At Rome meanwhile Lepida, who beside the glory of being one of the
Aemilii was the great-granddaughter of Lucius Sulla and Cneius Pompeius,
was accused of pretending to be a mother by Publius Quirinus, a rich
and childless man. Then, too, there were charges of adulteries, of
poisonings, and of inquiries made through astrologers concerning the
imperial house. The accused was defended by her brother Manius Lepidus.
Quirinus by his relentless enmity even after his divorce, had procured
for her some sympathy, infamous and guilty as she was. One could not
easily perceive the emperor’s feelings at her trial; so effectually
did he interchange and blend the outward signs of resentment and compassion.
He first begged the Senate not to deal with the charges of treason,
and subsequently induced Marcus Servilius, an ex-consul, to divulge
what he had seemingly wished to suppress. He also handed over to the
consuls Lepida’s slaves, who were in military custody, but would not
allow them to be examined by torture on matters referring to his own
family. Drusus too, the consul-elect, he released from the necessity
of having to speak first to the question. Some thought this a gracious
act, done to save the rest of the Senators from a compulsory assent,
while others ascribed it to malignity, on the ground that he would
have yielded only where there was a necessity of condemning.

On the days of the games which interrupted the trial, Lepida went
into the theatre with some ladies of rank, and as she appealed with
piteous wailings to her ancestors and to that very Pompey, the public
buildings and statues of whom stood there before their eyes, she roused
such sympathy that people burst into tears and shouted, without ceasing,
savage curses on Quirinus, “to whose childless old-age and miserably
obscure family, one once destined to be the wife of Lucius Caesar
and the daughter-in-law of the Divine Augustus was being sacrificed.”
Then, by the torture of the slaves, her infamies were brought to light,
and a motion of Rubellius Blandus was carried which outlawed her.
Drusus supported him, though others had proposed a milder sentence.
Subsequently, Scaurus, who had had daughter by her, obtained as a
concession that her property should not be confiscated. Then at last
Tiberius declared that he had himself too ascertained from the slaves
of Publius Quirinus that Lepida had attempted their master’s life
by poison.

It was some compensation for the misfortunes of great houses (for
within a short interval the Calpurnii had lost Piso and the Aemilii
Lepida) that Decimus Silanus was now restored to the Junian family.
I will briefly relate his downfall.

Though the Divine Augustus in his public life enjoyed unshaken prosperity,
he was unfortunate at home from the profligacy of his daughter and
granddaughter, both of whom he banished from Rome, and punished their
paramours with death or exile. Calling, as he did, a vice so habitual
among men and women by the awful name of sacrilege and treason, he
went far beyond the indulgent spirit of our ancestors, beyond indeed
his own legislation. But I will relate the deaths of others with the
remaining events of that time, if after finishing the work I have
now proposed to myself, I prolong my life for further labours.

Decimus Silanus, the paramour of the granddaughter of Augustus, though
the only severity he experienced was exclusion from the emperor’s
friendship, saw clearly that it meant exile; and it was not till Tiberius’s
reign that he ventured to appeal to the Senate and to the prince,
in reliance on the influence of his brother Marcus Silanus, who was
conspicuous both for his distinguished rank and eloquence. But Tiberius,
when Silanus thanked him, replied in the Senate’s presence, “that
he too rejoiced at the brother’s return from his long foreign tour,
and that this was justly allowable, inasmuch as he had been banished
not by a decree of the Senate or under any law. Still, personally,”
he said, “he felt towards him his father’s resentment in all its force,
and the return of Silanus had not cancelled the intentions of Augustus.”
Silanus after this lived at Rome without attaining office.

It was next proposed to relax the Papia Poppaea law, which Augustus
in his old age had passed subsequently to the Julian statutes, for
yet further enforcing the penalties on celibacy and for enriching
the exchequer. And yet, marriages and the rearing of children did
not become more frequent, so powerful were the attractions of a childless
state. Meanwhile there was an increase in the number of persons imperilled,
for every household was undermined by the insinuations of informers;
and now the country suffered from its laws, as it had hitherto suffered
from its vices. This suggests to me a fuller discussion of the origin
of law and of the methods by which we have arrived at the present
endless multiplicity and variety of our statutes.

Mankind in the earliest age lived for a time without a single vicious
impulse, without shame or guilt, and, consequently, without punishment
and restraints. Rewards were not needed when everything right was
pursued on its own merits; and as men desired nothing against morality,
they were debarred from nothing by fear. When however they began to
throw off equality, and ambition and violence usurped the place of
self-control and modesty, despotisms grew up and became perpetual
among many nations. Some from the beginning, or when tired of kings,
preferred codes of laws. These were at first simple, while men’s minds
were unsophisticated. The most famous of them were those of the Cretans,
framed by Minos; those of the Spartans, by Lycurgus, and, subsequently,
those which Solan drew up for the Athenians on a more elaborate and
extensive scale. Romulus governed us as he pleased; then Numa united
our people by religious ties and a constitution of divine origin,
to which some additions were made by Tullus and Ancus. But Servius
Tullius was our chief legislator, to whose laws even kings were to
be subject.
The Annals by Tacitus