The beginning of the emperor’s letter seemed very striking. It opened
thus: “May all the gods and goddesses destroy me more miserably than
I feel myself to be daily perishing, if I know at know at this moment
what to write to you, Senators, how to write it, or what, in short,
not to write.” So completely had his crimes and infamies recoiled,
as a penalty, on himself. With profound meaning was it often affirmed
by the greatest teacher of philosophy that, could the minds of tyrants
be laid bare, there would be seen gashes and wounds; for, as the body
is lacerated by scourging, so is the spirit by brutality, by lust
and by evil thoughts. Assuredly Tiberius was not saved by his elevation
or his solitude from having to confess the anguish of his heart and
his self-inflicted punishment.

Authority was then given to the Senate to decide the case of Caecilianus,
one of its members, the chief witness against Cotta, and it was agreed
that the same penalty should be inflicted as on Aruseius and Sanquinius,
the accusers of Lucius Arruntius. Nothing ever happened to Cotta more
to his distinction. Of noble birth, but beggared by extravagance and
infamous for his excesses, he was now by dignity of his revenge, raised
to a level with the stainless virtues of Arruntius.

Quintus Servaeus and Minucius Thermus were next arraigned. Servaeus
was an ex-praetor, and had formerly been a companion of Germanicus;
Minucius was of equestrian rank, and both had enjoyed, though discreetly,
the friendship of Sejanus. Hence they were the more pitied. Tiberius,
on the contrary, denounced them as foremost in crime, and bade Caius
Cestius, the elder, tell the Senate what he had communicated to the
emperor by letter. Cestius undertook the prosecution. And this was
the most dreadful feature of the age, that leading members of the
Senate, some openly, some secretly employed themselves in the very
lowest work of the informer. One could not distinguish between aliens
and kinsfolk, between friends and strangers, or say what was quite
recent, or what half-forgotten from lapse of time. People were incriminated
for some casual remark in the forum or at the dinner-table, for every
one was impatient to be the first to mark his victim, some to screen
themselves, most from being, as it were, infected with the contagion
of the malady.

Minucius and Servaeus, on being condemned, went over to the prosecution,
and then Julius Africanus with Seius Quadratus were dragged into the
same ruin. Africanus was from the Santones, one of the states of Gaul;
the origin of Quadratus I have not ascertained. Many authors, I am
well aware, have passed over the perils and punishments of a host
of persons, sickened by the multiplicity of them, or fearing that
what they had themselves found wearisome and saddening would be equally
fatiguing to their readers. For myself, I have lighted on many facts
worth knowing, though other writers have not recorded them.

A Roman knight, Marcus Terentius, at the crisis when all others had
hypocritically repudiated the friendship of Sejanus, dared, when impeached
on that ground, to cling to it by the following avowal to the Senate:
“In my position it is perhaps less to my advantage to acknowledge
than to deny the charge. Still, whatever is to be the issue of the
matter, I shall admit that I was the friend of Sejanus, that I anxiously
sought to be such, and was delighted when I was successful. I had
seen him his father’s colleague in the command of the praetorian cohorts,
and subsequently combining the duties of civil and military life.
His kinsfolk and connections were loaded with honours; intimacy with
Sejanus was in every case a powerful recommendation to the emperor’s
friendship. Those, on the contrary, whom he hated, had to struggle
with danger and humiliation. I take no individual as an instance.
All of us who had no part in his last design, I mean to defend at
the peril of myself alone. It was really not Sejanus of Vulsinii,
it was a member of the Claudian and Julian houses, in which he had
taken a position by his marriage-alliance, it was your son-in-law,
Caesar, your partner in the consulship, the man who administered your
political functions, whom we courted. It is not for us to criticise
one whom you may raise above all others, or your motives for so doing.
Heaven has intrusted you with the supreme decision of affairs, and
for us is left the glory of obedience. And, again, we see what takes
place before our eyes, who it is on whom you bestow riches and honours,
who are the most powerful to help or to injure. That Sejanus was such,
no one will deny. To explore the prince’s secret thoughts, or any
of his hidden plans, is a forbidden, a dangerous thing, nor does it
follow that one could reach them.

“Do not, Senators, think only of Sejanus’s last day, but of his sixteen
years of power. We actually adored a Satrius and a Pomponius. To be
known even to his freedmen and hall-porters was thought something
very grand. What then is my meaning? Is this apology meant to be offered
for all without difference and discrimination? No; it is to be restricted
within proper limits. Let plots against the State, murderous designs
against the emperor be punished. As for friendship and its obligations,
the same principle must acquit both you, Caesar, and us.”
The Annals by Tacitus