As the excitement which had been produced by the discovery, real or pretended, of Piso's conspiracy, and by the innumerable executions which were attendant upon it, passed away, Nero returned to his usual mode of life, and in fact abandoned himself to the indulgence of his brutal propensities and passions more recklessly than ever.
The consul Vestinus. Large force sent to arrest Vestinus. Vestinus arrested. His extraordinary fate. Nero is pleased. The guests at Vestinus's supper. Appearances of public rejoicing. Nero grants gifts to the army. Nature of despotic government. Secret of their power. Doubt in respect to Piso's conspiracy.
Piso, according to the declaration of Natalis, had complained that he never saw Seneca; and the latter had observed, in answer, that it was not conducive to their common interest to see each other often. Seneca likewise pleaded indisposition, and said that his own life depended upon the safety of Piso's person.
When Plautius Lateranus, the brave nobleman whose execution during Piso's conspiracy we have already related, had received on his neck an ineffectual blow of the tribune's sword, Epaphroditus, even at that dread moment, could not abstain from pressing him with questions. Under a man of this calibre it is hardly likely that a lame Phrygian boy would experience much kindness.
And if ever I see that day, and come once more into your arms, and if I ever recover you all and myself, I shall consider that I have reaped a sufficient harvest both of your piety and my own. Piso's kindness, virtue, and affection toward us all are so great that nothing can surpass them. I hope his conduct may be a source of pleasure to him, a source of glory I see clearly that it will be.
As that was an age when Alexander VI. was a Pope, and Lucretia Borgia the daughter of a Pontiff and consort of a reigning Duke of Italy, we can readily credit the author of the Annals, and laud him for admirable, life-like portraiture, when he says that a character and conduct, such as Piso's, "met with the approbation of a large number of people, who, indulging in vice as delightful, did not want at the head of affairs a strict practiser of the moral duties and an austere abstainer from vice:" "pluribus probabatur, qui in tanta vitiorum dulcedine summum imperium non restrictum nec perseverum volunt."
At the proper time we met at Piso's house; thence, occupied with varied talk, we traversed the six furlongs that lie between the Double Gate and the Academy; and entering the walls which can give such good reason for their fame, found there the solitude which we sought.
Did Germanicus accept this dignity? Did Tiberius properly appreciate this conduct? Was he pleased with his success? How did this appear? What followed this execution? How was Germanicus received? How was he next employed? What restraints were imposed on him? What were Piso's instructions, and how did he execute them? How did Germanicus act on the occasion? Did Piso persevere in his base attempts?
It is known in history as Piso's Conspiracy deriving its name from that of the principal leader of it, Caius Calpurnius Piso. It is not supposed, however, that Piso was absolutely the originator of the conspiracy, nor is it known, in fact, who the originator of it was.
Cicero represents them as homines doctissimos as early as 60 B.C., and though in his tirade against Piso ten years before Vergil's adhesion to the school he must needs cast some slurs at Piso's teacher, he is careful to compliment both his learning and his poetry.