6. M. Livius
Drusus, M. F. C. N., was a son of No. 4. His ambitious temper manifested itself with precocious activity. From boyhood he never allowed himself a holiday, but, before he was of an age to assume the toga virilis, he frequented the forum, busied himself in trials, and sometimes exerted his influence so effectually with the judices as to induce them to give sentence according to his wish. (Senec. de Brev. Vit.
6.) His character and morals in his youth were pure and severe (Cic. de Off.
1.30), but a self-sufficient conceit was conspicuous in his actions. When quaestor in Asia, he would not wear the insignia of office: " ne quid ipso esset insignius." (Aurel. Vict. de Vir. Ill.
66.) When he was building a house upon the Palatine mount, the architect proposed a plan to prevent it from being overlooked. " No," said he, " rather construct it so that all my fellow-citizens may see everything I do."
This house has a name in history : it passed from Drusus into the family of Crassus, and can be traced successively into the hands of Cicero, Censorinus, and Rutilius Sisenna. (Vell. Paterc. 2.15.) Velleius Paterculus slightly differs from Plutarch (Reip. Gerend. Praecepta,
ix. p. 194, ed. Reiske) in relating this anecdote, and the reply to the architect has been erroneously attributed to an imaginary Julius Drusus Publicola, from a false reading in Plutarch of Ἰουλιος
. for Αιούϊος
, and a false translation of the epithet ὁ δημαγωγός
Drusus inherited a large fortune from his father, the consul; but, in order to obtain political influence, he was profuse and extravagant in his expenditure.
The author of the treatise de Viris Illustribus,
usually ascribed to Aurelius Victor, says that, from want of money, he sometimes stooped to unworthy practices. Magulsa, a prince of Mauretania, had taken refuge in Rome from the resentment of Bocchus, and Drusus was induced by a bribe to betray him to the king, who threw the wretched prince to an elephant. When Adherbal, son of the king of the Numidians (Micipsa), fled to Rome, Drusus kept him a prisoner in his house, hoping that his father would pay a ransom for his release.
These two statements occur in no other author, and the second is scarcely reconcilable with the narrative of Sallust.
The same author states, that Drusus was aedile, and gave magnificent games, and that when Remmius, his colleague in the aedileship, suggested some measure for the benefit of the commonwealth, he asked sarcastically, "What's our commonwealth to you?" Pighius, however (Annales,
iii. p. 82), and others, considering that M. Drusus, the son, died in his tribuneship--an office usually held before that of aedile--are of opinion, that Aurelius Victor has confounded several events of the father's life with those of the son.
It appears from Cicero (Cic. Brut. 62
, pro Mil.
7), that Drusus was the uncle of Cato of Utica, and the great-uncle of Brutus.
These relationships were occasioned by successive marriages of his sister Livia. We agree with Manutius (ad Cic. de Fin.
3.2) in thinking, in opposition to the common opinion, that she was first
married to Q. Servilius Caepio [CAEPIO, No. 8, p. 535a.], whose daughter was the mother of Brutus, that she was divorced from Caepio, and then married the father of Cato of Utica; for Cato, according to Plutarch (Cato Min.
1) was brought up in the house of his uncle Drusus along with the children of Livia and Caepio, who was then living, and who survived Drusus. (Liv. Epit.
lxxiii.) As Cato of Utica was born B. C. 95 (Plut. Cat. Mi. 2
; Liv. Epit. 114
; Sallust. Catil.
54), and as Drusus, who died B. C. 91, survived his sister, we must suppose, unless her first marriage was to Caepio, that an extraordinary combination of events was crowded into the years B. C. 95-91 : viz. 1st. the birth of Cato; 2nd. the death of his father; 3rd. the second marriage of Livia; 4th. the births of at least three children by her second husband; 5th. her death; 6th. the rearing of her children in the house of Drusus; 7th. the death of Drusus.
Q. Servilius Caepio was the rival of Drusus in birth, fortune, and influence. (Flor. 3.17
) Originally they were warm friends. As Caepio married Livia, the sister of Drusus, so Drusus married Servilia, the sister of Caepio (γάμων ἐπαλλαγή
, Dio Cass. Fray. Peiresc.
110, ed. Reimar. vol. i. p. 45). Dio Cassius may be understood to refer to domestic causes of quarrel; but, according to Pliny, a rupture was occasioned between them from competition in bidding for a ring at a public auction ; and to this small event have been attributed the struggles of Drusus for pre-eminence, and ultimately the kindling of the social war. (Plin. Nat. 33.6
The mutual jealousy of the brothersin-law proceeded to such great lengths, that on one occasion Drusus declared he would throw Caepio down the Tarpeian rock. (De Vir. Ill.
