CAMBRIDGE ANCIENT HISTORY

VOLUME X

THE AUGUSTAN EMPIRE

44 B.C.—A.D. 70

TABLE OF CONTENTS. CHAPTERS

 

I.-. THE AVENGING OF CAESAR By M. P. Charlesworth

II.- THE TRIUMVIRS By W. W. Tarn

III.-THE WAR OF THE EAST AGAINST THE WEST

IV.- THE TRIUMPH OF OCTAVIAN By W. W. Tarn and M. P. Charlesworth

V.- THE PRINCEPS By Sir Henry Stuart Jones

VI.- SENATUS POPULUS ROMANUS By Sir Henry Stuart Jones

VII.- THE IMPERIAL ADMINISTRATION By G. H. Stevenson

VIII.- THE ARMY AND NAVY By G. H. Stevenson

IX.- THE EASTERN FRONTIER UNDER AUGUSTUS By J. G. C. Anderson

X.- EGYPT UNDER THE EARLY PRINCIPATE By H. Idris Bell

XI.- HEROD OF JUDAEA By A. Momigliano

XII.- THE NORTHERN FRONTIERS UNDER AUGUSTUS By Ronald Syme

XIII.- THE ECONOMIC UNIFICATION OF THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION: INDUSTRY, TRADE AND COMMERCE By F. Oertel

XIV.- THE SOCIAL POLICY OF AUGUSTUS By Hugh Last

XV.- RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE CLOSE OF THE REPUBLIC TO THE DEATH OF NERO By A. D. Nock

XVI.- THE LITERATURE OF THE AUGUSTEAN AGE By T. R. Glover

XVII.- THE ART OF THE AUGUSEAN AGE By Eugenie Strong

XVIII.- THE ACHIEVEMENT OF AUGUSTUS By F. E. Adcock

XIX.- TIBERIUS By M. P. Charlesworth

XX.- GAIUS AND CLAUDIUS By M. P. Charlesworth

XXI.- NERO By A. Momigliano    

XXII.- THE EASTERN FRONTIER FROM TIBERIUS TO NERO By J. G. C. Anderson

XXIII.- THE NORTHERN FRONTIERS FROM TIBERIUS TO NERO By R. Syme and R. G. Collingwood

XXIV.- THE YEAR OF THE FOUR EMPERORS By G. H. Stevenson

XXV.- REBELLION WITHIN THE EMPIRE By G. H. Stevenson and A. Momigliano

 

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bury, J. B. A History of the Roman Empire from its Foundation to the death of Marcus (27 b.c.-a.d. 180).

Marsh, the founding of the roman empire

Hall, C. M. Nicolaus of Damascus’ Life of Augustus.

Louis M. S., Roman Emperor Worship

Messalina A Picture Of Life In Imperial Rome

Sands, P. C. The Client princes of the Roman Empire under the Republic.

Rawlinson, G. The sixth great oriental monarchy.

Cheesman, G. L. The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army.

Milne, J. G. A history of Egypt under Roman rule,

Vickers, J. The History of Herod.

Warmington, E. H. The Commerce between the Roman Empire and India.

Haverfield, F. and G. Macdonald. The romanization of Roman Britain.

Fowler, W. Warde, Roman Ideas of Deity in the Last Century before the Christian Era.

Dimsdale, M. S. History of Latin Literature

Sellar, W. J. The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age: VIRGIL

Strong, E. Roman Sculpture from Augustus to Constantine.

Baker, G. P. Tiberius Caesar.

Beesly, E. S. Catiline, Clodius, and Tiberius.

Charlesworth, M. P. The banishment of the elder Agrippina.

Henderson, B. The life and principate of the emperor Nero.

Augustus; the life and times of the founder of the Roman empire [B.C. 63-A.D. 14]

Minns, E. H. Scythians and Greeks

Rostovtzeff, M. Iranians and Greeks In South Russia.

