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Germa'nicus Caesar

the elder, a son of Nero Claudius Drusus, was nephew of the emperor Tiberius, and brother of the emperor Claudius. His birth was most illustrious. From his father and paternal grandmother (the empress Livia), he inherited the honours of the Claudii and the Drusi, while his mother, the younger Antonia, was the daughter of the triumvir Antony, and the niece of the emperor Augustus. [See the genealogical table, Vol. I. p. 1076.] He was born in B. C. 15, probably in September, for his son Caligula named that month Germanicus, in honour of his father. (Suet. Cal. 1, 15.) His praenomen is unknown; nor can his original cognomen be ascertained, for the imperial family began now to be above the ordinary rules of hereditary name. By a decree of the senate, the elder Drusus, after his death, received the honourable appellation Germanicus, which was also granted to his posterity. (D. C. 4.2.) It seems at first to have been exclusively assumed by the elder son, who afterwards earned an independent title to it by his own achievements. When Augustus, in A. D. 4, adopted Tiberius, and appointed him successor to the empire, the young Germanicus had already, by his promising qualities, gained the favour of the emperor, who recommended Tiberius to take him as a son. (Suet. Cal. 4; Tac. Ann. 1.3; Zonar. 10.36.) In subsequent inscriptions and coins he is styled Germanicus Caesar, Ti. Aug. F. Divi Aug. N.; and in history the relationships which he acquired by adoption are often spoken of in place of the natural relationships of blood and birth. Upon his adoption into the Julia gens, whatever may have been his formal legal designation, he did not lose the title Germanicus, though his brother Claudius, as having now become the sole legal representative of his father, chose also to assume that cognomen. (Suet. Cl. 2.)

In A. D. 7, five years before the legal age (Suet. Cal. 1 ), he obtained the quaestorship; and in the same year was sent to assist Tiberius in the war against the Pannonians and Dalmatians. (D. C. 55.31). After a distinguished commencement of his military career, he returned to Rome in A. D. 10, to announce in person the victorious termination of the war, whereupon he was honoured with triumphal insignia (without an actual triumph), and the rank (not the actual office) of praetor, with permission to be a candidate for the consulship before the regular time. (D. C. 6.17.)

The successes in Pannonia and Dalmatia were followed by the destruction of Varus and his legions. In A. D. 11, Tiberius was despatched to defend the empire against the Germans, and was accompanied by Germanicus as proconsul. The two generals crossed the Rhine, made various incursions into the neighbouring territory, and, at the beginning of autumn, re-crossed the river. (D. C. 56.25.) Germanicus returned to Rome in the winter, and in the following year discharged the office of consul, though he had never been aedile nor praetor. In the highest magistracy, he did not scruple to appear as an advocate for the accused in courts of justice, and thus increased that popularity which he had formerly earned by pleading for defendants before Augustus himself. Nor was he above ministering to the more vulgar pleasures of the people, for at the games of Mars, he let loose two hundred lions in the Circus; and Pliny (Plin. Nat. 2.26) mentions his gladiatorial shows. On the 16th of January, in A. D. 13, Tiberius, having returned to Rome, celebrated that triumph over the Pannonians and Dalmatians, which had been postponed on account of the calamity of Varus; and Germanicus appears, from the celebrated Gemma Augustea (as explained by Mongez, Iconographie Romaine, Paris, 1821, p. 62), to have taken a distinguished part in the celebration. (Suet. Tib. 20.)

