Here we get a little portrait of one of Nero’s creatures – the parvenu Vatinius from Beneventum, who reputedly had a long nose (Juvenal, Satire 5.46–7, Martial, Epigrams 14.96) and made a fortune under the emperor as informer and ‘sinister court-buffoon.’1 In his Dialogus de Oratoribus, Tacitus mentions that Maternus eventually crushed the creature by means of some acid poetry (11.2).2 The vocabulary of wickedness – foedissima, sutrinae, detorto, scurrilibus, contumelias, criminatione, malos – is densely packed here to give a very strong flavour of the corruption of Vatinius and of Nero’s court.


1 See Maltby (1991) 78.

2 Miller (1975) 83.