WINTERBOTTOM(M.)-GILDAS,The_Ruin_of_Britain_(1978)

B. W. Civil War and Rebellion in the Roman Empire.     

Buhler, A. The Economic Conditions of Judaea after the Destruction of the Second Temple

Frank, Tenney. An economic history of Rome to the end of the republic

Charles Merivale, A general history of Rome, from the foundation of the city to the fall of Augustulus, B. C. 753--A. D. 476

The Influence Of Wealth In Imperial Rome

 

THE LITERARY AUTHORITIES FOR ROMAN HISTORY

 

44 B.C.-A.D. 70.

 

The purpose of this Appendix is to give a short valuation of the ancient literary authorities whose works have been, used in writing the history of the period covered by this volume, 44 b.c.-a.d. 70, and also to give some indication of the material that was available to them, though it is now lost to us. It would, however, be impossible, save at great space, to enumerate all the writers, and here will be found only the more important; for lesser names, and for more elaborate treatment of Source-Criticism, the reader is referred to the standard histories of Greek and Roman Literature and to the articles mentioned in the bibliographies to the various chapters. No treatment of epigraphic or numismatic material is attempted, though Augustus’ Res Gestae is regarded as a literary document: similarly the chronographic writers, Jerome, Eusebius, Syncellus, and the like, will not be found here. The evidence afforded by the jurists (whose writings will be treated of in Volume XI) is also not discussed. It should be noted, too, that as the value and trustworthiness of an author may vary according to the period he is describing, the verdicts here passed hold simply for the period of the present volume. Sources that have not survived are discussed before those that are still existent, and Latin authors before those who wrote in Greek.

 

Non-existent Sources

(a) Latin

For the early period one of the most important names is that of Asinius Pollio (75 b.c.-a.d. 4), statesman, general, and patron of artists and men of letters. He was no respecter of persons or reputations and no detractor of his own performance. His History, which began with 60 b.c., certainly included events down to the Battle of Philippi, and may have extended as far as the defeat and death of Sextus Pompeius, which Octavian proclaimed as the end of Civil War. Some of his prejudices and hatreds can still be discerned in the pages of Appian, who draws largely from him.

Livy is also completely lacking, and the meagre Epitome helps little save to show (when compared with the Res Gestae of Augustus) that, though he could treat Pompey with respect, he was wise enough to be orthodox in his sympathies towards the parties that fought at Actium. It could hardly be otherwise, yet the loss of Books CXVI-CXLVXin which he narrated fully the events between 44 and 9 b.c. is indeed grievous, and can scarcely be compensated by the shorter account of Dio Cassius, who draws largely upon him. Both from Pollio and from Livy we should have had a fullness of treatment and a moderation in tone which are not to be found in their lesser brethren.

Aufidius Bassus lived into the reign of Nero, and apparently wrote two works, a history of the Roman wars against the Germans, and an annalistic history; of the first work nothing is known, the second certainly included the death of Cicero, and went down at least as far as the consulship of Tiberius and Sejanus, a.d. 31. It may have gone farther, possibly to a.d. 47, for from the title that the younger Pliny gives to his unde’s History—a fine Aufidii Bassi—it has been conjectured that Aufidius stopped at some point in the course of a reign and not at the death of a princeps. Of his political views we know nothing, though various conjectures have been made. A contemporary of his, M. Servilius Nonianus, who made a name for himself as an orator, also wrote a history, but no fragments have survived unless Suetonius, Tib. 61, can be ascribed to him. Both men probably published their works in the last years of Claudius or early years of Nero, and both had considerable repute, but they can be little more than names to us.

A. Cremutius Cordus, a Senator who lived through the reign of Augustus, later apparently offended Sejanus by his outspokenness and wit, and in his old age was put on trial by two of the Prefect’s creatures (a.d. 25). He was accused of praising Brutus and of calling Cassius the last of the Romans’: he defended the independent attitude he had adopted, but preferred to commit suicide rather than await the issue of the trial. His Annales seem to have embraced the period of the Civil Wars and of Augustus, and to have been moderately Republican in tone, but if he really ‘proscribentis in aeternum proscripsit’ (Seneca, ad Marciam, 26, 1), he cannot have been quite as inoffensive as our sources suggest. Greater interest attaches to Cluvius Rufus. Born about the beginning of the Christian era, an orator of distinc­tion, favoured by Nero but not abusing his influence, he took part in the Civil Warsof 68—70, and probably wrote his History after Vespasian’s accession. If we accept Mommsen’s hypothesis that Josephus, Ant. Jud. XIX, 1-270, is based upon him, we possess something whereby to judge his attitude and manner: combining this with other fragments we may conjecture that his history, like his life, showed a prudent moderation towards the Principate, and that he would not repeat the worst even about Gaius or Nero; its limits are unknown but may plausibly be reckoned from the death of Augustus to the accession of Vespasian. His work was certainly used later by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Dio Cassius, and was probably of major importance. Less known is an elder contemporary of Tacitus and the younger Pliny, Fabius Rusticus, a distinguished orator and a protege of Seneca. The surviving fragments suggest that he consistently upheld Seneca’s character and blackened Nero’s. His work was probably published some time between 74 and 83—he seems unaware that Britain is an island—and it has been conjectured that it comprised events between the battle of Actium and the death of Nero.