Germanicus was next sent to Germany with the command of the eight legions stationed on the Rhine; and from this point of his life his history is taken up by the masterly hand of Tacitus. Upon the death of Augustus, in August, A. D. 14, an alarming mutiny broke out among the legions in Germany and Illyricum. In the former country the mutiny commenced among the four legions of the Lower Rhine (the 5th, 21st, 1st, and 20th), who were stationed in summer quarters upon the borders of the Ubii, under the charge of A. Caecina. The time was come, they thought, to raise the pay of the soldier, to shorten his period of service, to mitigate the hardship of his military tasks, and to take revenge on his old enemy, the centurion. Germanicus was in Gaul, employed in collecting the revenue, when the tidings of the disturbance reached him. He hastened to the camp, and exerted all his influence to allay discontent and establish order. He was the idol of the army. His open and affable manners contrasted remarkably with the hauteur and reserve of Tiberius ; and like his father, Drusus, he was supposed to be an admirer of the ancient republican liberty. Some of the troops interrupted his harangue, by declaring their readiness to place him at the head of the empire ; whereupon, as if contaminated by the guilty proposal, he jumped down from the tribunal whence he was speaking, declared that he would rather die than forfeit his allegiance, and was about to plunge his sword into his breast, when his attempt was forcibly stayed by the bystanders. (Tac. Ann. 1.35.)

It was known that the army of the Upper Rhine (consisting of four legione, the 2nd, 13th, 16th, and 14th, which were left in the charge of Silius), was tainted with the disaffection of the troops under Caecina, and from motives of policy it was thought necessary to comply with the demands of the soldiers. A council was held, and a feigned letter from Tiberius was concocted, in which, after 20 years of service, a full discharge was given; and, after 16 years, an immunity from military tasks, other than the duty of taking part in actions. (Missio sub vexillo.) The legacy left by Augustus to the troops was to be doubled and discharged. To satisfy the requisition of the 21st and 5th legions, who demanded immediate payment, Germanicus exhausted his own purse, and his friends were equally liberal. Having thus quelled the disturbances in the lower army, by almost unlimited concession, he repaired to the four legions on the Upper Rhine; and though they voluntarily took the military oath of obedience, he prudently granted them the same indulgence which had been conferred on their disorderly comrades.

The calm was of short duration. Two legions of the Lower Rhine (the 1st and 20th) had been stationed for the winter at Ara Ubiorum (between Bonn and Cologne). Hither two deputies from the senate arrived with despatches from Germanicus; and the conscience-stricken soldiers imagined that they were come to revoke the concessions which had been extorted by fear. A formidable tumult again arose, and (according to the account of Tacitus) it was only on the departure of Agrippina, the wife of Germanicus, carrying in her bosom her young boy Caligula, the darling of the camp, and attended by the wives of her husband's friends, that the refractory legions were smitten with pity and shame. They could not bear to see so many high-born ladies seek in the foreign protection of the Treveri that security which was denied to them in the camp of their own general; and were so far worked upon by the feelings which this incident occasioned as to inflict summary punishment themselves on the leaders of the revolt. (Tac. Ann. 1.41; comp. D. C. 57.5; Zonar. 11.1.)

The other two legions of the Lower Rhine, the 5th and 21st, with whom the mutiny began, remained in a state of discontent and ferment in their winter quarters at Castra Vetera (Xanten). Germanicus sent word to Caecina, that he was coming with a strong force, and would slaughter them indiscriminately, unless they anticipated his purpose by themselves punishing the guilty. This object was accomplished in an effectual, but revolting manner, by a secret nocturnal massacre of the disaffected ringleaders. Germanicus entered the camp while it was still reeking with carnage, ordered the corpses to be buried, and shed many tears on witnessing the sad spectacle. His emotion at sight of the result was accompanied by disapprobation of the means, which he designated as more befitting the rudeness of the butcher than the skill of the physician. (Tac. Ann. 1.49.)

The soldiers were now anxious to be led to the field, that by the wounds they received in battle they might appease the manes of their brethren in arms; and their general was not unwilling to satisfy this desire. He crossed the Rhine, and fell upon the villages of the Marsi, whom he surprised and slaughtered by night, during a festive celebration. He then laid waste the country for fifty miles round, sparing neither age nor sex, levelled to the ground the celebrated temple of Tanfana, and, on his way back to winter quarters, pushed his troops successfully through the opposing tribes (Bructeri, Tubantes, Usipetes,) between the Marsi and the Rhine. (Tac. Ann. 1.48-51; D. C. 57.3-6; Suet. Tib. 25; Vell. 2.125.)