Drusus was early an advocate of the party of the optimates. When Saturninus was killed in B. C. 100, he was one of those who took up arms for the safety of the state (Cic. pro Rabir. Perd. reo.
7), and supported the consul Marius, who was now, for once, upon the side of the senate. (Liv. Epit.
In the dispute between the senate and the equites for the possession of the judicia, Caepio took the part of the equites, while Drusus advocated the cause of the senate with such earnestness and impetuosity, that, like his father, he seems to have been termed patronus senatus.
(Cic. pro Mil.
7; Diod. xxxvi. fr. fin. ed. Bipont. x. p. 480.)
The equites had now, by a lex Sempronia of C. Gracchus, enjoyed the judicia from B. C. 122, with the exception of the short interval during which the lex Servilia removed the exclusion of the senate [see p. 880a].
It must be remembered that the Q. Servilius Caepio who proposed this shortlived law (repealed by another lex Servilia of Servilius Glaucia) was perhaps the father of Q. Servilius Caepio, the brother-in-law of Drusus, but was certainly a different person and of different politics. [See p. 535a.] The equites abused their power, as the senate had done before them.
As farmers of the public revenues, they committed peculation and extortion with an habitual impunity, which assumed in their own view the complexion of a right. When accused, they were tried by accomplices and partizans, and " it must be a hard winter when wolf devours wolf." On the other hand, in prosecutions against senators of the opposite faction, the equites had more regard to political animosity than to justice. Even in ordinary cases, where party feeling was not concerned, they allowed their judicial votes to be purchased by bribery and corrupt influence.
The recent unjust condemnation of Rutilius Rufus had weakened the senate and encouraged the violence of the equites, when, in B. C. 91, Drusus was made tribune of the plebs in the consulate of L. Marcius Philippus and Sex. Julius Caesar. (Flor. l.c.
Under the plea of an endeavour to strengthen the party of the senate, Drusus determined to gain over the plebs, the Latins, and the Italic socii.
The ardour of his zeal was increased by the attack which his enemy Caepio directed against the nobility by prosecuting some of their leaders. From the conflicting statements and opposite views of Roman writers as to his motives and conduct, his character is in some respectsa problem. Even partyspirit was at fault in estimating a man whose measures were regarded as revolutionary, while his political sentiments were supposed to be profoundly aristocratic. Velleius Paterculus (2.13; compare what is said by the Pseudo-Sallust in Epist. 2 ad C. Caes. de Rep. Ord.
) applauds him for the tortuous policy of attempting to wheedle the mob, by minor concessions to their demands, into a surrender of important claims to the optimates; but we cannot help thinking (comp. Flor. 3.18
; Liv. Epit.
lxx. lxxi.), that he cared as much for self as for party--that personal rivalries mingled with honest plans for his country's good and enlightened views above the capacity of the times--that, at last, he was soured by disappointment into a dangerous conspirator, --and that there were moments when visions of sole domination floated, however indistinctly, before his eyes.
He was eager in the pursuit of popularity, and indefatigable in the endeavour to gain and exercise influence.
It was one of the objects of his restless and self-sufficient spirit to become the arbiter of parties, and he acted from immediate impulses, without considering nicely the result of his conduct.
There was deep meaning in the witticism of Granius, the public crier, who, when Drusus saluted him in the ordinary phrase, " Quid agis, Grani? " asked in reply, " Immo vero, tu Druse, quid agis?" (Cic. pro Planc.
To conciliate the people, Drusus renewed several of the propositions and imitated the measures of the Gracchi.
He proposed and carried laws for the distribution of corn, or for its sale at a low price, and for the assignation of public land (leges frumentariae, agrariae,
The establishment of several colonies in Italy and Sicily, which had long been voted, was now effected. (Appian, de Bell. Civ.
1.35.) Nothing could surpass the extravagance of the largesses to which he persuaded the senate to accede. (Tac. Ann. 3.27
He declared that he had been so bountiful, that nothing was left to be given, by any one else, but air and dirt, " coelum ant coenum. " (De Vir. Ill.
66; Flor. 3.17
It was probable the exhaustion of the public treasury produced by such lavish expenditure that induced him to debase the silver coinage by the alloy of one-eighth part of brass. (Plin. Nat. 33.18
.) Presumptuous, arrogant, and rash, he assumed a station to which he was not entitled by authority and experience, notwithstanding the splendour of his birth and the power of his eloquence.