Among these shadowy personalities C. Plinius Secundus (the Elder Pliny) stands out in strong contrast, a useful public servant and an indefatigable worker and writer, whose life extended from a.d. 23-4 to 79. In history his two important works were Bellorum Germaniae libri XX and a fine Aufidii Bassi XXXI. From the surviving fragments of them and from the historical allusions in his encyclopaedic Historia Naturalis it is not difficult to guess his outlook: moderate and practical, he approved the rule of Augustus, Claudius and Vespasian, regarded Tiberius as ‘the gloomiest of mortals,’ and reserved his severer judgments for the extravagance of Gaius, and especially of Nero, ‘faex generis humani et hostis.’ It is possible that his thirty-one books a fine Aufidii Bassi began c. a.d. 47, and went down to 70 or 71. There can be no doubt that he was one of the main sources for Tacitus in the later books of the Annals (see Ann. xin, 20, where Cluvius Rufus and Fabius Rusticus are also mentioned), even though Tacitus apparently sneers at his passion for trivial detail or'improbable rumours (Ann. xin, 31; xv, 53), and it is extremely likely that he is the authority who underlies the remarkable agreement observable between Plutarch, Tacitus and Suetonius, in narrating the events of 69 and 70. The fullness of his work and the fact that he was contemporary with the happenings that he described, the good geographical information contained in the Historic Naturalis and the tantalizing occasional references there, make the total loss of this work grievous indeed.

A few other writers are mentioned in our surviving sources: Bruttedius Niger, Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, the Elder Seneca, Julius Secundus (to whom Plutarch owes some details about Otho), Pompeius Planta (who wrote of the Civil War of a.d. 69—70), and Tib. Claudius Balbillus, a prefect of Egypt. Yet though the Elder Seneca wrote Histories, it remains extremely doubtful if they were ever published, and the fragments usually ascribed to him may really be his son’s. And whether the others were writing history or occasional pieces is difficult to ascertain, and cannot be decided unless fresh evidence is discovered.

So much for historians proper. There remains a long list of others who, while they did not write professed history, yet provided materials for historians by composing Commentary memoirs or ‘experiences’, as they might now be called. Chief among them is the Emperor Augustus who wrote an account of his own life and deeds in thirteen books down to the Cantabrian War (probably to the end of 25 b.c.). The few surviving fragments suggest that the work was intended (naturally enough) to promote his fame and good name, but it is rash to infer (as some critics do) that therefore Augustus’ account must invariably be wrong and that of his enemies right. Its influence must have been immense on Augustan writers, such as Nicolaus of Damascus, Livy and Velleius; later, Plutarch, Pliny, Suetonius, Appian and Dio Cassius all quote from it with varying comments. The Emperor Tiberius also composed a Memoir (which was Domitian’s favourite reading) ‘summatim breviterque’ in his old age, again justificatory, though Suetonius (Tib, 61) rejects the one statement he specifically quotes from it. More important were those of the Emperor Claudius, who described his own early days, and probably the first years of his reign: it is perhaps to these that Suetonius owes the detailed knowledge he displays of his legislation and measures. His other numerous learned works, though used by the elder Pliny and Tacitus, were not concerned with the history of the period. The Emperor Vespasian, too, wrote an account of his life and exploits, including possibly those in Britain, and certainly those in Judaea. Another of the imperial writers was Agrippina the Younger, ‘quae Neronis principis mater vitam suam et casus suorum posteris memoravit’ (Tacitus, Ann, iv, 53). It is reasonable to suppose that a writer who is cited by Tacitus for Tiberius’ rudeness to the elder Agrippina, and by Pliny for an incident of the birth of Nero, is largely responsible for the favourable picture of Germanicus and the darker one of Tiberius that have survived in later writers, and that as she glorified her father, so she did what she could to augment the fame of her son Nero, by stories about his sun-blest birth and miraculous escapes from dangers (Suetonius, Nero 6 and Tacitus, Ann, xi, 11).

