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Claudius, Chapter 29: Influence of his wifes and freedmen.
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Being entirely governed by these freedmen, and, as I have already said, by his wives, he [Note 1] was a tool to others, rather than a prince. He distributed offices, or the command of armies, pardoned or punished, according as it suited their interests, their passions, or their caprice; and for the most part, without knowing, or being sensible of what he did. Not to enter into minute details relative to the revocation of grants, the reversal of judicial decisions, obtaining his signature to fictitious appointments, or the bare-faced alteration of them after signing; he put to death Appius Silanus the father of his son-in-law [Note 2], and the two Julias [Note 3], the daughters of Drusus and Germanicus, without any positive proof of the crimes with which they were charged, or so much as permitting them to make any defense. He also killed Gnaeus Pompey, the husband of his eldest [Note 4] daughter; and Lucius Silanus, who was betrothed to the younger [Note 5]. Pompey was stabbed in the embrace of a favored youth. Silanus was obliged to quit the office of praetor upon the fourth of the Kalends of January [28th Dec.], and to kill himself on New Year's day following, the very same on which Claudius and Agrippina were married. He condemned to death five and thirty senators, and above three hundred Roman knights, with so little attention to what he did, that when a centurion brought him word of the execution of a man of consular rank who was one of the number, and told him that he had executed his order, he declared, " he had ordered no such thing, but that he approved of it"; because his freedmen, it seems, had said, that the soldiers did nothing more than their duty, in dispatching the emperor's enemies without waiting for a warrant. But it is beyond all belief, that he himself, at the marriage of Messalina with the adulterous Silius, should actually sign the writings relative to her dowry; induced, as it is pretended, by the design of diverting from himself and transferring upon another the danger which some omens seemed to threaten him. |
Note 1: he = Claudius
|His, ut dixi, uxoribusque addictus, non principem, sed ministrum egit, compendio cuiusque horum vel etiam studio aut libidine honores exercitus impunitates supplicia largitus est, et quidem insciens plerumque et ignarus. Ac ne singillatim minora quoque enumerem, revocatas liberalitates eius, iudicia rescissa, suppositos aut etiam palam immutatos datorum officiorum codicillos: Appium Silanum consocerum suum Iuliasque, alteram Drusi, alteram Germanici filiam, crimine incerto nec defensione ulla data occidit, item Cn. Pompeium maioris filiae virum et L. Silanum minoris sponsum. Ex quibus Pompeius in concubitu dilecti adulescentuli confossus est, Silanus abdicare se praetura ante IIII. Kal. Ian. Morique initio anni coactus die ipso Claudi et Agrippinae nuptiarum. In quinque et triginta senatores trecentosque amplius equites R. tanta facilitate animaduertit, ut, cum de nece consularis viri renuntiante centurione factum esse quod imperasset, negaret quicquam se imperasse, nihilo minus rem comprobaret, affirmantibus libertis officio milites functos, quod ad ultionem imperatoris ultro procucurrissent. Nam illud omnem fidem excesserit quod nuptiis, quas Messalina cum adultero Silio fecerat, tabellas dotis et ipse consignaverit, inductus, quasi de industria simularentur ad auertendum transferendumque periculum, quod imminere ipsi per quaedam ostenta portenderetur.|