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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10588
Tacitus, Annals, 15.57


Atque interim Nero recordatus Volusii Proculi indicio Epicharin attineri ratusque muliebre corpus impar dolori tormentis dilacerari iubet. at illam non verbera, non ignes, non ira eo acrius torquentium ne a femina spernerentur, pervicere quin obiecta denegaret. sic primus quaestionis dies contemptus. postero cum ad eosdem cruciatus retraheretur gestamine sellae (nam dissolutis membris insistere nequibat), vinclo fasciae, quam pectori detraxerat, in modum laquei ad arcum sellae restricto indidit cervicem et corporis pondere conisa tenuem iam spiritum expressit, clariore exemplo libertina mulier in tanta necessitate alienos ac prope ignotos protegendo, cum ingenui et viri et equites Romani senatoresque intacti tormentis carissima suorum quisque pignorum proderent. non enim omittebant Lucanus quoque et Senecio et Quintianus passim conscios edere, magis magisque pavido Nerone, quamquam multiplicatis excubiis semet saepsisset. In the meantime, Nero recollected that Epicharis was in custody on the information of Volusius Proculus; and, assuming that female flesh and blood must be unequal to the pain, he ordered her to be racked. But neither the lash nor fire, nor yet the anger of the torturers, who redoubled their efforts rather than be braved by a woman, broke down her denial of the allegations. Thus the first day of torment had been defied. On the next, as she was being dragged back in a chair to a repetition of the agony — her dislocated limbs were unable to support her — she fastened the breast-band (which she had stripped from her bosom) in a sort of noose to the canopy of the chair, thrust her neck into it, and, throwing the weight of her body into the effort, squeezed out such feeble breath as remained to her. An emancipated slave and a woman, by shielding, under this dire coercion, men unconnected with her and all but unknown, she had set an example which shone the brighter at a time when persons freeborn and male, Roman knights and senators, untouched by the torture, were betraying each his nearest and his dearest. For Lucan himself, and Senecio and Quintianus, did not omit to disclose their confederates wholesale; while Nero's terror grew from more to more, though he had multiplied the strength of the guards surrounding his person. <


Atque interim Nero recordatus Volusii Proculi indicio Epicharin attineri ratusque muliebre corpus impar dolori tormentis dilacerari iubet. at illam non verbera, non ignes, non ira eo acrius torquentium ne a femina spernerentur, pervicere quin obiecta denegaret. sic primus quaestionis dies contemptus. postero cum ad eosdem cruciatus retraheretur gestamine sellae (nam dissolutis membris insistere nequibat), vinclo fasciae, quam pectori detraxerat, in modum laquei ad arcum sellae restricto indidit cervicem et corporis pondere conisa tenuem iam spiritum expressit, clariore exemplo libertina mulier in tanta necessitate alienos ac prope ignotos protegendo, cum ingenui et viri et equites Romani senatoresque intacti tormentis carissima suorum quisque pignorum proderent. non enim omittebant Lucanus quoque et Senecio et Quintianus passim conscios edere, magis magisque pavido Nerone, quamquam multiplicatis excubiis semet saepsisset. In the meantime, Nero recollected that Epicharis was in custody on the information of Volusius Proculus; and, assuming that female flesh and blood must be unequal to the pain, he ordered her to be racked. But neither the lash nor fire, nor yet the anger of the torturers, who redoubled their efforts rather than be braved by a woman, broke down her denial of the allegations. Thus the first day of torment had been defied. On the next, as she was being dragged back in a chair to a repetition of the agony — her dislocated limbs were unable to support her — she fastened the breast-band (which she had stripped from her bosom) in a sort of noose to the canopy of the chair, thrust her neck into it, and, throwing the weight of her body into the effort, squeezed out such feeble breath as remained to her. An emancipated slave and a woman, by shielding, under this dire coercion, men unconnected with her and all but unknown, she had set an example which shone the brighter at a time when persons freeborn and male, Roman knights and senators, untouched by the torture, were betraying each his nearest and his dearest. For Lucan himself, and Senecio and Quintianus, did not omit to disclose their confederates wholesale; while Nero's terror grew from more to more, though he had multiplied the strength of the guards surrounding his person.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

