowers of ships, who all ran untu the camp ; insomuch, that of those who put in for the government, some left off their pretensions in order to spare the city, and others out of fear for their own persons.

4. But, as soon as ever it was day, Cherea and those that were with him came into the senate, and attempted to make speeches to the soldiers. However, the multitude of those soldiers, when they saw that they were making signals for silence with their hands, and were ready to begin to speak to them, grew tumultuous, and would not let them speak at' all, because they were all zealous to be under a monarchy ; and they demanded of the senate one for their ruler, as not enduring any longer delays : but the senate hesitated about either their own governing, or how they should themselves be governed, while the soldiers would not admit them to govern, and the murderers of Caius would not permit the soldiers to dictate to them. When they were in these circumstances, Cherea was not able to contain the anger he had, and promised, that if they desired an emperor, he would

give them one, if any one would bring him the watch-word from Eutychus. Now this Eutychus was charioteer of the green-band faction, styled Prasine, and a great friend of Caius, who used to harass the soldiery with building stables for the horses, and spent his time in ignominious labours, which occasioned Cherea to reproach them with him, and to abuse them with much other scurrilous language; and told them, “ He would bring them the head of Claudius ; and that it was an amazing thing that after their former madness they should commit their government to a fool." Yet were not they moved with his words, and drew their swords, and took up their ensigns, and went to Claudius, to join in taking the path of fidelity to him. So the senate were left without any body to defend them, and the very consuls differed nothing from private persons. They were also under consternation and sorrow, men not knowing what would become of them, because Claudius was very angry at them ; so they fell a reproaching one another, and repented of what they had done. At which juncture, Sabinus, one of Caius's murderers, threatened that he would sooner come into the midst of them and kill himself, than consent to make Claudius emperor, and see slavery returning upon them; he also abused Cherea for loving his life too well, while he who was the first in his contempt of Caius, could think it a good thing to live, when even by all that they had done for the recovery of their liberty, they had found it impossible to do it. But Cherea said, he had no manner of doubt upon him about killing himself; that yet he would first sound the intentions of Claudius before he did it.

5. These were the debates, [about the senate ;] but in the camp every body was crowding on all sides, to pay their court to Claudius ; and the other consul, Quintus Pomponius, was reproached by the soldiery, as having rather exhorted the senate to recover their liberty; whereupon they drew their swords, and were going to assault him, and they had done it if Claudius had not hindered them, who snatched the consul out of the danger he was in, and set him by him. But he did not receive that part of the senate which was with Quintus in the like honourable manner; nay, some of them received blows, and were thrust away as they came to salute Claudius ; nay, Aponius went away wounded, and they were all in danger. However, King Agrippa went up to Claudius, and desired he would treat the senators more

« PreviousContinue »