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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Histories


published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition of Tacitus, 1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. II) Tacitus

Book II (end)

 p245  52 1 Although fighting had now ceased at every point, a large part of the senate, which had set out from Rome with Otho and then been left at Mutina,1 encountered extreme danger. News of the defeat was brought to Mutina; but the soldiers treated the report with scorn, believing it false, and since they thought the senate hostile to Otho, they began to watch the senators' conversation and to put an unfavourable interpretation on their looks and bearing. Finally, resorting to abuse and insults, they looked for an excuse to start a massacre, while in addition the senators were weighed down by the further fear that, now the party of Vitellius was dominant, they might be held to have been slow in accepting the victory. Thus they assembled, frightened and distressed by a double anxiety; none was ready with any plan of his own, but each felt the safer in sharing his guilt with many. The local senate of Mutina added to the distress of the terrified company by offering them arms and money, and with an untimely compliment addressed them as "Conscript Fathers."

 p247  53 1 There was a remarkable quarrel when Licinius Caecina attacked Marcellus Eprius for making ambiguous proposals. Yet the other senators did not disclose their opinions; but the name of Marcellus was hateful and exposed to odium, because men remembered that he had been an informer;2 it consequently roused in Caecina, who was a new man, recently enrolled in the senate, a desire to win fame by making enemies of the great. The two were separated, however, by the moderate and wiser senators. They all returned to Bononia3 to take counsel together again there; and they also hoped for fuller news in the meantime. At Bononia they posted men on the different roads to question every newcomer. One of Otho's freedmen who was asked why he had left, replied that he had Otho's last commands. He also said that Otho was still alive when he left, but that his sole anxiety was for posterity and that he had rejected all the allurements of life. This answer filled the senators with admiration and made them ashamed to question further; and then the hearts of all inclined toward Vitellius.

54 1 His brother Lucius Vitellius was now sharing their councils and was already offering himself as an object of their flattery, when suddenly Coenus, one of Nero's freedmen, by a bold falsehood succeeded in terrifying them all. He declared that by the arrival of the Fourteenth legion and by its union with the forces from Brixellum, the victors had been crushed and the fortune of the two parties reversed. He had invented this tale to secure by such good news a renewed validity for Otho's passports4 which were being disregarded. Now Coenus  p249 hurried to Rome, where a few days later, at the orders of Vitellius, he paid the penalty due; the senators, however, were in still greater danger, for Otho's soldiers believed that the story was the truth. Their alarm was increased also by the fact that their departure from Mutina and their abandonment of Otho's cause had the appearance of a formal and public act. They no longer met together, but each took thought for his own safety until letters from Fabius Valens did away with their fears. Moreover the laudable character of Otho's death made the news of it spread all the quicker.

55 1 Yet at Rome there was no disorder. The festival of Ceres5 was celebrated in the usual manner. When it was announced in the theatre on good authority that Otho was no more and that Flavius Sabinus,6 the city prefect, had administered to all the soldiers in the city the oath of allegiance to Vitellius, the audience greeted the name of Vitellius with applause. The people, bearing laurel and flowers, carried busts of Galba from temple to temple, and piled garlands high in the form of a burial mound by the Lacus Curtius,7 which the dying Galba had stained with his blood. The senate at once voted for Vitellius all the honours that had been devised during the long reigns of other emperors; besides they passed votes of praise and gratitude to the troops from Germany and dispatched a delegation to deliver this expression of their joy. Letters from Fabius Valens to the consuls were read, written in quite moderate style; but greater satisfaction was felt at Caecina's modesty in not writing at all.8

56 1 But the distress of Italy was now heavier and more terrible than that inflicted by war. The troops  p251 of Vitellius, scattering among the municipalities and colonies, indulged in every kind of robbery, theft, violence and debauchery. Their greed and venality knew no distinction between right and wrong; they respected nothing, whether sacred or profane. There were cases too where, under the disguise of soldiers, men murdered their personal enemies; and the soldiers in their turn, being acquainted with the country, marked out the best-stocked farms and the richest owners for booty or destruction, in case any resistance was made. The generals were subject to their troops and did not dare to forbid them. Caecina was less avaricious, but more eager for popularity; Valens, notorious for his greed and sordid gains, was more inclined to overlook the crimes of others. Italy, whose wealth had long before been exhausted, now found all these troops, foot and horse, all this violence, loss, and suffering, an intolerable burden.

57 1 In the meantime, Vitellius, quite ignorant of his success, was bringing with him all the remaining forces from Germany, as if he had to face a war whose issue was undecided. He had left only a few veterans in the winter quarters and was now hurrying forward levies in the Gallic provinces to fill up the empty ranks of the legions that were left behind. The duty of guarding the Rhine he assigned to Hordeonius Flaccus. He supplemented his own forces with eight thousand men picked from the army in Britain. After he had advanced a few days, he heard of the success at Bedriacum and learned that at Otho's death the war had collapsed; then he assembled his troops and spoke in the highest praise of his brave army. When his soldiers demanded that  p253 he give his freedman Asiaticus the rank of knight, he checked this shameful adulation; but later, prompted by his fickle nature, in the privacy of a dinner he granted that which he had refused in public, and honoured with the golden ring this Asiaticus, a servile, shameful creature, who owed his popularity to his wicked arts.9

58 1 During these days word arrived that both Mauretanias10 had come over to the side of Vitellius after the imperial governor Albinus had been killed. Lucceius Albinus, who had been appointed governor of Mauretania Caesariensis by Nero, had been charged by Galba with the administration of the province of Tingitana as well, and had forces at his command which were not to be despised. Nineteen cohorts of infantry, five squadrons of cavalry were at his disposal as well as a great number of Mauri, forming a band which robbery and brigandage had trained for war. After the assassination of Galba, Albinus had favoured Otho, and not satisfied with Africa, began preparations to threaten Spain, which is separated from Africa by only a narrow strait. This action frightened Cluvius Rufus, and he ordered the Tenth legion to advance towards the coast as if he planned to transport it across; and he dispatched centurions ahead to win the Mauri to the cause of Vitellius. This was not hard, for the army from Germany enjoyed a great reputation in the provinces; besides, gossip spread the report that Albinus, despising the name of imperial governor, was adopting the insignia of royalty and the name of Juba.

59 1 The sentiments of the Mauretanians were changed, and this reversal of feeling led to the assassination of the prefect of the cavalry, Asinius Pollio,  p255 one of the most devoted friends of Albinus, and of the commanders of the cohorts, Festus and Scipio. Albinus, who was trying to reach Mauretania Caesariensis by sea from Tingitana, was killed as he disembarked; his wife offered herself to the assassins and was slain with him. Vitellius made no investigation of all these acts; however important matters were, he dismissed them after a brief hearing; he was quite unequal to serious business.

His army he ordered to advance by land; but he himself sailed down the Arar, distinguished by no imperial show, but rather by the same poverty that he had displayed of old; until finally Junius Blaesus, governor of Gallia Lugudunensis — a man of illustrious family, whose wealth matched his liberal spirit, — surrounded him with all the service that an emperor should have and gave him generous escort, earning dislike by that very act, although the emperor concealed his hatred under servile flattery. At Lugudunum the generals of both sides, the victors and the defeated, awaited him. Vitellius spoke in praise of Valens and Caecina in public assembly and placed them on either side of his own curule chair. Then he ordered the entire army to parade before his infant son,11 whom he brought out and, wrapping him in a general's cloak, held in his arms; he called him Germanicus, and surrounded him with all the attributes of imperial rank. These excessive honours in prosperity presently became a solace in misfortune.