15 results
1. Herodotus, Histories, 1.59.6 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

1.59.6. These rose with Pisistratus and took the Acropolis; and Pisistratus ruled the Athenians, disturbing in no way the order of offices nor changing the laws, but governing the city according to its established constitution and arranging all things fairly and well.
2. Isocrates, Nicocles, 24 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

3. Xenophon, On Horsemanship, 6.4 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

4. Xenophon, Hiero, 10.3 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

5. Xenophon, The Education of Cyrus, 1.1.3, 8.7.13 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

1.1.3. Thus, as we meditated on this analogy, we were inclined to conclude that for man, as he is constituted, it is easier to rule over any and all other creatures than to rule over men. But when we reflected that Cyrus a king of men there was one Cyrus, the Persian, who reduced to obedience a vast number of men and cities and nations, we were then compelled to change our opinion and decide that to rule men might be a task neither impossible nor even difficult, if one should only go about it in an intelligent manner. At all events, we know that people obeyed Cyrus willingly, although some of them were distant from him a journey of many days, and others of many months; others, although they had never seen him, and still others who knew well that they never should see him. Nevertheless they were all willing to be his subjects. 8.7.13. As for you, Cambyses, you must also know His words of counsel—(1) to Cambyses; that it is not this golden sceptre that maintains your empire; but faithful friends are a monarch’s truest and surest sceptre. But do not think that man is naturally faithful; else all men would find the same persons faithful, just as all find the other properties of nature the same. But every one must create for himself faithfulness in his friends; and the winning of such friends comes in no wise by compulsion, but by kindness.
6. Xenophon, Memoirs, 3.3.9, 4.6.12 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

3.3.9. Well, I suppose you know that under all conditions human beings are most willing to obey those whom they believe to be the best. Cyropaedia III. i. 20. Thus in sickness they most readily obey the doctor, on board ship the pilot, on a farm the farmer, whom they think to be most skilled in his business. Yes, certainly. Then it is likely that in horsemanship too, one who clearly knows best what ought to be done will most easily gain the obedience of the others. 4.6.12. Kingship and despotism, in his judgment, were both forms of government, but he held that they differed. For government of men with their consent and in accordance with the laws of the state was kingship; while government of unwilling subjects and not controlled by laws, but imposed by the will of the ruler, was despotism. And where the officials are chosen among those who fulfil the requirements of the laws, the constitution is an aristocracy: where rateable property is the qualification for office, you have a plutocracy: where all are eligible, a democracy.
7. Xenophon, On Household Management, 4.19 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

4.19. I think you have one clear proof of a ruler’s excellence, when men obey him willingly Mem III. iii. 9. and choose to stand by him in moments of danger. Now his friends all fought at his side and fell at his side to a man, fighting round his body, with the one exception of Ariaeus, whose place in the battle was, in point of fact, on the left wing. Anabasis, I. ix. 31. Ariaeus fled when he saw that Cyrus had fallen.
8. Juvenal, Satires, 8.161 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

9. Martial, Epigrams, 2.90, 7.21-7.23 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

10. Martial, Epigrams, 2.90, 7.21-7.23 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

11. Plutarch, Cato The Younger, 9.9-9.10 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

12. Plutarch, Lycurgus, 30 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

13. Plutarch, Pyrrhus, 8.2 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

14. Statius, Siluae, 2.7 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

15. Tacitus, Annals, 5.3-5.4, 15.48, 15.50-15.51, 15.53-15.54, 15.60-15.74 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

