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Piso, who was then completing his thirty-first year, had enjoyed more fame than good fortune. His brothers, Magnus and Crassus, had been put to death by Claudius
and Nero respectively. He was himself for many years an exile, for four days a Cæsar, and Galba's hurried adoption of him only gave him this privilege over his elder brother, that he perished first. Vinius had lived to the age of fifty-seven, with many changes of character. His father was of a prætorian family, his maternal grandfather was one of the proscribed. He had disgraced himself in his first campaign when he served under the legate Calvisius Sabinus. That officer's wife, urged by a perverse curiosity to view the camp, entered it by night in the disguise of a soldier, and after extending the insulting frolic to the watches and the general arrangements of the army, actually dared to commit the act of adultery in the head-quarters. Vinius was charged with having participated in her guilt, and by order of Caius was loaded with irons. The altered times soon restored him to liberty. He then enjoyed an uninterrupted succession of honours, first filling the prætorship, and then commanding a legion with general satisfaction, but he subsequently incurred the degrading imputation of having pilfered a gold cup at the table of Claudius, who the next day directed that he alone should be served on earthenware. Yet as pro-consul of Gallia Narbonensis he administered the government with strict integrity. When forced by his friendship with Galba to a dangerous elevation, he shewed himself bold, crafty, and enterprising; and whether he applied his powers to vice or virtue, was always equally energetic. His will was made void by his vast wealth; that of Piso owed its validity to his poverty.

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