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iudicium "The Judgement"
A huge crowd of senators had gathered in the senate-house, where Gaius Salvius Liberalis was being accused.
"Many crimes have been committed in Britain by Salvius."
The first accuser declared that many crimes had
been committed in Britain by Salvius.
"Salvius forged the king's will."
The second accuser said that Salvius
had forged the king's will.
"I am innocent."
Salvius responded that he was innocent.
accusatio I "The Accusation I"
In the seventh year of the reign of Domitian, Gaius Salvius Liberalis,
who had been consul the previous year, was accused of forgery by Acilius Glabrio. Upset by this unexpected event, he consulted
his friends right away about whether he might ignore the accusation or undertake a defense.
As Salvius was asking
what he ought to do, different people suggested different things. Some declared that no danger was threatening because Salvius
was a man of great reputation. Others thought that the anger of Domition was more to be feared than the threats for mercy.
While his friends were giving different pieces of advice, Salvius decided to wait until he found out what Domitian felt.
Meanwhile Glabrio and the other accusers were preparing their case. Of much help to them was Lucius Marcius Memor,
a soothsayer and a client of Salvius, who, once a partner in the criminal acts of Salvius, was now influenced to betray him
in hope of profit or in fear of punishment. Making use of this evidence the accusers reported the matter to the Emperor.
When Domitian heard what the accusers had to say, he conducted himself cautiously; for he was well aware that he himself
was involved in the criminal actions of Salvius. Meanwhile, to disguise his concern and to put on an appearance of friendship,
he honored Salvius with presents, invited him to dinner, and received him politely.
Domitia, however, aho by now had been recalled from exile and reinstated in Domitian's favor, was eagerly
considering vengeance against Salvius. For the dwarf Myropnous had revealed that Salvius had been the person responsibe for
the exile of Domitia and for the death of Paris. Myropnous told that Salvius had invited Domitia and Paris to the house of
Haterius with a forged letter; and that, at the instigation of Salvius, Domitia had been exiled on an island for two years
and Paris had been murdered.
Therefore, the accusers, who had been encouraged by Domitia, demanded a trial by the
senate. The unpopularity of Salvius was increased by the suspicion that Cogidubnus had been assassinated with poison. In
addition, a rumor was making its way around that the remains of human bodies had been found in the waters at Bath, and also
that curse-tablets against the name of Cogidubnus had been written. When they heard these things, many people came to believe
Salvius had dedicated the souls of his enemies to the gods of the Underworld.
Only then did Salvius understand that
these charges were extremely dangerous. So he put on mourning clothes and went around to the houses of his friends who might
be of help to him in so much danger. But all of them refused and he returned home, (having been) deprived of all hope.
cognitio "The Trial"
On the appointed day a large crowd of senators gathered in the senate-house to
hear the case. Salvius, who was at this point exhausted with fear, was carried into the senate-house on a sedan chair. With
his son accompanying him and with his hands extended, he approached Domitian slowly and humbly. Domitian received Salvius
with a steady expression on his face; after the charges were read aloud, he added a few things about Salvius himself: that
he had been a friend of his father Vespasian and that he had been sent by himself as an assistant to Agricola for administering
Britain. Finally he chose Lucius Ursus Servianus, a most famous senator, to be in charge of the trial.
On the first
day of the trial Glabrio brought up trivial and meaningless charges. He said that in his home Salvius had placed a statue
of himself in a higher location than the statue of the emperor; a statue of the divine Vespasian which had decorated the palace
of King Cogidubnus had been sold by Salvius at a low price; and many similar things. When he had heard these things, Salvius
began to hope that he would slip out of the hands of his accusers.
On the next day, however, there appeared a new
accuser, Quintus Caecilius Iucundus. With a ferocious voice, a threatening look, burning eyes, and very hostile words, he
attacked Salvius violently. He declared that in Britain Salvius had behaved arrogantly and cruelly; that he had tried to
murder Titus Claudius Cogidubnus, a king who was most loyal and quite friendly to the Roman people; that, once the king was
dead, Salvius had forged his will; and that he deserved the maximum punishment.