5.3.  In any case, there followed from now onward a sheer and grinding despotism: for, with Augusta still alive, there had remained a refuge; since deference to his mother was ingrained in Tiberius, nor did Sejanus venture to claim precedence over the authority of a parent. But now, as though freed from the curb, they broke out unrestrained, and a letter denouncing Agrippina and Nero was forwarded to Rome; the popular impression being that it was delivered much earlier and suppressed by the old empress, since it was publicly read not long after her death. Its wording was of studied asperity, but the offences imputed by the sovereign to his grandson were not rebellion under arms, not meditated revolution, but unnatural love and moral depravity. Against his daughter-in‑law he dared not fabricate even such a charge, but arraigned her haughty language and refractory spirit; the senate listening in profound alarm and silence, until a few who had nothing to hope from honesty (and public misfortunes are always turned by individuals into stepping-stones to favour) demanded that a motion be put — Cotta Messalinus being foremost with a drastic resolution. But among other leading members, and especially the magistrates, alarm prevailed: for Tiberius, bitter though his invective had been, had left all else in doubt. 5.4.  There was in the senate a certain Julius Rusticus, chosen by the Caesar to compile the official journal of its proceedings, and therefore credited with some insight into his thoughts. Under some fatal impulse — for he had never before given an indication of courage — or possibly through a misapplied acuteness which made him blind to dangers imminent and terrified of dangers uncertain, Rusticus insinuated himself among the doubters and warned the consuls not to introduce the question — "A touch," he insisted, "could turn the scale in the gravest of matters: it was possible that some day the extinction of the house of Germanicus might move the old man's penitence." At the same time, the people, carrying effigies of Agrippina and Nero, surrounded the curia, and, cheering for the Caesar, clamoured that the letter was spurious and that it was contrary to the Emperor's wish that destruction was plotted against his house. On that day, therefore, no tragedy was perpetrated. There were circulated, also, under consular names, fictitious attacks upon Sejanus: for authors in plenty exercised their capricious imagination with all the petulance of anonymity. The result was to fan his anger and to supply him with the material for fresh charges:— "The senate had spurned the sorrow of its emperor, the people had forsworn its allegiance. Already disloyal harangues, disloyal decrees of the Fathers, were listened to and perused: what remained but to take the sword and in the persons whose effigies they had followed as their ensigns to choose their generals and their princes? 15.48.  Silius Nerva and Vestinus Atticus then entered upon their consulate — the year of a conspiracy, no sooner hatched than full-grown, for which senators, knights, soldiers, and women themselves had vied in giving their names, not simply through hatred of Nero, but also through partiality for Gaius Piso. Piso, sprung from the Calpurnian house, and, by his father's high descent, uniting in his own person many families of distinction, enjoyed with the multitude a shining reputation for virtue, or for spectacular qualities resembling virtues. For he exercised his eloquence in the defence of his fellow-citizens, his liberality in the service of his friends; and even with strangers his conversation and intercourse were marked by courtesy. He was favoured also with those gifts of chance, a tall figure and handsome features. But weight of character and continence in pleasure were absent: he gave full scope to frivolity, to ostentation, and at times to debauchery — a trait which was approved by that majority of men, who, in view of the manifold allurements of vice, desire no strictness or marked audacity in the head of the state. 15.50.  Scattering allusions, therefore, among themselves or their friends to the crimes of the sovereign, the approaching dissolution of the empire, the need of choosing the saviour of an outworn society, they gathered to their number Claudius Senecio, Cervarius Proculus, Vulcacius Araricus, Julius Augurinus, Munatius Gratus, Antonius Natalis, and Marcius Festus, all Roman knights. of these, Senecio, one of Nero's chief familiars, maintained even then a semblance of friendship, and was exposed in consequence to a larger variety of dangers: Natalis was the partner of Piso in all his secret counsels; the rest were seeking hope from revolution. In addition to Subrius and Sulpicius, who have been noticed already, Gavius Silanus and Statius Proxumus, tribunes of the praetorian cohorts, together with the centurions Maximus Scaurus and Venetus Paulus, were called in as men of the sword. Their main strength, however, was considered to lie in Faenius Rufus, the prefect, whose estimable life and character were, in the prince's favour, outweighed by the ferocity and lust of Tigellinus; who persecuted him with calumnies and had repeatedly awakened his alarm by describing him as the paramour of Agrippina, still mourning her, and determined upon vengeance. Hence, when his own reiterated statements had convinced the plotters that the commander of the Praetorian Guard had himself entered the lists, they began to show more alacrity in debating the time and place of the assassination. It was asserted that Subrius Flavus had conceived an impulse to attack Nero while he was singing on the stage, or while, during the burning of the palace, he was rushing unguarded from place to place in the night. In one case, there were the opportunities of solitude: in the other, the very presence of a crowd, to be the fairest witness of such an exploit, had fired his imagination; only the desire of escape, that eternal enemy of high emprises, gave him pause. 