), a freedwoman of bad repute, who was implicated in the conspiracy of Piso against the life of Nero, in A. D. 65, in which the philosopher Seneca also was involved.
According to Polyaenus (8.62
). she was the mistress of a brother of Seneca, and it may be that through this connexion she became acquainted with the plot of the conspirators, though Tacitus says that it was unknown by what means she had acquired her knowledge of it.
She endeavored by all means to stimulate the conspirators to carry their plan into effect.
But as they acted slowly and with great hesitation, she at length grew tired, and resolved upon trying to win over the sailors of the fleet of Misenum in Campania, where she was staying. One Volusius Proculus, a chiliarch of the fleet, appears to have been the first that was initiated by her in the secret, but no names were mentioned to him. Proculus had no sooner obtained the information than he betrayed the whole plot to Nero. Epicharis was summoned before the emperor, but as no names had been mentioned, and as no witnesses had been present at the communication, Epicharis easily refuted the accusation.
She was, however, kept in custody. Subsequently, when the conspiracy was discovered, Nero ordered her to be tortured because she refused naming any of the accomplices; but neither blows, nor fire, nor the increased fury of her tormentors, could extort any confession from her. When on the second or third day after she was carried in a sedan-chair--for her limbs were already broken--to be tortured a second time, she strangled herself on her way by her girdle, which she fastened to the chair.
She thus acted, as Tacitus says, more nobly than many a noble eques or senator, who without being tortured betrayed their nearest relatives. (Tac. Ann. 15.51
; D. C. 62.27