Tacitus

I. Tacitus

P. Cornelius Tacitus was born was born in a country-town of Narbonensis about A. D. 55 and died about A. D. 120. The son of a Roman knight, he himself rose to be a senator and passed through a normal senatorial career. He was consul in A. D. 97 and governor of Asia in A. D. 112 – 113. He was in intimate friend of Pliny the Younger. Both were successful orators, both distinguished men of letters. Pliny was proud to be regarded as a pupil of Tacitus and to be bracketed with him in popular repute. He addressed to him s number of his published letters – two of them giving a detailed account of the eruption of the eruption of Vesuvius for the use of Tacitus we know very little indeed. He married the daughter of Agricola in A. D. 77. But he never mentions her name.

 

The first literary works of Tacitus, the `Agricola` and `Germania`, came out in A. D. 97 – 98. The `Dialogue de Oratoribus` followed c. A. D. 102. Then came the major historical works, the `Histories` (c. 104 – 112), taking up the story at the death of Augustus in 14 and carrying it to the death of Nero in 68. Both works have come down to us incomplete. Tacitus tells us that he had reserved for his old age the account of the happier age that followed the death of Domitian in 96. But it was never written. Did death overtake him, or had he lost the zest to write?

Tacitus was one of those Italians of the sound old stock, who brought to the service of the Empire a loyalty and a devotion that recall the best days of the Republic. It was the destiny of Rome to rule the world, the destiny of the high-born Roman to share in that great task; and Rome now meant not the city only, but Italy as well. We may think of Tacitus as something like an officer of the Indian army and an Indian Civil Servant rolled into one. He has a passionate belief in the `career` as the one thing in life that matters.

The `career` depended on the `New Order` of the Empire, and men like Tacitus continued to pursue it under emperors good or bad. Tacitus himself had experience of tyrants like Nero and Domitian and of constitutional emperors like Vespasian, Nerva and Trajan. He reflected much of his experience, and ended with the sad conclusion that one must not expect too much. Autocracy and freedom could not finally be reconciled. The fact was that imperial tyranny pressed hardest on the senators. The tyrant forced the Senate to co-operate in his tyranny, and men like Tacitus, constrained to vote against their consciences in condemnation of their own friends, burst out into violent denunciations, once the tyrant was safely buried. This was natural enough, but it leads Tacitus to judge the Empire somewhat ungenerously. After all, it did confer on the world the great blessings of peace and order, and to Tacitus and men like him it opened up all that made life worth living.

 

Tacitus as a historian has several obvious defects. He is often amazingly careless about geography and military history. He is not deeply interested in the `man in the street`. He is not always just, as, for example, when he hints, on very slight grounds, that Domitian poisoned Agricola. He permits himself an occasional sneer at the enemies of Rome, more suitable to cheap journalism of any age than to `the majesty of the Roman Empire`. He mocks the Britons for adopting Roman civilization – poor, deluded slaves. He gibes at the Bructeri, butchering and butchered to provide a Roman holiday. He finds it `glorious` that Roman legions should stand safely in reserve while their brave auxiliaries bear the brunt of battle. But he has great qualities. He has a lively imagination and a quick wit, he is manly and high-minded, and he is capable of genuine moral indignation, even if he occasionally spends it on trivial objects. There is enough in common between his age and ours for us to sympathize with his problems. The Roman Empire is, in fact, nearer to us spiritually than our own country in the Middle Ages.

 

The style of Tacitus grew under the influence of earlier writers such as Cicero and Sallust, but developed finally into something `peculiar, pure and unique of its kind`, like his own Germans.

Tacitus is fond of short sentences and shuns the long period. He is terse, fond of variety, given to inversion and poetic forms of expression. His works were probably all designed to be `declaimed`, read aloud, in the first place. That is why a chapter so often ends with an epigram; it is a signal for applause before the next chapter begins. Many of these epigrams leave their sting behind them. But occasionally the form is there without the spirit. What Tacitus actually has to say is quite simple and not really epigrammatic.

I have tried to render Tacitus accurately and into natural modern English, but have freely sacrificed literal exactness to the claims of idiom. But we must not forget that Tacitus was a great stylist – perhaps the greatest of the Roman Empire – and that a translation is not really true to him unless it carries with it something of his sombre magnificence and his mordant wit.

 

II. Agricola the Man

The name of Cn. Julius Agricola, the father-in-law of Tacitus, is preserved on a lead pipe found at Chester and, under the form `Aircol`, in an early Welsh genealogy. But Tacitus judged rightly that it was his own story that would confer immortality on Agricola`s memory.

 

To the details of Agricola`s career, recorded in the book, very little needed to added. The `Julius` in the names of Agricola and his father suggests that an ancestor may have been enfranchised by Julius Caesar. The father wrote on the cultivation of the vine, and that possibly led to his son`s being named `Agricola` (farmer). The dates of Agricola`s appointment s were:

 

Tribunus Militum in Britain, A.D. 61.

Quacester in Asia, A.D. 64.

Tribunus Plebis in Rome, A.D. 66.

Praetor in Rome, A.D. 68.

Legatus Legionis XX in Britain, A.D. 71-

Legatus Praetorius in Aquitania, A.D. 74-76.

Consul in Rome, A.D. 77 (? April to June);

Legatus Praetorius in Britain, A.D. 77-83.

Life in retirement at Rome, A.D. 83-93, and death in latter year.

 

Agricola, then, had enjoyed a long and honourable career of public service. He had had the opportunity of acquiring an unrivalled knowledge of the province of Britain. He had a fine eye for the site of a fort, and he was an able tactician. But his strategy is open to serious criticism. His seven years of campaigning led to no decisive success, and it is even suspected that the Brigantes were in revolt when he left the province. His optimistic view that Ireland could be conquered and held by a single legion and a small force of auxiliaries makes the thoughtful reader gasp. Tacitus`s description of his father-in-law (in Chapter 35) as `an optimist who throve on adversity` is perhaps a little truer than he meant it to be; and we cannot refuse some sympathy to the `cowards who pleaded for a strategic retreat` (Chapter 25), thinking that Agricola was asking for trouble by his bold dash into Caledonia. Domitian can certainly not be blamed for recalling him. Agricola had had a long innings, and troops were urgently needed at more vital spots on Rhine and Danube. Tacitus awards very high praise to the civil government of Agricola both in Aquitania (Chapter 9) and in Britain (Chapter 19). In Britain too much was, perhaps, sacrificed to campaigning, for Agricola, as Tacitus admits, was in love with military glory (Chapter 5).

