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In a state that was distracted by strife, and that from frequent changes in its rulers trembled on the verge between liberty and licence, even little matters were attended with great excitement. Vibius Crispus, whose wealth, power, and ability, made him rank among men of distinction, rather than among men of worth, demanded that Annius Faustus, of the Equestrian order, who in the days of Nero had practised the trade of the informer, should be brought to trial before the Senate. The Senators indeed had recently, during the reign of Galba, passed a resolution, that cognizance should be taken of the cases of the informers. This decree was variously carried out, and, while retained as law, was powerless or effectual, according as the person, who happened to be accused, was influential or helpless. Besides the terror of the law, Crispus had exerted his own power to the utmost to destroy the man who had informed against his brother. He had prevailed upon a great part of the Senate to demand that he should be consigned to destruction, undefended and unheard. But, on the other hand, there were some with whom nothing helped the accused person so much as the excessive power of the accuser. They gave it as their opinion, that time ought to be allowed, that the charges ought to be specified, that, odious and guilty as the man might be, he yet ought to be heard, as precedent required. At first they carried their point, and the trial was postponed for a few days, but before long Faustus was condemned, but by no means with that unanimity on the part of the people which his detestable character had deserved. Men remembered that Crispus had followed the same profession with profit; nor was it the penalty but the prosecutor that they disliked.

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