But his energy went far(as energy like his always will do) in silencing opposition, and begetting submission to his will. Once, when the senate invited his attendance at their place of meeting, he sent a message in answer : " Let them come to me--to the Curia Hostilia, near the Rostra," and they were so abject as to obey. (V. Max. 9.5.2
: " Cum senatus ad eum misisset, ut in Curiam veniret. 'Quare non potius,' inquit, 'ipse in Hostiliam, propinquam Rostris, id est, ad me venit?"
This passage is remarkable for the opposition between Curia
and Hostilia; whereas it is ordinarily stated that, in classical writers, Curia, without more, denotes the Curia Hostilia.)
Such conduct naturally produced a reaction of feeling among some proud men, who had a high sense of their own importance, saw the false position in which their party was placed, and disliked pushing effrontery. In Cicero (Cic. de Orat. 3.1
, 2) we find a description of a scene full of turbulence and indecorum, where Philippus, the consul, inveighs against the senate, while Drusus and the orator Crassus withstand him to the face. From the known politics of the persons concerned, this scene is exceedingly difficult to explain; but we Lelieve that it occurred at a period in the career of Drusus when he had not yet identified himself with the formidable cabals of the Latins and Italians, and when, in spite of his popular measures, he still retained the confidence of the senate, from his resistance to the equites. We believe that the haughty Philippus upbraided the senate for their complaisance to Drusus in favouring the plebs, and that it was the unmeasured rebuke of the aristocrat which roused the esprit de corps
of the senator Crassus. We know from other sources that Philippus opposed the passing of the agrarian laws of Drusus, and interrupted the tribune while he was haranguing the assembly; whereupon Drusus sent one of his clients, instead of the regular viator, to arrest the consul. (V. Max. 9.5.2
; Florus, 3.17
, and Auct. de Vir. Ill.
vary slightly from each other and from Valerius Maximus.)
This order was executed with extreme violence, and Philippus was collared so tightly, that the blood started from his nostrils; upon which Drusus, taunting the luxurious epicurism of the consul, cried out, " Psha! it is only the gravy of thrushes." (Schottus, ad Auct. de Vir. Ill.
Having thus bought over the people (who used to rise and shout when he appeared), and having, by promising to procure for them all the rights of citizenship, induced the Latini and Italic socii to assist him, Drusus was able, by force and intimidation, to carry through his measures concerning the judicia (" legem judiciariam pertulit,
" Liv. Epit.
lxxi.). Some writers, following Liv. Epit.
lxxi., speak of his sharing the judicia between the senate and the equites; but his intention seems to have been entirely to transfer the judicia to the senate; for, without any positive exclusion of the equites and lower orders, as long as senators were eligible, it is probable that no names but those of senators would be placed by the praetors upon the lists of judices. (Puchta, Institutionen,
1.71.) We accept the circumstantial statement of Appian (App. BC 1.35
), according to which the law of Drusus provided that the senate, now reduced below the regular number of 300, should be reinforced by the introduction of an equal number of new menmbers selected from the most distinguished of the equites; and enacted that the senate, thus doubled in number, should possess the judicia.
The law seems to have been silent as to any express exclusion of the equites; but it might be implied from its language that such exclusion was contemplated, and, so far as its positive enactment referred to the new members, they were entitled to be placed on the list of judices, qua
senators, not qua
equites. Nor was there any prospective regulation for supplying from the equestrian order vacancies in the judicial lists. To this part of the law was added a second part, appointing a commission of inquiry into the bribery and corruption which the equites had practised while in exclusive possession of the judicia. (Appian, l.c.;
compare Cic. pro Rabir. Post.
7, pro Cluent.
After Drusus had so far succeeded, the reaction set in rapidly and strongly. The Romans, who were usually led as much by feeling as by calculation, required to be managed with peculiar tact and delicacy; but Drusus had a rough way of going to work, which, even in the moment of success, set in array against him the vanity and prejudices of public men; and in his measures themselves there appeared to be a species of trimming,
which, while it seemed intended to displease none, was ultimately found to be unsatisfactory to all.
It may be that he was actuated by a single-minded desire to do equal justice to all, and to remedy abuses wherever they might lurk, careless of the offence which his reforms might give; but even his panegyrists among the ancients do not view his character in this light. Whatever else were his motives (and we believe them to have been complex--multa varie moliebatur
), he appeared to be the slave of many masters. Mob-popularity is at best but fleeting, and those of the people who had not been favoured with the distribution of lands were discontented at the luck of their more fortunate competitors. The Roman populace hated the foreigners who were striving to obtain equal franchise with themselves.
