That same day was fatal also to Pompeius Aelianus, a young ex-quaestor,
suspected of complicity in the villanies of Fabianus. He was outlawed
from Italy, and from Spain, where he was born. Valerius Pontius suffered
the same degradation for having indicted the defendants before the
praetor to save them from being prosecuted in the court of the city-prefect,
purposing meanwhile to defeat justice on some legal pretext and subsequently
by collusion. A clause was added to the Senate’s decree, that whoever
bought or sold such a service was to be just as liable to punishment
as if he had been publicly convicted of false accusation.

Soon afterwards one of his own slaves murdered the city-prefect, Pedanius
Secundus, either because he had been refused his freedom, for which
he had made a bargain, or in the jealousy of a love in which he could
not brook his master’s rivalry. Ancient custom required that the whole
slave-establishment which had dwelt under the same roof should be
dragged to execution, when a sudden gathering of the populace, which
was for saving so many innocent lives, brought matters to actual insurrection.
Even in the Senate there was a strong feeling on the part of those
who shrank from extreme rigour, though the majority were opposed to
any innovation. Of these, Caius Cassius, in giving his vote, argued
to the following effect:-

“Often have I been present, Senators, in this assembly when new decrees
were demanded from us contrary to the customs and laws of our ancestors,
and I have refrained from opposition, not because I doubted but that
in all matters the arrangements of the past were better and fairer
and that all changes were for the worse, but that I might not seem
to be exalting my own profession out of an excessive partiality for
ancient precedent. At the same time I thought that any influence I
possess ought not to be destroyed by incessant protests, wishing that
it might remain unimpaired, should the State ever need my counsels.
To-day this has come to pass, since an ex-consul has been murdered
in his house by the treachery of slaves, which not one hindered or
divulged, though the Senate’s decree, which threatens the entire slave-establishment
with execution, has been till now unshaken. Vote impunity, in heaven’s
name, and then who will be protected by his rank, when the prefecture
of the capital has been of no avail to its holder? Who will be kept
safe by the number of his slaves when four hundred have not protected
Pedanius Secundus? Which of us will be rescued by his domestics, who,
even with the dread of punishment before them, regard not our dangers?
Was the murderer, as some do not blush to pretend, avenging his wrongs
because he had bargained about money from his father or because a
family-slave was taken from him? Let us actually decide that the master
was justly slain.

“Is it your pleasure to search for arguments in a matter already weighed
in the deliberations of wiser men than ourselves? Even if we had now
for the first time to come to a decision, do you believe that a slave
took courage to murder his master without letting fall a threatening
word or uttering a rash syllable? Granted that he concealed his purpose,
that he procured his weapon without his fellows’ knowledge. Could
he pass the night-guard, could he open the doors of the chamber, carry
in a light, and accomplish the murder, while all were in ignorance?
There are many preliminaries to guilt; if these are divulged by slaves,
we may live singly amid numbers, safe among a trembling throng; lastly,
if we must perish, it will be with vengeance on the guilty. Our ancestors
always suspected the temper of their slaves, even when they were born
on the same estates, or in the same houses with themselves and thus
inherited from their birth an affection for their masters. But now
that we have in our households nations with different customs to our
own, with a foreign worship or none at all, it is only by terror you
can hold in such a motley rabble. But, it will be said, the innocent
will perish. Well, even in a beaten army when every tenth man is felled
by the club, the lot falls also on the brave. There is some injustice
in every great precedent, which, though injurious to individuals,
has its compensation in the public advantage.”

No one indeed dared singly to oppose the opinion of Cassius, but clamorous
voices rose in reply from all who pitied the number, age, or sex,
as well as the undoubted innocence of the great majority. Still, the
party which voted for their execution prevailed. But the sentence
could not be obeyed in the face of a dense and threatening mob, with
stones and firebrands. Then the emperor reprimanded the people by
edict, and lined with a force of soldiers the entire route by which
the condemned had to be dragged to execution. Cingonius Varro had
proposed that even all the freedmen under the same roof should be
transported from Italy. This the emperor forbade, as he did not wish
an ancient custom, which mercy had not relaxed, to be strained with
cruel rigour.

During the same consulship, Tarquitius Priscus was convicted of extortion
on the prosecution of the Bithynians, to the great joy of the senators,
who remembered that he had impeached Statilius, his own pro-consul.
An assessment was made of Gaul by Quintus Volusius, Sextius Africanus,
and Trebellius Maximus. There was a rivalry, on the score of rank,
between Volusius and Africanus. While they both disdained Trebellius,
they raised him above themselves.
The Annals by Tacitus