VI
TIBERIUS AND THE EMPIRE

IN considering the government of Tiberius in Rome we have been forced to limit ourselves largely to the first part of his reign and to postpone a discussion of its character during his last years because of the general acceptance of the Tacitean view that it underwent a marked degeneration after the death of his son Drusus. In regard to his government of the empire no such limitation is necessary, for it is admitted that in this field his conduct was consistent from the beginning to the end. We have already seen that he was resolved to respect the solemn warning of Augustus against further conquests and to accept the frontiers finally decided on by his predecessor; these, however, he was determined to hold firmly and with the least possible expense of blood and money. This policy may have been congenial to his temperament, but there were strong reasons for it which might well seem conclusive to a far-sighted statesman. The success of Augustus blinded his contemporaries, and has largely blinded posterity, to the narrowness and instability of the foundations on which the empire rested. The circumstances under which he rose to power convinced him that it was necessary to preserve the dominant position of the Italian race, and he had, therefore, abandoned the policy inaugurated by Julius Caesar of bestowing citizenship freely on the provincials. In this he was probably wise, for the facts seem to show that Caesar had been in advance of his time and that the Italians were not yet ready to share their privileges with others, nor the provincials yet prepared for equal rights. The edicts of an autocrat cannot work miracles, and a wholesale creation of citizens who had not been thoroughly Romanized might have proved a dangerous experiment. Augustus and Tiberius were both evidently convinced that the time had not yet come for any considerable extension of citizenship, and until it came the Italians must remain the ruling people of the empire, in spite of the fact that as long as this condition continued the government must rest on too narrow a basis for real security. In the last analysis the supreme power was vested

-134-

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The Reign of Tiberius
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I - Tiberius and His Historians 1
  • II - The Legacy of Augustus 16
  • III - The Accession of Tiberius 45
  • IV - Germanicus 69
  • V - The Early Government of Tiberius in Rome 105
  • VI - Tiberius and the Empire 134
  • VII - The Struggle for the Succession 160
  • VIII - The Close of the Reign 200
  • Appendixes 231
  • List of Works Referred to in the Notes 311
  • Index 318
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