Agricola, like Tacitus, accepted the world as he found it. A good man himself, he was pained by Domitian`s bad government. But he was reasonable and would not sacrifice his life in a useless defiance of authority. The refusal of Domitian to make use of Agricola`s services after his return from Britain was certainly prompted by jealously and fear. But there was no real evidence that he poisoned him, and Tacitus might have acknowledged this more frankly.

 

Of Agricola`s personality each reader must judge for himself. Tacitus certainly loved and honoured him, and convinces us that he had good reason for so doing. But there are few intimate, or even personal, touches. We are never told any anecdote of his life in camp or town, of how he dealt with such and such a troublesome centurion or won over such and such a Pictish chief. We meet rebel Britons, Roman soldiers, Caledonian champions of freedom. But we hardly see them except as masses. One wonders whether Agricola himself did. The portrait of Agricola, then. Has power both to attract and impress, but it is rather the portrait of a career than of a man.

 

III. Agricola, the Book

The Agricola belongs to the class `biography` and to the sub-class `eulogy`. It is also a tribute to piety, for the object of the eulogy was Tacitus`s own loved and honoured father-in-law. Such tributes to greatness have been paid from time immemorial. We need only mention the works of Xenophon, Isocrates and Plutarch among the Greeks, and Cornelius Nepos and Suetonius among the Romans. There were also two other Latin works – the `Bellum Iugurthinum` and the `Catilina`, of Sallust – which contributed much to the plan of the Agricola, even though neither of them is exactly a biography. Apart from literary works in Rome, there were also the funeral orations, customarily delivered over the illustrious dead.

The `Agricola` follows the common plan. In Chapters 1 – 3 the subject is introduced and explained, in Chapters 4 – 9 the life and career of Agricola are sketched down to his entry on the governorship of Britain. Then follows a digression – a description of Britain (Chapter 10 – 12) and a short history of the early conquest (Chapter 13 – 17). In Chapter 18 we come back to Agricola and follow his glorious careers in Britain down to Chapter 38. The concluding Chapter, 39 – 46, describe his recall to Rome, his perils in retirement and his death – ending with the thought of his undying fame.

The `Agricola` was written in A.D. 97 – 98, probably begun before his death of Nerva and completed afterwards. Tacitus was already planning to write a general history of the years A.D. 68 – 96, and the account of Britain in the `Agricola` might be regarded as a preparative study. But it is the biographical interest that is always to the fore; details both of geography and history are cut down to a bare minimum.

But was the `Agricola` something more than a biography? Was it a tract in defence of political moderation? There is some truth in the suggestion, but it must not be over-estimated Agricola had certainly never opposed the tyrannical Domitian. He was a great man as far as he was allowed to be, but he knew when he must submit. For Agricola the defence may be accepted as adequate; but the charge of subservience could equally well be levelled at Tacitus and his friends, and here the defence is less successful. They had suffered in silence, voting against their consciences for the condemnation of their friends. They believed in the importance of their careers and felt no call to fruitless martyrdom. But they were trying to make the best of both worlds – to survive under a bad emperor and to resume full rank as patriots under a good one. Tacitus`s own conscience is obviously uneasy. In Chapter 2 there is shame as well as sorrow in the story of Domitian`s war on culture and merit; and in Chapter 45 – the description of Domitian`s final reign of terror – there is downright confession of guilt – `soon, Helvidius was to be led to prison by our hands`. The men who fell victims to Domitian were not all desperadoes, rushing on their doom; they included `promptissimus quisque`, all the `lives wires`, one might almost say. The element of apology for the life of Tacitus and his friends is present then, but it is only a subordinate part of the book.

The `Agricola` has exercised a steady attraction on generation after generation of readers. The subject – the early history of our own island – has a strong natural appeal. The style never loiters, often sparkles, is never dull. Deep in the heart of the book lies an ideal that commands admiration – belief in Rome, in Roman destiny and in the Roman ways and standards of life. There is a note of tragedy in the thought that this ideal has to live in an unfriendly world, forbidden to reach perfection by the very conditions that enable it to live at all. And, throughout, a touch of warmth is added by the true affection that Tacitus bore his father-in-law.

 

IV. Tacitus’ account of Britain

Britain was already fairly well known to the Romans by the time that Tacitus began to write. Even before 200 B.C. Pytheas of Marseilles had visited the island; he published some precious details about it, but was only called a liar for his pains. Caesar, Strabo, Pomponius Mela and others had added their quota to the account. Tacitus had the obvious advantage of close relationship to one who knew Britain as no Roman had ever known it before. But it is hard to take him quite seriously when he claims to have put research on a new basis, with solid fact to replace guess-work. He might possibly have done so had he taken more trouble.

Tacitus still holds the false belief that Britain was much nearer Spain than it actually is, and that Ireland lay between them. He accepts a false view of the shape of Britain. Certainly he could now for the first time state positively that Britain was an island – Agricola`s admiral had confirmed the fact; but it had been the guess long before. It is hard again to understand how he can speak of the Orkneys as `hitherto unknown`; `unexplored` might be the truer word. Tacitus omits some details found in Caesar about the customs of the Britons – e.g., their partiality for geese and their collective marriages – without troubling to correct them, if they needed correction. He never mentions the Druids, never says a word about the native British coinage, though it can hardly have been obsolete by his time. He has good accounts of the climate and of the deep inland penetrations of the sea in the North, but, though he frequently mentions estuaries, he never gives any detail that would enable us to identify one. He sends Agricola on expedition after expedition without once mentioning his base. He does not mention by name any of the chief Roman towns, such as London, Verulam or York. Writing for the special purpose of biography, he clearly omits much that must have figure in his `Histories`. But the achievements of Agricola, thrown on to so uncertain a background, begin to become blurred themselves. Tacitus writes as if any province, any provincials, any army, any enemy might serve equally well to illustrate his hero`s virtues. Modern taste demands more precision.

 

V. Britain before Agricola

Modern archaeologists can tell us a little about the culture of Britain in the later Iron Age, but detailed knowledge only begins with Julius Caesar. That great conqueror, during his victories in Gaul, became aware of an unconquered Britain on his flank and decided to reduce it. His two expeditions – one in 55 B.C., a mere reconnaissance in force, the second in 54 B.C., a serious attempt at conquest – only won limited success. Had we any account but Caesar`s own we should probably mark the second expedition as a failure. Britain, normally subject to tribute, remained in fact independent. Augustus for a short time played with the idea of conquering Britain, but soon abandoned it for more serious projects. So our island remained free. But intercourse between Britain and Gaul was active and Roman influence steadily grew. Cunobelinus (Shakespeare`s Cymbeline) for the whole of his long reign was a friend of Rome. Caligula in A.D. 39 gave a welcome to an exiled British prince and toyed with the idea of an invasion. But it was actually left to Claudius in A.D. 43 to carry out the enterprise. His motive is not certain. Britain was hardly dangerous to Rome and, if great mineral wealth was hoped from it, there was certainly disappointed.

