The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 08: Otho
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The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 08: Otho


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of M. Salvius Otho (Otho), by C. Suetonius TranquillusThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: M. Salvius Otho (Otho) The Lives Of The Twelve Caesars, Volume 8.Author: C. Suetonius TranquillusRelease Date: December 14, 2004 [EBook #6393]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK M. SALVIUS OTHO ***Produced by Tapio Riikonen and David WidgerTHE LIVES OF THE TWELVE CAESARS By C. Suetonius Tranquillus;To which are added,HIS LIVES OF THE GRAMMARIANS, RHETORICIANS, AND POETS. The Translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D. revised and corrected by T.Forester, Esq., A.M.A. SALVIUS OTHO.(416)I. The ancestors of Otho were originally of the town of Ferentum, of an ancient and honourable family, and, indeed, one ofthe most considerable in Etruria. His grandfather, M. Salvius Otho (whose father was a Roman knight, but his mother ofmean extraction, for it is not certain whether she was free-born), by the favour of Livia Augusta, in whose house he hadhis education, was made a senator, but never rose higher than the praetorship. His father, Lucius Otho, was by ...



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(TOhteh oP)r,o jbeyc tC .G Sutueentboenirugs  ETBroaonkq uoilfl uMs. Salvius OthoThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: M. Salvius Otho (Otho) The Lives Of TheTwelve Caesars, Volume 8.Author: C. Suetonius TranquillusRelease Date: December 14, 2004 [EBook #6393]Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK RMT.  OSFA LTVHIIUS S PORTOHJOE C**T* GUTENBERGProduced by Tapio Riikonen and David Widger
TTHWEE LLIVVEE CS AOEFS TAHRES                                   By                       C. Suetonius Tranquillus;To which are added,HRIHSE LTIOVERISC IOAFN TS,H EA NGDR PAOMEMTASR.IANS,                          The Translation of                        Alexander Thomson, M.D.                        revised and corrected by                         T.Forester, Esq., A.M.
A. SALVIUS OTHO.4()61I. The ancestors of Otho were originally of the townof Ferentum, of an ancient and honourable family,and, indeed, one of the most considerable inEtruria. His grandfather, M. Salvius Otho (whosefather was a Roman knight, but his mother ofmean extraction, for it is not certain whether shewas free-born), by the favour of Livia Augusta, inwhose house he had his education, was made asenator, but never rose higher than thepraetorship. His father, Lucius Otho, was by themother's side nobly descended, allied to severalgreat families, and so dearly beloved by Tiberius,and so much resembled him in his features, thatmost people believed Tiberius was his father. Hebehaved with great strictness and severity, not onlyin the city offices, but in the pro-consulship ofAfrica, and some extraordinary commands in thearmy. He had the courage to punish with deathsome soldiers in Illyricum, who, in the disturbanceattempted by Camillus, upon changing their minds,had put their generals to the sword, as promotersof that insurrection against Claudius. He orderedthe execution to take place in the front of the camp[670], and under his own eyes; though he knewthey had been advanced to higher ranks in thearmy by Claudius, on that very account. By thisaction he acquired fame, but lessened his favour atcourt; which, however, he soon recovered, by
discovering to Claudius a design upon his life,carried on by a Roman knight [671], and which hehad learnt from some of his slaves. For the senateordered a statue of him to be erected in thepalace; an honour which had been conferred butupon very few before him. And Claudius advancedhim to the dignity of a patrician, commending him,at the same time, in the highest terms, andconcluding with these words: "A man, than whom Idon't so (417) much as wish to have children thatshould be better." He had two sons by a very noblewoman, Albia Terentia, namely; Lucius Titianus,and a younger called Marcus, who had the samecognomen as himself. He had also a daughter,whom he contracted to Drusus, Germanicus's son,before she was of marriageable age.II. The emperor Otho was born upon the fourth ofthe calends of May [28th April], in the consulship ofCamillus Aruntius and Domitius Aenobarbus [672].He was from his earliest youth so riotous and wild,that he was often severely scourged by his father.He was said to run about in the night-time, andseize upon any one he met, who was either drunkor too feeble to make resistance, and toss him in ablanket [673]. After his father's death, to make hiscourt the more effectually to a freedwoman aboutthe palace, who was in great favour, he pretendedto be in love with her, though she was old, andalmost decrepit. Having by her means got intoNero's good graces, he soon became one of theprincipal favourites, by the congeniality of hisdisposition to that of the emperor or, as some say,by the reciprocal practice of mutual pollution. He