60 1 Then the centurions who had been most active in supporting Otho were put to death, an action which more than anything else turned the forces in Illyricum against Vitellius; at the same time the contagion spread to the rest of the legions,  p257 who were jealous of the forces from Germany, and they began to think of war. Suetonius Paulinus and Licinius Proculus were kept in anxiety and distress by a long delay, until at last, when admitted to audience, they resorted to a defence which necessity rather than honour dictated: they actually charged themselves with treachery towards Otho, declaring that their own bad faith was responsible for the long march before the battle, for the exhaustion of his forces, for the baggage train becoming involved with the marching troops and the resulting confusion, and finally for many things which were due to mere chance. Vitellius believed in their treachery and acquitted them of the crime of loyalty towards Otho. Salvius Titianus, Otho's brother, was in no danger, being forgiven because of his duty towards his brother and his own incapacity. Marius Celsus did not lose his consulship.12 But gossip, which was widely believed, gave rise to the charge made later in the senate against Caecilius Simplex to the effect that he had wished to purchase the consulship, even at the cost of the life of Celsus. Vitellius opposed this rumour and later gave Simplex a consulship which cost neither crime nor money. Trachalus was protected against his accusers by Galeria, the wife of Vitellius.13

61 1 While men of high distinction were thus endangered, it raises a blush to record how a certain Mariccus, a common Boian,14 dared to take a hand in Fortune's game, and, pretending the authority of heaven, to challenge the Roman arms. And this liberator of the Gallic provinces, this god — for he had given himself that honour — after collecting eight thousand men, was already plundering the  p259 Aeduan cantons nearest him, when that most important state,15 with the best of its youth and the cohorts which Vitellius gave, dispersed the fanatic crowd. Mariccus was taken prisoner in the battle. Later, when he was exposed to the beasts and the animals did not rend him, the stupid rabble believed him inviolable, until he was executed before the eyes of Vitellius.

62 1 No other severe measures were taken against the rebels; there were no further confiscations. The wills of those who fell in Otho's ranks were allowed to stand, and if the soldiers died intestate, the law took its regular course. In fact, if Vitellius had only moderated his luxurious mode of life, there would have been no occasion to fear his avarice. But his passion for elaborate banquets was shameful and insatiate. Dainties to tempt his palate were constantly brought from Rome and all Italy, while the roads from both the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas hummed with hurrying vehicles. The preparation of banquets for him ruined the leading citizens of the communities through which he passed; the communities themselves were devastated; and his soldiers lost their energy and their valour as they became accustomed to pleasure and learned to despise their leader. Vitellius sent a proclamation to Rome in advance of his arrival, deferring the title Augustus and declining the name Caesar, although he rejected none of an emperor's powers. The astrologers16 were banished from Italy; strict measures were taken to prevent Roman knights from degrading themselves in gladiatorial schools and the arena. Former emperors had driven knights to such actions by money or more often by  p261 force; and most municipal towns and colonies were in the habit of rivalling the emperors in bribing the worst of their young men to take up these disgraceful pursuits.

63 1 But Vitellius was moved to greater arrogance and cruelty by the arrival of his brother and by the cunning approaches of his teachers in the imperial art; he ordered the execution of Dolabella, whose banishment by Otho to the colony of Aquinum we have previously related.17 Dolabella, on hearing of Otho's death, had entered Rome. For this he was accused before the city-prefect, Flavius Sabinus, by Plancius Varus, an ex-praetor, one of Dolabella's most intimate friends. To the charge of escaping from custody and offering himself as leader to the defeated party Varus added that Dolabella had tampered with the cohort stationed at Ostia,18 but being unable to present any proofs for his grave charges, he repented of his action and sought pardon for his friend — too late, for the outrage had been done. While Flavius Sabinus was hesitating — for the matter was serious — Triaria, the wife of Lucius Vitellius, violent beyond her sex, frightened Sabinus from any attempt to secure a reputation for clemency at the expense of the emperor. Sabinus was by nature gentle, but ready to change his decision when alarmed, and now being afraid for himself when the danger was another's, and wishing to avoid seeming to have helped him, he precipitated Dolabella's fall.

64 1 So Vitellius, who not only feared but also hated Dolabella, because Dolabella had married his former wife, Petronia, summoned him by letter, directing him to avoid the crowded Flaminian Road  p263 and go to Interamnium,19 where he ordered that he should be killed. The executioner thought the journey too long; at a tavern on the way he struck Dolabella to the ground and cut his throat, to the great discredit of the new principate, of whose character this was regarded as the first indication. The bold nature of Triaria was made odious by comparison with an example of modesty within her own family, for the Emperor's wife Galeria never took a hand in such horrors, while Sextilia,º the mother of the two Vitellii, showed herself a woman of the same high character, an example of ancient ways. Indeed it was said that when she received the first letter from her son, she declared that she had borne a Vitellius, not a Germanicus. And never later was she moved to joy by the allurements of fortune or by popular favour: it was only the misfortunes of her house that she felt.

65 1 After Vitellius left Lugdunum, he was overtaken by Cluvius Rufus, who had left Spain.20 Rufus had an air of joy and congratulation, but in his heart he was anxious, for he knew that charges had been laid against him. Hilarus, one of the imperial freedmen, had denounced him, claiming that when Rufus had heard of the elevation of Vitellius and of Otho, he had made an attempt to gain power and possession of the Spanish provinces for himself, and for that reason had not prefixed the name of any emperor to his public documents; moreover, Hilarus interpreted some parts of his public speeches as derogatory to Vitellius and calculated to win popularity for himself. The influence of Cluvius was strong enough to move Vitellius so far as to order the punishment of his own freedman. Cluvius was  p265 added to the emperor's train but not deprived of his province of Spain; he continued to govern it from a distance, after the precedent of Lucius Arruntius. But the emperor Tiberius had kept Arruntius with him because he was afraid of him;21 Vitellius had no fear of Cluvius. Trebellius Maximus did not receive the same honour.22 He had fled from Britain to escape the resentment of his army; Vettius Bolanus, one of the suite of Vitellius, was sent out in his place.

66 1 Vitellius found cause for anxiety in the spirit of the defeated legions, which was by no means conquered. Scattered about Italy and mingling with the victorious troops, their talk was constantly hostile; the soldiers of the Fourteenth legion were particularly bold, declaring that they never had been defeated, for in the battle at Bedriacum it was only some veterans who had been beaten; the strength of the legion had not been there at all. Vitellius decided to send them back to Britain, from which Nero had withdrawn them, and in the meantime to have the Batavian cohorts camp with them, because the Batavians had had a difference of long standing with the Fourteenth. Peace did not last long among armed men who hated one another so violently. At Turin a Batavian charged a workman with being a thief, while a legionary defended the workman as his host; thereupon their fellow-soldiers rallied to the support of each and matters soon passed from words to blows. In fact there would have been a bloody battle if two Praetorian cohorts had not taken the side of the soldiers of the Fourteenth and inspired them with courage while they frightened the Batavians. Vitellius directed that  p267 the Batavians, as being trustworthy, should join his train, while the Fourteenth was to be conducted over the Graian Alps23 by a circuitous route to avoid Vienna,24 for the people of Vienna also gave him alarm. On the night in which the legion set out, the soldiers left fires burning everywhere, and a part of the colony of the Taurini was consumed; but the loss, like most of the misfortunes of war, was obscured by the greater disasters that befell other cities. After the Fourteenth had descended the Alps, the most mutinous were for advancing on Vienna, but they were restrained by the common action of the better soldiers, and the legion was got over to Britain.

