Great Deeds Require Great Assistance (PS: Sejanus, I Love You) Velleius Paterculus 2.127

“It is rare for eminent men to guide their fortunes without making use of great assistants—as the two Scipios needed the two Laelii whom they treated as equal to themselves in everything or as the divine Augustus used Marcus Agrippa and then Statilius Taurus after him. For these men the newness of their families was certainly not any serious obstacle to selections to their multiple consulships, triumphs or priesthoods. For great deeds need great helpers and it is crucial to that state that those who are needed by it receive adequate rank and that their usefulness is fortified by authority.

With these men as examples, Tiberius Caesar elevated Seianus Aelius as his sole assistant in the burdens of the principate, a son of a father from a lofty equestrian family and on his mother’s side related to famous ancient men distinguished as well by their public service, a man who also had brothers, cousins and an uncle as consuls and who was himself a man most dedicated to loyalty and service, endowed with sufficient physical strength to match his mental ability, a man happily stern and strictly cheerful, busy though seeming at leisure, a man who neither acquires nor pursues anything for himself, and whose belief in himself always falls below the estimation of others, calm in his appearance and life though vigilant in his mind.”

Raro eminentes viri non magnis adiutoribus ad gubernandam fortunam suam usi sunt, ut duo Scipiones duobus Laeliis, quos per omnia aequaverunt sibi, ut divus Augustus M. Agrippa et proxime ab eo Statilio Tauro, quibus novitas familiae haut obstitit quominus ad multiplicis consulatus triumphosque et complura eveherentur sacerdotia. 2 Etenim magna negotia magnis adiutoribus egent interestque rei publicae quod usu necessariurn est, dignitate eminere utilitatemque auctoritate muniri. 3 Sub his exemplis Ti. Caesar Seianum Aelium, principe equestris ordinis patre natum, materno vero genere clarissimas veteresque et insignes honoribus complexum familias, habentem consularis fratres, consobrinos, avunculum, ipsum vero laboris ac fidei capacissimum, sufficiente etiam vigori animi compage corporis, singularem principalium onerum adiutorem in omnia habuit atque habet, 4virum severitatis laetissimae, hilaritatis priscae, actu otiosis simillimum, nihil sibi vindicantem eoque adsequentem omnia, semperque infra aliorum aestimationes se metientem, vultu vitaque tranquillum, animo exsomnem.

The last sentence seems to go on a bit suspiciously long for Sejanus, the leader of the Praetorian guard who ran the Roman Empire after Tiberius withdrew to Capri. Things did not go well forever for Sejanus–he was executed in 31 CE.

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