15.51.  In the meantime, while they were still hesitating, reluctant to abridge the period of hope and fear, a certain Epicharis, who had gained her information by means unknown — she had never previously shown interest in anything honourable — began to animate and upbraid the conspirators. Finally, wearied of their slowness and happening to be in Campania, she made an effort to undermine the loyalty of the fleet officers at Misenum and to implicate them in the plot. The beginning of the intrigue was this. In the squadron was a ship-captain, Volusius Proculus, one of Nero's agents in the assassination of his mother, but not (he considered) promoted as the importance of the crime deserved. This person, as a former acquaintance of the woman (or possibly the friendship may have been of recent growth), disclosed what his services to Nero had been, and how thankless they had proved, then proceeded to complaints and to a declared intention of settling the account, should occasion offer. He thus gave hope that he might be influenced and win fresh adherents. The help of the fleet, it was reflected, was no slight matter; and opportunities must be plentiful, as Nero delighted in frequent excursions by sea in the neighbourhood of Puteoli and Misenum. Epicharis therefore went further, and entered upon a catalogue of the emperor's crimes:— "Nothing was left either for the senate <or for the people>! But a way had been provided by which he might pay the penalty for the ruin of his country. Proculus had only to gird himself to do his part, bring over his most resolute men to the cause, and look forward to a worthy reward." On the names of the conspirators, however, she observed silence; with the result that Proculus though he reported what he had heard to Nero, made his disclosure in vain. For Epicharis was summoned, confronted with the informer, and in the absence of corresponding evidence silenced him with ease. Still, she was herself detained in custody, Nero having a suspicion that the statements, even if not demonstrated to be true, were not therefore false. 15.53.  At last they resolved to execute their purpose on the day of the Circensian Games when the celebration is in honour of Ceres; as the emperor who rarely left home and secluded himself in his palace or gardens, went regularly to the exhibitions in the Circus and could be approached with comparative ease owing to the gaiety of the spectacle. They had arranged a set programme for the plot. Lateranus, as though asking ficial help, would fall in an attitude of entreaty at the emperor's feet, overturn him while off his guard, and hold him down, being as he was a man of intrepid character and a giant physically. Then, as the victim lay prostrate and pinned, the tribunes, the centurions, and any of the rest who had daring enough, were to run up and do him to death; the part of protagonist being claimed by Scaevinus, who had taken down a dagger from the temple of Safety — of Fortune, according to other accounts — in the town of Ferentinum, and wore it regularly as the instrument sanctified to a great work. In the interval, Piso was to wait in the temple of Ceres; from which he would be summoned by the prefect Faenius and the others and carried to the camp: he would be accompanied by Claudius' daughter Antonia, with a view to eliciting the approval of the crowd. This is the statement of Pliny. For my own part, whatever his assertion may be worth, I was not inclined to suppress it, absurd as it may seem that either Antonia should have staked her name and safety on an empty expectation, or Piso, notoriously devoted to his wife, should have pledged himself to another marriage — unless, indeed, the lust of power burns more fiercely than all emotions combined. 15.54.  It is surprising, none the less, how in this mixture of ranks and classes, ages and sexes, rich and poor, the whole affair was kept in secrecy, till the betrayal came from the house of Scaevinus. On the day before the attempt, he had a long conversation with Antonius Natalis, after which he returned home, sealed his will, and taking the dagger, mentioned above, from the sheath, complained that it was to be rubbed on a whetstone till the edge glittered: this task he entrusted to his freedman Milichus. At the same time, he began a more elaborate dinner than usual, and presented his favourite slaves with their liberty, or, in some cases, with money. He himself was moody, and obviously deep in thought, though he kept up a disconnected conversation which affected cheerfulness. At last, he gave the word that bandages for wounds and appliances for stopping haemorrhage were to be made ready. The instructions were again addressed to Milichus: possibly he was aware of the conspiracy, and had so far kept faith; possibly, as the general account goes, he knew nothing, and caught his first suspicions at that moment. About the sequel there is uimity. For when his slavish brain considered the wages of treason, and unbounded wealth and power floated in the same instant before his eyes, conscience, the safety of his patron, the memory of the liberty he had received, withdrew into the background. For he had also taken his wife's counsel. It was feminine and baser; for she held before him the further motive of fear, and pointed out that numbers of freedmen and slaves had been standing by, who had witnessed the same incidents as himself:— "One man's silence would profit nothing; but one man would handle the rewards — he who won the race to give information. 