The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Germanicus Cæsar

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Edition of 1879. See also Germanicus on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

GERMANICUS CÆSAR, a Roman general, born in Rome, 15 B. C., died near Antioch in A. D. 19. He was the son of Claudius Nero Drusus and Antonia, the daughter of the triumvir Antony, and was adopted by his uncle Tiberius in accordance with the will of Augustus. His original names are unknown. In 7 he accompanied Tiberius against the rebels of Dalmatia, served with distinction during three campaigns, and on his return to Rome received a triumph and the hand of Agrippina, granddaughter of Augustus. At the close of another campaign, in 11, he was made consul, and in the following year was placed in command of the eight legions on the Rhine. He was absent in Gaul when upon the death of Augustus (14) a universal sedition broke out in the army. He was a favorite with the soldiers, and they had already determined to raise him to the head of the empire, when he suddenly returned to the camp, and at the peril of his life succeeded in repressing two successive revolts, and in establishing Tiberius upon the throne. He immediately marched the pacified legions against the enemy across the Rhine, and routed the Marsi, whom he fell upon by night as they were celebrating a festival. Being soon after appointed commander-in-chief of all the legions of Germany, he began that series of exploits which gained him his title of Germanicus. He marched against the native hero Arminius, the conqueror of Varus, defeated him, and made his wife Thusnelda prisoner; then penetrated to the Teutoburg forest, near the sources of the Lippe, the scene of Varus's disaster, and buried the bones of the legionaries who had fallen there. Yet Arminius hovered about the Roman army in impracticable places, attacked it in a narrow pass, and drove it into a marsh with so great loss that Germanicus decided to retreat to the Rhine. In the year 16 he returned against the Germans with a fleet of 1,000 vessels, landed at the mouth of the Ems, crossed the Ems and the Weser, and defeated Arminius first on the plains of Idistavisus and then in the vicinity of Minden. He determined thereupon to return, but he lost a part of his fleet in a storm, and his own vessel stranded on the shores of the Chauci. Fearing that his losses might embolden the Germans, he sent Silius against the Catti, while he himself attacked the Marsi. He purposed to pursue his advantages in the following year, when Tiberius, jealous of his fame, recalled him, and in the triumph which was granted him Thusnelda figured among the captives. To rid himself of Germanicus, the emperor sent him to the East to fight the Parthians and to pacify Armenia. He at the same time gave the government of Syria to Cneius Piso, with secret instructions to thwart and annoy Germanicus. The latter hastened to Armenia, and placed the crown upon Zeno. He subsequently reduced Cappadocia to a province, and gave the command of Commagene to Servæus. At the request of Artabanus, king of the Parthians, he removed Vonones, the deposed monarch, to Pompeiopolis. In the year 19 he visited Egypt without the special permission of the emperor, as required at the time. On his return to Syria he suddenly fell ill and died. Agrippina brought his ashes to Italy amid universal mourning; honors almost unexampled in Roman history were paid to his memory; and Piso, accused by the senate of having poisoned him, anticipated his condemnation by a voluntary death. Germanicus is the hero of the “Annals” of Tacitus, and is one of the noblest characters in the history of the Roman empire. He had reputation also as an orator and poet, but of several works which he composed there remains only a Latin translation of the Phænomena of Aratus, which is superior to Cicero's translation of the same work. He was the father of the emperor Caligula.