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Claudius, Chapter 29: Influence of his wifes and freedmen.
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|Being entirely governed by these freedmen, and, as I have already said, by his wives, he [Note 1] was a tool to others, rather than a prince. He distributed offices, or the command of armies, pardoned or punished, according as it suited their interests, their passions, or their caprice; and for the most part, without knowing, or being sensible of what he did. Not to enter into minute details relative to the revocation of grants, the reversal of judicial decisions, obtaining his signature to fictitious appointments, or the bare-faced alteration of them after signing; he put to death Appius Silanus the father of his son-in-law [Note 2], and the two Julias [Note 3], the daughters of Drusus and Germanicus, without any positive proof of the crimes with which they were charged, or so much as permitting them to make any defense. He also killed Gnaeus Pompey, the husband of his eldest [Note 4] daughter; and Lucius Silanus, who was betrothed to the younger [Note 5]. Pompey was stabbed in the embrace of a favored youth. Silanus was obliged to quit the office of praetor upon the fourth of the Kalends of January [28th Dec.], and to kill himself on New Year's day following, the very same on which Claudius and Agrippina were married. He condemned to death five and thirty senators, and above three hundred Roman knights, with so little attention to what he did, that when a centurion brought him word of the execution of a man of consular rank who was one of the number, and told him that he had executed his order, he declared, " he had ordered no such thing, but that he approved of it"; because his freedmen, it seems, had said, that the soldiers did nothing more than their duty, in dispatching the emperor's enemies without waiting for a warrant. But it is beyond all belief, that he himself, at the marriage of Messalina with the adulterous Silius, should actually sign the writings relative to her dowry; induced, as it is pretended, by the design of diverting from himself and transferring upon another the danger which some omens seemed to threaten him.