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Agricola by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Chapter 45: What Agricola did not see[AD 93]
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Agricola did not see the senate-house besieged, or the senate hemmed in by armed men, or so many of Rome's noblest ladies exiles and fugitives. Carus Metius had as yet the distinction of but one victory, and the noisy counsels of Messalinus were not heard beyond the walls of Alba, and Massa Baebius was then answering for his life. It was not long before our hands dragged Helvidius to prison, before we gazed on the dying looks of Mauricus and Rusticus, before we were steeped in Senecio's innocent blood. Even Nero turned his eyes away, and did not gaze upon the atrocities which he ordered; with Domitian it was the chief part of our miseries to see and to be seen, to know that our sighs were being recorded, to have, ever ready to note the pallid looks of so many faces, that savage countenance reddened with the hue with which he defied shame. Thou wast indeed fortunate, Agricola, not only in the splendour of thy life, but in the opportune moment of thy death. Thou submittedst to thy fate, so they tell us who were present to hear thy last words, with courage and cheerfulness, seeming to be doing all thou couldst to give thine Emperor full acquittal. As for me and thy daughter, besides all the bitterness of a father's loss, it increases our sorrow that it was not permitted us to watch over thy failing health, to comfort thy weakness, to satisfy ourselves with those looks, those embraces. Assuredly we should have received some precepts, some utterances to fix in our inmost hearts. This is the bitterness of our sorrow, this the smart of our wound, that from the circumstance of so long an absence thou wast lost to us four years before. Doubtless, best of fathers, with that most loving wife at thy side, all the dues of affection were abundantly paid thee, yet with too few tears thou wast laid to thy rest, and in the light of thy last day there was something for which thine eyes longed in vain. Non vidit Agricola obsessam curiam et clausum armis senatum et eadem strage tot consularium caedes, tot nobilissimarum feminarum exilia et fugas. Una adhuc victoria Carus Mettius censebatur, et intra Albanam arcem sententia Messalini strepebat, et Massa Baebius iam tum reus erat: mox nostrae duxere Helvidium in carcerem manus; nos Maurici Rusticique visus [foedavit]; nos innocenti sanguine Senecio perfudit. Nero tamen subtraxit oculos suos iussitque scelera, non spectavit: praecipua sub Domitiano miseriarum pars erat videre et aspici, cum suspiria nostra subscriberentur, cum denotandis tot hominum palloribus sufficeret saevus ille vultus et rubor, quo se contra pudorem muniebat. Tu vero felix, Agricola, non vitae tantum claritate, sed etiam opportunitate mortis. Ut perhibent qui interfuere novissimis sermonibus tuis, constans et libens fatum excepisti, tamquam pro virili portione innocentiam principi donares. Sed mihi filiaeque eius praeter acerbitatem parentis erepti auget maestitiam, quod adsidere valetudini, fovere deficientem, satiari vultu complexuque non contigit. Excepissemus certe mandata vocesque, quas penitus animo figeremus. Noster hic dolor, nostrum vulnus, nobis tam longae absentiae condicione ante quadriennium amissus est. Omnia sine dubio, optime parentum, adsidente amantissima uxore superfuere honori tuo: paucioribus tamen lacrimis comploratus es, et novissima in luce desideravere aliquid oculi tui.