8. C. Nonius
Asprenas, probably a son of the preceding, was accused, in B. C. 9. of poisoning 130 guests at a banquet, but the number in Pliny is probably corrupt, and ought to be thirty.
The accusation was conducted by Cassius Severus, and the defence by Asinius Pollio.
The speeches of these orators at this trial were very celebrated in antiquity, and the perusal of them is strongly recommended by Quinctilian. Asprenas was an intimate friend of Augustus, and was acquitted through the influence of the emperor. (Plin. Nat. 35.12. s. 46
; Suet. Aug. 56
; D. C. 4.4
; Quinct. 10.1.23.)
In his youth, Asprenas was injured by a fall while performing in the Ludus Trojae before Augustus, and received in consequence from the emperor a golden chain, and the permission to assume the surname of Torquatus, both for himself and his posterity. (Suet. Aug. 43
.) The Torquatus, to whom Horace addresses two of his poems (Carm.
1.5), is supposed by Weichert and others, to be the same as this Nonius Asprenas, since all the Manlii Torquati appear to have perished, which was the reason probably why Augustus gave him the ancient and honourable surname of Torquatus. Some modern writers have supposed that the C. Asprenas, who was accused of poisoning, was the same as the proconsul of this name in the African war [No. 7]; but Weichert has brought forward sufficient reasons to render it much more probable that he was his son. (Weichert, De Lucii Varii et Cassii Parmensis Vita,
&c., Grimae 1836, pp. 197-199, and Excursus I."De C. Nonio Asprenate," p. 301, &c.; comp. Meyer, Orator. Roman. Fragm.
p. 492, &c., 2nd ed.) For the other persons of the name of Nonius Asprenas, see ASPRENAS.