15.60.  The next killing, that of the consul designate Plautius Lateranus, was added by Nero to the list with such speed that he allowed him neither to embrace his children nor the usual moment's respite in which to choose his death. Dragged to the place reserved for the execution of slaves, he was slaughtered by the hand of the tribune Statius, resolutely silent and disdaining to reproach the tribune with his complicity in the same affair. There followed the murder of Annaeus Seneca, a joyful event to the sovereign: not that he had established his connection with the plot, but, as poison had not worked, he was anxious to proceed by the sword. Only Natalis, in fact, mentioned Seneca; nor did his statement go further than that he had been sent to visit him when sick and to make a complaint:— "Why did he close his door on Piso? It would be better if they cultivated their friendship by meeting on intimate terms." Seneca's answer had been that "spoken exchanges and frequent interviews were to the advantage of neither; still, his own existence depended on the safety of Piso." Gavius Silvanus, tribune of a praetorian cohort, was instructed to take this report and ask Seneca if he admitted Natalis' words and his own reply. By accident or design, Seneca that day had returned from Campania and broke his journey at one of his country-houses four miles out of Rome. Evening was near when the tribune arrived and surrounded the villa with pickets of soldiers: then he delivered the imperial message to the owner, who was dining with his wife Pompeia Paulina and two friends. 15.61.  Seneca rejoined that "Natalis had been sent to him, and had remonstrated in Piso's name against his refusal to receive his visits. By way of excuse, he had pleaded considerations of health and love of quiet. He had had no reason for ranking the security of a private person higher than his own safety, and his temper was not one which was quick to flattery: no one was better aware of that than Nero, who had more often experienced the frankness of Seneca than his servility." When the tribune made his report in the presence of Poppaea and Tigellinus — the emperor's privy council in his ferocious moods — Nero demanded if Seneca was preparing for a voluntary death. The officer then assured him that there were no evidences of alarm, and that he had not detected any sadness in his words or looks. He was therefore directed to go back and pronounce the death-sentence. Fabius Rusticus states that, instead of returning by the road he had come, the tribune went out of his way to the prefect Faenius, and, after recapitulating the Caesar's orders, asked if he should obey them; only to be advised by Faenius to carry them out. Fate had made cowards of them all. For Silvanus, too, was numbered with the plotters; and now he was engaged in adding to the crimes he had conspired to avenge. However, he was so far considerate of his voice and his eyes as to send one of his centurions in to Seneca, to announce the last necessity. 15.62.  Seneca, nothing daunted, asked for the tablets containing his will. The centurion refusing, he turned to his friends, and called them to witness that "as he was prevented from showing his gratitude for their services, he left them his sole but fairest possession — the image of his life. If they bore it in mind, they would reap the reward of their loyal friendship in the credit accorded to virtuous accomplishments." At the same time, he recalled them from tears to fortitude, sometimes conversationally, sometimes in sterner, almost coercive tones. "Where," he asked, "were the maxims of your philosophy? Where that reasoned attitude towards impending evils which they had studied through so many years? For to whom had Nero's cruelty been unknown? Nor was anything left him, after the killing of his mother and his brother, but to add the murder of his guardian and preceptor. 15.63.  After these and some similar remarks, which might have been meant for a wider audience, he embraced his wife, and, softening momentarily in view of the terrors at present threatening her, begged her, conjured her, to moderate her grief — not to take it upon her for ever, but in contemplating the life he had spent in virtue to find legitimate solace for the loss of her husband. Paulina replied by assuring him that she too had made death her choice, and she demanded her part in the executioner's stroke. Seneca, not wishing to stand in the way of her glory, and influenced also by his affection, that he might not leave the woman who enjoyed his whole-hearted love exposed to outrage, now said: "I had shown you the mitigations of life, you prefer the distinction of death: I shall not grudge your setting that example. May the courage of this brave ending be divided equally between us both, but may more of fame attend your own departure!" Aforesaid, they made the incision in their arms with a single cut. Seneca, since his aged body, emaciated further by frugal living, gave slow escape to the blood, severed as well the arteries in the leg and behind the knee. Exhausted by the racking pains, and anxious lest his sufferings might break down the spirit of his wife, and he himself lapse into weakness at the sight of her agony, he persuaded her to withdraw into another bedroom. And since, even at the last moment his eloquence remained at command, he called his secretaries, and dictated a long discourse, which has been given to the public in his own words, and which I therefore refrain from modifying. 