The World's Famous Orations/Volume 2/To His Friends When Dying

Reported by Tacitus.

4102184The World's Famous Orations (Volume 2: Rome) — To His Friends When DyingGermanicus Julius Caesar



(19 A.D.)

If I were dying, in the course of nature I should have just cause of complaint against the gods, for hurrying me from my parents, my children, and my country, by a premature departure in the vigor of youth; but cut short in my career, as I now am, by the nefarious arts of Piso and Plancina, my dying prayer, which I deposit in your breasts, is, that you would tell my father and my brother, with what persecutions mangled, with what treachery circumvented, I end a life of consummate misery by a death the most revolting.

Those who felt an interest in my prospects, or were connected with me by blood—nay, even those who envied me while I lived—will weep at the fate of him who, once renowned, and the survivor of so many wars, hath fallen by the dark devices of a woman. You will have an opportunity of complaining to the senate and invoking the laws. To show respect for the dead with idle wailings is not the principal office of friends—it is to remember his dying wishes, to fulfil his last injunctions.

Even strangers will lament Germanicus; you will avenge me, if it was myself and not my fortune that you caressed. Show the people of Rome my wife, the granddaughter of Augustus; remind them of our six children. Compassion will wait on those who bring such charges; and the accused, if they pretend iniquitous mandates, will not be believed; or if believed, not pardoned.

  1. Delivered in Antioch in 19 A.D. Reported by Tacitus. The Revised Oxford translation.