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1164

NERO.

again invaded Armenia, and Tiridates attempted to recover it from Tigranes. It seems to have been agreed between Vologeses and Corbulo that Tiri­dates should have Armenia, and that hostilities should cease. But the ambassadors whom Vologeses sent to Rome, returned without accomplishing the object of their mission, and the war against the Parthians in Armenia was renewed under L. Cae-sennius Paetus. But the incompetence of the general caused the ruin of the enterprise, and he was forced to sue for terms to Vologeses, and to consent to evacuate Armenia (Tacit. Ann. xv. 16 ; Dion Cass. Ixii. 21). In the following year Cor­bulo came to terms with Tiridates, who did homage to the portrait of Nero in the presence of the Roman commander (Tacit. Ann. xv. 30), and promised that he would go to Rome, as soon as he could pre­pare for his journey, to ask the throne of Armenia from the Roman emperor. The town of Pompeii in Campania was nearly destroyed in this year by .an earthquake. Poppaea gave birth at Antium to a daughter, who received the title of Augusta, which was also given to the mother. The joy of Nero was unbounded, but the child died before it was four months old.

The origin of the dreadful conflagration at Rome (a. d. 64) is uncertain. It is hardly credible that the city was fired by Nero's order, though Dion and Suetonius both attest the fact, but these writers are always ready to believe a scandalous tale. Tacitus (Ann. xv. 38) leaves the matter doubtful. The fire originated in that part of the circus which is contiguous to the Caelian and Palatine hills, and of the fourteen regiones of Rome three were totally destroyed, and in seven others only a few half-.burnt houses remained. A prodigious quantity of pro­perty and valuable works of art were burnt, and many lives were lost. The emperor set about rebuild­ing the city on an improved plan, with wider streets, though it is doubtful if the salubrity of Rome was improved by widening the streets and making the houses/lower, for there was less protection against the heat. Nero found money for his purposes by acts of oppression and violence, and even the temples were robbed of their wealth. With these means he began to erect his sumptuous golden palace, on a scale of magnitude and splendour which almost surpasses belief. The vestibule con­tained a colossal statue of himself one hundred and twenty feet high (Suet. Ner. c. 31 ; Martial, Sped. Ep. 2). The odium of the conflagration which the emperor could not remove from himself, he tried to throw on the Christians, who were then numerous in Rome, and many of them were put to a cruel death (Tacit. Ann. xv. 44, and the note of Lipsius).

The tyranny of Nero at last (a. d. 65) led to the organisation of a formidable conspiracy against him, which was discovered by Milichus, a freed-man of Flavins Scevinus, a senator and one of the conspirators. The discovery was followed by many executions. C. Calpurnius Piso was put to death, and the poet Lucan, a vile flatterer of Nero (Phar-sal. i. 33, &c.*), had the favour of being allowed to open his veins. Plautius Lateranus was hurried to death without having time allowed to embrace his children. It is not certain if Seneca was privy to the conspiracy: Dion, of course, says that he was.

* The critics take the verses to be ironical. Let the reader judge.

NERO.

It Is probable that some proposals might have been made to him by the conspirators, and it is probable that he declined to join them. However this may be, the time was come for Nero to get rid of his old master, and, with his counsellors Poppaea and Tigellinus near him, he sent Seneca orders to die. The philosopher opened his veins, and, after long suffering, he was taken into a bath or vapour room, which stifled him. It seems that Seneca died about the time when the conspiracy was dis­covered ; Lucan and others died after him. The senate was assembled, as if they were going to hear the results of a successful war, and Tigellinus was rewarded with the triumphal ornaments. (Tacit. Ann. xv. 72.)

The death of Poppaea came next. Her brutal husband, in a fit of passion, kicked her when she was with child, and she died of the blow. Her body was not burnt, but embalmed and placed in the sepulchre of the Julii. Nero now proposed to marry Antonia, the daughter of the emperor Claudius and his sister by adoption, but she re­fused the honour, and was consequently put to death. Nero, however, did marry Statilia Mes-sallina, the widow of Vestinus, whom he put to death, because he had married Messallina, with whom Nero had cohabited.

The catalogue of the crimes of Nero makes the greater part of his life, but his crimes show the character of the man and of the times, and to what a state of abject degradation the Roman senate was reduced, for the senate was made the instrument of murder. The jurist C. Cassius Longinus was exiled to Sardinia. L. Junius Si-lanus Torquatus, a man of merit, L. Antistius Vetus, his mother-in-law Sextia, and his daughter Pollutia, the wife of Rubellius Plautus, were all sacrificed. Virtue in any form was the object of Nero's fear. For some reason or caprice the em­peror gave a large sum, which we may assume was public money, to rebuild Lugdunum (Lyon), which had suffered by a fire; and the town showed its gratitude, by espousing his cause when he was deserted by every body. The grant, however, was made some years after the conflagration.

In the reign of Nero (a. d. 66) Apollonius of Tyana visited Rome, and, though he was accused of magic, he had the gpod luck to escape. Nero now became jealous of the philosophers, and Musonius Rufus, a Roman eques and a stoic philosopher, was banished by the emperor. The fragment of the sixteenth book of the Annals of Tacitus con­cludes with the account of the death of Annaeus Melia, the father of Lucan, and C. Petronius, a man of pleasure, but probably not the author of the Satyrica. Nero, as Tacitus says (Ann. xvi. 21), now attacked virtue itself in the persons of Thrasea Paetus and Barea Soranus. The crime of Thrasea was his virtue: the charge against him was that he kept away from the senate, and by jhis absence condemned the proceedings of that body. The senate condemned him to die, but he had the choice of the mode of death, and he opened his veins. Soranus was rich, and that made part of his crime. He was condemned with his young daughter Servilia. who had without his knowledge consulted the fortune-tellers to know what would be her father's fate. (Tacit. Ann. xvi. 30, &c.) With the death of Thrasea, who, as the blood flowed from his veins, declared it to be a libation to Jupiter the Liberator, the fragment of the sixteenth

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