The conquest was carried out without a hitch by Aulus Plautius. Claudius himself spent some days with his victorious army and was saluted as `Imperator`. The south-East of Britain and Vectus (Isle of Wight) were quickly overrun. The next Governor, Ostorius Scapula (A.D. 47-52), conquered the Silures in South Wales, drove away the patriot leader, Caratacus, son of Cunobelinus, and enforced his surrender, when he fled North to the Brigantes in Yorkshire. By A.D. 49 the Romans had probably reached the Trent, Severn and Dee and were masters of Lincoln, Wroxeter and Chester. Colchester now became a colony.

Under Didius Gallus (A.D. 52-57) and Veranius (A.D. 57-58) there was no serious advance. Suetonius Paulinus (A.D. 59-61) ventured out incautiously from Chester on the capture of Anglesey, but was completely surprised by a general rising in his rear, it was led by Boudicca (Boudicea), Queen of the Iceni, who had bitter private wrongs to avenge. The rebels swept all before them and overrun London, Colchester and Verulam. The cause of Rome looked desperate. But Paulinus, hastening back, brought the enemy to battle somewhere in the Midlands and retrieved everything by a single decisive victory. Paulinus was too merciless to the guilty, and the revolt dragged on. The government of Nero, therefore, showed true wisdom in replacing Paulinus by the gentler Petronius Turpilianus. He and his successors, Trebellius Maximus and Vettius Bolanus, ruled mildly during the years A.D. 61-71. The province as a whole was at peace, but the armies were mutinous.

Petillius Cerealis, one of Vespasion`s ablest generals, displayed great vigour and made serious progress with the conquest of the Brigantes in Yorkshire (A.D. 71-74). Undaunted by his great reputation, his successor, Julius Frontinus (A.D. 74-77), broke the resistance of the Silures in South Wales, and probably advanced north as far as York.

 

VI. Agricola`s Governorship

It was in A.D. 77, rather than the following year, that Agricola succeeded Frontinus in Britain. His appointment followed immediately on his consulship, and, if he was Consul from about April to June, there was time for him to be in Britain by late summer.

The seven campaigns of Agricola may be summed up as follows:

(1)    A.D. 77. Defeat of the Ordovices. Conquest of Anglesey. The twentieth legion stationed at Chester (?).

(2)    A.D. 78. Advance in the North along the western coast by a road driven from Chester to Carlisle. Garrisons placed between Solway Firth and Tyne.

(3)    A.D. 79. Advance northwards by Eastern route from York, via Corbridge, to Tanus – probably not the Tay, possibly the Tweed or Scotch Tyne.

(4)     A.D. 80. Advance to Clyde and Forth and establishment of forts between them (Camelon, Bar Hill, etc).

(5)     A.D. 81. Advance along the West coast from Chester to Solway Firth and Dumfries. Posts established along the coast facing Ireland. Invasion of Ireland possibly planned, certainly not executed.

(6)    A.D. 82. Advance into Caledonia. The fleet reaches Fife. The Caledonians attack forts west of the Tay and try to storm the camp of the ninth legion. Agricola establishes new forts – Ardoch, Inchtuthil, etc. A cohort of the Usipi mutinies and sails around Britain.

(7)    A.D. 83. Agricola shatters the army of the Caledonian league at the Grampian hills (Mons Graupius) in Perthshire – perhaps near Delvine.

In the next year, A.D. 84, Agricola was recalled.

Readers will observe how much geographical detail has to be added to make the account of Tacitus intelligible.

 

VII. Britain after Agricola

Tacitus tell us that Britain was `completely conquered and then allowed to slip`. He evidently means that a permanent conquest of the whole island was now possible, but that the chance was missed. But that does not mean that all Agricola`s gain were abandoned. Some of his forts may have still been held early in the reign of Trajan. Late in that reign a serious revolt broke out among the Brigantes, in the course of which the ninth legion disappeared from history. Hadrian drew his famous wall from Newcastle to Carlisle, and Antoninus Pius added his from Clyde to Forth along the line of Agricola`s forts. After that the island enjoyed a long peace. Septimius Severus (A.D. 208-211) renewed Agricola`s attempt to conquer Caledonia, but the north of the island continued to be essentially free.

 

VIII. The Army of Britain

Britain was conquered by four legions – II Augusta, IX Hispana, XIV Germina Martia and XX Valeria Victrix. There was also present a detachment of Legio VIII Augusta, and the whole force, including auxiliaries, must have amounted to some forty thousand men.

Of these legions there were still in Britain under Agricola:

Legio II Augusta at Caerleon,

Legio IX Hispana at York,

Legio XX Valeria Victrix at Chester.

The fourth legion, II Adjutrix, at Chester (?), had replaced the Legio XIV in A.D. 70.

Among the auxiliary troops of Britain we can indentify four cohorts of Batavi and two of Tungri that fought at Mons Graupius, a cohort of the Usipi that deserted and sailed round Britain, and, perhaps, at least one cohort of Britons. Tacitus does not mention the name of a single one of Agricola`s justly famous forts, quite a number, however, have been identified after careful excavation; a very useful account will be found in Anderson`s introduction to the `Agricola`.

The legion II Adjutrix left Britain soon after Agricola. About A.D. 115 the ninth legion, (it is now seriously questioned whether the ninth legion was destroyed as early as this. – E. B. Birley).

 

IX. Germania, the Book

Tacitus`s essay `On the Origin and Geography of Germany` was long ago hailed as a `golden book`. It is certainly the best of its kind in antiquity, perhaps in any age. The genius of the author has stamped it with a character of its own; but, none the less, it follows a model that had gradually been developed over many centuries.

