“What was the ruin of Sparta and Athens, but this, that mighty as
they were in war, they spurned from them as aliens those whom they
had conquered? Our founder Romulus, on the other hand, was so wise
that he fought as enemies and then hailed as fellow-citizens several
nations on the very same day. Strangers have reigned over us. That
freedmen’s sons should be intrusted with public offices is not, as
many wrongly think, a sudden innovation, but was a common practice
in the old commonwealth. But, it will be said, we have fought with
the Senones. I suppose then that the Volsci and Aequi never stood
in array against us. Our city was taken by the Gauls. Well, we also
gave hostages to the Etruscans, and passed under the yoke of the Samnites.
On the whole, if you review all our wars, never has one been finished
in a shorter time than that with the Gauls. Thenceforth they have
preserved an unbroken and loyal peace. United as they now are with
us by manners, education, and intermarriage, let them bring us their
gold and their wealth rather than enjoy it in isolation. Everything,
Senators, which we now hold to be of the highest antiquity, was once
new. Plebeian magistrates came after patrician; Latin magistrates
after plebeian; magistrates of other Italian peoples after Latin.
This practice too will establish itself, and what we are this day
justifying by precedents, will be itself a precedent.”

The emperor’s speech was followed by a decree of the Senate, and the
Aedui were the first to obtain the right of becoming senators at Rome.
This compliment was paid to their ancient alliance, and to the fact
that they alone of the Gauls cling to the name of brothers of the
Roman people.

About the same time the emperor enrolled in the ranks of the patricians
such senators as were of the oldest families, and such as had had
distinguished ancestors. There were now but scanty relics of the Greater
Houses of Romulus and of the Lesser Houses of Lucius Brutus, as they
had been called, and those too were exhausted which the Dictator Caesar
by the Cassian and the emperor Augustus by the Saenian law had chosen
into their place. These acts, as being welcome to the State, were
undertaken with hearty gladness by the imperial censor. Anxiously
considering how he was to rid the Senate of men of notorious infamy,
he preferred a gentle method, recently devised, to one which accorded
with the sternness of antiquity, and advised each to examine his own
case and seek the privilege of laying aside his rank. Permission,
he said, would be readily obtained. He would publish in the same list
those who had been expelled and those who had been allowed to retire,
that by this confounding together of the decision of the censors and
the modesty of voluntary resignation the disgrace might be softened.

For this, the consul Vipstanus moved that Claudius should be called
“Father of the Senate.” The title of “Father of the Country” had,
he argued, been indiscriminately bestowed; new services ought to be
recognized by unusual titles. The emperor, however, himself stopped
the consul’s flattery, as extravagant. He closed the lustrum, the
census for which gave a total of 5,984,072 citizens. Then too ended
his blindness as to his domestic affairs. He was soon compelled to
notice and punish his wife’s infamies, till he afterwards craved passionately
for an unhallowed union.

Messalina, now grown weary of the very facility of her adulteries,
was rushing into strange excesses, when even Silius, either through
some fatal infatuation or because he imagined that, amid the dangers
which hung over him, danger itself was the best safety, urged the
breaking off of all concealment. “They were not,” he said, “in such
an extremity as to have to wait for the emperor’s old age. Harmless
measures were for the innocent. Crime once exposed had no refuge but
in audacity. They had accomplices in all who feared the same fate.
For himself, as he had neither wife nor child, he was ready to marry
and to adopt Britannicus. Messalina would have the same power as before,
with the additional advantage of a quiet mind, if only they took Claudius
by surprise, who, though unsuspicious of treachery, was hasty in his

The suggestion was coldly received, not because the lady loved her
husband, but from a fear that Silius, after attaining his highest
hopes, would spurn an adulteress, and soon estimate at its true value
the crime which in the midst of peril he had approved. But she craved
the name of wife, for the sake of the monstrous infamy, that last
source of delight to the reckless. She waited only till Claudius set
out for Ostia to perform a sacrifice, and then celebrated all the
solemnities of marriage.

I am well aware that it will seem a fable that any persons in the
world could have been so obtuse in a city which knows everything and
hides nothing, much more, that these persons should have been a consul-elect
and the emperor’s wife; that, on an appointed day, before witness