While Quintus was explaining these
charges, Salvius answered: "What you say is absurd. How could poison be given to Cogidubnus with so many observers standing
there? Who is so dumb that he believes that I wanted to bring about the death of an eighty-year old king? Even kings are
mortal." Finally he offered his slaves to be tortured; he offered no explanation of the will.
the senate-house were heard threatening voices of people shouting that they themselves would kill Salvius if he were to escape
punishment for his crimes. Some people snatched a statue of Salvius and threw it into the Tiber with many insults. Others
surrounded his house and began to batter it with axes and stones. There was so much noise that the emperor sent out praetorian
soldiers to quell the riot.
Meanwhile Salvius, riding in his sedan-chair, was escorted home by a tribune; no one
knew whether the tribune was a guard or an executioner.
desperatio I "Despair I"
In the meantime, while his hope was strong, Rufilla, the wife of Salvius, promised
that she would be his companion whatever might happen. However, when through the secret entreaties of Domitia she had obtained
forgiveness from the emperor, she decided to abandon Salvius; in the middle of the night she at last left the bedroom of her
husband and returned to her father's house.
Only then did Salvius start to give up hope. HIs son Vitellianus declared
that the senators would never condemn him; he urged Salvius to renew his defense on the next day with a determined spirit.
Salvius, however, replied that no hope was left: the senators were hostile, the emperor was not able to be placated in any
At that time a certain letter was often seen in the hands of Salvius. Many people thought that secret orders
of the emperor were contained in this letter; in fact, rumor was going about that Domitian himself had commanded Salvius to
kill Cogidubnus. Salvius' friends urged him to read this letter out loud before the senators; he however keeping the safety
of his son in mind, rejected this advice. He called for the tablets of his will. He signed them and handed them over to
a freedman. Then he broke his signet ring, so that it would not be of use later on in bringing charges against others. Finally
he sent the emperor a letter, written as follows:
"Master, I am crushed by the conspiracy of my enemies and by
deceitful witnesses, and I am not allowed to prove my innocence. I call the immortal gods to witness that I have always remained
in good faith toward you. I beg this one thing, that you spare my innocent son. And I make a plea for nothing else."
He wrote nothing about Rufilla.
As evening was coming on, Salvius gave money to some slaves and freedom to others. And then he prepared
to commit suicide. He was not able to use poison; for his body had for some time been undergoing immunization by taking antidotes.
So, he decided to cut open his veins with a dagger. After he did this, he was carried into his bath and soon became unconscious.
But as soon as the emperor found out from his agents that death was being considered by Salvius, he sent a tribune
and soldiers to his house. He ordered them to prevent the death of Salvius; for he himself didn't want to appear creul.
And so the soldiers, ordered by the tribune, pulled Salvius out of his bath, bandaged his wounded arms, and stopped the flow
damnatio "The Condemnation"
On the next day Ursus Servianus, who had been in charge of the trial, announced
the sentence: the name of Salvius was to be removed from the list of consuls; part of his property was to be confiscated,
part of it handed over to his son; Salvius himself was to be exiled for five years.
Therefore, once his wounds were
healed, Salvius departed from Rome. On the same day an impressive example of loyalty was put before the eyes of the Roman
people. Quintus Haterius Latronianus, who was always seeking the favor of Salvius while he was in favor did not desert him
when he was crushed by adversity, but accompanied him into exile.
A few days later Domitian handed out positions and
rewards to the accusers. He gave Glabrio a priesthood; a good number of people, however, thought that Glabrio had in fact
seriously offended Domitian by his accusation. The emperor promised Quintus Caecilius is influence in obtaining offices;
at the same time, however, he warned him not to become too carried away or haughty. To Myropnous, the dwarf, who had revealed
the crimes of Salvius, he offered freedom; Myropnous, however refused it. He asked, "What business do I have with freedom?
It is enough for me to have avenged my friend's death." And at last he took up his pipes again and began to play, feeling