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The year was now at hand in which Agricola was to have by lot the proconsulship of Asia or of Africa; but the death of Civica, who had been lately murdered in his government, gave at once a warning to Agricola. and a precedent to Domitian. At this point of time, the spies of the court thought proper to pay their visits to Agricola. The design of those pretended friends was to discover whether the government of a province would be acceptable. They contented themselves, in their first approaches, with suggesting to him the value of tranquillity in a private station, and then obligingly undertook, by their interests at court, to obtain permission for him to decline the office. At length the mask fell off: by adding menaces to their insidious advice, they gained their point, and hurried him away to the presence of the Emperor. Domitian knew the part he had to act; with a concerted countenance, and an air of distant pride, he heard Agricola's apology, and complied with his request, conscious of his own treachery, yet receiving thanks for it without a blush. The proconsular salary, which had been usually granted in such cases, was withheld upon this occasion; perhaps in resentment, because it was not solicited, or the better reason might be, that the prince might not seem to gain by compromise what he had a right to command.
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