But he did not believe this; for he knew perfectly that since to the request of Aliturus, Cæsar had found the splendidly sounding answer in which he compared himself to Brutus, there was no rescue for Lygia.
At moments, when he stopped to catch breath, the chorus of singers repeated the last verse; then Nero cast the tragic syrma from his shoulder with a gesture learned from Aliturus, struck the lute, and sang on. When he had finished the lines composed, he improvised, using grandiose comparisons in the spectacle unfolded before him. His face began to change.
Poppæa's Judaism is inferred from her refusing to be burned, and requesting to be embalmed; from her adopting the custom of wearing a veil in the streets; from the favor which she showed to Aliturus and Josephus; and from the fact that Josephus speaks of her as a religious woman.
Therefore he halted, in the neighborhood of Aqua Albana, and, summoning to his tent the tragedian Aliturus, decided with his aid on posture, look, and expression; learned fitting gestures, disputing with the actor stubbornly whether at the words "O sacred city, which seemed more enduring than Ida," he was to raise both hands, or, holding in one the forminga, drop it by his side and raise only the other.
"Vatinius described to us a remarkable fight of gladiators, which is to take place in Beneventum. See to what cobblers rise in our time, in spite of the saying, 'Ne sutor ultra crepidam! Vitelius is the descendant of a cobbler; but Vatinius is the son of one! Perhaps he drew thread himself! The actor Aliturus represented Oedipus yesterday wonderfully.
In the course of a few days he saw Seneca, Domitius Afer, Crispinilla, and Diodorus, through whom he wished to reach Poppæa; he saw Terpnos, and the beautiful Pythagoras, and finally Aliturus and Paris, to whom Cæsar usually refused nothing. With the help of Chrysothemis, then mistress of Vatinius, he tried to gain even his aid, not sparing in this case and in others promises and money.
Vatinius reported to Cæsar that they had been trying to bribe him. Aliturus alone, who at first was hostile to the Christians, took pity on them then, and made bold to mention to Cæsar the imprisoned maiden, and to implore in her behalf. He obtained nothing, however, but the answer, "Dost thou think that I have a soul inferior to that of Brutus, who spared not his own sons for the good of Rome?"
The Jews were by far the deadliest enemies of the Christians, and two persons of Jewish proclivities were at this time in close proximity to the person of the Emperor. One was the pantomimist Aliturus, the other was Poppæa, the harlot-empress.
Therefore he halted, in the neighborhood of Aqua Albana, and, summoning to his tent the tragedian Aliturus, decided with his aid on posture, look, and expression; learned fitting gestures, disputing with the actor stubbornly whether at the words, "O sacred city, which seemed more enduring than Ida," he was to raise both hands, or, holding in one the forminga, drop it by his side, and raise only the other.