BOOK THREE

LETTER 14

TO ACILIUS

     
THE horrid barbarity which the slaves of Larcius Macedo, a person of Praetorian rank, lately exercised upon their master, is so extremely tragical, that it deserves to be the subject of something more considerable than a private letter; though at the same time it must be acknowledged, there was a haughtiness and severity in his treatment of them, which shewed him littlečnay, I should rather say, tooč mindful that his own father was once in the same station.

     
They suddenly surrounded him as he was bathing at his villa near Formiae; one seized him by the throat, another struck him on the face, yet others trampled upon his breast, his belly, and actually, shocking to relate, on a part I forbear to name. When they imagined him senseless, they threw him upon the boilinghot pavement of the bath, to try if there was any remaining life left in him. He lay there stretched out, and motionless, either as really senseless, or counterfeiting to be so; upon which they concluded him actually dead. In this condition they brought him out, pretending that he had fainted away by the heat of the bath. Some of his more trusty servants received him, and the alarm being spread through the family, his mistresses ran to him with the most violent shrieks. The noise of their cries, together with the fresh air, brought him a little to himself, and he gave signs (as he now safely might) that he was not quite dead, by motion of his eyes and limbs. The slaves fled in various directions, but the greater part of them are taken, and search is being made for the rest. With much difficulty, he was kept alive for a few days, and then expired; but not before he had the consolation of seeing his murder avenged while he yet lived.

     
Thus you see to what indignities, outrages, and dangers we are exposed. Nor is lenity and good treatment any security from the villainies of your servants; for it is malice, and not reflection that arms such ruffians against their masters. So much for this piece of news.

     
But you will ask, I imagine, "Is this all the news?" In truth it is; otherwise, you should have it; for my paper and my time too (as it is a holyday with me) will allow me to add more. Upon recollection, however, I can tell you one farther circumstance relating to Macedo, which just now occurs to me. As he was once in a public bath at Rome, a remarkable, and (as it should seem by the manner of his death) an ominous accident happened to him. A slave of Macedo's, in order to make way for his master, laid his hand gently upon a Roman knight, who, suddenly turning round, by mistake gave not him, but Macedo so violent a cuff, that he almost knocked him down. Thus the bath seems to have been fatal to him by a kind of gradation; for first he received an indignity, and afterwards lost his life there. Farewell.