67 1 The next alarm of Vitellius arose from the praetorian cohorts. At first they had been kept apart; later the offer of an honourable discharge was employed to soothe their feelings,25 and they started to turn their arms over to their tribunes, until the report that Vespasian had begun war became common; then they resumed their service and formed the backbone of the Flavian party. The First legion of marines was sent to Spain to have their savage temper softened by peace and quiet; the Eleventh and Seventh legions26 were sent back to winter quarters, while the members of the Thirteenth were ordered to build amphitheatres, for Caecina was preparing to exhibit gladiators at Cremona, Valens at Bononia. Vitellius was never so absorbed in serious business that he forgot his pleasures.

68 1 The conquered party Vitellius had thus succeeded in scattering without an outbreak. But among the victors a mutiny broke out; the mutiny  p269 originated in sport; only, the number of the slain aggravated the unpopularity of Vitellius. The emperor was dining at Ticinum, and Verginius was his guest. According to the character of their commanders, legati and tribuni either imitate their strictness or find pleasure in extravagant dinners;27 and in the same way the soldiers exhibit devotion or licence. In the army of Vitellius complete disorder and drunkenness prevailed — things which belong rather to night revels and bacchanalian routs than to the discipline appropriate to an armed camp. So it happened that two soldiers, one from the Fifth legion and the other a Gallic auxiliary, in sport challenged each other to a wrestling match. When the legionary was thrown and the Gaul began to mock him, the crowd of spectators that had gathered took sides and the legionaries suddenly started to kill the auxiliaries, and in fact two cohorts were wiped out. The remedy for this disturbance was a second riot. A cloud of dust and arms were seen in the distance. A general cry was at once raised that the Fourteenth legion was retracing its steps and coming to fight; but in fact it was the rear-guard, and when they were recognized the general panic ceased. In the meantime the soldiers accused a slave of Verginius who happened to be passing with being an assassin of Vitellius; they rushed to the dinner, demanding that Verginius be put to death. Even Vitellius, who was timid and ready to entertain any suspicion, had no doubt of his innocence. Still it was with difficulty that the troops were kept from insisting on the execution of this ex-consul who had once been their own general. In fact no man was endangered by every riot so often as Verginius.  p271 Admiration for him and his reputation continued unimpaired; but the troops hated him, for he had despised their offer.28

69 1 The next day Vitellius first received the delegation from the senate, which he had directed to wait for him here; then he went to the camp and took occasion to praise the loyal devotion of the soldiers. This action made the auxiliaries complain that the legionaries were allowed to enjoy such impunity and to display such impudence. Then, to keep the Batavian cohorts from undertaking some bold deed of vengeance, he sent them back to Germany, for the Fates were already preparing the sources from which both civil and foreign war was to spring.29 The Gallic auxiliaries were dismissed to their homes. Their number was enormous, for at the very outbreak of the rebellion they had been taken into the army as part of the empty parade of war. Furthermore, that the resources of the empire, which had been impaired by donatives, might be sufficient for the needs of the state, Vitellius ordered that the legionary and auxiliary troops should be reduced and forbade further recruiting, besides offering discharges freely. This policy was destructive to the state and unpopular with the soldiers, for the same tasks were now distributed among fewer men, so that dangers and toil fell more often on the individual. Their strength also was corrupted by luxury in contrast to the ancient discipline and maxims of our forefathers, in whose day valour formed a better foundation for the Roman state than money.

70 1 Vitellius next turned aside to Cremona, and after witnessing the exhibition of gladiators provided  p273 by Caecina, conceived a desire to tread the plains of Bedriacum and to see with his own eyes the traces of his recent victory. It was a revolting and ghastly sight: not forty days had passed since the battle, and on every side were mutilated corpses, severed limbs, rotting bodies of men and horses, the ground soaked with filth and gore, trees overthrown and crops trampled down in appalling devastation. No less barbarous was the sight presented by that part of the road which the people of Cremona strewed with laurel and roses, while they erected altars and slew victims as if they were greeting an eastern king; but their present joy was later the cause of their ruin. Valens and Caecina attended Vitellius and explained the scene of the battle; they showed that at this point the legions had rushed to the attack; there the cavalry had charged; and there the auxiliary forces had surrounded the foe. Tribunes too and prefects, each extolling his own deeds, mingled truth with falsehood or at least with exaggeration of the truth. The common soldiers also with shouts of joy turned from the road, recognized the stretches over which the battle had raged, and looked with wonder on the heaps of arms and the piles of bodies. Some among them were moved to tears and pity by the vicissitudes of fortune on which they gazed. But Vitellius never turned away his eyes or showed horror at the sight of so many citizens deprived of the rites of burial. Indeed he was filled with joy, and, ignorant of his own fate which was so near, he offered sacrifice to the local divinities.

71 1 Thereafter at Bononia Fabius Valens presented his gladiatorial exhibition for which the equipment  p275 had been brought from Rome. As Vitellius drew nearer to the capital, his train exhibited the greater corruption; actors, crowds of eunuchs, and every other kind of creature that belonged to Nero's court mixed with his soldiers. For Vitellius cherished great admiration for Nero himself, whom he had been in the habit of accompanying on his singing tours, not under compulsion, as so many honourable men were forced to do, but because he was the slave and chattel of luxury and gluttony. To secure free months in which to honour Valens and Caecina with consulships, he shortened the terms of others30 and passed over Marcus Macer in silence as having been a leader of Otho's party. He put off the consulship of Valerius Marinus, who had been selected by Galba, not because of any offence, but because Marinus was of a mild nature and would put up with the injury. Pedanius Costa was omitted from the list; he was unpopular with the emperor because he had dared to move against Nero and to urge Verginius to action, although other reasons were alleged. Vitellius received the usual thanks, for the habit of servility was well established.

72 1 A deception, which had a lively success at first, prevailed for only a few days. A man appeared who gave himself out at Scribonianus Camerinus, alleging that he had remained concealed in Istria during Nero's reign, for there the ancient Crassi still possessed clients, lands, and popularity.31 He accordingly associated with himself, to develop this comedy, a company made up of the dregs of mankind; the credulous common people and some of the soldiers, either deceived by the falsehood or led  p277 on by a desire for trouble, were rapidly rallying about him, when he was dragged before Vitellius and questioned as to his identity. No faith was put in his answers; and after he had been recognized by his master as a runaway slave, Geta by name, he suffered the punishment usually inflicted on slaves.

73 1 The degree to which the insolent pride of Vitellius increased after couriers arrived from Syria and Judea and reported that the East had sworn allegiance to him is almost past belief. For although the grounds for the gossip were as yet vague and uncertain, rumour had much to say of Vespasian, and his name frequently excited Vitellius. But now both emperor and army, believing that they had no rival, broke out into cruelty, lust, and rapine, equalling all the excesses of barbarians.

