The Annals of Imperial Rome

By Cornelius Tacitus; Michael Grant | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The First Treason Trials

IT was about now that Marcus Scribonius Libo Drusus was accused of subversive plotting. Since this case initiated an evil which for many years corroded public life, I will give details of its beginnings, progress, and conclusion. Libo was a fatuous young man with a taste for absurdities. One of his closest friends, the junior senator Firmius Catus, interested him in astrologers' predictions, magicians' rites, and readers of dreams. Catus reminded Libo that the Caesars were his cousins,1 and that his own house, too, was full of ancestral statues.

By encouraging Libo's extravagances and debts and sharing his dissipations (and embarrassments), Catus accumulated damning evidence. When he had collected enough witnesses -- including slaves to corroborate the account -- he requested an interview with the emperor. Tiberius already knew who was accused, and why, through a gentleman outside the senate2 who was more intimate with the emperor than Catus was. Tiberius did not refuse the information of Catus but declined personal contact, indicating that they could continue to communicate through the non-senator as intermediary. Meanwhile he made Libo praetor and invited him to dinner. No unfriendliness was apparent in Tiberius' expression or talk. His malevolence was completely concealed. He could have stopped all Libo's actions and words. Instead, he preferred to note them.

Finally, however, a man whom Libo had approached to practise necromancy3 reported him to Lucius Fulcinius Trio, a man known for his talents as a prosecutor -- and eager for notoriety. Trio immediately pounced on Libo, applied to the consuls, and demanded an inquiry by the senate: which was summoned, to discuss (it was added) a grave and terrible matter. Meanwhile Libo put on mourning and, with an

____________________
1
Besides being a great-grandson of Pompey, Libo was grandnephew of Scribonia, at one time the wife of Augustus.
2
Vescularius Flaccus.
3
His name was Junius.

-88-

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The Annals of Imperial Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • The Annals Of Imperial Rome 27
  • Chapter 1 - From Augustus to Tiberius 29
  • Chapter 2 - Mutiny on the Frontiers 41
  • Chapter 3 - War with the Germans 59
  • Chapter 4 - The First Treason Trials 88
  • Chapter 5 - The Death of Germanicus 102
  • Chapter 6 - Tiberius and the Senate 126
  • Chapter 7 - 'Partner of My Labours' 153
  • Chapter 8 - The Reign of Terror 193
  • Part Two - Claudius and Nero 223
  • Chapter 9 - The Fall of Messalina 225
  • Chapter 10 - The Mother of Nero 244
  • Chapter II - The Fall of Agrippina 274
  • Chapter 12 - Nero and His Helpers 310
  • Chapter 13 - Eastern Settlement 334
  • Chapter 14 - The Burning of Rome 349
  • Chapter 15 - The Plot 356
  • Chapter 16 - Innocent Victims 370
  • Notes 385
  • List of Roman Emperors 399
  • Lists of Some Eastern Monarchs 400
  • Key to Technical Terms 402
  • Key to Place-Names 410
  • Genealogical Tables 433
  • Index of Personal Names 439
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