As neither crime nor accuser appeared, Nero, being thus unable to
assume the semblance of a judge, had recourse to the sheer might of
despotism, and despatched Gerellanus, a tribune, with a cohort of
soldiers, and with orders to forestall the designs of the consul,
to seize what he might call his fortress, and crush his train of chosen
youths. For Vestinus had a house towering over the Forum, and a host
of handsome slaves of the same age. On that day he had performed all
his duties as consul, and was entertaining some guests, fearless of
danger, or perhaps by way of hiding his fears, when the soldiers entered
and announced to him the tribune’s summons. He rose without a moment’s
delay, and every preparation was at once made. He shut himself into
his chamber; a physician was at his side; his veins were opened; with
life still strong in him, he was carried into a bath, and plunged
into warm water, without uttering a word of pity for himself. Meanwhile
the guards surrounded those who had sat at his table, and it was only
at a late hour of the night that they were dismissed, when Nero, having
pictured to himself and laughed over their terror at the expectation
of a fatal end to their banquet, said that they had suffered enough
punishment for the consul’s entertainment.

Next he ordered the destruction of Marcus Annaeus Lucanus. As the
blood flowed freely from him, and he felt a chill creeping through
his feet and hands, and the life gradually ebbing from his extremities,
though the heart was still warm and he retained his mental power,
Lucanus recalled some poetry he had composed in which he had told
the story of a wounded soldier dying a similar kind of death, and
he recited the very lines. These were his last words. After him, Senecio,
Quintianus, and Scaevinus perished, not in the manner expected from
the past effeminacy of their life, and then the remaining conspirators,
without deed or word deserving record.

Rome all this time was thronged with funerals, the Capitol with sacrificial
victims. One after another, on the destruction of a brother, a kinsman,
or a friend, would return thanks to the gods, deck his house with
laurels, prostrate himself at the knees of the emperor, and weary
his hand with kisses. He, in the belief that this was rejoicing, rewarded
with impunity the prompt informations of Antonius Natalis and Cervarius
Proculus. Milichus was enriched with gifts and assumed in its Greek
equivalent the name of Saviour. Of the tribunes, Gavius Silvanus,
though acquitted, perished by his own hand; Statius Proximus threw
away the benefit of the pardon he had accepted from the emperor by
the folly of his end. Cornelius Martialis, Flavius Nepos, Statius
Domitius were then deprived of the tribuneship, on the ground, not
of actually hating the emperor, but of having the credit of it. Novius
Priscus, as Seneca’s friend, Glitius Gallus, and Annius Pollio, as
men disgraced rather than convicted, escaped with sentences of banishment.
Priscus and Gallus were accompanied respectively by their wives, Artoria
Flaccilla and Egnatia Maximilla. The latter possessed at first a great
fortune, still unimpaired, and was subsequently deprived of it, both
which circumstances enhanced her fame.

Rufius Crispinus too was banished, on the opportune pretext of the
conspiracy, but he was in fact hated by Nero, because he had once
been Poppaea’s husband. It was the splendour of their name which drove
Verginius Flavus and Musonius Rufus into exile. Verginius encouraged
the studies of our youth by his eloquence; Rufus by the teachings
of philosophy. Cluvidienus Quietus, Julius Agrippa, Blitius Catulinus,
Petronius Priscus, Julius Altinus, mere rank and file, so to say,
had islands in the Aegean Sea assigned to them. Caedicia, the wife
of Scaevinus, and Caesonius Maximus were forbidden to live in Italy,
their penalty being the only proof they had of having been accused.
Atilla, the mother of Annaeus Lucanus, without either acquittal or
punishment, was simply ignored.

All this having been completed, Nero assembled the troops and distributed
two thousand sesterces to every common soldier, with an addition of
as much corn without payment, as they had previously the use of at
the market price. Then, as if he was going to describe successes in
war, he summoned the Senate, and awarded triumphal honours to Petronius
Turpilianus, an ex-consul, to Cocceius Nerva, praetor-elect, and to
Tigellinus, commander of the praetorians. Tigellinus and Nerva he
so distinguished as to place busts of them in the palace in addition
to triumphal statues in the Forum. He granted a consul’s decorations
to Nymphidius, on whose origin, as he now appears for the first time,
I will briefly touch. For he too will be a part of Rome’s calamities.

The son of a freedwoman, who had prostituted a handsome person among
the slaves and freedmen of the emperors, he gave out that he was the
offspring of Caius Caesar, for he happened to be of tall stature and
to have a fierce look, or possibly Caius Caesar, who liked even harlots,
had also amused himself with the man’s mother.
The Annals by Tacitus