The intelligence of these proceedings affected Tiberius with mingled feelings -- pleasure at the suppression of the mutiny among the German legions, anxiety on account of the indulgences by which it was bought, and the glory and popularity acquired by Germanicus. While he regarded his nephew and adopted son with suspicion and dislike, he commemorated his services in the senate in terms of elaborate, but manifestly insincere praise. The senate, in the absence of Germanicus, and during the continuance of the war, voted that he should have a triumph.

In the beginning of spring, A. D. 15, he fell upon the Catti, burnt their chief town Mattium (Maden near Gudensberg), devastated the country, slaughtered the inhabitants, sparing neither woman nor child, and then returned to the Rhine. Soon afterwards a deputation arrived from Segestes applying for the assistance of the Roman general. Segestes had always espoused the cause of the Romans, and had quarrelled with his son-in-law, Arminius, the conqueror of Varus. He was now blockaded by his own people, who despised him for his servile truckling to foreign domination. Germanicus hastened to his rescue, overcame the besiegers, and not only liberated Segestes, but gained possession of his daughter, Thusnelda (Strab. vii. p.292), a woman of lofty spirit, who sympathised with the patriotic feelings of her husband Arminius. Again Germanicus conducted the army victoriously back to its quarters, and, at the direction of Tiberius, took the title of Imperator.

Arminius, enraged beyond endurance at the captivity of his wife, who was then pregnant, roused to war not only the Cherusci, but all the adjoining tribes. Germanicus made a division of his forces, in order to divide the force of the enemy. The infantry were conducted by Caecina through the Bructeri, the cavalry by Pedo through the borders of Friesland, while Germanicus himself, with four legions, embarked in a flotilla, and sailed by the Lacus Flevus (the Zuydersee) to the Ocean, and thence up the Ems. In the vicinity of this river the three divisions formed a junction. Germanicus ravaged the country between the Ems and the Lippe, and penetrated to the Saltus Teutobergiensis, which was situate between the sources of those two rivers. In this forest the unburied remains of Varus and his legions had lain for six years bleaching in the air. With feelings of sorrow and resentment, the Roman army gathered up the bones of their ill-fated comrades, and paid the last honours to their memory. Germanicus took part in the melancholy solemnity, and laid the first sod of the funeral mound. (Tac. Ann. 1.57-62; D. C. 57.18.) Arminius, in the mean time, had assembled his forces, and retiring into a difficult country, turned upon the pursuing troops of the Romans, who would have sustained a complete defeat had not the legions of Germanicus checked the rout of the cavalry and subsidiary cohorts. As it was, the general thought it prudent to retreat in the same three-fold division in which he had advanced. Pedo, with the cavalry, was ordered to keep the coast, and Caecina, with all speed, to get across the Pontes Longi, a mounded causeway leading over the marshes between Cösfeld and Velen, and along the banks of the Yssel (Ledebur, Land und Volk der Bructerer, Berlin, 1827). Caecina, in whose division Agrippina travelled, was obliged to fight his way hardly [AGRIPPINA]. Germanicus himself returned to the station on the Rhine by water, and, in a gusty night, was well nigh losing the 2nd and 14th legions, who, under the command of P. Vitellius, marched along a dangerous shore, exposed to the wind and tide, for the sake of lightening the burden of the transport vessels. The greater part, nevertheless, after many difficulties and adventures, succeeded in making their way to the river Unsingis (Hunse), where they rejoined the flotilla, and were taken on board. When the army arrived at its destination, Germanicus visited the sick and wounded, and contributed from his own purse to the wants of the soldiers.

In the next year (A. D. 16), warned by the losses he had recently sustained from the deficiency of his fleet, he gave orders for the building of a thousand vessels, and appointed as the place of rendezvous that part of the Batavian island where the Vahalis (Waal) diverges from the Rhine. With such aid, he hoped to facilitate the transport of men and provisions, and to avoid the dangerous necessity of marching through bogs and forests. In the meantime, hearing that Aliso, a castle on the Lippe, was besieged, he hastened to its defence; but on his arrival, found that the besiegers had dispersed. However, he was not left without employment. The mound erected to the memory of the legions of Varus had been thrown down by the Germans; and an ancient altar, built in honour of his father, was in a state of dilapidation. These he restored and repaired. The causeways between Aliso and the Rhine were in want of new moats and landmarks. These works he completed.

