6. L. Vettius
, a Roman eques, was in the pay of Cicero in B. C. 63, to whom he gave some valuable information respecting the Catilinarian conspiracy. Hence he is called by Cicero noster index.
Among others he accused Caesar of being privy to the conspiracy. (Comp. Suet. Jul. 17
, where we ought to read a L. Vettio indice
instead of a L. Vettio judice.
) He was an unprincipled fellow, who was ready to sell his services to any one who would pay him well.
He again appears in B. C. 59 as an informer.
In that year he accused Curio, Cicero, L. Lucullus, and many other distinguished men, of having formed a conspiracy to assassinate Pompey. Dio Cassius, who always thinks the worst about every man, asserts (38.9) as a positive fact that Vettius had been purchased by Cicero and L. Lucullus to murder Caesar and Pompey; but this statement is in opposition to all other authorities, and deserves no credence.
It seems almost certain that the conspiracy was a sheer invention for the purpose of injuring Cicero, Curio, and others; but there is more difficulty in determining who were the inventors of it. Cicero regarded it as the work of Caesar, who remained in the background while its success was uncertain, and who used the tribune Vatinius as his instrument.
At a later period, when Cicero had returned from exile, and feared to provoke the triumvir, he threw the whole blame upon Vatinius. However this may be, the history of the affair is briefly as follows. Vettius was said to have insinuated himself into the friendship of Curio, and then to have informed him that he intended, along with his slaves, to kill Pompey, hoping to elicit from Curio an approval, if not a promise, of co-operation in the plot. Curio, however, did not fall into the snare, but disclosed what he had heard to his father.
The latter informed Pompey. Vettius, therefore, was apprehended and brought before the senate, where he stated that Curio was at the head of a conspiracy which had been formed against Pompey's life, in which some of the most distinguished young men of the state had a share; among others, L. Aemilius Paulus, M. Brutus, and L. Lentulus.
The senate ordered him to be cast into prison. On the following day Vatinius brought him before the assembly of the people, that he might confirm what he had already said before the senate; but he now contradicted himself, and his evidence became much more suspicious than it had been on the previous day. Some names which he mentioned in the senate, he now passed over entirely, but he added many others of still greater celebrity, such as Lucullus and L. Domitius Ahenobarbus.
He did not mention Cicero by name, but he said that an eloquent consular, who lived near the consul Caesar, had said to him that the state needed a Servilius Ahala, or a Brutus.
He was sent back to prison, and on the following morning was found strangled in his cell.
It was given out that he had committed suicide; but the marks of violence were visible on his body, and Cicero at a later time charged Vatinius with the murder. Suetonius says (Caes.
20) that Vettius was poisoned, but this is in opposition to the direct statement of Cicero, who must have known the manner of his death, and could have had no reason for giving a false account on this point at least. (Dion. Cass. 37.41; Suet. Jul. 17
; Cic. Att. 2.24
, pro Sest. 63, in vatin.
10, 11, with the Schol. Bob. pp. 308, 320, ed. Orelli; D. C. 38.9
; Suet. Jul. 20
; Appian, App. BC 2.12
; Plut. Luc. 42
; Drumann, Geschichte Roms,
vol. ii. p. 233, foil.)
The coin of the Vettia gens, with the surname of Judex
upon it, has nothing to do with this Vettius [JUDEX.]