Suetonius, Nero 9-15

9.1Hence having begun with a display of his piety, he lauded Claudius, raised on most built-up funerary pyre and deified him. He had greatest honors of the memory of his father Domitius. To his mother, he left the height of all public and private affairs. Indeed, on the first day of his rule he gave to the tribune guarding the sign, “best mother,” and in succession often was carried on the same litter as she through the public. He brought forth a colony at Antium with veterans conscripted from the praetorian guard and with them joined to the wealthiest of the principate through a change of housing; and there he made a port at greatest expense.

10.1 And that he might show more certain his natural disposition, he had declared that he would rule by the prescription of Augustus, not did he omit any occasion to exhibit kindness. The more serious taxes to the state he either lessened or abolished. He reduced the rewards to informers of the Papian Lat to one fourth. He distributed 400 sesterces to each man among the people, and to the most noble of senators, who were destitute of annual salary from their familial account, as much as 500,000 sesterces, and similarly, free monthly grain to the praetorian cohorts. And when he was asked by custom that he might sign the warrant for a condemned man, he said, “How I wish I knew not how to write.” 10.2 He greeted all kinds thereon from memory. He responded, with the senate giving him praise, “When I shall have merited.” He admitted to his exercises at the Campus Martius the plebes, and often spoke in public. He recited poems, not only at home, but also in the theatre, so great the delight of all, that, because of a recital, it was decided that part of his song was to be dedicated to Capitoline Jove, inscribed in gold letters.

11.1 He gave many and varied kinds of spectacles: the iuvenales, circuses, stage plays, contests of gladiators. In the iuvenales, old consuls and aged matrons took part. In the circuses, he gave places to the equites apart from the rest and even sent out chariots of camels. In the games undertaken, which he wanted to be called “greatest” for the eternity of the empire, many from each order and sex took part. A most noted Roman equite, sitting astride an elephant, slid down on a rope; a roman play of Afrianus was stages, which was called “The Fire,” and the actors were permitted to carry the burning pieces of the house off stage and keep them for themselves. Each day presents of all kind were thrown to the people: each day a thousand birds of every kind, many sort of food, grain tickets, clothing, gold, silver, gems, pearls, paintings, slaves, domestic animals, and even trained beasts; lastly, ships, houses, farms.

12.1 He watched the games from the top of a proscenium. At the gladiatorial show, which he gave in a wooden amphitheatre in an area of the Campus Martius, which had been erected in the space of a year, he had none killed, even those convicted of crimes. However, he compelled 400 senators and 600 Roman knights to the sword, many of whom were well-off and with intact repute. From this same order were also those who fought beasts and performed various services of the arena. And he showed a naval battle with salt water and sea monsters swimming about; also, he showed Pyrrhic dances performed by a number of Greek youths, to whom he gave, after their staged effort, each a certificate of Roman citizenship. 12.2

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