had so great a sway at court, that when a man ofconsular rank was condemned for bribery, havingtampered with him for a large sum of money, toprocure his pardon; before he had quite effected it,he scrupled not to introduce him into the senate, toreturn his thanks.III. Having, by means of this woman, insinuatedhimself into all the emperor's secrets, he, upon theday designed for the murder of his mother,entertained them both at a very splendid feast, toprevent suspicion. Poppaea Sabina, for whomNero entertained such a violent passion that hehad taken her from her husband [674] andentrusted her to him, he received, and wentthrough the form of marrying her. And not satisfiedwith obtaining her favours, he loved her soextravagantly, that he could not with patience bearNero for his rival. It is certainly believed that he notonly refused admittance to those who were sent byNero to fetch her, but that, on one (418) occasion,he shut him out, and kept him standing before thedoor, mixing prayers and menaces in vain, anddemanding back again what was entrusted to hiskeeping. His pretended marriage, therefore, beingdissolved, he was sent lieutenant into Lusitania.This treatment of him was thought sufficientlysevere, because harsher proceedings might havebrought the whole farce to light, which,notwithstanding, at last came out, and waspublished to the world in the following distich:—    Cur Otho mentitus sit, quaeritis, exul honore?      Uxoris moechus caeperat esse suae.
        CYooum aess kn owth yw itOhtihn ot'hs eb vaenrisghe' do?f  vKunlgoawr,  ltahwe sc.ause    Against all rules of fashionable life,    The rogue had dared to sleep with his own wife.tHeen  gyoevaerrs,n ewdit thh sei npgruolvairn cme oidn eqruatailoitny  aofn dq juuasetiscteo.r forIV. As soon as an opportunity of revenge offered,he readily joined in Galba's enterprises, and at thesame time conceived hopes of obtaining theimperial dignity for himself. To this he was muchencouraged by the state of the times, but still moreby the assurances given him by Seleucus, theastrologer, who, having formerly told him that hewould certainly out-live Nero, came to him at thatjuncture unexpectedly, promising him again that heshould succeed to the empire, and that in a veryshort time. He, therefore, let slip no opportunity ofmaking his court to every one about him by allmanner of civilities. As often as he entertainedGalba at supper, he distributed to every man of thecohort which attended the emperor on guard, agold piece; endeavouring likewise to oblige the restof the soldiers in one way or another. Being chosenan arbitrator by one who had a dispute with hisneighbour about a piece of land, he bought it, andgave it him; so that now almost every body thoughtand said, that he was the only man worthy ofsucceeding to the empire.V. He entertained hopes of being adopted byGalba, and expected it every day. But findinghimself disappointed, by Piso's being preferred
before him, he turned his thoughts to obtaining hispurpose by the use of violence; and to this he wasinstigated, as well by the greatness of his debts, asby resentment (419) at Galba's conduct towardshim. For he did not conceal his conviction, "that hecould not stand his ground unless he becameemperor, and that it signified nothing whether hefell by the hands of his enemies in the field, or ofhis creditors in the Forum." He had a few daysbefore squeezed out of one of the emperor'sslaves a million of sesterces for procuring him astewardship; and this was the whole fund he hadfor carrying on so great an enterprise. At first thedesign was entrusted to only five of the guard, butafterwards to ten others, each of the five namingtwo. They had every one ten thousand sestercespaid down, and were promised fifty thousand more.By these, others were drawn in, but not many;from a confident assurance, that when the mattercame to the crisis, they should have enough to join.mehtVI. His first intention was, immediately after thedeparture of Piso, to seize the camp, and fall uponGalba, whilst he was at supper in the palace; buthe was restrained by a regard for the cohort at thattime on duty, lest he should bring too great anodium upon it; because it happened that the samecohort was on guard before, both when Caius wasslain, and Nero deserted. For some timeafterwards, he was restrained also by scruplesabout the omens, and by the advice of Seleucus.Upon the day fixed at last for the enterprise, havinggiven his accomplices notice to wait for him in the
