The Teutoburg Forest revisited - Augustus’ grandnephew and emperor-to-be Germanicus' Triumph in 17 CE
26 May 17 CE, Augustus’ grandnephew and emperor-to-be Germanicus returned to Rome after four years campaigning in Germania to celebrate his triumph for his alleged victories over the tribes west of the Elbe.
“At the end of the year, a triumphal arch was raised near the Temple of Saturn; a monument this for the recovery of the Varian Eagles, under the conduct of Germanicus, under the auspices of Tiberius. A temple was dedicated to Happy Fortune near the Tiber, in the gardens bequeathed to the Roman People by Caesar, the Dictator. A chapel was consecrated to the Julian family, and statues to the deified Augustus, in the suburbs called Bovillae. In the consulship of Caius Celius and Lucius Pomponius, the six-and-twentieth of May, Germanicus Caesar triumphed over the Cheruscans, the Cattans, the Angrivarians, and the other nations as far as the Elbe. In the triumph were carried all the spoils and captives, with the representations of mountains, of rivers, and of battles; so that his conquests, because he was restrained from completing them, were taken for complete. His own graceful person, and his chariot filled with his five children, heightened the show and the delight of the beholders; yet they were checked with secret fears, as they remembered "that popular favour had proved malignant to his father Drusus; that his uncle Marcellus was snatched, in his youth, from the burning affections of the populace; and that ever short-lived and unfortunate were the favourites of the Roman People." (Tacitus, “The Annals”)
|Karl von Piloty's (1826 - 1886) monumental 190'' x 280'' imagination of: "Thusnelda in Germanicus' Triumph" (1874)|
|"Germanicus' unfortunate campaign" - German illustration by an unknown artist around 1900|
During a first sally across the Rhine in 14 CE, Germanicus almost stumbled into the same trap prepared by Arminius and his tribesmen as Varus did. The next punitive expedition against the Germanics was introduced with a visit on the battlefield of the Teutoburg Forest. The historian Tacitus described the eerie scene a hundred years later: “In the open fields lay their bones all bleached and bare, some separate, some on heaps; just as they had happened to fall, flying for their lives, or resisting unto death. Here were scattered the limbs of horses, there pieces of broken javelins; and the trunks of trees bore the skulls of men. In the adjacent groves were the savage altars; where, of the tribunes and principal centurions, the barbarians had made a horrible immolation.“ After a proper burial of their comrades, Germanicus’ troops were in the right fighting mood and marched deeper into the territories of the tribes, meandering through the North German plain, fighting a major battle at Idistaviso, somewhere along the Weser, that ended, probably, with a narrow Roman victory against Arminius. And after Germanicus had retrieved two of the three legionary eagles lost by Varus and managed to capture Arminius' pregnant wife Thusnelda, Tiberius recalled him back to Rome for a triumph.
|Caspar David Friedrich (1774 - 1840): "Grave of Arminius" (1812)|
And more about Germanicus on