The fleet being now ready, he entered the canal of his father, Drusus, whom he invoked to favour his enterprise; and after sailing through the Zuydersee to the ocean, landed at Amisia, a place near the mouth of the river Amisia (Ems), on the left bank. He then marched upward along the course of the river, leaving his fleet behind. Arminius was on the further side of the Weser, in command of the Cherusci; and, in order to get to the Weser, it was necessary to cross the Ems. The delay occasioned by the necessity of forming a bridge across the Ems, and the difficulty of the passage, made Germanicus feel his error in landing on the left bank, and leavin his galleys at Amisia. He had till greater difficulty in effecting the passage of the Weser in the face of the enemy. Seeing now that an important action was at band, he determined to ascertain for himself the temper and feelings of the troops. Accordingly, in the beginning of the night, accompanied by a single attendant, he went secretly into the camp, listened by the side of the tents, and enjoyed his own fame. He heard the praise of his graceful form, his noble birth, his patience, his courtesy, his steady consistency of conduct. He found that his men were eager to show their loyalty and gratitude to their general, and to slake their vengeance in the field of battle. His sleep that night was blessed by a dream of happy omen, and, on the next day, when the troops were all ready for action, eight eagles were seen to enter the woods. Germanicus cried out to the legions, "Come on, follow the Roman birds, your own divinities." A great victory was gained with little loss to the Romans, Arminius having barely escaped, after smearing his face with his own blood, in order to disguise his features. His uncle, Inguiomar, had an equally narrow escape. This battle was fought upon the plain of Idistavisus (between Rinteler and Hausberg), and was celebrated by a trophy of arms erected upon the spot. A second engagement touk place soon afterwards, in a position where the retreat of both parties was cut off by the nature of the ground in their rear, so that the only hope consisted in valour -- the only safety in victory. The result was equally successful to the Romans. In the heat of action (Germanicus, that he might be the better known, uncovered his head, and cried out to the troops "to keep on killing and take no prisoners, since the only way to end the war was to exterminate the race." It was late at night before the legions ceased from their bloody task. In honour of this second victory a trophy was erected, with the inscription: "The army of Tiberius Caesar, having subdued the nations between the Rhine and the Elbe, dedicates this monument to Mars and Jupiter, and Augustus." No mention was made of the name of Germanicus.

The summer was already far advanced, when Germanicus, with the greater part of the troops, sailed back by the Ems to the Ocean. During the voyage a terrific storm occurred: several of the ships were sunk; and Germanicus, whose vessel was stranded on the shore of the Chauci, bitterly accused himself as the author of so gross a disaster, and could scarcely be prevented by his friends from flinging himself into the sea, where so many of his followers had perished. However, he did not yield to inactive grief. Lest the Germans should be encouraged by the Roman losses, he sent Silius on an expedition against the Catti, while he himself attacked the Marsi; and, by the treacherous information of their leader, Malovendus. recovered one of the eagles which had belonged to the legion of Varus. Emboldened by success, he carried havoc and desolation into the country of the enemy, who were struck with dismay when they saw that shipwreck, and hardship, and loss, only increased the ferocity of the Romans.

Germanicus had some time previously received intimation of the wish of Tiberius to remove him from Germany, and to give him command in the East, where Parthia and Armenia were in commotion on account of the dethronement of Vonones. Knowing that his time was short, he hastened his operations; and upon his return to winter quarters, felt convinced that another campaign would suffice for the successful termination of the war. But the summons of Tiberius now grew pressing. He invited Germanicus to come home, and take the triumph which had been voted to him, offered him a second consulship, suggested that more might now be gained by address than by force of arms, reminded him of the severe losses with which his successes were purchased, and appealed to his modesty by hinting that he ought to leave an opportunity to his adoptive brother, Drusus, of acquiring laurels in the only field where they could now be gathered. This touched one of the true reasons of his recal, for the emperor, though willing to play him off against Drusus, had no desire that his popularity should throw Drusus completely into the shade. [DRUSUS, No. 11.] Germanicus had petitioned for another year, in order to complete what he had begun, hut he could not resist the mandate of Tiberius, though he saw that envy was the real cause of withdrawing from his grasp an honour which he had already earned. (Tac. Ann 2.26.)

