About the same time Libo Drusus, of the family of Scribonii, was accused
of revolutionary schemes. I will explain, somewhat minutely, the beginning,
progress, and end of this affair, since then first were originated
those practices which for so many years have eaten into the heart
of the State. Firmius Catus, a senator, an intimate friend of Libo’s,
prompted the young man, who was thoughtless and an easy prey to delusions,
to resort to astrologers’ promises, magical rites, and interpreters
of dreams, dwelling ostentatiously on his great-grandfather Pompeius,
his aunt Scribonia, who had formerly been wife of Augustus, his imperial
cousins, his house crowded with ancestral busts, and urging him to
extravagance and debt, himself the companion of his profligacy and
desperate embarrassments, thereby to entangle him in all the more
proofs of guilt.

As soon as he found enough witnesses, with some slaves who knew the
facts, he begged an audience of the emperor, after first indicating
the crime and the criminal through Flaccus Vescularius, a Roman knight,
who was more intimate with Tiberius than himself. Caesar, without
disregarding the information, declined an interview, for the communication,
he said, might be conveyed to him through the same messenger, Flaccus.
Meanwhile he conferred the praetorship on Libo and often invited him
to his table, showing no unfriendliness in his looks or anger in his
words (so thoroughly had he concealed his resentment); and he wished
to know all his saying and doings, though it was in his power to stop
them, till one Junius, who had been tampered with by Libo for the
purpose of evoking by incantations spirits of the dead, gave information
to Fulcinius Trio. Trio’s ability was conspicuous among informers,
as well as his eagerness for an evil notoriety. He at once pounced
on the accused, went to the consuls, and demanded an inquiry before
the Senate. The Senators were summoned, with a special notice that
they must consult on a momentous and terrible matter.

Libo meanwhile, in mourning apparel and accompanied by ladies of the
highest rank, went to house after house, entreating his relatives,
and imploring some eloquent voice to ward off his perils; which all
refused, on different pretexts, but from the same apprehension. On
the day the Senate met, jaded with fear and mental anguish, or, as
some have related, feigning illness, he was carried in a litter to
the doors of the Senate House, and leaning on his brother he raised
his hands and voice in supplication to Tiberius, who received him
with unmoved countenance. The emperor then read out the charges and
the accusers’ names, with such calmness as not to seem to soften or
aggravate the accusations.

Besides Trio and Catus, Fonteius Agrippa and Caius Vibius were among
his accusers, and claimed with eager rivalry the privilege of conducting
the case for the prosecution, till Vibius, as they would not yield
one to the other, and Libo had entered without counsel, offered to
state the charges against him singly, and produced an extravagantly
absurd accusation, according to which Libo had consulted persons whether
he would have such wealth as to be able to cover the Appian road as
far as Brundisium with money. There were other questions of the same
sort, quite senseless and idle; if leniently regarded, pitiable. But
there was one paper in Libo’s handwriting, so the prosecutor alleged,
with the names of Caesars and of Senators, to which marks were affixed
of dreadful or mysterious significance. When the accused denied this,
it was decided that his slaves who recognised the writing should be
examined by torture. As an ancient statute of the Senate forbade such
inquiry in a case affecting a master’s life, Tiberius, with his cleverness
in devising new law, ordered Libo’s slaves to be sold singly to the
State-agent, so that, forsooth, without an infringement of the Senate’s
decree, Libo might be tried on their evidence. As a consequence, the
defendant asked an adjournment till next day, and having gone home
he charged his kinsman, Publius Quirinus, with his last prayer to
the emperor.

The answer was that he should address himself to the Senate. Meanwhile
his house was surrounded with soldiers; they crowded noisily even
about the entrance, so that they could be heard and seen; when Libo,
whose anguish drove him from the very banquet he had prepared as his
last gratification, called for a minister of death, grasped the hands
of his slaves, and thrust a sword into them. In their confusion, as
they shrank back, they overturned the lamp on the table at his side,
and in the darkness, now to him the gloom of death, he aimed two blows
at a vital part. At the groans of the falling man his freedmen hurried
up, and the soldiers, seeing the bloody deed, stood aloof. Yet the
prosecution was continued in the Senate with the same persistency,
and Tiberius declared on oath that he would have interceded for his
life, guilty though he was, but for his hasty suicide.

His property was divided among his accusers, and praetorships out
of the usual order were conferred on those who were of senators’ rank.
Cotta Messalinus then proposed that Libo’s bust should not be carried
in the funeral procession of any of his descendants; and Cneius Lentulus,
that no Scribonius should assume the surname of Drusus. Days of public
thanksgiving were appointed on the suggestion of Pomponius Flaccus.
Offerings were given to Jupiter, Mars, and Concord, and the 13th day
of September, on which Libo had killed himself, was to be observed
as a festival, on the motion of Gallus Asinius, Papius Mutilus, and
Lucius Apronius. I have mentioned the proposals and sycophancy of
these men, in order to bring to light this old-standing evil in the
The Annals by Tacitus