There must now be noticed a number of men who served with distinction in war and were prepared to record it. Q. Dellius, an officer who knew when to desert a losing cause, was an eyewitness of Antony’s campaigns against Parthia, for which he was drawn upon by Plutarch, and helped to swell the chorus of hate and detraction against Cleopatra. C. Suetonius Paulinus is cited for details of his Mauretanian campaigns (though not of his British), by Pliny, as is Cn. Domitius Corbulo, one of Nero’s most distinguished victims, for details of his campaigns in Armenia, both by Pliny and Tacitus. It is possible that C. Licinius Mucianus contributed information about the campaigns of a.d. 68-70, in which he was the champion of the Flavian cause, but Pliny only cites him for marvels and wonders. Finally, M. Vipstanus Messalla, who also took the Flavian side in the Civil War, is quoted once by.Tacitus, and Antonius Julianus, who was a commander in the Jewish war under Titus, apparently commemorated his experiences in a book de Iudaeis. Tenuous though much of the evidence is, it yet possesses importance as helping to show how vast a mass of literature there must have been to read through, consult and criticize, before Tacitus could begin writing his Histories or his Annals, or Suetonius his Lives,

A class of its own is formed by pamphlets or broadsheets in praise of or attacking some prominent figure, or written for a party purpose. The Philippics of Cicero are an outstanding example of this class, but there were many more, now fortunately unknown: Antony in his de ebrietate sua and Augustus in his de vita sua did not hesitate, while defending their own conduct, to throw the vilest charges at one another. They were naturally backed up, and often outdone, by their supporters. Antony had Cassius of Parma, and possibly such men as Aquilius Niger and Julius Satuminus, whom Suetonius quotes for charges against Augustus (Jug. 11 and 27). Augustus had the support of the constant Caesarian C. Oppius, and of those who deserted to him, Q. Dellius, Sextus Titius and Munatius Plancus, while Cornelius Nepos (? in his Exempla) praised his temperance, Julius Marathus and C. Drusus recounted the wonders that had accompanied his birth and childhood, and Baebius Macer told of the sidus Iulium that was thought to have appeared for his glory. But there were not wanting men to glorify the lost cause of the aristocratic Republic and its last champions: L. Calpurnius Bibulus, P. Volumnius, and a Greek rhetorician, Empylus, all wrote praises of Brutus, and in the reign of Tiberius praise of Brutus and Cassius proved fatal to Cremutius Cordus, as did a Life of Cato to P. Clodius Thrasea Paetus in Nero’s reign. Indeed, Thrasea Paetus and others of Nero’s victims in their turn found biographers and admirers, for L. Junius Arulenus Rusticus wrote a life of Thrasea which roused the anger of Domitian, and Pliny the Younger laments the untimely death of C. Fannius, who was composing a monograph on the fate of those ‘occisorum aut relegatorum a Nerone.’ How much of this pamphleteering underlies Tacitus’ Annals we can only guess, but it certainly has a share.

 

Greek

 

In the Eastern half of the Empire there must have been many—local historians, city-chroniclers, collectors of the marvellous—who served as sources for existent writers. Here it is only necessary to mention three of the chief, Nicolaus, Timagenes, and Phlegon.

Nicolaus was a learned Greek from Damascus, who wrote on a variety of topics, including an Universal History in 144 books, and received the compliment of being chosen by Herod the Great to be his secretary, spokes­man, and chronicler. The post must have called for talents and dexterity of no common order, but Nicolaus was successful. Josephus plainly relies on him largely for Books xiv-xvii of his Jewish Antiquities and much of his style here probably reproduces that of Nicolaus. Fragments of another work of his on the youth and training of Augustus are extant; they are good journalism but not necessarily untrue. Timagenes of Alexandria was less fortunate: he lived at Rome from about 50 b.c., but his scurrility and attacks upon Augustus and Livia finally lost him the imperial favour and he took refuge with Asinius Pollio. There, in revenge, he burnt the account he had written of Augustus’ deeds. Little is known about his other Histories, but there can be small doubt that they provided much of the scandalous and sensational gossip that crops up in Suetonius and others about Augustus and his private life. Lastly, Phlegon of Tralles, a freedman of the Emperor Hadrian, compiled various erudite treatises, including some on history (the Olympiads) and on Marvels and Wonders, from surviving fragments of this last work we learn of the statue dedicated to Tiberius by the cities of Asia after a.d. 17, and an eclipse which he mentioned in the thirteenth Book of his Olympiads is thought to be identifiable with the ‘great darkness’ recorded as following the Crucifixion.

