The courage of this speech and the fact that there had been found
a man to speak out what was in all people’s thoughts, had such an
effect that the accusers of Terentius were sentenced to banishment
or death, their previous offences being taken into account. Then came
a letter from Tiberius against Sextus Vestilius, an ex-praetor, whom,
as a special favourite of his brother Drusus, the emperor had admitted
into his own select circle. His reason for being displeased with Vestilius
was that he had either written an attack on Caius Caesar as a profligate,
or that Tiberius believed a false charge. For this Vestilius was excluded
from the prince’s table. He then tried the knife with his aged hand,
but again bound up his veins, opening them once more however on having
begged for pardon by letter and received a pitiless answer. After
him a host of persons were charged with treason, Annius Pollio, Appius
Silanus, Scaurus Mamercus, Sabinus Calvisius, Vinicianus too, coupled
with Pollio, his father, men all of illustrious descent, some too
of the highest political distinction. The senators were panic-stricken,
for how few of their number were not connected by alliance or by friendship
with this multitude of men of rank! Celsus however, tribune of a city
cohort, and now one of the prosecutors, saved Appius and Calvisius
from the peril. The emperor postponed the cases of Pollio, Vinicianus,
and Scaurus, intending to try them himself with the Senate, not however
without affixing some ominous marks to the name of Scaurus.

Even women were not exempt from danger. Where they could not be accused
of grasping at political power, their tears were made a crime. Vitia,
an aged woman, mother of Fufius Geminus, was executed for bewailing
the death of her son. Such were the proceedings in the Senate. It
was the same with the emperor. Vescularius Atticus and Julius Marinus
were hurried off to execution, two of his oldest friends, men who
had followed him to Rhodes and been his inseparable companions at
Capreae. Vescularius was his agent in the plot against Libo, and it
was with the co-operation of Marinus that Sejanus had ruined Curtius
Atticus. Hence there was all the more joy at the recoil of these precedents
on their authors.

About the same time Lucius Piso, the pontiff, died a natural death,
a rare incident in so high a rank. Never had he by choice proposed
a servile motion, and, whenever necessity was too strong for him,
he would suggest judicious compromises. His father, as I have related,
had been a censor. He lived to the advanced age of eighty, and had
won in Thrace the honour of a triumph. But his chief glory rested
on the wonderful tact with which as city-prefect he handled an authority,
recently made perpetual and all the more galling to men unaccustomed
to obey it.

In former days, when the kings and subsequently the chief magistrates
went from Rome, an official was temporarily chosen to administer justice
and provide for emergencies, so that the capital might not be left
without government. It is said that Denter Romulius was appointed
by Romulus, then Numa Marcius by Tullus Hostilius, and Spurius Lucretius
by Tarquinius Superbus. Afterwards, the consuls made the appointment.
The shadow of the old practice still survives, whenever in consequence
of the Latin festival some one is deputed to exercise the consul’s
functions. And Augustus too during the civil wars gave Cilnius Maecenas,
a Roman knight, charge of everything in Rome and Italy. When he rose
to supreme power, in consideration of the magnitude of the State and
the slowness of legal remedies, he selected one of the exconsuls to
overawe the slaves and that part of the population which, unless it
fears a strong hand, is disorderly and reckless. Messala Corvinus
was the first to obtain the office, which he lost within a few days,
as not knowing how to discharge it. After him Taurus Statilius, though
in advanced years, sustained it admirably; and then Piso, after twenty
years of similar credit, was, by the Senate’s decree, honoured with
a public funeral.

A motion was next brought forward in the Senate by Quintilianus, a
tribune of the people, respecting an alleged book of the Sibyl. Caninius
Gallus, a book of the College of the Fifteen, had asked that it might
be received among the other volumes of the same prophetess by a decree
on the subject. This having been carried by a division, the emperor
sent a letter in which he gently censured the tribune, as ignorant
of ancient usage because of his youth. Gallus he scolded for having
introduced the matter in a thin Senate, notwithstanding his long experience
in the science of religious ceremonies, without taking the opinion
of the College or having the verses read and criticised, as was usual,
by its presidents, though their authenticity was very doubtful. He
also reminded him that, as many spurious productions were current
under a celebrated name, Augustus had prescribed a day within which
they should be deposited with the city-praetor, and after which it
should not be lawful for any private person to hold them. The same
regulations too had been made by our ancestors after the burning of
the Capitol in the social war, when there was a search throughout
Samos, Ilium, Erythrae, and even in Africa, Sicily and the Italian
colonies for the verses of the Sibyl (whether there were but one or
more) and the priests were charged with the business of distinguishing,
as far as they could by human means, what were genuine. Accordingly
the book in question was now also submitted to the scrutiny of the
College of the Fifteen.

During the same consulship a high price of corn almost brought on
an insurrection. For several days there were many clamorous demands
made in the theatre with an unusual freedom of language towards the
emperor. This provoked him to censure the magistrates and the Senate
for not having used the authority of the State to put down the people.
He named too the corn-supplying provinces, and dwelt on the far larger
amount of grain imported by himself than by Augustus. So the Senate
drew up a decree in the severe spirit of antiquity, and the consuls
issued a not less stringent proclamation. The emperor’s silence was
not, as he had hoped, taken as a proof of patriotism, but of pride.

At the year’s close Geminius, Celsus and Pompeius, Roman knights,
fell beneath a charge of conspiracy. Of these Caius Geminius, by lavish
expenditure and a luxurious life, had been a friend of Sejanus, but
with no serious result. Julius Celsus, a tribune, while in confinement,
loosened his chain, and having twisted it around him, broke his neck
by throwing himself in an opposite direction. Rubrius Fabatus was
put under surveillance, on a suspicion that, in despair of the fortunes
of Rome, he meant to throw himself on the mercy of the Parthians.
He was, at any rate, found near the Straits of the Sicily, and, when
dragged back by a centurion, he assigned no adequate reason for his
long journey. Still, he lived on in safety, thanks to forgetfulness
rather than to mercy.
The Annals by Tacitus