11 THE FAMOUS PERSONALITIES

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THE FAMOUS PERSONALITIES
Gavius Silvano


Here in my city there remains but an epitaph to recall the man I was before shame and remorse drove me to put an end to my life.

I was a faithful servant of Rome and served with honour in her army. I fought in Britain alongside the emperor Claudius. My valour won me honours and awards, but I never forgot my city Augusta Taurinorum, which made me its patronus and honoured me with an inscription set up in a public place.

When I went to Rome, however, I lost my bearings. The Emperor Nero himself appointed me as an officer of the praetorian cohort and I swore to be faithful to him.

But he deluded even those who had supported him in the early years of his reign: He was arrogant , violent, dissolute, a  spendthrift who despised the traditions of his forebears. For him, nothing was sacred, neither friends nor relatives.

This was how things began. 

People say it was the senators, especially the noble Lucius Calpurnius Piso, who fostered the comspiracy. Yet this is not the whole story. Discontent was equally rife among us praetorians. And so it was that I, too, decided to take part in the plot.

A freedman, however, managed to discover what was afoot and Nero was informed. A state of emergency was proclaimed in Rome. Many conspirators escaped. Others were arrested, including persons not involved, such as the philosopher Seneca, Nero's former teacher.

I was not detected. During those terrible days, indeed, I augmented the very offences I had sworn to vindicate.

When Nero ordered me to give Seneca his death sentence, I did not have the courage to read it and sent a junior officer to do this dirty work on my behalf.

The guilt never ceased to haunt me until, unable to bear the dishonour, I took off my life.