Annals IV: 60

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Haec atque talia audienti nihil quidem pravae cogitationis, sed interdum voces procedebant contumaces et inconsultae, quas adpositi custodes exceptas auctasque cum deferrent neque Neroni defendere daretur, diversae insuper sollicitudinum formae oriebantur. nam alius occursum eius vitare, quidam salutatione reddita statim averti, plerique inceptum sermonem abrumpere, insistentibus contra inridentibusque qui Seiano fautores aderant. enimvero Tiberius torvus aut falsum renidens vultu: seu loqueretur seu taceret iuvenis, crimen ex silentio, ex voce. ne nox quidem secura, cum uxor vigilias somnos suspiria matri Liviae atque illa Seiano patefaceret; qui fratrem quoque Neronis Drusum traxit in partes, spe obiecta principis loci si priorem aetate et iam labefactum demovisset. atrox Drusi ingenium super cupidinem potentiae et solita fratribus odia accendebatur invidia quod mater Agrippina promptior Neroni erat. neque tamen Seianus ita Drusum fovebat ut non in eum quoque semina futuri exitii meditaretur, gnarus praeferocem et insidiis magis opportunum.


Haec atque talia – “Such things as these,” i.e. the advice from his freedmen and clients.

nihil pravae cogitationis – “No malicious thought” (supply erat).

voces procedebant – the voices appear to act independently of Nero, showing his lack of control over what he said.

alius…quidam…pleriquevariatio, used for the different groups of people who had been arranged by Sejanus to torment the young man. The asyndeton and historic infinitives feed into the paranoia of the scenes.

salutatione reddita – i.e. a formal greeting was made, by both parties, but the other man would walk off instead of engaging in conversation with Nero.

insistentibus – “stood their ground.” Contrasts with vitare and averti.

fautores – this term was also used in the theatre for hired applauders, or claqueurs. As well as clapping one actor, they would heckle his rivals. This whole episode is likened to a theatrical production by Martin and Woodman, with Sejanus as director.

uxor – Nero married his cousin Julia, the daughter of Livia and Drusus, in 20 AD. Her confidences to her mother could well be entirely innocent.

traxit in partes – Tiberius warned this would happen if Sejanus married Livia (Ch. 40: in partis domum Caesarum distraxisset). As it is, Sejanus achieves such divisiveness all the same.

loci, si…labefactum demovisset – A metaphor; Martin and Woodman: ‘Sejanus invites Drusus to demolish an older and allegedly unstable building which is occupying a desirable site.’

insidiis opportunum – i.e. Sejanus’ treachery. Drusus can be trapped, therefore Sejanus plans to destroy him.


As he listened to such things as these, he had indeed no twisted thought, but sometimes unyielding and inconsiderate utterances would come forth, which appointed guards noted down, and since they exaggerated and reported them, and the opportunity was not given to Nero to mount a defence, different forms of anxiety began to arise besides. For one man would avoid meeting with him, some would immediately turn away after a greeting had been returned, many would break off a conversation which had started, while those who were present as supporters of Sejanus would stand their ground opposite and mock him. Indeed, Tiberius’ face was grim or beaming falsely: whether the young man spoke or was silent, an accusation resulted from his silence or from his voice. Not even was the night free of anxiety, since his wife disclosed his waking hours, his dreams and his sighs to her mother Livia, and she to Sejanus; he also drew Nero’s brother Drusus onto his side, with the hope of the position of emperor thrown his way, if he removed the elder and already weakened one. Drusus’ savage temper, as well as his desire for power and the hatred customary to brothers, was ignited by resentment because their mother Agrippina was more well disposed to Nero. Yet nor did Sejanus favour Drusus such that he did not contemplate the seeds of future destruction against him too, knowing well that he was very impetuous, and thus more exposed to treachery.