UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
three years afterwards was seized by his countrymen, dragged before the
Sanhedrim and the procurator Pontius Pilate on the compound charge of
blasphemy against heaven and treason against Caesar, condemned, and
crucified on Mount Calvary, just outside the wall of Jerusalem. The
malevolent and vindictive Jews took the whole responsibility for his
execution upon themselves, saying in defiance that his blood might rest
upon them and their children.
The death of Christ was for the time a staggering blow to his followers.
After a brief season, however, they rallied from the shock, and began to
"preach his Gospel among all nations, beginning with Jerusalem." Not,
however, until the appearance of Paul on the scene did any great organizing
mind arise to give form and organic union to the various bands of
Christians that sprang up in Palestine, Asia Minor, Greece, and finally in
Rome. Under his masterful evangelism the doctrines of the new faith were
disseminated, not only in the provincial towns of the East, but in the very
capital of the world and the household of the Caesar.
In the first years of our era the attention of the Empire was constantly
directed to the Germanic frontier. In A. D. 6, the Marcomanni, a powerful
tribe of Teutons, led by their king, Maroboduus, went to war with Rome.
Tiberius marched against them and traversed the Hercynian forest, and had
almost reached the army of the hostile tribe, when he was suddenly recalled
by a formidable revolt in Dalmatia and Pannonia. The insurrection was so
extensive and defiant that great alarm was produced throughout Italy. A
large army and an extensive campaign were required to reduce the insurgents
to submission. The rebellion broke the charm which the administration of
Augustus had diffused, and showed that empire and peace were not
Hardly had the Pannonian revolt been suppressed before a still more serious
outbreak occurred among the nations beyond the Rhine. The Emperor had
committed the military governorship of Germany to a certain Publius
Quintilius Varus, who had previously been praetor of Syria, and had
acquired most of the vices incident to official life in the provinces.
Totally misapprehending the character of the Germans, he undertook the
discharge of his duties by the same method which he had employed in the
East. He went about with no sufficient show of military authority, issued
arbitrary edicts in the German towns, imposed tributes on the tribes,
neither consulting with the chiefs nor giving to any a reason for his acts.
Presently the stubborn spirit of the German race began to show its
dissatisfaction with the system of the governor. A leader was soon found in
the person of a chief named Hermann, who invited all the nations between
the Rhine and the Weser to form a confederation and renounce all allegiance
to Rome. Thereupon Varus found it necessary to undertake the maintenance of
his authority by force. In the year 9 of the new era he collected an army
of three legions, and advanced against the tribes in insurrection. The
Germans fell back from place to place, until they drew the Roman army into
the Teutoburger forest. Here in the solitude of their native haunts they
turned upon the Romans and routed them with great slaughter. Varus, having
lost forty thousand of his men and the eagles of the legions, covered his
disgrace with the mantle of suicide.
Thus was Rome again thrown into the utmost consternation. The emperor
himself, in a fit of temporary despair, went wailing about the halls of the
basilica, crying out in his anguish, "Varus, Varus, give me back my
legions!" In order to repair the disaster, Tiberius, who now held command
in Pannonia, was dispatched in the following year to make war on the
rebellious tribes. But when he advanced into the enemy's country, the
Germans refused to join battle unless they could entrap their foes as they
had done with Varus and his army. But Tiberius was more wary than his
predecessor, and took care not to expose himself to such a fate as had
befallen the legions in the previous year. He accordingly withdrew after a
brief campaign, and again established the Rhine as the northeastern
boundary of the Empire.
Augustus was already nearing his end.