At last they decided to carry out their design on that day of the
circus games, which is celebrated in honour of Ceres, as the emperor,
who seldom went out, and shut himself up in his house or gardens,
used to go to the entertainments of the circus, and access to him
was the easier from his keen enjoyment of the spectacle. They had
so arranged the order of the plot, that Lateranus was to throw himself
at the prince’s knees in earnest entreaty, apparently craving relief
for his private necessities, and, being a man of strong nerve and
huge frame, hurl him to the ground and hold him down. When he was
prostrate and powerless, the tribunes and centurions and all the others
who had sufficient daring were to rush up and do the murder, the first
blow being claimed by Scaevinus, who had taken a dagger from the Temple
of Safety, or, according to another account, from that of Fortune,
in the town of Ferentum, and used to wear the weapon as though dedicated
to some noble deed. Piso, meanwhile, was wait in the sanctuary of
Ceres, whence he was to be summoned by Faenius, the commander of the
guard, and by the others, and then conveyed into the camp, accompanied
by Antonia, the daughter of Claudius Caesar, with a view to evoke
the people’s enthusiasm. So it is related by Caius Pliny. Handed down
from whatever source, I had no intention of suppressing it, however
absurd it may seem, either that Antonia should have lent her name
at her life’s peril to a hopeless project, or that Piso, with his
well-known affection for his wife, should have pledged himself to
another marriage, but for the fact that the lust of dominion inflames
the heart more than any other passion.

It was however wonderful how among people of different class, rank,
age, sex, among rich and poor, everything was kept in secrecy till
betrayal began from the house of Scaevinus. The day before the treacherous
attempt, after a long conversation with Antonius Natalis, Scaevinus
returned home, sealed his will, and, drawing from its sheath the dagger
of which I have already spoken, and complaining that it was blunted
from long disuse, he ordered it to be sharpened on a stone to a keen
and bright point. This task he assigned to his freedman Milichus.
At the same time sat down to a more than usually sumptuous banquet,
and gave his favourite slaves their freedom, and money to others.
He was himself depressed, and evidently in profound thought, though
he affected gaiety in desultory conversation. Last of all, he directed
ligatures for wounds and the means of stanching blood to be prepared
by the same Milichus, who either knew of the conspiracy and was faithful
up to this point, or was in complete ignorance and then first caught
suspicions, as most authors have inferred from what followed. For
when his servile imagination dwelt on the rewards of perfidy, and
he saw before him at the same moment boundless wealth and power, conscience
and care for his patron’s life, together with the remembrance of the
freedom he had received, fled from him. From his wife, too, he had
adopted a womanly and yet baser suggestion; for she even held over
him a dreadful thought, that many had been present, both freedmen
and slaves, who had seen what he had; that one man’s silence would
be useless, whereas the rewards would be for him alone who was first
with the information.

Accordingly at daybreak Milichus went to the Servilian gardens, and,
finding the doors shut against him, said again and again that he was
the bearer of important and alarming news. Upon this he was conducted
by the gatekeepers to one of Nero’s freedmen, Epaphroditus, and by
him to Nero, whom he informed of the urgent danger, of the formidable
conspiracy, and of all else which he had heard or inferred. He showed
him too the weapon prepared for his destruction, and bade him summon
the accused.

Scaevinus on being arrested by the soldiers began his defence with
the reply that the dagger about which he was accused, had of old been
regarded with a religious sentiment by his ancestors, that it had
been kept in his chamber, and been stolen by a trick of his freedman.
He had often, he said, signed his will without heeding the observance
of particular days, and had previously given presents of money as
well as freedom to some of his slaves, only on this occasion he gave
more freely, because, as his means were now impoverished and his creditors
were pressing him, he distrusted the validity of his will. Certainly
his table had always been profusely furnished, and his life luxurious,
such as rigid censors would hardly approve. As to the bandages for
wounds, none had been prepared at his order, but as all the man’s
other charges were absurd, he added an accusation in which he might
make himself alike informer and witness.

He backed up his words by an air of resolution. Turning on his accuser,
he denounced him as an infamous and depraved wretch, with so fearless
a voice and look that the information was beginning to collapse, when
Milichus was reminded by his wife that Antonious Natalis had had a
long secret conversation with Scaevinus, and that both were Piso’s
intimate friends.

Natalis was therefore summoned, and they were separately asked what
the conversation was, and what was its subject. Then a suspicion arose
because their answers did not agree, and they were both put in irons.
They could not endure the sight and the threat of torture. Natalis
however, taking the initiative, knowing as he did more of the whole
conspiracy, and being also more practised in accusing, first confessed
about Piso, next added the name of Annaeus Seneca, either as having
been a messenger between him and Piso, or to win the favour of Nero,
who hated Seneca and sought every means for his ruin. Then Scaevinus
too, when he knew the disclosure of Natalis, with like pusillanimity,
or under the impression that everything now divulged, and that there
could be no advantage in silence, revealed the other conspirators.
Of these, Lucanus, Quintianus, and Senecio long persisted in denial;
after a time, when bribed by the promise of impunity, anxious to excuse
their reluctance, Lucanus named his mother Atilla, Quintianus and
Senecio, their chief friends, respectively, Glitius Gallus and Annius
The Annals by Tacitus