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Piso in Syria
But Gnaeus Piso, in order to begin his plans more quickly, after he reached Syria and the legions, began to help the
most disreputable of the soldiers with generous gifts and bribery. When he had removed the long- serving
centurions and the strictest tribunes, and given their posts to his clients, he began to allow idleness into the camps,
hooliganism into the cities and the soldiers to run riot through the countryside.
Nor did Plancina, the wife of Piso, conduct herself as befitted as a woman, but attended cavalry exercises and kept
hurling insults at Agrippina and Germanicus. But the more pressing issue was to attend first to the Armenians.
The death of Germanicus
His belief that poison had been received from Piso increased the savage virulence of the illness; and there were
found in the walls and floors the dug-up remains of human bodies, spells and curses and Germanicus's name inscribed
in lead tablets, half-burned ashes smeared with rotten flesh, and other evil objects with which it is believed souls are
dedicated to the gods of the underworld.
At the same time, people sent by Piso were being accused for waiting for signs of ill-health. This was received by
Germanicus as much in anger as through fear. He composed a letter in which he intended to break off friendship with
For a short time, Germanicus believed he was getting better, then his body grew tired. When the end was at hand,
he spoke as follows to the friends who were standing by; `you will have the opportunity to complain before the
senate, and to appeal the laws. It is right that friends do not escort the dead man with pointless lamentation but
instead remember what he wanted and carry out what he ordered. You will avenge me if you loved me rather than
my status.' The friends, embracing the dying mans right hand, swore that they would abandon life rather than
And not long afterwards he died, among the great grief of the province and the surrounding peoples. Foreign
nations and kings mourned; so great has been his friendliness to allies and his mercy toward enemies; because of his
face and eloquence he had won the respect of all. And there were those who compared him to Alexander the great
because of his appearance, short life, manner and place of death; for they declared that each had died, endowed
with a handsome body, descended from a noble family, scarcely aged 30.
But Agrippina, although weary with grief and a sick body, was nevertheless unable to endure anything which
delayed revenge. She boarded a ship with Germanicus's ashes and their children, with everyone feeling pity because
a woman of the highest rank, and a very fine marriage, who earned the respect of everyone, was now carrying in her
arms the remains of the dead man, unsure of revenge.
Meanwhile, the news of Germanicus's death had reached Piso at the island of Cos. Rejoicing at this news, he visited
temples and slaughtered victims. Not only did Piso himself behave with excessive rejoicing, but also Plancina became
more arrogant, who then, for the first time, exchanged her mourning clothes for her dead sister with festive clothing.
But at Rome, after the rumour of Germanicus's illness spread, and everything, as usually happens from a distance,
was being reported with pessimistic exaggeration. Grief, anger and lamentation broke out; evidently that was the
reason why Germanicus had been banished to very remote lands, that was the reason that the province had been
entrusted to Piso.
The death of Germanicus, when it was reported, so inflamed this kind of talk among the people that before a
proclamation from the public officials, before a decree from the senate, a break from legal business was taken; the
law courts were deserted and houses were closed.
Everywhere there was silence and mourning and although they did not refrain from the outward signs of mourners,
they were mourning more deeply in their hearts.
Having not interrupted her voyage across the wintery sea at all, Agrippina approached Brunsisium. Meanwhile,
many friends and very many soldiers, who had served under Germanicus, rushed to the port. As soon as the ship was
seen, not only the port, but also the walls and roofs were filled with a crowd of people mourning and asking each
other whether they should receive her in silence as she disembarked, or with words of some kind.
The ship approached slowly, not quickly as is usual, but with all the signs of mourning. When, after disembarking
from the ship with two children, carrying the funeral urn, Agrippina lowered her eyes, there was the same groaning
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On the day of the senate's meeting, Tiberius made a restrained speech. `Piso', he said, `was the representative and
friend of my father. With the authority of the senate, I sent him as Germanicus's assistant to administer affairs in the
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and rejoiced at his death, or whether he destroyed him criminally. At the same time, consider whether he stirred the
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When the very sad image of that night on which was my final time in the city comes to mind, when I recall the night
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He seems to me, to be equal to a god.…read more