74 1 As for Vespasian, he now began to reflect on the possibilities of war and armed combat and to review the strength of the forces near and far. His own soldiers were so ready that when he administered the oath and made vows for the success of Vitellius, they listened in complete silence. The sentiments of Mucianus were not hostile to him and indeed were favourable to Titus;32 Tiberius Alexander, the prefect of Egypt, had already cast his lost with his side; he could count on the loyalty of the Third legion, which had been transferred from Syria to Moesia; and he had hopes that the legions in Illyricum would follow the Third. There was reason for this expectation, for all the eastern forces had been fired with rage over the arrogance of the soldiers of Vitellius who came to them, because though savage in appearance and barbarous in speech, they constantly mocked at all the others as  p279 their inferiors. But a war of such scope can never be undertaken without hesitation; and Vespasian, at one moment inspired with hope, would at time ponder over the obstacles — what could that day be on which he should entrust his sixty years and his two young sons to the fortune of war? He reflected that private plans allow one to advance or retreat and permit the individual to take that measure of Fortune's gifts that he will; but when a man aims at the imperial power, there is no mean between the heights and the abyss.

75 1 He pictured to himself the strength of the army from Germany, which as a soldier he well understood. He realized that his own legions were untried in civil war, and that there was more discontent than strength in the ranks of the defeated. In time of discord the fidelity of an army is uncertain and danger may come from individuals. "For what will cohorts and squadrons avail me," he asked himself, "if some one or two assassins go red-handed to demand the reward which my opponents will always be ready to pay? Thus Scribonianus was killed under Claudius;33 thus his assassin Volaginius won advancement from the lowest to the highest rank. It is easier to move whole armies than to avoid individuals."

76 1 While he was hesitating, moved by such fears as these, his mind was confirmed by his officers and friends and especially by Mucianus, who first had long private conversations with him and then spoke openly before the rest: "All who are debating high emprises ought to consider whether their purpose is useful to the state, glorious for themselves,  p281 easy of accomplishment, or at least not difficult. At the same time they must take into account the character of their adviser. Is he ready to share the risks involved as well as to give advice? If Fortune favours the undertaking, who is the man for whom the highest honour is sought? I call you, Vespasian, to the throne. How advantageous to the state, how glorious for you this may prove, are questions which depend, after the gods, on your own acts. Have no fear that I may appear to flatter you. It is rather a disgrace than a glory to be chosen emperor after Vitellius. It is not against the keen mind of the deified Augustus, nor the cautious nature of the aged Tiberius, nor against the long-established imperial house of even a Gaius or a Claudius, or, if you like, of a Nero, that we are rising. You respected the ancestry even of Galba. But to remain longer inactive and to leave the state to corruption and ruin would appear nothing but sloth and cowardice on your part, even if subservience should prove as safe for you as it certainly would be disgraceful. The time is already past and gone when you could seem to have no desires for supreme power. Your only refuge is the throne. Have you forgotten the murder of Corbulo?34 He was of more splendid family than I am, I grant you, but Nero also was superior to Vitellius in point of noble birth. Anyone who is feared is noble enough in the eyes of the man who fears him. Moreover you have proof in the case of Vitellius himself that an army can make an emperor, for Vitellius owes his elevation to no campaigns or reputation as a soldier, but solely to men's hatred of Galba. Even Otho, who owed his defeat, not to his rival's skill as general  p283 or to the force of the opposing army, but to his own hasty despair, Vitellius has already made seem a great emperor whom men regret; and in the meantime he is scattering his legions, disarming his cohorts, and every day sowing new seeds of war. All the enthusiasm and courage that his soldiers ever had is being dissipated in taverns, in debauches, and in imitation of their emperor. You have in Syria, Judea, and Egypt nine legions at their full strength, not worn out by fighting, not infected by mutiny, but troops who have gained strength by experience and proved themselves victorious over a foreign foe.35 You have strong fleets, cavalry, and cohorts, princes wholly loyal to you,36 and an experience greater than all others.

77 1 "For myself I shall make no claim save not to be reckoned second to Valens and Caecina; yet I beg you not to despise Mucianus as partner in your enterprise because you do not find in him a rival. I count myself superior to Vitellius and you superior to me. Your house has the honour of a triumphal name;37 it possesses two young men, one of whom is already equal to ruling the empire; he also enjoys a high reputation with the forces in Germany because his first years of service were spent there.38 It would be absurd for me not to bow before the throne of a man whose son I should adopt if I myself held it. Besides, you and I shall not stand on the same footing in success as in failure, for if we win, I shall have simply the position you choose to give; but risks and dangers we shall share alike. Rather — and this is better — do you command your forces here; leave to me the conduct of the actual war and the risks of battle.  p285 There is stricter discipline to‑day in the ranks of the defeated than among the victors. The former are fired to brave action by rage, hatred, and eager desire for revenge; the latter are losing their vigour because they scorn and disdain their opponents. War will inevitably open and lay bare the angry wounds which the victorious party now conceals; nor is the confidence that I have in your vigilance, frugality, and wisdom greater than that I feel in the sloth, ignorance, and cruelty of Vitellius. Besides, our situation is better in war than in peace, for they who plan revolt have already revolted."

78 1 After Mucianus had spoken, the rest became bolder; they gathered about Vespasian, encouraged him, and recalled the prophecies of seers and the movements of the stars. Nor indeed was he wholly free from such superstitious belief, as was evident later when he had obtained supreme power, for he openly kept at court an astrologer named Seleucus, whom he regarded as his guide and oracle. Old omens came back to his mind: once on his country estate a cypress of conspicuous height suddenly fell, but the next day it rose again on the selfsame spot fresh, tall, and with wider expanse than before. This occurrence was a favourable omen of great significance, as the haruspices all agreed, and promised the highest distinctions for Vespasian, who was then still a young man. At first, however, the insignia of a triumph, his consulship, and his victory over Judea appeared to have fulfilled the promise given by the omen; yet after he had gained these honours, he began to think that it was the imperial throne that was foretold. Between Judea and Syria lies Carmel: this is the name given to both  p287 the mountain and the divinity. The god has no image or temple — such is the rule handed down by the fathers; there is only an altar and the worship of the god. When Vespasian was sacrificing there and thinking over his secret hopes in his heart, the priest Basilides, after repeated inspection of the victim's vitals, said to him: "Whatever you are planning, Vespasian, whether to build a house, or to enlarge your holdings, or to increase the number of your slaves, the god grants you a mighty home, limitless bounds, and a multitude of men." This obscure oracle rumour had caught up at the time, and now was trying to interpret; nothing indeed was more often on men's lips. It was discussed even more in Vespasian's presence — for men have more to say to those who are filled with hope. The two leaders now separated with clear purposes before them, Mucianus going to Antioch, Vespasian to Caesarea. Antioch is the capital of Syria, Caesarea of Judea.39

79 1 The transfer of the imperial power to Vespasian began at Alexandria, where Tiberius Alexander acted quickly, administering to his troops the oath of allegiance on the first of July. This day has been celebrated in later times as the first of Vespasian's reign, although it was on the third of July that the army in Judea took the oath before Vespasian himself, and did it with such enthusiasm that they did not wait even for his son Titus, who was on his way back from Syria and was the medium of communication between Mucianus and his father. The whole act was carried through by the enthusiastic soldiery without any formal speech or regular parade of the legions.

