Plautius Lateranus

Plautius Lateranus (executed AD 65) was a Roman senator of the 1st century.

He was a member of the gens Plautia, and the son of Quintus Plautius, consul in 36, and an unknown mother.[1]

He was nephew to Aulus Plautius, the man who led the Invasion of Britain in 43 AD, and it was through his good offices that Plautius Lateranus escaped the death penalty in 48 AD, after his affair with the emperor Claudius' wife Messalina was discovered. Fortunately, Claudius held Aulus Plautius in high esteem.[2] Though he escaped death, he was removed from his senatorial position, but was later granted re-admittance under Nero [3]

In the year AD 65, Plautius Lateranus, who was then consul designatus, was accused of conspiracy against the emperor in the Pisonian conspiracy. Tacitus says that Lateranus joined from no personal grudge against Nero, but out of patriotism alone.[4] His part in the plot was as follows: He was to prostrate himself before Nero in a pretense of petitioning for financial assistance; then, being both 'resolute and muscular', he was to bring him down and hold him, allowing others of a military nature involved in the plot to kill him.[5] When the plot was exposed, Nero had Plautius executed. Tacitus states that his 'removal' was so hasty that he wasn't granted time to say goodbye to his children nor to choose his own death. He was taken to a 'place reserved for slave executions' where he is said to have died in resolute silence. The man who executed him, Statius Proxumus, was also involved in the plot, but Lateranus did not expose him [6]

Though Tacitus doesn't state the means of execution, Epictetus in his 'Stoic Discourses' makes it clear that he was beheaded. Epictetus asks his students why they shouldn't accept death; why they should fear dying alone. Why don't they hold out their necks in 'the way Lateranus did at Rome, when condemned by Nero to be beheaded? He held out his neck willingly to take the blow - but the blow was deficient, so he recoiled a bit, but then had enough self-command to offer his neck a second time.' [7]

His home was the Domus Lateranus, later called the Lateran Palace in Rome.[8]


  1. ^ Lily Ross Taylor, Trebula Suffenas and the Plautii Silvani, 1956, p 24
  2. ^ Tacitus, Annales XI.36; XV.60.
  3. ^ Tacitus, Annales, XIII.9
  4. ^ Tacitus, Annales, ch 15
  5. ^ Tacitus, Annales, Ch. 15
  6. ^ Tacitus, Annales, Ch. 15
  7. ^ Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writings, Discourses Bk 1, 18-19. Translation by Robert Dobbin, Penguin, 2008
  8. ^ Saint John Lateran