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It was less of a secret that there was a design to murder Plautus, as his life was dear to many. The distance too by land and sea, and the interval of time, had given rise to rumours, and the popular story was that he had tampered with Corbulo, who was then at the head of great armies, and would be a special mark for danger, if illustrious and innocent men were to be destroyed. Again Asia, it was said, from its partiality for the young man, had taken up arms, and the soldiers sent to do the crime, not being suf- ficient in number or decided in purpose, and, finding themselves unable to execute their orders, had gone over to the new cause. These absurdities, like all popular gossip, gathered strength from the idle leisure of a credulous society.

As it was, one of Plautus's freedmen, thanks to swift winds, arrived before the centurion and brought him a message from his father-in-law, Lucius Antistius. "He was to avoid the obvious refuge of a coward's death, and in the pity felt for a noble name he would soon find good men to help him, and daring spirits would rally round him. Meantime no resource was to be rejected. If he did but repel sixty soldiers (this was the number on the way), while tidings were being carried back to Nero, while another force was on its march, many events would follow which would ripen into war. Finally, by this plan he either secured safety, or he would suffer nothing worse by daring than by cowardice."

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • Smith's Bio, Vetus
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