Here is always it is to Greece that one must look first. Hecataeus of Miletus, Herodotus, the great medical writer Hippocrates, and Aristotle himself had found time for the study of peoples. Coming to Roman times, we find Posidonius of Rhodes (c. 135-51 B.C.) devoting to Germany the thirtieth of his fifty-two books of histories. First among the Roman authors comes Julius Caesar, who allotted a few invaluable chapters of his `Gallic War` to the German peoples. Livy gave up the one hundred and fourth book of his histories to an account of Germany. He must have been able to draw on fresh sources of information, opened up by the campaigns of Augustus`s generals in Germany. Strabo wrote of Germany in his seventh book; but he is thought to have been little known or studied in the West of the Empire. Pliny the Elder carried his `German Wars` down to about the death of Claudius. It was obviously a work of the first importance, but it is completely lost. Pliny had served on the frontier himself, and could depend on eye-witness, as well as on the evidence of friends. Tacitus certainly knew and esteemed the work of Caesar. Strabo, perhaps, was unfamiliar to him. Tacitus`s debt to Pliny would probably prove to be very great, could we assess it exactly. How much Tacitus may have been able to add by drawing on the experience of soldiers and merchants of his own day cannot be exactly gauged, but it must have been considerable.

 

The date of the `Germania` is exactly fixed to A.D. 98, the second consulship of Trajan. It is only a very little later than the `Agricola` and, in composition, may even have overlapped it.

The `Germania` is, as it professes to be, a study of the character, customs and geography of a people. But is it something more than that, a tract with a strong moral purpose or a political pamphlet? It is necessary to examine these two questions before going on to a third one – is the `Germania`, in general, reliable?

 

Tacitus unmistakably contrasts the virtues of the Germania, which recall the uncorrupted morals of told Rome, with the degeneracy of the Empire. The Germans think lightly of the precious metals. They love freedom. Freedmen are kept in their proper place. Women are chaste, home-life is pure, childlessness is not turned into a profitable career. There are no insidious banquets, no professional shoes, no pompous funerals. Many a biting epigram sharpens the contrast. The `Germans do not call it up-to-date to debauched.` On the other hand, they are not completely idealized. Their characteristic weakness are exposed – their indolence, their quarrelsomeness, their drunkenness, their silly passion for war.

 

The tendency to moralize, then, is a feature, but not the main purpose, of the book. The suggestion left on the mind of the reader is that, if the Empire should continue to relax in so deep a peace and if the Germans should add discipline to their valour, they would become a deadly menace to Rome. Tacitus was certainly speaking with the voice of history herself.

The Emperor Trajan spent the first year and a half of his reign in the two German provinces (`Upper` and `Lower` Germany, military districts on the left bank o the Rhine), and was still there when the `Germania` came out. Tacitus obviously took advantage of the popular interest in those provinces. But was he venturing to recommend any definite policy, either that of the Emperor himself or an alternative one?

 

The policy of Trajan, possibly not obvious at the time, became so as his reign went on. The German frontier was to be firmly held, but there was to be no conquest of Germany. The strength of the Roman arms was to be directed against Dacia and Parthia. Now, what does Tacitus say? The conquest of Germany is taking so long – too long. All that Rome can now pray for is that her enemies may be disunited. There is no suggestion of a renewed offensive. The one allusion to the Elbe is just a sigh of regret over a dream of the past. For all that, Germany cannot be treated lightly; unconquered, she remains a constant challenge and a constant threat to Rome.

 

So far, the suggestion of Tacitus seems to point in the same direction as the official policy, but they do not go with it all the way. When Tacitus speaks of `the fates of Empire driving hard`, he takes a far more pessimistic view than Trajan could possibly have done. For Tacitus the best is over; fortune has given Rome her choicest gifts. Trajan showed by his actions that he judged the extension of the Empire to be both possible and desirable. One passage in the `Germania` reads like a deliberate criticism of the policy which Trajan was later to pursue: `The liberty of the Germans is a deadlier foe than the tyranny of the kings of Parthia.`

 

Tacitus , then, realizes the political interest of his subject and gives fair expression to some of the considerations that govern official policy, but he is not a propagandist; and in any case the political aspect is subordinated to the main theme.

 

To the question whether the `Germania` is reliable we can give an affirmative answer. Tacitus is at fault here and there; for example, he underrates the importance of Roman trade with Germany and exaggerates the German disregard for gold and silver. But his evidence on many points – such as German armour and dress – has been brilliantly confirmed by archaeological evidence. If he sometimes applies to the German phrases applied by earlier authors to other peoples, he does not borrow slavishly or in ignorance. Where the German differ, he is quick to note the difference.

 

The German people in the time of Tacitus was already a force to be reckoned with in Europe. We know to our cost that it has not ceased to be so today. Has Tacitus fairly characterized the Germans of his time? And do their characteristics live on in the Germany of ours?

 

Tacitus`s picture of the Germans is vivid and self consistent. They have a strong love of freedom, a keen sense of honour and a regard for the sanctity of home-life. They posses the military virtues, but make them look somewhat ridiculous by wanting to fight for any or no reason. In peace-time their standards relax abruptly. In fact, they are like adventurous lads, never quite growing up. They need Roman if they are ever to reach maturity. Tacitus`s claim for a unique purity of the race may be exaggerated, but is not altogether at fault. He never dreamt o the mischievous nonsense that he was going to suggest to later theorists.

What might the future of Europe have been if Augustus had held the Elbe frontier and made Germany a Roman province? Modern Germany has claimed to draw her strength from her ancient barbarism tradition, and has made a virtue of her late submission to Latin civilisation. She has glorified the natural man with all his virtues and his vices. The `Germania` has been brought into this movement. It has been assiduously taught in German schools and universities and made into a sort of Bible of German patriotism.

The population of modern Germany has certainly changed very considerably since the time of Tacitus. The real Nordic race must surely be sought first in Scandinavia, if anywhere. The National Socialist talk of `Blut und Boden` was just mystical nonsense. One cannot really make heroic models out of the boisterous, over-grown boys that the ancient Germans were. All these appeals to ancient history to justify modern policies begin with self-deception and proceed to deceive others. Races do not remain pure over centuries. Whatever the fanatic may say, the disinterested student will have none of it. But climate does remain much the same over millennia, and can profoundly influence the character of peoples. It is possible, then, that the `Germanentuum`, the fierce sense of national idiosyncracy, the `Furor Teutonicus`, may be something that really tends to grow in the various peoples that have successively fallen under the influence of `Middle Europe`? Well, that will be one of the inevitable causes to which the fatalist will attribute the fall of Europe, if Europe really is the fall. But we have still the right to hope that more self-knowledge and more self-discipline can save Germany and Europe together.

At a few points Tacitus seems to be at fault – for instance, when he denies that domestic slavery existed in Germany. His account of the German chiefs is quite correct, if we understand by `chiefs` the men marked out by birth and wealth as natural leaders. To make them out to be magistrates raises unnecessary difficulties.