The great body of the equites, who were very numerous, felt all the invi-diousness of raising a select few to the rank of senators, while the rest would not only suffer the mortification of exclusion, but be practically deprived of that profitable share which they had previously enjoyed in the administration of justice.
But worse than all was the apprehended inquisition into their past misdeeds.
The senators viewed with dislike the proposed elevation to their own level of nearly 300 equites, now far below them in rank, and dreaded the addition of a heterogeneous mass, which was likely to harmonize badly with the ancient body. Moreover, they now suspected the ambition of Drusus, and did not choose to accept the transfer of the judicia at his hands. The Latins and socii demanded of him with stern importunity the price of their recent assistance ; and their murmurs at delay were deepened when they saw the Roman populace dividing the ager publicus, and depriving them of those possessions which they had hitherto occupied by stealth or force. They even began to tremble for their private property. (Appian, l.c.;
Auct. de Vir. Ill.
In this state of affairs, the united dissatisfaction of all parties enabled the senate, upon the proposition of Philippus, who was augur as well as consul, to undo, by a few short lines, what had lately been done. (Cic. de Leg.
The senate now, in pursuance of that anomalous constitution which practically allowed a plurality of supreme legislative powers, voted that all the laws of Drusus, being carried against the auspices. were null and void from the beginning. "Senatui videtur, M. Drusi legibus populum non teneri." (Cic. pro Cornel.
fr. ii. vol. iv. P. ii. p. 449; Asconius, in Cic. pro Cornel.
p. 68, ed. Orelli.)
The lex Caecilia Didia required that a law, before being put to the vote in the comitia, should be promulgated for three nundinae (17 days), and directed that several distinct clauses should not be put to the vote in a lump. If we may trust the suspected oration pro Domo
(100.16 and 100.20), the senate resolved that, in the passing of the laws of Drusus, the provisions of the lex Caecilia Didia had not been observed.
It is difficult to suppose that the largesses of corn and land, so far as they had been carried into effect, were revoked; but probably the establishment of colonies was stopped in its progress, and undoubtedly the lex judiciaria was completely defeated. From the expressions of some ancient authors, it might be imagined that the lex judiciaria had never been carried; but this is to be explained by considering that, during its short apparent existence, it never came into actual operation, and that, according to the resolution of the senate, it was null ab initio
for want of essential pre-requisites of validity. From the narrative of Velleius Paterculus (2.13, 14) and Asconius (l.c.
), it might be inferred (contrary to the opinion of several modern scholars), that it was in the lifetime
of Drusus that the senate declared his laws null, and the fact is now established by a fragment of Diodorus Siculus brought to light by Mai (Script. Vet. Nova Collectio,
ii. p. 116); from which we learn that Drusus told the senate, that he could have prevented them from passing their resolutions, had he chosen to exert his power, and that the hour would come when they would rue their suicidal act.
As to the precise order of these events, which took place within the period of a few months, we are in want of detailed information. The 70th and 71st books of Livy are unfortunately lost, and the abbreviated accounts of minor historians are not always easily reconcilable with each other and with the incidental notices contained in other classical authors.
Drusus, who had been sincere in his promises, felt grievously the difficulty of performing them. Weariness and vexation of spirit overtook him.
He found that, with all his followers, he had not one true friend.
He repented him of his unquiet life, and longed for repose; but it was too late to retreat.
The monstrous powers that he had brought into life urged him onward, and he became giddy with the prospect of danger and confusion that lay before him. (Senec. de Brev. Vit.
6.) Then came the news of strange portents and fearful auguries from all parts of Italy to perplex and confound his superstitious soul. (Oros. 5.18
; Obsequ. 114.
He was himself an augur and pontifex; pro Domo.
46. Hence the expression sodalis meus
in the mouth of Cotta, Cic. de Nat. Deor.
3.32.) Then came the exasperating thought of the ingratitude of the senate, and the determination to make them feel the energy which they had slighted. Thus agitated by uneasy passions, he scrupled not to meddle with the two-edged weapons of intrigue, sedition, and conspiracy, which he had neither force nor skill to wield.
He was like the Gracchi with their lustre faded. (Gracchorum obsoletus nitor,
Auct. ad Heren.
He adopted the factious practice (of which the example was first set by C. Gracchus), of holding separate meetings of his followers, and he made distinctions among them according to their supposed fidelity. One he would admit to a private interview, another he would invite to a conference where several were present, and there were some whom he did not ask to attend except on those occasions when all his adherents were summoned in a body.
