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Soon afterwards, he abandoned himself to every species of cruelty, never wanting occasions of one kind or another, to serve as a pretext. He first fell upon the friends and acquaintances of his mother, then those of his grandsons, and his daughter-in-law, and lastly those of Sejanus; after whose death he became cruel in the extreme. From this it appeared, that he had not been so much instigated by Sejanus, as supplied with occasions of gratifying his savage temper, when he wanted them. Though in a short memoir which he composed of his own life, he had the effrontery to write, "I have punished Sejanus, because I found him bent upon the destruction of the children of my son Germanicus," one of these he put to death, when he began to suspect Sejanus; and another, after he was taken off. It would be tedious to relate all the numerous instances of his cruelty: suffice it to give a few examples, in their different kinds. Not a day passed without the punishment of some person or other, not excepting holidays, or those appropriated to the worship of the gods. Some were tried even on NewYear's-Day. Of many who were condemned, their wives and children shared the same fate; and for those who Were sentenced to death, the relations were forbid to put on mourning. Considerable rewards were voted for the prosecutors, and sometimes for the witnesses also. The information of any person, without exception, was taken; and all offences were capital, even speaking a few words, though without any ill intention. A poet was charged with abusing Agamemnon; and a historian,1 for calling Brutus and Cassius " the last of the Romans." The two authors were immediately called to account, and their writings suppressed; though they had been well received some years before, and read in the hearing of Augustus. Some, who were thrown into prison, were not only denied the solace of study, but debarred from all company and conversation. Many persons, when summoned to trial, stabbed themselves at home, to avoid the distress and ignominy of a public condemnation, which they were certain would ensue. Others took poison in the senate-house. The wounds were bound up, and all who had not expired, were carried, half-dead, and panting for life, to prison. Those who were put to death, were thrown down the Gemonian stairs, and then dragged into the Tiber. In one day, twenty were treated in this manner; and amongst them women and boys. Because, according to an ancient custom, it was not lawful to strangle virgins, the young girls were first deflowered by the executioner, and afterwards strangled. Those who were desirous to die, were forced to live. For he thought death so slight a punishment, that upon hearing that Carnulius, one of the accused, who was under prosecution, had killed himself," he exclaimed, "Carnulius has escaped me." In calling over his prisoners, when one of them requested the favour of a speedy death, he replied, " You are not yet restored to favour." A man of consular rank writes in his annals, that at table, where he himself was present with a large company, he was suddenly asked aloud by a dwarf who stood by amongst the buffoons, why Paconius, who was under prosecution for treason, lived so long. Tiberius immediately reprimanded him for his pertness; but wrote to the senate a few days after, to proceed without delay to the punishment of Paconius.
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