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The imperial murderer fled as if he could leave his conscience behind him, to the city of Naples, whence he addressed a letter to the senate upon the death of his mother: he charged her with a conspiracy against himself, on the failure of which she had committed suicide. The author of the letter was Seneca (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 11): it is not extant, but a few words from it are quoted by Quintilian (Inst. Orat. viii. 5). This letter is Seneca's great condemnation: he had consented to Agrippina being assassinated, and he added to this crime the despicable subterfuge of a lie which nobody could believe. From this time Nero felt more free, and Seneca in due time had his reward.
In a. d. 63 Burrus died, and he may have been poisoned. Nero appointed two commanders of the Praetorians in place of Burrus, Fennius Rufus and Sofonius Tigellinus, whose infamy has been perpetuated with that of his master. The death of Burrus broke the power of Seneca: it diminished his influence towards good, and Nero was now in the hands of persons who were exactly suited to his taste, Tigellinus and Rufus began an attack on Seneca. His enormous wealth, a never-failing matter of charge against Seneca, his gardens and villae, more magnificent than those of the emperor, his exclusive claims to eloquence, and his disparagement of Nero's skill in driving and singing, were all urged against him ; and it was time, they said, for Nero to get rid of a teacher. Seneca heard of the charges against him: he was rich, and he knew that Nero wanted money. He obtained an interview in which he addressed the emperor in a studied speech (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 53). He asked for permission to retire, and offered to surrender all that he had. Nero affected to be grateful for his past services, refused the proffered gift, and sent him away with perfidious assurances of his respect and affection. Seneca now altered his mode of life, saw little company, and seldom visited the city, on the ground of feeble health, or being occupied with his philosophical studies.
When Nero, after plundering Italy and the provinces, began, like the Eighth Henry of England, the pillage of the temples and of things dedicated to religion, in order to meet his extravagant expenditure, Seneca, who feared that he might be involved in the odium of the sacrilege, though it is not said why he feared (Tacit. Ann. xv. 45), prayed for leave to retire into the country ; and when it was refused, he kept his chamber on the pretence of sickness. A story was current that Nero tried to poison him, but the attempt failed. The conspiracy of Piso gave the emperor a pretext for a more direct attack on his teacher's life, though there was not complete evidence of Seneca being a party to the conspiracy (Tacit. Ann. xv. 60). Certain words of Seneca to Antonius Na-talis, which were of a suspicious character, were repeated to Nero ; and Granius Sylvanus, a tribune of a Praetorian cohort, was sent by the emperor to Seneca to demand the meaning of them. It happened that Seneca was returning from Campania, and had rested at a villa four miles from the city. In the evening the tribune with a band of soldiers surrounded the house where Seneca was supping with his wife Pompeia Paullina and two friends.
Seneca explained the words that he had used to Natalis, and the tribune carried them to the emperor. Nero was in close council with the two great ministers of his cruelty, his wife Poppaea and Tigellinus. Nero asked if Seneca was preparing to die voluntarily ; and on the tribune replying that he saw no signs of fear, no gloomy indication in his words or countenance, he was ordered to go back and give him notice to die. The tribune, himself a party to the conspiracy of Piso, did not show himself again to Seneca, but he sent in a centurion with the order of death. Without showing any sign of alarm, Seneca asked for his testament, apparently with the intention of adding some legacies, but the centurion refused to allow this, on which Seneca told his friends that since he was forbidden to reward their services, his last testamentary bequest must be the portraiture of his life, which, if they kept in their memory, they would have the reputation of an honest life and of a constant friendship. He cheered his weeping friends by reminding them of the lessons of philosophy, and that he who had murdered a brother and a mother could not be expected to spare his teacher. Embracing his wife, he prayed her to moderate her grief, and to console herself for the loss of her husband by the reflection that he had lived an honourable life. But as Paullina protested that she would die with him, Seneca consented, and the same blow opened the veins in the arms of both. Seneca's body was attenuated by age and meagre diet; the blood would not flow easily, and he opened the veins in his legs. His torture was excessive ; and to save himself and his wife the pain of seeing one another suffer, he bade her retire to her chamber. His last words were taken down in writing by persons who were called in for the purpose, and were afterwards published. Tacitus for some reason has not given the words, and he did not think proper to give the substance of them. The soldiers, at the entreaty of the slaves and freedmen of Seneca, stopped the wounds of Paullina, and she lived a few years longer ; but her pallid face showed that the stream of life was largely drawn from her. Scandal, as usual, said that when she found that Nero did not wish her death, she was easily prevailed upon to submit to live. Seneca's torments being still prolonged, he took hemlock from his friend and physician, Statius Annaeus, but it had no effect. At last he entered a warm bath, and as he sprinkled some of the water on the slaves nearest to him, he said, that he made a libation to Jupiter the Liberator. He was then taken into a vapour stove, where he was quickly suffocated, a. d. 65. The body was burnt without ceremony, according to the instructions in a codicil to his will, which was made when he was in the full enjo3rment of power and wealth. Seneca died, as was the fashion among the Romans, with the courage of a stoic ; but with somewhat of a theatrical affectation which detracts from the dignity of the scene. Tacitus has not strongly censured Seneca in any passage ; but Dion Cassius collected from among the contradictory memoirs of the time every thing that was most unfavourable to his character. Seneca's great misfortune was to have known Nero ; and though we cannot say that he was a truly great or a truly good man, his character will not lose by comparison with that of many others who have been placed in equally difficult circumstances. Whether he was privy to