In furtherance of a common object, the secret conclave plotted, and the more general association worked and organized, while the crowded meeting and the armed mob intimidated by the demonstration and exercise of physical force. (Senec. de Benef.
6.34; Liv. Epit.
lxxxi.) In Mai's extracts from Diodorus (l.c.
) is preserved a remarkable oath (unaccountably headed ὅρκος Φιλίππου
), by which members of the association bound themselves together.
After calling by name on the Roman gods, demigods, and heroes, the oath proceeds: " I swear that I will have the same friends and foes with Drusus; that I will spare neither substance, nor parent, nor child, nor life of any, so it be not for the good of Drusus and of those who have taken this oath; that if I become a citizen by the law of Drusus, I will hold Rome my country, and Drusus my greatest benefactor; and that I will administer this oath to as many more as I be able. So may weal or woe be mine as I keep this oath or not."
The ferment soon became so great, that the public peace was more than threatened. Standards and eagles were seen in the streets, and Rome was like a battlefield, in which the contending armies were encamped. (Florus, l.c.
The end could not much longer be postponed.
At a public assembly of the tribes, when the impatience and disappointment of the multitude were loudly expressed, Drusus was seized with a fainting fit, and carried home apparently lifeless. Some said that his illness was a pretence to gain time.
It did in fact give him a brief respite, and public prayers for his recovery were put up throughout Italy. Some said, that the fit was occasioned by an overdose of goat's-blood, which he had swallowed, in order, by his pale countenance, to accredit a report that Caepio had attempted to poison him. Feverish anxiety, coupled with great mental and bodily exertion, had probably brought on a return of his old disorder, epilepsy, which was supposed to have been cured by a voyage he once made to Anticyra, for the purpose of taking hellebore upon the spot where it grew. (De Vir. Ill.
66; Plin. Nat. 28.41
; Gel. 17.15
Affairs now approached a crisis.
The social war was manifestly bursting into flame; and the consuls, looking upon Drusus as a chief conspirator, resolved to meet his plots by counterplots.
He knew his danger, and, whenever he went into the city, kept a strong body-guard of attendants close to his person.
The accounts of his death vary in several particulars. Appian says, that the consuls invited a party of Etruscans and Umbrians into the city to waylay him under pretence of urging their claims to citizenship; that he became afraid to appear abroad, and received his partizans in a dark passage in his house; and that, one evening at dusk, when dismissing the crowds who attended, he suddenly cried out that he was wounded, and fell to the ground with a leather-cutter's knife sticking in his groin.
The writer de Viris Illustribus
relates that, at a meeting on the Alban mount, the Latins conspired to kill Philippus; that Drusus, though he warned Philippus to beware, was accused in the senate of plotting against the consul's life; and that he was stabbed upon entering his house on his return from the Capitol. (Compare also Vell. Paterc. 2.14.)
Assassinated as he was in his own hall, the image of his father was sprinkled with his blood; and, while he was dying, he turned to those who surrounded him, and asked, with characteristic arrogance, based perhaps upon conscious honesty of purpose, " Friends and neighbours, when will the commonwealth have a citizen like me again ?" Though he was cut off in the flower of manhood, no one considered his death premature.
It was even rumoured that, to escape from inextricable embarrassments, he had died by his own hand.
The assassin was never discovered, and no attempts were made to discover him. Caepio and Philippus (Ampelius, 26) were both suspected of having suborned the crime; and when Cicero (de Nat. Deor.
3.33) accuses Q. Varius of the murder, he probably does not mean that it was the very hand of Varius which perpetrated the act.
Cornelia, the mother of Drusus, a matron worthy of her illustrious name, was present at the deathscene, and bore her calamity--a calamity the more bitter because unsweetened by vengeance--with the same high spirit, says Seneca (Cons. ad Marc.
16), with which her son had carried his laws.
After the fall of Drusus, his political opponents treated his death as a just retribution for his injuries to the state.
This sentiment breathes through a fragment of a speech of C. Carbo, the younger (delivered B. C. 90), which has been celebrated by Cicero (Orator,
63) for the peculiarity of its trochaic rythm: " O Marce Druse
), tu dicere solebas saeram esse rempublieam : quicumque eam violavissent, ab omnibus esse ei poenas persolutas. Patris dictum sapiens temeritas fili comprobavit.
" (Niebuhr, History of Rome,
vol. iv. Lecture xxxii.; Bayle, Dict. s. v. Drusus;
De Brosses, Vie du Consul Philippe
in Mémoires de l' Académie des Inscriptions,
xxvii. p. 406.)