 

Existing Sources

Latin

 

Among surviving writers the earliest is Cicero. His own letters give a full and vivid picture of what was happening in the Roman world between March 44 and June 43 b.c., then they fail. His Philippics, too, are contemporary documents of importance: much of the abuse of Antony and praise of Octavian contained in them came in very opportunely for Augustus later, in much the same way as Cicero’s de Republica and de legibus gave material and precedent to Augustus for his legislation and acts. The collected correspondence of Cicero also preserves (in the ad familiares) some highly characteristic letters from Lepidus, Asinius Pollio, Munatius Plancus and others. The two books of letters between Cicero and M. Brutus (the genuineness of which seems now agreed) are important not only for the historical details they contain but also for the light they throw on Brutus’ character. The same cannot be said of the Greek letters of Brutus; though most scholars now accept the authenticity of those going under his name they add little to our knowledge, and the answers appear to be simply a literary exercise of first-century date.

Of the compositions of Augustus the only one that has survived in almost complete form is his own account of his achievements, the Res Gestae. A copy in Greek and Latin known as the Monumentum Ancyranum still stands on the walls of what was the Augusteum at Ancyra in Galatia: four fragments of the Greek version were found at Apollonia in Galatia, and considerable and important fragments of the Latin at Antioch-by-Pisidia. It gives a list of the various honours conferred upon Augustus, of the sum of money he spent upon the State, and lastly of his achievements in war and peace, and the original was set up outside the Mausoleum that Augustus built for his family. Though he gave some final touches to the document as late as a.d. 12-13 there can be little doubt that in substance it was complete by a.d. 6, and that the greater part even of this had received its first form by 8 b.c. If there were earlier draftings than this it is impossible to fix them with any certainty. Moreover, though Augustus from time to time made additions, alterations, and corrections to his first draft of 8 b.c. he revised and worked over the whole with care, so that slight discrepancies of style and order alone indicate different stages in its composition. In its proud consciousness of achievement and in its severe reserve it is no unworthy monument of the Emperor, and its plain and lucid style illustrates well his aimsensum animi quam apertissime exprimere’ (Suetonius, Jug. 86).

Velleius Paterculus, in his short history composed to celebrate the consulship of his patron M. Vinicius in a.d. 30, devotes some seventy chapters of Book II (58-131) to events following 44 b.c., based largely on the official Augustan account, as a comparison with the Epitome of Livy and with the Res Gestae shows. He had served as an officer under Tiberius and becomes panegyrical when he contemplates the campaigns of his general and his achievements as princeps, he is equally full of praise for his minister Sejanus. Apart from his account of the later German and Pannonian campaigns (a.d. 4—12) Velleius’ work is important in two ways: it gives a favourable picture of Tiberius as a soldier and general, and it reveals how even an honest man, as Velleius was, could hardly escape the growing tendency of the times to flatter the princeps and his helpers. This tendency is plainer still in Valerius Maximus, who dedicated his nine-volume collection of Exempla of virtues and vices to the heavenly providence of Tiberius, and who retails some scraps of information about victims of the Proscription of 43-42, and about famous men of the Augustan principate. The younger Seneca lived through the reigns of Tiberius, Gaius and Claudius, and most of Nero’s, and though he wrote no professed historical work, his numerous moralizing treatises contain first-hand contemporary information, often of real value. But his feelings change with the times, and his early flattery of Claudius, or of his freedmen, turns into bitter mockery of the Emperor when dead. Few things could exceed the savagery of the Apocolocyntosis divi Claudil (which is almost universally acknowledged to be Seneca’s), where every feature of Claudius’ person is ridiculed, and he himself damned by the verdict of the very Emperor, Augustus, whom he professed to hold as his model. Such are treatises written ‘recentibus odiis’

  Very different is the work of our most important surviving authority, Cornelius Tacitus—the praenomen is still uncertain—though here only essentials can be mentioned. He was born probably early in the reign of Nero (c a.d. 55), married the daughter of Agricola in 77, and passed through most of the stages in the official career under the Flavian emperors. Praetor in 88, he was then away from Rome for four years in some provincial post; he returned to find his father-in-law dead—it was rumoured that Domitian had poisoned him—and to witness the tyranny of the last years of Domitian’s reign; on his death he attained the consulship in 97, with the Emperor Nerva as his colleague. He was proconsul of Asia about 112, and died probably early in Hadrian’s reign. Thus he had an advantage denied to many of the historians mentioned here, of knowing the workings of the system he was to describe. He had received the thorough training in rhetoric common to the time, he was an impressive orator, and he had already completed three studies in different genres before he undertook the writing of his two great historical works: these were the Histories covering the years from 68 to 96, probably in twelve books, of which only the first four and a few chapters of the fifth survive, and the Annals, from 14 to 68, probably in eighteen books, of which we now possess Books i-iv, a fragment ofV, VI, about half of Book XI, the whole of XII-XV, and a few chapters of Book XVI. Of the three preliminary studies the Dialogus de oratoribus (now generally agreed to be his and possibly published as early as a.d. 81), discusses the reasons for the admitted decline of oratory under the Principate, and finds them in the lack of party strife and politics and in the all-pervading influence of the princeps, the de vita Julii Agricolae is a biography of his father-in-law, published in 98, when his hatred of Domitian could find free vent; and the de origine et situ Germanorum published in the same year as his Agricola but later, is a study of the land and climate of Germany and of the history and social and religious structure of the German tribes. The value of these last two works for the early history of Roman Britain and of the Germans needs no underlining.

