Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus (consul AD 46)

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Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Silanus Torquatus (AD 14-54), was the eldest son of Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus and Aemilia Lepida. His mother was the great-granddaughter of the emperor Augustus. As a member of the imperial family, Silanus could therefore be considered a possible candidate for the succession. Although he was honoured with a consulship by the Emperor Claudius in 46, according to Cassius Dio (60.1), and he served his proconsulship as Governor of the Province of Asia, Torquatus did not survive the death of that Emperor, whom the historian Tacitus hints was speeded on his way to Godhood by consuming funghi porcini doused with a dose of poison [infusum delectabili cibo boleto venenum]—said to have been administered at the instigation of the emperor's fourth wife, Agrippina the Younger. (Annales 12.57; cf. Suetonius, 'Deified Claudius' 44). Although Tacitus exonerates the young Emperor Nero of Torquatus' death, the 'first crime of the new principate,' (Ann. 13.1), the historian casts Agrippina, Nero's mother, as the architect of the murder, on the grounds that she feared that Torquatus would act as the avenger of his brother's death, of which, Tacitus implies, she was the perpetrator (Agrippina fratri eius L. Silano necem molita ultorem metuebat [Ann. 13.1]). As with Claudius, poison was the means to Torquatus' end; the epitomator of Dio Cassius' 'Roman History' even tells us that Agrippina sent Torquatus the same poison with which she dispatched her late husband (61.4); and Tacitus informs us that the lethal drug was administered by a Roman of the Equestrian class named P. Celer, with the aid of a freed slave named Helius. The pair committed the crime openly, and the Province of Asia eventually prosecuted Celer for this deed, among others; moreover, according to Tacitus, Nero saw to it that the prosecution was delayed to such an extent that Celer died of old age (Ann. 13.33).

Torquatus' son, Lucius Junius Silanus Torquatus, whom Tacitus calls a young man of moderation (modesta iuventa [Ann. 16.7]), was considered a threat on similar grounds as his father had been, and informers soon cooked up a conspiracy implicating him and his aunt Junia Lepida on charges of magic rites and incest (Ann. 16.10). Upon being exiled to Bari, he was set upon by a centurion and some guards. Young Silanus, however, did not open his veins, when invited to do so; he went down fighting with his fists, and Tacitus notes that the centurion was forced to run him through with his sword; his fatal wound, according to the historian, was in front [Ann. 16.9].

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Political offices
Preceded by
Marcus Vinicius and Titus Statilius Taurus Corvinus
Consul of the Roman Empire together with Decimus Valerius Asiaticus
46
Succeeded by
Claudius and Lucius Vitellius