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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 31: Prosecutions for Majestas. Cominius, Suillius and Firmius[AD 24]
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|Some little joy broke this long succession of horrors. Gaius Cominius, a Roman knight, was spared by the emperor, against whom he was convicted of having written libellous verses at the intercession of his brother, who was a senator. Hence it seemed the more amazing that one who knew better things and the glory which waits on mercy, should prefer harsher courses. He did not indeed err from dulness, and it is easy to see when the acts of a sovereign meet with genuine, and when with fictitious popularity. And even he himself, though usually artificial in manner, and though his words escaped him with a seeming struggle, spoke out freely and fluently whenever he came to a man's rescue. In another case, that of Publius Suillius, formerly quaestor to Germanicus, who was to be expelled from Italy on a conviction of having received money for a judicial decision, he held that the man ought to be banished to an island, and so intensely strong was his feeling that he bound the Senate by an oath that this was a State necessity. The act was thought cruel at the moment, but subsequently it redounded to his honour when Suillius returned from exile. The next age saw him in tremendous power and a venal creature of the emperor Claudius, whose friendship he long used, with success, never for good. The same punishment was adjudged to Catus Firmius, a senator, for having (it was alleged) assailed his sister with a false charge of treason. Catus, as I have related, had drawn Libo into a snare and then destroyed him by an information. Tiberius remembering this service, while he alleged other reasons, deprecated a sentence of exile, but did not oppose his expulsion from the Senate.||
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Quaestor:There were two sets of officers bearing this title, the commissioners of the treasure, and the "trackers of murder" -- as their title may be literally translated -- whose duty was to search for and bring up for prosecution those who had been guilty of capital crimes.