Oration of Claudius

The speech of Claudius on the admission to the Senate of provincials from Further Gaul is also preserved on an inscription. Note the similarities and differences between the two versions.

Tacitus: These and like arguments failed to impress the emperor. He at once addressed himself to answer them, and thus harangued the assembled Senate. "My ancestors, the most ancient of whom was made at once a citizen and a noble of Rome, encourage me to govern by the same policy of transferring to this city all conspicuous merit, wherever found. And indeed I know, as facts, that the Julii came from Alba, the Coruncanii from Camerium, the Porcii from Tusculum, and not to inquire too minutely into the past, that new members have been brought into the Senate from Etruria and Lucania and the whole of Italy, that Italy itself was at last extended to the Alps, to the end that not only single persons but entire countries and tribes might be united under our name. We had unshaken peace at home; we prospered in all our foreign relations, in the days when Italy beyond the Po was admitted to share our citizenship, and when, enrolling in our ranks the most vigorous of the provincials, under colour of settling our legions throughout the world, we recruited our exhausted empire. Are we sorry that the Balbi came to us from Spain, and other men not less illustrious from Narbon Gaul? Their descendants are still among us, and do not yield to us in patriotism.

"What was the ruin of Sparta and Athens, but this, that mighty as they were in war, they spurned from them as aliens those whom they had conquered? Our founder Romulus, on the other hand, was so wise that he fought as enemies and then hailed as fellow-citizens several nations on the very same day. Strangers have reigned over us. That freedmen's sons should be intrusted with public offices is not, as many wrongly think, a sudden innovation, but was a common practice in the old commonwealth. But, it will be said, we have fought with the Senones. I suppose then that the Volsci and Aequi never stood in array against us. Our city was taken by the Gauls. Well, we also gave hostages to the Etruscans, and passed under the yoke of the Samnites. On the whole, if you review all our wars, never has one been finished in a shorter time than that with the Gauls. Thenceforth they have preserved an unbroken and loyal peace. United as they now are with us by manners, education, and intermarriage, let them bring us their gold and their wealth rather than enjoy it in isolation. Everything, Senators, which we now hold to be of the highest antiquity, was once new. Plebeian magistrates came after patrician; Latin magistrates after plebeian; magistrates of other Italian peoples after Latin. This practice too will establish itself, and what we are this day justifying by precedents, will be itself a precedent."

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Inscription: Claudius: "It is surely an innovation of the divine Augustus, my great-uncle, and of Tiberius Caesar, my uncle, to desire that particularly the flower of the colonies and of the municipal towns, that is to say, all those that contain men of breeding and wealth, should be admitted to this assembly."

[Interruption, seemingly by a senator]: "How now? Is not an Italian senator to be preferred to a provincial senator!?"

Claudius: "I will soon explain this point to you, when I submit that part of my acts which I performed as censor, but I do not conceive it needful to repel even the provincials who can do honor to the Senate House. Here is this splendid and powerful colony of Vienna [modern Vienne in southern of France]; is it so long since it sent to us senators? From that colony comes Lucius Vestinus, one of the glories of the equestrian order, my personal friend, whom I keep close to myself for the management of my private affairs. Let his sons be suffered---I pray you--- to become priests of the lowest rank, while waiting until, with the lapse of years, they can follow the advancement of their dignity. As for that robber, Valerius Asiaticus from Vienna, I will pass over his hateful name. For I detest that hero of the gymnasium, who brought the consulship into his family before even his colony had obtained the full rights of Roman citizenship. I could say as much of his brother, stamped as unworthy by this unlucky relationship, and incapable henceforth of being a useful member of your body."

[Interrupting shout]: "Here now, Tiberius Caesar Germanicus! It's time to let the Conscript Fathers understand what your talk is driving at---already you've reached the very limits of Narbonnese Gaul!"

Claudius: "All these young men of rank, on whom I cast my glance, you surely do not regret to see among the number of the senators; any more than Persicus, that most high-born gentleman and my friend, is ashamed when he meets upon the images of his ancestors the name Allobrogius. And if such is your thought, what would you desire more? Do I have to point it out to you? Even the territory which is located beyond the province of Gallia Narbonnensis, has it not already sent you senators? For surely we have no regrets in going clear up to Lugdunum [Lyons] for the members of our order. Assuredly, Conscript Fathers, it is not without some hesitation that I cross the limits of the provinces which are well known and familiar to you, but the moment is come when I must plead openly the cause of Further Gaul. It will be objected that Gaul sustained a war against the divine Julius for ten years. But let there be opposed to this the memory of a hundred years of steadfast fidelity, and a loyalty put to the proof in many trying circumstances. My father, Drusus, was able to force Germany to submit, because behind him reigned a profound peace assured by the tranquillity of the Gauls. And note well, that at the moment he was summoned to that war, he was busy instituting the census in Gaul, a new institution among them, and contrary to their customs. And how difficult and perilous to us is this business of the census, although all we require is that our public resources should be known, we have learned by all too much experience."