In several passages Tacitus speaks of `the hundred` in idiomatic senses which modern scholars have found hard to understand, but the suggestion that he was misunderstanding the word `hundred`, meaning district, will not do. Neither in Germany nor in Angl-Saxon England was the word so used till centuries later.

 

X.   Germany and Rome in History

For long centuries the German peoples were pressed back in the North-West from Jutland to the Oder by the masses of Gauls, who were then superior to them in strength. The civilized world confused them with the Gauls. In time they began to roam westward, and the Tungri and other tribes established themselves on the left bank of the Rhine. Rome, however, never realized who the Germans were, until in 113 B.C. the Cimbri and Teutoni emigrated from their far northern homes and broke into Italy. They first appeared to the North-East, and won great victory, then took sometime to recuperate until in 108 B.C. they appeared in the Rhone valley and defeated the Roman Consul, Scaurus. Worse was still to come for Rome. In 105 B.C. two consular armies were destroyed at Orange. Had the barbarians advanced irect on Italy, no one knows what might have happened. As it was, they turned aside to conquer Spain, found the Spanish resistance unexpectedly tough and returned to Gaul three years later. Rome had had time to rally, and her best general, Marius, had given a new discipline and spirit to the army. The Barbarians divided their forces. The Teutoni were destroyed by Marius at Aquae Sextiae 102 B.C. The Cimbri, who had crossed over to enter Italy by the East, were crushed at Vercelle in 101 B.C. the following year. The storm died down as suddenly as it had sprung up.

For over forty years peace reigned. But in 58 B.C. Julius Caesar found a new German menace in Ariovistus, King of the Suebi. He had been invited by Gallic tribes to help them against rivals, but soon took hostages and exacted tribute from his friends and kept drawing in new war-bands from Germany. Caesar picked a quarrel with him and drove him in rout across the Rhine. But Ariovistus had been accepted as a `friend` by the Roman Senate, and Caesar`s enemies in Rome accused him of downright treachery.

Again followed a long interval of peace. During the whole of the great civil wars the Germans made no move. Augustus, when he had won supreme power, turned his attention to the dangerous North. Not satisfied with the Rhine as a frontier, he decided on an advance to the Elbe. In a series of campaigns, directed by the stepsons of Augustus, Nero and Tiberius, the Germans were defeated in war and were gradually inured to Roman ways. It seemed to be only a matter of a few years before Germany was made a province. But the attention of Rome was distracted by the dangerous ambitions of Maroboduus, King of the Marcomanni, in the South-East. Close on this followed a desperate revolt against Roman rule in Pannonia. Germany was left in charge of Quintilius Varus, a nobleman devoid of military talent. He was ambushed and destroyed with his three legions in the Teutoburger Wald by Arminius (Hermann), chief of the Cherusci (A.D. 9). Augustus, brooding in bitterness, was often heard to cry out on Varus to `give him back his legions`. (Vare, Vare, legions redde). Rome now returned to the defensive. Arminius himself, aspiring to kingship, was destroyed by his enemies at home. But he had done something most difficult. He had turned Rome away from a plan deliberately resolved on. (thus he saved the German and half the English language). From A.D. 14 to 16 Tiberius allowed his nephew, Germanicus, to make amends for the disaster of Varus by displaying the Roman arms and paying honours to the Roman dead in the fatal wood. But the conquest would, obviously, cost too much. Tiberius decided to keep the Empire within its frontiers. Caligula suddenly conceived, and as soon dropped, a grandiose scheme of German conquest. The peace continued with hardly a break. But in the great civil wars of A.D. 68-69, a Batavian nobleman, Civilis, roused his countrymen and the Germans, under cloak of loyalty to Vespasian, against Vitellius. The Roman armies of the Rhine became demoralized and were destroyed. On the death of Vitellius in December, A.D. 69, Civilis shouls have placed himself at the disposal of Vespasian. But his head was turned. The Gallic tribes of the North-East broke loose from Rome and proclaimed an `Empire of the Gauls`. The Germans naturally knew who the real masters would be. But Vespasion struck swiftly and remorselessly. His general, Cerealis, soon won a considerable victory, the Gauls of the South decided, on consideration, to remain loyal to Rome, and the rebels in the North began to waver. Civilis was content to accept surrender on reasonable terms. But Vespasion was inexorable in obliterating every trace of that ominous Gallic Empire. Vespasion and his sons tried to insure against future troubles. They closed the dangerous gap between Rhine and Danube, by occupying the `Agri decimates` / `Tithe land` and drawing a military frontier in their defence. Domitian fought bitter wars on the Middle Rhine against the Chatti in A.D. 83 and 88. Though it was the fashion at Rome to deride his `sham triumphs`, modern archaeology has proved that his success were not inconsiderable.

Trajan was in command in Upper Germany, when he was adopted by Nerva, and administered the two provinces from A.D. 98-99. It was probably in A.D. 98 that the Bructeri were nearly wiped out by their German enemies. Trajan left the frontier so secure that legions could be transferred from Rhine to Danube.

So far we have been speaking of the Western Germans. With the Eastern Germans Rome`s relations commenced later, and were less intense. In 8 B.C. the Marcomanni and Quadi drove the Boii out of Bohemia. Maroboduus, the great Marcomanni king, gathered round him so large a confederacy as to excite Rome`s suspicions (c. A.D. 6). But his glory excited the envy of the other Germans, his empire collapsed and he finally accepted sanctuary at Ravenna in A.D. 17. The troubles on the Danube under Domitian were caused, not so much by the Germans, as by the Dacians and Sarmatians. The terrible wars of Marcus Aurelius against the Quadi and Marcomanni lie beyond our present scope.

History in the main has justified the foreboding of Tacitus. Germany, often triumphed over, was never conquered. The time came when no skill in defence, no valour in the field, no subtlety in diplomacy – when not even the discord of the Germans could avail. The fates of Empires at last pressed too hard. The barriers broke and the barbarian tides flooded in.

 

XI. The Early Roman Empire

The Roman Republic throve just so long as the Senate was able to direct and co-ordinate its policy. It broke down when the Senate lost control of its provincial governors, its generals and their devoted but rapacious armies. In the last and deadliest of the civil wars, in which the breakdown found expression, Julius Caesar won supreme power under the title of Dictator. His clear intension of ruling as an autocrat led to his murder on the famous Ides of March (march 15th, 44 B.C.).

