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Quote of the day: Prayers for either would be impious, vow
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Annals by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book XII Chapter 64: Prodigies[AD 54]
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In the year of the consulship of Marcus Asinius and Manius Acilius it was seen to be portended by a succession of prodigies that there were to be political changes for the worse. The soldiers' standards and tents were set in a blaze by lightning. A swarm of bees settled on the summit of the Capitol; births of monsters, half man, half beast, and of a pig with a hawk's talons were reported. It was accounted a portent that every order of magistrates had had its number reduced, a quaestor, an aedile, a tribune, a praetor and consul having died within a few months. But Agrippina's terror was the most conspicuous. Alarmed by some words dropped by Claudius when half intoxicated, that it was his destiny to have to endure his wives' infamy and at last punish it, she determined to act without a moment's delay. First she destroyed Lepida from motives of feminine jealousy. Lepida indeed as the daughter of the younger Antonia, as the grand-niece of Augustus, the cousin of Agrippina, and sister of her husband Cneius, thought herself of equally high rank. In beauty, youth, and wealth they differed but slightly. Both were shameless, infamous, and intractable, and were rivals in vice as much as in the advantages they had derived from fortune. It was indeed a desperate contest whether the aunt or the mother should have most power over Nero. Lepida tried to win the young prince's heart by flattery and lavish liberality, while Agrippina on the other hand, who could give her son empire but could not endure that he should be emperor, was fierce and full of menace. M. Asinio M'. Acilio consulibus mutationem rerum in deterius portendi cognitum est crebris prodigiis. signa ac tentoria militum igne caelesti arsere; fastigio Capitolii examen apium insedit; biformis hominum partus et suis fetum editum cui accipitrum ungues inessent. numerabatur inter ostenta deminutus omnium magistratuum numerus, quaestore, aedili, tribuno ac praetore et consule paucos intra mensis defunctis. sed in praecipuo pavore Agrippina, vocem Claudii, quam temulentus iecerat, fatale sibi ut coniugum flagitia ferret, dein puniret, metuens, agere et celerare statuit, perdita prius Domitia Lepida muliebribus causis, quia Lepida minore Antonia genita, avunculo Augusto, Agrippinae sobrina prior ac Gnaei mariti eius soror, parem sibi claritudinem credebat. nec forma aetas opes multum distabant; et utraque impudica, infamis, violenta, haud minus vitiis aemulabantur quam si qua ex fortuna prospera acceperant. enimvero certamen acerrimum, amita potius an mater apud Neronem praevaleret: nam Lepida blandimentis ac largitionibus iuvenilem animum devinciebat, truci contra ac minaci Agrippina, quae filio dare imperium, tolerare imperitantem