The Celtic Literature Collective

The Lives of the Twelve Caesars


XXIX. He added to the enormity of his crimes by the brutality of his language. He used to say that there was nothing in his own character which he admired and approved more highly than what he called his "lasting power", that is, his shameless impudence [a sexual innuendo]. When his grandmother Antonia gave him some advice, he was not satisfied merely not to listen but replied: "Remember that I have the right to do anything to anybody." When he was on the point of killing his brother, and suspected that he had taken drugs as a precaution against poison, he cried: "What! an antidote against Caesar?" After banishing his sisters, he made the threat that he not only had islands, but swords as well. An ex-praetor who had retired to Anticyra for his health, sent frequent requests for an extension of his leave, but Caligula had him put to death, adding that a man who had not been helped by so long a course of hellebore needed to be bled. On signing the list of prisoners who were to be put to death later, he said that he was clearing his accounts. Having condemned several Gauls and Greeks to death in a body, he boasted that he had subdued Gallograecia. The Fordham U. Ancient History Sourcebook


XVII. He made but one campaign and that of little importance. When the Senate voted him the triumphal regalia, thinking the honor beneath the imperial dignity and desiring the glory of a legitimate triumph, he chose Britain as the best place for gaining it, a land that had been attempted by no one since the Deified Julius and was just at that time in a state of rebellion because of the refusal to return certain deserters. On the voyage there from Ostia he was nearly cast away twice in furious north-westers, off Liguria and near the Stoechades islands. Therefore he made the journey from Massilia all the way to Gesoriacum by land, crossed from there, and without any battle or bloodshed received the submission of a part of the island [44 A.D.], returned to Rome within six months after leaving the city, and celebrated a triumph of great splendor. To witness the sight he allowed not only the governors of the provinces to come to Rome, but even some of the exiles; and among the tokens of his victory he set a naval crown on the gable of the Palace beside the civic crown, as a sign that he had crossed and, as it were, subdued the Ocean. His wife Messalina followed his chariot in a carriage, as did also those who had won the triumphal regalia in the same war; the rest marched on foot in fringed togas, except Marcus Crassus Frugi, who rode a caparisoned horse and wore a tunic embroidered with palms, because he was receiving the honor for the second time.

XXV. ...Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome. He allowed the envoys of the Germani to sit in the orchestra, led by their naive self-confidence; for when they had been taken to the seats occupied by the common people and saw the Parthian and Armenian envoys sitting with the Senate, they moved of their own accord to the same part of the theater, protesting that their merits and rank were no whit inferior. He utterly abolished the cruel and inhuman religion of the Druids among the Gauls, which under Augustus had merely been prohibited to Roman citizens; on the other hand he even attempted to transfer the Eleusinian rites from Attica to Rome, and had the temple of Venus Erykina in Sicily, which had fallen to ruin through age, restored at the expense of the treasury of the Roman people. He struck histreaties with foreign princes in the Forum, sacrificing a pig and reciting the ancient formula of the fetial priests. But these and other acts, and in fact almost the whole conduct of his reign, were dictated not so much by his own judgment as that of his wives and freedmen, since he nearly always acted in accordance with their interests and desires.

J. C. Rolfe, ed., Suetonius, 2 Vols., The Loeb Classical Library (London: William Heinemann, and New York: The MacMillan Co., 1914),Volume I, pp. 405-497; II.3-83.

The Fordham U. Ancient History Sourcebook

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