 p289  80 1 While the time, the place, and — what is in such case the most difficult thing — the person to speak the first word were being discussed, while hope and fear, plans and possibilities filled every mind, as Vespasian stepped from his quarters, a few soldiers who were drawn up in their usual order to salute him as their Legate, saluted him as Emperor. Then the rest ran up and began to call him Caesar and Augustus; they heaped on him all the titles of an emperor. Their minds suddenly turned from fears to confidence in Fortune's favour. In Vespasian himself there was no arrogance or pride, no novelty of conduct in his new estate. The moment that he had dispelled the mist which his elevation to such a height spread before his eyes, he spoke as befitted a soldier; then he began to receive favourable reports from every quarter; for Mucianus, who was waiting only for this action, now administered to his own eager troops the oath of allegiance to Vespasian. Then he entered the theatre at Antioch, where the people regularly hold their public assemblies, and addressed the crowd which hurried there, and expressed itself in extravagant adulation. His speech was graceful enough although he spoke in Greek, for he knew how to give a certain air to all he said and did. There was nothing that angered the province and the army so much as the assertion of Mucianus that Vitellius had decided to transfer the legions of Germany to Syria, where they could enjoy a profitable and easy service, while in exchange he would assign to the troops in Syria the wintry climate and the laborious duties of Germany. For the provincials were accustomed to live with the soldiers, and enjoyed association with them; in fact,  p291 many civilians were bound to the soldiers by ties of friendship and of marriage, and the soldiers from their long service had come to love their old familiar camps as their very hearths and homes.

81 1 Before the fifteenth of July all Syria had sworn the same allegiance. Vespasian's cause was now joined also by Sohaemus40 with his entire kingdom, whose strength was not to be despised, and by Antiochus41 who had enormous ancestral wealth, and was in fact the richest of the subject princes. Presently Agrippa,42 summoned from Rome by private messages from his friends, while Vitellius was still unaware of his action, quickly crossed the sea and joined the cause. Queen Berenice showed equal spirit in helping Vespasian's party: she had great youthful beauty, and commended herself to Vespasian for all his years by the splendid gifts she made him.43 All the provinces on the coast to the frontiers of Achaia and Asia, as well as all the inland provinces as far as Pontus and Armenia, took the oath of allegiance; but their governors had no armed forces, since Cappadocia had as yet no legions.44 A grand council was held at Berytus.45 Mucianus came there with all his lieutenants and tribunes, as well as his most distinguished centurions and soldiers; the army in Judea also sent its best representatives. This great concourse of foot and horse, with princes who rivalled one another in splendid display, made a gathering that befitted the high fortune of an emperor.

 p293  82 1 The first business of the war was to hold levies and to recall the veterans to the colours. The strong towns were selected to manufacture arms; gold and silver were minted at Antioch; and all these preparations, each in its proper place, were quickly carried forward by expert agents. Vespasian visited each place in person, encouraged the workmen, spurring on the industrious by praise and the slow by his example, concealing his friends' faults rather than their virtues. Many he rewarded with prefectures and procuratorships; large numbers of excellent men who later attained the highest positions he raised to senatorial rank; in the case of some good fortune took the place of merit. In his first speech Mucianus had held out hopes of only a moderate donative to the soldiers; even Vespasian did not offer more for civil war than others did in time of peace. He was firmly opposed to extravagant gifts to the soldiers and therefore had a better army. Embassies were dispatched to the Parthians and Armenians, and provision made to avoid leaving their rear exposed when the legions were drawn off to civil war.46 It was decided that Titus should follow up the war in Judea, Vespasian hold the keys to Egypt;47 and it was agreed that a part of the troops, if led by Mucianus, would be enough to deal with Vitellius, aided as they would be by the prestige of Vespasian's name and by the fact that all things are easy for Fate. Letters were addressed to all the armies and to all their commanders, directing them to try to win over the praetorians, who hated Vitellius, by holding out to them the hope of re-entering the service.

83 1 Mucianus, bearing himself rather as a  p295 partner in empire than as a subordinate, advanced with a force in light marching order, not indeed slowly, for fear of seeming to hesitate, nor yet in haste, for he wished to let distance increase his renown, being well aware that he had only moderate forces at his disposal and conscious that men magnify what is far away. Yet the Sixth legion and thirteen thousand veterans followed after him in imposing array. He had directed the fleet in the Black Sea to concentrate at Byzantium, for he was undecided whether he should not leave Moesia to one side and occupy Dyrrachium with his foot and horse, establishing meantime a blockade in the waters around Italy with his ships-of‑war. In that way he would protect Achaia and Asia in his rear, whereas they would be without protection and exposed to Vitellius, unless he left forces to guard them. He believed also that Vitellius himself would be at a loss what part of Italy to protect if he prepared to attack with his fleet Brundisium, Tarentum, and the coasts of Calabria and Lucania.

84 1 So then the provinces were filled with din as ships, soldiers, and arms were made ready for their needs; but nothing troubled them so much as the exaction of money. "Money," Mucianus kept saying, "is the sinews of civil war." And in deciding cases which came before him as judge he had an eye not for justice or truth, but only for the size of the defendants' fortunes. Delation was rife, and all wealthy men were seized as prey. Such proceedings are an intolerable burden; nevertheless, though at the time excused by the necessities of war, they continued later in time of peace. It is true that Vespasian for his part at the beginning of his reign  p297 was not so insistent on carrying through such unjust actions; but finally, schooled by an indulgent fortune and wicked teachers, he learned and dared the like. Mucianus contributed generously to the war from his own force also; his liberality with his private means corresponding, as men remarked, to the excessive greed he showed in taking from the state. The rest of the leaders followed his example in making contributions; but only the fewest enjoyed the same licence in recovering them.

85 1 Meantime Vespasian's enterprise received a favourable impulse from the enthusiasm with which the army in Illyricum came over to his side. The Third legion set a precedent for the other legions in Moesia: these were the Eighth and the Seventh Claudiana, both loyal to the memory of Otho, although they had not taken part in the battle of Bedriacum. Having advanced as far as Aquileia, by driving off with violence the messengers who brought the news of Otho's defeat, tearing in pieces the standards that displayed the name of Vitellius, and finally seizing the camp treasury and dividing it among themselves, they had acted like enemies. Their conduct filled them with fear, and then fear brought the reflection that acts might win them credit with Vespasian for which they would have to apologize to Vitellius. So the three legions in Moesia tried to win over the army in Pannonia by letter; at the same time they prepared to use force if the Pannonian troops refused. In this undertaking Aponius Saturninus, the governor of Moesia, tried a bold and shameful act: prompted by private hatred which he tried to conceal behind political motives, he sent a centurion to murder Tettius  p299 Julianus, legate of the Seventh legion. Julianus, however, learning of his danger, took some men who knew the country and escaped through the pathless stretches of Moesia to the district beyond Mt. Haemus.48 Thereafter he took no part in civil war, for although he started to join Vespasian, he kept hesitating or hurrying according to the news he received, and found various pretexts for delay.

