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&c. or 5444.

&c. or 31.

A. M. 4037, ledging an ancient law which gave them alone the superintendance in matters of reli Ann. Dom. 33, gion, not only refused to canonize him, but by an edict, commanded, that all Christians should be banished the city; which, when the emperor understood, he, by another edict, threatened death to any who dared to accuse the Christians, and in all his reign, would not permit, at least not promote, any persecutions against them, which is so much the more wonderful, considering his natural inclination to cruelty.

For, beginning now to act openly, he treated his subjects as enemies, because the vileness of his conduct had given them sufficient occasion to be so. Many of the principal and noblest persons in Rome he condemned, and confiscated their estates upon very light and frivolous pretences; nor could any man, however virtuous and cautious, account himself safe, because, though he might possibly escape the false reports of spies and informers, yet he had reason nevertheless to stand in fear of the very imagination of the emperor. To retain an innocent remembrance of liberty was interpreted a purpose to re-establish the commonwealth: To testify a concern for the glory of the empire, a secret desire to gain it. To praise Brutus and Cassius was a capital crime. To speak well of Augustus, a dangerous offence. Simplicity of discourse was thought an indication of evil design; a discreet silence concealed mischievous intention; Joy was the hopes of the prince's death; Melancholy, an envying of his prosperity; and Fear, the just apprehensions of a guilty conscience: So that to speak or to be silent, to be glad or grieved, to be fearful or assured, were all crimes, and very often incurred the most exquisite punishments; for he generally executed his fury with such extreme severity, that he esteemed it a favour and an act of mercy to put persons to death in an ordinary

way.

Thus miserable were the Romans under the arbitrary government of a most outrageous tyrant, till, by his gluttony, drunkenness, and lusts, which raged more violently at an age when nature (one would think) should have cured them, finding his strength impaired, he removed from place to place, and at last settled in a promontory of Misenum; where, after several consultations with his favourite Macro, he named Caius Caligula, the only surviving son of Germanicus, together with a young grandson of his, called Tiberius, to be his successors; and it is probably conjectured, that he named the former in hopes that his vices would efface the memory of his own wickedness, and his known cruelty extinguish the whole Roman nobility; for which reason he was frequently heard to say, " that in Caligula he had brought up a serpent for the people of Rome, and a phaeton for all the rest of the world."

During his illness his spirit sensibly declined; but his dissimulation was as strong as ever in carrying on the humour of his former luxury and debaucheries, and in despising all physic, till his weakness was discoversd by Charides, a famous physician, who, under pretence of kissing his hand, felt the defect in his pulse. This the crafty prince immediately perceiving, shortly after dissembled such faintings, as made all the company think him dead, and begin to make their court to the new emperor; but as he recovered again, to the great surprise and almost confusion of Caligula and Macro, they soon found means to dispatch him, in the 78th year of his age, and the 23d of his reign, either by poison or smothering him in the bed-clothes, to the no small joy and satisfaction of all the senate and people of Rome.

Caius, who was sirnamed Caligula, from his wearing the military buskin, called Caliga, in his youth, began his reign with all the clemency and regularity imaginable. He caused the famous models and institutions of Augustus, which had been disused by Tiberius, to be revived. He began to reform many abuses in the state, and severely punished corrupt governors, of whom he banished Pontius Pilate to Vienne in Gaul, where he afterwards killed himself. He took a strict view of the Equites, and put all such to public shame as were guilty of any infamous crime. He punished with death the Spintriæ, those abominable inventors of unnatural pollutions, whom his predecessor

greatly encouraged. He remitted several impositions invented by Tiberius, and was A. M. 4044, so popular, that he endeavoured to restore the ancient method of electing magistrates &c. or 5451. by the suffrages of the people.

A

But, in a short time, all these promising qualities vanished: His care for the public was laid aside; and, by giving a full loose to his furious passions, he soon became such a monster, in all manner of wickedness, as the world never heard of before. He was so proud, that he impiously assumed divine honours, and had a temple dedicated to his own divinity; so prodigal, that he consumed above fifty millions of our money in a few months time; so brutish, that he committed incest with all his three sisters, and suffered no lady of distinction to escape his lust; and so tyrannical, that he wished the Roman people had but one neck, that he might dispatch them all at one blow. In short, he was so superlatively wicked, as to occasion this reflection of Seneca, viz. "That nature seemed to have brought him forth on purpose to shew what was possible to be produced from the greatest viciousness, supported by the greatest authority."

