Many people liked this very licence, but they screened it under respectable
names. “Our ancestors,” they said, “were not averse to the attractions
of shows on a scale suited to the wealth of their day, and so they
introduced actors from the Etruscans and horse-races from Thurii.
When we had possessed ourselves of Achaia and Asia, games were exhibited
with greater elaboration, and yet no one at Rome of good family had
stooped to the theatrical profession during the 200 years following
the triumph of Lucius Mummius, who first displayed this kind of show
in the capital. Besides, even economy had been consulted, when a permanent
edifice was erected for a theatre, in preference to a structure raised
and fitted up yearly at vast expense. Nor would the magistrates, as
hitherto, exhaust their substance, or would the populace have the
same motive for demanding of them the Greek contests, when once the
State undertakes the expenditure. The victories won by orators and
poets would furnish a stimulus to genius, and it could not be a burden
for any judge to bestow his attention on graceful pursuits or on legitimate
recreations. It was to mirth rather than to profligacy that a few
nights every five years were devoted, and in these amid such a blaze
of illumination no lawless conduct could be concealed.”

This entertainment, it is true, passed off without any notorious scandal.
The enthusiasm too of the populace was not even slightly kindled,
for the pantomimic actors, though permitted to return to the stage,
were excluded from the sacred contests. No one gained the first prize
for eloquence, but it was publicly announced that the emperor was
victorious. Greek dresses, in which most people showed themselves
during this festival, had then gone out of fashion.

A comet meantime blazed in the sky, which in popular opinion always
portends revolution to kingdoms. So people began to ask, as if Nero
was already dethroned, who was to be elected. In every one’s mouth
was the name of Rubellius Blandus, who inherited through his mother
the high nobility of the Julian family. He was himself attached to
the ideas of our ancestors; his manners were austere, his home was
one of purity and seclusion, and the more he lived in retirement from
fear, the more fame did he acquire. Popular talk was confirmed by
an interpretation put with similar credulity on a flash of lightning.
While Nero was reclining at dinner in his house named Sublaqueum on
the Simbruine lake, the table with the banquet was struck and shattered,
and as this happened close to Tibur, from which town Plautus derived
his origin on his father’s side, people believed him to be the man
marked out by divine providence; and he was encouraged by that numerous
class, whose eager and often mistaken ambition it is to attach themselves
prematurely to some new and hazardous cause. This alarmed Nero, and
he wrote a letter to Plautus, bidding “him consider the tranquillity
of Rome and withdraw himself from mischievous gossip. He had ancestral
possessions in Asia, where he might enjoy his youth safely and quietly.”
And so thither Plautus retired with his wife Antistia and a few intimate

About the same time an excessive love of luxurious gratification involved
Nero in disgrace and danger. He had plunged for a swim into the source
of the stream which Quintus Marcius conveyed to Rome, and it was thought
that, by thus immersing his person in it, he had polluted the sacred
waters and the sanctity of the spot. A fit of illness which followed,
convinced people of the divine displeasure.

Corbulo meanwhile having demolished Artaxata thought that he ought
to avail himself of the recent panic by possessing himself of Tigranocerta,
and either, by destroying it, increase the enemy’s terror, or, by
sparing it, win a name for mercy. Thither he marched his army, with
no hostile demonstrations, lest might cut off all hope of quarter,
but still without relaxing his vigilance, knowing, as he did, the
fickle temper of the people, who are as treacherous, when they have
an opportunity, as they are slow to meet danger. The barbarians, following
their individual inclinations, either came to him with entreaties,
or quitted their villages and dispersed into their deserts. Some there
were who hid themselves in caverns with all that they held dearest.
The Roman general accordingly dealt variously with them; he was merciful
to suppliants, swift in pursuit of fugitives, pitiless towards those
who had crept into hiding-places, burning them out after filling up
the entrances and exits with brushwood and bushes. As he was on his
march along the frontier of the Mardi, he was incessantly attacked
by that tribe which is trained to guerilla warfare, and defended by
mountains against an invader. Corbulo threw the Iberians on them,
ravaged their country and punished the enemy’s daring at the cost
of the blood of the foreigner.

Both Corbulo and his army, though suffering no losses in battle, were
becoming exhausted by short supplies and hardships, compelled as they
were to stave off hunger solely by the flesh of cattle. Added to this
was scarcity of water, a burning summer and long marches, all of which
were alleviated only by the general’s patient endurance. He bore indeed
the same or even more burdens than the common soldier. Subsequently,
they reached lands under cultivation, and reaped the crops, and of
two fortresses in which the Armenians had fled for refuge, one was
taken by storm; the other, which repulsed the first attack, was reduced
by blockade. Thence the general crossed into the country of the Tauraunites,
where he escaped an unforeseen peril. Near his tent, a barbarian of
no mean rank was discovered with a dagger, who divulged under torture
the whole method of the plot, its contrivance by himself, and his
associates. The men who under a show of friendship planned the treachery,
were convicted and punished.
The Annals by Tacitus