86 1 But in Pannonia the Thirteenth legion and the Seventh Galbiana, which still felt deep resentment over the battle at Bedriacum, did not delay to join Vespasian's cause, influenced by the conspicuous violence of Primus Antonius. He had been found guilty and condemned for fraud in Nero's reign, but, as one of the evil effects of the war, he had recovered his senatorial rank. Although Galba had put him in command of the Seventh legion, it was believed that he had written to Otho, offering his services as a leader of his cause. Since Otho paid no attention to him, he rendered no service in the war. Now that the fortunes of Vitellius began to totter, Primus followed Vespasian and gave his cause a great impulse; for he was vigorous in action, ready of speech, skilful in sowing differences among his enemies, powerful in stirring up discord and strife, ever ready to rob or to bribe — in short, he was the worst of mortals in peace, but in war a man not to be despised. Then the union of the forces in Moesia and Pannonia drew the troops in Dalmatia to follow their example, although the ex-consuls who governed the provinces took no lead in the revolt. Tampius Flavianus was the governor of Pannonia, Pompeius Silvanus of Dalmatia, both rich and old. But with them was the imperial  p301 agent Cornelius Fuscus, who was in the full vigour of life and of high birth. In his youth his desire to lead a quiet life had led him to give up his senatorial rank. Yet he had brought his own colony49 over to Galba's side, and by this service had secured a procuratorship. He now adopted Vespasian's cause and contributed all the fire of his enthusiasm to the war; he found his satisfaction in danger itself rather than in the rewards of danger, and preferred to certainty and advantages long secured whatever was new, uncertain, and in doubt. Therefore the leaders set to work to stir up the discontented throughout the entire empire. They addressed communications to the Fourteenth legion in Britain and to the First in Spain, for both these legions had been for Otho and opposed to Vitellius; letters were scattered broadcast through the Gallic provinces, and in a moment a great war burst into flame, as the armies in Illyricum openly revolted and all the rest prepared to follow Fortune's lead.

87 1 While Vespasian and the leaders of his party were accomplishing this in the provinces, Vitellius became from day to day the more despised as he grew the more indolent. He stopped at every attractive town and villa on his way, and so gradually approached Rome with his cumbrous army. Sixty thousand armed men were in his train, all corrupted by lack of discipline; still greater was the number of camp-followers, and even among the slaves the soldiers' servants were the most unruly. There was also a great train of officers and courtiers, a company incapable of obedience even if they had been subject to the strictest discipline. The unwieldiness of this great crowd  p303 was increased by senators and knights who came out from Rome to meet him, some moved by fear, many from a desire to flatter, the majority, and then gradually everyone, prompted by a desire not to stay behind while others went. From the dregs of the people came hordes, well known to Vitellius by their shameful and obsequious services — buffoons, actors, jockeys, in whose disgraceful friendship he took extraordinary pleasure. Not only the colonies and municipal towns with their stores of supplies, but the very farmers and their fields in which the grain stood ready for the harvest, were despoiled as if the land were an enemy's.

88 1 The soldiers often fought among themselves with sad and fatal effect, for after the outbreak at Ticinum the differences between the legionaries and the auxiliaries had continued.50 When, however, they had to deal with the country people, there was complete unanimity. But the worst massacre was perpetrated seven miles from Rome. There Vitellius was distributing cooked rations to each soldier, as if he were fattening gladiators; and crowds of people pouring out from Rome had filled the whole camp. While the soldiers were off their guard, some of the civilians, indulging in a servile pleasantry, disarmed them by cutting their belts without their knowledge; then they asked them if they had their swords. The soldiers were not accustomed to ridicule, so that their tempers could not brook the insult; they drew their weapons and attacked the civilians, who were unarmed. Among others, the father of one of the soldiers was killed while with his son; later on he was recognized, and, the news of his death  p305 spreading, this slaughter of the innocent ceased. Yet in Rome no less alarm was caused by the soldiers who everywhere preceded the main army; these tried to find the forum first of all, for they wanted to see the place where Galba's body had lain. They themselves presented a sight that was equally savage, dressed as they were in shaggy skins of wild beasts and armed with enormous spears; while, in their ignorance, they failed to avoid the crowds, or, when they got a fall from the slippery streets or ran into a civilian, broke out in curses and soon went on to use their fists and swords. Even tribunes and prefects hurried up and down the streets spreading terror with their armed bands.

89 1 Vitellius, mounted on a handsome horse and wearing a general's cloak and arms, had set out from the Mulvian bridge, driving the senate and people before him; but he was dissuaded by his courtiers from entering Rome as if it were a captured city, and so he changed to a senator's toga, ranged his troops in good order, and made his entry on foot. The eagles of four legions were at the head of the line, while the colours of four other legions were to be seen on either side; then came the standards of twelve troops of cavalry, and after them foot and horse; next marched thirty-four cohorts distinguished by the names of their countries or by their arms. Before the eagles marched the prefects of camp, the tribunes, and the chief centurions, dressed in white; the other centurions, with polished arms and decorations gleaming, marched each with his century. The common soldiers' medals and collars were likewise bright and shining. It was an imposing sight and  p307 an army which deserved a better emperor than Vitellius. With this array he mounted the Capitol, where he embraced his mother and bestowed on her the name of Augusta.

90 1 The next day, as if he were speaking to the senate and people of an alien state, Vitellius made a boastful speech about himself, extolling his own industry and restraint, although his crimes were well known to his hearers and indeed to all Italy, through which he had come in shameful sloth and luxury. Yet the populace, careless and unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood, shouted loud the usual flattery, as it had been taught to do; in spite of his refusal they forced him to take the name of Augustus — but his acceptance proved as useless as his refusal.

91 1 A city which found a meaning in everything naturally regarded as an evil omen the fact that on becoming pontifex maximus Vitellius issued a proclamation concerning public religious ceremonies on the eighteenth of July, a day which for centuries had been held to be a day of ill-omen because of the disasters suffered at the Cremera and Allia:51 thus, wholly ignorant of law both divine and human, his freedmen and courtiers as stupid as himself, he lived as if among a set of drunkards. Yet at the time of the consular elections he canvassed with his candidates like an ordinary citizen; he eagerly caught at every murmur of the lowest orders in the theatre where he merely looked on, but in the circus he openly favoured his colours. All this no doubt gave pleasure and would have won him popularity, if it had been prompted by virtue; but as it was, the memory of his former life made men regard these acts as unbecoming  p309 and base. He frequently came to the senate, even when the senators were discussing trivial matters. Once it happened that Helvidius Priscus, being then praetor-elect, expressed a view which was opposed to his wishes. Vitellius was at first excited, but he did nothing more than call the tribunes of the people to support his authority that had been slighted. Later, when his friends, fearing that his anger might be deep-seated, tried to calm him, he replied that it was nothing strange for two senators to hold different views in the state; indeed he had usually opposed even Thrasea.52 Many regarded this impudent comparison as absurd; others were pleased with the very fact that he had selected, not one of the most influential, but Thrasea, to serve as a model of true glory.

92 1 Vitellius had appointed as prefects of the praetorian guard Publilius Sabinus, who was prefect of a cohort, and Julius Priscus, a centurion at the time. Priscus owed his position to the favour of Valens, Sabinus to that of Caecina. When these two disagreed Vitellius had no authority. The emperor's duties were actually performed by Caecina and Valens. These had long hated each other with a hatred which had been hardly concealed during the war and in camp, and which was now increased by base friends and by civic life, always prolific in breeding enemies. In their efforts to have a great entourage, many courtiers, and long lines at their receptions they rivalled each other and provoked comparison, while the favour of Vitellius inclined now to one and again to the other; when a man has excessive power, he never can have complete trust: at the same time Vitellius himself, with his fickle readiness to take  p311 sudden offence or to resort to unseasonable flattery, was the object of their contempt and fears. This had not, however, made them slow to seize houses, gardens, and the wealth of the empire, while a pathetic and poverty-stricken crowd of nobles, whom with their children Galba had restored to their native city, received no pity or help from the emperor. An act which pleased the great and found approval even among the plebeians was that which gave those who returned from exile the rights of patrons over their freedmen; yet the freedmen by their servile cunning avoided the consequences of this act in every way, concealing their money by depositing it with obscure friends or with people of high position; some of them passed into Caesar's household and became more powerful even than their masters.

