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Within a few days, in quick succession, Annæus Mela, Cerialis Anicius, Rufius Crispinus, and Petronius fell, Mela and Crispinus being Roman knights with senatorian rank. The latter had once commanded the prætorians and had been rewarded with the decorations of the consulate. He had lately been banished to Sardinia on a charge of conspiracy, and on receiving a message that he was doomed to die had destroyed himself. Mela, son of the same parents as Gallio and Seneca, had refrained from seeking promotion out of a perverse vanity which wished to raise a Roman knight to an equality with ex-consuls. He also thought that there was a shorter road to the acquisition of wealth through offices connected with the administration of the emperor's private business. He had too in his son Annæus Lucanus a powerful aid in rising to distinction. After the death of Lucanus, he rigorously called in the debts due to his estate, and thereby provoked an accuser in the person of Fabius Romanus, one of the intimate friends of Lucanus. A story was invented that the father and son shared between them a knowledge of the conspiracy, and a letter was forged in Lucanus's name. This Nero examined, and ordered it to be conveyed to Mela, whose wealth he ravenously desired. Mela meanwhile, adopting the easiest mode of death then in fashion, opened his veins, after adding a codicil to his will bequeathing an immense amount to Tigellinus and his son-in-law, Cossutianus Capito, in order to save the remainder. In this codicil he is also said to have written, by way of remonstrance against the injustice of his death, that he died without any cause for punishment, while Rufius Crispinus and Anicius Cerialis still enjoyed life, though bitter foes to the prince. It was thought that he had invented this about Crispinus, because the man had been already murdered; about Cerialis, with the object of procuring his murder. Soon afterwards Cerialis laid violent hands on himself, and received less pity than the others, because men remembered that he had betrayed a conspiracy to Caius Cæsar.

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