15.64.  Nero, however, who had no private animosity against Paulina, and did not wish to increase the odium of his cruelty, ordered her suicide to be arrested. Under instructions from the military, her slaves and freedmen bandaged her arms and checked the bleeding — whether without her knowledge is uncertain. For, with the usual readiness of the multitude to think the worst, there were those who believed that, so long as she feared an implacable Nero, she had sought the credit of sharing her husband's fate, and then, when a milder prospect offered itself, had succumbed to the blandishments of life. To that life she added a few more years — laudably faithful to her husband's memory and blanched in face and limb to a pallor which showed how great had been the drain upon her vital powers. Seneca, in the meantime, as death continued to be protracted and slow, asked Statius Annaeus, who had long held his confidence as a loyal friend and a skilful doctor, to produce the poison — it had been provided much earlier — which was used for despatching prisoners condemned by the public tribunal of Athens. It was brought, and he swallowed it, but to no purpose; his limbs were already cold, and his system closed to the action of the drug. In the last resort, he entered a vessel of heated water, sprinkling some on the slaves nearest, with the remark that he offered the liquid as a drink-offering to Jove the Liberator. He was then lifted into a bath, suffocated by the vapour, and cremated without ceremony. It was the order he had given in his will, at a time when, still at the zenith of his wealth and power, he was already taking thought for his latter end. 15.65.  It was rumoured that Subrius Flavus and the centurions had decided in private conference, though not without Seneca's knowledge, that, once Nero had been struck down by the agency of Piso, Piso should be disposed of in his turn, and the empire made over to Seneca; who would thus appear to have been chosen for the supreme power by innocent men, as a consequence of his distinguished virtues. More than this, there was a saying of Flavus in circulation, that "so far as disgrace went, it was immaterial if a harper was removed, and a tragic actor took his place"; for Nero singing to his instrument was matched by Piso singing in his stage costume. 15.66.  But the military conspiracy itself no longer evaded detection; for the informers were stung into denouncing Faenius Rufus, whom they could not tolerate in the double part of accomplice and inquisitor. Accordingly, in the midst of Faenius' browbeating and threats, Scaevinus observed with a civil sneer that no one knew more than himself, and presented him with the advice to show his gratitude to so kindly a prince. Faenius was unable to retort either by speech or by silence. Tripping over his words, and patently terrified, while the rest — and notably the Roman knight Cervarius Proculus — strained every nerve for his conviction, he was seized and bound, at the emperor's order, by the private soldier Cassius, who was standing near in consideration of his remarkable bodily strength. 15.67.  Before long, the evidence of the same group destroyed the tribune Subrius Flavus. At first he sought to make unlikeness of character a ground of defence: a man of the sword, like himself, would never have shared so desperate an enterprise with unarmed effeminates. Then, as he was pressed more closely, he embraced the glory of confession. Questioned by Nero as to the motives which had led him so far as to forget his military oath:— "I hated you," he answered, "and yet there was not a man in the army truer to you, as long as you deserved to be loved. I began to hate you when you turned into the murderer of your mother and wife — a chariot-driver, an actor, a fire-raiser." I have reported his exact words; for, unlike those of Seneca, they were given no publicity; and the plain, strong sentiments of the soldier were not the less worth knowing. It was notorious that nothing in this conspiracy fell more harshly on the ears of Nero, who was equally ready to commit crimes and unaccustomed to be informed of what he was committing. The execution of Flavus was entrusted to the tribune Veianius Niger. Niger gave orders for a grave to be dug in a neighbouring field; where it was criticized by Flavus as neither deep nor broad enough:— "Faulty discipline even here," he observed to the soldiers around. When admonished to hold his neck out firmly:— "I only hope," he said, "that you will strike as firmly!" Shaking violently, the tribune severed the head with some difficulty at two blows, and boasted of his brutality to Nero by saying that he had killed with a stroke and a half. 15.68.  