“Formerly, it was not only a praetor or a consul, but private persons
also, who were sent to inspect the provinces, and to report what they
thought about each man’s loyalty. And nations were timidly sensitive
to the opinion of individuals. But now we court foreigners and flatter
them, and just as there is a vote of thanks at any one’s pleasure,
so even more eagerly is a prosecution decided on. Well; let it be
decided on, and let the provincials retain the right of showing their
power in this fashion, but as for false praise which has been extorted
by entreaties, let it be as much checked as fraud or tyranny. More
faults are often committed, while we are trying to oblige than while
we are giving offence. Nay, some virtues are actually hated; inflexible
strictness, for example, and a temper proof against partiality. Consequently,
our magistrates’ early career is generally better than its close,
which deteriorates, when we are anxiously seeking votes, like candidates.
If such practices are stopped, our provinces will be ruled more equitably
and more steadily. For as the dread of a charge of extortion has been
a check to rapacity, so, by prohibiting the vote of thanks, will the
pursuit of popularity be restrained.”

This opinion was hailed with great unanimity, but the Senate’s resolution
could not be finally passed, as the consuls decided that there had
been no formal motion on the subject. Then, at the emperor’s suggestion,
they decreed that no one was to propose to any council of our allies
that a vote of thanks ought to be given in the Senate to propraetors
or proconsuls, and that no one was to discharge such a mission.

During the same consulship a gymnasium was wholly consumed by a stroke
of lightning, and a statue of Nero within it was melted down to a
shapeless mass of bronze. An earthquake too demolished a large part
of Pompeii, a populous town in Campania. And one of the vestal virgins,
Laelia, died, and in her place was chosen Cornelia, of the family
of the Cossi.

During the consulship of Memmius Regulus and Verginius Rufus, Nero
welcomed with something more than mortal joy the birth of a daughter
by Poppaea, whom he called Augusta, the same title having also been
given to Poppaea. The place of her confinement was the colony of Antium,
where the emperor himself was born. Already had the Senate commended
Poppaea’s safety to the gods, and had made vows in the State’s name,
which were repeated again and again and duly discharged. To these
was added a public thanksgiving, and a temple was decreed to the goddess
of fecundity, as well as games and contests after the type of the
ceremonies commemorative of Actium, and golden images of the two Fortunes
were to be set up on the throne of Jupiter of the Capitol. Shows too
of the circus were to be exhibited in honour of the Claudian and Domitian
families at Antium, like those at Bovillae in commemoration of the
Julii. Transient distinctions all of them, as within four months the
infant died. Again there was an outburst of flattery, men voting the
honours of deification, of a shrine, a temple, and a priest.

The emperor, too, was as excessive in his grief as he had been in
his joy. It was observed that when all the Senate rushed out to Antium
to honour the recent birth, Thrasea was forbidden to go, and received
with fearless spirit an affront which foreboded his doom. Then followed,
as rumour says, an expression from the emperor, in which he boasted
to Seneca of his reconciliation with Thrasea, on which Seneca congratulated
him. And now henceforth the glory and the peril of these illustrious
men grew greater.

Meanwhile, in the beginning of spring, Parthian envoys brought a message
from king Vologeses, with a letter to the same effect. “He did not,”
it was said, “repeat his former and frequent claims to the holding
of Armenia, since the gods who ruled the destinies of the most powerful
nations, had handed over its possession to the Parthians, not without
disgrace to Rome. Only lately, he had besieged Tigranes; afterwards,
he let Paetus and his legions depart in safety when he could have
destroyed them. He had tried force with a satisfactory result; he
had also given clemency a trial. Nor would Tiridates refuse a journey
to Rome to receive the crown, were he not detained at home by the
duties of a sacred office. He was ready to go to the emperor’s image
in the Roman headquarters, and there in the presence of the legions
inaugurate his reign.”
The Annals by Tacitus