chapter  13
14 Pages


With the death of Caligula senators could enjoy a brief moment of euphoria. For the first time in living memory, they felt they were on the threshold of resuming the great role that had been theirs during the republic (a period that very few of their number would in fact have experienced), answerable in a vague sense to the Roman people, but at the whim and mercy of no single individual. After suffering through the nightmare of the Tiberian treason trials and the often arbitrary despotism of Caligula they felt that were once again masters of their universe. They were convened, it seems, on the Capitol, a place of great symbolism, since meetings of the senate had been held on the Capitol under the republic.1 They were summoned, according to Suetonius and Dio, by the consuls, Gnaeus Sentius Saturninus and Quintus Pomponius Secundus. This had happened also after the deaths of Augustus and Tiberius, but on this occasion the consuls’ role was much more than a mere formality, in fact it seemed almost a declaration of newly regained independence.2 They also took the precaution of summoning the three urban cohorts (the city police) to seize control of the forum and Capitol; they then transferred the funds from the treasuries (presumably the Aerarium Saturni in the Temple of Saturn in the forum) to the Capitol, and set guards over them.3