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He delighted in the infliction of punishments, and even those which were capital, without any distinction of persons or occasions. Several noblemen, his schoolfellows and companions, invited by him to court, he treated with such flattering caresses, as seemed to indicate an affection short only of admitting them to share the honours of the imperial dignity; yet he put them all to death by some base means or other. To one he gave poison with his own hand, in a cup of cold water which he called for in a fever. He scarcely spared one of all the usurers, notaries, and publicans, who had ever demanded a debt of him at Rome, or any toll or custom upon the road. One of these, while in the very act of saluting him, he ordered for execution, but immediately sent for him back; upon which all about him applauding his clemency, he commanded him to be slain in his own presence, saying, "I have a mind to feed my eyes." Two sons who interceded for their father, he ordered to be executed with him. A Roman knight, upon his being dragged away for execution, and crying out to him, " You are my heir," he desired to produce his will: and finding that he had made his freedman joint heir with him, he commanded that both he and the freedman should have their throats cut. He put to death some of the common people for cursing aloud the blue party in the Circensian games; supposing it to be done in contempt of himself, and the expectation of a revolution in the government. There were no persons he was more severe against than jugglers and astrologers; and as soon as any one of them was informed against, he put him to death without the formality of a trial. He was enraged against them, because, after his proclamation by which he commanded all astrologers to quit Rome, and Italy also, before the calends [the first] of October, a bill was immediately posted about the city, with the following words :-" TAKE NOTICE:1 The Chaldaeans also decree that Vitellius Germanicus shall be no more, by the day of the said calends." He was even suspected of being accessary to his mother's death, by forbidding sustenance to be given her when she was unwell; a German witch,2 whom he held to be oracular, having told him, "That he would long reign in security if he survived his mother." But others say, that being quite weary of the state of affairs, and apprehensive of the future, she obtained without difficulty a dose of poison from her son.
1 In imitation of the form of the public edicts, which began with the words, BONUM FACTUM.
2 Catta muliere: The Catta were a German tribe who inhabited the present countries of Hesse or Baden. Tacitus, De Mor. Germ., informs us that the Germans placed great confidence in the prophetical inspirations which they attributed to their women.
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