During Nero’s second consulship with Lucius Piso for his colleague,
little occurred deserving mention, unless one were to take pleasure
in filling volumes with the praise of the foundations and timber work
on which the emperor piled the immense amphitheatre in the Field of
Mars. But we have learnt that it suits the dignity of the Roman people
to reserve history for great achievements, and to leave such details
to the city’s daily register. I may mention that the colonies of Nuceria
and Capua were strengthened by an addition of veterans; to every member
of the city populace four hundred sesterces were given, and forty
million paid into the exchequer to maintain the credit of the citizens.

A tax also of four per cent. on the sale of slaves was remitted, an
apparent more than a real boon, for as the seller was ordered to pay
it, purchasers found that it was added as part of the price. The emperor
by an edict forbade any magistrate or procurator in the government
of a province to exhibit a show of gladiators, or of wild beasts,
or indeed any other public entertainment; for hitherto our subjects
had been as much oppressed by such bribery as by actual extortion,
while governors sought to screen by corruption the guilty deeds of
arbitrary caprice.

The Senate next passed a decree, providing alike for punishment and
safety. If a master were murdered by his slaves, all those who were
enfranchised by his will and lived under the same roof, were to suffer
the capital punishment with his other slaves. Lucius Varius, an ex-consul,
who had been crushed in the past under charges of extortion, was restored
to his rank as a senator. Pomponia Graecina, a distinguished lady,
wife of the Plautius who returned from Britain with an ovation, was
accused of some foreign superstition and handed over to her husband’s
judicial decision. Following ancient precedent, he heard his wife’s
cause in the presence of kinsfolk, involving, as it did, her legal
status and character, and he reported that she was innocent. This
Pomponia lived a long life of unbroken melancholy. After the murder
of Julia, Drusus’s daughter, by Messalina’s treachery, for forty years
she wore only the attire of a mourner, with a heart ever sorrowful.
For this, during Claudius’s reign, she escaped unpunished, and it
was afterwards counted a glory to her.

The same year saw many impeached. One of these, Publius Celer, prosecuted
by the province of Asia, the emperor could not acquit, and so he put
off the case till the man died of old age. Celer, as I have related,
had murdered Silanus, the pro-consul, and the magnitude of this crime
veiled his other enormities. Cossutianus Capito was accused by the
people of Cilicia; he was a man stained with the foulest guilt, and
had actually imagined that his audacious wickedness had the same rights
in a province as he had claimed for it at Rome. But he had to confront
a determined prosecution, and at last abandoned his defence. Eprius
Marcellus, from whom Lycia demanded compensation, was so powerfully
supported by corrupt influence that some of his accusers were punished
with exile, as though they had imperilled an innocent man.

Nero entered on his third consulship with Valerius Messala, whose
great-grandfather, the orator Corvinus, was still remembered by a
few old men, as having been the colleague of the Divine Augustus,
Nero’s great-grandfather, in the same office. But the honour of a
noble house was further increased by an annual grant of five hundred
thousand sesterces on which Messala might support virtuous poverty.
Aurelius Cotta, too, and Haterius Antonius had yearly stipends assigned
them by the emperor, though they had squandered their ancestral wealth
in profligacy.

Early in this year a war between Parthia and Rome about the possession
of Armenia, which, feebly begun, had hitherto dragged on, was vigorously
resumed. For Vologeses would not allow his brother Tiridates to be
deprived of a kingdom which he had himself given him, or to hold it
as a gift from a foreign power, and Corbulo too thought it due to
the grandeur of Rome that he should recover what Lucullus and Pompeius
had formerly won. Besides, the Armenians in the fluctuations of their
allegiance sought the armed protection of both empires, though by
their country’s position, by resemblance of manners, and by the ties
of intermarriage, they were more connected with the Parthians, to
whose subjection, in their ignorance of freedom, they rather inclined.
The Annals by Tacitus