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917

ROME.-THE FIRST CAESARS.

expedition. Doubtless the iron heart of the Roman soldier quailed before

the solitudes of the German forests. Portents were seen and heard. On his

way back to the Rhine Drusus fell from his horse and killed himself.

Tiberius was at once summoned to the command, and the tribes on the Rhine

yielded to Roman domination. They sent to a conference several of their

leading chiefs, who were seized by Augustus and held as hostages.

Taken altogether, the last years of the Old Era corresponding with the

first of the reign of Augustus were the happiest which had ever been

witnessed in Rome. There was almost universal content. The people went to

and fro in the callings of peace and the poets broke forth in song. At

intervals a slight manifestation was discovered of that old stoical

republicanism which had used the dagger against Julius. Several feeble

conspiracies were made against the Emperor's life. As early as B.C. 30 the

younger Lepidus, son of the triumvir, was detected in a project of

assassination, and was justly put to death. Other similar attempts were

discovered and punished by the execution of their authors; but in general

the public life of Augustus was troubled with few alarms and fewer

disasters.

In the Emperor's household, however, there was much distress. Agrippa and

Maecenas, his most trusted friends and counselors, died, the one in B.C.

12, and the other in 8. Drusus, as already narrated, perished in the German

campaign. Tiberius, married to the dissolute Julia, daughter of the

emperor, unable longer to endure her conduct, exiled himself to the Island

of Rhodes; while she was banished by an imperial edict to Pandataria. Of

the grandchildren of Augustus the two most promising were Caius and Lucius

Caesar, and to them the emperor looked with pride and expectation; but they

presently both died of a pestilence, and the emperor was obliged to adopt

Tiberius as his heir. The latter in his turn adopted Drusus, surnamed

Germanicus, son of that Drusus who had perished in Germany.

It was now the epoch of the Christ. Jesus, the son, of Mary and the

carpenter, was born in Bethlehem of Judaea. He came in an age of peace and

expectancy; but it did not appear that one born in the obscurity of a

Syrian provincial village would be able to give a new date to history and

change the religious beliefs of mankind. The story of his life is too well

known to need repetition. His first twelve years were passed with his

parents in Nazareth. Of the next eighteen not a solitary fragment of an

account has been preserved. There are, however, some inferential grounds

for believing that the years of his later youth and early manhood were

spent in travel and observation abroad; nor does it contradict conjecture

that the countries with whose life and belief he made himself familiar were

Egypt, Arabia, and the East. At the age of thirty he began his career as a

public teacher, and