On his return to Rome he was received with warm and enthusiastic greeting, the whole population pouring forth to meet him twenty miles from the city, and on the 26th of May, A. D. 17, he celebrated his triumph over the Cherusci, Catti, Angrivarii, and other tribes, as far as the Elbe. His five children adorned his car, and many of the most illustrious Germans ministered to the pomp of their conqueror. Among others, Thusnelda, the wife of Arminius, followed in the procession of captives. 'Tac. Ann. 2.41; Suet. Cal. i.; Vel. Pat. 2.129 ; Euseb. Chron. No. 2033; Oros. 7.4.) Medals are extant which commemorate this triumph. (See the cut below.)

The whole of the Eastern provinces were assigned, by a decree of the senate, to Germanicus, with the highest imperium; but Tiberius placed Cn. Piso in command of Syria, and was supposed to have given him secret instructions to check and thwart Germanicus, though such instructions were scarcely wanted, for Piso was naturally of a proud and rugged temper, unused to obedience. His wife Plancina, too, was of a haughty and domineering spirit, and was encouraged by Livia, the empress-mother, to vie with and annoy Agrippina.

In A. D. 18, Germanicus entered upon his second consulship at Nicopolis, a city of Achaia, whither he had arrived by coasting the Illyrian shore, after a visit to Drusus in Dalmatia. He then surveyed the scene of the battle of Actium, which was peculiarly interesting to him, from his family connection with Augustus and Antony. He had an anxious desire to view the renowned sites of ancient story and classic lore. At Athens he was welcomed with the most recherché honour, and, in compliment to the city, went attended with a single lictor. At Ilium, his memory reverted to Homer's poem, and to the origin of the Roman race. At Colophon he landed, to consult the oracle of the Clarian Apollo, and it is said that the priest darkly foreboded his early fate.

At Rhodes he fell in with Piso, whom he saved from danger of shipwreck, but Piso, not appeased by his generosity, hurried on to Syria, and, by every artifice and corruption, endeavoured to acquire favour for himself, and to heap obloquy on Germanicus. Plancina, in like manner, cast insult and reproach on Agrippina. Though this conduct did not escape the knowledge of Germanicus, he hastened to fulfil the object of his mission, and proceeded to Armenia, placed the crown upon the head of Zeno, reduced Cappadocia to the form of a province, and gave Q. Servaeus the command of Commagene. (J. AJ 18.25.) He then spent the winter in Syria, where, without any open and violent rupture, he and Piso scarcely attempted to conceal in each other's presence their mutual feelings of displeasure and hatred. (Tac. Ann. 2.57.) In compliance with the request of Artabanus, king of the Parthians, Germanicus removed Vonones, the deposed monarch, to Pompeiopolis, a maritime town of Cilicia. This he did with the greater pleasure, as it was mortifying to Piso, with whom Vonones was an especial favourite, from his presents and obsequious attention to Plancina.

In the following year, A. D. 19, Germanicus visited Egypt, induced by his love of travel and antiquity, and ignorant of the offence which he was giving to Tiberius; for it was one of the arcana of state, established by Augustus, that Egypt was not to be entered by any Roman of high rank without the special permission of the emperor. From Canopus, he sailed up the Nile, gratifying his taste for the marvellous and the old. The ruins of Thebes, the hieroglyphical inscriptions, the vocal statue of Memnon, the pyramids, the reservoirs of the Nile, excited and rewarded his curiosity. He consulted Apis as to his own fortunes, and received the prediction of an untimely end. (Plin. Nat. 8.46.)

