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Quote of the day: Even the sons of Mithridates were butche
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Annals by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book XIV Chapter 22: Omens and Plautus[AD 60]
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A comet meantime blazed in the sky, which in popular opinion always portends revolution to kingdoms. So people began to ask, as if Nero was already dethroned, who was to be elected. In every one's mouth was the name of Rubellius Plautus, who inherited through his mother the high nobility of the Julian family. He was himself attached to the ideas of our ancestors; his manners were austere, his home was one of purity and seclusion, and the more he lived in retirement from fear, the more fame did he acquire. Popular talk was confirmed by an interpretation put with similar credulity on a flash of lightning. While Nero was reclining at dinner in his house named Sublaqueum on the Simbruine Lake the table with the banquet was struck and shattered, and as this happened close to Tibur, from which town Plautus derived his origin on his father's side, people believed him to be the man marked out by divine providence; and he was encouraged by that numerous class, whose eager and often mistaken ambition it is to attach themselves prematurely to some new and hazardous cause. This alarmed Nero, and he wrote a letter to Plautus, bidding him consider the tranquillity of Rome and withdraw himself from mischievous gossip. He had ancestral possessions in Asia, where he might enjoy his youth safely and quietly. And so thither Plautus retired with his wife Antistia and a few intimate friends. About the same time an excessive love of luxurious gratification involved Nero in disgrace and danger. He had plunged for a swim into the source of the stream which Quintus Marcius conveyed to Rome, and it was thought that, by thus immersing his person in it, he had polluted the sacred waters and the sanctity of the spot. A fit of illness which followed, convinced people of the divine displeasure. Inter quae sidus cometes effulsit, de quo vulgi opinio est, tamquam mutationem regis portendat. igitur, quasi iam depulso Nerone, quisnam deligeretur anquirebant. et omnium ore Rubellius Plautus celebra[ba]tur, cui nobilitas per matrem ex Iulia familia. ipse placita maiorum colebat, habitu severo, casta et secreta domo, quantoque metu occultior, tanto plus famae adeptus. auxit rumorem pari vanitate orta interpretatio fulguris. nam quia discumbentis Neronis apud Simbruina stagna [in villa], cui Sublaqueum nomen est, ictae dapes mensaque disiecta erat, idque finibus Tiburtum acciderat, unde paterna Plauto origo, hunc illum numine deum destinari credebant, fovebantque multi, quibus nova et ancipitia praecolere avida et plerumque fallax ambitio est. ergo permotus his Nero componit ad Plautum litteras, consuleret quieti urbis seque prava diffamantibus subtraheret: esse illi per Asiam avitos agros, in quibus tuta et inturbida iuventa frueretur. ita illuc cum coniuge Antistia et paucis familiarium concessit.] Isdem diebus nimia luxus cupido infamiam et periculum Neroni tulit, quia fontem aquae Marciae ad urbem deductae nando incesserat; videbaturque potus sacros et caerimoniam loci corpore loto polluisse. secutaque anceps valitudo iram