|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book XIV Chapter 59: Death of Plautus. Nero and Poppaea (cont.)[AD 62]
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|But all this had no effect on Plautus. Either he saw no resource before him, an unarmed exile as he was, or he was weary of an uncertain hope, or was swayed by his love of his wife and of his children, to whom he thought the emperor, if harassed by no anxiety, would be more merciful. Some say that another message came to him from his father-in-law, [Note 1] representing that no dreadful peril hung over him, and that two teachers of philosophy, Coeranus from Greece and Musonius from Etruria, advised him to await death with firmness rather than lead a precarious and anxious life. At all events, he was surprised at midday, when stripped for exercise. In that state the centurion slew him in the presence of Pelago, an eunuch, whom Nero had set over the centurion and his company, like a despot's minister over his satellites. The head of the murdered man was brought to Rome. At its sight the emperor exclaimed (I give his very words), Why would you have been a Nero? Then casting off all fear he prepared to hurry on his marriage with Poppaea, hitherto deferred because of such alarms as I have described, and to divorce his wife Octavia, notwithstanding her virtuous life, because her father's [Note 2] name and the people's affection for her made her an offence to him. He wrote, however, a letter to the Senate, confessing nothing about the murders of Sulla and Plautus, but merely hinting that both had a restless temper, and that he gave the most anxious thought to the safety of the State. On this pretext a thanksgiving was decreed, and also the expulsion from the Senate of Sulla and Plautus, more grievous, however, as a farce than as an actual calamity.