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Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 41: Self-censure of the Senate[AD 70]
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The Senate, led by its principal members, then framed a form of oath, which was eagerly taken by all the magistrates and by the other senators in the order in which they voted. They called the Gods to witness, that nothing had been done by their instrumentality to prejudice the safety of any person, and that they had gained no distinction or advantage by the ruin of Roman citizens. Great was the alarm, and various the devices for altering the words of the oath, among those who felt the consciousness of guilt. The Senate appreciated the scruple, but denounced the perjury. This public censure, as it might be called, fell with especial severity on three men, Sariolenus Vocula, Nonnius Attianus, and Cestius Severus, all of them infamous for having practised the trade of the informer in the days of Nero. Sariolenus indeed laboured under an imputation of recent date. It was said that he had attempted the same practices during the reign of Vitellius. The senators did not desist from threatening gestures, till he quitted the chamber; then passing to Paccius Africanus, they assailed him in the same way. It was he, they said, who had singled out as victims for Nero the brothers Scribonius, renowned for their mutual affection and for their wealth. Africanus dared not confess his guilt, and could not deny it; but he himself turned on Vibius Crispus, who was pressing him with questions, and complicating a charge which he could not rebut, shifted the blame from himself by associating another with his guilt. Senatus inchoantibus primoribus ius iurandum concepit quo certatim omnes magistratus, ceteri, ut sententiam rogabantur, deos testis advocabant, nihil ope sua factum quo cuiusquam salus laederetur, neque se praemium aut honorem ex calamitate civium cepisse, trepidis et verba iuris iurandi per varias artis mutantibus, quis flagitii conscientia inerat. probabant religionem patres, periurium arguebant; eaque velut censura in Sariolenum Voculam et Nonium Attianum et Cestium Severum acerrime incubuit, crebris apud Neronem delationibus famosos. Sariolenum et recens crimen urgebat, quod apud Vitellium molitus eadem foret: nec destitit senatus manus intentare Voculae, donec curia excederet. ad Paccium Africanum transgressi eum quoque proturbant, tamquam Neroni Scribonios fratres concordia opibusque insignis ad exitium monstravisset. Africanus neque fateri audebat neque abnuere poterat: in Vibium Crispum, cuius interrogationibus fatigabatur, ultro conversus, miscendo quae defendere nequibat, societate culpae invidiam declinavit.