The death of Caesar was followed by thirteen years of chaos. The attempt of Brutus and Cassius to restore the Republic failed. Then the leaders of the Caesarian faction partitioned the State between them. Finally it came to a life-and-death struggle between the young Caesar (Octavian), grand-nephew and son by adoption of the dictator, and Mark Antony, with his Egyptian wife, Queen Cleopatra. The naval battle of Actium (13 B.C.) decided the issue in favour of the young Caesar.

Octavian was determined to succeed where Julius Caesar had failed; no assassins` daggers for him. He `restored` the republic, but built into it a new position for himself, thus founding what we have learnt to call the Roman Empire. He established peace and order throughout the Roman world. He soon abandoned the idea of conquering Britain, but tried long and earnestly to established a province of Germany on the right bank of the Rhine. The failure of this great scheme has been described above. In the East he induced the Parthian king to restore the captured Roman standards, and he asserted Roman suzerainty over Armenia. The mere threat of war sufficed to restore Roman honour.

As early as 27 B.C. he received the title of Augustus (the revered), by which we still know him. His ever-growing prestige was still more fully recognized, when he was named `Father of his country` in 2 B.C. but if his work was to outlive him he must find a suitable successor, and to this end he laboured long and earnestly. First his nephew, Marcellus, then his great captain, Agrippa, then Agrippa`s sons, C. and L, Caesar, adopted by Augustus himself, seemed destined for the succession. In the end, when all the rest had died, it was Tiberius, his step-son, who shared with him the burdens of empire and stood ready to take them over at his death in A.D. 14.

The long reign of Tiberius was marked by sound administration and sober foreign policy, based on that of Augustus. The renewed attempt to conquer Germany was abandoned in A.D. 17. Apart from the war and local risings in Gaul and Africa, the world enjoyed a golden age of peace. But at Rome Tiberius was never popular. Suspicious and uncertain of himself, he allowed the charge of high treason to be abused by informers against men of mark. And there was a constant struggle over the succession. Germanicus, nephew of Tiberius, died in A.D. 18, his own son, Drusus, in A.D. 23. In the years following, Sejanus, the powerful praetorian prefect, succeeded in poisoning the mind of Tiberius against Agrippina, the widow of Germanicus, and her family. Her two eldest sons, Nero and Drusus, were disgraced and put to death, and she herself died in exile. Tiberius meanwhile had withdrawn to the lovely island of Capri – to live, so rumour said, a life the reverse of lovely – and Sejanus was left to lord it over Rome. Still not content he plotted against Tiberius. But the Emperor, warned just in time, struck first, and Sejanus fell (A.D. 31). Tiberius never returned to Rome, but died, loveless and despairing, in A.D. 37.

 

Gaius was the youngest son of Germanicus, taken into favour at the last by his great-uncle. He had been born in the camp and bears the nickname of Caligula (little boot), given him by the soldiers. Having cringed to the aged Tiberus, he now delighted to play the tyrant, and, not content even with tyranny, affected to be a god on earth. His grandiose schemes of conquest in Germany and Britain ended in farce. He was finally murdered in A.D. 41 by an old colonel, whom he made a practice of insulting.

Gaius left no obvious successor, and the Senate seriously debated a restoration of the republic. But the praetorian guard had found in the palace the middle-aged uncle of Gaius, the eccentric Claudius, and soon decided that he was not too eccentric for them. The Senate had no choice but to submit, Claudius was slow and pedantic, a slightly ridiculous character, but yet essentially able and conscientious. He carried through with complete success the long-dicussed conquest of Britain (A.D. 43). He was derided by the Romans, not without some justification, as the slave of his wives and freedmen. His third wife, Agrippina the Younger, his niece, established a complete ascendency over him. She induced him to adopt her own son by a previous husband, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus (the Nero of history), marry him to his daughter, Octavia, and prefer him above his own son. Britannicus. When Claudius died suddenly in A.D. 54, after eating freely of his favourite dish of mushrooms, Agrippina was with good reason regarded as his murderess.

Agrippina proposed to govern with her young son, Nero, but was quietly edged out of power by the young Emperor`s advisers. To begin with, Nero was very popular and promised well. But he soon embarked on a terrible series of family murders – first Britannicus, then Agrippina, then his wife Octavia, whom he divorced, to marry the `imperial whore` Poppaea. Under the influence of the infamous praetorian prefect, Tigellinus, he plunged into a career of debauchery, waste and cruelty. `Rome burned while Nero fiddled`, and the Christians were persecuted as though responsible for the fire. Foreign policy had as successes to show, a long war with Partia carried to a triumphant conclusion and the British revolt under Boudicca (Boadicea) suppressed; a revolt of the Jews in A.D. 66 was still not quite crushed by the end of the reign. The declaration of the freedom of Greece was at least a grandiose gesture. But Rome was weary of the Emperor`s misgovernment and profoundly shocked by that artistic temperament which drove him to appear on the public stage. Vindex, Governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, revolted, and Galba in Spain joined him. The German army under Verginus Rufus crushed Vindex, and the movement looked like collapsing. But Nero despaired of his own cause and retired from Rome into a suburb. On hearing that the Senate had declared him a public enemy, he committed suicide, murmuring as he died, `What an artist the world is losing in me!`

A secret of empire had now been divulged; an emperor need not necessarily be made in Rome. Galba son made his way to the capital, and was accepted without question. But he was old, he was mean, and he lost sympathy by unnecessary cruelties and by subservience to unworthy friends. At the beginning of A.D. 69 the German armies refused to swear allegiance to him and found an emperor of their own in the person of Vitellius. Governor of Lower Germany. Galba tried to prop his falling throne by adopting as his son a young nobleman, Piso. But in so doing he mortally offended another partisan, Otho, who had hoped for promotion himself. Otho bribed the praetorian guard, who promptly murdered Galba and Piso in the streets of Rome.

For most Romans the choice between Otho and Vitellius seemed to be simply oneof two evils. It was the armies that decided, and the armies of Germany, led by Vitellius`s lieutenants, Vlens and Caecina, were too much for Otho`s praetorians and army of Italy. The armies of the Balkans and Judaea had no time to intervene; for Otho committed suicide to save further bloodshed. But Vitellius was not left long in enjoyment of empire. Vespsian was proclaimed emperor by his troops in Judaea, and the Balkan armies joined him. A sudden dash on Italy by one of their captains, Antonius Primus, led to a surprise victory at Cremona over the flower of the German armies. Vitellius, betrayed by many of his friends, wished to retire; but bitter fighting broke out in Rome between his men and friends of Vespasian, and, when Primus forced his way into the city and decided the issue, Vitellius was murdered in the streets.