Forum near the temple of Saturn, at the gildedmile-stone [675], he went in the morning to pay hisrespects to Galba; and being received with a kissas usual, he attended him at sacrifice, and heardthe predictions of the augur [676]. A freedman ofhis, then bringing (420) him word that thearchitects were come, which was the signal agreedupon, he withdrew, as if it were with a design toview a house upon sale, and went out by a back-door of the palace to the place appointed. Somesay he pretended to be seized with an ague fit, andordered those about him to make that excuse forhim, if he was inquired after. Being then quicklyconcealed in a woman's litter, he made the best ofhis way for the camp. But the bearers growingtired, he got out, and began to run. His shoebecoming loose, he stopped again, but beingimmediately raised by his attendants upon theirshoulders, and unanimously saluted by the title ofEMPEROR, he came amidst auspiciousacclamations and drawn swords into the Principia[677] in the camp; all who met him joining in thecavalcade, as if they had been privy to the design.Upon this, sending some soldiers to dispatch Galbaand Piso, he said nothing else in his address to thesoldiery, to secure their affections, than these fewwords: "I shall be content with whatever ye think fitto leave me."VII. Towards the close of the day, he entered thesenate, and after he had made a short speech tothem, pretending that he had been seized in thestreets, and compelled by violence to assume theimperial authority, which he designed to exercise in
conjunction with them, he retired to the palace.Besides other compliments which he received fromthose who flocked about him to congratulate andflatter him, he was called Nero by the mob, andmanifested no intention of declining thatcognomen. Nay, some authors relate, that he usedit in his official acts, and the first letters he sent tothe (421) governors of provinces. He suffered allhis images and statues to be replaced, andrestored his procurators and freedmen to theirformer posts. And the first writing which he signedas emperor, was a promise of fifty millions ofsesterces to finish the Golden-house [678]. He issaid to have been greatly frightened that night inhis sleep, and to have groaned heavily; and beingfound, by those who came running in to see whatthe matter was, lying upon the floor before his bed,he endeavoured by every kind of atonement toappease the ghost of Galba, by which he hadfound himself violently tumbled out of bed. Thenext day, as he was taking the omens, a greatstorm arising, and sustaining a grievous fall, hemuttered to himself from time to time:        Ti gar moi kai makrois aulois; [679]    What business have I the loud trumpets tosound!VIII. About the same time, the armies in Germanytook an oath to Vitellius as emperor. Uponreceiving this intelligence, he advised the senate tosend thither deputies, to inform them, that a princehad been already chosen; and to persuade them topeace and a good understanding. By letters and
messages, however, he offered Vitellius to makehim his colleague in the empire, and his son-in-law.But a war being now unavoidable, and the generalsand troops sent forward by Vitellius, advancing, hehad a proof of the attachment and fidelity of thepretorian guards, which had nearly proved fatal tothe senatorian order. It had been judged properthat some arms should be given out of the stores,and conveyed to the fleet by the marine troops.While they were employed in fetching these fromthe camp in the night, some of the guardssuspecting treachery, excited a tumult; andsuddenly the whole body, without any of theirofficers at their head, ran to the palace, demandingthat the entire senate should be put to the sword;and having repulsed some of the (422) tribuneswho endeavoured to stop them, and slain others,they broke, all bloody as they were, into thebanquetting room, inquiring for the emperor; norwould they quit the place until they had seen him.He now entered upon his expedition againstVitellius with great alacrity, but too muchprecipitation, and without any regard to theominous circumstances which attended it. For theAncilia [680] had been taken out of the temple ofMars, for the usual procession, but were not yetreplaced; during which interval it had of old beenlooked upon as very unfortunate to engage in anyenterprise. He likewise set forward upon the daywhen the worshippers of the Mother of the gods[681] begin their lamentations and wailing. Besidesthese, other unlucky omens attended him. For, in avictim offered to Father Dis [682], he found thesigns such as upon all other occasions are