The next example of intrepidity was furnished by Sulpicius Asper; who to Nero's question, why he had conspired to murder him, rejoined curtly that it was the only service that could be rendered to his many infamies. He then underwent the ordained penalty. The other centurions, as well, met their fate without declining from their traditions; but such resolution was not for Faenius Rufus, who imported his lamentations even into his will. Nero was waiting for the consul Vestinus to be also incriminated, regarding him as a violent character and an enemy. But the conspirators had not shared their plans with Vestinus — some through old animosities, the majority because they considered him headstrong and impossible as a partner. Nero's hatred of him had grown out of intimate companionship — Vestinus understanding perfectly, and despising, the pusillanimity of the sovereign; the sovereign afraid of the masterful friend who so often mocked him with that rough humour which, if it draws too largely on truth, leaves pungent memories behind. An additional, and recent, motive was that Vestinus had contracted a marriage with Statilia Messalina, though well aware that the Caesar also was among her paramours. 15.69.  Accordingly, with neither a charge nor an accuser forthcoming, Nero, precluded from assuming the character of judge, turned to plain despotic force, and sent out the tribune Gerellanus with a cohort of soldiers, under orders to "forestall the attempts of the consul, seize what might be termed his citadel, and suppress his chosen corps of youths": Vestinus maintained a house overlooking the forum, and a retinue of handsome slaves of uniform age. On that day, he had fulfilled the whole of his consular functions, and was holding a dinner-party, either apprehending nothing or anxious to dissemble whatever he apprehended, when soldiers entered and said the tribune was asking for him. He rose without delay, and all was hurried through in a moment. He shut himself in his bedroom, the doctor was at hand, the arteries were cut: still vigorous, he was carried into the bath and plunged in hot water, without letting fall a word of self-pity. In the meantime, the guests who had been at table with him were surrounded by guards; nor were they released till a late hour of the night, when Nero, laughing at the dismay, which he had been picturing in his mind's eye, of the diners who were awaiting destruction after the feast, observed that they had paid dearly enough for their consular banquet. 15.70.  He next ordained the despatch of Lucan. When his blood was flowing, and he felt his feet and hands chilling and the life receding little by little from the extremities, though the heart retained warmth and sentience, Lucan recalled a passage in his own poem, where he had described a wounded soldier dying a similar form of death, and he recited the very verses. Those were his last words. Then Senecio and Quintianus and Scaevinus, belying their old effeminacy of life, and then the rest of the conspirators, met their end, doing and saying nothing that calls for remembrance. 15.71.  Meanwhile, however, the city was filled with funerals, and the Capitol with burnt offerings. Here, for the killing of a son; there, for that of a brother, a kinsman, or a friend; men were addressing their thanks to Heaven, bedecking their mansions with bays, falling at the knees of the sovereign, and persecuting his hand with kisses. And he, imagining that this was joy, recompensed the hurried informations of Antonius Navalis and Cervarius Proculus by a grant of immunity. Milichus, grown rich on rewards, assumed in its Greek form the title of Saviour. of the tribunes, Gavius Silanus, though acquitted, fell by his own hand; Statius Proxumus stultified the pardon he had received from the emperor by the folly of his end. Then . . . Pompeius, Cornelius Martialis, Flavius Nepos, and Statius Domitius, were deprived of their rank, on the ground that, without hating the Caesar, they had yet the reputation of doing so. Novius Priscus, as a friend of Seneca, Glitius Gallus and Annius Pollio as discredited if hardly convicted, were favoured with sentences of exile. Priscus was accompanied by his wife Artoria Flaccilla, Gallus by Egnatia Maximilla, the mistress of a great fortune, at first left intact but afterwards confiscated — two circumstances which redounded equally to her fame. Rufrius Crispinus was also banished: the conspiracy supplied the occasion, but he was detested by Nero as a former husband of Poppaea. To Verginius Flavus and Musonius Rufus expulsion was brought by the lustre of their names; for Verginius fostered the studies of youth by his eloquence, Musonius by the precepts of philosophy. As though to complete the troop and a round number, Cluvidienus Quietus, Julius Agrippa, Blitius Catulinus, Petronius Priscus, and Julius Altinus were allowed the Aegean islands. But Scaevinus' wife Caedicia and Caesennius Maximus were debarred from Italy, and by their punishment — and that alone — discovered that they had been on trial. Lucan's mother Acilia was ignored, without acquittal and without penalty. Now that all was over, Nero held a meeting of the troops, and made a distribution of two thousand sesterces a man, remitting in addition the price of the grain ration previously supplied to them at the current market rate. Then, as if to recount the achievements of a war, he convoked the senate and bestowed triumphal distinctions on the consular Petronius Turpilianus, the praetor designate Cocceius Nerva, and the praetorian prefect Tigellinus: Nerva and Tigellinus he exalted so far that, not content with triumphal statues in the Forum, he placed their effigies in the palace itself. Consular insignia were decreed to Nymphidius <Sabinus  . . .