It is clear therefore that Tacitus had an experienced pen, practical knowledge, and personal experience; to this he added a grasp of the literature and a thoroughness in investigating sources which his friend the younger Pliny unreservedly admired. But he approached his task with certain inevitable preconceptions; his reading of history combined with his own experience showed him that since the Republic had been superseded by the Principate, two men, emerging victorious from bloody Civil Wars, had founded dynasties that began with a programme of peace, reconciliation, and restoration, of security, and yet went down in cruelty and bloodshed. One emperor alone had changed for the better, Vespasian (Hist. 1, 50): on all the others, power had exercised a demoralizing effect (cf. Jnn. vi, 48 and xv, 53). This feeling, coupled with the strong impress left by the Stoic circles among which he moved, makes him take a moral view of the function of history. But though this view natur­ally affects his presentation of events and colours his painting of the emperors, he never forgoes the first duty of a historian, laborious and critical investigation of evidence in order to reach a true and impartial account. Though occasionally he appears to group events more with a view to literary effect than to their strict sequence in time, it would be difficult to produce an instance where he has deliberately misstated or falsified facts, and easy to cite passages where he carefully rejects and passes over versions and rumours which might suit his book better, but which he eschews. His portrait of the slow degeneration of Tiberius or Claudius is severe, but with his preconceptions, and on the evidence before him, he could not write otherwise: he depicted Tiberius as he does because the evidence before him all pointed that way. Modern research tends ultimately not so much to prove Tacitus false or malignant, but rather to illustrate and stress aspects of the history of the Empire in which Tacitus was not interested.

Thus it comes about that the facts he reports are usually accurate enough and rarely refuted by modern discoveries, but his interpretation must often be challenged. For some three generations Tacitus has been subjected to the most merciless and often unfair analytical scrutiny, even accused of l’hystérie du mensonge, but the trend of present-day scholarship is towards the recognition of his integrity and essential greatness. He is by far the most complete and the most trustworthy author that we possess for the early Principate.

From Tacitus it is a long descent to C. Suetonius Tranquillus, yet his writings contain much that is useful and illuminating. A humbler friend in the younger Pliny’s circle, a born researcher and antiquarian, for a short time he was secretary to Hadrian; but the rest of his life was uneventful, devoted to learning and to writing. Save for a few literary biographies. The Lives of the Twelve Caesars alone survives from his voluminous output. It is obvious that he read widely and gathered information everywhere: he often quotes from or bases his view upon official or semi-official documents, e.g., the Res Gestae, speeches and letters of various emperors, yet he often reproduces the merest gossip, or popular songs, or rumours perpetuated in hostile anti­Caesarian literature. In consequence The Lives is a curious patchwork, for Suetonius makes no organic whole of them, but arranges each under a series of Rubrics or Headings (e.g. Public Life and Offices, Campaigns, Treatment of Friends, Virtues, Vices, etc.), in which good and worthless elements may be juxtaposed. So the value of a life varies greatly according to the material available: he is excellent on Augustus and good on Claudius (where it has been conjectured that he used Claudius’ own account of his life), fairly balanced upon Tiberius, though with a good deal of sensational detail, and definitely hostile to Gaius and Nero, against whom obviously an evil tradition existed. It is likely enough that for the Year of the Four Emperors (a.d. 69) he used the same basic source (perhaps Pliny) as Tacitus and Plutarch, and a comparison of what Tacitus omits and what Suetonius retains is instructive. One great merit he has, that he often preserves speeches and utterances unaltered and material uncontaminated, whereas more consciously literary authors, such as Tacitus and Dio, are too apt for reasons of style or regard for ‘the dignity of history’ to avoid direct quotation, and work the substance into their narrative. Occasionally he takes trouble over a disputed question, such as the birthplace of Gaius, at another time he can complacently exclaim, ‘at quod discrepat in medio sit’. Yet within his limits he preserves material of great value.