His assuming the title of Optimus Maximus, with other epithets of honour, which the Romans gave only to their great god Jupiter; and, because he would be reputed a real Jupiter. his inventions to imitate thunder and lightning; his instituting a set of priests to officiate in his temple, who daily sacrificed peacocks, pheasants, and the most rare and delicate fowls that could be procured; and, what is more, his becoming a priest himself, and admitting his wife and his horse to be fellow priests with him; his falling in love with the moon, and, as if she had been a fine lady, inviting her to his bed, to taste of the pleasures of his embraces; and his deifying his sister Drusilla after her death, and making her a goddess, whom, all his life long, he had made his harlot; his barbarous cruelty, as well as impious love to those of his own family; his using his grandmother Antonia so inhumanly, that she poisoned herself; murdering his co-heir Tiberius, merely for using a sweet powder; and almost all his own kindred, except his uncle Claudius, whom he preserved only for a laughing-stock; his condemning persons of the best rank and quality to dig in the mines, or to repair the highways; his casting great numbers of old infirm men, and poor decrepid house-keepers, to the wild beasts, to rid the state of such unprofitable members, and his causing all public granaries to be shut up, that such as escaped the wild beasts might perish by famine; his ordering large pillars and towers to be built in the bottom of the sea; mountains to be levelled, plains and valleys to be elevated, and * a wonderful bridge, of above three miles and

*To shew his power and greatness, and that he was able to walk upon the sea as well as the land, he ordered an infinite number of ships to be secured in all parts, and many others to be new built, and all to be brought into the bays of Baiæ and Puteoli, in Campania, about 90 miles from Rome. These ships being placed in two rows, in the form of a crescent, were fastened and moored together with anchors, chains, and cables, to make them firm and secure ; and over these were laid vast quantities of large planks and boards, covered over with so much earth as made it look like firm ground, or one of the streets of Rome. For upon this bridge he built houses and lodgings for the reception of himself and his followers, and by pipes conveyed fresh water from the land, to serve the occasions of his revels. When this was done,, he and all his court, with prodigious throngs of all sorts of people, repaired thither, where, after some solemn sacrifices to the gods, he, proudly adorned with stately robes of gold and pearl, sitting on horse, back, with a civic crown, and Alexander's breastplate, accompanied with the great officers of his army, and all the nobility and gentry of Rome entered at

one end of the bridge, and, with an awful majesty,
rode to the other. After this, lodging all night upon
the bridge, he caused such an infinite number of
torches, lanthorns, and other lights to be placed on
all parts of the work, as gave him occasion to boast,
"That he had turned the night into day, as well as
the sea into land." The next day he rode over the
bridge in his triumphant chariot, with Darius, an hos-
tage of Parthia, attending, and followed by a mighty
train of other chariots, and all his soldiers in bright
armour; which when he had done, he ascended å
rostrum, and there made a solemn oration in praise
of his own great attempt; and (that he might per-
form something more memorable before he left the
bridge) he ordered great numbers of the multitude
to be cast into the sea; and when they laid hold on
rudders, or any thing that might save their lives,
commanded them to be thrust off, so that they all
perished without remedy: after which, he returned
home in a magnificent manner, for having surmount-
ed (as he thought) the very order and laws of nature.
Echard's Roman History, in the Life of Caligula,

Ann. Dom.

40, &c.

Ann. Dom. 40, &c.

A. M. 4044, an half in length, to be carried from the point of Baix to the opposite shore of Puteoli; &c. or 5451. and, above all, his famous expedition into Batavia, or Holland, where he enriched his army with the spoils of the conquered ocean, as he called them; i. e. with cockle-shells and muscle-shells, which he ordered them to gather in their helmets, and, after having made a pompous oration to them, (wherein he extolled their noble achievements upon this occasion) his causing a lofty town to be erected on the sea-side in memory of this great victory; these, and a thousand more vile extravagances, and monstrous cruelties, recorded at large in the histories of his life, made him so very odious and contemptible to his subjects, that many began to conspire against him, but all ineffectually, until Cassius Chæreas, an officer of his guards, resolved upon it; and having communicated his design to several senators, Equites, and others, waited only for a fit opportunity to put it in execution.

Belonging to the palace there was a private gallery, through which the emperor usually passed to some baths, not far distant. Here Chæreas, with his associates, met him, and, after some short salutation, gave him a mortal stab, crying out, Tyrant, think upon this; at which instant the rest of the conspirators rushed in, and gave him no less than thirty wounds before they had dispatched him.

Thus died Caius Caligula, in the 29th year of his age, and the fourth of his reign, by his prodigious enormities having justly pulled down the vengeance of heaven upon himself and his family; for (that his whole race might be extinguished) his wife Casonia was at the same time stabbed by a centurion, and his only daughter, then an infant in the cradle, had her brains dashed out against a wall; and that, if possible, both his name and features might be forgot in future ages, his money, by a decree of the senate, was melted down.