>. As Nymphidius now presents himself for the first time, I notice him briefly; for he too will be part of the tragedies of Rome. The son, then, of a freedwoman who had prostituted her handsome person among the slaves and freedmen of emperors, he described himself as the issue of Gaius Caesar: for some freak of chance had given him a tall figure and a lowering brow; or, possibly, Gaius, whose appetite extended even to harlots, had abused this man's mother with the rest . . . 15.73.  However, after he had spoken in the senate, Nero followed by publishing an edict to the people and a collection, in writing, of the informations laid and the avowals of the condemned; for in the gossip of the multitude he was being commonly attacked for procuring the destruction of great and guiltless citizens from motives of jealousy or of fear. Still, that a conspiracy was initiated, matured, brought home to its authors, was neither doubted at the period by those who were at pains to ascertain the facts, nor is denied by the exiles who have returned to the capital since the death of Nero. But in the senate, whilst all members, especially those with most to mourn, were stooping to sycophancy, Junius Gallio, dismayed by the death of his brother Seneca, and petitioning for his own existence, was attacked by Salienus Clemens, who styled him the enemy and parricide of his country; until he was deterred by the uimous request of the Fathers that he would avoid the appearance of abusing a national sorrow for the purposes of a private hatred, and would not reawaken cruelty by recurring to matters either settled or cancelled by the clemency of the sovereign. 15.74.  offerings and thanks were then voted to Heaven, the Sun, who had an old temple in the Circus, where the crime was to be staged, receiving special honour for revealing by his divine power the secrets of the conspiracy. The Circensian Games of Ceres were to be celebrated with an increased number of horse-races; the month of April was to take the name of Nero; a temple of Safety was to be erected on the site . . . from which Scaevinus had taken his dagger. That weapon the emperor himself consecrated in the Capitol, and inscribed it:— To Jove the Avenger. At the time, the incident passed unnoticed: after the armed rising of the other"avenger," Julius Vindex, it was read as a token and a presage of coming retribution. I find in the records of the senate that Anicius Cerialis, consul designate, gave it as his opinion that a temple should be built to Nero the Divine, as early as possible and out of public funds. His motion, it is true, merely implied that the prince had transcended mortal eminence and earned the worship of mankind; but it was vetoed by that prince, because by other interpreters it might be wrested into an omen of, and aspiration for, his decease; for the honour of divine is not paid to the emperor until he has ceased to live and move among men.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
accession (imperial) Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
advisers Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
bodyguard Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
brother Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
commodus Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
cruelty Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
dead, death Gunderson, The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White (2022) 134
dining Gunderson, The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White (2022) 134
fear Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
flattery Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
goodwill (εὔνοια) Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
intertextuality Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
leader(ship) Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
marcus aurelius Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
martial Gunderson, The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White (2022) 134
memory Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
moderation Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
nero Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66; Gunderson, The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White (2022) 134
omens Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
patronage Gunderson, The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White (2022) 134
readers, active engagement/response Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
rome (city) Gunderson, The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White (2022) 134
seneca Gunderson, The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White (2022) 134
speech(es) Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
tacitus Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
tiberius Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
tyranny/tyrants Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
violence Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66
virtues' Chrysanthou, Reconfiguring the Imperial Past: Narrative Patterns and Historical Interpretation in Herodian’s History of the Empire (2022) 66