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Quote of the day: There was a story that Vespasian was ins
Notes
Do not display Latin text
Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 8: Envoys to Vespasian (cont.)[AD 69]
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Marcellus declared, "It is not my opinion that is assailed; the consul-elect has made a motion in accordance with old precedents, which directed the use of the ballot in the appointment of envoys, in order that there might be no room for intrigue or private animosities. Nothing has happened why customs of long standing should fall into disuse, or why the honour due to the Emperor should be turned into an insult to any man. All senators are competent to pay their homage. What we have rather to avoid is this, that a mind unsettled by the novelty of power, and which will keenly watch the very looks and language of all, should be irritated by the obstinacy of certain persons. I do not forget the times in which I have been born, or the form of government which our fathers and grandfathers established. I may regard with admiration an earlier period, but I acquiesce in the present, and, while I pray for good Emperors, I can endure whomsoever we may have. It was not through my speech any more than it was through the judgment of the Senate that Thrasea fell. The savage temper of Nero amused itself under these forms, and I found the friendship of such a Prince as harassing as others found their exile. Finally, Helvidius may rival the Catos and the Bruti of old in constancy and courage; I am but one of the Senate which bows to the same yoke. Besides, I would advise Priscus not to climb higher than the throne, or to impose his counsels on Vespasian, an old man, who has won the honours of a triumph, and has two sons grown to manhood. For as the worst Emperors love an unlimited despotism, so the noblest like some check on liberty." These speeches, which were delivered with much vehemence on both sides, were heard with much diversity of feeling. That party prevailed which preferred that the envoys should be taken by lot, as even the neutral section in the Senate exerted themselves to retain the old practice, while the more conspicuous members inclined to the same view, dreading jealousy, should the choice fall on themselves.

Event: Death of Thrasea Paetus

Marcellus non suam sententiam impugnari, sed consulem designatum censuisse dicebat, secundum vetera exempla quae sortem legationibus posuissent, ne ambitioni aut inimicitiis locus foret. nihil evenisse cur antiquitus instituta exolescerent aut principis honor in cuiusquam contumeliam verteretur; sufficere omnis obsequio. id magis vitandum ne pervicacia quorundam inritaretur animus novo principatu suspensus et vultus quoque ac sermones omnium circumspectans. se meminisse temporum quibus natus sit, quam civitatis formam patres avique instituerint; ulteriora mirari, praesentia sequi; bonos imperatores voto expetere, qualiscumque tolerare. non magis sua oratione Thraseam quam iudicio senatus adflictum; saevitiam Neronis per eius modi imagines inlusisse, nec minus sibi anxiam talem amicitiam quam aliis exilium. denique constantia fortitudine Catonibus et Brutis aequaretur Helvidius: se unum esse ex illo senatu, qui simul servierit. suadere etiam Prisco ne supra principem scanderet, ne Vespasianum senem triumphalem, iuvenum liberorum patrem, praeceptis coerceret. quo modo pessimis imperatoribus sine fine dominationem, ita quamvis egregiis modum libertatis placere. haec magnis utrimque contentionibus iactata diversis studiis accipiebantur. vicit pars quae sortiri legatos malebat, etiam mediis patrum adnitentibus retinere morem; et splendidissimus quisque eodem inclinabat metu invidiae, si ipsi eligerentur.