“Either let us go over to his system, if it is better than ours, or
let those who desire change have their leader and adviser taken from
them. That sect of his gave birth to the Tuberones and Favonii, names
hateful even to the old republic. They make a show of freedom, to
overturn the empire; should they destroy it, they will attack freedom
itself. In vain have you banished Cassius, if you are going to allow
rivals of the Bruti to multiply and flourish. Finally, write nothing
yourself about Thrasea; leave the Senate to decide for us.” Nero further
stimulated the eager wrath of Cossutianus, and associated with him
the pungent eloquence of Marcellus Eprius.

As for the impeachment of Barea Soranus, Ostorius Sabinus, a Roman
knight, had already claimed it for himself. It arose out of his proconsulate
of Asia, where he increased the prince’s animosity by his uprightness
and diligence, as well as by having bestowed pains on opening the
port of Ephesus and passed over without punishment the violence of
the citizens of Pergamos in their efforts to hinder Acratus, one of
the emperor’s freedmen, from carrying off statues and pictures. But
the crime imputed to him was friendship with Plautus and intrigues
to lure the province into thoughts of revolt. The time chosen for
the fatal sentence was that at which Tiridates was on his way to receive
the sovereignty of Armenia, so that crime at home might be partially
veiled amid rumours on foreign affairs, or that Nero might display
his imperial grandeur by the murder of illustrious men, as though
it were a kingly exploit.

Accordingly when all Rome rushed out to welcome the emperor and see
the king, Thrasea, though forbidden to appear, did not let his spirit
be cast down, but wrote a note to Nero, in which he demanded to know
the charges against him, and asserted that he would clear himself,
if he were informed of the crimes alleged and had an opportunity of
refuting them. This note Nero received with eagerness, in the hope
that Thrasea in dismay had written something to enhance the emperor’s
glory and to tarnish his own honour. When it turned out otherwise,
and he himself, on the contrary, dreaded the glance and the defiant
independence of the guiltless man, he ordered the Senate to be summoned.

Thrasea then consulted his most intimate friends whether he should
attempt or spurn defence. Conflicting advice was offered. Those who
thought it best for him to enter the Senate house said that they counted
confidently on his courage, and were sure that he would say nothing
but what would heighten his renown. “It was for the feeble and timid
to invest their last moments with secrecy. Let the people behold a
man who could meet death. Let the Senate hear words, almost of divine
inspiration, more than human. It was possible that the very miracle
might impress even a Nero. But should he persist in his cruelty, posterity
would at least distinguish between the memory of an honourable death
and the cowardice of those who perished in silence.”

Those, on the other hand, who thought that he ought to wait at home,
though their opinion of him was the same, hinted that mockeries and
insults were in store for him. “Spare your ears” they said, “taunts
and revilings. Not only are Cossutianus and Eprius eagerly bent on
crime; there are numbers more, daring enough, perchance, to raise
the hand of violence in their brutality. Even good men through fear
do the like. Better save the Senate which you have adorned to the
last the infamy of such an outrage, and leave it a matter of doubt
what the senators would have decided, had they seen Thrasea on his
trial. It is with a vain hope we are aiming to touch Nero with shame
for his abominations, and we have far more cause to fear that he will
vent his fury on your wife, your household, on all others dear to
you. And therefore, while you are yet stainless and undisgraced, seek
to close life with the glory of those in whose track and pursuits
you have passed it.”

Present at this deliberation was Rusticus Arulenus, an enthusiastic
youth, who, in his ardour for renown, offered, as he was tribune of
the people, to protest against the sentence of the Senate. Thrasea
checked his impetuous temper, not wishing him to attempt what would
be as futile, and useless to the accused, as it would be fatal to
the protester. “My days,” he said, “are ended, and I must not now
abandon a scheme of life in which for so many years I have persevered.
You are at the beginning of a career of office, and your future is
yet clear. Weigh thoroughly with yourself beforehand, at such a crisis
as this, the path of political life on which you enter.” He then reserved
for his own consideration the question whether it became him to enter
the Senate.
The Annals by Tacitus