Trichonem equitem Romanum memoria nostra, quia filium suum flagellis occiderat, populus graphiis in foro confodit; vix illum Augusti Caesaris auctoritas infestis tam patrum quam filiorum manibus eripuit. Tarium, qui filium deprensum in parricidii consilio damnavit causa cognita, nemo non suspexit, quod contentus exsilio et exsilio delicato Massiliae parricidam continuit et annua illi praestitit, quanta praestare integro solebat; haec liberalitas effecit, ut, in qua civitate numquam deest patronus peioribus, nemo dubitaret, quin reus merito damnatus esset, quem is pater damnare potuisset, qui odisse non poterat. hoc ipso exemplo dabo, quem compares bono patri, bonum principem. cogniturus de filio Tarius advocavit in consilium Caesarem Augustum; venit in privatos penates, adsedit, pars alieni consilii fuit, non dixit; “Immo in meam domum veniat”; quod si factum esset, Caesaris futura erat cognitio, non patris. audita causa excussisque omnibus, et his, quae adulescens pro se dixerat, et his, quibus arguebatur, petit, ut sententiam suam quisque scriberet, ne ea omnium fieret, quae Caesaris fuisset; deinde, priusquam aperirentur codicilli, iuravit se Tarii, hominis locupletis, hereditatem non aditurum. dicet aliquis: “pusillo animo timuit, ne videretur locum spei suae aperire velle filii damnatione.” Ego contra sentio; quilibet nostrum debuisset adversus opiniones malignas satis fiduciae habere in bona conscientia, principes multa debent etiam famae dare. Iuravit se non aditurum hereditatem. Tarius quidem eodem die et alterum heredem perdidit, sed Caesar libertatem sententiae suae redemit; et postquam approbavit gratuitam esse severitatem suam, quod principi semper curandum est, dixit relegandum, quo patri videretur. non culleum, non serpentes, non carcerem decrevit memor, non de quo censeret, sed cui in consilio esset; mollissimo genere poenae contentum esse debere patrem dixit in filio adulescentulo impulso in id scelus, in quo se, quod proximum erat ab innocentia, timide gessisset; debere illum ab urbe et a parentis oculis submoveri.
(Seneca Minor, De Clementia 15)
I recall the case of Tricho, a Roman knight, whom the people attacked with styluses in the forum because he had flogged his son to death: the authority of Augustus Caesar barely rescued him from the outrage of fathers and sons alike. When Tarius discovered that his son was planning to kill him and condemned him in a trial held in his own household, everyone looked up to him because he was content to sentence the young man to exile—and a pampered exile at that, in Massilia, where he provided him with the same annual allowance he used to give him before his disgrace. Because of this generous gesture, everyone in Rome—where even scoundrels never lack an advocate—believed that the young man had been justly condemned, seeing that a father incapable of hating him had been able to condemn him. This very same episode also provides a model of the good prince for you to compare with the good father. When Tarius was going to conduct the trial he asked Caesar Augustus to sit on his advisory council; and so Augustus came to a private home and sat at Tarius’s side as a counselor—he did not say, “No, no, let him come to my home,” for in that case the trial would have been Caesar’s, not the father’s. When the case had been heard and the evidence thoroughly examined—both the points that the young man made on his own behalf and those that tended to convict him—Augustus asked that each man write down his own judgment, lest everyone make Caesar’s verdict his own. Then, before the tablets were opened, he took an oath that he had no intention of accepting an inheritance from Tarius, who was a wealthy man. Someone will say, “That was a petty concern, not wanting to seem to make room for himself by voting to condemn the son.” Quite the opposite, I think: any of us ordinary folk should have had sufficient confidence in his own clear conscience to withstand malicious talk, but princes must make many concessions even to gossip. He swore that he would not accept an inheritance. And indeed on the same day Tarius lost two heirs, but Caesar secured his own freedom of judgment; and after he proved that his own strictness was not self-interested—a prince’s constant concern—he said that the son should be banished, the location to be left to the father’s discretion. Mindful not of the charge he was judging but of the man he was advising, he decreed neither the sack nor snakes nor a prison cell but made plain that a father should be content with the mildest punishment in the case of a young son driven to a crime in which he had shown himself, by his timid conduct, only one step removed from innocence: he should be removed from the city and from his father’s sight. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)