There remain for final mention some late epitomators, Florus, Eutropius, Aurelius Victor, and Orosius. Under the name of Julius Florus we possess four (perhaps originally two) books on the Wars of the Romans, rhetorical and inaccurate, probably composed during the reign of Hadrian. To the fourth century belongs the Breviarium of Eutropius, an epitome of Roman History from Romulus down to the emperor Valens, to whom the work was dedicated: so too a couple of biographical works, de viris illustrious and Caesares usually ascribed to a certain Sextus Aurelius Victor. Paulus Orosius, a Spaniard and pupil of St Augustine, published in 417 the seven books of his Historiae adversus Paganos, compiled with the genial aim of proving that the miseries of his Christian times were no more than those of the Pagan centuries. All these epitomes derive whatever value they possess for the early period of this volume from the fact that they all used an abridged version of the lost books of Livy; occasionally, but only occasionally, they preserve figures or facts of some worth. For the period after Augustus they merely repeat monotonously the tradition that was finally fixed after the time of Tacitus and Suetonius.

A brief account only need be given here of some technical or semi-technical works. Vitruvius Pollio published, probably about 14 b.c., the ten books of his de Architecturai which contain some valuable information about the period when Rome was being transformed and beautified by the building works of Augustus and of his friends. Sextus Julius Frontinus, who was praetor urbanus in 70, governor of Britain between 74 and 77, and finally curator aquarum under Nerva in 97, was the author of several treatises: of these the four books of Strategemata (published in the late years of Domitian) afford some items of interest for our period, and a monograph, possibly originally entitled Commentarius de aquis and published about a.d. ioo, gives important information about the water-supply of Rome and its organization under the early Empire. Some three hundred years later Flavius Vegetius Renatus compiled from various sources, including the Elder Cato and Frontinus, an Epitoma ret militaris which, in spite of inaccuracies and uncertain chronology, provides material of some value for the history of the imperial armies.

Strabo, of Amasia (r. 40 b.c.-a.d. 25), a Greek who spent much of his time in Rome, and had realized that henceforth Greek and Roman were one culture, wrote, in addition to the seventeen books of his Geography , a history of which unfortunately only fragments remain.. But his geographical books, which were completed in first draft by about 6 b.c., and then later apparently roughly revised so as to include some of the events of the first ten years of Tiberius, are a mine of information for the whole of the Empire, based on excellent sources. On the Northern frontier wars, on relations with Parthia, on the Arabian expedition of Aelius Gallus, on the internal conditions of Italy and the provinces, and on the Principate as it looked to the world of his day, he gives the most valuable evidence, disinterested and (for the time) accurate.

Philo, of Alexandria (c. 30 b.c.-a.d. 45), uncle of Tiberius Alexander was a wealthy Jew, steeped in Greek, and especially Platonic, philosophy, who devoted most of his large output to explaining and allegorizing the books of the Bible, but two nearly complete parts remain from a treatise on ‘The Wonderful Works of God’. These, despite an overload of declamation, contain an extremely graphic picture of the famous Jew-hunt of Alexandria’ in a.d. 38 and of an embassy of Alexandrian Jews, of which Philo himself was a member, to the Emperor Gaius. But the rhetoric is strong: Tiberius is praised with enthusiasm to make Gaius’ wickedness appear the blacker, and the figure of King Agrippa I, though possibly more moral, is less natural than in the pages of Josephus. But when the necessary deductions have been made, his evidence is not unimportant.

The Jewish general and Roman citizen, Flavius Josephus (a.d. 37-? 100), provides material of great interest in this period, not only for affairs in Judaea and Syria—he is practically the sole source for the reign of Herod the Great and for the history of his descendants—but also for affairs in Rome. Not only does he preserve, usually in an abbreviated form, edicts and rescripts of various emperors concerning the Jews, but he also gives an interesting account of the last days of Tiberius and of the assassination of Gaius, that clearly derives from a good Roman original (possibly Cluvius Rufus); in the earlier part his view of Cleopatra derives from Herod’s defender, Nicolaus. More important still is his narrative of the events that led up to the Jewish revolt, and of the actual course of the revolt itself, in much of which he played a leading part; but in his writings he has the difficult task of portraying himself satisfactorily as at once a pious Jew and patriot, and yet a friend and supporter of the Romans. Whatever the exact purpose of his Jewish Antiquities, in twenty books, from Creation to a.d. 66, published in 94, his Vita published later is frankly apologetic against the attacks of his enemies, and his Jewish War, in seven books, which was published earlier, and apparently first written in Aramaic, is a pro-Roman document, and issued, as he declares, under official approval. But where his own personal attitude or behaviour is not in question, he is a source of undeniable merit.

