Publius Gallus, a Roman knight, was outlawed for having been intimate
with Faenius Rufus and somewhat acquainted with Vetus. To the freedman
who was the accuser, was given, as a reward for his service, a seat
in the theatre among the tribune’s officers. The month too following
April, or Neroneus, was changed from Maius into the name of Claudius,
and Junius into that of Germanicus, Cornelius Orfitus, the proposer
of the motion, publicly declaring that the month Junius had been passed
over because the execution of the two Torquati for their crimes had
now rendered its name inauspicious.

A year of shame and of so many evil deeds heaven also marked by storms
and pestilence. Campania was devastated by a hurricane, which destroyed
everywhere countryhouses, plantations and crops, and carried its fury
to the neighbourhood of Rome, where a terrible plague was sweeping
away all classes of human beings without any such derangement of the
atmosphere as to be visibly apparent. Yet the houses were filled with
lifeless forms and the streets with funerals. Neither age nor sex
was exempt from peril. Slaves and the free-born populace alike were
suddenly cut off, amid the wailings of wives and children, who were
often consumed on the very funeral pile of their friends by whom they
had been sitting and shedding tears. Knights and senators perished
indiscriminately, and yet their deaths were less deplored because
they seemed to forestal the emperor’s cruelty by an ordinary death.
That same year levies of troops were held in Narbon Gaul, Africa and
Asia, to fill up the legions of Illyricum, all soldiers in which,
worn out by age or ill-health, were receiving their discharge. Lugdunum
was consoled by the prince for a ruinous disaster by a gift of four
million sesterces, so that what was lost to the city might be replaced.
Its people had previously offered this same amount for the distresses
of Rome.

In the consulship of Caius Suetonius and Lucius Telesinus, Antistius
Sosianus, who, as I have stated, had been punished with exile for
repeated satires on Nero, having heard that there was such honour
for informers and that the emperor was so partial to bloodshed, being
himself too of a restless temper and quick to seize opportunities,
made a friend of a man in like condition with himself, one Pammenes,
an exile in the same place, noted for his skill as an astrologer,
and consequently bound to many in close intimacy. He thought there
must be a meaning in the frequent messages and the consultations,
and he learnt at the same time that an annual payment was furnished
him by Publius Anteius. He knew too that Anteius was hated by Nero
for his love of Agrippina, and that his wealth was sufficiently conspicuous
to provoke cupidity, and that this was the cause of the destruction
of many. Accordingly he intercepted a letter from Anteius, and having
also stolen some notes about the day of his nativity and his future
career, which were hidden away among Pammenes’ secret papers, and
having further discovered some remarks on the birth and life of Ostorius
Scapula, he wrote to the emperor that he would communicate important
news which would contribute to his safety, if he could but obtain
a brief reprieve of his exile. Anteius and Ostorius were, he hinted,
grasping at empire and prying into the destinies of themselves and
of the prince. Some swift galleys were then despatched and Sosianus
speedily arrived. On the disclosure of his information, Anteius and
Ostorius were classed with condemned criminals rather than with men
on their trial, so completely, indeed, that no one would attest the
will of Anteius, till Tigellinus interposed to sanction it. Anteius
had been previously advised by him not to delay this final document.
Then he drank poison, but disgusted at its slowness, he hastened death
by severing his veins.

Ostorius was living at the time on a remote estate on the Ligurian
frontier. Thither a centurion was despatched to hurry on his destruction.
There was a motive for promptitude arising out of the fact that Ostorius,
with his great military fame and the civic crown he had won in Britain,
possessed, too, as he was of huge bodily strength and skill in arms,
had made Nero, who was always timid and now more frightened than ever
by the lately discovered conspiracy, fearful of a sudden attack. So
the centurion, having barred every exit from the house, disclosed
the emperor’s orders to Ostorius. That fortitude which he had often
shown in fighting the enemy Ostorius now turned against himself. And
as his veins, though severed, allowed but a scanty flow of blood,
he used the help of a slave, simply to hold up a dagger firmly, and
then pressing the man’s hand towards him, he met the point with his

Even if I had to relate foreign wars and deaths encountered in the
service of the State with such a monotony of disaster, I should myself
have been overcome by disgust, while I should look for weariness in
my readers, sickened as they would be by the melancholy and continuous
destruction of our citizens, however glorious to themselves. But now
a servile submissiveness and so much wanton bloodshed at home fatigue
the mind and paralyze it with grief. The only indulgence I would ask
from those who will acquaint themselves with these horrors is that
I be not thought to hate men who perished so tamely. Such was the
wrath of heaven against the Roman State that one may not pass over
it with a single mention, as one might the defeat of armies and the
capture of cities. Let us grant this privilege to the posterity of
illustrious men, that just as in their funeral obsequies such men
are not confounded in a common burial, so in the record of their end
they may receive and retain a special memorial.

Within a few days, in quick succession, Annaeus Mela, Cerialis Anicius,
Rufius Crispinus, and Petronius fell, Mela and Crispinus being Roman
knights with senatorian rank. The latter had once commanded the praetorians
and had been rewarded with the decorations of the consulate. He had
lately been banished to Sardinia on a charge of conspiracy, and on
receiving a message that he was doomed to die had destroyed himself.
Mela, son of the same parents as Gallio and Seneca, had refrained
from seeking promotion out of a perverse vanity which wished to raise
a Roman knight to an equality with ex-consuls. He also thought that
there was a shorter road to the acquisition of wealth through offices
connected with the administration of the emperor’s private business.
He had too in his son Annaeus Lucanus a powerful aid in rising to
distinction. After the death of Lucanus, he rigorously called in the
debts due to his estate, and thereby provoked an accuser in the person
of Fabius Romanus, one of the intimate friends of Lucanus. A story
was invented that the father and son shared between them a knowledge
of the conspiracy, and a letter was forged in Lucanus’s name. This
Nero examined, and ordered it to be conveyed to Mela, whose wealth
he ravenously desired. Mela meanwhile, adopting the easiest mode of
death then in fashion, opened his veins, after adding a codicil to
his will bequeathing an immense amount to Tigellinus and his son-in-law,
Cossutianus Capito, in order to save the remainder. In this codicil
he is also said to have written, by way of remonstrance against the
injustice of his death, that he died without any cause for punishment,
while Rufius Crispinus and Anicius Cerialis still enjoyed life, though
bitter foes to the prince. It was thought that he had invented this
about Crispinus, because the man had been already murdered; about
Cerialis, with the object of procuring his murder. Soon afterwards
Cerialis laid violent hands on himself, and received less pity than
the others, because men remembered that he had betrayed a conspiracy
to Caius Caesar.
The Annals by Tacitus