Germanicus erected a trophy in the field, with a vaunting inscription, that the nations between the Rhine and the Elbe had been thoroughly conquered by his army. But that army speedily made a final retreat to the left bank of the Rhine; nor was the effect of their campaign more durable than their trophy. The sarcasm with which Tacitus speaks of certain other triumphs of Roman generals over Germans may apply to the pageant which Germanicus celebrated on his return to Rome from his command of the Roman army of the Rhine. The Germans were "triumphati potius quam victi."
After the Romans had abandoned their attempts on Germany, we find Arminius engaged in hostilities with Maroboduus, the king of the Suevi and Marcomanni, who was endeavoring to bring the other German tribes into a state of dependency on him. Arminius was at the head of the Germans who took up arms against this home invader of their liberties. After some minor engagements, a pitched battle was fought between the two confederacies, A.D. 19, in which the loss on each side was equal; but Maroboduus confessed the ascendency of his antagonist by avoiding a renewal of the engagement, and by imploring the intervention of the Romans in his defense. The younger Drusus then commanded the Roman legions in the province of Illyricum, and by his mediation a peace was concluded between Arminius and Maroboduus, by the terms of which it is evident that the latter must have renounced his ambitious schemes against the freedom of the other German tribes.
Arminius did not long survive this second war of independence, which he successfully waged for his country. He was assassinated in the thirty-seventh year of his age by some of his own kinsmen, who conspired against him. Tacitus says that this happened while he was engaged in a civil war, which had been caused by his attempts to make himself king over his countrymen. It is far more probable (as one of the best biographers* has observed) that Tacitus misunderstood an attempt of Arminius to extend his influence as elective war-chieftain of the Cherusci, and other tribes, for an attempt to obtain the royal dignity. When we remember that his father-in-law and his brother were renegades, we can well understand that a party among his kinsmen
- Dr. Plate, in "Biographical Dictionary," commenced by the Society
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.