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- Sejanus: His Fall - 6/53 -
I have had little to do. To which it may be required, since I have quoted the page, to name what editions I followed: Tacit. Lips. in quarto, Antwerp, edit. 1600; Dio. folio, Hen. Steph. 1592. For the rest, as Sueton, Seneca, etc., the chapter doth sufficiently direct, or the edition is not varied.
Lastly, I would inform you, that this book, in all numbers, is not the same with that which was acted on the public stage; wherein a second: pen had good share: in place of which, I have rather chosen to put weaker, and no doubt, less pleasing, of mine own, than to defraud so happy a genius of his right by my loathed usurpation.
Fare you well, and if you read farther of me, and like, I shall not be afraid of it, though you praise me out.
Neque enim mihi cornea fibra est.
But that I should plant my felicity in your general saying, good, or well, etc., were a weakness which the better sort of you might worthily contemn, if not absolutely hate me for.
BEN JONSON; and no such,
Quem Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum.
AELIUS SEJANUS, son to Seius Strabo, a gentleman of Rome, and born at Vulsinium; after his long service in court, first under Augustus; afterward, Tiberius; grew into that favour with the latter, and won him by those arts, as there wanted nothing but the name to make him a co-partner of the empire. Which greatness of his, Drusus, the emperor's son, not brooking; after many smothered dislikes, it one day breaking out, the prince struck him publicly on the face. To revenge which disgrace, Livia, the wife of Drusus (being before corrupted by him to her dishonour, and the discovery of her husband's counsels) Sejanus practiseth with, together with her physician called Eudemus, and one Lygdus an eunuch, to poison Drusus. This their inhuman act having successful and unsuspected passage, it emboldeneth Sejanus to further and more insolent projects, even the ambition of the empire; where finding the lets he must encounter to be many and hard, in respect of the issue of Germanicus, who were next in hope for the succession, he deviseth to make Tiberius' self his means, and instils into his ears many doubts and suspicions, both against the princes, and their mother Agrippina; which Caesar jealously hearkening to, as covetously consenteth to their ruin, and their friends. In this time, the better to mature and strengthen his design, Sejanus labours to marry Livia, and worketh with all his ingine, to remove Tiberius from the knowledge of public business, with allurements of a quiet and retired life; the latter of which, Tiberius, out of a proneness to lust, and a desire to hide those unnatural pleasures which he could not so publicly practise, embraceth: the former enkindleth his fears, and there gives him first cause of doubt or suspect towards Sejanus: against whom he raiseth in private a new instrument, one Sertorius Macro, and by him underworketh, discovers the other's counsels, his means, his ends, sounds the affections of the senators, divides, distracts them: at last, when Sejanus least looketh, and is most secure with pretext of doing him an unwonted honour in the senate, he trains him from his guards, and with a long doubtful letter, one day hath him suspected, accused, condemned, and torn in pieces by the rage of the people.
TIBERIUS. HATERIUS. DRUSUS SENIOR. SANQUINIUS. NERO. POMPONIUS. DRUSUS JUNIOR. JULIUS POSTHUMUS. CALIGULA. FULCINIUS TRIO. LUCIUS ARRUNTIUS. MINUTIUS. CAIUS SILIUS. SATRIUS SECUNDUS. TITIUS SABINUS. PINNARIUS NATTA. MARCUS LEPIDUS. OPSIUS. CREMUTIUS CORDUS. Tribuni. ASINIUS GALLUS. Praecones. REGULUS. Flamen. TERENTIUS. Tubicines. GRACINUS LACO. Nuntius. EUDEMUS. Lictores. RUFUS. Minisri. SEJANUS. Tibicines. LATIARIS. Servi etc. VARRO. SERTORIUS MACRO. AGRIPPINA. COTTA. LIVIA. DOMITIUS AFER. SOSIA.
SCENE I.-A State Room in the Palace.
Enter SABINUS and SILIUS, followed by LATIARIS.
Sab. Hail, Caius Silius!
Sil. Titius Sabinus, hail! You're rarely met in court.
Sab. Therefore, well met.
Sil.'Tis true: indeed, this place is not our sphere.
Sab. No, Silius, we are no good inginers. We want their fine arts, and their thriving use Should make us graced, or favour'd of the times: We have no shift of faces, no cleft tongues, No soft and glutinous bodies, that can stick, Like snails on painted walls; or, on our breasts, Creep up, to fall from that proud height, to which We did by slavery, not by service climb. We are no guilty men, and then no great; We have no place in court, office In state, That we can say, we owe unto our crimes: We burn with no black secrets, which can make Us dear to the pale authors; or live fear'd Of their still waking jealousies, to raise Ourselves a fortune, by subverting theirs. We stand not in the lines, that do advance To that so courted point.
Enter SATRIUS and NATTA, at a distance.
Sil. But yonder lean A pair that do.
Sab. [salutes Latiaris.] Good cousin Latiaris.---
Sil. Satrius Secundus, and Pinnarius Natta, The great Sejanus' clients: there be two, Know more than honest counsels; whose close breasts, Were they ripp'd up to light, it would be found A poor and idle sin, to which their trunks Had not been made fit organs. These can lie, Flatter, and swear, forswear, deprave, inform, Smile, and betray; make guilty men; then beg The forfeit lives, to get their livings; cut Men's throats with whisperings; sell to gaping suitors The empty smoke, that flies about the palace; Laugh when their patron laughs; sweat when he sweats; Be hot and cold with him; change every mood, Habit, and garb, as often as he varies; Observe him, as his watch observes his clock; And, true, as turquoise in the dear lord's ring, Look well or ill with him: 6 ready to praise His lordship, if he spit, or but p--- fair, Have an indifferent stool, or break wind well; Nothing can 'scape their catch.
Sab. Alas! these things Deserve no note, conferr'd with other vile And filthier flatteries, that corrupt the times; When, not alone our gentries chief are fain To make their safety from such sordid acts; But all our consuls, and no little part Of such as have been praetors, yea, the most Of senators, that else not use their voices, Start up in public senate and there strive Who shall propound most abject things, and base. So much, as oft Tuberous hath been heard, Leaving the court, to cry, O race of men; Prepared for servitude!---which shew'd that he. Who least the public liberty could like, As lothly brook'd their flat servility.
Sil. Well, all is worthy of us, were it more, Who with our riots, pride, and civil hate, Have so provok'd the justice of the gods: We, that, within these fourscore years, were born Free, equal lords of the triumphed world, And knew no masters, but affections; To which betraying first our liberties, We since became the slaves to one man's lusts; And now to many: every minist'ring spy That will accuse and swear, is lord of you, Of me, of all our fortunes and our lives. Our looks are call'd to question, and our words, How innocent soever, are made crimes; We shall not shortly dare to tell our dreams, Or think, but 'twill be treason. Sab. Tyrants' arts Are to give flatterers grace; accusers, power; That those may seem to kill whom they devour.
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