93 1 But the soldiers, whose number was far too great for the crowded camp, wandered about in the colonnades, the temples, and in fact throughout the city; they did no guard-duty and were not kept in condition by service. Giving themselves up to the allurements of the capital and to excesses too shameful to name, they constantly weakened their physical strength by inactivity, their courage by debaucheries. Finally, with no regard even for their very lives, a large proportion camped in the unhealthy districts of the Vatican, which resulted in many deaths among the common soldiery; and the Tiber being close by, the inability of the Gauls and Germans to bear the heat and the consequent greed with which they drank from the stream weakened their bodies, which were already an easy prey to disease. Besides this, the different classes of service were thrown into confusion by corruption and self-seeking:  p313 sixteen praetorian, four city cohorts were enrolled with a quota of a thousand men each.53 In organizing these bodies Valens put himself forward as having rescued Caecina himself from peril. It was true that his arrival had enabled the party of Vitellius to prevail, and that by the victory54 he had got rid of the ugly rumour that he had delayed his advance; and all the troops of lower Germany were his enthusiastic followers, which gives us reason to think that this was the moment when Caecina's fidelity to Vitellius began to waver.

94 1 However, the indulgences of Vitellius to his generals did not equal the licence he granted to his soldiers. Everyone selected the branch of the service he desired: no matter how unworthy a soldier might be, he was enrolled for service at Rome, if he preferred it. On the other hand, the good soldiers were allowed to remain with the legions or the cavalry if they wished; and there were some who did so desire, for they were exhausted by disease and cursed the climate of Rome. Nevertheless the strength was drawn off from the legions and cavalry, and the high prestige of the praetorian camp was shaken, for these twenty thousand men were not a picked body but only a confused mob taken from the whole army.

When Vitellius was addressing his troops, the soldiers demanded the punishment of Asiaticus, Flavius, and Rufinus, Gallic chiefs who had fought for Vindex.55 Vitellius did not try to check demands of this sort, for not only was he naturally without energy, but he was well aware that the time was close at hand when he must pay his soldiers a  p315 donative and that he had not the necessary money: therefore he indulged his troops in everything else. The freedmen of the imperial house were ordered to pay a tribute proportionate to the number of their slaves; but the emperor, whose only care was to spend money, kept building stables for jockeys, filling the arena with exhibitions of gladiators and wild beasts, and fooling away money as if his treasuries were filled to overflowing.

95 1 Moreover, Caecina and Valens celebrated his birthdaya by giving gladiatorial shows in every precinct of the city on an enormous scale unheard of up to that time. The worst element were delighted but the best citizens were scandalized by the act of Vitellius in erecting altars on the Campus Martius and sacrificing to the shades of Nero. The victims were killed and burned in the name of the state. The torch was applied to the sacrifices by the Augustales, a sacred college which Tiberius Caesar had dedicated to the Julian gens, as Romulus had dedicated a college to King Tatius. Four months had not yet passed since his victory, and yet Asiaticus, a freedman of Vitellius, already equalled a Polyclitus, a Patrobius, and the other detested names of the past.56 In his court no one tried to win a reputation through honesty or industry: there was one single road to power, and that was by satisfying the emperor's boundless greed with extravagant banquets and expensive orgies. He himself was more than content to enjoy the present hour with no thought beyond: and he is believed to have squandered nine hundred million sesterces in a very few months.57 At once great and wretched, the state was forced to endure within a single year an  p317 Otho and Vitellius, and to suffer all the vicissitudes of a shameful fate at the hands of a Vinius, a Fabius, an Icelus, and an Asiaticus, until at last they were succeeded by a Mucianus and a Marcellus — other men rather than other characters.

96 1 The first defection reported to Vitellius was that of the Third legion. The news came in a letter sent by Aponius Saturninus58 before he also joined Vespasian's side. But Aponius, in his excitement over the sudden change, had not written the whole truth, and the flattery of courtiers gave a less serious interpretation to the news. They said that this was the mutiny of only one legion; that the rest of the troops were faithful. It was to the same effect that Vitellius himself spoke to the soldiers: he attacked the praetorians who had lately been discharged, blaming them for spreading false rumours, and declared that there was no occasion to fear civil war, keeping back Vespasian's name and sending soldiers round through the city to check the people's talk. Nothing furnished rumour with more food.

97 1 Nevertheless he summoned auxiliaries from Germany, Britain, and the Spains; but he did this slowly and tried to conceal the necessity of his action. The governors and the provinces moved as slowly as he. Hordeonius Flaccusº already suspected the Batavians and was disturbed by the possibility of having a war of his own;59 Vettius Bolanus never enjoyed entire peace in Britain,60 and both of them were wavering in their allegiance. Nor did troops hurry from the Spains, for at that moment there was no governor there. The commanders of the three legions, who were equal in authority and who would have vied with each other in obedience to Vitellius  p319 if his affairs had been prosperous, now all alike shrank from sharing his adversity. In Africa the legion and the cohorts raised by Clodius Macer, but afterwards dismissed by Galba,61 resumed their service by order of Vitellius; at the same time the young civilians as well enlisted with enthusiasm. For the government of Vitellius as proconsul had been honest and popular, while that of Vespasian had been notorious and hated; from such memories the allies formed their conjectures as to what each would be as emperor; but experience proved exactly the opposite.

98 1 At first the commander, Valerius Festus, loyally supported the wishes of the provincials.62 But presently he began to waver; in his public letters and documents he favoured Vitellius, but by secret messages he fostered Vespasian's interest and was ready to take whichever side prevailed. Some soldiers and centurions who had been dispatched through Raetia and the Gallic provinces were arrested with letters and proclamations of Vespasian on their persons, sent to Vitellius, and put to death. The majority of the messengers, however, escaped arrest, being concealed by faithful friends or escaping by their own wits. In this way the preparations of Vitellius became known while most of Vespasian's plans remained secret. This was due first of all to the stupidity of Vitellius, and secondly to the fact that the guards stationed in the Pannonian Alps blocked the messengers. Moreover, as this was the season of the etesian winds, the sea was favourable for vessels sailing to the East, but unfavourable to those coming from that quarter.