Vespasian showed himself master of the situation. He restored Roman prestige and recovered her shattered finances. It was hard that he should be called `miser` for his pains. We have already seen how he suppressed the revolt of Civilis and the `Empire of the Gauls` and, later, in A.D. 77, sent Agricola to Britain. From the first he marked out his two sons as his heirs. Titus was admitted to a share in the government, and even Domitian, the younger son, received the title of `prince` (Caesar). Titus succeeded his father in A.D. 70, and was hailed as the `darling of the human race` for his friendliness and generosity. But he died in A.D. 81, before his qualities had been severely tested. His short reign was marked by two disasters – a great fire of Rome and the eruption of Vesuvius.

 

Domitian was a man of great ability, but of cruel and difficult temperament. He allowed the charge of high treason to be revived for use by informers against his many political enemies, and made the Senate share in the odium of their condemnation. His wars against the Chatti on the Middle Rhine were not the failure that his enemies made them one to be, but his later year were darkened by long and difficult campaign on the Danube against Sarmatians and Dacians, ending in a not-too-glorious peace. Agricola was recalled from his victories in Britain in A.D. 84. In A.D. 96 Domitian, generally hated in Rome, became suspect to his wife and his immediate entourage. To save their own lives they murdered him and called Nerva, an elderly lawyer of repute, to the empty throne.

 

Nerva showed praiseworthy intentions of restoring good government after the oppressions of Domitian. Tacitus could hail his succession as the dawn of a new age of liberty. But the praetorian guard, who had not ceased to regret Domitian, demanded his murderers for execution; Nerva pleaded, wept – and gave way. To redeem his falled prestige he adopted Trajan, the pride of the army, as his son, and the disorderly praetorians were soon brought back to their obedience. Dying in A.D. 98, Nerva left Trajan to succeed unquestioned. Trajan`s long reign (A.D. 98-117) was signalized by the conquest of Dacia and by a long was against Parthia, beginning with brilliant success, but compromised at the last by a general revolt of the Jews throughout the East, early in the reign of Hadrian his successor, Tacitus died. Whether the high hopes that he had conceived in the first years of Nerva and Trajan stayed with him to the last we cannot say. The gloomy tone of his last work, the Annals, suggests that he had  ceased to believe in that reconciliation of autocracy with freedom of which he had so confidently written.

From Augustus to Nero the Empire was, as it were, the inheritance o a single family, the Julio-Claudian. Galba, Otho and Vitellius stand as isolated figures. The Flavian dynasty of Vespasian expired with the death of Domitian. With Nerva began that great line of emperors, succeeding one another by adoption, which gave Rome good government for a large part of the century. It might count as a substitute for freedom – to quote Tacitus`s phrase – that emperors had now begun to be elected.

 

XII. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

For the Romans themselves the Empire was still the Roman `Republic`, `The Senate and the people of Rome`. But there was one modification, which to us seems vital. A number of powers were conferred on noe man at the head of the State, sufficient to make his authority everywhere decisive.

The emperor, in the first place, was `Imperator`, (Hence our modern word `emperor`),  holder of the supreme right of command. The army swore allegiance to him, and to none other. In the second place, as holder of the tribunician power, he represented the Roman people and was personally inviolable. A `law of Empire` (First attested for Vespasian, but probably earlier in origin) conferred on him a number of other rights, such as those of making peace or war, of transacting business with the Senate – in general, of initiating any action that seemed to him proper. Such provinces as required armies were administered for him by his representatives; even in the peaceful provinces, which were left to the Senate, he had power to intervene at discretion. In Rome and Italy, which in theory were under the Senate, he undertook special charges, such as the charge of the corn-supply, of the night-watch, and, occasionally, of the public roads. In finance he came to exercise the powers of censor without the name. (Occasionally the Emperor did hold the censorship and might take to himself a private colleague. From Domitian onwards the censorial power, without the name, was regularly held by the Emperor). He was sometimes especially entrusted with the supervision of public morals. He had his own treasury, the `ficus`, and a special military treasury. He struck gold and silver coin in his own right; the coinage in base metal was administered by the Senate, but always under his supervision. He could administer justice in the ordinary courts as well as in a High Court of his own. The expressions of his will, given in edicts, dispatches and the like, came more and more to have the full force of law. As `Pontifex Maximus` (chief priest) he was head of the State religion. While he lived. Rome sacrificed only to his `Genius` (spirit); but in the provinces he was worshipped as a god. After death, unless his memory was condemned, he was `consecrated`, became `divus` (the divine) and received full divine honours.

To help him in his great task he drew on all classes of society – on the Senate for his chief provincial governors and generals; on the knights for his junior officers and financial agents (procurators); on the freedmen for the heads of such departments of his Court as finance, correspondence and petitions (`a rationibus`, `ab epistulis`, `a libellis`); on the slaves for the lower posts of his bureaux. As Senate and knights were so essential to his service, he found means of controlling the composition of both bodies.

The emperor normally tried to fix the succession by marking out a son or other close relative, or a son by adoption, as his political heir. `Augustus` (the revered), a title conferred on the first emperor in 27 B.C., was borne by all his successors. `Caesar`, in origin the family name of Julius, was taken over by most emperors; but it was sometimes used to designate the heir or prince. `Princeps` (chief citizen) was a common, though unofficial, designation of the emperor.

The emperor normally tried to fix the succession by marking out a son or other relative, or a son by adoption, as his political heir. `Augustus` (the revered), a title conferred on the first emperor in 27 B.C., was borne by all his successors. `Caesar`, in origin the family name of Julius, was taken over by most emperors; but it was sometimes used to designate the heir or prince. `Princeps` (chief citizen) was a common, though unofficial, designation of the emperor.

The senate was taken by the emperor into partnership. It had the general control of Rome, Italy and the peaceful provinces, and, acting on the emperor`s initiative, transacted a mass of public business by its degree (`senatus consulta`). It administered the old State treasury, the `Aerarium Saturni`. It even acquired powers unknown to it during the republic. It took over from the people the election of magistrates and sat as a High Court of justice. It was the Senate alone that could make an emperor`s position fully constitutional. The army could sometimes confer power, but never legitimize it. It was the Senate alone that judged the emperor`s record after his death. Yet the partnership- the `diarchy`, or `rule of two`, as it has been called – was always an unequal one; for in the last resort the emperor held the power of the sword.