Plutarch, of Chaeronea in Boeotia (c. a.d. 50—120), the writer of the famous Parallel Lives, in his Cicero and Brutus offers admirable material, based on first-hand evidence, such as that of Cicero’s confidential secretary Tiro and of Brutus’ companions and friends. In his Antony, however, he is obviously out of sympathy with the protagonist, though he draws on Dellius, and towards the end on the memoirs of Cleopatra’s physician, Olympus; even so it is one of the finest of his Lives, Of his biographies of the emperors, apart from those of Galba and Otho (where the elder Pliny appears to have been his principal source), nothing remains, though some scraps in the Moralia suggest that they contained plenty of those anecdotes and personal touches ‘reflecting character,’ that Plutarch sought out.

A writer of considerable value for the early period is Appian, a Greek from Alexandria, who rose to hold a minor official position under the Antonines. In Books XV—xvii of his Roman Histories (usually numbered as Books III-V of the Civil Wars), he covers the period from 44 to 35 b.c. with some fullness, and in Book xxiii (the Illyrica) he recounts Octavian’s campaigns of 35 and 34 in Dalmatia, using Octavian’s autobiography. Much of these books, being mainly military, is admirable in facts and figures, whereas he is uneasy and incorrect upon constitutional matters, as the end of the Second Triumvirate. Down to the battle of Philippi he draws largely upon Asinius Pollio, which accounts for his bias against Cicero and Munatius Plancus; after 42 B.C., it looks as though he used Messalla Corvinus and Augustus’ autobiography as well. Naturally he finds much to say in favour of Octavian, though it is noticeable that he looks on Mark Antony and his brother L. Antonius with sympathy. In these books Appian gives us some of his best.

Dio Cassius Cocceianus, whose floruit falls about a.d. 200, and who wrote a history of Rome, in eighty books, from the foundation of the city to a.d. 229, is a writer of curious contradictions. Of Greek descent, but a Roman citizen and with a distinguished career (including the consulship) in the service of the Empire, a would-be Thucydides, an admirer of Severan autocracy, deeply conscious of the high office of the historian, yet often descending to puerile anecdotes and to catalogues of omens, he is almost an epitome of the strong and weak points of the later Graeco-Roman civilization. Books XLIV-LXV, retailing the history of the period covered by this volume, are fairly complete, save for the reign of Nero and years of the Civil War, where we have to depend upon epitomators. From Books XLIV-LIV Livy was probably his main source, which means that he is apt to be pro-Augustan and anti-Antonian, though a strong secondary source, anti-Augustan (perhaps Timagenes), crops up from time to time: for the reigns of the Julio-Claudians no certainty can be established, but it may be noted that he follows a tradition extremely hostile to Seneca. The lengthy speeches he inserts in the body of his narrative are unhistorical—as, e.g., the alleged conversation between Octavian and his advisers in Book lii, which reflects Dio’s own age and views and not those of Octavian—and their style curiously streaked with reminiscences of Greek drama or of Thucydides. His statements on matters of constitutional importance in the development of the Principate are often refuted by better evidence, and where it is not possible to check what he says on these matters he is not to be readily credited with precision, the more so that he is by no means consistent in his translation of Roman terms into Greek. Yet in spite of obvious faults, we owe him gratitude on many counts: he preserves an indispensable chronological frame­work, he appears—as he claims himself—to have worked carefully at his sources and to have formed a view of his own, and without his aid we should be badly adrift for long sections of Roman history.

Some writers of considerably later date round off the list. John MalaLas of Antioch in Syria compiled in the sixth century an universal history in twelve books, and much of Book X refers to the period comprised in this volume. Malalas’ main interest naturally lies in Eastern affairs, especially in those of his native-Antioch; indeed he shows a fine disregard for Western geography and chronology. But amid a mass of rather trivial anecdotes he does occasionally preserve items—about building-benefactions, or about riots between Jews and Christians—that appear to be founded on genuine city-tradition. Among works of Byzantine scholars we possess excerpts from the great Encyclopaedia of historical extracts which the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus had drawn up in the tenth century, and to the same century probably belongs the Lexicon of Suidas, which includes articles on the emperors. Later still, John Xiphilinus, in the eleventh century, and John Zonaras, in the twelfth, made epitomes'of Dio Cassius, which thus preserve the Dionic tradition where Dio himself is lacking. But all these late works must be used with considerable caution.