[6] Illic reputans ideo se fallacibus litteris accitam et honore praecipuo habitam, quodque litus iuxta, non ventis acta, non saxis impulsa navis summa sui parte veluti terrestre machinamentum concidisset, observans etiam Acerroniae necem, simul suum vulnus adspiciens, solum insidiarum remedium esse sensit, si non intellegerentur; misitque libertum Agerinum, qui nuntiaret filio benignitate deum et fortuna eius evasisse gravem casum; orare ut quamvis periculo matris exterritus visendi curam differret; sibi ad praesens quiete opus. atque interim securitate simulata medicamina vulneri et fomenta corpori adhibet; testamentum Acerroniae requiri bonaque obsignari iubet, id tantum non per simulationem.

 

[7] At Neroni nuntios patrati facinoris opperienti adfertur evasisse ictu levi sauciam et hactenus adito discrimine, ne auctor dubitaretur. tum pavore exanimis et iam iamque adfore obtestans vindictae properam, sive servitia armaret vel militem accenderet, sive ad senatum et populum pervaderet, naufragium et vulnus et interfectos amicos obiciendo: quod contra subsidium sibi, nisi quid Burrus et Seneca? quos expurgens statim acciverat, incertum an et ante ignaros. igitur longum utriusque silentium, ne inriti dissuaderent, an eo descensum credebant ut, nisi praeveniretur Agrippina, pereundum Neroni esset. post Seneca hactenus promptius, ut respiceret Burrum ac sciscitaretur, an militi imperanda caedes esset. ille praetorianos toti Caesarum domui obstrictos memoresque Germanici nihil adversus progeniem eius atrox ausuros respondit: perpetraret Anicetus promissa. qui nihil cunctatus poscit summam sceleris. ad eam vocem Nero illo sibi die dari imperium auctoremque tanti muneris libertum profitetur: iret propere duceretque promptissimos ad iussa. ipse audito venisse missu Agrippinae nuntium Agerinum, scaenam ultro criminis parat, gladiumque, dum mandata perfert, abicit inter pedes eius, tum quasi deprehenso vincla inici iubet, ut exit[i]um principis molitam matrem et pudore deprehensi sceleris sponte mortem sumpsisse confingeret.

[6] There she reflected on the evident purpose of the treacherous letter of invitation and the exceptional honour with which she had been treated, and on the fact that, hard by the shore, a vessel, driven by no gale and striking no reef, had collapsed at the top p117 like an artificial structure on land. She reviewed as well the killing of Acerronia, glanced simultaneously at her own wound, and realized that the one defence against treachery was to leave it undetected. Accordingly she sent the freedman Agermus to carry word to her son that, thanks to divine kindness and to his fortunate star, she had survived a grave accident; but that, however great his alarm at his mother's danger, she begged him to defer the attention of a visit: for the moment, what she needed was rest. Meanwhile, with affected unconcern, she applied remedies to her wound and fomentations to her body: Acerronia's will, she gave instructions was to be sought, and her effects sealed up, — the sole measure not referable to dissimulation.

[7] 1 Meanwhile, as Nero was waiting for the messengers who should announce the doing of the deed, there came the news that she had escaped with a wound from a light blow, after running just sufficient risk to leave no doubt as to its author. Half-dead with terror, he protested that any moment she would be here, hot for vengeance. And whether she armed her slaves or inflamed the troops, or made her way to the senate and the people, and charged him with the wreck, her wound, and the slaying of her friends, what counter-resource was at his own disposal? Unless there was hope in Seneca and Burrus! He had summoned them immediately: whether to test their feeling, or as cognizant already of the secret, is questionable. — There followed, then, a long silence on the part of both: either they were reluctant to dissuade in vain, or they believed matters to have reached a point at which Agrippina must be forestalled or Nero perish. After a time, p119Seneca so far took the lead as to glance at Burrus and inquire if the fatal order should be given to the military. His answer was that the guards, pledged as they were to the Caesarian house as a whole, and attached to the memory of Germanicus, would flinch from drastic measures against his issue: Anicetus must redeem his promise. He, without any hesitation, asked to be given full charge of the crime. The words brought from Nero a declaration that that day presented him with an empire, and that he had a freedman to thank for so great a boon: Anicetus must go with speed and take an escort of men distinguished for implicit obedience to orders. He himself, on hearing that Agermus had come with a message from Agrippina, anticipated it by setting the stage for a charge of treason, threw a sword at his feet while he was doing his errand, then ordered his arrest as an assassin caught in the act; his intention being to concoct a tale that his mother had practised against the imperial life and taken refuge in suicide from the shame of detection.

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Key Points

 

 

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