The Roman people ceased to exercise its rights directly. It looked to the emperor to represent and to protect it. A Roman satirist bitterly observed that its real requirements were two – `panem et circenses` (bread and games).

The old republican magistrates continued to be erected yearly. A man would enter the Senate as quaestor, would then become tribune or aedile, next praetor, and finally consul. The quaestors had financial duties in Rome, Italy and the provinces. The aediles were in charge of buildings and the police in Rome; the tribunes were still champions of the people, but were dwarfed by the emperor`s tribunician power. The praetors retained only a part of their original legal functions, but were given the showy and expensive charge of holding the public games.

The consuls were still the chief magistrates of Rome, and the two regular consuls of each year (`ordinarii`) gave their names to it. (The emperor would at intervals open the year as `ordinary` consul with a colleague). The office was now limited to a few months, and many extra consuls (`suffecti`) were appointed. By nominating and commending candidates the emperor kept a firm control of elections. Prominent among the new officers created by the Empire were the prefect of Rome, a senator nominated by the emperor, and the prefect of the praetorian guard, a knight.

 

XIII. THE PROVINCES OF THE EMPIRE

The Roman Empire was divided into a number of spheres of administration or, as we still call them, provinces. It was in the main the creation of the Republic. The emperors consolidated it and rounded it off at the edges, but only rarely added new provinces.

The provinces where armies were required were governed by deputies appointed by the emperor, his legates, men either of praetorian or consular rank. There were other legates to command the legions, others to assist the governor in his duties. A financial officer – the procurator – attended to finance. A few minor provinces had no legate, but were under procurators who were also governors: such a one was Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, under whom our Lord suffered. Egypt had its prefect, its viceroy.

The senatorial provinces – those that were peaceful and unarmed – were governed by officers appointed by the Senate – Africa and Asia by proconsuls, the rest by propraetors. The financial officer here was the quaestor; the procurator simply looked after imperial interests.

Every provinces was divided into `dioceses` or administrative districts and `conventus`  smaller districts in which the assizes were held. There were provincial councils to represent provincial interests, but they do not seem to have attained any great political importance. Taxes were either fixed as lump sums or as a quota, levied on natural produce. Collection was at first direct, but tended to become direct as time went on. The burden of taxation was, according to ancient standards, not heavy. But there were also levies of corn and the like, often aggravated by cruel and absurd abuses.

Rome tended to rest her rule on the cities and, in the cities, on the moneyed classes. Some favoured communities became Roman colonies, others `municipia` – that is to say, corporations organized on the old Italian model. A few cities – Athens, for example – remained nominally free. The population of the Empire cannot be closely estimated. It may have been about 40 million in the reign of Augustus.

Short notes on all the provinces mentioned in the text will be found in the glossary.

 

XIV. THE ARMY AND FLEET OF THE EMPIRE

The army of the Empire consisted of regulars, in the legions, and auxiliary troops. It was stationed chiefly on the frontiers, and served for defence rather than for attack. There was no field army.

 

The legion was a brigade – foot, horse and auxiliary services, it was divided into ten cohorts; the cohort was divided into three maniples, the maniple into two centuries. The strength of the legion was over 5,500 men. The legate, or brigadier, was a senator appointed by the emperor. Under him were ten commanders of cohorts – `tribune militum` or colonels. The discipline and efficiency of the legion depended mainly on its centurions, sixty in number. The first centurion in  each cohort was called `primipilus`, the first centurion of the first cohort, sergeant-major, was called `pilus prior`. The badge of office was the cudgel of vinewood (`vitus`) – not made only for ornament. The standard of the legion was its eagle (`Aquila`). The maniples had their own special standards. The flag (`vexillum`) was characteristic of calvery.

 

The term of service was first sixteen years, raised by Tiberuis to twenty. The age limits were seventeen and forty-six. The pay – ten asses a day – was raised by a third under Domitian. A special military treasury, founded in A.D. 6, provided for veterans. The legions were recruited from a few nearby provinces, later more widely. In theory at least only Roman citizens were eligible. Conscription could at any time be applied, but voluntary enlistments usually sufficed. Under Augustus there were twenty-five legions; by the end of the second century the number had risen to thirty-three.

 

The auxiliary troops were recruited in the provinces, chiefly in those that were new and war-like. They often used native weapons, but were usually employed away from home. They obtained Roman citizenship on discharge. The infantry were organized in cohorts of 1,000 or 500 men, commanded by colonels (`praefecti cohortis`) of equestrian rank, the cavalry in squadrons of the same numbers, similarly commanded by colonels (`praefecti alae`). The auxiliaries their keep, but nothing is known of their pay.

 

The garrison of Rome was composed of three parts. Its elite corps – the praetorian guard, concentrated by Tiberius in one camp in Rome – was recruited from Rome and Italy. It consisted of nine cohorts. Its commander (the `praefectus praetorio`) had under him colonels (`tribune`) and centurions. The pay and prestige of the praetorians were higher than those of the legionaries, their term of service shorter. The urban cohorts, three (later seven) in number, were under the command of a senator, the `praefectus urbi`. Not all the cohorts were stationed in Rome; one, for example, was in Lugdunum (Lyons) as guard of the imperial mint there. The watch (`vigils`), in seven cohorts, were freedmen, commanded by a knight (the `praefectus vigilum`). Urban cohorts and watch had their own tribunes and centurions.

 

The fleet was decidedly an inferior service. The captains (`trierarchae`) and men (`classiarii`) were usually of free birth, but nor Romans. The admirals (`praefecti classis`) might be knights, but freedmen were sometimes appointed. The chief ships in use were the trireme and the fast light Liburnian galley. Italy had two main fleets, at Ravenna and Misenum, but there were many subordinate fleets throughout the empire – fleets of Rhine, Danube and Black Sea, fleets of Egypt and of Britain. It was a Roman, Pompey the Great, who invented the great slogan `navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse` (Keep the seas we must, live if we may`). But few nations have done less than the Romans to live up to that motto.

 

In conclusion, it is my pleasant duty to give thanks for help received: to my colleague, Mr. C. J. Gadd, who made some valuable suggestions on the translation of the `Arigcola`; to my friend Mrs. D. W. Brogn, who helped me with some useful notes on the `Germania`; to my old friend, Mr J. W. E. Pearce, who has lent me his long experience and read the whole book in proof; to the General Editor, Mr E. V. Rieu, who has, with fine discretion, used spur or rein, as required; to my wife, who has mediated between my difficult scripts and a puzzled compositor.

June 1947.  H. M.