Marcus Junius Silanus (consul 46)

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Marcus Junius M. f. M. n. Silanus (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,[1] and he served his proconsulship as Governor of the Province of Asia, Silanus 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.[2] Although Tacitus exonerates Nero of Silanus' death, the 'first crime of the new principate,',[3] the historian casts Agrippina, Nero's mother, as the architect of the murder, on the grounds that she feared that Silanus 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).[4] As with Claudius, poison was the means to Silanus' end; the epitomator of Dio Cassius' 'Roman History' even tells us that Agrippina sent Silanus the same poison with which she dispatched her late husband;[5] and Tacitus informs us that the lethal drug was administered by a Roman of the Equestrian class named Publius Celerius, with the aid of a freed slave named Helius. The pair committed the crime openly, and the Province of Asia eventually prosecuted Celerius for this deed, among others; moreover, according to Tacitus, Nero saw to it that the prosecution was delayed to such an extent that Celerius died of old age.[6]

Silanus' son, Lucius Junius Silanus Torquatus, whom Tacitus calls a young man of moderation (modesta iuventa),[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.[8] 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.[9]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Cassius Dio, 60.1
  2. ^ Annales 12.57; cf. Suetonius, 'Deified Claudius' 44
  3. ^ Annales 13.1
  4. ^ Anneles 13.1
  5. ^ Dio, 61.4
  6. ^ Annales 13.33
  7. ^ Annales 16.7
  8. ^ Annales 16.10
  9. ^ Annales 16.9
Political offices
Preceded by
Aulus Antonius Rufus, and
Marcus Pompeius Silvanus Staberius Flavianus

as Suffect consuls
Consul of the Roman Empire
46
with Decimus Valerius Asiaticus II
Camerinus Antistius Vetus
Quintus Sulpicius Camerinus Peticus
Decimus Laelius Balbus
Gaius Terentius Tullius Geminus
Succeeded by
Claudius IV,
and Lucius Vitellius III