On his return to Syria, he found that every thing had gone wrong during his absence. His orders, military and civil, had been neglected or positively disobeyed. Hence arose a bitter interchange of reproaches between him and Piso, whom he ordered to depart from Egypt. Being soon after seized with an attack of illness, he attributed his distemper to the sorcery practised against him by Piso. In accordance with an ancient Roman custom, which required a denunciation of hostility between private individuals as well as between states, in order that they might be fair enemies, Germanicus sent Piso a letter renouncing his friendship. (Suet. Cal. 1; Tac. Ann. 2.70.) It is remarkable that a similar customer existed in the middle ages, in the diffidatio or defiance of feudal chivalry, preparatory to private war. (Allen, On the Royal Prerogative, p. 76.) Whether there were real ground for the suspicion of poisoning which Germanicus himself entertained against Piso and Plancina, it is impossible now to decide with certainty. Germanicus seems to have been of a nervous and credulous temperament. He could not bear the sight of a cock, nor the sound of its crow. (Plut. de Invid. et Od. 3.) Wherever he met with the sepulchres of illustrious men, he offered sacrifices to their manes. (Suet. Cal. 1.) The poisoning which he now suspected was not of a natural kind: it was a veneficium, partaking of magic, if we may judge from the proofs by which it was supposed to be evidenced :--pieces of human flesh, charms, and maledictions, leaden plates inscribed with the name of Germanicus, half-burnt ashes moistened with putrid blood, and other sorceries by which lives are said to be devoted to the infernal deities, were found imbedded in the walls and foundations of his house. Feeling his end approaching, he summoned his friends, and called upon them to avenge his foul murder. Soon after, he breathed his last, on the 9th of October, A. D. 19, in the thirtyfourth year of his age, at Epidaphne near Antiocheia. (Tac. Ann. 2.72, 83; Kal. Antiat. in Orelli, Inscript. vol. ii. p. 401; D. C. 57.18; Seneca, Qu. Nat. 1.1; Zonar. 11.2; J. AJ 18.2, 5; Plin. Nat. 11.37, 71; Suet. Cal. 1.) His corpse was exposed in the forum at Antiocheia, before it was burnt, and Tacitus candidly admits (2.73) that it bore no decisive marks of poison, though Suetonius speaks of livid marks over the whole body, and foam at the mouth, and goes on to report that, after the burning, the heart was found unconsumed among the bones,--a supposed symptom of death by poison.

Germanicus, as he studiously sought popularity by such compliances as lowering the price of corn, walking abroad without military guard, and conforming to the national costume, so he possessed in an extraordinary degree the faculty of winning human affection. The savageness of his German wars fell heavily upon the barbarians, with whom he had no community of feeling. To those who came into personal communication with him, he was a mild-mannered man. Tacitus, whose accounts of his campaigns are full of fire and sword, of wide desolation and unsparing slaughter, yet speaks of his remarkable mansuetudo in hostes. In governing his own army his discipline was gentle, and he was evidently averse to harsh measures. He had not that ambition of supreme command, which often accompanies the power of commanding well, nor was he made of that stern stuff which would have enabled him to cope with and control a refractory subordinate officer with the cleverness and activity of Piso. He was a man of sensitive feeling, chaste and temperate, and possessed all the amiable virtues which spread a charm over social and family intercourse. His dignified person, captivating eloquence, elegant and refined taste, cultivated understanding, high sense of honour, unaffected courtesy, frank muniticence, and polished manners, befitted a Roman prince of his exalted station, and seemed to justify the general hope that he might live to dispense, as emperor, the blessings of his government over the Roman world. He shines with fairer light from the dark atmosphere of crime and tyranny which shrouds the time that succeeded his death. The comparison between Germanicus and Alexander the Great, which is suggested by Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 2.73), presents but superficial resemblances. Where can we find in the Roman general traces of that lofty daring, those wide views, and that potent intellect which marked the hero of Macedon ?

