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He had, besides Octavia, two other wives: Poppaea Sabina, whose father had borne the office of quaestor, and who had been married before to a Roman knight: and, after her, Statilia Messalina, great-granddaughter of Taurus, 1 who was twice consul, and received the honour of a triumph. To obtain possession of her, he put to death her husband, Atticus Vestinus, who was then consul. He soon became disgusted with Octavia, and ceased from having any intercourse with her; and being censured by his friends for it, he replied, " She ought to be satisfied with having the rank and appendages of his wife." Soon afterwards, he made several attempts, but in vain, to strangle her, and then divorced her for barrenness. But the people, disapproving of the divorce, and making severe comments upon it, he also banished her.2 At last he put her to death, upon a charge of adultery, so impudent and false, that, when all those who were put to the torture positively denied their knowledge of it, he suborned his pedagogue, Anicetus, to affirm, that he had secretly intrigued with and debauched her. He married Poppaea twelve days after the divorce of Octavia,3 and entertained a great affection for her; but, nevertheless, killed her with a kick which he gave her when she was big with child, and in bad health, only because she found fault with him for returning late from driving his chariot He had by her a daughter, Claudia Augusta, who died an infant. There was no person at all connected with him who escaped his deadly and unjust cruelty. Under pretence of her being engaged in a plot against him, he ,put to dath Antonia, Claudius's daughter, who refused to marry him after the death of Poppaea. In the same way, he destroyed all yho were allied to him either by blood or marriage; amongst whom was young Aulus Plautinus. * * * Thomson omits material here * * * His step-son, Rufinus Crispinus, Poppaea's son, though a minor, he ordered to be drowned in the sea, while he was fishing, by his own slaves, because he was reported to act Trequenty amongst his play-fellows the part of a general or an emperor. He banished Tuscus, his nurse's son, for presuming, when he was procurator of Egypt, to wash in the baths which had been constructed in expectation of his own coming. Seneca, his preceptor, he forced to kill himself 4 though upon his desiring leave to retire, and offering to surrender his estate, he solemnly swore, "that there was no foundation for his suspicions, and that he would perish himself sooner than hurt him." Having promised Burrhus, the pretorian prefect, a remedy for a swelling in his throat, he sent him poison. Some old rich freedmen of Claudius, who had formerly not only promoted his adoption, but were also instrumental to his advancement to the empire, and had been his governors, he took off by poison given them in their meat or drink.
1 Statilius Taurus, who lived in the time of Augustus, and built the amphitheatre called after his name. AUGUSTUS, c. xxiv. He is mentioned by Horace, Epist. i. v. 4.
2 Octavia was first sent away to Campania, under a guard of soldiers, and after being recalled, in consequence of the remonstrances of the people, by whom she was beloved, Nero banished her to the island of Pandataria.
3 A.U.C. 813
4 Seneca was accused of complicity in the conspiracy of Caius Piso. Tacitus furnishes some interesting details of the circumstances under which the philosopher calmly submitted to his fate, which was announced to him when at supper with his friends, at his villa, near Rome.--Tacitus, b. xiv. xv.
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