It will not be uninteresting to mention that Mount Caelius was anciently
known by the name of Querquetulanus, because it grew oak timber in
abundance and was afterwards called Caelius by Caeles Vibenna, who
led the Etruscan people to the aid of Rome and had the place given
him as a possession by Tarquinius Priscus or by some other of the
kings. As to that point historians differ; as to the rest, it is beyond
a question that Vibenna’s numerous forces established themselves in
the plain beneath and in the neighbourhood of the forum, and that
the Tuscan street was named after these strangers.

But though the zeal of the nobles and the bounty of the prince brought
relief to suffering, yet every day a stronger and fiercer host of
informers pursued its victims, without one alleviating circumstance.
Quintilius Varus, a rich man and related to the emperor, was suddenly
attacked by Domitius Afer, the successful prosecutor of Claudia Pulchra,
his mother, and no one wondered that the needy adventurer of many
years who had squandered his lately gotten recompense was now preparing
himself for fresh iniquities. That Publius Dolabella should have associated
himself in the prosecution was a marvel, for he was of illustrious
ancestry, was allied to Varus, and was now himself seeking to destroy
his own noble race, his own kindred. The Senate however stopped the
proceeding, and decided to wait for the emperor, this being the only
means of escaping for a time impending horrors.

Caesar, meanwhile, after dedicating the temples in Campania, warned
the public by an edict not to disturb his retirement and posted soldiers
here and there to keep off the throngs of townsfolk. But he so loathed
the towns and colonies and, in short, every place on the mainland,
that he buried himself in the island of Capreae which is separated
by three miles of strait from the extreme point of the promontory
of Sorrentum. The solitude of the place was, I believe, its chief
attraction, for a harbourless sea surrounds it and even for a small
vessel it has but few safe retreats, nor can any one land unknown
to the sentries. Its air in winter is soft, as it is screened by a
mountain which is a protection against cutting winds. In summer it
catches the western breezes, and the open sea round it renders it
most delightful. It commanded too a prospect of the most lovely bay,
till Vesuvius, bursting into flames, changed the face of the country.
Greeks, so tradition says, occupied those parts and Capreae was inhabited
by the Teleboi. Tiberius had by this time filled the island with twelve
country houses, each with a grand name and a vast structure of its
own. Intent as he had once been on the cares of state, he was now
for thoroughly unbending himself in secret profligacy and a leisure
of malignant schemes. For he still retained that rash proneness to
suspect and to believe, which even at Rome Sejanus used to foster,
and which he here excited more keenly, no longer concealing his machinations
against Agrippina and Nero. Soldiers hung about them, and every message,
every visit, their public and their private life were I may say regularly
chronicled. And persons were actually suborned to advise them to flee
to the armies of Germany, or when the Forum was most crowded, to clasp
the statue of statue of the Divine Augustus and appeal to the protection
of the people and Senate. These counsels they disdained, but they
were charged with having had thoughts of acting on them.

The year of the consulship of Silanus and Silius Nerva opened with
a foul beginning. A Roman knight of the highest rank, Titius Sabinus,
was dragged to prison because he had been a friend of Germanicus.
He had indeed persisted in showing marked respect towards his wife
and children, as their visitor at home, their companion in public,
the solitary survivor of so many clients, and he was consequently
esteemed by the good, as he was a terror to the evil-minded. Latinius
Latiaris, Porcius Cato, Petitius Rufus, and Marcus Opsius, ex-praetors,
conspired to attack him, with an eye to the consulship, to which there
was access only through Sejanus, and the good will of Sejanus was
to be gained only by a crime. They arranged amongst themselves that
Latiaris, who had some slight acquaintance with Sabinus, should devise
the plot, that the rest should be present as witnesses, and that then
they should begin the prosecution. Accordingly Latiaris, after first
dropping some casual remarks, went on to praise the fidelity of Sabinus
in not having, like others, forsaken after its fall the house of which
he had been the friend in its prosperity. He also spoke highly of
Germanicus and compassionately of Agrippina. Sabinus, with the natural
softness of the human heart under calamity, burst into tears, which
he followed up with complaints, and soon with yet more daring invective
against Sejanus, against his cruelty, pride and ambition. He did not
spare even Tiberius in his reproaches. That conversation, having united
them, as it were, in an unlawful secret, led to a semblance of close
intimacy. Henceforward Sabinus himself sought Latiaris, went continually
to his house, and imparted to him his griefs, as to a most faithful

The men whom I have named now consulted how these conversations might
fall within the hearing of more persons. It was necessary that the
place of meeting should preserve the appearance of secrecy, and, if
witnesses were to stand behind the doors, there was a fear of their
being seen or heard, or of suspicion casually arising. Three senators
thrust themselves into the space between the roof and ceiling, a hiding-place
as shameful as the treachery was execrable. They applied their ears
to apertures and crevices. Latiaris meanwhile having met Sabinus in
the streets, drew him to his house and to the room, as if he was going
to communicate some fresh discoveries. There he talked much about
past and impending troubles, a copious topic indeed, and about fresh
horrors. Sabinus spoke as before and at greater length, as sorrow,
when once it has broken into utterance, is the harder to restrain.
Instantly they hastened to accuse him, and having despatched a letter
to the emperor, they informed him of the order of the plot and of
their own infamy. Never was Rome more distracted and terror-stricken.
Meetings, conversations, the ear of friend and stranger were alike
shunned; even things mute and lifeless, the very roofs and walls,
were eyed with suspicion.
The Annals by Tacitus