The sorrow that was felt for the death of Germanicus was intense. Foreign potentates shared the lamentation of the Roman people, and, in token of mourning, abstained from their usual amusements. At home unexampled honours were decreed to his memory. It was ordered that his name should be inserted in the Salian hymns, that his curule chair, mounted with crowns of oak leaves, should always be set in the public shows, in the space reserved for the priests of Apollo, that his statue in ivory should be carried in procession at the opening of the games of the Circus, and that the flamines and augurs who succeeded him should be taken from the Julia gens. A public tomb was built for him at Antioch. A triumphal arch was erected in his honour, on Mount Amanus, in Syria, with an inscription recounting his achievements, and stating that he had died for his country; and other monuments to his memory were constructed at Rome, and on the banks of the Rhine. The original grief broke out afresh when Agrippina arrived in Italy with his ashes, which were deposited in the tomb of Augustus. But the Roman people were dissatisfied with the stinted obsequies with which, on this occasion, the ceremony was conducted by desire of Tiberius. (Tac. Ann. 2.83, 3.1-6.)

By Agrippina he had nine children, three of whom died young, while the others survived him. (Stemma Drusorum, vol. i. p. 1077; Suet. Cal. 7.) Of those who survived, the most notorious were the emperor Caius Caligula, and Agrippina, the mother of Nero.


He was an author of some repute, and not only an orator but a poet. (Suet. Cal. 3; Ov. Fast. 1.21, 25, Ex Pont. 2.5, 41, 53, 4.8, 68; Plin. Nat. 8.42.) Of the Greek comedies (mentioned by Suetonius) which he composed, we have no fragments left.

The remains of his Latin translation of the Phaenomena of Aratus evince considerable skill in versification, and are superior in merit to the similar work of Cicero. By some critics the authorship of this work has been, without sufficient cause, denied to Germanicus. (Barth. Advers. 10.21.) The early scholia appended to this translation have been attributed, without any certainty, now to Fulgentius, and now to Caesius or Calpulnius Bassus. They contain a citation from Prudentius.

We have also fragments of his Diosemeia or Prognostica, a physical poem, compiled from Greek sources.


Of the epigrams ascribed to him, that on the Thracian boy (Mattaire, Corpus Poetarum, 2.1547) has been much admired, but it is an example of a frigid conceit. (Burmann. Anthol. Lat. 2.103, 5.41; Brunck. Analect. vol. ii. p. 285.)


The remains of Germanicus were first printed at Bononia, fol. 1474, then at Venice, fol. 1488 and 1499, in aedibus Aldi. A very good edition was published by the well-known Hugo Grotius, when he was quite a youth, with plates of the constellations, to illustrate the Phaenomena of Aratus, 4to, Leyden, 1600. There are also editions in the Carmina Familiae Caesareae, by Schwarz, 8vo. Coburg, 1715, and by C. F. Schmid, 8vo. Lüneburg, 1728. The latest edition is that of J. C. Orelli, at the end of his Phaedrus, 8vo. Zurich, 1831.

As the subject of drama

The eventful life and tragic death of Germanicus, embellished by the picturesque narrative of Tacitus, have rendered him a favourite hero of the stage. There is an English play, with the title Germanicus, a tragedy, by a Gentleman of the University of Oxford, 8vo. London, 1775. Germanicus also gives name to several French tragedies--one by Bursault, which was highly prized by Corneille, a second by the jesuit Dominique de Colonia, a third by Pradon, which was the subject of an epigram by Racine, and a fourth, published by A. V. Arnault in 1816, which occasioned some sensation on its first representation, and was translated into English by George Bernel.

Further information

Louis de Beaufort, Histoire de Caesar Germanicus, 12mo. Leyden, 1741; Caesar Germanicus, ein Historisches Gemälde, 8vo. Stendal, 1796; F. Hoffmann, Die vier Feldzüge des Germanicus in Deutschland, 4to. Götting. 1816; Niebuhr, Lect. on the Hist. of Rom. vol. ii. Lect. 61.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (32):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.2
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.25
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.5
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 1
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 3
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 7
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 2
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 20
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 25
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.62
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.57
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.3
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.35
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.41
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.48
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.49
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.51
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.57
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.41
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.70
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.72
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.73
    • Tacitus, Annales, 2.83
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.1
    • Tacitus, Annales, 3.6
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 15
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.26
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 11.37
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 11.71
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.42
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.46
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