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921

ROME-THE FIRST CAESARS.

uncompleted campaign on the pretext of needing his services in suppressing

a revolt in Cappadocia.

Drusus cheerfully answered the summons. Nor did his expedition into Asia

Minor prove less successful than the one which he had conducted into

Germany. The eastern insurrection was quickly quelled, and the military

reputation of Germanicus still further enhanced. He returned to Rome by way

of Egypt; but presently after reaching the city he fell sick and died. Nor

is the suspicion wanting that his death was caused by poison administered

by his adjutant, Cneius Piso, acting, as was believed, under the

inspiration of Tiberius. Piso was arrested and held to answer the charge

before the Senate; but when called to make his defense he virtually

confessed the crime by committing suicide.

The suspicions and jealousies of Tiberius grew by what they fed on. His

baleful eyes were turned with malevolence against the members of the noble

houses of Rome. These might conspire to dethrone him. He therefore adopted

schemes for their destruction. The law of Majestas, intended for the

protection of the Emperor's life and dignity by the punishment of those who

should take counsel against him, was revived and extended to all words and

writings upon which a defamatory construction might be placed. A brood of

miserable informers grew up about the Caesar's court, whose falsehoods and

innuendoes were sufficient to destroy the best men of Rome. There was no

longer safety for any. Poison and the dagger did their work, not only

against those who spoke lightly of the Emperor, but also against those who

spoke not at all. Silence became constructive treason.

These were the first dark days of bloody minded distrust in the Imperial

administration, to be followed by many more as gloomy and dreadful. So keen

became the suspicion of Tiberius that he called no more to his aid the

Senate and Executive Council, so often appealed to by Augustus. Lest any

should encroach upon his prerogatives, or act with treachery towards his

government, he took upon himself the whole burden of the administration.

Finding, however, that the assumption of such a load was as foolish as it

was impossible, he sought to associate with himself only those whose low

birth and meanness of character would exclude them from the list of his

rivals.

Acting under this instinct of the gutter, Tiberius sought and found a

certain Aalius Sejanus, whom he appointed master of the praetorian guards.

The latter was a base-born and brutal character, who had, nevertheless, all

the ambition and subtlety peculiar to his type. Not long had he been the

right arm of Tiberius until he formed the design of obtaining the

succession for himself. The hereditary principle had already become well

recognized in the Caesarian system. In order, therefore, to reach the

throne, Sejanus perceived that it was necessary for the legitimate heirs to

disappear. At this time the expectation of the state was centered in Drusus

Caesar, son of Tiberius by his first wife, Vipsania. The prince was soon

disposed of by poison. The next step of the base intriguer was to kindle

the Emperor's hatred against Agrippina, the widow of Germanicus. He soon

afterward persuaded Tiberius, who was now greatly under his influence, to

retire to a villa in the island of Capreae, and leave the management of the

state to himself. This left Sejanus free to proceed as he would. Agrippina

and her two sons, Caius and Drusus, together with any others who might seem

to stand in his way, were either assassinated or thrown into prison.

Tiberius meanwhile, in his place of resort, gave himself up to gluttony and

repose, and Rome was left to the mercy of a brute.

After a season, however, the story of Sejanus's high-handed proceedings

penetrated even the stupefaction of Tiberius. His old jealousy flamed up,

and he resolved to bring his haughty subordinate to a sudden accounting. By

this time, however, Sejanus had concluded that his master could now be

spared from further interference in the affairs of Rome. He accordingly

formed a plan for his assassination; but Tiberius outwitted his treacherous

subordinate, and in A. D. 31 Sejanus was seized and executed.

For the moment, there was joy in Rome over the destruction of the tyrant.

It was