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To these terrible and shameful calamities brought upon the people by their prince, were added some proceeding from misfortune. Such were a pestilence, by which, within the space of one autumn, there died no less than thirty thousand persons, as appeared from the registers in the temple of Libitina: a great disaster in Britain, 1 where two of the principal towns belonging to the Romans were plundered; and a dreadful havoc made both amongst our troops and allies; a shameful discomfiture of the army of the East; where, in Armenia, the legions were obliged to pass under the yoke, and it was with great difficulty that Syria was retained. Amidst all these disasters, it was strange, and, indeed, particularly remarkable, that he bore nothing more patiently than the scurrilous language and railing abuse which was in every one's mouth; treating no class of persons with more gentleness, than those who assailed him with invective and lampoons. Many things of that kind were posted up about the city, or otherwise published, both in Greek and Latin: such as these, “Νέρων Ὀρέστης, Ἀλκμαίων, μητροκτόνοι.
Νεόνυμφον, Νέρων, ἰδίαν μήτερ᾽ ἀπέκτεινεν.
” 2 “Orestes and Alcmaon -- Nero too,
The lustful Nero, worst of all the crew,
Fresh from his bridal -- their own mothers slew.
” “Quis neget Aeneae magna de stirpe Neronem?
Sustulit hic matrem: sustulit3 ille patrem.
” “Sprung from Aeneas, pious, wise and great,
Who says that Nero is degenerate?
Safe through the flames, one bore his sire; the other,
To save himself, took off his loving mother.
” “Dum tendit citharam noster, dum cornua Parthus,
Noster erit Peean, ille ἑκατηβελέτης
” “His lyre to harmony our Nero strings;
His arrows o'er the plain the Parthiah wings:
Ours call the tuneful Paean, famed in war,
The other Phoebus name, the god who shoots afar.4
” “Roma domus fiet: Vejos migrate, Quirites,
Si non et Vejos occupat ista domus.
” “All Rome will be one house: to Veii fly, Should it not stretch to Veii, by and by.5
” But he neither made any inquiry after the authors, nor when information was laid before the senate against some of them, would he allow a severe sentence to be passed. Isidorus, the Cynic philosopher, said to him aloud, as he was passing along the streets, " You sing the misfortunes of Nauplius well, but behave badly yourself." And Datus, a comic actor, when repeating these words in the piece. "Farewell, father! Farewell mother!" mimicked the gestures of persons drinking and swimming, significantly alluding to the deaths of Claudius and Agrippina: and on uttering the last clause, Orcus vobus ducit pedes; You st md this moment on the brink of Orcus; he plainly intimated his application of it to the precarious position of the senate. Yet Nero only banished the player and philosopher from the city and Italy; either because he was insensible to shame, or from apprehension that if he discovered his vexation, still keener things might be said of him.
1 The revolt in Britain broke out A. U. C. 813. Xiphilinus (lxii. p. 701) attributes it to the severity of the confiscations with which the repayment of large sums of money advanced to the Britons by the emperor Claudius, and also by Seneca, was exacted. Tacitus adds another cause, the insupportable tyranny and avarice of the centurions and soldiers. Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, had named the emperor his heir. His widow Boadicea and her daughters were shamefully used, his kinsmen reduced to slavery, and his whole territory ravaged; upon which the Britons flew to arms. See c. xviii., and the note.
3 "Sustulit" has a double meaning, signifying both, to bear away, and to put out of the way.
5 Pliny remarks, that the Golden House of Nero was swallowing up all Rome. Veii, an ancient Etruscan city, about twelve miles from Rome, was originally little inferior to it, being, as Dionysius informs us (lib. ii. p. x6), equal in extent to Athens. See a very accurate survey of the ruins of Veil, in Gell's admirable TOPOGRAPHY OF ROME AND ITS VICINITY, p. 436, of Bohn's Edition.
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