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Column I

mae rerum nostr . . . . . sii . . . . . . . . |

    Equidem primam omnium illam cogitationem hominum, quam | maxime primam occursuram mihi provideo, deprecor, ne | quasi novam istam rem introduci exhorrescatis, sed illa | potius cogitetis, quam multa in hac civitate novata sint, et | quidem statim ab origine urbis nostrae in quod formas | statusque respublica nostra diducta sit. |

    Quondam reges hanc tenuere urbem, nec tamen domesticis succes|soribus eam tradere contigit. Supervenere aileni et quidem exter | ni, ut Numa Romulo succescerit ex Sabinis veniens, vicinus qui | dem, sed tunc externus, ut Anco Marcio Priscus Tarquinius. Is | propter temeratum sanguinem, quod patre Demaratho Co | rinthio natus erat et Tarquiniensi matre generosa, sed inopi | ut quae tali marito necesse habuerit succumbere, cum domi re | pelleretur a gerendis honoribus, postquam Romam migravit, | regnum adeptus est. Huic quoque et filio nepotive eius (nam et | hoc inter auctores discrepat) insertus Servius Tullius, si nostros | sequimur, captiva natus Ocresia; Si Tuscos, Caeli quondam Vi | vennae sodalis fidelissimus omnisque eius casus comes, post | quam varia fortuna exactus cum omnibus reliquis Caeliani |exercitus Etruria excessit, montem Caelium occupavit et a duce suo | Caelio ita appellitatus, mutatoque nomine (nam Tusce Mastarna | ei nomen erat) ita appellatus est, ut dixi, et regnum summa cum rei | p. utilitate optinuit. Deinde postquam Tarquini Superbi mores in | visi civitati nostrae esse coeperunt, qua ipsius qua filiorum eius, | nempe pertaesum est mentes regni, et ad consules, annuos magis | tratus, administratio rei p. translata est. |

    Quid nunc commemorem dictaturae hoc ipso consulari impe | ium valentius repertum apud maiores nostros quo in as | perioribus bellis aut in civili motu difficiliore uterentur? | aut in auxilium plebis creatos tribunos plebei? Quid a consa | libus ad decemviros translatum imperium, solutoque postea decemvirali regno ad consules rusus reditum? Quid in plu | ris distributum consulare imperium, tribunosque militum | consulari imperio appellatos, qui seni et saepe octoni crearen | tur? Quid communicatos postremo cum plebe honores non imperii | solum, sed sacerdotiorum quoque? Iam si narrem bella, a quibus | coeperint maiores nostri, et quo processerimus, vereor, ne nimio | insolentior esse videar, et quaesisse iactationem gloriae pro | lati imperi ultra Oceanunar. Sed illoc potius revertar. Civitatem |

Column II

. . . . . . . . . ill sane|novo . . . Divus Aug. . . . . . no . . . . i set patruus Ti. | Caesar omnem florem ubique coloniarum et municipiorum, bo | norum scilicet virorum et locupletium, in hac curia esse voluit. | Quid ergo? Non Italicus senator provinciali potior est? Iam | vobis cum hanc partem censurae meae adprobare coepero, quid |de ea re sentiam, rebus ostendam. Sed ne provinciales quidem, | si modo ornare curiam poterint, reiciendos puto. |

    Ornatissima ecce colonia valentissimaque Viennensium quam|longo iam tempore senatores huic curiae confert? Ex qua colo | nia inter paucos equestris ordinis ornamentum, L. Vestinum, fa|miliarissime diligo et hodieque in rebus meis detineo; cuius libe | ri fruantur quaeso primo sacerdotiorum gradu, post modo cum | annis promoturi dignitatis suae incrementa. Vt dirum nomen la | tronis taceam, et odi illud palaestricum prodigium, quod ante in do | mum consulatum intulit, quam colonia sua solidum civitatis Roma | nec benificium consecuta est. Idem de fratre eius possum dicere, | miserabili quidem indignissimoque hoc casu, ut vobis utilis | senator esse non possit. |

    Tempus est iam, Ti. Caesar Germanice, detegere te patribus conscriptis | quo tendat oratio tua: iam enim ad extremos fines Galliae Nar | bonensis venisti. |

    Tot ecce insignes iuvenes, quot intueor, non magis sunt paenitendi | senatores, quam paenitet Persicum, nobilissimum virum, ami | cum meum, inter imagines maiorum suorum Allobrogici no | men legere. Quod si haec ita esse consentitis, quid ultra desidera | tis, quam ut vobis digito demonstrem solum ipsum ultra fines | provinciae Narbonensis iam vobis senatores mittere, quando | ex Luguduno habere nos nostri ordinis viros non paenitet? | Timide quidem, p. c. egressus adsuetos familiares que vobis pro| vinciarum terminos sum, sed destricte iam comatae Galliae | causa agenda est. In qua si quis hoc intuetur, quod bello per de | cem annos exercuerunt Divom Iulium, idem opponat centum | annorum immobilem fidem obsequiumque multis trepidis re | bus nostris plusquam expertum. Illi patri meo Druso Germaniam | subigenti tutam quiete sua securamque a tergo pacem praes | titerunt, et quidem cum adcensus novo tum opere et in ad sue | to Gallis ad bellum avocatus esset. Quod opus quam ar | duum sit nobis nunc cum maxime, quam vis nihil ultra quam | ut publice notae sint facultates nostrae, exquiratur, nimis | magnos experimento cognoscimus.