Herman and Thusnelda - George Upton

In Rome

The Romans at this period were the rulers of the world. Italy was their mother country. Greece and Macedonia were parts of the Roman empire. The region north of Epirus, and Illyria, and Thrace with Byzantium (Constantinople), its capital, had been subdued. Augustus's generals had made important conquests in Pannonia (Hungary). North of Italy the Romans had secured a firm foothold in Helvetia (Switzerland). In the west they had subjugated Hispania (Spain and Portugal), and also a large part of Gallia (France). In Asia they dominated all the countries from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates, Asia Minor, and the regions between the Caucasus and the Caspian and Black seas. In Africa the entire coast country from Egypt to the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar and Abyla) belonged to them.

This of itself was enough to establish the world-power of Rome. From all these subjugated countries it exacted a yearly tribute of two hundred and fifty million dollars and it possessed also the treasures which had been carried away by force in plundering-raids. The greatness of its capital corresponded to the greatness of the empire. The number of its inhabitants at this period was two millions. The capitol was one of the most imposing structures and measured, with its outlying buildings, two hundred feet in length and one hundred and eighty-five feet in width. Built upon one of the seven hills, its gilded pinnacles rose high above the magnificent city with its thousands of palaces. More than twelve thousand talents of gold (about twelve million thalers) had been expended upon the temple of Jupiter. Within it was a statue of the god seated upon a gorgeous chair of gold and ivory.

We behold the spacious area in front of the temple filled with thousands of citizens in festive attire. Before the golden doors sits Augustus, ruler of Rome, upon a snow-white horse whose bridle glistens with gems, surrounded by distinguished Senators. Though he greatly preferred simplicity of dress and manner, this prince, now nearly seventy years of age, of fine figure and bright flashing eyes, made his appearance in regal state. It was an unusual occasion. Tiberius the Emperor's son, was to enter the city with his victorious legions. The occasion of the war was as follows: Marbod's increasing power was viewed with apprehension by the Romans, and Tiberius was ordered by Augustus to make war upon him. A great army was put in the field. Then suddenly came news of a dangerous uprising in Hungary, Dalmatia, and Illyria. All the nations living along the Danube and in the mountains from the Adriatic to the Black Sea were in a conspiracy against Rome, and an army of more than two hundred thousand men was about to invade Italy. The Roman war plans were instantly changed. Peace was made with Marbod, and the Romans took the field against their new enemies.

This was just at the time Herman and Flavius entered Italy. They had not reached Rome when they met the army. They at once presented themselves to Tiberius and accepted service under him. The war which Tiberius began lasted many years and was one of the most desperate contests Rome had ever fought. At last Tiberius was victorious, and returned home with his legions. It is the day of his entrance, which accounts for the appearance of the Emperor in front of the temple.

Soon martial music was heard, and the head of the victorious troops appeared, led by the generals. Amid the enthusiastic shouts of the people the broad plaza was quickly more than half filled with soldiers. Captured princes and nobles of the conquered nations were led by, wearing heavy fetters, amid the jeers of the multitude.

At a signal from the general there was deep silence, and Augustus addressed the leaders and the army, after which he rode up to his son and placed a laurel wreath on his head. Amid the plaudits of the people a second signal was given, and a number of the subordinate officers were summoned to the Emperor, who extolled their bravery and conferred upon them the distinguished honor of Roman knighthood. Among those thus honored were Flavius and Herman. Tiberius had already conferred upon them the honor of Roman citizenship on the field. Amid popular acclamations the Emperor accompanied his laurel-crowned son, followed by the newly created knights, to the temple of Jupiter.