This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
It was in this same year that the Cherusci asked Rome for a king. They had lost all their nobles in their civil wars, and there was left but one scion of the royal house, Italicus by name, who lived at Rome. On the father's side he was descended from Flavus, the brother of Arminius; his mother was a daughter of Catumerus, chief of the Chatti. The youth himself was of distinguished beauty, a skilful horseman and swordsman both after our fashion and that of his country. So the emperor made him a present of money, furnished him with an escort, and bade him enter with a good heart on the honours of his house. "Never before," he said, "had a native of Rome, no hostage but a citizen, gone to mount a foreign throne." At first his arrival was welcome to the Germans, and they crowded to pay him court, for he was untainted by any spirit of faction, and showed the same hearty goodwill to all, practising sometimes the courtesy and temperance which can never offend, but oftener those excesses of wine and lust in which barbarians delight. He was winning fame among his neighbours and even far beyond them, when some who had found their fortune in party feuds, jealous of his power, fled to the tribes on the border, protesting that Germany was being robbed of her ancient freedom, and that the might of Rome was on the rise. "Is there really," they said, "no native of this country to fill the place of king without raising the son of the spy Flavus above all his fellows? It is idle to put forward the name of Arminius. Had even the son of Arminius come to the throne after growing to manhood on a hostile soil, he might well be dreaded, corrupted as he would be by the bread of dependence, by slavery, by luxury, by all foreign habits. But if Italicus had his father's spirit, no man, be it remembered, had ever waged war against his country and his home more savagely than that father."