Meanwhile the Senate was summoned, and prayers rehearsed by the consuls
and priests for the emperor’s recovery, though the lifeless body was
being wrapped in blankets with warm applications, while all was being
arranged to establish Nero on the throne. At first Agrippina, seemingly
overwhelmed by grief and seeking comfort, clasped Britannicus in her
embraces, called him the very image of his father, and hindered him
by every possible device from leaving the chamber. She also detained
his sisters, Antonia and Octavia, closed every approach to the palace
with a military guard, and repeatedly gave out that the emperor’s
health was better, so that the soldiers might be encouraged to hope,
and that the fortunate moment foretold by the astrologers might arrive.

At last, at noon on the 13th of October, the gates of the palace were
suddenly thrown open, and Nero, accompanied by Burrus, went forth
to the cohort which was on guard after military custom. There, at
the suggestion of the commanding officer, he was hailed with joyful
shouts, and set on a litter. Some, it is said, hesitated, and looked
round and asked where Britannicus was; then, when there was no one
to lead a resistance, they yielded to what was offered them. Nero
was conveyed into the camp, and having first spoken suitably to the
occasion and promised a donative after the example of his father’s
bounty, he was unanimously greeted as emperor. The decrees of the
Senate followed the voice of the soldiers, and there was no hesitation
in the provinces. Divine honours were decreed to Claudius, and his
funeral rites were solemnized on the same scale as those of Augustus;
for Agrippina strove to emulate the magnificence of her great-grandmother,
Livia. But his will was not publicly read, as the preference of the
stepson to the son might provoke a sense of wrong and angry feeling
in the popular mind.