Upon the death of Caligula, the city was much divided. The nobility were for restoring the Roman liberty, the commons for electing a new emperor, and the army joined with the commons; but who to nominate to this dignity they were at a loss, till some of the soldiers searching about for plunder in the palace, chanced to espy Caligula's uncle Claudius hid in an hole, for fear of his life, whom they brought into the camp, and instantly proclaimed emperor. The senate hearing of this, sent a tribune of the people to advise him to submit to their establishment, and not disturb the public peace with his pretensions; but at the instigation of Herod Agrippa, king of Judea, who was then at Rome, he refused to comply, and in a few days, by the clamours of the people, and menaces of the soldiers, the senate was so wrought upon, that considering him as nearer allied to the empire than any other, (being both uncle to Caligula, and brother to Germanicus) they agreed to make him emperor, and shortly after confirmed that title to him.

Claudius was now in the fiftieth year of his age; but either upon account of his bodily distempers, or the natural stupidity of his mind, he was ever till this time judged incapable of any public office in the state; however, by the good acts which he did in the beginning of his reign, it seemed as if he had cured the infirmities of his body, and in some measure corrected those of his understanding too. He disannulled the cruel edicts made by Caligula, and commanded all who were unjustly confined, either in prison or banishment, to be set at liberty. In his honours and titles he shewed himself modest and temperate, and upon severe penalties, forbad all persons to sacrifice to him, as they had done to Caligula. To his enemies, and the opposers of his election, he shewed himself merciful, and passed a general act of indemnity for all past crimes; on ly for a public example, and to terrify others from the like attempt, he ordered Chæreas, and some other conspirators (who died all with great resolution) to be executed. He took more than ordinary care, that the city of Rome should be continually furnished with all sorts of corn and provisions, by securing the merchants against the pirates at sea; and that it might want no supply of water, he made a famous conduit, or aque

&c. or 5151.

duct, called after his own name, which, both for stateliness of workmanship, and the A. M. 4041, plenty of water it conveyed, at forty miles distance through great mountains, and over stately arches in valleys, far surpassed any work of that kind in all Italy.

But it was not long before this emperor begun to lessen his care and concern for the public, and to give himself up to his gluttonous disposition and passive stupidity; so that his freed-men and favourites, (together with his libidinous wife, Messalina) imposing upon him as they thought fit, became the most intolerable oppressors and tyrants; inflicting innumerable deaths and other cruelties; selling governments and dignities; and issuing out pardons and penalties, without his knowledge. The truth is, he was so cowardly and fearful, that when a rebel, named Camillus, commanded him by letter to resign his empire, he was in a disposition to have done it; so blind and incogitant, that his empress Messalina married herself to another man in his life time, and almost in his presence; so stupid, that when the news of her execution was brought him, he shewed not the least token of joy, sorrow, or any other human passion or affection; and so prodigiously forgetful, that he frequently asked, and sent for such persons as he had executed the day before.

After the death of the infamous Messalina, the emperor married his own niece Agrippina, a woman of a vast spirit and unbounded ambition, who soon prevailed with her husband, even to the prejudice of his own son Britannicus, to adopt her son Domitius, under the name of Claudius Nero, and to confer on her the title of Augusta. Upon her advancement to this dignity, it was not long before she procured the deaths of seve ral ladies of the highest rank, who had been her rivals in marrying the emperor, and became so very zealous for her son's succeeding in the empire, that when she was told by some oracle, or augur, that "her son should be emperor indeed, but would certainly be the cause of her death," her answer was, "let him, so he does but reign.”

In a few years, however, the exorbitant power which she assumed gained her the envy and hatred of the emperor's favourites, and the disesteem of Claudius himself, who, notwithstanding his strange insensibility, began now to repent of his marriage with her, and the adoption of her son. This Agrippina soon discovered by his unusual favours to his son Britannicus, and by what accidentally dropt from him, when heated with wine, viz. "That he had been very unfortunate in his wives, but that none of them had escaped unpunished." Whereupon she determined with herself to procure his death by poison; but what kind of poison to make choice of was the question. A strong poison she thought might make her villany too apparent, and a slow one might give the emperor opportunity of discovering so much of her practices, as to prevent her son's succession; and therefore she resolved upon such a potion as would distract his senses, and not too suddenly end his life. For this she wanted not her assistants, who infused the poison into some mushrooms, a dish which the emperor loved beyond measure; but finding that this only made him sick, she sent for her own physician, named Xenophon, who, under the pretence of making him vomit, (as his custom was to do after his gluttonous debauches) thrust a poisonous feather down his throat, which in a short time ended his life, in the 64th year of his age, and the 14th of his reign.