99 1 Finally Vitellius became alarmed by the oncoming of the enemy and by the terrifying messages  p321 which reached him from every side, and ordered Caecina and Valens to prepare for war. Caecina was sent on in advance; Valens, who was at that moment just getting up from a serious sickness, was delayed by physical weakness. As the army from Germany left the city it presented a very different appearance from that which it had displayed on entering Rome: the soldiers had no vigour, no enthusiasm; they marched in a slow and ragged column, dragging their weapons, while their horses were without spirit; but the troops who could not endure sun, dust, or storm and who had no heart to face toil, were all the more ready to quarrel. Another factor in the situation was furnished by Caecina's old ambition and his newly acquired sloth, for an excess of Fortune's favours had made him give way to luxury; or he may have been already planning to turn traitor and so have made it part of his plan to break the morale of his army. It has been generally believed that it was the arguments of Flavius Sabinus that made Caecina's loyalty waver, and that the go-between was Rubrius Gallus, who assured him that Vespasian would approve the conditions on which Caecina was to come over. At the same time he was reminded of his hatred and jealousy towards Fabius Valens and was urged, since his influence with Vitellius was not equal to that of his rival, to seek favour and support from the new emperor.

100 1 Caecina, departing from the embraces of Vitellius with great honours, sent a part of his horse ahead to occupy Cremona. Presently detachments of the First, Fourth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth legions followed; then the Fifth and Twenty-second; in the rear marched the Twenty-first Rapax and the  p323 First Italic with detachments from the three legions in Britain and with picked auxiliary troops. After Caecina had gone, Fabius Valens wrote to the troops which he had earlier commanded,63 and ordered them to wait for him on the way, saying that he and Caecina had agreed to this effect. But Caecina, being with the troops and therefore having the advantage over Valens, pretended that the plan had been changed that they might meet the rising tide of war with their whole strength. So the legions were ordered to press on, part to Cremona, part to Hostilia; he himself turned aside to Ravenna under the pretext of addressing the fleet; but presently he retired to the secrecy of Padua to arrange the conditions of betrayal. For Lucilius Bassus, who had previously been only a prefect of a squadron of cavalry, had been placed by Vitellius in command of the fleet of Ravenna along with that of Misenum; but his failure to receive promptly the prefecture of the praetorian guard had roused in him an unjust resentment, which he was now satisfying by a shameful and treacherous act of vengeance. It is impossible to determine whether Bassus drew Caecina on, or whether, since it often happens that is a likeness between bad men, the same villainy impelled them both. 101 The contemporary historians, who wrote their accounts of this war while the Flavian house occupied the throne, have indeed recorded their anxiety for peace and devotion to the State, falsifying motives in order to flatter; but to me it seems that both men, in addition to their natural fickleness and the fact that after betraying Galba they then held their honour cheap, were moved by mutual rivalry and a jealous fear  p325 that they would be surpassed by others in the imperial favour, and so overthrew Vitellius himself. Caecina caught up with his legions and began by various devices to undermine the unshaken loyalty of the centurions and soldiers towards Vitellius; Bassus found less difficulty when he attempted the same with the fleet, for the sailors, remembering their recent service to Otho, were ready to shift their allegiance.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Modena.

2 Eprius had laid information against Thrasea and gained 5,000,000 sesterces thereby. Ann. XVI.22, 28, 33 and cf. Hist. IV.6.

3 Bologna.

4 Diplomata that secured post-horses, lodging, etc.

5 April 12‑19.

6 Vespasian's brother.

7 Cf. I.41.

8 Only the highest officials were expected to address the consuls or the senate.

9 Cf. II.95, and IV.11.

10 The province of Mauretania Caesariensis corresponded roughly to the western half of Algeria and eastern Morocco; Mauretania Tingitana to western Morocco.

11 Now six years of age.

12 Cf. I.77.

13 Cf. I.90.

14 The Boii lived between the Loire and the Allier.

15 The capital was Augustodunum (Autun).

16 Cf. I.22.

17 I.88.

18 Cf. I.80.

19 Terni.

20 Cf. chap. 58 above.

21 Cf. Ann. VI.27.

22 Cf. I.60.

23 The Little St. Bernard.

24 Vienne.

25 Normally the praetorians received 5000 denarii (about $900) with their discharge after completing sixteen years of service. Cf. Dio Cass. LV.23.

26 To Dalmatia and Pannonia respectively.

27 That is, in dinners that began unseasonably early that they might last the longer.

28 Verginius had refused the imperial power. Cf. I.8, 52; II.51.

29 Referring to the revolt of Civilis described in Books IV and V.

30 Cf. I.77.

31 Scribonianus and his father had been murdered by Helios, Nero's slave, according to Dio Cass. LXIII.18. Cf. Plin. Epist. I.5.3. The Scriboniani were a family of the Crassi.

32 Cf. II.5.

33 Cf. I.89.

34 Cn. Domitius Corbulo, who had distinguished himself in the war against the Parthians, aroused Nero's jealousy and was put to death by him. Cf. Dio Cass. LXIII.17.

35 The Jews.

36 Cf. II.4 and 81.

37 Vespasian had won this distinction by his services in Britain in 43 A.D. Cf. III.44; Suet. Vesp. 4.

38 Titus had served in Germany and Britain with credit. Cf.  Suet. Titus, 4.

39 The Roman procurator resided at Caesarea; but naturally Jerusalem was the only capital in the eyes of the Jews.

40 Sohaemus, a prince of the house of Emesa, had been set up by Nero in 54 A.D. as king of Sophene, a district on the east of the upper Euphrates. Cf. II.4; Ann. XIII.7.

41 Antiochus, of the Seleucid family, was at this time king of Commagene and of a part of Cilicia; three years later Vespasian deposed him and changed his kingdom into a Roman province. Cf. II.4; Ann. XII.55.

42 The son of Herod Agrippa, who died in 44 A.D., and the brother of Berenice; at this time he was governor of the district east of the Jordan. Cf. II.4.

43 Cf. II.2.

44 Cappadocia was now governed by a procurator of equestrian rank; later Vespasian was forced by the frequent inroads on the province to put in charge of an ex-consul supported by troops. Suet. Vesp. 8.

45 Beyrout.

46 Their diplomacy was so successful that Vologaeses, king of the Parthians, offered Vespasian forty thousand cavalry, which, however, Vespasian prudently refused. Cf. IV.51.

47 Alexandria and Pelusium.

48 The Balkan Mountains.

49 The name of the colony is unknown.

50 II.68.

51 At the Cremera the Fabii had died to a man in 477 B.C.; and at the Allia the Gauls had defeated the Romans in 390. No work, public or private, was undertaken on this dies Alliensis. Cf. Liv. VI.1 ff.; Suet. Vit. 11.

52 Thrasea had been the father-in‑law of Helvidius. He was a leader of the Stoic opposition under Nero, by whose orders the senate condemned Thrasea to death in 66 A.D. Helvidius was banished from Italy at the same time. Cf.  Ann. XVI.21‑35.

53 The nine praetorian cohorts, which had formed the backbone of Otho's army, Vitellius had disbanded (II.67); in their place he now enrolled sixteen praetorian cohorts, and apparently increased the usual three City cohorts to four. This increase was probably due to the number volunteering for these advantageous services (chap. 94).

54 Cf. I.66; II.27, 31‑44.

55 Cf. I.6. Of these chiefs nothing more is known.

56 Cf. I.37, 49, and II.57.

57 Equivalent to over $40,000,000. But the sum may have been exaggerated.

58 Governor of Moesia.

59 Cf. II.57.

60 Cf. II.65.

61 Cf. I.7 and 11.

62 Valerius Festus was commander of the Third legion in Africa, placed there apparently to keep watch on the proconsul Lucius Piso. Cf. IV.48, 49.

63 When in Lower Germany.

Thayer's Note:

a September 24 (Suetonius, Vitellius 3.2).

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