As soon as Claudius was dead, Agrippina, as one overwhelmed with extremity of grief, embraced Britannicus in her arms, calling him the dear image of his father's face, and, by many artifices, detained him and his two sisters, Antonia and Octavia, in the chamber, placing a strong guard at every door and passage till all things were made ready for her son's advancement; and then the palace gates being suddenly set open, Nero, accompanied with Burrhus, prefect of the Prætorian guards, went out to the cohort then in waiting, who, at the command of Burrhus, received him with loud acclamations (though not without some enquiries after Britannicus), and carried him in a chariot to the rest of the troops, and they, upon his promise of a donative, according to the exam. VOL. III. 3 T

Ann. Dom. 40, &c.

A. M. 4058, ple of his predecessors, saluted him emperor; which was shortly confirmed by the senate, &c. or 5465. and acknowledged by the provinces.

Ann. Dom.

54, &c.

Nero, though but seventeen years of age, began his reign with the general joy and satisfaction of the city; for, promising to govern according to the wise rules and institutions of the great Augustus, he at first, both in words and actions, shewed himself just, liberal, and merciful. He conferred favours, and distributed large sums of money among the people, and Prætorian soldiers. ie moderated the impositions and tributes of the provinces; assigned pensions to decayed senators; used all men with such humanity and courtesy, and, in the execution of justice, shewed such clemency and pity, that it seemed as if heaven had sent the Romans such a prince as they desired; as indeed, for the first five years of his government, it was so good, in all respects, that the famous emperor Trajan was afterwards wont to say, that "for that space of time all governments came short of this:" But this, in a great measure, is to be imputed to the wise conduct of Burrhus and Seneca, who were the young emperor's guides and governors, in equal authority, and bearing equal share in their different faculties; Burrbus, in military discipline and gravity of manners; and Seneca, in precepts of eloquence and courteous demeanour.

As Nero encreased in years, so his vices and extravagancies became more conspicuous For, having poisoned his predecessor's son, Britannicus, taken Pappaa Sabina from the bed of her husband Otho, first divorced his wife Octavia, and afterwards put her to death, murdered his † mother Agrippina, and (as some imagine) poisoned his governor Burrhus, he thought himself now free from all restraint. He therefore gave the reins to his brutal appetites, and abandoned himself to all kinds of extravagancies and vices, such as were never practised by a prince, and scarce conceived by any man. His running about the city by night, disguised in the habit of a slave, with his lewd companions, entering taverns and infamous houses, and there committing what outrages he thought fit; his debasing himself so far as to become a common singer, musician, and stage-player, frequently acting a part before the whole city, and procuring great numbers of noblemen and ladies to be present when he acted; his professing the art of a charioteer, taking a journey as far as Peloponnesus, on purpose to run in the Olympic games, and, at his return to Rome, entering the city in triumph, surrounded with musicians and players, brought from all parts of the world :-These were excusable follies, in comparison to the monstrous extravagancies which he afterwards fell into, when, having attired himself in the habit of a woman and a bride, he was first wedded to one of his abominable companions, named Pythagoras, and after that became an husband to a boy, called Sporus, whom he first emasculated, and then clothing him with all the ornaments of an empress, accompanied him in all the most public places.

The occasion of Nero's doing this, is said to be some furious menaces his mother Agrippina made him, which put him in great tear of a competitor, at least, if not of the loss of his empire; and therefore, to free himself from all jealousies, he ordered a poison for Britannicus; but this proving ineffectual, he had recourse to a stronger, which was cunningly administered to the young prince in a public banquet, and so suddenly spread through his veins, that at once his speech and his spirits forsook him. While the spec tators were all amazed, Nero, leaning unconcernedly on the table, assured the company, "That it was usual for him to be seized with such epileptic fits, so that they need not doubt his recovery;" whereupon the rest, for different ends and purposes, dissembled their griefs, and, after some silence, the mirth of the banquet began again: But Britannicus in the mean time

died, and was privately buried that same night. Ëchard's Roman History in the Life of Nero.

After that Nero was resolved upon his mother's death, he attempted first to poison her; but by reason of the antidotes and preservatives which she took, poison proved ineffectual. Then he endeavoured to drown her; but she having the good luck to escape, even when several of her company perished, he at last caused a report to be spread, that she had conspired to take away his life, and so sent certain tribunes to murder her and authors generally say, that upon their approaching and unsheathing their swords, she shewed them her belly, crying, “Strike me here, since this part hath deserved it, for having conceived and brought forth such a monster as Nero ;" and immediately expired with the wounds she received. Echard's Roman History, in the Life of Nero.

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